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Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)
Nigella Lawson seems very keen on pomegranate juice and even adds it to her Eton Mess.
2 x 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and halved
scant 15ml tablespoon Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
2 red apples
1 head red cabbage
3 x 15ml tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground allspice
750ml pomegranate juice
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying saucepan (with a lid) or a flameproof casserole. Finely slice each halved onion into thin half-moons and add to the pan along with the salt. Fry for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften but doesn’t burn; the salt will help to prevent it from burning.
While this is going on, quarter the apples (no need to peel), cut away the cores and chop them roughly, and add them to the softening onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
Finely shred the cabbage and add it to the onion-apple mixture in the pan, stirring slowly and patiently to mix. Add the brown sugar and allspice and stir, then pour the pomegranate juice into the pan.
Let the mixture come to a bubble, then give another stir, turn down the heat, put on a lid and cook very gently at the lowest possible heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. It really won’t get overcooked. Taste for seasoning only when you’re ready to reheat, as the flavours won’t have mellowed and come together properly until then.
To reheat, put the pan back on the stone over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.
Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)
1 x 340g pack fresh cranberries
200g caster sugar
45ml cherry brandy
Put everything into a pan and let it bubble away until the berries start to pop, stirring every now and again with a wooden spoon. This will take about 10 minutes.
You should bear in mind, though, that the pectin-rich nature of the fruit means it solidifies enormously on cooling, so although it will be cooked when the berries have burst, it will still look runnier than you think cranberry sauce should.
At this stage, give the sauce a final, vicious, whipping stir to help crush the berries into the liquid, and taste – making sure not to burn your mouth – to check whether it needs more sugar; if you find it too sweet, which is unlikely, just spritz in some lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
If you cook this sauce way in advance, it will jellify a lot so thrash it through with a fork before serving.
This excellent recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s new book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home.
Of course her finger-licking fridge-raiding foxy flirt TV persona is a wicked self-parody more outrageous than anything an impressionist could achieve, although Ronni Ancona comes close. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t find her extremely attractive, and the same could be said for many bloggers (male and female) I have contacted.
But look beyond that and what you have is a very fine food writer. Her books are well worth reading. So here she is with one of my old favourites, pasta and pesto:
Children – who are perhaps more honest about their tastes than the rest of us – seem to have an overweening preference for carbohydrates, and I am more than happy to exploit this. If I’ve been working late, am feeling lazy, have forgotten to go shopping or suddenly find out that their friends are staying over and I don’t know what they will or won’t eat, I reach gratefully for a packet of pasta.
I can honestly say I don’t know how parents managed to feed their children in the days before pasta became universal culinary currency. Oh, yes I do, actually: they didn’t care whether we liked what they cooked or not; we just ate what we were given.
My children wouldn’t care if all I ever gave them was pasta with some bottled sauce poured over, and I don’t deny that’s sometimes indeed what they are given; but to please myself, and them, this is what I make when I get it together a little. Making this is hardly effortful; the potatoes cook in the pasta water – requiring a little extra time, nothing more – and the pinenutless pesto is whizzed up easily by the processor.
And if you’re going to do this recipe, then do make the pesto yourself. Using pesto out of a jar is nothing I’d ever apologise for, but this is a dish in itself and needs to be kept distinct. For those who feel cooking potatoes with pasta is playing too much into the hands of kiddie carbomania, know that this is a Ligurian tradition. And it really works: the potatoes thicken into a sweet sludge to which the pesto adheres, to make a fantastically, elegantly comforting and fragrant strand-coating sauce. The green beans add to the verdigloriousness of the whole, making you feel good that you are getting the children to eat vegetables. That said, I remain quite adamant that there is no such thing as ‘children’s food’, that food is food and that’s that; this makes a perfect supper for grown-up company, too, and certainly earns a place in my Last Meal menu.
500g large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices, each slice quartered into chunks
500g linguine pasta
200g fine green beans, trimmed and cut in half
For the pesto:
100g basil leaves (2 fat bunches from the greengrocer, or 4 supermarket packets)
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled
100ml regular olive oil
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Put the prepared potato chunks into a large saucepan with enough salted water to take the pasta later, and bring to the boil.
Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes, then add the pasta. Check the packet cooking instructions, and at about 4 minutes before the end of the specified cooking time, add the green beans. If you are using artisanal egg linguine, which takes less time, you will need to alter your strategy.
While this is bubbling away, whiz the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor.
Before you drain the saucepan, remove and reserve about ½ cupful of the cooking liquid.
Tip the drained potatoes, beans and pasta back into the dry pan.
Add the pesto from the processor and enough cooking water to give a runny sauce that coats the strands of pasta as you work it through with a fork or pasta claw. Serve immediately.
This is a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s new book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, packed with ideas for the sort of food that makes life easier at the end of a long day in the time-strapped week, along with dozens of comforting recipes that help you unwind with family or friends. There are step-by-step pictures, and kitchen snapshots, some of them taken by Nigella Lawson in the course of writing the book.
My mother often used to make a kind of faux Cumberland sauce to go with lamb chops. She’d dollop some redcurrant jelly into a bowl, grate in a little orange zest and squeeze in a little juice, then stir in some freshly chopped mint, or dried mint if there were no fresh. Somehow, it worked, and this is simply a development along the same lines. Impatience, I have learnt, can be an inspirational prompt to the cook. Laziness is accounted for, greed rewarded: that’s a result.
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
6 lamb cutlets
juice 1 clementine/satsuma (approx 75ml)
1 x 15ml tablespoon redcurrant jelly
dash Worcestershire sauce
dash red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
small bunch or packet fresh mint, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the lamb for about 2-4 minutes a side, depending on how you like them and on the thickness of the cutlets. Remove the cutlets to a large piece of foil and make a baggy package, though sealing it tightly, and keep on a warm plate. Turn the heat down to low, then whisk in the clementine or satsuma juice, redcurrant jelly, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper. Take the pan off the heat. Unwrap the foil parcel, divide the cutlets between 2 warmed plates, and pour into the pan any juices that have collected under the waiting cutlets. Whisk well, then pour this over the cutlets. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons chopped mint, and offer more on the table to eat with the supper.
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What do David Cameron, Nigella Lawson, George Clooney and Wayne Rooney have in common? Apart from healthy bank balances and the odd column inch? They’re all devotees of table tennis, the humble game that’s capturing the zeitgeist, taking to the streets and likely to be a persistent theme of the summer, writes Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph.