Cookbook of the Month, December 2015, Christmas with Gordon

Kirstin: We like to try to do a Christmas book for December. It’s always good to be festive. And it’s always a good excuse to have people around.

Maureen: The only problem is we don’t post as much because we’re too busy having people around and celebrating.

Kirstin: That’s true.

Maureen: This should be interesting. It’s a fairly broad book, with party food, breakfast, several Christmas day menus and desserts. I don’t know if you would use it at other times of the year, but he’s certainly got all the bases covered.

Kirstin: It’s going to be good.

Maureen: I like that he has recipes for leftovers of Christmas main event food like ham and turkey. I’m always trying to figure out what to do with those.

Kirstin: Happy Christmas!

Maureen: Let the Christmas hoopla begin.

Cookbook of the Month, December 2015, Christmas with Gordon

Our Verdict – “Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food” by Nigella Lawson

Maureen: This has been the best month, by far, in 2015.

Kirstin: Absolutely. i’m so sad it’s coming to an end. It’s been an epic month.

Maureen: I think it’s funny that one of our readers has twigged that the more recipes we publish, the more we like the book.

Kirstin: Ah yes.

Maureen: This book was so great for so many reasons. I loved that there was a wide array of things to try, everything from breakfast to dessert. I loved how for the most part they were straightforward to prepare. I loved that they were just different enough to make them interesting, but not so different that the boys would refuse to eat it.

Kirstin: And the recipes are really tasty.

Maureen: Even Andrew commented on how much he loved the food from this month’s cookbook. I did so some recipes that were just okay, but I didn’t write those up and there weren’t that many of those anyway.

Kirstin: The winners were so good it evened out. It was a fantastic book.

Maureen: Mine’s already splattered and stained and all sorts. It already looks very well loved. That’s always a good sign.

Kirstin: Always.

“Simply Nigella”
Overall Grade (A- F): A+ (Kirstin) A+ (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Nutella Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots. Maureen: In addition to those, the salted chocolate tart was unbelievably good.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A
Any disasters? Kirstin: Only when I didn’t read the recipe correctly. Maureen: There were no disasters, but there were definitely some recipes we didn’t absolutely love, so I didn’t write those up.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, high rotation. Maureen: Same

Our Verdict – “Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food” by Nigella Lawson

“Salmon, Avocado, Watercress and Pumpkin Seed Salad”


Anna: I committed the schoolboy error of not reading the recipe properly before embarking on it. Well, truth be told I read it just in time. Frustratingly I had been working for over an hour, during which time the salmon could have been cooling (apparently this takes an hour after poaching and cooks the salmon through, according to Nigella). But having taken the recipe at face value I thought it was just an assembly of a few, easy to prepare, ingredients. Which is essentially what it is, apart from the salmon-cooling curve ball. So at 8.30pm I had to make a swift change of plan and postpone making this for a day. It was worth the wait. This is a proper bowlful of food. And by that I mean: it tastes good and healthy but is filling and delicious at the same time. We have had it twice in two weeks, and now I have read the recipe intro properly the cooling hour has been abandoned. Hurray!

“Salmon, Avocado, Watercress and Pumpkin Seed Salad”

“Chicken and Wild Rice”


Anna: There is really only one thing I need to say about this recipe. That is: Isabella ate four plates of it. Four plates in one sitting. That is two plates for each year of her life. “Yum!”, “Yummy!”,  “Mmm, chicken!”…. “More please”. In the interest of balance I need to disclose that Louis reluctantly ate only one plate. Peter and I ate what little was left after Isabella had finished her chicken-and-riceathon (“Chicken and rice in my tummy!”) and it really was rather moreish. Not four plates worth, but perfect for a night in watching scary Scandi subtitled drama on the sofa.

“Chicken and Wild Rice”

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7936I’ve always been a sucker for a warm chocolate chip cookie, though I know I am not alone in this weakness. When I was at university in the U.S., a popular restaurant that students went to for celebrations offered up its own version of a warm chocolate chip cookie called “Killer Cookie for Two.” [Quick pause to check on Google Maps to see if it is still there. It is! The Killer Cookie lives!]

The Killer Cookie for Two (or one, if you have a broken heart) has: “Large homemade chocolate chip cookie baked to order, homemade ice cream, Guinness infused hot fudge whipped cream, maraschino cherries.” Yum. And can I just say, “God Bless America.”

In any case, this recipe reminds me so much of the Killer Cookie. This recipe is pure genius. Basically, you make half the quantity of a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, put it in ramekins, bake, and eat warm. What’s not to love?

It was a monumental hit when I made it as a surprise after-school snack.

For what it’s worth, Nigella says to distribute the dough among six ramekins, but I distribute it among four. I think that was a popular decision.

Will I be making it again? You better believe it. Though I might have to rename it Killer Cookie Courtesy of Nigella.

Make this! Make this! Make this! The recipe is on Nigella’s website, which you can find by clicking through this paragraph.

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots” from “Simply Nigella”

“Pomegranate Muesli”


Anna: We are Bircher muesli converts. On a weekly basis, on a day of his choosing, Peter constructs his Bircher and the next morning, like a little surprise, there’s a bowl of oaty, chia-seedy goodness waiting for me to take to work. So I had to try Nigella’s take for comparison, it would have been remiss of me not to. Cobbling together the ingredients was painless. Pomegranate seeds in a tub, and scissor-snipped dried apricots helped. You can always rely on Nigella for shortcuts. The verdict? A bit milky, but good. It filled me up. I’ll take that. Peter’s verdict? Incredulous despair at the seemingly small portion. He required a marmalade and toast chaser. Next time I’ll double the recipe.

“Pomegranate Muesli”

“Merguez Meatballs” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7885Andrew (16): What is this?

Maureen: It’s called Merguez Meatballs.

Andrew: Is this from this month’s cookbook?

Maureen: It is.

Andrew: It’s another winner then. This is really good. It’s been an excellent month!

Nicholas (12): I think so too.

Maureen: It reminds me of something we would eat at Leon, especially since we’re having couscous with it. It also immediately brings to mind her sausage meatballs, which she had in “Nigellissima,” which I’ve also made many times. 

Tim: I see what you mean. I think it could benefit from a bit more sauce.

Maureen: Maybe. But this is a classic Nigella recipe. Take a few ingredients, be clever in the preparation, add some spices, and bam! you’ve got something delicious.

Andrew: We should have this again.

Maureen: Indeed we should.

If you would like to make this yourself, the Mail Online has a copy of the recipe, which you can read by clicking through this link.

“Merguez Meatballs” from “Simply Nigella”