Posts Tagged ‘Nigella Lawson’

For my birthday this year I received some great new cookie cutters (thanks Sals, Craig, Max & Conor!) in the shape of New Zealand and a Kiwi! I have been meaning to try them out for ages and with some spare time this afternoon it was time to break them out!

I would like to say Izzy was on hand to help me out but since the pox outbreak she has been pooped so is back to having an afternoon nap, and we are having to wake her up after 3 hours otherwise she might not want to go to sleep at night!!

I have not yet found my perfect fail safe cookie cutting recipe and after Louise @ Domestic Scene blogged her daughter engrossed in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess and her Butter Cut-Out Biscuits I have had them in mind to try next.

The recipe worked a treat and was perfect for cookie cutters. I have always had a problem with the dough sticking to the bench but this time I made sure the dough had plenty of time in the fridge, plenty of flour on the bench and cookie cutter and didn’t roll the dough out too thin – all previous mistakes!!

Izzy was on hand however to dictate what colour she wanted them and it was not until I was just about to add the food colouring did I realise what I was about to do…….. Yellow & Green…..on Kiwi (not Australian!) Cookies……Never!! Since I don’t have black or white colouring I just stuck with blue and pink. We will see tomorrow if this acceptable to Miss Izzy!!!

So, finally I have found the recipe – this is one to use time and time again! I cut the dough in half and will be popping half in the freezer for a rainy day.

Butter Cut-Out Biscuits (courtesy of Nigella Lawson – How to be a Domestic Goddess)


175g soft unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g plain flour, preferably Italian OO, plus more if needed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

300g icing sugar, sieved

Food colouring

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each half in clingfilm and rest in teh fridge for at least 1 hour.

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it (not taking out the other half until you’ve finished with the first) and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to a thickness of about 1/2 cm. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little part on the baking sheets.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges. Cool on a rack and continue with the rest of the dough. When they’re all fully cooled, you can get on with the icing.

Put a couple of tablespoons of just-not-boiling water into a large bowl, add the sieved icing sugar and mix together, adding more water as you need to form a thick paste. Colour as desired, let the artistic spirit within you speak, remembering with gratitude that children have very bad taste.

Makes 50-60.

You can find these cutters here. I love them!

I also found this online – love it so had to share it! Very tough Kiwi Cookies!!

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Happy Easter Everyone!!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Easter break along with plenty of Hot Cross Buns and Choccie Eggs, and of course some reflection on the reason for the season (if you are so inclined).

I have taken the opportunity to introduce Izzy to The Easter Story and boy, has it raised some BIG questions!! I had never thought about how difficult this was going to be to explain to an almost 3 year old. Izzy’s interest was mainly about the donkey – it’s a start. It didn’t help that we have also been talking about The Lion King and so there is some overlap with Jesus dying and Mufasa dying – ‘no Honey, Scar did not push Jesus’, ‘Yes Mufasa is the king, yes Jesus is the King’. In retrospect one can draw more than one direct comparison – it is the ultimate Circle of Life!

I have always been intimidated by homemade Hot Cross buns – the memory of the rocks that we produced about 10 years ago may be responsible, but we thought it was time to give them a go again.

First attempt? Not too bad but needed more fruit & spice. Second attempt? Better, with more fruit & spice. Not perfect. Both batches best when straight out of the oven and will need reheating if being consumed later. Otherwise they get a little hard – no preservatives keeping them fresh! There is definitely satisfaction to be had from making them yourself. Looking forward to improving on these attempts next year!

Hot Cross Buns (courtesy of Nigella Lawson – Delicious magazine April 2010)


150ml milk

50g butter

finely grated zest of 1 orange

1 clove

2 cardamon pods, based

400g white bread flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting

7g packet easy-blend yeast

125g mixed dried fruit (I used 200g)

1 tsp ground cinnamon (I doubled all the spices)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 large free-range egg

oil, for greasing

1 large free range egg, beaten with a little milk, for the egg wash

For the cross on the buns:-

3 Tbsp plain flour

1/2 Tbsp caster sugar

For the sugar glaze:-

1 Tbsp caster sugar

Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove & cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes.

Measure the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices. When the infused milk has reached blood temperature, take out the whole spices, and beat in the egg. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and bring together into a ball.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes; if it is too dry, add a little more warm milk. Keep kneading until you have a silky, elastic dough. Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl covered with oiled cling film, and leave to prove overnight in the fridge, or in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven too 200C/ fan 180C. Allow the dough to come to room temperature.

Punch the dough down, and knead again until it is smooth and elastic. Divide into 16 balls and shape into smooth round buns. I wouldn’t start worrying unduly about their size: just halve the dough, and keep having it until it’s in 8 pieces, and use each piece of dough to make 2 buns.

Sit the buns on a baking paper lined baking sheet. Make sure they are quite snug together but not touching. Score the tops of the buns with a cross. Cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove again for about 45 mins – 1 hour until doubled in size again and almost joined up.

Brush the buns with the egg wash, then mix the flour, sugar and 2 Tbsp water into a smooth thick paste – add a little more water if it is too thick. Tip into a freezer bag, snip a small hole in one corner and use to drizzle 2 lines over the buns in the indent of the cross, then bake for 15-20 mins until risen and golden.

Mix the sugar and 1 Tbsp boiling water together for the glaze, and brush each hot bun to make them sweet & shiny.

Of course any special date/ occasion deserves cupcakes but that is worthy of a separate blog so watch this space!

Well, time to go and prepare some goodies on behalf of my friend, the Easter Bunny!!!

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It’s a big statement I know!!! but if in your mind turkey is just for Christmas then you are missing out! Turkey is an economical, versatile and lean choice and so if you don’t already eat it regularly it is definitely worth trying these out and introducing turkey to the family menu.

We have been making Turkey Tagliatelle for years and when James made it this week I thought it was time to introduce the recipe here. Once again it is a Weight Watchers recipe so another one for the calories conscious (note – my WW effort is going badly!). It has that creamy feel to it without the cream so almost feels a little indulgent. I like to finish it off with a small grating of parmesan – what is pasta without parmesan?!?!

Turkey Tagliatelle with Asparagus & Peas (courtesy of Weight Watchers – The Pure Points Cookbook)


225g tagliatelle or spagheti

2 tsp olive oil

225g turkey stir-fry strips

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed & finely chopped

100g asparagus spears, trimmed & chopped

100g frozen petit pois or garden peas

200g very low fat plain fromage frais

200g low-fat garlic and herb-flavoured soft cheese

a few basil leaves, torn into shreds

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the turkey strips for about 5-6 minutes, until golden. Add the spring onions and cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add the asparagus & frozen peas. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the fromage frais, soft cheese and basil leaves to the saucepan. Heat, stirring gently, for about 3 minutes until melted and blended. Season with salt & pepper.

Drain the pasta well. Add the sauce and stir gently to mix. Transfer to four warmed plates and serve at once, garnished with basil leaves.

Of course you can substitute the turkey with chicken and also the asparagus for green beans.

Following a large & expensive Christmas turkey I was in search of a recipe to use up a good chunk of the leftovers – preferably something a little lighter than the traditional Boxing Day Turkey curry.  As we had a Nigella-sponsored Christmas I turned back to Nigella’s Christmas and found the perfect recipe which was just what I had in mind. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture but believe me, it’s as pleasing on the eye as it is on the palate and would work all year round!

Wild Rice, Turkey, Cranberry & Pecan Salad (courtesy of Nigella Lawson – Nigella’s Christmas)


500g wild rice

75g dried cranberries

500g cold cooked turkey, diced or shredded

2 x15ml Tbsp cranberry sauce or jelly

2 x 15ml Tbsp lime juice

60ml olive oil

75g halved pecans or pecan pieces

handful of parsley, chopped

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions, and let it go cold. Always cool rice quickly; the best way is to turn it out into a large shallow dish.

Add the dried cranberries and diced turkey to the cold, cooked rice.

Make a dressing by whisking together the cranberry sauce (or jelly), lime juice & oil.

Toss the dressing through the rice, cranberries & turkey. Add the halved pecans (or pecan pieces) to the sald with most of the parsley, turn out onto a plate or into a serving dish, fork again to mix, then sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

That’s it – simple stuff huh?

So, onto non-food related topics…it’s Valentines Day and we are excited!…..but not because of Valentines (I do not buy into ‘Hallmark’ days at all!) but because our first niece or nephew is due today!! Izzy is so excited about her new cousin and is talking about ‘her’ all the time. Izzy, like me, is convinced that we will have another girl in the family any day now! It has been difficult explaining to Izzy why she won’t be able to see her cousin as ‘she’ will be in New Zealand and that is a long way away! but I have promised that as soon as we receive a photo I will print it off for her bedroom and to take to nursery. The whole concept of where babies come from (not how they get there….few more years to prepare for that) must be so confusing when you are 2 years old! Izzy understands that her ‘girl’ cousin is in Aunty Julia’s tummy and has some idea of how ‘she’ is going to get out (although some confusion between front & back parts!). We are super excited and we can’t wait to hear the news!!. Aunty Julia & Uncle Doug are going to be awesome parents!! I hope for Julia’s sake that ‘she’ isn’t as lazy  as Izzy was – 2 weeks overdue can feel like an eternity!!

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Now I know I have a backlog of Christmas goodies to get up on here but the way I look at it I have another year before anyone is going to be looking for Christmas recipes right? Might just have to add them in dribs and drabs.

My cooking has been a bit dull and boring over the last couple of weeks but I plan on going through some cookbooks this weekend for some inspiration – and low fat is more important than ever as I really need to lose some pounds. 2 1/2 years later and I still have some baby pounds – a shabby effort! Then add an overindulgent Christmas into the mix and things (by things I mean me!) are not looking good! My only successful attempt at weight loss has been Weight Watchers so that’s the next step. It’s a scary prospect though – getting on the scales in front of a stranger.  But on the upside that’s an incentive to stay on the straight and narrow. My problem is not the junk and take aways and I am not a big drinker – it’s portion control and work lunches. My job has a social element and I am lucky to get to go to some lovely restaurants but they all add up…. Maybe by putting this up here I am committing myself to losing some weight. No-one likes to lose face! So….here we go….

However before the decision to diet I decided to make some blueberry muffins. My colleague Louise has made it clear that they are her favourite and it’s been a while since I took home baking into the office. Now that I am a Nigella convert I tried this recipe last weekend (ready for Izzy’s return from swimming lessons) and I have tried a few blueberry muffins recipes but so far this is the best one. Quick & easy too.

Now just one point…..don’t overmix….my friend Vicki recently told me that she tried the banana & coconut muffins but they were flat & doughy…..she mentioned that she may have pulsed it too much and at the time I didn’t click, But pulsed? Vicks did you use a food processor? because that would be the problem right there. Muffins are always best mixed by hand – keep it gentle!

Here’s the recipe:-

Blueberry Muffins (courtesy of Nigella Lawson – How to be a Domestic Goddess)


75g unsalted butter

200g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g caster sugar

pinch of salt

200ml buttermilk (or 100g yoghurt and 100ml semi-skimmed milk)

1 large egg

200g blueberries

Melt the butter, and set it aside to cool for a little. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and in a measuring jug beat together the buttermilk (or yoghurt & milk), egg and melted butter. Using a wooden spoon and a light hand, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently to combine. Don’t worry about the lumps: the important thing with muffins is that the mixture isn’t overworked (see I told you so!!). Fold in the blueberries, again keeping mixing to a minimum. You could also add orange zest at this point if you wanted. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 mins, by which time the muffins should be risen, golden and firm on top.

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Happy New Year!! A little belated I know but here I am….. I just don’t know where the time has gone – how can we almost be in February already?! December ended up getting so crazy that I just could not fit one more thing into the day and so I am afraid that blogging went onto the back burner for a little while. However now that we are into the swing of 2010 it is time to pick it up again!!

We had a great Christmas surrounded with great friends & family and there was plenty of cooking go on and so I have loads to catch up on!! Christmas day was planned with precision and involved hours pouring over cookery magazines & books, about 4 shopping trips, lots of liaising with Meredith and a timetable…and then on the day the lads stepped up and took over the cooking which was awesome and they did an amazing job!!

Our contribution to Christmas Day was largely dominated by Jamie (of course!) and Nigella. Now I have always enjoyed Nigella and in particular the expressive way she puts forwards her recipes but she really came up trumps in ‘Nigella Christmas’. I did invest in a few new Christmas cookbooks but I ended up using the one I already had of course!! It is such a beautiful book and each recipe looks amazing and so can make menu planning near impossible!!

A special occasion should always begin with a delicious cocktail (this is a new motto!!) and my friend Lynn recommended a perfect start to the festivities – a Poinsetta! This just screams Christmas!!

Poinsetta (courtesy of Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson)


1 x 75cl bottle Prosecco or other fizzy dry wine, chilled

125ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier or Triple sec, chilled

500ml cranberry juice, chilled

Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher and serve!!

When planning our Christmas menu we decided to bypass a starter and instead planned some tasty nibbles – all courtesy of Nigella. I would definitely recommend these for any gatherings not just for Christmas. Stu also made a mouth watering salmon dip with homemade granary bread – mmmm……

Crab Crostini (courtesy of Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson)


1 spring onion

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded (optional)

300g white crab meat

60ml sour cream

small bunch of coriander

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 x 15ml Tbsp lime juice

1 small packet plain tortilla chips

Finely chop the spring onion and the chilli (if using), then mix into the crab meat along with the other ingredients, and dolllop onto the tortilla chips

Smoked Salmon Soda Breads (courtesy of Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson)


100g creme fraiche

50g hot horseradish sauce

1 x 400g loaf brown soda bread or other wholemeal bread, sliced

225g very thinly sliced smoked salmon

approx 75g pickled red cabbage, from a jar, drained

small packet/ bunch of fresh dill

Mix together the creme fraiche and horseradish.

You will need about 8-10 slices of bread. Cut each slice into 3 or 4 bits; since soda bread comes in rounded loaves, the slices vary in sizr.

Spread the bread with the horseradish-creme fraiche mixture and top with a snipped ribbon of smoked salmon.

Fork a dark-red tangle of pickled red cabbage on each piece and top with a frond of dill.

Party Parma Ham Bundle (courtesy of Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson)


400g sliced Parma ham or other cured prosciutto, not sliced ultra thin

200g ready-to-eat dried figs

150g mild soft goat’s cheese, such as Chavroux

Cut or tear each slice of Parma ham into 2 or 3 strips.

Scissor each fig in half or quarters, depending on their size, remove the woody stalks and spread a teaspoon of goat’s cheese on the cut half of the fig.

Place the fig cheese-side down on the centre of a strip of ham and then roll or fold up to make a bundle.

Sit each bulging pink parcel so that the darkness of the fig is hidden plate side.

James will tell you that these are really fiddly to make and even the King of Patience was staring to lose it but stick with it – they are worth it!!

Seasonally Spiced Nuts (courtesy of Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson)


500g mixed unsalted nuts

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp celery salt

2 x 15ml Tbsp olive oil

2 x 15ml Tbsp light muscovado or soft light brown sugar

3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped to make about 3 tsp, plus 2 sprigs to garnish

sprinkle of Maldon salt or pinch of table salt

Put a large frying pan on a medium heat.

Line a large baking sheet or swiss roll tin with foil or reusable baking parchment and put at a handy proximity to the stove. Tip the nuts into the now-warm pan and toss or push about with a spatula for 3 minutes or so until theya re lightly toasted.

Add the garam masala and celery salt and push the nuts about in the pan again so that they are evenly coated.

Add the oil, sugar and rosemary and stir about again to mix. When the nuts have darkened a little and are slicked with the sugary spice mix, tip them out briskly (before they burn) onto your prepared, lined sheet, and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Preferably when still warm,a rrange in small bowls, and tuck in a sprig of rosemary on top for a seasonal fir-tree flourish!

Finally, we prepared a Chicken Liver Parfait but that is a recipe for another blog!

On another note one of my New Years Resolutions was to read more books. I love to lose myself in good book – whether it is the product of a great imagination or the story of an ordinary person with an extraordinary story! We have read to Izzy  just about every day since she was 6 months old and she absolutely loves books now. If she goes the day without a toilet accident then her treat is an additional book at bed time – so 3 stories instead of the usual 2. I love buying her books – there are so many great authors and illustrators that have a wonderful talent of teaching children language, animals, colours etc and most importantly lessons and morals! So I thought it might be interesting to keep a record of what we are reading each week and therefore I have added a section to the column – eventually I will set up my recommended books list for adults & kids so watch this space!

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