Tag Archives: Nigella Kitchen

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’

I am back…

Puttanesca Revisited (7034)

I have been away for a little over a month now. This long break has been totally unplanned. I returned to Surrey yesterday night and barely had the time to settle down; I still feel dazed and tired, since my visit to Malta has not been a holiday. So you will forgive me if I don’t give you any particular recipes today. I didn’t want to leave you without posting a foodie picture though, especially because running Chorizo & Thyme has been a joy and always will be. No matter what. And for that I thank you.

For me, pasta is comfort food and comfort is what I need right now. I love pasta alla puttanesca, mainly for its strong tastes and easy to find ingredients, and yes – for its simplicity.

On a positive note, thank goodness for the cooler weather! I can now bake and cook whatever I want once again!

Rob x

Chocolate Chip Cookies once again…

Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-(6638)

Last week I got a very kind message from a friend about a large batch of cookies he made for 40 people. I never made such a big quantity all at once because thank goodness I never had to feed such a large group. (I admire anyone who is able to cook in this way without hitting the panic button.) I cannot believe that I wrote about this recipe almost two years ago today, on the 27th May to be exact! Nigella’s book Kitchen was only a few months old then. Must be a weird coincidence. Since then I made these chocolate chip beauties countless times and they are loved.

Chocolate-Chunk-Cookies-(4553)

Recently I went ahead and bought a small ice-cream scoop which turns out to be very convenient for all kinds of cookies and muffins. Sometimes the right tools make the job easier, and an extra ice-cream scoop hasn’t done anyone any harm yet! (It was also a good excuse to run to the catering shop which is only a ten minute walk away from here. Happy days!) This quantity yielded me 24 smallish cookies.

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 300g dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C (fan) and line a couple of baking trays with baking greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter. The easier method is in the microwave using short blasts. Set aside to cool a little.

Put both sugars in a large bowl. Pour in the melted butter and whisk vigorously.

Then beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs until the mixture is light and creamy. Slowly mix in the plain flour and the baking powder and gently mix again.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small ice-cream scoop, drop the cookie mixture down onto your lined baking trays. Make sure to keep them around 6 cm apart because they will expand while baking. Keep the cookie dough bown in the fridge to keep it cool in between the batches.

Bake for approximately 17 minutes, while keeping an eye on them. Take them out of the oven as soon as their edges turn a little golden. Leave them to cool for a while on the trays before turning them out on a wire rack. Remember you want a soft cookie on the inside so don’t overbake them.

At the risk of sounding boring, I do love making these. And there’s always some in my bag when I have a day full of errands! Enjoy! R xx

(Adapted from Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2010.)

Image: Scone with Clotted Cream and Fresh Strawberries

Scone-(5945)

We had a couple of scones lately for tea. I’m loving this British afternoon tea tradition! Everything looked so pretty so I asked J to take some snaps. This is one of them, which I plan to turn into a large poster and hang it in the kitchen space. I wish I could say that I don’t eat these often. But lately I couldn’t resist. I know I know…I shouldn’t and I am following your advice – for the time being that is. Scones go with almost everything – my favourites are either with a teaspoon of vanilla extract in some whipped double cream and layered with strawberries (see photo) or if I could choose a dessert before I die it would have to be a scone with clotted cream and golden syrup. If you have not tried this before, please do. Just once.

A month ago we had a tennis fiesta in Wimbledon and very recently we had brilliant Olympic tennis, also in Wimbledon. Need another excuse? Nope!

Click here for Nigella’s buttermilk scone recipe, from her book Kitchen. Truly yummy stuff.

Rob x

Soggy muffins…

Apple-and-Cinnamon-Muffins-(5413)

I had not baked something sweet in a little while and decided that yesterday was the time to bake muffins. Now let it be known that muffins are the bane of my life at the moment. They never were, but since I’ve moved house I can never ever get them right. I’ve lost my touch. Lately I’ve been sharing my bakes with my lovely neighbour. (It’s the least I can do to thank her for taking the time to take care of all the building’s needs and for letting me vent when something is wrong!) But I didn’t give her any this time because frankly they’re not presentable, though they do taste good. Mind you, they look great actually, but they are not so nice to look at from the inside. Never judge a book by its cover. Before I continue I want to say that generally I try a recipe more than once before I write about it, but this time I just had to make an exception.

I was so disappointed that I took the time to discuss the result with J. He’s great at these things because he’s very calm and rational about these sorts of things. So while I was whining and going on a never-ending rant about how much of a failure I was (well..it’s a little bit over the top but I’m taking some poetic license on this), J took his time, cut one muffin in half, has a little taste and said: “One – you could cut the apples into smaller dice; two – you could even dry them in the oven for a bit; three – you could bake them for a little longer on a lesser temperature. You’ll get the hang of it, don’t worry…and if I were you I would try to make another batch tomorrow.” And that’s how from this point on I’ll think of this process as something of a post-mortem examination. Definitely seemed like it yesterday.

When I put that out on Twitter, one of my followers gave me the following idea: topping them with ice cream and chocolate and blame it all on the melting gooeyness of the ice cream. Tell you what – I was really tempted to do that! Another thing – I’m not blaming it on the recipe; I just want to try it again. One thing I will do though is to adjust it a little bit and take on board J’s suggestions. In case you’re wondering this recipe comes from Nigella Kitchen (page 130). I wanted to give them a go because they are a wonderful breakfast idea, not for everyday but they would be great for having friends or family over for brunch. I will edit in the photo later, but till then here’s the recipe for you, with some variations, for you to try should you want to. I will definitely do that this afternoon. This makes 12 muffins.

For the mixture:

  • 2 eating apples (I used Pink Lady, but you can use anything you like)
  • 250g plain flour (I used wholemeal which could have affected the texture)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 125ml honey
  • 60ml runny yoghurt (not Greek)
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 35g unblanched almonds, chopped

For sprinkling on top:

  • 35g unblanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/392ºF/Gas mark 6 and line the muffin tin with paper cases or  some wax paper cut into squares for a more professional look.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into small dice. Place them to one side till they are needed.
  3. Measure the flour in a large bowl and add the baking powder and the cinnamon
  4. (1 teaspoon), and the 35g of chopped almonds.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the brown sugar (125g), honey, yoghurt, oil and eggs, until combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to just combine the two. Add the chopped apples and fold them in gently. Do not over mix as you’ll end up with a very dense muffin.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop if you have one, divide the batter into the 12 cases.
  8. To make the topping, mix the ingredients together with your hands and sprinkle some on top of each muffin. Then bake for 20 minutes (what the original recipe suggests) till the muffins rise and turn golden.

I will tell you how my second attempt at these goes…wish me luck.

Rob x