A very long overdue catch up and book review – “At my table” by Nigella Lawson

Hi there! (waves)

Is anyone here? I would totally understand if I’m talking to myself, after all it’s been a long time since I posted anything on here. But just in case even just one of my readers hasn’t given up on me, I’ll continue.

How are you? I hope life has been treating you well. 2017 was a pretty eventful year for me, full of highs and lows. Kind of like being on a rollercoaster. I’m very much hoping that 2018 is a little bit calmer.

One of the main reasons I stopped blogging in 2017 was my health. When my baby boy was around 3 months old I became very ill. To cut a (very) long and boring story short, I’m getting better now. My condition isn’t going to go away overnight but it’s manageable with medication. I feel very grateful for that. There are a lot of people who sadly aren’t so lucky. I’ve learned very quickly not to take my health for granted.

So with the combination being ill, having a new baby, taking care of my older boys and trying to keep my house in an orderly manner (pfffft, who am I kidding – my poor house has been in a permanent state of disarray for as long as I care to remember) something had to give. I wasn’t spending much time in the kitchen either – I just didn’t have the inclination or energy to make anything. We became far too reliant on takeaways and ready meals, which was obviously expensive and for me, a bit depressing. If I’m unable to cook, I get quite anxious. It’s my creative outlet, my stress reliever.

September saw the release of “At my table” by Nigella Lawson. A new Nigella book is always something I look forward to. Honestly I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve! By the time it was released I was starting to feel a tiny bit better and the urge to cook again was starting to return. Plus, I had a lovely brand new kitchen to play in! Well not brand new. We bought the units second hand but thanks to my brother in law’s brilliant diy skills, they look absolutely fab for the price we paid. We had to buy a new worktop because the one that cane with the kitchen had seen better days. It’s not finished yet. We need to re-paint the walls and find new flooring. I’m having trouble deciding which colours to go with. I’m crap at making decisions. But we will get there.

I’m also pretty bad at going slightly off topic, aren’t I….? So back to Nigella. When her new book was released she received a wee bit of flak from certain media outlets claiming the recipes were “too simple.” What rubbish. Sure, some of them were simple ideas, but what’s wrong with that? There are many times in our lives when simple is exactly what is needed. I don’t want to eat complicated, fussy food at home. If I wanted that i would go to a restaurant. I want cosy, simple, good home cooking. At my table is full of those kind of recipes. Sticky toffee pudding, Queen of puddings, the fabulous egg tortilla pie and chicken and pea traybake are just a few I could mention.

I find that I discover at least one new ingredient with every new Nigella book and this time it was Aleppo pepper, also known as Turkish red pepper flakes. They have a mild, slightly sweet heat with a lemony fragrance and I’ve been using them in everything – sprinkled on top of fried eggs, in soup, curry and they are even pretty good sprinkled over salad, especially avocados. I’m not sure if Aleppo pepper is available in supermarkets yet, but I was able to source a pretty generous sized bag of the flakes online for about £2.25.

Here’s a few recipes I’ve made so far from At my table…..

Parmesan French toast. I really love this recipe – I’ve made it for lunch a few times in the last couple of months. It’s really good with a few rashers of bacon on the side and some hot tomato chutney. I actually really want to go and make this now – yum!

Lime and coriander chicken. Tender chicken breasts marinated in lime juice, zest, oil and garlic. Another easy recipe that is on the table super quick. I guess to get even more ahead of the game you could flatten the chicken breast and marinate them a few hours in advance – Nigella says to marinate for 15 minutes but I see no absolutely no reason why you couldn’t leave it for longer. Fast and delicious!

Egg tortilla pie

Oh my. I have made this so many times I’ve lost count. It’s SO good. You place ham, cheese and eggs between two tortilla wraps, press the edges together to make a “pie”, brush with oil, top with more cheese and bake. OMG. It’s perfect. I like mine with lots of sweet chilli sauce. Next time I’m going to try cooked sliced sausages instead of ham. I can imagine this would be a fantastic hangover cure. Not that I get the opportunity to do very much drinking these days! But just saying, for future reference 😉

I don’t have a picture of the finished pie – it gets eaten too quickly for that!

Black pudding hash with fried egg

When I saw this recipe I wondered why I hadn’t thought of doing this before. Everyone in my house is crazy about black pudding and whenever I boil new potatoes I always keep a few for frying the next day, which is what I did here. Mr T is a bit chilli shy so I don’t include it. I however adore a bit of heat, so I added plenty of Sriracha to mine!

Spelt spaghetti with spicy mushrooms. This was my first time trying white spelt spaghetti and definitely won’t be my last. I found it much lighter in texture than regular spaghetti and I wasn’t left with that horrible bloated feeling I always get after a big bowl of pasta. I enjoyed everything about this dish and would definitely make it again. Chicken barley.

This is very similar to something my used to make and I often make thick, “stand your spoon up in it” barley soups. This isn’t the most attractive of dishes but it’s one of my favourites – warming, homely and comforting.

Beef and aubergine fatteh. I wasn’t convinced I was going to like this but it was actually pretty tasty. I would add a bit more spice to the beef next time though – I found it very mild. I really liked the tahini yoghurt.

Moroccan vegetable hotpot. The spices in this – cumin, ginger and cinnamon are lovely and warming. A pinch of saffron adds a gorgeous golden hue. I ate this with herb flecked cous cous on a chilly afternoon.

Chocolate cake with coffee buttercream – this was one luscious cake! The sponge was so light and full of deep dark chocolate flavour (but that would have been down to the type of cocoa powder I used) and the coffee buttercream was perfect. One to make again for sure.

Apple gingerjack. You can’t go wrong with a Nigella pud and this one is fabulous. Soft, fluffy bramley apples underneath a gingery, almost flapjack like crust. This is what you would want to have for pudding on a Sunday evening after a roast dinner. Lovely.

Brussels sprouts with preserved lemon and pomegranate. As much as I love my sprouts cooked with pancetta and chestnuts, this fresh and zingy dish made a really nice change. I’m planning making this again soon with frozen sprouts.

Other recipes I’ve made but didn’t get a chance to photograph are double chocolate and pumpkin seed cookies and Brie, Parma ham and fig toasted sandwich, garlic and parmesan mash and red cabbage with cranberries. All were very good.

Out of all the recipes I’ve tried, I would (and certainly do with a few) make them all again. At my table has proved itself worthy of a permanent place in my kitchen.

If you’ve left a comment on my blog in the last 10 months and I didn’t reply, I want to apologise. I deleted the WordPress app from my phone for a long time so I wasn’t getting any notifications. I also ignored my email for a considerably long time (oh my God never again!!! You can imagine how long it took me to sift through 6 months worth of emails 🙈) so if you’re a Company and I rudely ignored your request for a collaboration/product review, I am sorry. I promise to be much more present from now on!

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