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, 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