It’s funny, I can never figure out whether or not I really like Madonna. On the one hand, you have to admire a woman in her forties who maintains the body of a 12 year old Korean gymnast and has constantly kept one step ahead of the fashions for 20 or so years…but on the other hand I think I prefer a more Nigella-type body shape, and Madonna really looks like she has no sense of humour. And I do rate personality over looks. You may think that sounds over-righteous, but after five minutes of watching The Hills I realised that being very pretty and thin doesn’t gloss over the fact that you are completely vacuous and can’t hold a meaningful conversation. Where on earth am I going with this? Well, Express Yourself has always been a Madonna song that I liked, and since I have been cooking from Nigella Express…You know, I do realise that if you have to explain a joke it means it’s not very funny. I should really try to stop being so verbose and just tell you what we had for dinner.
That’s right – “we.” Tim is back! By the by, Ange and I made Emma watch Rent. She said something along the lines of “Well that wasn’t as awful as I thought.” The next day she said she couldn’t get the songs out of her head. I think we are on to something. Tim said not to hold my breath that he would become a fan. I still have hope. I mean, I got him to like Neil Young (but then how could anyone with ears and a soul not…okay, onto the food.)
Above: My first Nigella Express recipe: Linguine with Mushrooms, Lemon and Thyme. It is so simple – chop up button mushrooms, let them sit in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and thyme while you put the water on to boil for the pasta. Let the pasta cook, stir the lot together, and hey presto. I must admit that the marinading mushrooms were so magically delicious that I nearly snarfed the lot before putting them in the pasta. This was Monday night’s dinner. I met Tim at the train station where his bus was getting in (he didn’t know I was coming; he doesn’t have the monopoly on impulsive gestures you know) and it took us a while to get home and this was still quick to make. And seriously easy to eat as well.
Above: Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Coleslaw, which was last night’s dinner. It might sound a little low-rent, but sometimes that is what you desire. This hails from the chapter “Instant Calmers” and indeed, calms instantly. I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter, not that I think it matters since Nigella is constantly encouraging the reader to play around and not be so stringent. I used the sandwich press that I got for my 21st birthday (and a very handy present it is, too) and made the slaw – all very quickly. So quickly that I got a bit silly and decided to make potato cakes too…Well, Tim does need the carbs.
Above: Sorry the images are a little over-exposed, Tim’s camera bit the dust and I don’t know how to change the settings on Stefan’s one. Anyway, this was never going to be one of those blogs with really professional looking pictures. We are looking for a new camera today though, I promise! These are the potato cakes, which Nigella gives as a kind of canape recipe with smoked salmon and shots of vodka. (I’m guessing the latter is optional, but adds extra Swede-ness.) I know anything that you have to fry and flip pancake-style looks like a drag but these are so easy, and charmingly are made from instant potato flakes. They took three seconds to mix together, cooked quickly, and tasted wonderful spread with hummous. And I made the whole lot – potato cakes, sandwiches, coleslaw – in about 20 minutes. It is very exciting. For me. I realise not everyone is as Nigellavangelical as I.
Above: This is what I am really excited about. Nectarine and Blueberry Gallette. I have never bought pre-made pastry in my life – not necessarily because of some snobbish instinct, although I do like to make my own shortcrust – but after reading through Nigella Express I bought a pack of puff pastry sheets (surprisingly reasonably priced, too.) Fruit is marvelously cheap at the moment (better eat up for when it skyrockets in winter) and so I splashed out and got the ingredients for this recipe. It is so simple: Score a one inch frame round a square of puff pastry. Brush the inner square with a spoonful each of jam and cream (I used milk, was all we had.) Tumble over blueberries and sliced nectarine. Bake at 220 C for 15 minutes. And you end up with the most gorgeous, puffy, kid-yourself-into-thinking-it’s-healthy pudding.
Ange has caught a bus up to Auckland to go to the Big Day Out, which we aren’t going to – I am really looking forward to Rufus Wainwright though. Tonight Tim and I are going out to dinner at Monsoon Poon, (because I have a voucher) and afterwards we are going to the flicks to see The Darjeeling Limited (because he has a voucher.) Our date nights are largely supplemented by other people, it would seem…