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(Taken from Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson)

This is perhaps one of the most useful puddings you can have in your repertoire. Not that it is the job of a pudding to be useful: a pudding exists merely to delight. Still, dinner does need to be made, even when there’s precious little time for it and that should be a delight, too.

So here’s the deal: there is pitifully little work to be done to make this berry-dazzler of a tart, and enormous pleasure to be derived from its consumption.

All you do is bash a few biscuits a day or so in advance and make the base – getting one course out of the way early is my way of managing – then stir lemon curd and cream cheese together, and use this cream to line the crumb-covered tart tin. I use shop-bought lemon curd here, but even if it comes out of the jar, it must be of good quality. And when it is whipped into the cream cheese, that cream cheese must be at room temperature, as should the lemon curd in its jar. The combination produces a layer of what tastes like cheesecake cream: light, lemony, luscious.

I used to put the berries on top of the cream pretty much last-minute, but then I found that a leftover wedge, after the party, looked inviting after being in the fridge overnight, and so I now finish assembling the tart ahead of time. But if you prefer to add the fruit nearer to serving, I completely understand. Don’t feel you must obey the fruit orders too literally: any mixture of berries (or indeed other fruit) would do, and you could well use a smaller amount and top the tart less extravagantly.

Ingredients

375g digestive biscuits
75g soft unsalted butter
2 x 200g packets cream cheese, at room temperature
1 x 240g jar lemon curd, at room temperature
125g blueberries
125g blackberries
125g raspberries
125g redcurrants or pomegranate seeds
125g small strawberries

Method

Process the biscuits and the butter to a sandy rubble and press into the sides and bottom of a deep-sided fluted tart tin. Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for 10-15 minutes.

In a clean processor bowl, process the cream cheese and lemon curd (or just mix by hand) and spread into the bottom of the chilled tart tin, covering the base evenly.

Arrange the fruit gently (so it doesn’t sink in too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner (see right), leaving some of the strawberries unhulled, with their picturesque stalks attached.

Place the tart in the fridge, preferably overnight, though for at least 4 hours. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unsprung and sliced easily.

(Taken from Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson)

So soothing is the process, so welcoming and enveloping the savoury smells emanating from stove and oven as this risotto cooks, so ambrosial the taste, so universally rewarding the experience, that the labour involved can be embraced gladly. If you don’t appreciate this, then you don’t deserve it.

This is really a meat sauce risotto, but that makes it sound too sloppy, too unspecial. This is no run-of-the-mill meat sauce, not least because it contains veal stock. (I buy jars of good-quality veal stock to have on standby.) And if it seems unorthodox to be cooking the meat sauce in the oven, I agree, it is. You can ignore me, and just cook everything on the hob. But putting the pot in the oven and leaving it there to cook is hardly what football managers would call a Big Ask. Besides, the method is vastly superior: flavour is intensified, texture is more melting and tender. If I have the time, this is now my ragù route of choice.

The meat sauce here, that ragù which for us is always bolognese, is runnier than you would make if this were dressing pasta, and pointedly so: it is all these meaty juices with which the rice will become so delectably swollen later.

A final note: I have marked the anchovies ‘optional’ simply because I know that some people have a thing about them, although as a general rule, I would advise you to pay no heed to such faddiness, not least because good anchovies just melt into the sauce, bringing their salty resonance with them. However, if you are feeding children with laser detectors in place of palates and who cannot cope with fish of any sort, give up now.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 stick celery, halved
1 small clove garlic, peeled
handful fresh parsley
75g rindless streaky bacon
4 anchovy fillets (optional)
50g unsalted butter, plus 1 x 15ml tablespoon (15g)
½ teaspoon regular olive oil
250g minced beef, preferably organic
80ml marsala
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato purée
2 x 15ml tablespoons full-fat milk
2 litres veal stock (500ml plus 1.5 litres), preferably organic
2 bay leaves
500g risotto rice
6 x 15ml tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovy into a processor and whiz to a fine mush. Heat the 50g butter and ½ teaspoon oil in a deep, heavy ovenproof casserole with a lid. Tip in the contents of the processor and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.

Add the meat and let it brown a little, breaking it up in the pan, then add the marsala.
Process the tomatoes until smooth, and add to the meat.

Stir the tomato purée into the milk and then add this mixture to the pan, along with 500ml veal stock and the bay leaves.

Bring to the boil on the hob, then clamp on the lid and transfer the casserole to the oven for 1 hour.

Once the meat sauce is out of the oven, fish out the bay leaves. Heat the remaining 1.5 litres veal stock in another saucepan and keep that warm over a very low heat, then put the meat sauce on a low heat next to it.

Stir the rice into the meat sauce, and then add a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir until the rice and sauce become thick again and then add another hot ladleful of stock.

Continue to add the stock as needed, though only a small ladleful at a time, stirring all the time as you go. Check to see if the rice is cooked after about 18 minutes – you may not need all the stock before this happens.

When it’s ready, turn off the heat and stir or beat in, with your wooden spoon, the cheese and the extra tablespoon of butter before seasoning to taste and doling out into shallow warmed bowls. Serve with extra parmesan, if you like.

(Yorkshire Evening Post)

Kitchen Goddess Nigella Lawson visited Leeds to sign copies of her latest cookery book.

The smouldering TV star of effortless cooking – who has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, and has launched a successful cookware range – was at Asda House.

Supermarket staff were invited to meet Nigella and buy a signed copy of Kitchen: Recipes From the Heart of the Home, with 50p from every sale donated to the Tickled Pink Campaign for Breast Cancer Care.

The Queen of Gastroporn writes in her new book Kitchen:

There are a few meals I can say I’m making that will make my children excited (or pretend to be), and this is one of them.

Alongside there must be ‘pie insides’ (which is what my daughter has always called leeks in white sauce) and for ultimate gratification, roast potatoes. Although I usually use goose fat for roast potatoes, I feel the pork belly allows, indeed encourages, the substitution of lard. I’m not convinced that with all that fabulous crackling you do need roasties as well, but I like to provide what makes people happy. I actually prefer noodles or a bowl of plain, steamed brown basmati rice, and urge you to consider either; and I love to sprinkle a little rice vinegar on my own plate of pork as I eat.

This is another of those recipes that you can get done in advance and then have the afternoon off, unworried. I have advised an overnight marinade, but if I’m making this (as I tend to) for Sunday supper, I often prepare it in the morning and leave it in the fridge loosely covered with baking parchment, or midday-ish and leave it uncovered in a cold place (but not the fridge) for a few hours.

SERVES 6-8

1.75kg pork belly, rind scored
4 x 15ml tablespoons tahini
4 x 15ml tablespoons soy sauce
juice 1 lemon
juice 1 lime

Get out a shallow dish in which the scored pork will fit snugly and in it whisk together the tahini, soy sauce, lemon and lime juice.

Sit the pork on top, skin-side up. You should find the marinade covers the underside and most of the sides, but doesn’t touch the rind: that’s what you want.

Leave the pork in the fridge to marinate overnight, covered with foil, and then take out to return to room temperature before it goes into the oven. Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Get out a shallow roasting tin and line with foil.

Transfer the pork to the roasting tin and cook it uncovered for 3½ hours, then turn the oven up to 250°C and cook for a further ½ hour to let the skin crisp to crunchy burnished perfection.

Nigella Lawson at the launch of her latest book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home at Waterstone’s bookshop, Kensington, London.

Hundreds of people queued around the block to be able to meet Nigella and get their book signed.

Click the link for more recipes from Nigella Lawson’s new book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home.

(Continuing this month of posts devoted to the Queen of Gastroporn.)

In her new book, Nigella claims to be an anti-perfectionist. Who is she kidding?

Is your kitchen slightly defective? Not enough storage jars? Low stocks of chocolate morsels? You might be tempted to look to Nigella for inspiration. This, she would have you believe, is a mistake. On the cover of her new book Kitchen: Recipes From the Heart of the Home (£26, Chatto & Windus), she wears an apron, lest the famously creamy décolletage be spattered. It could happen: life is a whirl of after-work urgency and feeding friends when frantic. But no matter how many times she professes to be an anti-perfectionist, it’s hard to believe.

She opens her mouth to tell us that things go wrong for her, too: we hear the slow, silky flow of molten chocolate. She tells us that she forgot to put the vegetables in her Thai chicken noodle soup; we assume she was distracted by plucking a single perfect rose from an Eaton Square windowbox. From the scarlet negligee she poses in with a bowl of “slut’s spaghetti” to the title of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, she’s always had her tongue thrust so far into her cheek that there’s no room for chocolate lime cake. She’s entirely in control of her own image, and she looks, sounds and cooks too smooth. We’re not buying it.

What we will be buying is Kitchen. At 500 pages, it’s the same length as her first, now-classic book How to Eat, signalling a return to form after the flimsiness of Nigella Express. The recipes are reassuringly solid, enticing and, crucially, just that bit less excessive; the sugar count, though still no diabetic’s delight, is down significantly. This aside, she has refused to evolve with fashion, and, in keeping her cooking much the same, has acquired a rebellious appeal. The rest of the civilised culinary world is desperately trying to tread lightly on the earth while smoking its own kippers. Nigella goes shopping in a cab and rips the cellophane off packets of stir-fry veg and ready-made gnocchi. Her only flaw is an urge to make life easier. Perfect.

(Source: Emma Sturgess, Guardian)

THE SUSPENSE IS OVER!

The Queen of Gastroporn’s new book “Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home” will be published on 2 September 2010.

Exclusive recipes from Nigella Lawson’s new book

There’s something intensely satisfying about cooking and eating, says the Queen of Gastroporn – whether it’s feeding family or snatching a greedy treat – and the kitchen, her ‘messy, ramshackle sanctuary’, is no place for guilt or self-denial. Here, introducing her new cookbook, she explains what the kitchen means to her, and why food is not just for body but for soul, too:

In everything I do, I try to beat the drum for the non-expert: I am not interested in some romantic idyll, but real life; call it making a virtue of necessity, but I declare myself, hand on cynical heart, the anti-perfectionist. But it appears that it’s hard to enthuse about the kitchen without either seeming to be whimsically nostalgic or bustlingly virtuous. I am neither. But still, the kitchen is my favoured space, my messy haven and ramshackle sanctuary – the place I feel most myself and yet most part of the world.

Maybe it is ungracious to admit this publicly, but I often feel that those of us who like cooking get an unfairly good press: we are hailed as loving, warm and nurturing. And it’s true that I am – to a fault – a feeder; there is scarcely a person who can leave my kitchen without something wrapped in foil to eat later, and just thinking about what I might cook for the next meal gives me a surge of absolute if greedy delight.

But sometimes I wonder if the interest I pay to what I might be giving someone to eat is more selfish than anything else. Of course, I want to give pleasure, but life in the kitchen is, for me, as much about personal gratification.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not such a bad thing. Of course, when you set it against the model of the ideal cook, that all-giving provider of good things, it doesn’t sound so great. But as I get older, I appreciate more and more that enjoying what makes you happy in the everyday is crucially important, and that self-denial (never my forte, let’s be frank) is not the path to virtue but to unhappiness.

So yes, for me the kitchen is not merely a room, but a pleasure palace, an interior garden of sensual delights – and all the better for it. While I could take the line that those who turn away from all that – whether it be the gorgeous, fatty richness of some long-braised belly of pork, or the melting intensity of a chocolate lime cake, dolloped shamelessly with margarita cream – must surely be blessed in their lives if they can so casually afford to deprive themselves of extra occasions of pleasure, I don’t really believe that; my admiration is sarcastic.

The joys of food are so great that I really do believe that those who cannot allow themselves to wallow in them have lesser lives. Of course, they have lesser dress sizes, too, and I can see that the trade-off works for many. It just doesn’t for me – or not that way around.

I know I eat a lot, but my refusal to bow down to the daily diet and all-round self-denial doesn’t mean I believe in indiscriminate gluttony. For me, it’s about savouring food without guilt or shame and not thinking that less flesh (either on your plate or your skeleton) is necessarily better.

Besides, I do think that enjoying food is a way of celebrating being alive. People often say that no one lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time at the office and what I’d add is that I am sure that no one lies on their deathbed saying I’m so glad I turned down the bread, the cheese, the pudding, so thrilled I spent all those years on a diet.

We are all shaped by different things in our lives, but the memory of my perpetually dieting, self-denying mother saying – once she knew she had only a few weeks to live – that this was the first time she had eaten what she wanted and could enjoy it, is still shocking to me. She was such a fantastic cook and actually understood food and the joys it could bring, but the lesson I have learnt from her self-inflicted deprivation is as much a part of her legacy to me as is My Mother’s Praised Chicken, which is the fundamental, actually essential, dish to emanate from my kitchen, as it did from hers.

The joys that emanate from the kitchen are not just about consumption, however delectable, but creation, too. Yes, giving oneself the task of putting together some elaborate, I-must-impress dinner party would be absolute hell, but real cooking contains an element of play that I can’t help but delight in. Mixing up a cake or a batch of muffins is as near as I feel I can get now to the thrill of making mud pies. And I love the feel of food in my hands, almost as much as I like the taste of it in my mouth.

For as much as I find food interesting to think about – and as pretty much a food obsessive, I think about it a lot – what I gain most pleasure from is the fact that cooking is about touch and feel, occupying – tangibly – the realm of the senses.

And I think that is partly why, despite being busy, despite being short of time and despite being able to find a great range of food out there that is already made, we still cook. We need to feel involved in the production, not just the consumption of food; we need to feel that satisfaction that comes from making something to eat, and then enjoying what it tastes like.

But one last request: this isn’t about turning ingredients or cooking into some sort of fetish. I don’t feel guilty that I make my Slut’s Spaghetti more or less by opening a few jars; indeed I revel in it. I believe that the only unhealthy food is not real food, and I feel I eat very healthily, just a lot. So yes, I allow butter, cream and other unfashionable delights into my recipes.

I don’t eat cake every day, but when I do make one I don’t feel bad about eating a slice; having said that, even food that I can’t quite make a case for, such as crisps, I am grateful for. In the kitchen I may be more of an Italophile than a Francophile, but still I cleave to the French saying, ‘Everything in moderation – even moderation’. I may have immoderate appetites, but that gives me immoderate pleasure. And for that I am greedily grateful.

I must have sex with Nigella Lawson before I die. She eats, she writes, she cooks, she drinks, she fucks. The perfect woman.

You don’t get many of those to the pound

After Sophie Dahl’s disastrous BBC cookery show earlier this year, it looks like Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson has been called in to save the day. The voluptuous star has been spotted filming her new food show at a grocery shop in St John’s Wood, London. With a basket in hand, filled with vegetables, the 50-year-old brunette looked immaculate and curvy as ever in a flowing black dress, blue top and jacket.

Her new book “Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home” will be published on 2 September 2010.

Nigella posted a message on her site saying: “Now I’m filming the TV series [to accompany her new book] and having a lot of fun, but it does rather keep me away from my computer and this site. As ever, my book took rather longer than it should have, partly because I did the App in the middle of it, and partly because I kept adding recipes and rejigging things. So, for the past couple of months, I’ve pretty well been shut in my study, slaving over a hot computer. But now the book – a whopping 500 pages of it – is finished and will be out at the beginning of September.

(Observer)

The artist tells of her food fantasies and raiding the fridge as a child.

Sleeping under a dinner table is safe and snug. I picked it up as a child. As a young artist, at a big dinner, sometimes I’d get so tired I’d think, “If I just snooze for half an hour I’ll be fine”, and I’d slide underneath. More recently I don’t, because my absence would be too noticeable.

In the 60s my mother ran the Hotel International in Margate. I spent tons of time in the kitchen. I used to steal cream caramels when they came out of the fridge.

When little my favourite thing to eat was a pomegranate. I’d peel, take out every single seed individually, make sure all the pulp was off and then eat the hundreds of seeds one by one. I’d like to be a pomegranate.

My favourite cinematic food scene is of the paralysed man dreaming of eating oysters in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The first time I had surplus income, as an artist, I bought oysters. I was 30 or 31 and I’d never had one. Suddenly I’d spend every spare penny on oysters. At one point I was on 70 to 100 a week.

If anyone really wants to seduce me, a picnic is the way to go. I fantasise about them and when I see old-fashioned hampers I get a wave of nostalgia for something I’ve never had. I own a couple myself but I’ve never used them. I just stroke them.

I find it really difficult eating cute things. I mean, I never eat rabbit. Even when Mark Hix makes me his [rabbit and crayfish] Stargazy Pies, I can’t have rabbit in it. Stuck on my fridge is a magnet which says “Foie Gras is Cruel”.

I’ve a really naked kitchen in my basement. It’s got just the basics. And there’s a tiny shelf of cookery books – but I’ve never referred to one in my life.

When falling in love I always imagine what I would cook for the person and how this culinary foreplay would work, but nine times out of 10 it ends in disaster. It’s because of wishing everything to be perfect, when all I really want is a good shag.

I was in Japan, on the outskirts of Tokyo, with Nic Serota [director of the Tate], and he said, “Tracey, tell me you’re not going to eat that.” And as I said “Yeah” I looked down and it was dark and it was alive. A squid in an egg omelette thing with its tentacles still moving. Pretty hardcore. But not too vile to eat.

My table manners are impeccable. I really dislike it when people eat with their mouths open. It’s not difficult – you chew, swallow, then you speak, OK?

When I was a student I did lots of Last Supper paintings. You won’t have seen them, because I destroyed them all. For my own last supper, I’ll probably order caviar and a dozen oysters, if it’s during summer. A cosy shepherd’s pie if it’s winter.

UK Blog Directory

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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