I had a busy weekend in the kitchen, and most of it was spent with Nigella Lawson’s cookbook Express.
To start let me say that I think the principals of Express are wonderful. Real food that does not take forever to make. I can attest to the speed of the recipes, the five I have made took less than 30 minutes to get from pantry to plate, as well as to the tastiness of the final product. Maybe the food is not all that healthy, as some of her British critics have stated, but it is easy enough to trim the fat here and there. And, when I was in a mind to, I did.
The mash was from Feast and it was really good. It took over an hour to roast the sweet potatoes for it, but it was worth the time. They were sweeter than when I steam them so there was more natural flavor. The regular potato served to lighten the dish so there was not too much sweet yet not too much plain potato. Yumm.
The Chocolate Mousse was from Express, and while much heavier than traditional mousse, it was very tasty. Nigella uses marshmallows for the sweetness and for the fluff. It was easy to prepare and I will not fault it that. I could have served 8 servings of this rather than 6 in small cups and it would have been just enough because it is quite rich. I recommend it.
By far the hit of the weekend was the Steak with Lemon and Thyme from Express. Who does not love steak? Well, this steak does something we all considered counter-intuitive. The steak is marinated AFTER it is grilled. Yes, that is right. After. ‘No way,’ exclaimed my husband when I told him how it worked. He grilled the steak and we marinated the meat, allowing it to cool while it bathed in the lemon, thyme and olive oil. After slicing we tried a bite. Despite our worry the steak was tender, and it had a subtle kiss of lemon and thyme flavor. I will be making that again and again, I sure.
In other things …
As I promised my husband, I made a batch of Gougères with cheddar cheese. The fat in the cheese made them a little more dense, but still so, so good!
Here is the recipe:
1 cup milk (or water)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large eggs
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
Grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the water, milk, salt, cayenne pepper and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour all at once and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and there is a very light film on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and with the paddle attachment and mix in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the previous one is completely incorporated before adding the next. The batter should be thick but loose. Add the grated Gruyere and mix to combine.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round (#6) tip. Pipe a small ball of dough under each corner of the parchment or baking mat to hold it in place. Pipe 1 1/2″ balls of dough onto the paper, spaced 1 inch apart. (If you do not have a pastry bag you can spoon the dough out by the rounded tablespoon). If the dough has little spikes at the top dip your finger in cold water and gently pat them down. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes. They should puff slightly and turn golden brown. Serve immediately.
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