“Salted Chocolate Tart” from “Simply Nigella”

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We had a “Cookbook A Month” editorial meeting on Friday. I say “editorial meeting” but what I mean is the three of us met at Street Feast’s Hawker House for a night of good eating and drinking. While the men went off to try their luck at whiskey roulette, the conversation turned to cooking. Naturally.

We talked about this cookbook, obviously. No spoilers, but keen readers among you have noticed a direct correlation between the number of recipes we try to how much we like the cookbook. Given that we’ve posted something nearly every day, I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.

The conversation then turned to times when you find a recipe you want to make, do all the shopping and preparation for it, salivate over the prospect of eating it, start making it and then near the end of the recipe read, “Now [insert cooking action here] for 24 hours.” We all decided that when this calamity happens, it’s best to just carry on as best you can.

I’ll be damned if this exact problem didn’t happen to me on Sunday afternoon while I was making this tart.

I had decided on this for our Sunday dinner dessert. I made a special trip to the supermarket to buy the ingredients. I made the crust. I made the filling. Then as I was two steps away from “slice modestly,” I read the fateful words: “Put back in the fridge overnight.”

Overnight? NO! I was hoping to eat this in four hours!

With the Friday conversation still fresh, I decided to consult some of my other cookbooks to see if I could get away with chilling it for just a few hours instead of overnight. The consensus seemed to suggest it would be OK, so I went for it. I like to live dangerously.

Was it any good? Readers, we LOVED it. It was fantastic, and as good as she said.

Curious what it would be like after being in the refrigerator overnight, as per the original instructions, I had another piece the next day. All in the interests of science, mind you. While the filling was definitely firmer the next day, it still was fine after only a few hours in the refrigerator.

The moral of the story is obvious. Listen to your friends when they say just carry on as best you can, in life and in cooking.

If you would like to make this yourself, Nigella has helpfully posted the recipe on her website. Click through this paragraph to see it and try it. You can thank me (and Nigella) later.

 

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“Salted Chocolate Tart” from “Simply Nigella”

“Beef Chilli with Bourbon, Beer and Black Beans”

Anna: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t publish a picture with this post. This chilli, while very delicious, just doesn’t look appetising in a photograph. I tried. It looked terrible. Luckily it tasted miles better than it looked. In fact it was a hit. Easy to make and perfect to tuck into after getting back from the fireworks. The bourbon really comes through, surprisingly. My mother – a woman who has consumed many a chilli in her time – declared it a triumph. My daughter – eating her first proper chilli (rather than nursery’s version which doesn’t count) – declared it ‘Yummy!’ and ‘Brown’. Which sums it up pretty perfectly really!

“Beef Chilli with Bourbon, Beer and Black Beans”

“Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Puree” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7940Nicholas (12): Why are we having fish? It’s not Friday.

Maureen: I’m sorry. I hope this doesn’t disturb you too much, but Dad and I are going out tomorrow night, so Fish Friday has been moved to Thursday. We can have fish on days other than Friday you know. What do you think?

Nicholas: What is it?

Maureen: It should be haddock, but the fishmonger didn’t have any, so it’s hake dredged in spiced flour with a side of mushy broccoli. It’s a variation on mushy peas.

Andrew (16): The fish is delicious. I’m not so sure about the broccoli.

Nicholas: I agree with Andrew.

Tim: I don’t mind the broccoli, but I feel it could benefit greatly by the addition of some cheese, like cheddar or parmesan, or maybe some cream.

Maureen: I think this is Nigella trying to be healthy. The recipe called for either coconut oil or olive oil or butter, and I went for the butter. Everything is better with butter. But then I kept tasting it and I added twice as much butter as the recipe called for and I still think it’s a bit bland.

Tim: Cheese would definitely make it better.

Maureen: I think perhaps the problem is we all love the original posh mushy peas recipe from Nigella’s very first book, which called for lashings of double cream and butter. Yum. Bring back the old Nigella!

Tim: Maybe the next time you make this for Fish Friday you could make the fish as it is and make the mushy peas that we all love.

Maureen: Great idea.

If you would like to make the fish for yourself, and maybe give the mushy broccoli a try, click through this sentence to find the recipe on Google Books.

“Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Puree” from “Simply Nigella”

“Tequila and Lime Chicken” from “Simply Nigella”

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Kirstin: What do you think, Miles?

Miles: Make it again!

Tom: So this isn’t Tequila Mocking Bird, then?

Kirstin: Ha! No.

Tom: Tequila quail?

Kirstin: No. Chicken. Do you like it?

Tom: Yes I do. It has a nice flavour to it.

Kirstin: So I totally messed up on the soaking it for hours and hours and instead marinated it at room temperature for 40 minutes, squashing two of the steps together.

Tom: So it could have had an even stronger flavour then? I’m sure Nigella has some marinating her fridge all the time!

Kirstin: She probably does! I’d make this again! Easy, yummy! And I’d remember to marinate it for longer next time, for sure.

Miles: Is tequila a type of drink. Is it a kind of alcohol?

Kirstin: Yes, but it’s ok because the alcohol burns off in the oven, so you won’t be drunk.

Miles: Ok. I was worried there.

Tom: But I’ve been drinking beer, so I’ll be drunk!

Kirstin: And I’m drinking one too, so I’ll be the size of a house tomorrow!

“Tequila and Lime Chicken” from “Simply Nigella”

“Fish tacos” from “Simply Nigella”

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Kirstin: I’ve always looked at the fish tacos recipe in Gwyneth’s book but never made it. So when I saw Nigella had done a version, I was totally up for it. There’s a little bit of faffing as you have to get a variety of small dishes ready for this, but it was totally worth it. If nothing else, for the mayonnaise/hot sauce which was divine. I would definitely consider making this again, maybe for an easy lunch with friends as things can easily be prepared beforehand.

“Fish tacos” from “Simply Nigella”

“Nutella Brownies” from “Simply Nigella”

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Kirstin: I”m not a big fan of baking. Cooking, sure. But I just don’t have the time to spend whisking eggs and butter to make cakes, and all the more so as I don’t have a particularly good track record with baking in general. So I was intrigued when I saw this recipe. It has just three ingredients; salt, nutella and eggs. How could that even possibly make a brownie? I had to give it a go. I whisked up the eggs to their full fluffiness and then started to feel this might be another disaster as I slowly added the nutella and watched them lose all their air. I have to admit at this point I was desperately thinking what I could serve as an alternative dessert, but stuck them in the oven nevertheless. And wow, was it worth it! They were divine and quickly disappeared!

I know that this recipe will be made over and over. It is perfect for those short of time, ideal for students who want something quick and yummy, perfect for those who come home from work and want something home baked and easy after dinner and most importantly will ensure that this book stays in heavy rotation on the shelf in the kitchen. Give them a go yourself! You will not be disappointed.

Genius, Nigella. You are a bloody genius!

“Nutella Brownies” from “Simply Nigella”

“Jackson Pollock” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7841This is a play on words. Or to be more precise, it would have been a play on words had the fishmonger had pollock in stock. Alas, the only white fish he had was cod, but “Jackson Cod” makes no sense at all. So perhaps I should call this Jackson Pollock* (*when the pollock is actually cod).

This was a Fish Friday special. The one thing to bear in mind when making fish is that is generally cooks quite quickly, so it’s the ultimate in 30-minute meals and that was true with this dish (Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out).

I had to scale up the recipe to feed four of us, since Nigella’s only served two. I noticed that many of the recipes in this book feed only two, which makes me sad for Nigella because it makes it seem that she’s either eating alone a lot or suffering from empty-nest syndrome. Or maybe both.

Unfortunately my finished dish didn’t look nearly as artful [pun intended] as Nigella’s. My green sauce also looks decidedly thicker and darker than hers, but I don’t think that was a problem. It still tasted great. It received enthusiastic thumbs up from everyone around the table.

Would I make this again? Indeed I would. This is a great addition to the Fish Friday rotation.

If you’d like to make this yourself, Google Books has it by clicking through this link.

“Jackson Pollock” from “Simply Nigella”