I’ve been writing about my former eating disorder for a while now and I fancied a catch up instead today. Let’s have a good old natter . . .
Amidst all the eating disorder writing—which takes a lot of time, recollection and in honesty, is pretty challenging too—I’ve been creating a HUGE ARRAY of wonderful dishes. Mostly due to the recipe books I received for Christmas. Thank you Nigella Lawson.
I’m a big Nigella fan and her passion for food is evident. Every recipe comes out perfectly, which is rare in my experience of cookery books.
Here are a few of the delightful dishes I’ve whipped up since Christmas. Mostly these are Nigella’s, unless otherwise specified. If you’re after the recipes—Google is your friend 😉
Naan Bread Pizzas - an Epic Discovery
Well, I have to admit—I hate most pizza bases. Unless they’ve been freshly and professionally made in Italy - they usually suck. These however do not. There’s something about the oiliness and crispness of a no fuss, store cupboard Naan, which makes for a fabulous pizza base. Thank you Nigella. These will forever be in our pantry.
They take 5 minutes to make—5 minutes to cook—and definitely no more than 5 minutes to eat.
Serve with beer or G&T and lashings of easy on the palette, American yellow mustard. Jalapeños optional. Unless you’re my Husband of course 😉
Bacon & Tomato Hash
Think hangover cure. This hash is so good we had it for Christmas Day breakfast. The Worcestershire Sauce is the winning ingredient in my books. Look this up—you will not regret it. Just promise me you’ll try this, and/or the Eggs in Purgatory below, the next time you’ve slightly overdone it on a night out. Or a night in. Either way.
It was Christmas, so please forgive the photography focus being mainly on the Bucks Fizz!
Eggs in Purgatory
I love chilli. I’m not really built for a lot of it but I’m working on that. I always try to add just a little bit more to build my tolerance and because chilli is so magical on the old tastebuds. These eggs are supremely eye-opening first thing in the morning. Dunk some decent sourdough white bread/toast into this and you’ll be in heaven—while the eggs quite literally steep in purgatory.
My advice/word of caution: stick to Nigella’s recommended measurements for the chilli flakes the first time you make it. Don’t do as I did and double the amount! I was sharing it with Hubby—who really does like it hot. With less chilli flakes, I could have drizzled it with chilli oil at the end to my heart’s content. I had to skip this recommendation due to my greed for the chilli flakes.
Orzo—You need this pasta in your pantry!
Orzo is a non-negotiable staple in our house. The Italians apparently go crazy for it. Think silky, rice like pasta which creates it’s own velvety sauce as it cooks. Much like a Risotto but without any of the hassle of drip feeding the liquid in. This easily makes the TOP 5 of my favourite pastas and all pasta is pretty inexpensive, so stock up! Check out Nigella’s recipes for how to serve it, there are plenty. This one is with all the P’s—petit pois, pancetta, parmesan and parsley. Utter perfection!
Amaretti Biscuits - Pantry Staple
Not a Nigella Recipe - but just to say - there are recipes which include these wonderful Italian biscuits - and Nigella has at least one I know of. But for right now, I’m happily eating my way through them and enjoying the beauty of their decorative, crinkly paper wrappings and the gold and aqua tin they came in. This tin will forever grace my pantry and remind me of Christmas.
Tea - a necessity
Another non-recipe but very worth mentioning.
Tea is a staple beverage I simply cannot live without - especially in the Winter. Yes, I am stereo-typically British through-and-through.
Nigella reportedly drinks around 12 cups per day. I dare not admit how much I drink but the top shelf of the dishwasher is never short of a mug (or twelve!) to wash.
The non-negotiable part is—they have to be Marks & Spencer’s teabags - Luxury Gold or Breakfast versions are equally fine with me. These are not the teabags shown in the photo above, just for the record!
The M&S teas have the most delicious backnotes and none of the bitterness you get with some of the tannin heavy teas. Almond Milk to serve. Sometimes I can get away with no sugar if the almond milk is the sweetened with apple juice kind, otherwise I put less than half a teaspoon in or a sweetener if the mood takes me.
People seem to get quite funny about using sweetened Almond Milk but it does nothing to affect my blood sugars. I’m firmly in the ‘sweetened’ camp. If I was eating a super-low carb diet it would affect me more but my basal seems to cover it just fine. Your Diabetes May Vary (YDMV) though.
Grab yourself a cuppa. I insist. There are a lot more recipes for you to ponder below.
Sit back, sip and read on . . .
Nigella’s Chilli Con Carne with Cocoa. Yes, Cocoa!
This was a post-workout meal from the leftover’s, so please forgive the face only a mother could love.
Cocoa sounds strange in a savoury dish but really it’s not. Cocoa is bitter in taste, unlike the sweetened chocolate we commonly associate it with. The cocoa acts like a ‘spice’ in this, to deepen, darken and enrich the sauce. Trust me. Google it. Try it.
Get your Oven Professionally Cleaned
Quick interlude to say—if your oven smokes and you HATE cleaning it like me, get a professional in. I dislike cleaning it. I have no idea how to take it apart fully (nor would I risk it) and I can never get it clean enough. Plus broken nails, dry hands, exhaustion—you know how it goes.
When you witness how a professional cleans your oven, you will understand it is not a simple task, as some will have you believe. It takes a professional around 2 hours and the result is outstanding. Worth every penny. The guy local to us used eco-friendly, non-toxic products too.
Never has our oven been so clean and I tried 3 times to clean it last year. I spent over 7 hours trying every online trick recommended—bicarb of soda, vinegar, water steam baths—you name it. Not one of them will get your oven truly clean. This does. Treat yourself. Look forward to cooking again!
Ice Cream like NEVER before
Oh, Nigella. This is the most simple recipe ever and my Husband is already pleading with me to make the next batch. Thank you!
This is the best ice cream we’ve tasted. Creamy, velvet, blankets of complex flavours which call to you from the freezer—morning, noon and night. You will not be able to resist.
This ice cream is ready to scoop straight from the freezer because the alcohol prevents it from getting really solid like the supermarket horribles. That’s why it’s so creamy. That and the process by which you create it. Thank you to my Food Mixer machine!
Please try it. If you have a Food Mixer, it’s a doddle. Your machine whips it for you. No ice cream maker needed though—you could whisk this by hand. It takes a few minutes to make using a machine and again, disappears FAST!
I’m thinking of making the next batch Chocolate, Rum and Pistachio.
Turkey Meatballs and the most beautiful Pasta
I love this pasta and my only disappointment is they didn't name it Goldilocks or Rapunzel. Humph. Sulk. I’ll get over it eventually.
This is known as Fusilli Lunghi Pasta and it is made up of beautiful, long, strands of hollow corkscrews, which look so pretty on a plate. Kids would love this!
We had some minced turkey in the freezer to use up and this Nigella recipe was so easy. A great way to use up leftover turkey and a lighter take on pork / beef meatballs. Delicious!
Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne
This was the only Nigella recipe which I messed up a little. Buttermilk is almost impossible to buy in the UK. I need to source some! I substituted with a milk, vinegar mixture—as recommended online. The original recipe would have come out better I feel and less dry.
Still delicious though and the same cocoa con carne recipe as shown earlier.
Not Nigella - Grilled Cheese
Well kinda grilled because this is a throwback to my 1990’s teenage years. My friends and I would get home from school completely famished and unable to wait for dinner. We invented these microwave cheese toasties. They had a bit of a cult following back then!
Get a microwave safe mug—throw in chunks of your favourite (preferably very sharp) Cheddar. Microwave on full power for about 30 seconds - watching carefully until it’s all melted. Stir with a spreading knife and pour over your awaiting toast.
This really is a 1990’s era food - and a definite #stilldoingitthough moment!
Not Nigella - French Toast, Bacon, Maple Syrup
I get the basic dipping recipe for the French Toast from a book called Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo. The Brioche buns are the best I’ve found and come already infused with Vanilla. Check out Ocado for them.
What can I say but this is my favourite all time breakfast when a sweet craving hits. Served with streaky bacon (a must!) and high quality Maple Syrup. The icing sugar adds the magic of a snow flurry, making it even more wintery and inviting.
Chicken Shawarma - Two Ways
Another hitting the freezer moment—to use up chicken thighs this time. I made Nigella’s Chicken Shawarma and served it, as recommended, with warmed pittas, pomegranate, crisp lettuce chunks and a tahini/yoghurt dressing the first night. Also some grated cheddar but it turned out to be too much!
The leftovers went into a wrap the next evening with the yoghurt/tahini dressing & toasted sesame seeds, the rest of the pomegranate and crisp lettuce. Lemon juice to drizzle both nights. A beautiful way to use up any chicken thighs you have kicking around!
Carbonnade a la Flamande
I left this one until the end because it wasn't pretty to take photos of!
Another Nigella Recipe, called Carbonnade a la Flamande. It’s a Belgian casserole cooked in the richest of stocks using dark Belgian beer. It is extremely unphotogenic but entirely delicious and worth your time. The 3 hour cooking time produces the most tender meat, which flakes beautifully when you so much as touch it with your fork and melts in your mouth.
Your home will smell like a casserole / brewery for the entire day. Inviting, sumptuous and perfect for a family feast.
Finally, it’s a Wrap!
I know, I know—there are days when I sit and laugh at my own puns all day long! Ha! 😳
But seriously, a wrap is the way I regularly go for lunch right now. I’m hooked.
I can stuff them with any array of salad veggies I like + meats, cheeses, olives, and of course mustard. Good British Mustard A.K.A Colman’s is essential in my book. The particular wrap shown above had rather too much of it as the base layer. Go careful as this stuff is fierce, fiery and formidable.
So, there we have it. Try some of these out. I love discovering new favourites and all these recipes use easy to source ingredients, are simple to make and the end results will make you and your loved ones happier than our two puppies when they rolled in cow poo this morning!
That’s extraordinarily happy btw 😄 Off to bath the little demons now!
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