Archive for the ‘Nigella Lawson’ Category

Lulu is the only person I know who can contemplate setting up a woman about to give birth to twins (due at any minute, she is near full term) at a dinner party date at someone else’s house. My house. “Does he know she is pregnant?” I asked Lulu. “He likes kids,” was the response. He’d better.

To be fair she and John cooked the main course themselves. Whole snapper baked in the oven Asian style. John took a photo of the fish prior to being baked in the oven which I will post here as soon as I extract it. It was tender and lightly pungent with lemongrass, coriander, and chilli as some of the core flavours.

I had been leaning towards producing a beef rib roast with Yorkshire pudding followed by rhubarb crumble. Thwarted by the fishy main I still did the rhubarb crumble even though something like a lime tart would follow the fish a little better.

Rhubarb crumble is a wonderful, rich, hearty sort of rustic winter dessert. It is the kind of dessert you serve after a family Sunday roast as opposed to formal dinner parties. In my experience though, people love this kind of back-to-childhood food and it is always a hit. Nigella’s recipe is pretty straightforward. I tend to be a bit random with both the quantities of rhubarb (bit more if the dish is larger) and I usually double the crumble recipe as I don’t have any dishes that are 21cm in diameter and 4cm deep. My dishes are either larger or too shallow so I increase the crumble quantity and chuck it on.

Rhubarb crumble

1kg pink rhubarb to give at least 750g when chopped up into 1cm pieces
50g caster sugar
1T butter
1T good quality vanilla extract
1T cornflour
For the crumble topping
150g plain flour
1t baking powder
110g unsalted butter, cold and diced
3T vanilla sugar or ordinary sugar
3T demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 190C, and put in a baking sheet to sit the crumble pie dish on.

Toss the sliced rhubarb in a pan on the heat with the sugar, butter, vanilla and cornflour for about 5 minutes until the butter has melted and everything oozed together.

Tip into a pie dish approximately 21cm diameter and 4cm deep. Increase the quantity of rhubarb if you are using a larger pan. You can do this in advance; and also make the crumble crumbs in advance as well and then assemble at the last minute when you are ready to put into the oven.

Put the flour and baking powder into a food processor (or use self raising flour and leave out the baking powder). Drop in the cold, diced butter and blast a few times till crumbs form like rough oatmeal. Chuck in the sugar and blast once to mix through. You can freeze the mixture or leave it in the fridge in a bag until you are ready to use it.

Assemble the crumble. Pour the crumble mix over the rhubarb. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes on the baking sheet.

Serve with cream, vanilla icecream, yoghurt or whatever you prefer.


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Nigella Lawson’s Feast is a total stalwart in my book collection. At her best her approach seems to involve slapping a walloping piece of meat in the oven, suggesting substantial and interesting sides, and stuffing people to the gills. Dinner party guests roll home after consuming recipes from this book. This is by far my favourite of her books.

In some of Nigella’s others the cooking effort and skill seems to be reduced so far down the evolutionary chain I am unclear whether she is targeting preschoolers or chimps. Any recipe that involves tipping a load of Mars bars into a pan and melting them does not deserve to be printed.

I also have How to Eat which frustrates the heck out of me. I cannot stand recipes that seem to involve a chatty  stream of consciousness  with all the ingredients randomly mentioned throughout. I like a nice list of ingredients at the top for shopping purposes. Then instructions. If the writer feels the need to chit chat about their life and experience do it as a paragraph at the beginning of the recipe or the end. Just give us the list of ingredients or I will forget some. Nigel Slater needs a hand slap for this as well for The Kitchen Diaries. In his case though the recipes are sufficiently good, and the verbage is so charming that it is worth sifting through the diary entries to find them and locate the ingredients amongst the burble.

Back to Feast. It is a great book. Broken down into themes (Christmas, Easter, chocolate cake hall of fame). Tasty food that is pretty straightforward to throw together. Great if you have a celebratory dinner or Christmas to plan for.

Her chocolate gingerbread also deserves special mention. Really outstanding and good for freezing in chunks.

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