Nigella Lawson


#7 Quick Chilli by Nigella Lawson (from Nigella Express)

For someone who isn’t a ‘Chilli Head’, I start to sweat even looking at a bottle of the ubiquitous Sriracha sauce, I fucking love a Chilli! My last chili review was actually an unorthodox Gizzi Erskine variant (with chicken) that was delicious nonetheless. I’m tempted to add a whole section dedicated to them here on Pigley’s Kitchen, or maybe just a specific chilli-fangirl blog. One of my favourite things about Nigella Lawson is that with each new book comes a new recipe for chili. I’ve cooked all of them to date, her aptly named Quick Chilli from Nigella Express completing my research.

I’m not usually one for cheat ingredients – it’s a bit Joe Wicks for me – so looking at Nigella’s Quick Chilli I was a little apprehensive. Ingredients include: Ready-made chunky vegetable pasta sauce; tinned mixed beans in spicy sauce; sweet chilli sauce. I couldn’t actually bring myself to buying a jar of pasta sauce especially, as I have a glut of onions and endless tins of tomatoes. I made my ‘chunky pasta sauce’ by sweating off onions and garlic as normal. It probably added 5-10 mins to the cooking time, not the worst result. I did actually have a tin of the beans in spicy sauce from a grandparental care package, so that came in handy. I always have the inexpensive ‘Healthy Boy’ sweet chilli sauce in the fridge and there was an open pack of chorizo that needed using.

You’re never safe from being surprised until you’re dead.

Well I had to eat my words with this recipe. This Quick Chilli had unexpected depths of flavour. Just spicy enough. Just sweet enough. Just reduced enough. The sweet chilli sauce helped to add a stickiness to the chilli that belied the short cooking time. Honestly, I’ve painstakingly slow cooked chillis in a casserole for hours with pieces of beef shin and had results less satisfying than this one. It’s not fair.

After lecturing people for years about the necessity of slow cooking, I went days without pausing for breath. Constantly raving about this Quick Chilli, breaking only to snaffle more leftovers. I also feel bad for doubting Nigella. That’ll learn me. For your own chilli-based life lessons, you can find the recipe for Quick Chilli here or in Nigella Express.

P.S. No photo on this occasion – a chilli rarely photographs well with artificial light at nighttime. It looked brown and wet.


#6 Curry in a Hurry by Nigella Lawson (from Nigella Express)

I cooked this recently, wanting to use up the tamarind paste that’s sat unused since the first time I cooked this recipe. However, after buying all the ingredients, arriving home and opening Nigella Express only to realise that I hadn’t in fact cooked Curry in a Hurry before. I had confused the recipe with Nigella Kitchen’s South Indian Vegetable Curry. My dusty bottle of tamarind paste will have to languish in the ‘exotic’ cupboard for another day.

Focusing back on Curry in a Hurry, what a success! As a recipe from Ms. Lawson’s most time-efficient tome, Nigella Express, you would expect this Thai-inspired curry to be a dream to whip up. From getting the chopping board out to dinner table in 30 mins. The Curry in a Hurry was ready before my Jasmine rice had cooked. Express indeed.

Nigella Lawson Nigella Express Curry in a Hurry

You can see the error of my over-reducing ways here.

Not all curry pastes are born equal.

It’s also a perfect store cupboard meal. It required very little shopping beyond picking up some chicken thigh fillets. I often have some green Thai curry paste in the fridge begging to be used up and the green vegetables are interchangeable. Not all curry pastes are born equal, I bought one from the Asian section of Tesco and it was a lot hotter than the westernised Tesco one. In terms of veggies, I usually use a combination of frozen peas and broccoli as I ALWAYS have both in. Broccoli also has the benefit of being cheaper and having more substance than green beans. A thrifty substitution! Oh and sod the soy beans. I’ll stick to a double portion good old frozen peas. On my first attempt I over-reduced the curry, aiming for a thick British gravy consistency. The curry is quite wet, intentionally so. Don’t make the same mistake as me, it will be unpalatably salty and remove the hurried element of the curry. Luckily I rescued that attempt at Curry in a Hurry with some more coconut milk. That said, the ‘authentic’ thinner broth is delicious to finish off with a spoon or continue to dip some prawns crackers into.

Fresh. Fast. Delicious. Great for reheating. You can find the recipe here.

Nigella Lawson Curry in a Hurry Food Photography

The finished dish, complete with some veggie spring rolls.


#5 Honey Pie by Nigella Lawson (from Simply Nigella)

I first made this sweet n’ salty Honey Pie at a little dinner party I held to celebrate the launch of Nigella Lawson’s last book, Simply Nigella back in November 2015. I reviewed the book and the Honey Pie in a now defunct blog – both received glowing praise from myself and my guests.

It’s been nearly two years since I made it, but inspired by the fond memories of this divine sweet treat, I set about making another Honey Pie for the same guests (give or take). Thankfully it went down just as well the second time – and in the week since, I’ve made three further pies. My friends and colleagues might thank me, but their blood-sugar levels won’t be so appreciative.

The Honey Pie itself was a recipe simplified from a Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery pie. I’d hankered after this pie since Nigella posted about it on Instagram. I’ve since compared the recipes – you can find the original one on Nigella’s Cookbook Corner, or her own recipe via google. The main difference is the pastry. Having not made the original I can only comment on Nigella’s adaptation. Her olive oil pastry is simplicity itself. A quick whizz with a handheld mixer creates a rough, damp dough that you then just have to squish with your fingers into the sides of a flan tin. It’s all very rustic, but very forgiving.

Honey Pie Nigella Lawson Simply Nigella

I’ve never been able to get a good photo of the Honey Pie, it never last long enough.

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch… I can’t help myself.

The filling in both recipes is a honeyed iteration of a treacle tart, with a bit of polenta and the usual eggs, sugar and butter. It’s the addition of the sea salt flakes (in the pastry, filling and sprinkled on top) that elevate this pie from merely decent to divinely decadent.

The pastry cooks from a quick blitz in the freezer, no blind baking! The filling is simply stirred ingredients. Even my pastry averse self can manage this one. The pastry cooks through and has a short texture. The pastry base doesn’t have the most even thickness, I suppose because it’s not been rolled. However in all four attempts I’ve had no disasters. I suppose if you wanted something a bit tidier you make (or buy) a more traditional shortcrust pastry to roll. The filling is a rich and smooth custard with an attractively caramelised skin. The medicinal notes of honey flatter but don’t overpower the custard.

The Honey Pie is a cloyingly sweet dessert, just about balanced by the generously sprinkled sea salt flakes, but it is still very sweet (!) and very cloying (!). When Nigella says to be mean with the portions, she isn’t being a greedy miser with her pie – its genuinely very good advice. Take heed.

If the above paragraphs haven’t convinced you to make yourself a Honey Pie then I don’t know what will.


#3 Everyday Brownies – Nigella Lawson

Everyday Brownies… because one should never consider a life where one cannot enjoy a brownie everyday.

After reinvigorating the art of home-baking with her sophomore tome, How To Be a Domestic Goddess, long before that exiled BBC TV show, the Rt. Honourable Nigella Lawson should be rightfully viewed as a expert on the ubiquitous brownie. Coffee shop favourite, served ‘warm’ as a classic pub dessert or laced with hash for an altogether different kind of treat. You would be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion on this popular tray bake.

There are occasions for all I’m sure, from its decadent soft fudge like incarnations (Nigella’s naturally), to the less rich, flattened chocolate sponge varieties. I’ve laced Brownies with all manner of nuts, dried fruit and essences. I’ve gone for a diplomatic American-Middle Eastern fusion flavoured with spice, rosewater and pistachios; baked brownies with a layer of New York cheesecake on top – eventually covered in Raspberry Cream. (just beyond delicious.- another time). The essence of the brownie though, is in the balance of chocolate to sugar and fat. Too far in either direction and they’re rendered inedible.

I have made Nigella’s ultimate brownies on more than one occasion. I have also overindulged on Nigella’s ultimate brownies on more than one occasion. This may explain the waves of nauseous I suffer when thinking of brownies. With nearly 400g of ‘good quality chocolate and the same of butter, they are a rich beast of a bake. Delicious as they are, I balk when the price of the bake pushes over the ten pound mark. (Good Chocolate ain’t cheap in these troubled times of drought.) I also wince at the idea of spending so much money and time on something that I will struggle to eat more than one portion of.

Nigella Lawson Everyday Brownies

Domestic Goddess and all round inspiration, Nigella Lawson’s Everyday Brownies

Is there really such a thing as an Everyday Brownie?

This more humble recipe for Everyday Brownies is the perfect antidote for that mid week sugar fix. Even though I have lapsed spiritually, yesterday was the first day of Lent and I am still culturally Catholic so the *slightly* more austere bake was perfect for the occasion. With a more modest combination of eggs, butter, flour, sugar and cocoa – this is a more frugal affair. The chocolate is added to the batter just before baking so you have little chocolate chips throughout the tray. With all of the ingredients in the store cupboard, some dark chocolate conveniently picked up some Ikea on the weekend, these brownies were a breeze to make.

The intensity of the cocoa meant these ‘Everyday Brownies didn’t feel remotely austere. If anything, they were still too rich. I could have done with a good dollop of ice cream to cut through it all. The next day though, they came into their own. Once the fudgey consistency had set, they were much better balanced. If I could  change anything, I would probably add a bit more salt to balance the sweetness, but that’s just down to my own preference for da sweet n’ salty. In a happy coincidence the middle of mine hadn’t quite cooked so I had a winning combo of the cakey and fudgey.

Less extravagant than her Ultimate recipe, but no less indulgent. Nigella Lawson’s Everyday Brownies were an unsurprising success. Maybe best not to eat quite everyday though,

Sadly the recipe isn’t available on nigella.com but you can find it copied by someone else here or in the very good Kitchen. For more brownie discourse check out Felicity Cloake’s search for the perfect brownie.