Monday, 4 February 2013

An extravaganza of side dishes, a la Nigella!

I invited my parents-in-law over for dinner this evening, with the intention of trying out some more recipes from Nigellissima, the Nigella Lawson recipe book I'd been given for Christmas. I planned a roast beef with 'Italian Roast Potatoes', 'Savoy Cabbage with Potatoes, Fennel Seeds and Taleggio' and 'Garlic Mushrooms with Chilli and Lemon', followed by 'Vanilla Panna Cotta'.

My first problem was that when Steve had done the grocery shopping, he hadn't been able to find any gelatine leaves. Uh oh, I couldn't make the panna cotta without them! I'd better find some, quick! I assumed the most 'upmarket' supermarket would be most likely to have gelatine leaves, so I headed for New World in New Lynn. Not only did I find gelatine leaves (yes!) but also rose water which I've hunted for before and not found, and I was able to stock up on muscovado sugar which Nigella loves to use in her recipes.

By the time I got home with my goodies, Steve had put the beef in the oven to roast and my guests had arrived. Still plenty of time to make everything though...except the panna cotta. It's supposed to refrigerate for a minimum of six hours, and I probably had three...maybe four if I pushed it. And I had to make it yet, a tricky little dessert that I'd never attempted before. Uh oh. Well, never mind. I decided we'd just have that deliciously simple mousse again. No point stressing after all. Better to sit down and enjoy a visit with guests.

The roast potatoes were so easy - potatoes and garlic cloves in the roasting tray, rosemary and olive oil on to the oven. Beautifully simple.

We made the cabbage dish using camembert instead of taleggio at Nigella's suggestion. I confess, I didn't even bother asking Steve to look for taleggio but I will have a look for it myself next time I do the grocery shopping and see if it makes a difference to the dish. I wasn't sure about the wisdom of having potatoes in this dish AS WELL as the Italian potatoes, but actually, there's not much potato in this dish. So it's a matter of frying the potato, spring onion and fennel seeds, then adding cabbage, water and seasonings. Then you just add the cheese after it's all cooked and the liquid has been absorbed. It looked tasty.

Steve made the mushroom dish for me, which was particularly handy since I don't like mushrooms. Basically, you fry the mushrooms in parsley, lemon zest, chilli flakes, minced garlic and salt, then season with lemon juice.

What do you think of our impressive meal?

The roast beef was dry (should have made gravy!) and the potatoes were nothing special (although still yum!) but the cabbage....WOW! So good! And I was told the mushrooms were divine. The cabbage and mushrooms are definitely going in the recipe book and will definitely be made in my house again!

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