“Spelt spaghetti with spicy sesame mushrooms” from “At My Table”

Maureen: It’s like Asian spaghetti.

Kirstin: It’s perfect food for a hangover!

Maureen: I’m wondering if you could use wholewheat spaghetti instead of spelt spaghetti.

Kirstin: You probably could. But I liked the challenge finding it this morning. I almost bought soba noodles when I couldn’t find spelt spaghetti at the first shop.

Maureen: So where did you find it in the end?

Kirstin: Sainsbury’s!

Maureen: Not sure the kids would like it though because of the mushrooms, unfortunately because it is good.

Kirstin: What is it with kids and their whole texture nonsense? GRRRRRRR.

Maureen: And it’s probably delicious cold too.

Kirstin: Unless you ate it all like we did!

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“Spelt spaghetti with spicy sesame mushrooms” from “At My Table”

“Lime and Coriander Chicken” from “At My Table”

Ella: Well this is succulent and juicy!

Kirstin: I have to admit I made this a few weeks ago for just me and Miles.

Miles: I remember it!

Kirstin: And we’re having it with pitta bread. This is such a wonderful summer recipe. My picture does it no justice and that’s because it should be photographed outdoors in evening summer light. Nigella, I apologise profusely. But really the rolling pin to squash the chicken does not work at all. I had to use a mallet in the end.

Ella: I love it.

Kirstin: And I love it too. I haven’t done one of Nigella’s recipes where you stick everything into a freezer bag for a while for no good reason. Genius recipe. Also, I’ve just seen Call Me By Your Name, so the word succulent is taking on a whole different meaning because peaches.

Ella: I’m not sure I want to know.

Kirstin: It’s ok. There’s no way I can describe it to you. That said, I have loved this trilogy of films by Luca Guadagnino and in particular the way food is featured.

“Lime and Coriander Chicken” from “At My Table”

“Indian-Spiced Chicken and Potato Traybake” from “At My Table”

Kirstin: This doesn’t sound like much. You know, another traybake, another chicken recipe. But it is so much more than that. The potatoes and chicken are tossed and coated with an aromatic concoction of delicious spices before being roasted for an hour; it’s deceptively simple and yet everything about this recipe is perfect. Plus it worked. First time. Which is always a bonus. Miles told me that he loved my cooking as I put this on the table, so I’m going to thank Nigella for making one boy (and his mother) very happy. It tasted wonderful and will definitely, definitely, definitely be made again. Lots, I hope!

Also can I just say how I feel bad that Nigella’s books always come out in the autumn and I always end up taking pictures of her recipes in the dark. Because they deserve so much more. I’m going to have to make one of her cakes and take pictures of it in the daytime. I love a challenge!

“Indian-Spiced Chicken and Potato Traybake” from “At My Table”

Cookbook of the Month, November 2017: At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking by Nigella Lawson

Maureen: Look! It’s the patron saint of Cookbook a Month!

Kirstin: I am excited about this one. I think I preordered this back in June, back when I first heard about it.

Maureen: Initially I was pretty excited, but then the book came and now I’m not so sure.

Kirstin: I am the same, but we have high hopes for her.

Maureen: The problem is, when I was paging through it, while I did see several recipes that I wanted to try, I wasn’t consistently tagging stuff that I want to do, unlike in the past.

Kirstin: The clue is in the title: this is home cooking. It’s just really simple recipes. It’s just a different kind of vibe. We have to remember that while we’re cooking from it.

Maureen: She does excel at dishes you can throw together with things you probably already have at home or at least can find easily.

Kirstin: The desserts look good. I’m excited about the ice cream! The no-churn ice cream looks amazing.

Maureen: She’s got some fun cocktails in the back, too. We should try some of those.

Kirstin: It’s a different kind of book from the book that she normally does, and we just have to take it differently.

Maureen: But she will always be our patron saint.

Kirstin: Always.

 

 

Cookbook of the Month, November 2017: At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking by Nigella Lawson

Our Verdict: The Magic Fridge

Kirstin: This is a gem of a book.

Maureen: Yes. All the foundation recipes, or at least that’s what I call them, are very good. It’s quite a clever concept– figure out how to make these good recipes and then work from there.

Kirstin: You do have to read and pay attention. There’s all sorts of tips and interesting suggestions in the book too, which I liked.

Maureen: It’s a unique idea, one that we haven’t really seen before. I really like the idea how these basic recipes can then ripple into other recipes.

Kirstin: Very good idea. It feels very French, but that’s no bad thing.

Maureen: You can feel the French influence, though there’s other things in there too.

Kirstin: To have a whole book of French cooking would be overwhelming, but this is a lovely mixture.

Maureen: I agree.

Kirstin: It’s obviously not completely French because he’s got recipes for things like lemon curd and pizza. For example, in his recipe for red curry paste he uses sun dried tomatoes and that seems odd to me. And it has anchoives, too.

Maureen: He loves an anchovy.

Kirstin: He’s obviously going for the whole unami thing. So the curry paste was interesting.

Maureen: The cheese sauce I made for my cauliflower cheese was the best cheese sauce I’ve ever had. I couldn’t stop eating it when it was on the stove.

Kirstin: It worked. Clever man. But we both have a beef about the design.

Maureen: Indeed we do. I just think it would have been so much better if it had a plain classy cover with a white background, a classic font and a different picture. As it is, with all the doodles throughout and the primary-coloured pages, it just makes it seem like a kids cookbook, which it definitely is not. It just goes to show you that design is important.

Kirstin: Still a gem of a book, though.

 

“The Magic Fridge”
Overall Grade (A- F): B (Kirstin)  B+ (It would get an A but for the design) (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Roast and braise chicken went down very well indeed. Maureen: Cauliflower cheese. It was the best I ever had.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  C. Pretty uninspiring.
Any disasters? Kirstin: No. Maureen: No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf.  Maureen: Bookshelf, for the cheese sauce recipe alone.                                                                                                                    Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: No. If I was going to give a book, I’d give them a different book because it has to look nice as well. There’s so many pretty cookbooks out there.

Our Verdict: The Magic Fridge

“Red Chicken Curry” from “The Magic Fridge”

Kirstin: I’m always up for anything Thai and was curious about this recipe: I’ve made many Thai pastes over the years but this one had some unusual ingredients including roasted red peppers. You can see from the picture what a beautiful paste it made; gorgeous red and a beautiful consistency. Later in the day it was time to cook it up. And again, the method was unusual. For instance, I’ve never heard the word “poach” being used when making a Thai curry. But then again Alex Mackay is coming from a background of French Cuisine so it’s possible I have been poaching for years without realising it. The formula of his precise method (which involved adding paste throughout the making of the curry) and magic fridge paste made a totally winning combination. We ate the lot and even the kids remarked how much they loved it. It tasted incredibly authentic, bringing back memories of Thailand. And yes. I will be poaching my curries from now on.

“Red Chicken Curry” from “The Magic Fridge”

“Sticky soy, honey and ginger chicken with noodles” from “The Magic Fridge”

Kirstin: This was absolutely delicious in every way. It wasn’t your usual stir fry. I cooked the chicken first (having made the glaze) and then all the vegetables went into the glaze along with the chicken into the oven. And finally the noodles which were beautifully flavoured by the glaze and juices from the vegetables. Both children devoured it and I can vouch that the leftovers were also delicious. I can’t think why I haven’t made noodles like this before to be honest.

“Sticky soy, honey and ginger chicken with noodles” from “The Magic Fridge”