NIGELLA EXPRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9/25/2007 12:05:00 PM

Woohoo! I have had Nigella Express for a whole week now, thanks to a gorgeous friend of mine who ordered it for me online. It's already out in the UK, but won't make it to Australian shores until the end of the October. How could I wait?

Needless to say, I absolutely love it! It's got heaps of gorgeous pictures, and really great recipes and ideas. The chapters all have different themes - e.g. breakfast, Mexican, cooking in advance, holidays, parties, workdays etc., and there is a large variety in terms of the type of recipes. I've been reading it voraciously, and cooking from it a lot. Even though I am quite busy at the moment, I've been able to try heaps of the recipes, because they are all express - easy and fast, but still delicious.

Lunchbox Treats

These little babies were made on request of my friend who bought me the book. They're a mixture of rice bubbles, cornflakes, quick oats and sesame seeds, held together with some melted butter, chocolate and rice malt syrup. Interestingly enough, I had the rice malt syrup in my pantry, whilst I had to make a shopping trip to get the rice bubbles and cornflakes. The finished product was chewy and moreish, and a good alternative from the usual tea-time treats.

Fast Fries

Fast fries - bash a few potatoes with a rolling pin, and shallow fry in oil for 6 minutes a side, partially covered. It's one of the fastest way of making potatoes that I've tried. We had these for dinner one night to go with a marinated chicken from a semi-gourmet poultry shop and some mushrooms. I fried them in some northern European rapeseed oil, which I recently received from a friend of mine. According to the label, it has a feinem butteraroma, is low in saturated fat, has a high smoking point, and is full of those good omega-3 fats that my doctor says we're supposed to eat more of. Perfect for making you less guilty about eating fries. The fries themselves had a great contrast between soft interior, and crunchy outside, with lots of crunch coming from the irregularly bashed potatoes. Fabulous.

I made the following menu when I went over to my friend Frances' house for dinner and a girly chat / catch-up / gossip session.

Scallops and Chorizo
Chickpeas with Rocket and Sherry
Flourless Chocolate Brownies

The scallops and chickpeas were super-simple, taking only 30 minutes to put together. You chop, you fry. That's about it! My friend also made a salad of finely sliced celery, Neil Perry's Classic Mayonnaise and walnuts. (See the background of the photo below). I wasn't sure if I'd like the salad, but the combination was superb. Thank-you Frances!

Yummy! The strongly flavoured chorizo went well with the milder chickpeas, which prevented the saltiness from becoming overpowering.

We then made the flourless chocolate brownies; mainly because we had all the ingredients at hand. The only appropriate baking dish we had was a ceramic pie dish. It was slightly smaller than the recipe requires, and took a bit longer to bake. We added white chocolate chips to the mixture because white chocolate is awesome. It was crusty on the top, and meltingly soft within. If you let it set overnight in the fridge, you'd end up with firmly sliceable brownies. We, however, ate it straight out of the oven like a molten chocolate pudding.

Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms

I had been wanting to make this pasta dish ever since I spied it in the previews of Nigella Express. I absolutely love Nigella's pasta recipes and couldn't wait to try it. For this, you steep sliced chestnut mushrooms (I used the cheaper, fresher-looking Swiss browns at the market) in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and thyme. Then, you simply toss hot pasta through the mushrooms, sprinkle with parsley, and eat.

It was absolutely wonderful. I will definitely be making this again!

Finally, we have the meal I made for my good friends Daniel and Kevin last night. Absolutely easy peasy.

Chicken Cacciatore
Tarte Fine aux Pommes

We found all the ingredients at the local Safeway, did the shopping in half an hour, and got dinner ready in about 45 minutes. We had mashed potatoes to go with, made by Kevin "I'm-Irish-so-I-know-how-to-make-mashed-potatoes". I was very impressed with the stew. For something that only simmers for 25 minutes, it had a surprising depth of flavour.

For dessert, we had the tarte fine aux pommes. It's just a sheet of puff pastry, pricked all over and covered with thin apple slices. (Nigel Slater has something very similar in Appetite). However, according to Kevin, this tart is "totally a Ready-Steady-Cook thing". Whatever, despite its total simplicity, it does look very fancy..
8 recipes in 7 days! Almost feels like How to Eat all over again.
But wait! There's more... I currently have some pork ribs and chicken marylands marinating in the fridge, to become Maple Chicken n' Ribs tomorrow night. Stay tuned!

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  1. Looks like you are having a great time there Sarah!

    I like NE a lot too, and have set myself a mini blogging project of the 129 recipes I've marked. Should be easy to fit in with life too :)


  2. Please do! Please do another HTE!!

  3. haha.. yayyyy!

    my mash potatoes were clearly awesome :D

  4. SARAH!!!!!!!

    So glad to see a Nigella Express blog by you! Brings back memories of a couple of years past when I had my homepage set to your How To Eat page.

    Looks fantastic as always.



  5. I can't wait to get my copy at the end of October (I've preordered it). Your dishes look great Sarah!

  6. I think I better contact my dear friend in London and see what I can do... you have inspired me Sarah!!!! Vida x

  7. Mouthwatering as always Sarah...

    Meanwhile, I popped into your work the other weekend.. you werent there from what I saw.

    Maybe oe day soon?

  8. Anonymous7:36 PM

    Sarah can you please remind me again what the "stick of butter" is equivalent to here in Oz. Vida x

  9. woo hoo Sarah, you GO GIRL!!

  10. Thanks guys!

    Vida, a stick of butter is 112g of butter, or just under half a 250g block.

    xox Sarah

  11. Oh yeah! Great job, Sarah!

  12. I didn't realize she had a new book out and I just love Nigella. Those lunch time treats look so scrummy. I will run out and buy the book.

  13. I have just cooked Nigella's Tarte Fine Aux Pommes, which was delicious even though it took longer to prepare than I expected. The big problem was the caramel topping. I haven't used butter and sugar to make caramel before, only sugar and water. Making the recipe as instructed left me with almost hard, gooey caramel in the bottom of a saucepan, covered in butter. If I had use water instead I am sure it would have worked. Has anyone else had this problem, or did I not read the instructions properly?

  14. I had a similar problem, although it the sugar didn't get superhard and solid; it was just slightly separate from the butter, but still tasted good.

    I'm not very good with caramels, so I just assumed this was a problem of lack-of-practice. Sorry I can't be more help!

    xox Sarah



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.