I’d never had bhorta, but this sounded good. I made 1 1/2 x the recipe to feed 3, added yogurt and naan. Made the onions, which I didn’t love - I kept wishing I’d made the ones from Season with the coriander seeds or just skipped them. LLD and I were going nuts for this. He couldn’t stop raving about it. I was too busy eating. Really tasty, and I will definitely be making this again.
I made this last year in May and a few times since then. Nigella previewed this on her website, as well as giving Food and Wine rights to publish it as part of publicity for COOK, EAT, REPEAT’s release. It is definitely a comfort food kind of casserole. The flavors are subtle; you can dial up intensity with more or different herbs, as well as how much lemon juice, lemon zest, Parmesan, and/or red pepper flakes you want to add to taste at the end. I don’t have a large enough casserole in which to brown and cook this, so I needed to brown it and then transfer the chicken and other ingredients to a large disposable pan to get the rest of the job done in the oven (after bringing the water to a boil separately and pouring it carefully in) covered in foil.
Nigella says you can substitute different seafoods for the squid, and various different beans, and I did so. I used shrimp and canned great northern beans, and made 1 1/2 the recipe to feed 3 people. This is delicious, and feels very Spanish. You let the squid/shrimp sit in sherry for a bit while you work on the beans. Sauté garlic and lemon zest, add crushed red pepper and smoked paprika, then tomato paste and then the beans and stir and let warm up. Remove this mix from your pan and add the shrimp minus their juice until just about cooked, then add the sherry and let it get all mingled. Mix the shrimp in with the beans. Deliciously garlicky, lemony, smokey. I served with a slice of toast and a salad. That’s 3 really good recipes from the book for me this week.
GLUTEN-FREE BANANA BREAD WITH CHOCOLATE AND WALNUTS - p. 78
I put this on my to-make list primarily because I wanted to make the banana peel curry on p. 35. But the bananas reaching the super-ripe stage coincided with me needing to travel for a few days, so just before I left I peeled the bananas and put the flesh in the freezer. And tossed the peels. So much for that curry. I finally got around to making the banana bread, through. This recipe is gluten-free as written, but not vegan. The flours called for are a mix of almond flour and rice flour, although the option of an all-purpose GF flour is given in place of the rice flour. I decided to make it with the almond and rice flours, because I wanted to see how well it would work. For the two eggs called for, I used an egg replacer that consists of starch, leavening, and psyllium.
This bread was fine. I should caveat that I don’t particularly like banana bread. Or bananas. This didn’t taste very banana-y, because the chocolate overwhelms all the other flavors. There was quite a lot of chocolate in this, which some mind think is a good thing, but I’m not that big on chocolate. It also made it really hard to tell when the bread was done, because the cake test just came out covered in chocolate. The bread was supposed to bake for 50-55 minutes at 325F, and my bread was underbaked after 55 minutes. I did notice some weirdness with the metric conversions. For example, the recipe calls for “6 ounces (150 g)” of chocolate. But 6 ounces is 170 grams. That’s a significant error, and might be why my bread was so chocolate-laden. There was also 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in this recipe, which I didn’t feel helped anything. The bread came out kind of oily. All in all, I didn’t like this version of banana bread enough to want to make it again. I have other versions in my repertoire that I much prefer.
MINE - ALL - MINE SWEET AND SALTY CHOCOLATE COOKIES
These were so quick and easy to make and tasted beautiful. They were very chocolatey and the salt amount was perfect. The texture was great too, nice and sandy around the edges and very soft and chewy in the middle. I couldn’t fault it.
SPAGHETTI WITH CHARD, CHILES, AND ANCHOVIES - p. 18
I made it according to the recipe except I did add some arugula in addition to the chard. I also doubled the crus red pepper.
I liked it. I made it on a night it was just for me. I didn’t finish it but I did put a dent in it.
Much better than expected, even the bean hater H asked for more after he finished his dish. Agreed with @LulusMom1 , I think it’s Spanish origin. I didn’t have sherry and replaced with sauvginon blanc and lemon juice. Simple to make and will repeat.
Inspired by @Saregama 's hash brown version, I had the idea of using tater tots in place of the fish sticks. I baked the tater tots in the oven a bit longer than the package directions, to ensure a crisp exterior (as is suggested in the instructions for the fish sticks). Made the bhorta pretty much as directed. My mustard was creole. I took note of LLM’s comment about the pickled onions, and made a different recipe for those, that included coriander, cumin, and black peppercorns. At the end, I topped the bhorta off with some crowder peas that I had roasted with chaat masala, and some sungold tomatoes from the garden.
I had mixed feelings about this. The texture overall was disappointing - I had super-crisp tots, only to throw them in this dish and have them become less crisp. And the sautéed spinach just wasn’t working for me, texturally. I just really wanted this dish to be a salad, with more crisp/crunchy textures. I could see converting it to a mustard/ginger/chile dressing tossed with fresh greens, and then the tots as croutons (and I would absolutely keep the roasted peas).
This cake just happens to be both vegan AND gluten-free, so I had to make it. And lemon. I just love lemon desserts. From what I can see, Nigella’s solution to making something vegan is just to leave out the eggs and see if it works. Which isn’t really the best way to veganize a cake. As a result, this cake, like the banana bread I made earlier this month, had some problems with structure. It did hold together well enough for me to get it out of the cake pan (and I did not use a springform pan like she called for, so I had to turn the cake out, then flip it back over onto the cake plate). I cut my first slice a few hours after baking, and it was a mess. The syrupy top of the cake just wanted to stick to the knife, and the whole thing was crumbly and and messy. On day 2, the slices were better behaved. So I’ve made a mental note that this cake should be made a day in advance.
The thing is, this cake is delicious. So out of the recipes I’ve made so far this month, this is only one I’m likely to repeat. I’m going to make a scan before I return the book to the library. I did make minor changes. She calls for light olive oil, which is not something I typically keep on hand. When I was at the store to buy it, a bottle of almond oil caught my eye, and seemed like a better option, so I used almond oil instead olive. I also used stone-ground cornmeal instead of fine polenta. Polenta is another thing I don’t typically keep on hand, the grits I do keep around are far to coarse for this application. And my cornmeal was white, because that’s how we tend to roll here in the south.
I knew that it was supposed to be a soft mash, it just ended up that I wished it weren’t, if that makes sense. I don’t have any problem with bhortas in general, I just didn’t like combining that texture with tater tots.