Saturday, 25 June 2011

Lemon Meringue Fool

The lengthy absence from my blogging is entirely honorable. I have both finished the second year of university and moved out of my flat, no mean feat considering its two flights up and included the transportation of a sizeable amount of kitchen goods and implements. Couple that with me going on holiday to Turkey on Monday and trying desperately not to eat carbohydrates and you haven’t exactly got the recipe for a perfect food blog post.

However, I decided to throw caution to the wind this weekend and venture back in to Nigella Kitchen that, as I’m sure you know, can be trusted to provide the most fattening recipes on the planet. I’m glad to say this Lemon Meringue Fool did not disappoint on calorie content. I’ve made this sumptuous desert once before, as part of an anniversary three course dinner I made for my parents in January. Back then in the New Year I was a complete novice in the kitchen and this recipe suited perfectly, being very simple to assemble ahead and leave in the fridge whilst you get on with the rest of the meal.

Serves 2 - 4
150g lemon curd
2 tsp lemon juice (or Limoncello)
250ml double cream
lemon zest, to serve
1 meringue nest
  1. Put the lemon curd and the lemon juice into a small bowl and stir. Add a little more juice if the mixture seems too thick, you want it to be able to fold it into whipped cream.
  2. Whisk the double cream in another bowl until it just starts to thicken. Pour half the lemon mixture into the cream and fold using a rubber spatula, and then do the same with the other half.
  3. Crumble the meringue into the cream and lemon mixture and fold.
  4. Spoon the mixture into 4 smaller glasses or 2 larger glasses, depending on how greedy you are, and serve with a drizzle of the lemon mixture scraped from the bottom of the bowl and a few spirals of lemon zest.
  5. You can serve immediately, or cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for up to 3 hours.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: £2

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I’ve always been keen to try making my own pasta, and hope to do so over the summer when I’m back in a larger kitchen and with the correct implements. Making this gnocchi however was the perfect middle ground, and can be made in any size of kitchen, with the minimal amount of fuss or items required. Basically, all you need is a big bowl, a floured work surface and some elbow grease and you’ve got your self some delicious pillows of potato-y goodness. Consisting of just flour and potato, its highly likely that you won’t even need to leave the house and buy ingredients to make them, so no excuses! I fried mine and served with a tomato and goats cheese sauce topped with some fresh basil leaves.

Serves 6
500g floury potatoes
1 egg, beaten
250g plain white flour (00 pasta flour if you can find it… I couldn’t)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Boil the potatoes, unpeeled, in a large pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and leave to cool until you are able to handle the potatoes and remove the skins. Mash until really smooth. Add the egg, plenty of salt and pepper and the flour and mix with your hands to make a dough.
  2. Knead on a floured work surface for a few minutes, and then cut the dough into four 2cm thick ropes. Cut each rope into 2.5cm pieces, and roll to create gnocchi shaped cushions. Leave to dry out for 10 minutes to 2 hours on a floured work surface.
  3. They can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, or you can cook them straight away by boiling in salted water until they rise to the surface.
with a tomato and goats cheese sauce
Culinary Know How: 2ND YEAR
Budget: UNDER £2
Kitchen Requirements: MIXING BOWL, SAUCEPAN, MASHER.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Cardamom and Rosewater Infused Crème Brûlée

If there’s a crème brulee on the menu, chances are I’m going to order it. That or melt in the middle chocolate puddings… or zabaglione… or… now I’m just thinking about pudding. Back to the pud in question. Velvety creaminess under an ice rink of melted and cooled sugar, the simplicity of crème brulee is perhaps what makes them so popular on the menus of restaurants around the world. This variation however, from Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic, is anything but run of the mill. Delicately infused with cardamom and rose water, this dessert is different without being too out there, and was the perfect excuse to crack out the rose water that’s been lurking at the back of my cupboard since Christmas.

Slightly Adapted From ‘Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic’
Serves 4 (or 8 if you use old GU ramekins like me)
570ml double cream
6 egg yolks
5 cardamom pods
7 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
1tsp vanilla extract
  1. Heat the cream and the cardamom really slowly in a small pan until little bubbles begin to appear round the edge. Meanwhile, mix with the egg yolks with 3 tbsp on the sugar in a bowl. Remove the pods from the cream and then quickly whisk the cream into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract and rosewater and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140C and divide the custard between the ramekins. Lay a piece of kitchen paper in the bottom of a roasting tray/tin (that has high sides). Boil the kettle and add enough of the water to fill the tray to half way up the sides of the ramekins. Place on the lowest shelf in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes, checking about 5 minutes before the end of cooking, they should be a wobbly loose jelly. Don’t worry, they will set in the fridge.
  3. Remove from the oven, and remove the ramekins from the tray, and leave to cool for half an hour, before putting in the fridge for at least two hours.
  4. When you come to serve the crème brulees, sprinkle the remaining 4 tbsp of sugar over the top of each, and then, using a blow torch or very hot grill, heat the sugar until it turns golden brown. Keep a close eye as they can burn very quickly. Allow the sugar to set (on my second attempt I actually put my crème brulees back in the fridge for an hour or so to set again, as I like the creamy part to be cold, but you’re more then welcome to serve immediately).

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Lemony Salmon with Cherry Tomato Couscous

So here’s the second installment of the meal I made for my parents last week, a Lemony Salmon Steak with Couscous, another Nigella creation, and just as good as the last. Brilliantly easy to put together, the couscous cooks itself, leaving you time to get on and fry the salmon. Frying gives you all the control that you need to ensure the salmon is cooked just right, crispy and brown on the outside, but still deliciously coral coloured on the inside (at least that’s how I like mine). Together, the salmon and the couscous make a tasty, light meal, which is perfect for those watching their waistline in preparation for the summer getaway.

The recipe can be found here, the only changes I made was to omit the paprika as I didn’t have any. (1 cup couscous = 200g, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes = 300g)

Salmon Pre-frying 
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Halloumi Salad with Beetroot and Lime Puree

I’ve been a rubbish cook this week, but I do have the excuse of two university exams. I’ve also been a pretty terrible blogger, it’s taken me a whole week to put up this fresh, vibrant salad that I made for my parents on an impromptu trip back home last week. Having a copy of Nigella Kitchen both at university and in Bath, I had a quick flick and this simple recipe immediately jumped out as a good starter option on a warm summers evening. A good choice when entertaining, the beetroot sauce can be made up ahead, so its just a case of frying the halloumi till golden on either side, and serving over salad leaves. The earthy beetroot flavour really compliments the halloumi, and the lime juice provides the right level of zing.

Slightly Adapted From Nigella Kitchen
Serves 2/3
1 packet of halloumi (approx. 225g)
2 small beets from a vacuum pack (or 150g cold cooked beetroot)
juice of half a lime
2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Slice the halloumi to ½-1cm thickness. Being careful not to dye your fingers red, roughly chop the beetroot, before putting into a blender along with the olive oil and lime juice. Blitz to a puree.
  2. Warm a large dry non stick pan over a high heat, add the halloumi and leave for about a minute until it has turned a golden colour, then flip and do the same with the other side.
  3. Serve the halloumi on top of mixed salad leaves, and dollop the puree over.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Southern Fried Chicken with Gravy

So what with all the work I’ve been doing this week, I felt it was only right to treat myself and buy a new cookbook. I’ve had my eye on Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic for a while now, and positive reviews on Amazon tipped me over the edge and I bought it. Providing all the basic techniques needed for the fledgling cook, Gizzi features heaps of recipes, ranging from the everyday to the seriously unusual, all with a little twist and ‘kitchen magic’. Recipes are split up into sections, ranging from ‘Eggs’ to ‘Curry, Rice and All Things Nice’ to ‘Bread and Pastry’, with an introduction to each highlighting all the basics. I really wish that this book had been about when I first went to university, its combination of the basics and more unusual recipes makes it the perfect choice for anyone looking for something a little more exciting then the useful student cookbook fare when starting out.

In true student style, the first recipe in the book I tried was the Southern Fried Chicken and gravy, not the most healthiest of choices, but delicious for that very reason. The thing that marks this recipe out from regular breaded and fried chicken is the fantastically tender chicken, created through the marinating of the chicken in buttermilk for 30 minutes, something I doubt they do in your average popular fried chicken chain. I served the chicken with mashed potato, spinach leaves and drizzled it all over with the quick to make thick ‘American-style’ gravy.

Serves 2
150ml buttermilk
a splash of milk
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bitesize chunks
1/3 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
50g plain flour
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp paprika
75ml olive oil
200ml chicken stock
  1. Mix the milk and buttermilk together in a bowl and add the chicken. Leave to marinate for around half an hour.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the flour, seasoning and spices. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan until it begins to simmer.
  3. Toss the chicken in the flour to get a thick coating. Do not throw away the excess four. Fry the chicken in the pan for about 5 minutes each side, or until golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.
  4. Pour the oil into a heatproof container leaving about half a tablespoonful on oil plus the crispy bits in the pan. Stir in half a tablespoon to a tablespoon of the leftover flour, and let it cook with for about a minute. Stir in the chicken stock slowly until the gravy is smooth. Bring to the boil and simmer until thickened to create a thick American style gravy.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

My Grandmothers Red Currant and Raspberry Mousse

Whenever I visit my grandmother I always hope that she will serve this deliciously sweet mousse dessert. On this occasion I not only got it for pudding but I got the recipe too. Out came the most wonderful collection of newspaper cuttings, with recipes ranging from the 1950’s onwards. An absolute culinary treasure-trove as I’m sure you will agree. This dessert is wonderfully simple to make, consisting of three ingredients, and can be served hot in tall glasses with cream and a biscuit for the ultimate wow factor. My pink glasses don’t quite show you the wonderfully pink colour from the red berry and raspberry juices, but I can assure you it is the stuff of Barbie’s dreams.

Serves 4
250g each red currants and raspberries
110g sugar
2 egg whites
  1. Heat the fruit in a small saucepan and stir to release all of the juice. Sieve the juice into a larger saucepan. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites with an electric whisk, or hand whisk if you are feeling energetic until they are stiff and add this, along with the sugar, to the saucepan with the fruit juice.
  2. On a low heat, continuously whisk the mixture for three minutes. You should be left with a mousse like consistency and a richly pink colour.
  3. Spoon in to tall glasses and serve immediately with cream.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £2
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