Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My new favourite cookery book

I know it's a bit cheesy, and I know she can be a bit OTT with the pouty, flirting with the camera, but I honestly think that Nigella Lawson is one of the best food writers around today. I'm seriously pleased that How to Eat is in the Observer Top 50 Best Cookbooks of all time.

Forever Summer is a book I bought about two months ago, and I can't stop reading it, and have tried several recipes already. I normally buy cookbooks, try one recipe and then they sit, languishing on the shelf until I get bored again.

The book is awash with lemon, and is particularly fresh and exciting because of it; also, the ingredients are easily available, and the processes are not particularly hard. If they are considered difficult, for example, using gelatine, as in the Chardonnay Jelly recipe, Nigella seems to make it seem accessible. There is also a wide enough variety of recipes so that you can find something to inspire you even if the weather is damp and drizzly, like today.

Highlights so far include the Fa'attoush salad, made with toasted pitta bread; Chicken with roasted garlic and lemon; courgette and bean salad (using up some of the courgettes that grew madly while we were on holiday), Slut Red Raspberries in Chardonnay jelly and lemon cupcakes.

From Nigella's website, here is the jelly recipe:

Slut-Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly


1 bottle good fruity Chardonnay
300g raspberries
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
5 gelatine leaves
250g caster sugar
double cream to serve

Serving Size : Serves 6.

1. Place the wine and berries in a bowl and allow to steep for half an hour. Strain the wine into a saucepan and keep the raspberries to one side. Heat the wine with the vanilla pod until nearly boiling and leave to steep on one side for 15 minutes.

2. Soak the gelatine leaves – which you can find in the supermarket these days – in cold water for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, after removing the vanilla pod, reheat the wine and stir in the sugar until it dissolves; allow to boil if you want to lose the alcohol.

3. Add a third of the hot wine to the wrung-out gelatine leaves in a measuring jug and stir to dissolve, then add this mixture back into the rest of the wine and stir well. Strain into a large jug.

4. Place the raspberries, equally, into six flattish, clear glass serving bowls, and pour the strained wine over the top.

5. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours, though a day would be fine if you want to make this well ahead, and take out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving.

6. Serve some double cream in a jug, and let people pour this into the fragrant, tender, fruit-jewelled jelly as they eat.

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