Spaghettini with prawns and chilli, Nigella Express

Apologies, I couldn’t find this recipe online, but it’s page 293 in the book.

I had to google spaghettini. What did we used to do without google? I look up actors who I’m convinced I’ve seen in another programme but can’t remember which one; wildlife or plants I notice on walks or in the garden that I don’t recognise; and the names of people I know.

I found spaghettini online (apparently it’s very thin spaghetti) but not in the shop. Instead I bought regular spaghetti and linguine. I opted for the latter because I was in the mood for flat rather than round. Apart from that, the only other thing I had to substitute was sunblush tomatoes for sun dried tomatoes (one is meant to be drier and wrinklier than the other but in my experience it really depends on the producer).

Quick and easy, and it required Nigella’s favourite again – spring onions. But can someone please tell me if it’s at all possible to mix ingredients into spaghetti (or linguine) properly?? I can never disperse everything and meat and vegetables usually end up at the bottom of the pan.

The flavours were delicate, which I like – I prefer to be able to taste my pasta.

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Mini meatloaves and moonblush tomatoes, Nigella Express

In an attempt to make these posts more interactive I have decided, where possible, to include a link to the recipes I discuss. I didn’t want to infringe on any copyright guidelines by typing them out in my blog so adding links to recipes online seems to be the best option.

Moonblush tomatoes
Hazaar! At my first attempt, here is the recipe: moonblush tomatoes

I made these the night before I planned on eating them. Quite straightforward, preheat the oven, put everything in a tray, put tray in oven then turn the oven off and leave the tray in overnight.

I was like a child at Christmas and had to hold back from ruining the effect by opening the oven to check on the tiny tomatoes’ progress. My plan was to serve them with Nigella’s mini meatloaves (no innuendo intended).

Mini meatloaves
And if you’re keen to try them yourself, here is the recipe: mini meatloaves (so far so good on the recipe link front!)

I’ve never had meatloaf before so had nothing to compare these with. But here are my preparation tips – if you’re in the UK and/or just don’t have access to any A.1. steak sauce, substitute it with good old HP Sauce, also, I don’t know why but I chose to use Ready Brek  instead of quick cook oats. I had both in the cupboard but I thought the fine powdery consistency of the former might work better. I don’t know if I was right in thinking this.

The loaves went in and the whole house smelt amazing – a meaty, oaty aroma.

However, when they came out, they didn’t look anything like the picture in the book. No idea why. They looked anaemic next to Nigella’s golden brown creations. She suggests waiting until they’re cool to eat, but I couldn’t resist trying one of them. They were bloomin hard to get off the baking sheet but tasted great.

We ate the meatloaves with the moonblush tomatoes that evening, I enjoyed the loaves with leftover hot salsa from when we had the quesadillas. I didn’t enjoy the moonblush tomatoes as much. They are incredibly intense and sightly too salty. Coupled with the meatloaves (which included a large quantity of salty sausagemeat), it was too much. They might be better mixed into some dish or other or to complement fresher, sweeter or starchier ingredients.

See what you think!

Quesadillas, Nigella Express

Tortilla, cured hams, jalapeño, cheese and hot salsa says Wednesday night, doesn’t it?!

We eat a lot of wraps in our house – they’re quick and can be healthy if you want them to be. The only difference with quesadillas as far as I can see is that instead of rolling the tortillas, you fold them and instead of eating cold, you griddle them.

I don’t own a griddle. I may have mentioned this before. I get by with a frying pan but it just doesn’t make food look as aesthetically pleasing.

We both created our own tortillas, which we would eventually share. My husband’s were bursting to the brim with filling and we found that you do need to press down on the tortilla once folded to make sure they stay in tact in the pan.

The whole house smelt of pancakes and we devoured these with some hot salsa. We both wanted more – unfortunately we didn’t have any cured ham left otherwise we would still be eating these today!

Pollo alla cacciatora, Nigella Express

I could not for the life of me remember if I’d already cooked this. There were no food stains on the recipe’s page to suggest that I had but preparing this had a slight feel of deja vu about it.

Very easy again (as the cookbook’s title suggests). It consists of chicken, pancetta, spring onions (Nigella is obsessed with these things), rosemary, white wine, tomatoes and celery salt. My advice – if you need to substitue anything in this recipe, do so to your heart’s content, but you must use celery salt – this is what provides the dish with a depth of flavour.

We didn’t have any cannellini beans but because she states ‘optional’ we used butter beans instead.

My husband ate this with rice, I had it on its own. We also had enough for leftovers and had the rest for lunch the next day. It’s perfect for UK ‘summer’ weather. Keep warm and dry people!

A cake post, finally!

It was mam’s birthday last week and I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to write about the cake I baked.

Since I now have a bundt (round) cake tin I now feel invincible when it comes to cakes – for years I would skip over the bundt cake recipe pages in favour of ‘normal’ cakes but not any more!

I opted for the spiced pound cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Easy to prepare, great ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, cloves). My tin may have been a fraction too small however, as it was full to the brim going into the oven. I had to level out the bottom of the cake when it came out but I thoroughly enjoyed eating the crispy leftovers.

The cake itself is rather heavy (to carry and eat) but the taste is great and the texture is just right. I do wonder whether its density was down to my husband buying granulated sugar when I asked for caster…regardless, I didn’t test this theory but I think it would be nice warm, with some custard.

The only thing I will say is that as a birthday cake, it doesn’t look very spectacular which is why I decorated it with an “artistic” drizzle of strawberry icing sugar and tiny gold stars.

I also learnt from my mistake at my dad’s birthday and took a piece of it home with me after presenting it to my mum. Enjoy with a comforting cup of tea or a sparkling glass of something.

Nigella Lawson’s moonblush tomatoes (Nigella Express)

Last night, whilst preparing supper, I actually planned ahead. Gasp! I prepared moonblush tomatoes, which are basically halved cherry tomatoes covered in olive oil, salt, sugar and thyme. They are placed in a hot oven then the oven is turned off and you are advised to leave them overnight, if not longer.

When I came downstairs this morning, I was like a child on Christmas morning, but I have resisted opening the oven and hope to be able to leave them now until supper tonight. We will be eating them with Nigella’s mini meatloaves. Can’t wait!

A firm favourite

Before I started this challenge, in our house we probably had 3 or 4 trusted recipes that we would fall back on – either because we were short of time, money or imagination!

Nigella Lawson (Nigella Express), red prawn and mango curry is one of our long term favourites. Tastes complicated and the ingredient list might sound diverse for an easy meal, but once you have everything you need, it’s just a matter of throwing everything into a pan at varying times.

It’s a very warming dish, and it can be as hot or as mild as you like (just vary the amount of red Thai curry paste you use). The combination of sweet potato, prawns and mango (which I used from a tub rather than fresh for my sins…) and a creamy coconut milk sauce with the tang of lime juice is a good way to end any day.

Even my brother, who can be fussy with new food, likes this one…