Tag Archives: Nigella Bites

Quick Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad with Rice (9929)

Before I start writing a post for this blog, I also browse through my old photos as well as the more recent ones. There’s always a throwback in there which for some reason has either escaped my noticing it, or has lost its turn to be replaced in line with a new recipe or an exciting book review. There’s nothing I like best other than to spend my winter afternoons and early evenings in my study, reading or writing and sipping hot chocolate. In summer I just can’t get my mind to concentrate much. Aprile dolce dormire, the Italians say, dolce dormire roughly meaning a sweet sleep. So while C&T HQ keeps on working on the writing, recipes and other miscellaneous photos, I can spend some time sorting through my archives.

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Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Lentil and Chestnut Soup (8822)

These past couple of weeks are turning out to be so weird. What a way to start today’s post, eh? In the spirit of Halloween I am still feeling like a zombie. Sleepy (strong anti-ear infection medication does that to you, trust me) and generally very light-headed. I meant to post a recipe yesterday, but my to-do list went out the window in the afternoon since I didn’t feel well at all. The situation hasn’t improved much. My ear still feels like someone’s lighting a lighter in it and to top it all off I get stabbing pains at intervals, as if someone is literally poking a needle into my eardrum. Not fun. Babies are prone to getting ear infections, I am constantly hearing right now. True. I’m not a baby but I still feel miserable. Poor things (little ones not me), no wonder they constantly cry in pain.

Let’s move on to the more cheerful things, shall we? I have two pieces of good news. I have my new desk! I am so pleased with it. I almost couldn’t believe it was here while watching J and his dad assembling it in the study. I am really enjoying working in this room even more. It’s my haven. Nearer completion we plan to purchase a comfortable reading chair to place next to the window. Can’t wait. The second piece of news is that I am waiting for a number of cookbooks to arrive, all of which are for review. I’ll be happy if they all make the cut, so we’ll see.

Continue reading Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Sweetcorn Pudding

Nigella's Sweetcorn Cake Revisited (7092)Let’s cut to the chase. Just because I can’t contain my excitement! Today sees the launch of one the most anticipated cookbooks of the yearSimply Nigella. I’m still waiting for my copy so this is not a review, unfortunately (I would have loved to have one right here for you). So until that day comes, in celebration of the book, I am revisiting a recipe which has been an old favourite of mine for ages. It was one of the first things I learnt to make while I was still teaching myself the kitchen basics. I didn’t have any of Nigella’s books at the time, and fifteen years ago the internet was not as it is today. So I watched all her shows on the Food Network. Now there’s YouTube which make things a lot easier!

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Savoury puddings…

Creamed-Corn-Cake-(5468)

Most people would say that I have a sweet tooth, but if you read in between the lines of my several rants in this blog (for which I constantly apologise – but I know I don’t always need to), you’ll know that perhaps this is not the case. I love sweet things, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there’s nothing better than some fresh crusty bread and cheese to alter my mood. Did I forget to include those lovely salty anchovies?! It’s now widely acknowledged that too much salt is not good for the system, but extra seasoning is needed many times for flavour. There’s nothing worse than a bland plate of soup. I know you know what I’m talking about.

When I lived in Michigan some years ago I spent loads of time alone in the kitchen thinking about what my next bake would be. Food Network US was constantly on, day in day out, no exception. I used to drive J totally mad I think! But that’s when my food obsession started. So one morning I saw a short snippet of Nigella Bites. I can’t remember the episode this recipe was from, but I saw her concocting a pudding she served with ham. I quickly tried to write it down and missed some steps here and there, but I thought that I had a workable recipe anyway. So I tried what I had written and the recipe worked. This is before I bought the book. The result was a creamy cake, not that solid I must say, but it was done, the skewer came out perfectly clean. It was wierd but tasted great and I wondered where Nigella got the idea from. You see, however far you look, recipes are always inherited when it comes to home cooking, and there’s nothing wrong in this. There’s a sense of tradition which I love – I have no worries about passing on recipes, especially the ones which I’ve grown up with. There’s no secret here.

I never found where this idea came from until I came back from Rome last week. I was reading through Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy which is definitely one of the must-haves in your kitchen library if you are interested in Italian food and its history. I was thinking about buying it when I discovered that I already had! I rummaged through my books on my last visit to Malta and found it hidden in the shelves! Go figure. In this book I found a recipe for what Del Conte calls Salviata, a.k.a. sage pudding. Nigella’s version is *not* a replica of the Salviata – there are many differences. What I would say is that the Italian recipe is much healthier, if you’re counting the calories. Also, like almost all things Italian it has Parmesan in it of course. I haven’t tried the Salviata yet, but the following is Nigella’s English pudding, which is really quick and easy to prepare, but don’t make it often, ok? You’ll get why in a minute. Also it needs it’s time in the oven to bake through. So give it time. As always, please note that every oven is different, so experiment and don’t give up if it doesn’t turn out the way you’ve hoped.

Before you read on, you also need creamed corn for this recipe. I would recommend you add it here because it will make a big difference in the pudding’s consistency. It’s so good you’ll want to eat it straight out of the can with a spoon! Well I do anyway! You can easily find it in supermarkets in the UK. This is my version of Nigella’s recipe. I take her advice on board as always and use a Pyrex dish, which always works. You need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 280g sweetcorn, frozen (or drain a 340g can – you’ll get roughly the same amount)
  • 420g can creamed corn
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk (Nigella uses full-fat but I find it works like this too)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 60g plain flour (4 heaped tablespoons will work fine)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. Grease an ovenproof dish with some butter and flour, and preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, add the other ingredients and beat very very well! Pour into the dish and place it in the oven. Give it 45 minutes and keep an eye on it through the oven. That’s why you’ll want to use a glass dish here. Wait for it to turn golden brown and puffed up on the top. Give it a good hour if this isn’t so. If you think it’s cooked check it as you do usually, with a knife or skewer but try to leave the dish in the oven as you do this. Ask for some help if you need to.

If you see that it took longer than an hour to cook, next time try it at 190°C as the book says. I find that for an electric oven ten degrees less is more than enough. Experiment and enjoy it though. It makes a mean snack, or a really good side with anything. Happy baking!

Rob x

Orange Muffins

Orange-Breakfast-Muffins-(5083)

I was taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But let’s be honest: how many times do we get bored with the same cereal day in day out? Countless are those times when I throw my hands in the air and simply give up! Too many times for my liking. Worse case scenario? One cup of coffee and that’s it. Not good enough. More often than not, whenever I can, I eat breakfast later in the day – I just cannot take it at 6 or 7 in the morning. So guilty as charged.

Even though I’m always up for a good English breakfast especially on holiday, I’m always looking for recipes which can be adapted or used as good options for everyday. People tell me that breakfast is the last thing on their minds at home, but when on holiday it’s the first thing they think about. Does this ring a bell? To me it certainly does.

If you look for breakfast recipes in this blog you won’t find many, but J’s pancake recipe is great for weekends, when we may have more time to potter about in the kitchen. However preparing pancakes everyday isn’t my cup of tea. So the following could be an option for you once in a while because you can prepare them a day or two before and keep them in a cool, dry place. If not they will go mouldy (it happened to me), but if you store them correctly they will keep for two to three days. These breakfast muffins are taken from Nigella Bites with minor variations. They are very easy to conjure up.

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened and slightly cooled
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 80g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 egg

Line a muffin tray with paper and preheat the oven to 200ºC/395ºF/Gas Mark 6.

In a large bowl mix flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sugar and the zest of an orange.

In a smaller bowl or a jug whisk the orange juice, milk, egg and the cooled softened butter together.

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients folding it gradually until you have a lumpy muffin mixture. Don’t worry; this is how it should be.

Divide the mixture into your muffin cases. Mine yielded 11. Bake for 20 minutes and when cool enough to handle place the muffins onto a wire rack. These are best eaten while they are still warm, but they are still good if you choose to leave some for the next day! I would comfortable eat them with unsalted butter, marmalade or jam, or perhaps even top them with some glaze or icing. I’m really getting hungry now.

So, who’s up for a spot of baking? I am. Enjoy!

Rob x