“Italian Traybake” from “Nigellissima”

If you want to try this yourself, click through on this sentence for a copy of the recipe from the Daily Mail.

Maureen: What did everyone think?

Andrew (13): It was OK.

Nicholas: I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever had!

Tim: What did you like about it?

Nicholas: I liked the chicken, and the potatoes and the broccoli.

Tim: The broccoli was on the side and doesn’t really count for these purposes, but OK. You didn’t like the sausages?

Nicholas: No. They were tough.

Continue reading ““Italian Traybake” from “Nigellissima””

“Italian Traybake” from “Nigellissima”

“Squid Spaghetti” from “Nigellissima”

Peter: Another fishy pasta! Are we on the fishy pasta chapter or does she do other things?

Anna: Surely it’s better than ‘tin of beans’ month?

Peter: I’m not saying I mind a fishy pasta.

Anna: That’s good, because we’re having more fishy pasta this weekend! Do you like this?

Peter: Yes. Another way with squid. It wasn’t chewy. It was very tender.

Anna: Nigella’s way with the squid in this recipe is genius. You just stir it through the sauce at the end to warm through. It beats having to fry the squid seperately, which is usually required, risking it toughening. Plus it’s a stage that can be quite time-consuming. This definitely works.

Peter: Well I’m up for having this again. Time for a trip to the seaside to get some fresh squid!

“Squid Spaghetti” from “Nigellissima”

“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

Anna: This is very Bill. Very Australian. A deconstructed Puttanesca sauce.

Peter: I prefer this to our regular Puttanesca.

Anna: Why?

Peter: It tasted much fresher. Would it be the tomatoes?

Anna: Probably. He uses cherry tomatoes instead of tinned. And green olives instead of black. And, controversially he adds parmesan shavings at the end. I don’t think the Italians would approve.

Peter: I don’t mind. I liked it. Nevermind the Italians.

Anna: It’s a very Bill thing to do fresh, chunky pasta sauces like this with penne. I think it makes it a little difficult to eat. You end up chasing bits of olives around the bowl. I enjoyed this but, unlike you, not as much as the original.

“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

“Leek and Pea Risotto” from “Food”

Maureen: Ah. Another risotto. We could become a risotto test kitchen. I think we’ve got the experience. [Note: We’ve tested risotto in January 2011, May 2011, August 2011, February 2012 and July 2012.]   What do you think?

Tim: It’s fine.

Andrew (12): It’s OK, but it’s not as good as our usual risotto.

Maureen: Do you mean the one with lashings of butter and cheese?

Andrew: Yes, that’s the one.

Nicholas (9): I agree with Andrew. The other one is better.

Maureen: This one is much healthier, though. There’s not nearly as much butter and cheese as I usually put in. In fact, if you were a vegan, you could probably take out the butter and the cheese and it wouldn’t taste hugely different from this.

Tim: Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe for a good risotto you need butter and cheese.

Maureen: Could be. So should I make this version again?

Andrew: No. Please make the one you usually do.

Nicholas: I’m with Andrew on this one.

Maureen: It seems to me that we still haven’t found a risotto recipe that is better than the Giorgio Locatelli one. But we will keep trying!

Cook’s Notes: Sorry, this recipe can’t be found on the Internet anywhere, but that’s OK, because I think there’s better risotto recipes out there. The biggest problem was the amount of rice it called for– only a measly 250 grams– which she said would serve four people. Let me assure you that 62.5 grams of risotto per person wouldn’t do it in this house. So I increased it to 400 grams, which was sufficient. Beyond that, there’s not much to distinguish this recipe from any other risotto recipe, other than the reduced amount of cheese and butter used. Like I said, it would be a good recipe for a vegan, because I think they could omit them and it would still be fine. But for this family, we won’t be using this recipe again.

“Leek and Pea Risotto” from “Food”

“Guacamole” from “Food”

If you would like to try Mary’s version yourself, the recipe can be found here in Google Books.

Oh, guacamole. How I love you.

When we were newlyweds, I thought that making guacamole was the height of culinary talent. I made it pretty frequently too. But sadly, guacamole fell off our culinary radar. These days guacamole is not part of our regular rotation of meals, which I think is a shame. (I did make it during the Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals month, but the post doesn’t even mention the guacamole. I think this was down to the fact that the dessert was so epically bad.)

I was inspired to make Mary McCartney’s guacamole only because I found some perfectly ripe avocados reduced at the local store. Any veteran guacamole maker will tell you that ripe avocados are the only way you will end up with a successful guacamole. It doesn’t work with avocados that aren’t ripe yet, and therefore are impossible to mash to the right consistency.

So how did Mary McCartney’s recipe compare? At first, I thought she reinvented the wheel, for telling us to use Tobasco sauce rather than chopping up a chilli to give the guacamole a kick. But then I looked up my old standby guacamole recipe in “The New Basics Cookbook” and they said to do the same thing. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I made it for myself.

Regardless, it was a good solid recipe and it did the job. I’m not sure you can actually be novel when it comes to guacamole. But it sure is a fine way to perk up a summer night.

Apologies that this post isn’t in the usual format. But we spent all of the dinner talking about Team GB’s gold medal haul and Team USA’s position on top of the leader board in the Olympics, and not about the food. Once the Olympic hoopla is over, I’m sure normal service will resume.

“Guacamole” from “Food”

“Cheese and Aubergine Oven Bake” from “Food”

If you would like to make this yourself, the recipe is posted on Food24 here. Enjoy.

Andrew (12): So this is from the new cookbook?

Maureen (enthusiastically): Yes! A month of vegetarianism. This should be interesting.

Andrew: Hmmm. Is all I can say. Then I want you to write, “Andrew pulls an unamused face.” [Andrew pulls an unamused face.]

Nicholas (9): I think it’s false advertising to call the cookbook “Food” but for it to be only vegetarian recipes.

Maureen: I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we eat more vegetables. It’s probably not a bad thing to try. Now what do you think of this?

Tim: I think it’s great.

Maureen: I think it’s lovely.

Continue reading ““Cheese and Aubergine Oven Bake” from “Food””

“Cheese and Aubergine Oven Bake” from “Food”

“Stack’s Carbonara” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Nicholas (9): (Looking suspiciously at his plate) Do you remember that time you made white bean soup and it tasted of nothing so we had cereal instead?

Maureen: But I don’t think that is going to apply in this case. This definitely does not taste of nothing.

Nicholas (skeptically): We’ll see about that, won’t we.

Maureen: I think it will be delicious. What do you think?

Nicholas (with great surprise): It’s quite good!

Andrew (12): Yup. I agree. It’s pretty good.

Maureen: This is a very strange way to do carbonara because you use cottage cheese. But it’s so good, I don’t care. This is great.

Tim: Of course it’s good! It’s got bacon and cheese in it.

Maureen: Well, actually, it’s not bacon. It’s fancy bacon– pancetta. But I think the addition of the cottage cheese almost makes it healthy.

Tim: You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s good, but it’s rich.

Maureen: I am definitely making this again.

Stack’s Carbonara from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Serves 4

300-400g spaghetti (depending on appetite)

50g butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

140g pancetta, cubed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500g cottage cheese

300ml single cream

A good grating of Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of slated water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente following the instructions on the packet.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large frying pan and melt the butter. Cook the union until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the pancetta and the garlic. When softened and browned add the cottage cheese. Keep stirring until the cottage cheese has melted and the mixture has come together. It will look watery at this stage, but don’t be alarmed!

Add the cream, keep stirring and reducing until it has thickened to your liking.

Grate in the parmesan, add a good crack of black pepper and cook until thick and cream. And in Stack’s words, ‘BOOM!”

Stir the sauce into the cooked spaghetti and serve immediately.

This is what it looks like after adding the cottage cheese– all watery and slightly strange. Do not despair. It works out fine.

“Stack’s Carbonara” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”