Cover Photo: BBC

These recipes will be aired the food maestro’s upcoming cooking show, Cook, Eat, Repeat

2021 has been a momentous year of growth for English food writer and television cook Nigella Lawson. The British cookbook author found serendipity in the pandemic’s stifling lockdowns, figuratively and literally cooking up tasty new creations. Fully aware of the healing properties embedded in good food, Lawson has decided to broadcast her inventions with the world in her new cooking show, Cook, Eat, Repeat, premiering on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub channel 432) and BBC Player on August 16.

While avid followers of the talented culinary maestro would already be familiar with her twist on dessert treats, Lawson’s extensive repertoire of dishes also includes an array of piping-hot main courses. Testing the limits of her creativity and her ingredients’ range of flavours, she has unearthed some remarkably unique and unexpected combinations.

The following four recipes are specially designed to be recreated in the average home kitchen.

See also: How to Make Red Wine Burgers at Home

Crab Mac ‘N’ Cheese Nachos

Unsurprisingly, this rendition of a beloved comfort food is one of Lawson’s most controversial creations. Bringing together the unlikely combination of seafood and cheese, this pasta-turned-nacho accompaniment bears a one-of-a-kind flavour. Fending off the critics, Lawson remains loyal to its allure: “After I’d made this a few times, I knew what I had to go on to do turn it into a sauce for nachos.”

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 100 grams gruyere cheese
  • 15g or 2 x 15ml tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • 15g or 1½ x 15ml tablespoons plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or hot smoked paprika, plus more to sprinkle at the end
  • 250 millilitres full fat milk
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato puree
  • 30g or 2 x 15ml tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 fat clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 200 grams conchiglie rigate pasta
  • 100 grams mixed white and brown crab meat (50/50)

 

Method

  1. Grate the Gruyère into a bowl and add the 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Mix the flour with the spices in a small cup. Pour the milk into a measuring jug and stir in the tablespoon of tomato purée. Put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Find a smallish heavy-based saucepan; I use one of 18cm / 7 inches diameter. Over lowish heat, melt the butter, then peel and mince or grate in the garlic and stir it around in the pan quickly. Turn the heat up to medium and add the flour and spices. Whisk over the heat until it all coheres into an orange, fragrant, loose paste; this will take no longer than a minute. It soon looks like tangerine-tinted foaming honeycomb. Take off the heat and very gradually whisk in the tomatoey milk, until it’s completely smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down any sauce that’s stuck to the sides of the pan.
  3. Put back on the heat, turn up to medium and cook, stirring, until it has thickened and lost any taste of flouriness; this will take anything from 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the grated cheeses. It’ll look rather fabulously like Velveeta now. Put a lid on the saucepan, or cover tightly with foil, and leave on the hob, but with the heat off, while you get on with the pasta. If you have an electric or ceramic hob it may be better to take the pan off completely.
  5. Add salt to the boiling water in the pasta pan, then add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions, though start checking it a couple of minutes earlier.
  6. When the pasta is just about al dente, add the crabmeat to the smoky cheese sauce, then once you’re happy that the pasta shells are ready, use a spider to lift them into the sauce or drain them, reserving some pasta-cooking liquid first, and drop the shells in. Stir over lowish heat until the crabmeat is hot. If you want to make the sauce any more fluid, as indeed you might, add as much of the pasta-cooking water as you need. Taste to see if you want to add salt—the crab meat you get in tubs tends to be quite salty already, but if you’ve got yours from your fishmonger, it might need it.
  7. Divide between two small shallow bowls and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper or hot smoked paprika.

Spiced Bulgur Wheat with Roast Vegetables and Beetroot Sauce

Like any classed culinary advisor, Cook, Eat, Repeat does not discriminate against diet inclinations. And fret not—despite its health benefits, this recipe does not forfeit tastiness. Lawson cheekily notes, “This is one of my most repeated suppers, particularly when I have vegetarian or vegan friends over, but not only then; even meat-eaters do not need to eat meat every day.”

Serves 3 to 4 as a main course

Ingredients

For the bulgur wheat:

  • A small bunch of coriander (approx.25g)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 375ml cold water
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 orange
  • 200g bulgur wheat
  • 50g red lentils
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes (or ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt)

For the roast vegetables:

  • 400g leeks (trimmed weight—or approx. 600g if bought untrimmed)
  • 400g (2–3) red peppers
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
  • 150g radishes

Method

  1. You don’t have to start on the bulgur wheat straight away, but as it stands so comfortably once cooked, I tend to do it this way round. Finely chop some of the tender stalks of coriander, just enough to give you about a tablespoon; peel the garlic; measure out the seeds and chilli flakes; and have water in a jug by the hob in readiness. If you are in a hurry to eat you could get on with preparing the vegetables now too.
  2. Get out a not-too-large heavy-based casserole or pan that comes with a tightly fitting lid—I use an enamelled cast-iron one of 20cm diameter—and very gently warm the oil over low heat. Finely grate in the zest of the orange, and stir it into the oil. Mince or grate in the garlic, add your spoonful of finely chopped coriander stalks and stir these into the now golden oil for about 30 seconds. Turn the heat up a little, just to medium-low, and add the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds, followed by the chilli flakes, and give everything a good stir.
  3. Turn the heat to high, and quickly add the bulgur wheat and lentils, and stir again, and well, to make sure everything is mixed together. Now add the water and salt and bring to the boil.
  4. Once it’s started bubbling, clamp on the lid and turn the heat back down to low, then leave to cook gently for 15 minutes—you can start chopping your vegetables—by which time all the water should be absorbed.
  5. Heat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC Fan. Wash the leeks to remove any mud if needed, and cut them into approx. 3cm logs, and drop into a sturdy and fairly shallow roasting tin in which, ideally, all the vegetables will sit snugly; I use one that’s 29 x 25 x 5cm. Cut the red peppers (deseeding, and discarding any pith in the process) into large bite-sized pieces and add them to the roasting tin along with the whole cherry tomatoes.
  6. When time’s up on the bulgur wheat, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel, clamp the lid back on and leave for 40 minutes, though it will stand happily for a lot longer than this. I routinely leave this for 2 hours.
  7. Sprinkle the seeds and salt over the waiting vegetables, then add the oil and schmoosh to mix. Pour 2 tablespoons of cold water and 2 tablespoons of juice from your zested orange into the tin and roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cooked and soft, and the leeks beginning to scorch in parts. While the vegetables are in the oven, halve the radishes from top to bottom.
  8. When the leeks, peppers and tomatoes have had their 30 minutes, take the tin out of the oven, add the radishes, and mix. Because the vegetables—ideally—fit so snugly in their tin, they make a wonderful strongly flavoured juice as they cook. However, if you’ve had to use a bigger tin, you may find that they’re going a little dry, and might be sticking to the tin in places; if so add another tablespoon each of orange juice and water or more as needed. Put back in the oven to roast for another 10 minutes. Take the tin out of the oven and let stand while you put the finishing touches on the bulgur wheat.
  9. Chop the coriander leaves. Remove the lid and tea towel from the bulgur wheat and use a couple of forks to mix everything together in the pan and, importantly, to separate and fluff up the grains.
  10. Tip into a serving bowl or dish, add most of your chopped coriander and fork it in. Add a third of the roasted vegetables and mix in well but lightly with your two forks. Taste for seasoning—I often want to add more salt at this stage. Top with the remaining roasted vegetables, and sprinkle with the rest of the coriander.

For the sauce:

Makes 250–275ml

  • 150–175g raw beetroot
  • 200g full-fat Greek yogurt (or oat-milk crème fraîche if you need it to be vegan)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 20g fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan, cut the tail and stem off the beetroot, and wrap loosely with foil, sealing the edges tightly, and roast in the oven for about 2 hours, or until it feels properly tender when pierced with the tip of a normal eating knife. Unwrap the parcel, and leave to cool.
  2. Once the beetroot’s cold, you can make the sauce. Put the yogurt in a bowl that you can use a stick blender with. Peel and halve the garlic cloves and drop them in. Then peel the ginger with the tip of a teaspoon, and either chop it roughly or cut it into 3 or 4 pieces, and add these to the bowl. Deseed the chilli and tear it into 2 or 3 pieces and add them to the bowl, too, followed by the salt.
  3. Peel the beetroot, though unless you want more than a touch of the Lady Macbeths, it might be wise to wear gloves as you do so (I use disposable ones, and wash and reuse them). Break the beetroot up a bit over the bowl and drop the pieces in, too. Then blitz to a smooth, shocking-pink cream with a stick blender. You can also do all of this with a bullet blender. Set this amazingly vivid fluid sauce to one side for now.

Fear-Free Fish Stew

True to its name, this recipe grants you a rare, stress-free experience of prepping fish stew—a dish universally recognised as being rather daunting. Lawson assures, “I know a lot of people are hesitant about cooking fish, and I do understand why, but this, my friends, is the recipe to allay your anxieties and free you from fear. Your fissues will be a thing of the past.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large sweet potato (approx. 250g)
  • A small bunch of coriander (approx. 25g)
  • Approx. 20g fresh ginger
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion (approx. 175g)
  • 400ml cold water
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 orange
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey or maple syrup
  • 750g skinless firm white fish, in 1 thick piece or thick-cutlets

Method

  1. Measure all the spices into a little bowl, and then peel the sweet potato and cut into 1cm dice, and leave to one side. Finely chop the tender stalks from the bunch of coriander, to give yourself 3 tablespoonsful. Peel and finely grate the ginger, to give you 1 teaspoonful, and peel the garlic. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Fill a measuring jug with 400ml cold water.
  2. Warm the oil in a heavy-based pan or casserole that comes with a lid (I use one of 22cm diameter). Add the onion, and cook it gently for about 20 minutes until it’s beginning to soften and colour.
  3. Finely grate in the orange zest, mince or grate in the garlic, add the chopped coriander stalks and the grated ginger, and stir everything over gentle heat, then add the spices.
  4. Tip in the diced sweet potato, and stir into the spiced onion over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the tinned tomatoes, and half fill the empty cans with your water and swill out into the pan.
  5. Spoon in the tomato purée, and add the salt and honey or maple syrup. Halve your zested orange and squeeze out enough juice to give you a tablespoon and add that too, giving everything a good stir.
  6. Turn up the heat to bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid, turn the heat right down, and leave to simmer for 40–45 minutes until the sweet potato is completely soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. You can do all of this in advance, heating up when you are ready to cook the fish, or move straight on to the fish now.
  7. Cut your fish into large bite-sized pieces and add to the simmering sauce. Turn the heat down and put the lid on. Depending on how chunky or how cold the fish is, it’ll need 3–5 minutes to cook in this gentle heat. Remove the pan from the heat, take off the lid and let it stand for a further 2 minutes.
  8. Chop the leaves you have left from the stalkless coriander, and sprinkle over the stew on serving

Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf

Yes, fancy artisan breads are still the go-to for any upscale pastry lover. However, there is merit in noting that beauty comes simplicity. “While the everyday bread on my table is always the round, crackle-crusted, no-knead loaf that precedes this recipe,” Lawson ponders wistfully, “there are times when I just want a slice of old-school bread, deeply unfashionable in these sourdough-days, but oh-so-comforting to eat.”

Makes 1 beautiful loaf

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread four, plus more for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons (7g) or 1 sachet fast action dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) caster sugar
  • 2t teaspoons (12g) ne sea salt
  • 125ml spoilt milk (or sour cream), straight from the fridge
  • 150ml cold water
  • 100ml hot water from a just-boiled kettle
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons (45g) soft unsalted butter (omit if using sour cream, plus more for greasing tin)
  • Vegetable oil, for kneading

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the spoilt milk (or sour cream) into a measuring jug, add the cold water (which will take you to the 275ml mark) then the boiling water (and I’m presuming you don’t need me to say that it should now read 375ml). Stir the soft butter into the jug; it won’t melt entirely, but that’s fine.
  3. Pour the jug of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you go, either with a wooden spoon, a Danish dough whisk or—and these are my tools of choice here—hands. Stir until all the flour—apart from a little that’s clinging to the sides of the bowl—is absorbed into the dough; if this takes a minute I’d be surprised. Form into a rough ball, cover the bowl with food wrap or a shower cap, and leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour a little oil onto the kitchen counter and spread it with your hand to give a light sheen to an area big enough to knead on. Take the dough out of its bowl and duly knead it for 10 seconds. How you knead is very personal: we all have our different styles; I push the dough away with the heel of my hand and bring it back with my fingers. Form the dough back into a ball, return it to its bowl, cover it again, and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this process twice, and after the third 10-second knead, form the dough into a ball again, put it back in the bowl, cover, and leave for an hour.
  5. Line the bottom of a 2lb (900g) loaf tin and very lightly grease the sides; I use an old butter wrapper for this. Take the plumptiously risen dough out of its bowl, and pat it out on your oiled surface so that you have a soft, puffy mattress about 2cm thick, with one edge about 4cm shorter than the length of your tin. Starting with this edge, and using both hands, tightly roll the dough into a scroll—or swiss roll, if that helps you visualise it better—and tenderly place it seam side down in your prepared tin; you may have to press the short sides gently to fit it in, as the scroll can get longer as you roll. Leave to rise for 1–1½ hours, until it’s peeking out just above the top of the tin. Turn the oven on when it looks like it’s nearly there.
  6. So, heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan. Dust the top of the dough with flour and bake for 45 minutes, by which time the bread will be risen, with a rounded and deep biscuity-gold top. Unless your oven is misfiring, it will definitely be done. Armed with oven gloves, quickly take the bread out of the tin, and place it on a wire rack to cool before slicing into it. To keep the loaf fresh for as long as possible, store in a bread bin. The next best method is to wrap it in a tea towel.

These recipes were re-published with permission from BBC.

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