Tag Archives: nigella lawson

caramel croissant pudding

caramel croissant pudding

This is a corker of a pud, an embellishment of a Nigella dessert. It’s great if you have a couple of croissants hanging about after a weekend. It’s MEGA sweet mind, so if that’s not your idea of a pudding then move along. Gregg Wallace… step right up.

Based on a recipe from Nigella Express.

Caramel croissant pudding (serves 4 – 6):

3 day-old croissants

100g sugar

Splash of Marsala (or other spirit you like)

500ml ready-made custard (needs to be a good quality one)

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Tear up the croissant into pieces into a ovenproof dish.
  2. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and pop in the sugar with a tablespoon of sugar. Allow to melt into a caramel until a deep amber colour, then add the custard, whisking all the time. Add the booze and pour over the croissants. If you’re pushed for time, chuck in the oven now. If you have time to spare then allow it to seep into the bread for a few hours before baking (in which case you probably shouldn’t have preheated the oven).
  3. Bake until crisp and shiny on top.

cranberry muffins

cranberry muffins

A little gem from Nigella Christmas. I am firmly with her on this one: I don’t know how anybody manages much more than toast on Christmas morning. And while I didn’t make these on 25th December they were perfect for a couple of days later.

From Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Morning Muffins.

Cranberry muffins (makes about 12):

250g plain flour

2½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

good grating of fresh nutmeg

Zest and juice of 1 orange

125ml milk

75ml vegetable oil

1 egg

175g dried cranberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bung all the ingredients except the cranberries in a food mixer and blend until smooth, then fold in the fruit. Dollop into cake cases and bake for about 12 – 15 minutes until golden and risen.

black forest yule log

black forest yule log

Nigella just made Christmas dinner completely awesome for me this year. Along with her failsafe recipe for turkey, this yule log saved me from one of the things I don’t much care for: Christmas pudding. I do however, love chocolate and one more tweak converted it into one a riff on one my favourite things in the whole world: black forest gateau. Yummy.

(There was one thing stopping this being Christmas perfection for me: decorative pine cones. Could I find pine cones in the woods of Maldon, Rayleigh and Hockley combined? Could I ‘eck as like.)

This recipe is adapted from one in Nigella Christmas.

Black forest yule log (serves about 10 – 12):

For the sponge:

6 eggs, separated

150g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

3–5 teaspoons icing sugar to decorate

For the filling:

1 jar black cherry jam

For the icing:

175g dark chocolate, chopped

250g icing sugar

225g soft butter

2 tablespoons kirsch

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until thick and then whisk in 50g sugar. In a separate bowl whisk the yolks and remaining sugar together until thick and creamy, then stir in the cocoa. Fold in the whites a third at a time.
  3. Grease a large rectangular baking tray, put a generous sheet of baking parchment on top then grease that too for good measure. Pour over the batter and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out the cooked sponge on to another piece of parchment and roll up gently to keep it’s shape for later.
  4. For the icing melt the chocolate gently in the microwave. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until smooth then stir in the cooled chocolate and kirsch.
  5. Unroll the sponge and spread over the jam, then roll back up again. Put on your serving dish or board at this point and then smooth over the icing. (You might want to trim off an end here to make a branch if you can be bothered). Use a fork or toothpick to make pretty woody lines in the icing, then store in a cool place until needed. Sieve over some icing sugar before serving.

roast turkey with all the trimmings

roast turkeySometimes, blog posts I write are to spread the news of some great recipe I found. Other times it’s about crazy experiments. But the aim has always been to be a log of what I cooked, and that’s what this Christmas Day feast is about: to remind myself what worked and what to fix for next time.

Perhaps surprisingly I’d never cooked a whole turkey before: on previous years when hosting someone else provided the turkey on another occasion I went for chicken. So on your maiden voyage into turkey cooking, what technique do you follow to ensure no-one is disappointed (least of all me!) ?

turkey in the brineI was initially tempted by Matthew Fort’s method for slow-roasting the bird, especially given my previous success with long roasting times. But I just couldn’t take the risk and instead went for the technique of that doyenne of domesticity, Nigella. I grabbed a copy of Nigella Christmas from the library and swotted up. She favours a brining followed by a hot, quick roasting. I’m a big fan of brining poultry and with trusty meat thermometer in hand I had to follow this one. And I’m so glad I did. It was no bother to prepare as it is done a couple of days beforehand, and by using a foil roasting tray I could chuck it on the recycling pile and not have to scrub the pan after cooking. I had a 5.5kg bird and anticipated a cooking time of 2½ hrs and bang on then it was done. In fact I probably could have removed it 15 minutes earlier as the very outer skin was a little tough and the internal temperature was in the mid 80s, well within the safe range. That aside the flavour was lovely and texture great, so I was very pleased with bowing down to Queen Nigella’s recipe.

So that was the main event. The roast potatoes, well you might recognise that recipe. Sprouts were also cooked to a previous tradition in my house, while carrots were simply steamed – there’s more than enough flavours going on to bother with tweaking these too much. There were also maple-roast parsnips, Jamie Oliver’s “get-ahead” gravy which I’ve made before and is absolutely terrific (a friend of mine commented that it “tastes of everything you put into it”), and on this occasion raised its game with turkey roasting juices and a quick turkey stock.

Other people may raise an eyebrow at packet stuffing, but I grew up on the stuff and a roast poultry dinner just isn’t the same without it. Yes, I know it is little more than a packet of dust mixed with water making it no more sophisticated than a Pot Noodle but I love it.

I can’t remember ever having bread sauce before but read this recipe on Recipe Rifle which, reading between the lines must be a Josceline Dimbleby recipe and therefore failsafe. However after hours of cooking it was watery. The flavour was gorgeous but unfortunately just too wet. I suspect I used rubbish bread which wasn’t in the mood to absorb liquid but I would definitely like to try it again.

Bread sauce apart, all in all a success. Very pleased with the results. Merry Christmas!

(I’ve presented it below as an itinerary as a reminder where I saved time for next year. I aimed for a 2.30pm dinner)

Roast turkey with all my trimmings  (serves 7 with leftovers):

For the gravy:

6 chicken pieces (wings, thighs etc)

3 onions, quartered

3 celery sticks, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tablespoons flour

1 pint boiling water

Turkey giblets

For the turkey & brine:

5.5kg turkey

10 pints water

125 grams table salt

3 tablespoons black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 tablespoons juniper berries

4 star anise

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

200g caster sugar

2 onions, quartered

1 piece ginger

4 tablespoons maple syrup

4 tablespoons clear honey

1 orange, quartered

For the bread sauce:

1 large onion, very finely diced

150g wholemeal bread, crusts on

6 cloves

4 cardamom pods

½ a nutmeg

75g butter

900ml milk

300ml double cream

For the yorkshire puddings:

4 eggs

4 heaped tablespoons flour

Milk

Vegetable oil

For the potatoes:

1kg potatoes

200ml goose fat

3 cloves garlic

Peel of 1 orange

1 sprig of rosemary

For the maple parsnips:

6 parsnips, peeled and quartered

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Red wine vinegar

For the brussels sprouts:

500g brussels sprouts

2 rashers bacon, diced

1 vac-pack of chestnuts

Etc:

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 packet stuffing

Sausages wrapped in bacon

    • 3 days before: GRAVY – Preheat the oven to 180°C. Chuck the veg and herbs in a roasting dish and top with the chicken pieces. Roast for about an hour then transfer to a hob. Shake over the flour and stir all around until a thick paste forms, then pour over the water. Allow to bubble away for about 45 minutes and then sieve the solids off. The gravy can be frozen until needed.
    • 2 days before: TURKEY – chuck the turkey with all the brine ingredients in a large lidded container and top with water until the bird is covered. Leave in a cold place (I kept mine in the garage).
    • 1 day before: BREAD SAUCE – Preheat the oven to 130°C. Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 2 hours. Refrigerate until needed.
    • 1 day before: YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS – Whisk the eggs and flour together with a pinch each of salt and pepper in a measuring jug and add enough milk to make a thin custardy-textured batter. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
    • 1 day before: ROAST POTATOES – peel the potatoes but keep the peelings. I boil the peelings with the potatoes to impart super-earthy flavour, by putting them inside my cheapest (clean) dishcloth tied at the top. Cut the potatoes into golf ball-size chunks. Get a pan of water on to a rolling boil with a hefty hand of salt and boil the potatoes + skins for about 15 mins, or until they are super-tender. Drain and return to the hot pan (off the heat) to steam dry. When cool cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
    • 9am that day: TURKEY – remove the turkey from the brine, drain and pat with kitchen paper. Leave on a rack over the sink to continually drip-dry and come up to room temperature.
    • 9.30am: GRAVY – put the giblets, neck, any turkey trimmings you have into a pan with a quartered onion and barely cover with water. Leave on a low simmer for a couple of hours.
    • 10am: CARROTS & SPROUTS – put the carrots into a steamer, with the sprouts on the top tier. Halve the sprouts if they are on the large side. You are bonkers if you put crosses into the bases.
    • 10.30am: PARSNIPS – toss the parsnips in a little oil along with the maple syrup, plus a dash of red wine vinegar. Pop them in a roasting dish until needed. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
    • 11am: TURKEY – stick it in the oven. I recommend a disposable roasting dish to avoid dishwash insanity.
    • 1.15pm – 1.30pm: TURKEY – you should be checking this to see whether the bird is done around this time. When ready bring it out and cover with foil and a tea towel. When it comes out, stick the goose fat in a large roasting dish and put in the oven for a couple of minute to get sizzly hot.
    • 1.40pm: POTATOES – put the potatoes into the hot fat.
    • 1.45pm: STUFFING – mix the stuffing mix with boiling water and leave to sit. Put the parsnips in.
    • 2.00pm: LOTS – dot the stuffing with butter and put in the oven. Cover the bases of a yorkie tin with a layer of oil and get in the oven to heat up. Get the gravy and bread sauce into saucepans warming up. Tip the turkey stock into the gravy too. Depending on how salty they are, you might want to add some of the juices from the turkey roasting tray. Bung the sausages in bacon into the oven too. Give the potatoes a quick toss and add the garlic, orange and rosemary.
    • 2.05pm: YORKSHIRES – carefully pour the batter into the sizzling yorkie tin.
    • 2.10pm: VEG – Pop the steamer on for 20 mins.
    • 2.20pm: SPROUTS – get a frying pan over a medium heat and fry off the bacon. When coloured tip in the sprouts and chestnuts, seasoning liberally. After 5 mins take off the heat and add a drizzle of maple syrup.
    • 2.25pm: TURKEY – carve (or better still, get someone else to do it).
    • 2.30pm: Serve and eat!

peanut butter cheesecake

peanut butter cheesecake

Nigella is back, with as camp a parade of gluttony and swank as you would expect. As usual her recipes swell with “of course you should put x and y together, it’s so obvious” and impressive shortcuts.

An absolute pig of a dessert was served up in the series opener, peanut butter cheesecake. She seemed to offer about a dozen warnings along the lines of “well, this is only a treat” and “all things in moderation” leading me to believe that Compliance had a fit when she presented a recipe that featured 6 eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, peanut butter and chocolate. Peanut butter seems to be one of her things, and why wouldn’t it be? That combo of sweet and salty is irresistible.

Surprisingly, it’s nowhere near as rich as you think it’s going to be. Indulgent yes, but this just means a pleasingly sweet and creamy texture with that one-more-piece-ness of salted peanuts. It’s great fun, and dead easy to make, so it comes highly recommended. It’s made a million times easier with a food processor, so use one of those if you have access to one.

PS. Nigella Lawson’s recipe is written out in her own words here.

Nigella’s peanut butter cheesecake:

For the base:

200g digestive biscuits

150g dark chocolate

50g butter

50g salted peanuts

For the filling:

500g cream cheese (at room temperature)

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sour cream

200g caster sugar

4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

For the topping:

250ml sour cream

100g milk chocolate

30g brown sugar

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Whizz up the base ingredients to dust. Press and pack down into a spring-form tin and leave in the fridge to firm up while you get on with the filling.
  3. Whizz together the filling ingredients until super-smooth and creamy. Pour over the base and pop in the oven for 50 minutes or so, until it has just set on top. (As Nigella put it, “so there is still a hint of inner thigh wobble”). Leave it to stand and cool slightly before adding the topping. It may crack at this point but it doesn’t matter.
  4. Melt the topping ingredients together in a saucepan and pour over the cake. Pop back in the oven for 10 minutes to let the topping set. Take it out and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours or until needed.

potato and mushroom gratin

potato and mushroom gratin

When it’s comfort food I’m after, only one chef matters: Nigella Lawson. The divine godess of punchy flavourful food with a smirk never fails to deliver. In this recipe from Nigella Express
my old chum chestnut mushrooms are sliced wafer thin and nestled in layers of potato, with creamy garlicky sauce running throughout. A hearty side-dish that goes well with grilled meats and fleshy greens.

Potato and mushroom gratin:

250g mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 baking potatoes, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons garlic oil

350ml full fat milk

3 tablespoons white wine

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Bring the wine and milk to the boil in a lrge pan and add the potatoes. Stir occasionally and season.
  3. Fry the mushrooms in the garlic oil until tender. Add these to the potato mix.
  4. Tip into a casserole dish and bake for 45 mins until the bubbly and browned.

peanut butter cookies

peanut butter cookies

I happened on these totally by accident. The ever-readable Jo of Jo’s Kitchen put out a plaintive Twitter plea for a quick post-work cookie recipe. I was sure Nigella would have the answer, and sure enough, she did. I suggested them, alas peanut butter is not her thing. Bloody is mine though, Reese’s Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups send me giddy with delight – it’s the clash of salt and sweet that makes it.

It’s riotously simple – peanut butter, egg, chocolate, sugar – but the texture is utterly amazing, just like a real cookie. Crisp on the outside, crumbly inside, with the smooth salt-sweet flavour that coats the mouth. I’m definitely doing them again, possibly this week to lift the spirits in the office. THough this time I’d use quite a sweet milk chocolate, perhaps CDM, and make them smaller, and bake them a minute or two less. Gorgeous!