“Spaghetti with crab and mint” from “Good Things to Eat”

Anna: Have you worked out what the mystery ingredient is?

Peter: It’s the breadcrumbs.

Anna: Correct. I had to fry them with chilli and garlic and sprinkle them on the top.  What do you think?

Peter: Well they do add a certain crunch to proceedings.

Anna: Hmm. Mine have gone a bit soggy now I’ve stirred them around.  I’m not convinced, and they add an extra step which isn’t required in any of my other crab spaghetti recipes.

Peter: The watercress was an interesting addition as well.

Anna: I’ve seen this in other recipes. Nigella’s has it for example.  We loved that recipe.

Peter: The watercress was nearly your undoing this time….

Anna: I forgot to buy it, yes. I’m a numpty. But Sainsburys in Holborn Circus saved the day. We can’t have a day go by without me forgetting something.

Peter: I’ve enjoyed this, but I’m not sure it’s screaming winner to me.

Anna: You’re right. I can’t not like crab pasta, whatever the recipe. But the extra steps involved with this one, making breadcrumbs and cooking breadcrumbs, is enough for me to turn to Nigella/River Cafe/Bill instead.  Sorry Lucas.

“Spaghetti with crab and mint” from “Good Things to Eat”

“My spaghetti carbonara” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Handily I had some leftover eggs, pancetta and spring onions that needed using, and Bill’s carbonara is more of a fridge-sweep version than the original.

Peter: I’m not used to chilli flakes in my carbonara, but as you’ll put chilli flakes in anything I guess it wasn’t long until they found their way in…..

Anna: I just followed the recipe!!  It was nice to have the excuse to bung them in though.  Did you like the extra element that the spring onion brought to the carbonara party?

Peter: I know it’s party conference season but really…….  I didn’t notice it as being out of the ordinary.  I guess I’d expected it to be there.  I don’t pay enough attention to carbonara, clearly.

Anna: It was fun trying this recipe out.  Normally I do the River Cafe Cook Book Easy version sans cream.  Bill uses a whole egg rather than just the yolk, and creme fraiche instead of cream.  It definitely tasted good, but I got that grainy texture that can happen with some carbonaras.  Maybe I should have added more of the cooking water to loosen it.

Peter: This wasn’t too cloying though.  It didn’t feel like I was eating something that was solidfying in my bowel.  I liked it.  And it did a good job of using up stuff before the Ocado man came.  In his onion van.

“My spaghetti carbonara” from “Bill’s Basics”

A summer postscript — “Slow-roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken” and “Braised Little Gems” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: We couldn’t say goodbye to the book just yet.

Kirstin: It is still technically August. For another 4 hours.

Anna: And this was a meal that we’d been meaning to cook all month.

Kirstin: It looked really simple, and I thought the kids might enjoy it.

Anna: One of them did. They other acted like you were trying to poison him. In spite of the presence of protein.

Kirstin: And he likes carbohydrates. Because they have the word ‘car’ in them.

Anna: So, step 1. Joint your chicken into 8-10 pieces.

Kirstin: Ah yes. Continue reading “A summer postscript — “Slow-roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken” and “Braised Little Gems” from “Forever Summer””

A summer postscript — “Slow-roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken” and “Braised Little Gems” from “Forever Summer”

“Forever Summer” by Nigella Lawson – our verdict

Anna: What a lovely month this has been.

Kirstin: Hasn’t it just? I’ve never really used this book before, but I will do now.

Anna: I used it loads in Sydney, and it was great to revisit it.  There are loads of things that I’ll be cooking again.

Kirstin: What was your favourite recipe then?

Anna: Well your slutty jellies were amazing.

Kirstin: I don’t think we’ve had a bad one out of the book.  The jellies were good.  That porchetta was amazing.

Anna: Aah, the porchetta……

Kirstin: And the chicken pilaf was great.  And the cocktails!  Oh, the cocktails!!

Anna: A sophisticated type of drinking.  Getting us in the mood for the new series of Mad Men!

Kirstin: So this book that has been sitting on my shelf will definitely be used from now on.

Anna: I tell you, those meals in Uzes were brilliant.  I’ve made the Caesar Cleopatra since at home.  And the fish with the yummy green sauce.  And those yummy puddings like the white chocolate and almond cake.  And, and, the Keralan fish curry from last Friday.  And….

Kirstin: I think this book has given us some true summer memories.  Thank you Nigella!

“Forever Summer” by Nigella Lawson – our verdict

Blogging Birthday Bash – “White Ladies”, “Rice Paper Rolls”, “Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice” and “White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: I’m getting quite good at these birthday feasts given it’s the month of August. Because you are my co-conspirator and blogging partner-in-crime, this is a particularly special one.   Thankfully Zoe was able to run to Marks’ in her 3 inch peeptoe heels, on an emergency lemon mission, so now we are able to drink White Ladies all night!

Zoe: I only got one blister!  (Cackle)

Kirstin: I’m going to miss the cocktails.  I think we should do them anyway after this month.

Anna: Shall I email Bill and ask him to write a cocktail book?

Zoe: Wasn’t the idea to drink less if we had cocktails? But instead we downed the first one.

Anna: White Ladies were chosen in honour of us and our purity.  Eh Zoe?

Zoe: (Cackle) Continue reading “Blogging Birthday Bash – “White Ladies”, “Rice Paper Rolls”, “Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice” and “White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse” from “Forever Summer””

Blogging Birthday Bash – “White Ladies”, “Rice Paper Rolls”, “Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice” and “White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse” from “Forever Summer”

“Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry” and “White Chocolate Almond Cake” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: I chose this menu for you Natalie.  It’s your birthday week, and everyone deserves a nice curry on their birthday.  Will you be blogging tonight in the manner of Gregg Wallace?

Nats: If I was critiquing in the Gregg Wallace-manner, I’d call it a ‘tender, buttery, smack-in-the-chops of flavour’.

Anna: Can you translate for us?

Nats: That was me trying to be Southern! I was particularly impressed with how well the rice was cooked, and that wasn’t even in the recipe.

Anna: Thank you.

Nats: I think the curry was milder than I’d expect from you.  But absolutely delish.

Peter: It had an interesting texture due to the addition of nuts.

Nats: Did you feel they contrasted particularly well with the beans, which were a bridge between the chicken and the nuts?

Peter: I’m with you.  I can see where you’re going with that one.  Good point.  Well observed.

Nats: I’d always associate Anna with cooking something that punches you round the mouth.

Peter: No, it wasn’t a chicken Nazi.

Anna: You make me sick.  The pair of you.

Nats: Now the cake was absolutely lush.

Anna: I have to admit that I had to improvise a bit with the ground almonds, discovering as I did at the eleventh hour that I had none.  So I whizzed up some blanched almonds in the food processor instead. This means it probably has a crunchier texture than it’s meant to.

Nats: I would say that’s a good thing.  Because it was quite a simple cake. I’m saying that, but how many cakes do I make?

Anna: Do you mean rustic?

Nats: I don’t know… do I?  Maybe because it was flourless, it needed a bit of texture.  It was very moist.

Anna: I don’t like the word moist.  You know that.

Nats: It’s so descriptive though.  It means exactly what it says on the cake tin.  Anything with almonds is a winner with me.  I particularly liked the addition of the fruit.  Even though I don’t normally like mango.  I’m with Kirstin on that.

Anna: Did you get the white chocolate?

Nats: No.  I couldn’t taste it specifically.  No.  NO.

Anna; I did.  But I knew what I was tasting as I licked the spatula when I was cooking it.

“Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry” and “White Chocolate Almond Cake” from “Forever Summer”

“Saffron-scented Chicken Pilaf” and “Slut-red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly” from “Forever Summer”

Miles: I like the chicken! But not the rice. I tried it but I didn’t like it. It was gross!

Ella: The chicken is amazing! Yummy! I’ve almost finished it. I have now. There was some rice on it and it went under my wobbly tooth. And now it’s hurting.

Miles: Ella, you don’t keep on eating protein. But I do. I’m going to grow bigger than you!

Ella: I don’t care. I like being short. You can fit through things that tall people can’t. I don’t want to be tall, otherwise I’ll have to be a defender on the netball team. I prefer being wing attack. It’s funner.

Anna: I liked being goalkeeper. You just stand about for a bit.

Ella: Mmm, the rice is good! I don’t know why, but it kind of tastes creamy.

Anna: Can you see it’s yellow? What do you think had made it yellow?

Ella: Eggs? Bananas? Lemon sorbet? Lemons? Is it an animal, a vegetable or a mineral?

Kirstin: A vegetable. Something called saffron.

Tom: It costs more than gold, pound for pound.

Anna: It’s one of the most prized spices in the world. Mmmm, this is good. How easy was it?

Kirstin: Really easy.

Ella: Can we grow saffron in our garden?

Continue reading ““Saffron-scented Chicken Pilaf” and “Slut-red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly” from “Forever Summer””

“Saffron-scented Chicken Pilaf” and “Slut-red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly” from “Forever Summer”

“Porchetta” and “Summer Crumble” from “Forever Summer”

Kirstin: We decided to cook this tonight because we love porchetta.  We go to Tuscany every year, and we buy porchetta from those vans in the market.

Anna: So this is a nice meal to have now that you’re back in wet England.

Tom: They have a whole roast pig, covered in crackling. And they chop it up and put it in buns. With lots of herbs and salt and oil.

Kirstin: I don’t know who can eat those buns. They are really hard. But the porchetta is so good! And they hack through the entire pig, so you get bits of liver and kidney. You have to go through it and say no, I don’t want to eat the gall bladder.

Anna: It’s a good thing you went to medical school!

Peter: I love a bit of spine.

Tom: How did this compare to other porchetta recipes? Continue reading ““Porchetta” and “Summer Crumble” from “Forever Summer””

“Porchetta” and “Summer Crumble” from “Forever Summer”

“Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: Linguine with crab has to be one of my desert-island dishes, so tonight we’re having another linguine-with-crab-off.  We did the River Cafe version  in June, and established that we preferred Bill Granger’s recipe from Simply Bill.  Nigella admits that her recipe is essentially the River Cafe’s as it’s a classic.  But her version has more precise quantities of ingredients and a mystery ingredient thrown in. Did you guess the mystery ingredient?

Peter: Watercress.

Anna: Well done.

Peter: It’s named in the recipe, so it’s hardly a mystery is it? 

Anna: More of a guest ingredient then.

Peter: It was heavier than the usual linguine with crab, Bill’s one.

Anna: What do you mean?

Peter: More filling.

Anna: That might be because Bill’s recipe calls for spaghetti or spaghettini, whereas this is linguine.  And there was more olive oil.  And, being Nigella, she suggests a greater quantity of pasta anyway.  Which I love her for, despite it being portion-control month.

Peter: I liked the peppery bite of the watercress.  It doesn’t get in your teeth as much as parsley.

Anna: There was supposed to be parsley in it too, but I forgot to get any.

Peter: It felt like more of a main course than Bill’s.

Anna: So there you have it, use thicker pasta, serve a greater quantity and everyone’s happy!

“Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress” from “Forever Summer”

“Spare Ribs” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: I wouldn’t normally make ribs, not because they’re hard to get hold of – because they’re not – but I think I associate them with being messy, and so it’s just not the first thing I’d choose to cook.  But, it’s your birthday dinner Zelee, and you’re a good part-time Southern girl.

Zelee: A full-time London southerner, and a part-time US southerner….

Anna: Ribs are appropriate!

Zelee: I found these quite light.  They aren’t lying on my stomach like a catastrophe and I haven’t had to undo my top button.  I’m going to look at the recipe.

Anna: How do you think these compare to American ribs, lightness aside?

Zelee: They’re clearly Orientally-orientated.

Anna: I can tell you have a PhD.  Amercican ribs always have that thick sweet BBQ sauce on them.  Which I love. But it is a bit sickly after a while. Continue reading ““Spare Ribs” from “Forever Summer””

“Spare Ribs” from “Forever Summer”