On the menu – more Nigella and The Art of the Larder

Saturday

So I made the chilli cheese garlic bread from Nigella’s At My Table and, well, it was okay. It was nice bread with LOTS of butter, so you basically can’t go wrong but it disappointed a bit with whole chilli, garlic, cheese side of it. The chilli side of it was never going to be hot, as Nigella called for just an eighth of a teaspoon of chilli flakes and I think here it did exactly what she wanted it to, just provide a gentle warmth but for me personally, it could have done with a lot more but then again I was cooking for other people too and they’re not big chilli fans. As for the garlic side, it wasn’t garlicky enough. And the cheese side, well maybe it was the bread that I used, it was difficult to pack the cheese in properly, so the cheese was only really on the top half of the bread. Overall, like I say, it was okay but I’ve had better garlic bread and I’m sorry St. Nigella but I’m including shop bought in that ranking too.

Monday

This was Lentils and Tiny Pasta from The Art of the Larder and it was delicious. It was one of those recipes where I principally made it because I thought it would be good for me. As usual with The Art of the Larder, the recipe was for four and it was a little difficult to exactly divide the recipe into a quarter, so I quartered the lentils and the pasta but only divided the rest of the veg by half, that way I got 3 1/2 of my 5 portions of fruit and veg a day in one dish and it tasted like pure comfort food. I’ll admit, I did add pancetta to this (an option suggested in the recipe) but I think either with or without would be equally gorgeous. I am forever trying lentil bolognese recipes and they can be hard to get perfect but this, although it doesn’t purport to be a bolognese recipe, it is a little like eating baby food and there isn’t any tomato, is probably the closest to a decent lentil bolognese yet.

Tuesday

This was a bit of a rush job lunch, so I didn’t get to prep all the toppings I wanted but this is Quick Fix Miso Ramen from The Art of the Larder and it was yum. Now I’ve tried to do similar dishes myself in the past, basically something with the convenience and comfort food taste of a Pot Noodle but without the artificial chemicals. Actually, when I say that I’ve been trying to recreate Pot Noodles, what I’ve really been trying to recreate is that childhood ‘treat’ of the 90s, Super Noodles. Pot Noodles were okay but Super Noodles were delicious! Sometimes I still see Super Noodles in the shops and I am so tempted but I know that my adult tastebuds would not be too impressed with me. Anyway, when I’ve tried to recreate instant noodles in the past, I’ve basically just cooked some noodles in some chicken stock and added some soy sauce and maybe some garlic and, as long as you get the amount of stock right, I find about 300 ml for one person is enough to cook the noodles and to reduce down into a sauce, it’s nice but very basic. The recipe from The Art of the Larder is much nicer, with gochujang, miso, mirin (although I substituted rice wine for that), amongst other things. The recipe does call for using instant noodles (just like my Super Noodles favourites of my past) but not to use the flavour sachet that comes with them. This seemed too much of a waste (and would have been too much of a temptation, I’d have just used the sachet) and also, I think possibly a bit expensive considering that you can get four packs of plain noodles for probably around the same price. I know that you often have to actively cook plain noodles and I was prepared to do that but by happy accident, when I went noodle shopping, my regular brand wasn’t there, so I chose Waitrose fine egg noodles instead and you just have to stick them in hot water (or stock) for four minutes, no actual cooking, so just like the recipe.

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