Nigella Express

victoria —  October 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

I know you are thinking that if I watched less TV, I could post more… but really I promise I am cooking and teaching and watching some food porn on TV and I’ll even include a recipe today to prove it.

My bad habits aside, I did watch the premiere episode of Nigella’s new show. I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t overwhelmed either. It seemed much slicker and less real than Nigella Bites and (the few episodes I have seen of) Forever Summer. I suspect because the new kitchen is a sound stage and not her home and I still haven’t adjusted to the video over film (or film-look) of the first two series.

The recipes are indeed quick and rely mostly on shopping well and knowing to some extent what tastes good together. These are fast but definitely not on the cheap, which has been, as far as I have read, the criticism of the series in the UK. I find that disingenuous to some extent. Does anyone really expect to open a Nigella cookbook or turn on a “programme” and find what to do with two stale tortillas, some crusty salsa and a packet of cup noodle? That isn’t her style and frankly, if it were, we already have Sandra Lee here and one is more than enough.

I know I have a bias where Mrs. Saatchi is concerned. I think she is fabulous and I am envious of her to some extent and I thought a little less of Martha when I read about her slight against Nigella. It sounded a lot like jealousy and in light of Martha’s success that is just bizarre. Granted, no amount of money in the world is going to make her an upper class Brit, but still very weird.

All in all, I like the new show and I will watch it. I do wish that she didn’t have the forced family moments of eating. I know that is part of the image but it seems that her children are much less interested in being on camera, but it was nice to see her much slimmer father tucking in to a roasted Cornish hen. Though I find his politics and association with Ol’ Iron Panties (Thatcher) appalling, it’s clear he loves his daughter (from interviews not just the cameo on the episode) and, well, being a daughter, I appreciate that.

Nigella apologetics aside, I promised a recipe and will deliver. My home cooks class is covering spices this week and we are making one of my new favorite things. Actually we are making two but I’ll deliver this one for you.


This is a lovely mix of flavors to accent a crusty bread and some fruity North African (Mustafa is good brand) olive oil.

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup coriander seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a small skillet or fry pan, dry roast the hazelnuts over medium high heat until fragrant. Turn out onto a rimmed sheet pan or wide plate. Wipe out any oil or bits of nut left in the pan with a cloth or paper towel. Repeat the toasting with each individual ingredient except for the peppercorns, mint & salt. Cool everything completely (this is very important, if you attempt to grind the nuts while they are still warm, you’ll have spicy hazelnut butter). Place everything in a mortar and pestle and grind until still somewhat coarse, you do not want a paste. Serve with crusty bread and olive oil for dipping. Store in a glass or hard plastic container for up to one month.



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