Hello and Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog.

This is my very first one, so bear with me and enjoy reading about my adventures cooking all of the recipes from Nigella Lawson's new book 'Kitchen'.

From time-to-time I may post about things other than cooking, after all, Nigella does sell a lifestyle that most women would like have a slice of, so I would like to share a bit of mine - not quite as glamorous but fun none-the-less (may I add that most of my ideas and thoughts revolve around food anyway)!

Just to set the scene a little, I am based in Yorkshire, live with my husband and gorgeous toddler who is rapidly approaching his second year. I work in the events industry and love music, books, fashion, culture and of course... food.


Goddess Mx (meant in the loosest possible sense, believe me)!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fashionable Food

Red velvet cake is a relatively new concept to me, and as fashionable as macaroons. The bottom line is that I think I like colourful cakes, so the idea of a shocking red cake intrigued me. So, today was the day. I obviously opted for the Nigella's Kitchen version, in cupcake form, rather than a larger cake.

Dry ingredients were plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb. In another bowl I creamed caster sugar, butter, red food colouring (you can use beetroot to do this too, but not for me), vanilla extract and buttermilk. I gradually mixed the dry and wet together with beaten egg and added cider vinegar. I poured the mixture between 12 cake cases and baked for 20 minutes.

The result was some rather topsy-turvy looking cakes - all different sizes. I do wish I had used muffin cases as I think they make for a more impressive cupcake but hey-ho. The frosting was butter mixed with icing sugar, cider vinegar and cream cheese. I decorated the cakes with chocolate sprinkles, but would have liked some red sugar, as suggested in 'the book', however, this delicacy was not to be found in your average supermarket on a Sunday afternoon.

We have had three of the cakes, and have delivered some to friends this afternoon as they are best eaten on the day apparently (we have a dozen). It would be rude of me not to have another tonight, would it not??

Goddess Mx

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Back from my blogiday!

Hello *meekly*. I have loved doing this blog, but am ashamed to say I have neglected it of late. My reasons for this are many, but probably foremostly because I am still looking for a job since being made redundant at the end of March. I naively thought that I could just trot merrily into a job of my pleasing, but it has not quite worked out that way and blogging whilst career-searching has seemed a bit of a luxury. However, here I am, despite still being jobless (well, I am working my best Joan from Mad Men impression now and again as a temp). I figured, with some gentle coaxing from Master M, that it is 'good to blog' so I'm going to try and get back in the zone. Another reason was a couple of friends have said to me recently that they have enjoyed reading my blog (yeah, I know as mates it is kinda their duty)!

Although I have been a bit bluesy, my cooking has continued, and yes all of the Nigella variety (with the exception of some Royal Wedding themed canapes and cocktails where I strayed to alternative recipes - shock). I don't want this to be a long 'un, and I have cooked up a few dishes, so I'll keep each one short...

During the Easter break, I delved into Nigella's Feast book for some inspiration for a Good Friday supper. I wanted to go for something that we could all eat as a family, and fish on a friday seemed kind of apt so opted for the Blakean Fish Pie (named after William Blake's sunburst paintings). This wasn't so different to the usual one I make with cod, haddock and salmon, topped with fluffy mash. The piece de resistance was the addition of plump king prawns, saffron and single cream in the sauce. The boys went out for an hour or so to allow me to prep, ready to whack the dish in the oven when we were ready for it. Good Friday dinner was had in the garden with peas, and my son's satisfying 'nomnomnoms' which is the best compliment really.

Next dish was a fresh salad to take to a friend's BBQ so Nigella's Summer did the trick, opened at The Rainbow Room's Carrot and Peanut Salad. On reading the recipe I had one of those freaky moments reading about the Rainbow Room, where Nigella's mother used to take her kitted out in full sixties Biba fashion. I had only just been speaking with friends about maxi cardigans (yes please) and fabulous floor-sweeping Biba dresses, selling at House of Fraser. Anyway, the salad comprises thickly grated carrots, salted peanuts, groundnut oil, red wine vinegar and sesame oil. Takes about five minutes but is a great accompaniment to all things barbequed.

Another weekend, another bank holiday, but with a difference. The Royal Wedding. Hoorah! Off I went printing off DIY paper union jack bunting (austere times), masks of the lovely couple to cut up, along with a search for the perfect playlist, red/white/blue balloons and UJ napkins. We had a british themed menu - homemade cheese straws, earl grey cocktails, raspberry champagne cocktails, cornish camembert for starter and Heston's trifle for pud. The main was from Kitchen - Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (a classic French dish, but shhh, really wanted to make it). Olive oil was heated in a large casserole dish, chicken thighs seared and removed, spring onions and thyme browned along with 20 of the unpeeled garlic cloves. The browned chicken was returned and topped with the remaining 20 cloves, salt, pepper and vermouth, and oven cooked for 90 minutes. A really tasty dish, but the best bit for me was counting the cloves - bringing out my OCD! - and the delicious aroma spread throughout our house.

The next day, in a mildly hungover fug, Little M and I made Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins to take to a housewarming BBQ. I love making muffins because you can do it quite quickly and then feel suitably smug and domesticated. These had the usual plain flour, bicarb, baking powder, caster sugar and egg in. Veg oil was used, along with buttermilk, blueberries and polenta (cornmeal substitute). The cakes were great, although not 100% sure about the grainy texture.

After a day meeting Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig et al at Harewood House, Sunday night called for a curry, so I opted for the Thai Chicken Noodle Soup from Kitchen. Chicken stock was heated up in a big soup pot, and in went some coconut milk, fresh ginger, fish sauce, chopped red chilli, tumeric, tamarind paste, soft brown sugar, lime juice, cooked chicken, stir fry veg and noodles. Once piping hot, I ladled the soup into bowls and sprinkled with the magic that is coriander. Slurp.

Last night I made Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils. I really enjoy the texture of poached poultry so this was ideal. Garlic oil was heated in a casserole dish, followed by chopped carrot, leeks, parsley, lardons, dried mint, lemon zest, chicken thighs, puy lentils and water. I seasoned and then let the pot simmer away for 45 mins before dishing up our fare - really comforting, and great heated up again for lunch, as I have done today!

So there you have it. I am sure I have missed some recipes, which I might add at a later date. Not too much later mind! Good to be back.

Goddess Mx

Sunday, 20 March 2011

All brownied out

I feel like I am back into the swing of this Nigella challenge thingie again, having made quite a few of her dishes from 'Kitchen' of late.

Earlier in the week I made Chinatown chicken salad - an explosive dish with loads of red chilli, fresh ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil and a touch of sugar as a dressing. The salad bit consisted of salted peanuts, iceberg lettuce, beansprouts, spring onions, red pepper, cooked chicken, coriander and tortilla chips. This salad is so crunchy that I had to go and sit in the kitchen to eat it, as hubby and I were annoying each other with the sound effects!

The next salad I made was not so good - chicken caesar. The dressing was raw egg beaten with garlic oil, extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice and salt. Romaine lettuce was torn up roughly onto plates with the chicken, seasoned, sprinkled with toasted pitta bread and drizzled with the eggy dressing. It was o-k but not as exciting as the chinatown. It tasted too healthy, which to me is a bit of a let-down.

My dad came to visit this weekend, and in 'nurturing' mode, I thought I would make something really wholesome - a kind of kitchen classic. I have flicked past risotto bolognese in 'the book' many a time, but it fit the bill for the purposes of this weekend. The meat sauce began with a mush (in the food processor) of onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovies which was heated in butter/olive oil, before adding minced beef to brown. Marsala was the next ingredient in alongside processed tomatoes, tomato puree, milk, bay leaves and beef stock (I was unable to source veal stock as the recipe suggested). The dish was put in the oven for an hour to work its magic. Once out of the oven, the dish was placed on the hob (low heat), arborio rice added, followed by ladleful after ladleful of stock until the rice was cooked. I then seasoned, added butter, parmesan and then served. I liked this dish a lot, but maybe it was trying too hard. Perhaps less is more.

I always think it is nice when you have guests to have a tin of something sweet to snack on, so I made everyday brownies. Double bonus here as they made the house smell like domestic bliss - hmmmm... I melted butter over a gentle heat, added light brown muscovado sugar, sifting in cocoa powder, plain flour and salt. I then whisked up some eggs and vanilla extract and mixed these through the mixture with chunks of milk chocolate. This heavenly pool of chocolate was poured into a foil-lined baking tray and baked for the required time whilst I did a mighty-fine job of scraping the bowls satisfyingly. Once baked and cooled, the sliced brownies were sprinkled with sieved icing sugar. I think I overbaked these a little as they lacked the gooiness within, but no matter as they were gooood anyway. I have packed my dad off with the rest as I have had more than my share and need to eat very healthily next week to achieve anywhere near my holiday body by next Sunday (hello francais)!

Goddess Mx

Monday, 14 March 2011

No spring chicken...

... yeah, that is how I have been feeling lately, but have also been racking my brain on what to entitle this post and this is the best I can come up with! You see, the subject of this post is chicken, as I endeavoured to make Nigella's mother's praised chicken.

The ingredients for this dish are pretty standard fare for a sunday roast really - a chicken and loads of veg. The actual prepping of the chook was a bit unnerving for me being a bit of a scaredy cat. You have to untruss it, lie it breast side down and lean on it until you hear a crack (to flatten it). The next bit involved cutting the ankle bones off with a pair of kitchen scissors. After my lesson in butchering, the rest was a breeze! The chicken was browned off in garlic oil, resting snuggly inside a casserole dish. Vermouth was added to the pot and reduced before adding chopped carrots, celery and leeks. The pot was topped up with cold water and I added sea salt, pink peppercorns and parsley stalks before bringing to the boil then simmering with the lid on for a couple of hours. Once done, the chicken was served alongside basmati rice and topped with wholegrain mustard (didn't have the suggested English version), parsley leaves and dill - my new favourite herb. My verdict on all of this is that it was pretty average, summed up by the photo. The best bit was the herbs. I think there was a distinct lack of stock.

Today I embarked on using the leftovers (as guided by 'Kitchen, of course!) which took me, oh all of five minutes to prepare, and was a much more satisfying meal than last night's - lunch was a mouth-watering chicken, bacon and avocado salad. I fried off a few streaky rashers of bacon in garlic oil and then prepared a plate of iceberg lettuce, cold cooked chicken, avocado chunks before making a lovely dijon mustard-rice vinegar-olive oil dressing. This was all thrown together, sprinkled with parsley (couldn't get chives in Waitrose) and eaten happily with pleasure. There is something about iceberg lettuce and salty bacon that works oh-so-well.

Back soon with more chicken left-overs, but until then I hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine.

Goddess Mx

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A fluke but it worked!

I must have mentioned before that the making of a perfect Toad in the Hole in our house has been no mean feat. The batter has either been too thick, too thin, has failed to rise or risen way too much. So it was with reluctance that I bought some sausages to give it another go, already thinking that the whole thing was doomed to failure.

I whisked some eggs and milk together then squeezed the sausage meat out of six fine sausages to form twelve meat patties. These were then browned off in some olive oil and the batter added to the hot roasting dish with some sprigs of thyme to be immediately place in a hot, hot oven. Pondering over why I had too much batter, I realised to my distress that I had forgotten to add plain flour. I tried to whisk flour into the hot tin (I know stupidly dangerous) and the batter started to fly around my kitchen. I decanted the whole sorry mess into a mixing bowl and whisked before quickly chucking it all back together and into the oven before breathing a sigh of relief. Domestic goddess? Whatever!

Amazingly I was thrilled with my Toad in the Hole which looked not too disimilar to Nigella's in the book. Master M thought it was too doughy but I seriously thought it was perfect! Question to all you foodie bloggers: what consistency should Toad in the Hole batter be - light, or stodgy (in a good way)?

Goddess Mx

Monday, 28 February 2011

A birthday bonanza

I feel like I have been in a bit of a whirlwind lately with job-hunting and my son's second birthday. Blogging has gone out of the window a bit, but I have managed to cook up a few recipes from 'Kitchen' and feel it would be rude not to share my experiences!

I decided to make Nigella's traditional cheesecake so that there was a little something sweet in the house (the alternative was Annabel Karmel's magimix yoghurt cake that I made for my boy). I was slightly apprehensive about this after the banoffee cheeseake I made from Kitchen last year which I overbaked, so kept a close eye on it during the baking process. The base for this dessert was pastry rather than your usual biscuit base. A pleasant change. The filling comprised of curd cheese, double cream, seperated eggs, lemon juice and sugar. I made the mistake of using a tin the right size in width/length, but too shallow by a couple of centimetres resulting in me throwing half of the filling away (what a waste)! I got the consistency of the filling just right, but due to the tin mix-up, the balance was wrong and there was too much base to topping. I liked the flavours, but as I have a sweet-tooth, I think I am more of a biscuit-base kind of gal. If you want to read some amusing lyrics about a love of cheesecake, look no further than King Missile's 'Cheesecake Truck'.

For an accompaniment to lunch time quiche (shop-bought) I made tabbouleh. I had been meaning to make this for a while after sampling some of my sister-in-law's delicious Morrocan version. The dish was made with cold cooked bulgar wheat; oodles of parsley, mint and dill; olive oil; garlic oil; pomegranate seeds; tomatoes; lemon zest and juice. A lovely fresh dish, and beautiful too.

I have had a rising urge to cook something spicy lately, so a trip to our local continental supermarket was called for to pick up some seeds: fennel, black cumin, green cumin and black mustard. My mum bought us a fab new authentic indian spice container which I joyously filled with my new purchases and other colourful powders. The seeds, some hot chilli powder and turmeric were sprinkled over diced potatoes, olive oil and unpeeled garlic cloves to produce some fabulous roasties to be eaten with a lemony roast chicken. The final touch was some lime-doused raw red onion for added crunch. The perfect end to a brilliant weekend with family and friends to celebrate Little M's birthday.

Goddess Mx

Monday, 21 February 2011

A happy snowman and some cosy stew

On Saturday we awoke to snow which I hadn't seen coming. Little M and I built a lovely friendly snowman with stones for eyes, a plum nose, some food packaging for a mouth and a planter for a hat. To keep him warm we donated one of mummy's old scarves.

As an antidote to the colder weather, a stew was in order - chorizo and chickpea to be precise. Vermicelli was warmed in olive oil, followed by bulgar wheat, some warming cinnamon, salt, water and bay leaves before being left to simmer until the liquid had been absorbed. In another pan chorizo pieces were fried for a few minutes before being watered with amontillado sherry, snipped apricots, chickpeas and canned cherry tomatoes. Once done, I piled bulgar wheat into two welcoming bowls, topped with the stew and sprinkled some coriander on for some added magic. Absolutely delicious and I would recommend the tomatoes to everyone. They are not much more costly than your standard tinned toms and are definitely tastier.

On Sunday the snow had gone but the snowman was still there, grinning away.

Goddess Mx