Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat episode 6: Should you meddle with a classic? Nigella thinks that in the case of her crab mac’n’cheese, it’s a must. If the sight of glorious melted cheese isn’t enough, fear not, as she follows it with her aptly named ‘mine all mine chocolate cookies’ and a firm family favourite – chicken with orzo, a one pot dish designed to bring comfort and joy.
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Rice is the order of the day for dessert; inspired by the Italian torta di riso and her love of the very British rice pudding, Nigella creates a rice pudding cake with a vibrant raspberry sauce.
Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat episode 6 recipes:
Rice pudding cake with raspberry jam sauce
This rice pudding cake is every bit as wonderful as it sounds: an Italian torta di riso, refracted through the prism of someone who loves a bowl of very British rice pudding.
- Put the rice, milk and salt into a heavy-based saucepan and finely grate the lemon zest into it. Place over a high heat, and stirring regularly, bring to just below boiling point, then turn the heat down to low and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the rice is cooked and the milk is absorbed. Keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the milk to boil or the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter. Transfer to a bowl large enough to take all the remaining ingredients and leave for about 1 hour to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3 and butter a 20cm/8in springform tin.
- Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until stiff, then set aside. Add the sugar to the yolks, and whisk until pale and mousse-like. Add the vanilla and 2 teaspoons of juice from the zested lemon to the yolks and sugar, and then pour gradually into the cooled rice, folding it in well.
Method part 2
- Dollop a large spoonful of the whisked whites into the rice and stir briskly to lighten the mixture, and then fold in a third of the remaining whites gently but thoroughly, then another third, and when that’s incorporated, fold in the rest. Pour and scrape this mixture gently into the prepared tin.
- Grate nutmeg over generously and bake for 45 minutes, until the top has set, with no hint of wobble underneath.
- Leave the tin on a wire rack for about 1 hour, until it’s just slightly warm. To ease the unmoulding, slip a small spatula all around the edges, unclip the tin, and transfer the cake, still on its base, to a flat plate.
- To make the sauce, gently heat the raspberry jam, lemon juice and raspberry liqueur, if using.
- Serve each slice drizzled with a little of the glistening sauce.
Chicken in a pot with lemon and orzo
A family favourite, this is a simple one-pot dish which brings comfort and joy, and it is my pleasure to share that with you.
- Untruss the chicken and remove all the string. If time allows, leave it on a board for 40 minutes or so to lose its chill. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole with a tightly fitting lid; I use an enamelled cast-iron oval casserole 29cm/11½in long, into which the chicken fits neatly, leaving just a small space all around it to fit the vegetables later. Place the chicken in the hot oil, breast-side down, and cook for 3–5 minutes over a high heat until the skin is richly golden. Then turn the chicken the right way up.
- Take the pan off the heat and, aiming for the space around the chicken, grate in the lemon zest, add the garlic and dried tarragon (or thyme) and give a quick stir into the oil as best you can. Scatter the vegetables around the chicken, followed by the salt and chilli flakes (if using), and squeeze in the juice from the lemons.
- Pour in 1.5 litres/2⅔ pints cold water – covering all but the very top of the breast – put back on a high heat and bring to the boil. Once it’s bubbling, clamp on the lid and carefully transfer to the oven to cook for 1¼ hours, though check to make sure the chicken is all but cooked through and the carrots soft.
Method part 2
- Take the pot out of the oven and add the orzo all around the chicken, pushing it under the liquid and giving it a stir as far you can manage in the restricted space. Put the lid back on and return the casserole to the oven for another 15 minutes, by which time the orzo should be soft and swollen.
- Remove from the oven and let the casserole stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving. The orzo will continue to soak up the broth as it stands.
- Stir in 4 tablespoons of the parsley, and then sprinkle over a little more. Place a dish by the casserole, and then pull the chicken gently apart with a couple of forks, removing any bones and skin that come loose to the dish. I find it easiest to do this while the chicken’s still in the pot but, if you prefer, you can try and remove it to a carving board, though it’s likely to fall to pieces a bit as you do so. Stir the chicken and orzo again and ladle into bowls, sprinkling with parsley as you go. You may also want to offer Parmesan to sprinkle over: I prefer it without, but there is a strong pro-Parmesan contingent in my house.
The lone-dweller, in need of the balm that only a freshly baked biscuit can provide, is faced with a most unsatisfactory choice: do without or make a batch big enough to keep a huge hungry household happy. I had to put that right, and I have created a cookie recipe that answers my every requirement: deeply chocolatey, sweet but not too sweet, and sprinkled with sea salt flakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment – you don’t need to line it if it’s nonstick.
- Stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and fine sea salt together in a small bowl.
- In a slightly larger bowl, vigorously beat the butter, both the sugars and the vanilla with a small wooden spoon until you have a creamy mixture.
- Add a generous spoonful of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and beat it in gently with your wooden spoon. Then, in about 3 batches, gently beat in the rest of the dry ingredients. Once they are absorbed, beat vigorously until you have a rich brown dough, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Method part 2
- Weigh this mixture, and divide it in 2; you don’t need to be fanatical about this, a few grams here or there won’t make a difference. Squidge each half in your hands to form 2 fat patties about 7cm/2¾in in diameter and place them on your baking sheet, at least 10cm/4in apart, as they spread while cooking.
- Sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon of sea salt flakes over each cookie and bake for about 12 minutes, until the top of each biscuit is cracked. At 10 minutes they will be utterly smooth, but in the next 2 minutes they seem to transform themselves. I crouch by the oven, staring through the glass door.
- Once the surface is cracked, the cookies are ready. They will, however, feel very soft – even uncooked – to the touch, and you will doubt me. But I will forgive you, as long as you obey me. Whip out the baking sheet, leaving the cookies in place for 5 minutes. Then slip a metal spatula under the cookies and transfer them to a wire rack. For optimal eating pleasure, leave for another 10 minutes before biting into one.