Sunday, 7 October 2012

Italian Inspiration from Nigella

As a pre-birthday present the Boyfriend got me Nigella Lawson's newest cookbook Nigellissima. I have been watching the kitchen goddess's programme on BBC which bares the same name as the book. At first glance the book looks very typical Nigella. No fuss, delicious and tasty recipes - this time with an Italian twist. What made me want the book was the delicious Tagliata recipe which was featured in the TV programme. There are also other recipes in the book that I cannot wait to try. Sicilian Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic and Almonds seems like a midweek winner. Quick Calabrian Lasagne which substitutes white sauce with eggs and ham seems like a lasagne I would like. I cannot wait to try the Vanilla Panna Cotta.

The Tagliata was extremely easy to make and such a good substitute for a heavier Sunday roast. The recipe is also very affordable since the steak does not need to be fancy. I used a Topside Steak, which at 400 g was around £3.50 from Morrisons. Typical to Nigella, the marinade consists of pantry products and is whipped up together in less than a minute. Altogether a lovely meal. The Boyfriend complained that the sliced steak was too cold when it made it to the table, but this did not bother me.


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano (I used 1 tbsp dried Italian herb mix)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 steak (300-400 g)
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a frying pan. In a dish (where you can fit the steak later on), combine the extra virgin olive oil, chili, oregano, salt and red wine vinegar. Slice the cherry tomatoes. Oil the steak lightly and put it in the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. If you do not want your steak rare, cook it for longer. Place the steak in the marinade and marinade for 1 minute on each side. Remove the steak and place on a chopping board. Place the cherry tomatoes cut side down in the marinade. Cut the steak into thin slices and arrange on a serving dish. Pour the cherry tomatoes and marinade on top of the steak. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bad Boy Prawns

Happy October! The summer is officially behind us and it is time to start embracing autumn time. Autumn happens to be one of my favourite seasons for various reasons. The weather gets slightly colder, so you can get your leather boots and coats out, but still warm and sunny enough to enjoy the outdoors. In the evenings it gets darker and the candles get light. Wrapping yourself into a big blanket on the sofa needs no excuses. Autumn also produces great food. In the UK all sorts of delicacies are in best season.

Finally this weekend I made it to the Aberdeen Country Fayre. I should have gone earlier in the morning, but they still had some lovely produce left later on in the afternoon. I went there in the search of guinea fowl. Unfortunately no guinea fowl was in sight. I got my hands on these lovely prawns instead. Look at the size of them!

I think I got through preparing them quite well. I was surprised how meaty they were. I am like most other people and usually buy my prawns ready cooked and quite often frozen. Being in Scotland with all the lovely prawns in the sea around us, most of the frozen prawns come from South East Asia. These little bad boys were freshly caught and almost still wriggling when I bought them.

After preparing the prawns I made a simple Asian style marinade for them with a lot of lime, coriander and bird's eye chilies. I have long been planning on making that Sriracha Lime Mayonnaise all foodies are going mad about. Finally I had the perfect accompaniment for the mayonnaise. I also made my own Sweet Chili Soy Sauce. Both of the sauces were very successful and so easy to make. The Sriracha Lime Mayonnaise looks slightly like the classic Marie Rose sauce for seafood. Marie Rose has never been a big favourite of mine. I am so glad I have found this modern alternative. I would definitely use this sauce for making a Prawn Cocktail.


40 ml mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp lime juice

Self explanatory really. Add ingredients to a small bowl and mix together until smooth and oh-so-delicious.


50 ml Chinese rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped into small strips
1 red and 1 green bird's eye chili
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce

Heat up a small saucepan. Add the rice vinegar and sugar and bring to the boil. Once the sugar has dissolved add the ginger, chilies and garlic and let it simmer for a few minutes. Take off the heat and add the soy sauce. Let it cool down and serve.


fresh and raw prawns
1 tbsp groundnut oil
juice of 1/2 lime
a handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 red chili, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
a pinch of sea salt

Mix all the ingredient together in a bowl and add the prawns. Let marinade for 5-10 minutes before cooking, but not much more since the prawns will start cooking in the lime juice.

The Boyfriend was very impressed and even said the prawns were one of the best he has ever had. The same recipe goes with defrosted raw prawns. In the future I will probably have to try the frozen prawns, since fresh ones are fairly hard to find. I would also use the marinade and sauces for salmon in the future.