Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London


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Chorizo & Chickpea Stew

Chorizo & Chickpea Stew, Nigella Lawson

Chorizo & Chickpea Stew, Nigella Lawson

Sometimes you just want something warm and comforting to eat. And, given how cold it’s been recently in old London town, Sunday night was one of those times. And what’s more warm and comforting than something involving sausage and beans. Fair enough, Nigella’s Chorizo and Chickpea Stew is a fancy sausage and beans, but it’s still broadly the same!

This recipe is, yet again, from her wonderful Kitchen book. Full recipe and image credit can be found on the BBC site here.

I did enjoy this recipe, but I would make some changes next time I make it. The flavours are classic and work brilliantly, but I did want to add a bit of spice so I added a small amount of Hot Chilli powder. I think I’d actually increase the heat even more – the chorizo is spicy, but there’s a lot of sauce and the addition of some chilli flakes might pep it up even further! The other thing I would do is switch out one of the tins of cherry tomatoes for a regular tin of chopped tomatoes. The sauce remained quite watery (despite me adding less water than the recipe prescribed), so I think I’d use chopped tomatoes to bulk this up a little. But I would definitely recommend keeping one of the tins as cherry tomatoes, as they keep their shape during the cooking and add a really nice texture and flavour to the stew.

Finally, it’s worth noting that for two of us, I halved the bulgur wheat it states in the recipe below and there was still loads left!

KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7/10.

Chorizo and Chickpea Stew (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g spaghettini or vermicelli, torn into 3cm lengths
  • 500g bulgur wheat
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sea sat flakes (or 1 tsp regular salt)
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 350g chorizo, cut into coins then halved
  • 4 tbsp amontillado sherry
  • 100g dried apricots , snipped into pieces with scissors (optional – I hate them so didn’t include)
  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes, drained, plus 1.5 cans tap water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Coriander (optional – I didn’t have any, so didn’t include)

Method

Warm the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan on a medium heat. Fry the pasta bits in the oil for a minute, stirring, until they look like slightly scorched straws, then add the bulgur wheat and stir for another minute or two.

Stir in the cinnamon and the salt, then pour the water into the pan. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil, then turn down to the lowest heat, add a lid, and leave for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, put another thick-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat, add the chorizo pieces and fry until they start to release orange oil. Then add the sherry and let it bubble away.

Add the apricots (if using) along with the chickpeas (or beans) and canned tomatoes. Half-fill each empty tomato can with water and swill it out into the pan. Put on a high heat to bubble for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the bulgur wheat and, if there’s any to hand, some chopped coriander.

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Date Steak – Nigella’s Name, Not Mine!

Date Steak

Date Steak

I’m not going to lie – there’s going to be a LOT of posts about Nigella on this blog. But especially since I picked her Kitchen book back up recently to find the recipe for the Coffee and Walnut Cake I write about here. I forgot just how many recipes I want to try in that book, so I’m slowly working my way through a shortlist. Last week I made Date Steak again – I first cooked this last year, but completely forgot about it and how much Paul and I enjoyed eating it! It’s a really simple, tasty way of cooking steak and it always hits the spot. It’s a bit like a BBQ sauce, but that probably doesn’t do it justice! Regardless, carnivores will like this – Katie Promise!

KB rating 9/10. PR rating 8.5/10.

Date Steak (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (or sun-dried tomato paste)
  • 1 tbsp garlic oil
  • 2 sirloin steaks (approx 300g each)

Method

Put the sugar, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, redcurrant jelly, ginger and tomato puree into a small pan and whisk together over a gentle heat.

Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 mins until the sauce has thickened slightly. Take off the heat and set aside while you cook the steaks.

Either fry or griddle the steaks. I griddle, so rub the meat with oil before placing on a smoking hot griddle pan (if you’re frying, add the oil to a heavy-based pan and heat up, before adding the steak).

Cook the steaks for about 3 mins a side if you like your meat warmed through, but still rare. Obviously the exact time depends on the thickness of the steak and how cooked you like your steak – so use your brain and a finger to prod at the steak to check ‘cooked-throughness’ (this is a technical term).

Take the steaks off the heat and double wrap in foil. Let them rest for 5 mins.

Open the foil and add the juices that will have collected in the foil to the sauce. Whisk through to mix.

Put the steaks on two warmed plates, topping with the sauce.

I served with a jacket potato and green beans, but this steak and sauce will work with practically anything.


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The ‘Gotta be Quick’ Coffee and Walnut Cake

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson's 'Kitchen'

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’

We hold regular charity bake sales in our team at work, and trial and error has taught me that this cake goes fast! It’s really does seem to be one of the best sellers. In fact, I baked this last night to be sold today…and within 20 mins of the sale someone bought the whole cake. THE WHOLE CAKE! (It was for someone’s birthday just in case you’re concerned about their general well-being) . And if you needed any more convincing, Paul doesn’t like nuts but somehow loves this cake. It is one of the easiest cakes to make, and whilst the nutty flavour is quite subtle, the espresso really makes this cake sing. The buttercream frosting is really simple too, but really adds to the overall taste! (I’m not really an icing fan, but this converted me to the idea). The first time I made this I couldn’t get espresso powder, but I really would advise searching it out. I found a Percol espresso powder at the supermarket which I now use, but Nescafe also do one that’s quite widely available too.

This cake is from Nigella Lawson’s book, Kitchen, which is actually one of my favourite Nigella books. And whilst I’ve listed the recipe below, it’s also available online on her website here.

Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake (serves 8, but that’s according to Nigella! Her portions are huge, so it can probably serve more!)

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 50g walnuts (pieces)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g unsalted, softened butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp espresso coffee
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream frosting

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 175g unsalted, softened butter
  • 2.5 tsp espresso coffee
  • 1 tbsp water (boiling)
  • 25g walnuts (halves)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Butter 2 20cm/8” sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.

Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.

Add the butter, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process to a smooth batter.

Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor still running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk if you need to. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in some dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)

Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.

Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment.

When the sponges are cool, you can make the buttercream.

Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing.

Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream. (If you are doing this by hand, sieve the icing sugar and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon. Then beat in the hot coffee liquid).

Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.

Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up (i.e. so the 2 flat sides of the sponges meet in the middle) and cover the top with the remaining icing in a ramshackle swirly pattern.

This cake is all about old-fashioned, rustic charm, so don’t worry unduly: however the frosting goes on is fine. similarly, don’t fret about some buttercream oozing out around the middle: that’s what makes it look so inviting.

Gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edge of the circle about 1cm apart

Eat a piece before it all goes…