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Tag Archives: nigella kitchen

Ode to cookie dough

Oh cookie dough, I love you so
You taste so sweet, make me complete….

In case you hadn’t guessed, I have pretty strong feelings for cookie dough. For something that has the same texture and consistency as wet sand, it’s pretty darn delicious. And in a tub of vanilla ice cream, well, let’s just say food don’t get no better. There are only two flaws to cookie dough, and they are that once cooked it never tastes as good as it did raw, and it contains raw egg. I don’t know how pregnant women do it, 9 months without cookie dough??? I think in future I’m going to have to adopt, I just don’t see how I’m going to be able to do it otherwise. Pregnant women, they’re so brave.
So in case you didn’t know, I baked choc chip cookies today from Nigella Kitchen. Yep, she’s back, me and Nigella, you cant tear us apart. Halfway through baking them, I frustratingly remembered that I had actually made them before and really didn’t like them. It was too late to turn back so i half heartedly scooped the cookies out and baked them with a dull sense of disappointment. Well what can I say, there’s something to be said for low expectations, as these were like a completely different recipe. Last year I remember them being dry, chewy and tasting somewhat like dust, but today they were crisp on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle. Cookie perfection some would say, and just goes to show that one bad attempt at a recipe doesn’t necessarily mean the recipe is bad. I must have just overcooked them last year, it would seem the best cookies need to still be soft in the middle when coming out the oven.

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For dinner today I stuck with my Kitchen cookbook. What can I say, when a book is good you go with it. It was tarragon chicken and i must say it was a delightful dinner. The chicken is cooked in wine (always a good way to start a recipe) with spring onions and tarragon, and then once cooked some cream is stirred in and voila. Wine and cream, always a winning combination. The chicken is moist and tender from the wine, and the winey creamy sauce is sublime. I love tarragon, it tastes so good and goes ridiculously well with chicken. It says a lot about a dish when after all the food is gone, you run your fingers over the plate to get all the puddles of sauce left behind. Or maybe it just says a lot about me. Anyway, it’s very nice and being a French dish, gives you a little bit of sophistication on a Sunday night. I served it with jersey royal potatoes and leftover sugar snap peas and baby corn. It made me feel a little less bad about all the cream anyway.

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Banana cheesecake goes pear shaped

Another thing I have learnt through this cooking challenge is that you should always check the size of your equipment (*cough*) before proceeding with recipe. The Boyfriend returned on Monday, so to celebrate this and to welcome him back with some delicious homemade food after 2 months of eating out in fancy restaurants (I know, how awful for him), I cooked him roast dinner (pork, his favourite) and a banana cheesecake from Nigella Kitchen. The roast dinner was delicious, crackling crisp and salty, potatoes crunchy on the outside, fluffy in the middle and veg still with some crunch. I even managed not to screw up the gravy which I am normally appalling at. Even when being lazy and using Bisto granules I somehow screw it up, and making it from scratch will alway, always, always end in disaster with either little lumps of cornflour floating in it as a last resort to help thicken it, or a layer of grease floating on top of the gravy, both of which are most unappetising. The Boyfriend makes cracking gravy, which is a wasted talent as he is never at home to make said gravy! So at least the main event was delicious, as the dessert was not. How does one mess up cheesecake, you ask? Well this is how: by ignoring the advice bestowed on me by the ever reliable Nigella and thinking everything would be OK. It was not OK. After making the cheesecake, I was supposed to place my springform tin containing the cheesecake into a roasting tray and then fill the tray with boiling water to create a water bath. This stops the cheesecake from overcooking and becoming dense and un-fluffy. I didnt have a roasting tray that could accomodate my tin, although this did not stop me from attempting to break the laws of physics by using force and sheer willpower, but after a lot of trying, the tray was just not big enough. So I thought ‘whats the worst that could happen?’ and chucked the cheesecake, sans water bath, into the oven. If you have to ask ‘whats the worst that could happen?’, then you probably shouldnt do it if the answer scares you. This applies to cheesecake making as well as other risky activities such as swimming with sharks (being eaten) or bungee jumping (the cord could break and I could land in crocodile infested waters – true story, but thankfully not experienced by me). Result of this barefaced insolence? Dry, mealy cheesecake that looked more grey than yellow and that’s scary stuff when you want to welcome someone back not make them wish they were still 5000 miles away! It did taste of banana but the texture was not great. It should have been fluffy and light but was nowhere near. I should also have made a toffee sauce to pour over the cheesecake to make it banoffee like in Kitchen but it really would not have been worth the effort. This may be the longest time a cheesecake has sat in my fridge, with only one measly slice eaten. It’s a sad day for cream cheese, I can’t even bring myself to post a photo of the thing! I may have to move on from baked to chilled cheesecake in an effort to get over this defeat. But at least The Boyfriend is back for a few weeks, which made me feel a whole lot better about the failed cheesecake. Now just have to get through two more days at work and then we have a whole week off together, bring on 5pm Friday!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Books, Cooking

 

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No Spring Chicken

Today, spring chicken from Nigella Kitchen. I know what you’re thinking, another Nigella recipe, but hey, her cookbooks are great as are the recipes so its hard to keep away! I’m on a Nigella ‘hype’ at the moment, as I believe the kids would say (but what would I know, I made a list of recipes I wanted to cook, then cook them and write the results up, so I’m not exactly what you would call ‘down with the kids’).  I’ve spent the week trying to repent for the cinnamon buns I made on Sunday, so far my week has consisted of going to the gym and circuit class, for which the only positive thing I can say about it is that it didn’t kill me. Have also bought a lot of fruit for my breakfasts (mango, grapes, pineapple, pomegranate seeds), although I’ve used this to justify eating chips and then Mcdonalds for lunch two days in a row. In my defence, I tried to get a Happy Meal today but was subsequently mocked for this, so peer pressure meant I caved and had an ‘adults’ meal. Shame, as the toy looked really good.

Spring chicken was a lovely dinner, it’s sauce is made up of cider, pancetta, leeks, celery, tarragon and garlic so as you would imagine is very fragrant and flavoursome. Once you tell me a sauce has cider in I’m pretty much sold on it, it smells so damn good while cooking and tastes sweet but salty and goes so well with meat. An obvious match would be pork but is just as good with chicken too. I’m not a big drinker, and tend to use alcohol more for cooking than anything else. Wine fans would probably be horrified to know I open a bottle of wine  for a glassful to throw in a recipe, then forget about the rest of the bottle for weeks until it has to be thrown away. There’s a scene in an episode of Peep Show, where Jeremy is in a restaurant drinking expensive wine with a girl, and all he’s thinking is something along the lines of “it’s no Ribena or hot chocolate, but for wine, yum”. This is pretty much my take on wine, I like it but can take it or leave it. Blame it on too many nights out that end with me falling asleep in the bathroom! Good thing I discovered mini bottles of wine to cook with instead. Spring chicken, its not a dinner that wows and stuns, but is a comforting way to end a long day at work. Nigella also gives ideas for leftovers in this book, and for this chicken recipe she recommends stripping the chicken off the bone, and using the sauce and chicken to coat some pasta. So thats lunch tomorrow sorted. I’m trying to avoid freezing leftovers now as the freezer is now absolutely packed with portions of dinners past, so I need to make a dent in these before filling it up again. I don’t like throwing food away!

 

In other news, it was payday yesterday, so naturally that means more cookbooks – three to be exact. I know, I’ve fallen off the wagon spectacularly with my cookbook binge. In classic addict behaviour, I am apportioning the blame to someone else, and this would be the demon that is Amazon. That tool which tells you ‘Like this? Then you’ll love these’ gets me every time, so I’m now impatiently waiting for “The Book of Jewish Food” by Claudia Roden, “Supper Club” by Kerstin Rodgers, and” USA Cookbook” by  Sheila Lukins. Well at least they are all very different. Just can’t wait to get my hands on them and get cooking!

 
 

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Lasagna, Key Lime and Masterchef

Someone please slap me. It has become increasingly obvious to me that since the boyfriend flew off to more exotic climes to work, I have turned into a big soppy ball of mush. It’s vomit inducing even for me, I need a good slap to knock some sense into me (although if you see me in the next couple of days, please don’t). Driving to work listening to the new Mary J Blige album (which is very good by the way), I was paying extra special attention to the lyrics and wondering when exactly I’d spoken to MJB about my love life and why she’d cruelly decided to turn it into a song for millions to hear? Thanks a lot Mary! But now any song which remotely mentions love has me going ” Oh my  god, this is EXACTLY how I feel, this song is about ME!”, and if it also happens to mention being separated by distance and/or time then I start wondering exactly when Alicia Keys started reading my mind and why I’ve not yet received any royalties. Its a sad state of affairs, I may have to take drastic action and start listening to heavy metal to remove me from this lovesick state. Cooking at least takes my mind off it, and I’ve taken another two recipes off the challenge list in the last couple of days. Not that this really puts a dent in the list, as I know already that come payday next week I’ll be adding another cookbook to the list. Like I said, its a sickness and I don’t want to get better.

I had a few work friends round for dinner last night, and decided that instead of playing it safe with the usual lasagne then chocolate cake combo (wonderful though it is) I’d cook a more unusual take on lasagne. This one was from the May 2010 issue of Delicious magazine which is dedicated to Italian food and the recipe was mushroom, parma ham and mascarpone lasagne, which also had pork mince in it. Well I must say it was very nice, and a decent change from traditional lasagne. The meat and mushrooms were cooked in a white wine and chicken  stock sauce with lots of parsley, garlic and onion, and the mascarpone béchamel sauce was really creamy and complimented the meat. Feedback was also very positive and empty plates are always a good sign. I forgot to take a photo of it though, but if you want to picture it, just imagine a lasagne with a white filling as opposed to the usual red one. Thats it!

Dessert was then chocolate and key lime pie from Nigella Kitchen, which is another great cookbook from Nigella. I’d like to point out that there is absolutely nothing nutritional about this dessert apart form the lime juice, which lets face it once mixed with double cream and evaporated milk, then placed into a pie crust made up of butter, digestive biscuits, cocoa powder and choc chips, has lost all of its citrussy goodness. But if you eat dessert for its nutritional qualities, then what the hell are you eating for junk food??? The lime stands up to all the other ingredients though and the filling tastes really zingy and is also super smooth and delicious. The pie crust, while nice did not set very well and ended up crumbling everywhere and became rubble next to the filling. Three slices are still sitting in the fridge and I just know I am going to cave in soon and grab one. It would be rude not to.

And on that note I’m going to eat some leftover lasagne, and catch up on this weeks Masterchef finals. I’m pretty certain that with these heightened emotions and the manipulative use of emotional music I will be crying my eyes out when they surely crown Shalina the winner. Masterchef gets me every time, better take my make up off first!

 
 

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