I am increasingly becoming quite a fan of Nigella Lawson. No matter what people think of her silk clad midnight snacks there is no doubt that she is quite an inspiration and I’m sure her recipes have created many new foodies. By coincidence, her cookbook ‘Feast’ arrived today. I ordered it due to my growing curiosity about Nigella. The only other Nigella cookbook I have is her Christmas one but some how I felt I was missing out. I’ve had a quick flick though ‘Feast’ and I’m quite excited about getting into bed tonight to read more. Sad I know, but that is perfect bedtime reading for me.
The other reason I have become more interested in Nigella is of course is because I was been lucky enough to briefly meet her a couple of months ago when filming for Baking Mad. I’m also going to be hosting the Forever Nigella blog challenge in June run by Sarah who writes the fantastic Maison Cupcake blog which I am very excited about so watch this space for more details on that.
So for all these reasons I thought that featuring and reviewing one of her recipes on my blog would be very fitting.
This month Vanilla Frost is hosting Forever Nigella for Sarah and the theme is ‘spring’. So the other night I had a look through some online Nigella recipes and came across one for Red Prawn and Mango Curry. It was the addition of mango and the colourful ingredients that made it feel very springtime to me, and in my opinion a great curry recipe is worth it’s weight in gold so I thought I would give it a go.
I decided that I would review based on marks out of 10 for a few set criteria. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to quickly see what I thought of it.
The total cost of ingredients where I normally shop in Ocado was £17.56. Calculating the cost based on how much of each ingredient is used the cost was £10.74 and based on the dish serving 4 people it worked out at £2.69 per person. Cheaper than your average take away ruby, so pretty good value if you ask me.
Time required to make:
The prep took me about 30 mins, but most of this was peeling and chopping the butternut squash and mango. I did not have any sweet potato so I left it out, but peeling and chopping these would have added on an extra 5 mins the the prep I would say. If you are tight on time you can buy the sweet potato and squash in a prepared pack together and save yourself half the time I would say. The only other thing to mention is that in the recipe it suggests 15 mins cooking time for the squash and potato. Mine took about 40 mins to be soft enough.
Skill level needed:
This is a great recipe for beginners. After everything has been prepared it is really just a case of putting most if it in the saucepan and letting it simmer away whilst you get on with something else.
I like the instructions. They were easy to follow and nicely formatted on the webpage.
Visual appearance of completed dish:
I could not wait to tuck into this meal. Admittedly, I picked this recipe because I thought I would like it, but it really did look scrummy. This would be a great meal to serve friends and you could make it look even nicer by serving with a bit of mango chutney, cucumber raita (my favorite) and a naan or flatbread.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this curry. It is sweet and sour, spicy and salty and I love having flavour contradictions in the same dish. When you get mango, butternut squash and prawn in the same mouthful, it is really quite something. I was tempted to close my eyes and say, ‘Mmmmm….” but then that really would have been a bit too much like Nigella, so you will be pleased to hear I did not do this, and instead started up conversation with my husband as distraction. The level of heat and spice in this curry will be down to the red curry paste you use. I really like the Thai Taste range of pastes.
Overall, I think it is fair to say that I loved this recipe. I will certainly be making it again, and can’t wait to make it next time we have guests.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to bed to do you know what!
I am also going to enter this curry into Fabulicious Food’s Family Friendly Fridays blog event. There are some great recipes entered this month so hop over and take a look if you get the chance.
Well, my TV debut has finally aired and now I can scream at the top of my voice “I WON, I WON!!!” I still can’t quite believe it. Yes, I went there with every intention of winning but I had no idea what my competition was going to be like or how things were going to turn out on the day.
I made so many cheesecakes in the week leading up the show and I really felt that I went on a cheesecake journey during that time. Going from sheer panic to refining my ideas and feeling confident in what I was doing and looking forward to the day.
When I heard we were making cheesecake I was initially quite pleased…until my first cheesecake ended up looking like a cow pat. I kid you not! Making a large cheesecake in 2 hours I came to realise was not possible for me. My hat goes off to Christine who did manage it on the day. I tried her raspberry cheesecake and it was superb. The problem is it takes 50 mins to cook a large cheesecake and in an ordinary situation you are meant to leave it to completely cool in the fridge overnight before taking it out of its tin. When practicing at home, removal of the tin after a mere 15 mins of cooling, (due to the time constraints) made my large cheesecake efforts crack and dip in the middle. It looked a bit more presentable covered in chocolate ganache but there was no way I could give it to Eric on national TV.
Then the lightbulb moment came. I would make a little cheesecake. It would cook and cool quicker and because I could not decide on what flavour I was going to do, I came up with my next lightbulb idea of cooking 3 complimentary flavoured cheesecakes, each one with a different base and bespoke decorations. The first time I tried to cook them, they came out perfectly and the relief was massive. At least I there was a chance that I would cook something which had a chance of winning.
When the day came, I was up at the crack of dawn as we had to be at Cake Boy (Eric’s cake shop and cafe) by 8.30. Once I got there I soon felt relaxed with a coffee and it was lovely to get to know my fellow contestants Christine and Hannah a little bit.
Cake Boy is gorgeous. It has the most amazing selection of cakes which Eric bakes himself every morning and the comfy seating next to a wall of fairy lights is inspired and gave a magical feel to the place. All of the production crew were extremely friendly too and talked us through what was going to happen during the day. Considering we were the second to last episode to be filmed and there are 20 episodes in total, I think the team did so well. They must have been exhausted from it all.
Just before we were about to start and as I was finishing my coffee, I looked up to see none other than Nigella Lawson sitting opposite me chatting to Eric about cakes (of course). She had popped in with a couple of friends who were getting married and who wanted to order one of Eric’s spectacular wedding cakes. I almost choked on my coffee. What a fab start to the day to see Eric for the first time along with Nigella. Star struck? Quite possibly!
We then got to work filming some sound bites about why we wanted to take part in the show and what we were cooking. Then we had to get our ingredients ready and the bake off began. I thought I was feeling calm and collected and things were going well. Then I took my cheesecakes out of the oven and with two cameras filming, all the production crew and the two other contestants watching I had to take all three out of their tins. Possibly the hardest part as the tins are small and I had to push the cheesecake up and out. So much could have gone wrong especially as they are still a bit soft when they first come out of the oven. I was shaking like a leaf and could hardly cooridnate my fingers, but I managed all three and took a big sigh of relief. Once out, I could relax a bit and start to decorate them. I over whipped my cream which made it a bit hard to pipe, but other than that I was really pleased with the end results.
We had to wait for ages to take our creations into Eric, and when I did, he really gave nothing away. Then we had to wait for even longer whilst they filmed Eric’s reactions to the cakes, but finally the time came for him to announce the winner. I had come to realise by this point that in order to make a TV show, there needs to be lots of re-takes to get it just perfect. This was indeed the case as well when announcing the winner. Eric must have said, “and the winner is….” about 6 times, before he finally said, “…Fleur”. At which point I actually almost cried. It meant so much to me to have Eric pick me. I knew I could bake, but to have a master cake maker pick me was such an amazing feeling. I was so worried that I may have over done my flavours and he would not like them, but he told me afterwards that it was my flavours that made him pick me in the end and he liked the fact that I took a risk with something different.
I have to say though that Christine’s raspberry cheesecake,
Needless to say the masterclass was brilliant. I got to know Eric a bit better, and there was plenty of banter so it was a real laugh. We made a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake covered in gold leaf and it was absolutely stunning.
A truly amazing day and a wonderful experience. Something I won’t ever forget, and it has given me more confidence to continue with my baking and blogging. Who knows what will be my next adventure but I’m looking forward to it already, and open to offers😉
Here’s the link to the show. I’m in episode 16 http://www.channel4.com/programmes/baking-mad-with-eric-lanlard/4od
Trio of mini cheesecakes, chocolate and chilli, cinnamon and ginger, and cardamom, vanilla and pistachio
What you will need:
50g ginger nut, bourbon and hobnob biscuits
3 x 20g unsalted butter
300g cream cheese
90g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
1 large egg and egg yolk
7-8 cardamom pods deseeded then seeds crushed in a pester and mortar
1 tsp of vanilla paste
20g pistachios finely chopped
2 tsp cocoa powder
4-5 drops of homemade chilli oil or chilli power to taste
20g crystallised ginger finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
70ml double cream
50g plain chocolate
50 ml double cream whipped
30g white chocolate melted
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
Sprinkling of ground cinnamon, vanilla sugar and icing sugar
Sprig of fresh mint
3 3″ round tins
How to do it
1. Grease and line the bottom of 3 3″ round tins with parchment paper
2. Turn the oven onto 160c
3. Either separately whizz your 3 different types of biscuit in the food processor or put the biscuits in 3 separate freezer bags and bash with a rolling pin until the consistency of breadcrumbs
4. Melt 3 x 20g butter separately and mix each with the crushed biscuits in separate bowls
5. Add the biscuit and butter mixture to each of the tins and press into the bottom with the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge
6. In a large mixing bowl mix the cream cheese and sugar together on a low speed
7. Add the egg and then egg yolk and continue to mix slowly
8. Add the sour cream and mix
9. Divide the mixture evenly into 3 bowls
10. In the first bowl add the cocoa powder and chilli oil and stir in with a spoon
11. In the second bowl add the crushed cardamom, vanilla paste and pistachios and stir in with a spoon
12. In the 3 bowl add the chopped ginger and cinnamon and stir in with a spoon
13. Get the 3 cake tins from the fridge and pour the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake mix into the tin with the ginger nut base, the chilli and chocolate cheesecake mix into the tin with a bourbon base and the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake mix into the tin with the hobnob base
14. Boil the kettle, cover the bottom of the cake tins with foil (to make the tins more watertight) then place the 3 tins in a deep baking dish and pour in the boiling water until about half way up the sides of the tins
15. Place in the oven for 30
16. Once out leave in the tin to cool for 20 with a bowl over the top of the top (keeps the air moist whilst cooling so helping to prevent any cracks)
17. Once completely cool take out of tins
18. Now melt your cream and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
19. Once melted pour over the chocolate cheesecake and down the sides. Work quickly and then wipe away any excess at the bottom to neaten up
21. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, place in a freezer bag, snip the end off and decorate the cheesecake with white chocolate stripes
20. Whip the cream and vanilla paste together, until stiff. Place in a piping bag with a icing nozzle and pipe a cream decoration on the top of the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake and sprinkle with vanilla sugar
21. Use a palette knife to smooth over a layer of crème fraiche on top of the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and icing sugar and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint
- I used whole pistachios which I covered in gold leaf to decorate the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake
- I made simple sugar corkscrews for the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake out of melted sugar which I wrapped around the end of an oiled plastic fork