Archives for posts with tag: Nigella Lawson
From a Scottish recipe book: stock made from s...

Cock-a-leekie! All of a sudden, I see this method everywhere!

Nigella Lawson is a woman who knows food, and she’s not afraid to show her love for it.  In the last few weeks I have discovered a great recipe from her latest cookbook called Kitchen.  Beyond being tasty, this recipe has made my life much less complicated.

It is her mother’s Praised chicken.  In the last while, I have made this recipe once a week.  It gives me enough soup stock and chicken to make tasty soups and salads all week long.  Long ago, I remember someone from Saskatchewan telling me this is a great way to cook chicken because it made a delicious and clear stock. I thought that roasting chicken is the best way, so I never bothered with this other method.  Well, years pass, and I now see that I have been missing out on something both great and efficient.  Both the soup stock and the left over chicken are delicious.  AND most importantly, it saves me time by making a stock and cooking a chicken, all at once.

What I do each week goes something like this.  I enjoy the chicken as a hot meal on the first day.  Within the same hour of preparing the chicken, I distribute the stock into individual portions that I can reheat during the week.  I then take apart the chicken (by far, my least favourite job!) and put this in individual jars, so that I have portions ready for any kind of salad.  The rest is a matter of finding a little lettuce and a few veggies, and then I am set for the week!  Truly, this is fast food.  And it is affordable, even if I buy an organic chicken.

Earlier this week I also discovered a similar recipe in the New York Times.  It is a saké steamed chicken with ginger and scallions.

So, with many of my lunches being ultra-healthy and fast, it seems to make for a really nice week.  And as a bonus, I feel that I can relax when I decide to go for a small treat at my favourite café.  With balance, living is very beautiful.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

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Holly berries and new spring leaves

holly berries

One of the best gifts to give at this time of the year is home-made goodies.  Here is a recipe that I adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (2008).  This one does not require baking and easy to make.

Rocky Road that tastes like Christmas

175g unsalted butter
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons agave syrup
200g amaretti biscotti (the crisp ones), place in a freezer bag and slightly crushed into crumbs and lumps
125g mini marshmallows
150g cherry flavoured cranberries
150g brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans or almonds (crush them slightly in the freezer bag with a rolling pin)
2 teaspoons icing sugar, to dust (optional)
(1)Heat the butter, chocolate and agave syrup in a saucepan over a low heat.
(2)Add to the melted chocolate mixture: amaretti crumbles, marshmallows, cranberries and nuts.  Fold in well to coat everything.
(3) Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9″baking tin lined with parchment and smooth the top with a spatula.
Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight.
(4) To serve, cut into 40 squares and dust with icing sugar for a little festive fun.

(Store for up to one month in a festive tin in the freezer or a cool location.)

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Cooks remove racks of herring from a tradition...

Cooks remove racks of herring from a traditional smoke house

The following recipe was adapted from one found in Nigella Christmas.  I love Nigella Lawson’s recipes because they are fun to read.  She takes the complication out of cooking.  When I follow her recipes, I end up making quick and delicious dishes.  It is the opposite of the early Martha Stewart Living recipes that seemed to assume we all have kitchen staff and abundant time to cook elaborate meals.

For the most part, Nigella’s recipes are great, but this one had a gross error in it.   My spidy senses were tingling the first time that I made it.  I already knew that I needed to make some modifications by inverting the recommended amounts of smoked fish and white fish.  The recipe recommended 300g of white fish and 750 g of smoked fish and I used the 800 g white fish and 200 g of smoked fish on the first round.  This was still too salty.  The second time, I decreased the smoked fish even more and increased the other seasonings and finally, it turned out.

Since it took a couple rounds to figure out, I am happy to share the recipe with you!

Ingredients

50 g unsalted butter

50 g flour

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1/4-1/2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg

1 tsp dijon mustard

350 ml whole milk

1 onion

75 g of italian flat leaf parsley (approximately 1 bunch of parsley)

100 g Digby smoked herrings, roughly chopped

800 g haddock or another firm white fish, fresh or frozen, cut into 2 inch pieces

400 g baking potatoes (approximately 2-3 potatoes, I used yukon gold), sliced thinly, perhaps using a food processor.

1-2 tbsp olive oil

white pepper or black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400’F
  • In a sauce pan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  While stirring, allow this to bubble for a minute.  Take off the heat and stir in the white wine, mace or nutmeg and mustard.  Whisk in the milk and return the pan to the heat and continue to whisk as it thickens.
  • In a food processor, mince the peeled onion and then add the parsley and pulse til minced.  Add the coarsely chopped smoked herrings and pulse once or twice to chop until the fish is in approximately 1 cm pieces.  Pour the onion, parsley and fish mix from the food processor into the sauce in the sauce pan and stir the two together.
  • Pour the combined sauce into a 9.5″x13.5″ casserole pan.  Put the fish pieces on top of this.
  • Arrange the sliced potatoes on top of the fish pieces, covering the entire casserole.
  • Pour the olive oil into your clean hands and quickly apply olive oil to the potatoes.  Grind pepper over the top.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 400’F.  Serve with buttery petits pois.

By Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Happy Birthday Grandma!  Today is my grandma’s birthday and I am thinking about the ways she has inspired me over the years.  She has always been a great cook and has cooked her entire life.  At one point, she owned a famous deli with fresh made soups and cinnamon buns she served daily.  My grandma has always had abundant energy, which she has focused in the direction of her loved ones.  She has daring humour, and it can be surprising to hear this type of humour from your grandmother.  However, she attends church regularly, and is proud to be a part of important groups such as Pathways, which is committed to supporting persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.  She is also celebrating later this month a rare achievement, 60 years of marriage to my grandpa.

When she was a young girl, people cooked everything they ate.  It was not like you could pick up ready prepared food everywhere you went.  If you could find free food on the land, you would be silly not to use it.  I think that her stories of life in the old days made me curious about what the land has to offer and by extension, piqued my interest in the good stuff we glean from plants, i.e. herbalism.

About ten years ago I was making some jam from high-bush cranberries.  This was all new to me.  If you have not tried it, you should.  It is a sweet jam that smells like a robust cheese.  When I told her about my adventures with this strange fruit, she told me that they used to make this jam by the quart when she was a child.  When I  started studying herbalism, I wanted to tell everyone about the benefits of eating greens and drinking herbal teas.  When I told my grandma about the benefits of eating wild greens, she assured me that this is old news; they used to do that in the old days too.   She is a hardy woman, with good genes.  After reading cookbooks such as Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and umpteen books on plants and beneficial plant constituents, I wonder, do her early days of living off the land have anything to do with her fortunate genetics?

One of the fascinating skills I love about my grandma is that she cooks without using recipes.  She has challenged me in the past by stating if she knows how to cook, why would she use a recipe?  In her mind, this is ridiculous.  This approach has perplexed me for years.  How does she do it?  How can she trust that something is going to turn out right if she has no recipe to guide her with proportions, temperatures and time required for cooking food sufficiently?  She claims it is simple, you know what cookie dough should look like by the texture, you know when a roast is perfect by the way it looks, smells, tastes.  This method of cooking without a recipe requires only two extremely adaptable and portable things, plenty of practice and the use of your senses.

One day I want to cook in the same fashion.  Why not?  A good dish is not so much about following the perfect recipe.  It is knowing what to do with what you have on hand and cooking these foods in a way that is pleasing to you and your guests.

A few days ago I made almost five quarts of green tomato salsa and two pints of green tomato ketchup.  Bursting with achievement, I posted this on Facebook.  Shortly after, I received a request from a friend for the recipes.   But I did not have any real “recipe”!  At the time, I was too busy to actually send out my instructions on what I did.  And besides, the salsa and ketchup were my very own limited edition creations. There was no kitchen lab to develop a tested recipe.

While watching Glee last week, I realized that I do something like a song mash-up when I approach cooking.  Instead, I do a recipe mash-up.  Until I get to that point where I can cook without any recipes at all, I am consulting many cookbooks to better understand cooking and food.  With my university training, I approach recipes as I would a research project.  Then, I do a bit of a recipe mash-up.  Generally, I look at three recipes to get an idea of what three different people would do with the same dish.  Then, I create my own recipe, keeping in mind what I would want and what I have on hand.   Some people would consider it pure chaos.  I would rather think of it as a wee bit of spice to my life.

Will this method work for you?  Try it!  If you are unsure at first, you can consult one of the many tomes on cooking like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, The Way to Cook by Julia Child, Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, or heck, even Martha Stewart’s Cooking School and practice getting down the basics.  After that, give it a try.  Who knows, maybe one day you will have your own book of recipes developed from your very own recipe mash-ups.  Not only that, but one day, you may even have that freedom to cook whatever you want, with whatever you have and make it great.

by Tammy Schmidt

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