Have I mentioned before that I’m a fan of Nigella? I like to keep it quiet, I don’t want to seem obsessed in any way, shape or form, but a new Nigella book is Big News in my home, much to The Boyfriends despair. So naturally as soon as payday hit last week I had to have it, as much for comfort reading as for the recipes. The great thing about Nigella is that she writes about food and life so well and while she may be minted herself and married to Charles Saatchi (net worth of £120 million), she clearly remembers what it’s like to be ‘normal’ without pots of money and fame. Plus, she loves food and sees no shame in gluttony or excess. My kind of gal then. So today’s recipe is from her new book Nigellisima which is dedicated to Italian food, which she fell in love with after spending a gap year in Italy. I’d like to say that I could have such an affinity with Italian food, what with being born and raised in a town with a huge Italian population and stuffed with Italian restaurants, but despite this I’ve never really ventured too far from the favourites the English have adopted. Well not anymore, not armed with the new Nigella tome anyway. So last night I spent my evening stirring up Chilli Crab Risotto over the hob while the rain hammered away outside. Nigella seems to think that stirring constantly for 20 minutes is quite relaxing, but I have to disagree as I just find it tiresome. However, risotto requires constant stirring so I had little choice in the matter. I really love chilli and freshly cooked crab is seriously tasty, but unfortunately the shops had no fresh crab so I had to downgrade significantly and go with canned crab. I’m not sure of the culinary credentials of canned crab, but taste wise it’s not so hot and lacks the lightness of the fresh stuff and tastes a bit too strong for my liking. Still, needs must and I was determined to cook this recipe. In general, it was a fairly good dish, with creamy rice, hints of white wine and a little bit of attitude from the chilli. I wouldn’t make it with canned crab again as it was too fishy and I can see how fresh crab woud turn the dish from fairly good to great. It was topped off with a few rocket leaves which gave a nice peppery heat to the risotto as well as making me feel a bit healthier.
Speaking of healthier, tonight I went for my fail safe ‘need to make up for an excessive weekend meal’, Greek yoghurt chicken. I use the word Greek very loosely, I’m pretty positive that a Greek person would find this severely lacking in authenticity, but it does contain Greek yoghurt so just go with it. All it is really is a chicken breast, cooked plainly in a way of your choosing (I usually grill it) with a big portion of vegetables and a tub of Greek yoghurt turned into something vaguely resembling tzatziki. The great thing about this meal being so unauthentic is that whatever you have in your fridge you can pretty much chuck in. If you have mint, cucumber, lemon and coriander you can quickly whip up an authentic tzatziki, but if you don’t have all of these then why not chuck in some spring onion, red chilli, garlic or parsley. If its a herb or spice, give it a go and chuck it in, although the mint is non negotiable. It must contain mint as this packs in a lot of flavour on what is essentially a dinner of plain chicken and veg. The yoghurt makes this dish, I can easily go through an entire 200g tub on my own when smothering my cooked chicken, but don’t feel bad about this as the yoghurt is stuffed with healthy natural ingredients. Except the sea salt, but lets live a little eh? Gradually add the ingredients to the yoghurt and taste it along the way as everyone has different tastes, I myself cram it to the brim with mint leaves as it tastes so fresh and zingy on the plain chicken. This weeks version contained spring onion, chilli, mint and lemon juice with some Maldon sea salt and black pepper. Remember too that there are no carbs in this meal so to fill up you need to pile the plate up with vegetables and salad, which will make you feel exceptionally virtuous. You’re welcome.