Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nigellapalooza 2011

Still recovering from the royal wedding? Yeah, me neither.

Weeks of hype and media hysteria and what are we left with? A Facebook page dedicated to Princess Beatrice's hat and Ellie Goulding's cover of "Your song"?*

What's worse, the wedding risked overshadowing another major event that was taking place around the same time. Another excessive, self-indulgent, anti-climactic, (vaguely) British affair that would mess with my sleep patterns.

I'm talking about Nigellapallooza. A night when I, Char and another friend (whom I will not name as she values her Internet privacy a little more than the rest of us do) got together to prepare 10 (we made 9) recipes from Nigella Lawson's latest book Kitchen: Recipes from the heart of the home.

Thankfully I took pictures to commemorate the occasion.

*Okay, I actually love both those things.

The hits 

Coconutty crab cakes (p. 427)


You really can't go wrong with a coconut and shellfish appetizer, and the rice vinegar is a perfect accompaniment to these chic little cakes. Be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid from the crab mixture before you form the cakes and use a nonstick pan for frying. (There isn't a lot of binder in this recipe.)

Tomato curry (p. 108) with coconut rice (p. 110)

I would probably not have picked either of these dishes to make on my own. (Normally, tomato curries don't excite me.) But I was pleasantly surprised. It's important to cook outside of your comfort zone every now and then.

Marmalade pudding cake (p. 269)


Char bought two different kinds kinds of marmalade — Robertson's and President's Choice — for this recipe because she "couldn't decide which to try." But I think she was motivated by this story on the declining popularity of marmalade in England that I sent her a while back. She was pretty troubled by it, and I think she's doing what she can to reverse the trend.

Though if we really want affect change, in true British style, I think we should organize a "Save the Marmalade" benefit concert. What do you say Char? Think Ricky Gervais would still be free to MC?

We decided to make two cakes; one with each marmalade, to compare flavors. Unfortunately, our prep methods were less than scientific, so we have no clear recommendation on which brand to use.

We used part of one of the cakes to make the boozy Orange and blackberry trifle variation (p. 171). After all, how can you host a Nigella-themed dinner without cooking with multiple types of alcohol? (The grand total for this meal was four [five if you count the Cointreau twice, as it appears in two different recipes].)

Flourless chocolate lime cake with margarita cream (p. 281)
Easy and delicious. But, you don't have to make the cake. You can have the margarita cream on its own.
The Salmon and sushi rice with hot sweet and sour Asian sauce recipe (p. 116) is also a keeper.

The misses

Irish oaten [failure] rolls (p. 86) 
At this stage I can already taste the mediocrity.

The batter for these "rolls" was very wet and just didn't come together. This resulted in flat, dense, and kind of dry oat patties. They didn't taste bad, but I'm pretty sure even Prince Charles would take a pass on these.

South Indian vegetable curry (p. 154) 

Again, not terrible, just a little bland and some of the vegetables got mushy quickly. Personally, I expect a lot more from the land that gave us Princess Beatrice's hat.

We did not make the Indian Roast Potatoes (p. 207) because we totally forgot we were supposed to be making them, and by the time we realized it it was already past 10 pm.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening that left us with plenty of leftovers and the faint hope that Nigella herself might be out there watching.

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