Weeeeeeeeee! I have it, I have it! The new Nigella book! Kitchen! I haven't been this excited about a new cookbook since, well, Nigella Christmas! I've actually had Kitchen for a couple of weeks now (pre-ordered from the UK, thank-you!), and I'd love to share with y'all what I've been cooking so far! I am absolutely loving the book, and just quietly, I was really, really tempted to do another project and cook every single recipe... but you know, with a full time job I don't think it would have been totally achievable. (Although, now that I re-read the book jacket, I see Kitchen only has 190 recipes, and it is quite likely I'll end up cooking everything anyway!)
Kitchen is a big heaving compendium, or as I think of it... 487 pages of pure awesome! There are loads of pretty pictures - how is it that Nigella never seems to age? - and reams and reams of Nigella's fabulous prose too. Fans will love it! It's divided into 2 sections: Kitchen Quandaries (express-style recipes) and Kitchen Comforts, which include longer, more involved (but not complicated) recipes. There's a good mixture between sweet and savoury, with the sweet recipes looking particularly tempting - sweet and salty crunch nut bars, treacle slice, grasshopper pie, and blondies, just to name a few. So far I've been cooking mainly from the Quandaries section, but hopefully this will change over the next few weekends.
So, without further ado I present to you...
Egg and Bacon Salad
The tarragon chicken is, hands down, my favourite recipe from the book so far. I've already made it twice! Tarragon used to be a very hard-to-find ingredient, but it seems to be available at most Woolworths these days.
It was incredibly delicious, and even the skinless chicken breast was tender thanks to the poaching/steaming method. So fabulous. Note to self: always triple the sauce!
Mexican Lasagne with Avocado Salsa
This is a "lasagne" in terms of structure, not flavour. Layers of tortillas, a jalapeño-ed tomato sauce, and a bean/corn/cheese mixture. There are a lot of ingredients, but it's pretty simple to put together and cheap! As per Nigella's suggestion I made the avocado salsa, which was like a chunky un-mushed guacamole, the sharp limey flavour of which contrasted well with the rich lasagne.
Speedy Scallopine with Rapid Roastini
So obviously, the below aren't scallopine (thin fillets of meat that cook quickly), but look how beautiful these pork chops are! They're free range Otway pork - lovely! I coated them in spiced flour and panfried them.
Hehe... look how crispy the edges got! Unfortunately my griller is broken, so I couldn't peel off the rind and make proper crackling. But that was probably for the best.
The rapid roastini are simply gnocchi, which are fried or roasted in a pan. Rather like Schupfnudeln, but without having to make them from scratch. Although, apparently in Germany you can buy Schupfnudeln in packets in the supermarket, much like we buy gnocchi here. Lucky!
I roasted them in the oven for ease, but I think they'd be even nicer fried in a pan. It's a quick and easy way to get potatoes on the table for a midweek meal. The pork chops, the roastini, plus a tin of my favourite beans made a wonderful dinner.
"My Mother's Praised Chicken"
Nigella devotes a whole chapter to "Chicken and its place in my kitchen", the first recipe of which is a lovely chicken soup. Being big chicken soup eaters at my house, I've already made this twice, and I think it will be my default chicken soup recipe from now on. It's extremely easy, and lends itself to any number of variations. In fact, tonight for dinner we had this soup with our beloved Markklöβchen. I think you know you've found a good recipe when it becomes part of your repertoire, and when you feel comfortable altering it depending on your mood.
I like the fact that you use a whole chicken for the recipe, rather than a carcass or wings, as it gives more meat for later, yum yum. At the moment it takes me about 20 minutes to set everything ready and in the pot for its 2-hour simmering time, but I reckon the more I make it the faster I'll get.
The first time I made the praised chicken was last week, for my parents after they came back from an indulgent 10-day holiday in Japan, as I thought they'd appreciate a nice light and cleansing dinner (or cheng, as we say in Hokkien). Let's just ignore the fact that we inhaled a whole lotta Pierre Hermé macarons straight after, hehehe.
Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts
This pasta recipe comes from the Off the Cuff chapter, which is based on storecupboard recipes. I did need to buy frozen spinach and feta, but had everything else lying around the kitchen (I used macaroni instead of the cavatappi Nigella suggests.) The sauce is rich with spinach and feta, and I prefer my pasta a bit saucier than Nigella's (ooer!), so I might reduce the amount of pasta next time.
So now that I've compiled my Kitchen photos, I see I've started with the more practical, express-style recipes, but trustez-moi, I have my eye on some rather fabulously impressive recipes too! Watch this space.