Friday, May 27, 2011

Forever Nigella: Salad Days



One thing I love about Nigella Lawson is how she can use simple ingredients found in the pantry to create an equally simple, but delicious meal.  Some of the best recipes come about just by scrounging around in the fridge or the pantry and using up what you have lying around. 

This month’s Forever Nigella is hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen and the theme is Salad Days.  After looking through as many of Ms. Lawson’s salad recipes as I could find, what tempted me most wasn’t a recipe for a salad, but a recipe for a salad dressing.  Using some pantry staples, you can create a quick and easy homemade Honey Mustard Dressing. 

Click here for Nigella’s recipe for Golden Honey Mustard Dressing.

As you can see in the recipe, Nigella gives the measurements for each ingredient, but I think she probably wings it a little.  This recipe is ridiculously easy.  Just assemble your ingredients and add to a jar, then shake, shake, shake!  This could be very therapeutic after a rough day.  Two things to think about with this recipe: First, I’m not sure, but I think that this recipe calls for Rapeseed oil (as mentioned in the introduction) instead of Grapeseed oil as listed in the ingredients.  Rapeseed oil and Canola oil are practically the same thing, so that’s what I used and it was perfect.  Second, it took me a lemon and a half to get the right amount of juice.  But I could probably have done well enough with just one lemon.  My suggestion is to add half of the suggested lemon juice, shake and taste.  You can always add more later.


So what kind of salad goes with a dressing this tasty?  I started with some leftover salad greens.  Then I searched through my refrigerator where I found some bacon bits, shredded cheese, a hard-boiled egg and a leftover fried chicken tender.  A few croutons from the pantry and my salad was ready to receive a lovely drizzle of golden dressing.  There’s something very comforting about the flavors of the egg and honey mustard dressing, it’s hard for me to resist.  It would have been fantastic with some cucumbers as well, but the point I’m making here is that I used what I had.  And it was delicious!


Here’s a reminder of the rules: Forever Nigella #5 “Salad Days”
Challenge: To prepare and blog any Nigella salad recipe
Deadline: Sunday, May 29 at midnight wherever you are.
Round up: By the next weekend.
There are:
No rules about how often you must take part
No rules about stuff being secret until certain dates
No rules that everyone cook exactly the same thing
No rules about not being able to submit to any other blog events – but do check it doesn’t contravene any rules the other guys may have.
But there are 3 rules:
1. We want everyone to keep buying lots and lots of Nigella books so that she keeps writing them so you must NOT reproduce recipes verbatim as shown in Nigella’s publications. If you are sticking exactly to the original recipe, just tell us which book it was from and if available, provide a link to it on which publishes a lot (but not all) of her recipes. (You may also find some recipes on sites for some TV stations and newspapers).  Alternatively, you may blog an adapted Nigella recipe so long as you have changed at least two ingredients and write the directions in your own words. Tell us what you changed and why.
2. Publish your Forever Nigella blog post (in English) by the closing date including the latest Forever Nigella graphic and giving a link to this post and the Forever Nigella home page .  Your entry must have been published since the announcement post. You may only re-blog something from your archives if you republish it with the badge and links to this post before the deadline.
3.Email the details to me at  and please c.c. sarahATmaisoncupcakeDOTcom – I need your name, your blog name, a link to your post and a photo no more than 300 pixels wide. No billboard sized images please.

Salad Days Round-Up

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Real Thing

On one of my trips to the U.K., I made some interesting culinary discoveries.  It started out with a glass of milk. “Wow, this milk is really good!”  Then a sandwich. “This bread is fantastic!”  Then a chocolate bar. “Wow! Chocolate is so much better over here than at home!”  But then I picked up a can of Coca-Cola.  After tasting, all I could think was, “WHAT IS THIS?!” 

I have been drinking Coca-Cola as long as I can remember, but this can of Coke was so different! It was somehow lighter and more refreshing.  How could this be?  I looked at the ingredient list, and there it was: Sugar.  Not High Fructose Corn Syrup, but cane sugar.  Don’t ask me how much Coca-Cola I consumed during that trip. I don’t want to think about it.  But I came away wondering if I would ever be able to drink a U.S Coke again.  The answer is: not as much as I had before.  When I drink a Coke here in the States, I feel deprived of the kind of refreshment I experienced so long ago.  And it makes me avoid the beverage. 

Lately, there has been a trend in using cane sugar in sodas.  I often wonder, “Hey Coca-Cola, what’s taking you so long?”  It’s not like they don’t have the recipe.  Coca-Cola, made with cane sugar is the Coca-Cola you would have had before 1985.  Then came the infamous  New Coke, which couldn’t even make it 3 months before you had Peter Jennings interrupting General Hospital to announce the reintroduction to the “original formula” thus bringing us Coca-Cola Classic.  But it wasn’t the same thing.  This reintroduction now uses HFCS instead of cane sugar.  Was New Coke just a plot to confuse your taste buds so you wouldn’t taste the difference between the two sweeteners?  Many say yes.

Yesterday, we were shopping at Wal-Mart.  Brian had the shopping cart and was a few steps ahead of me when he heard a strange squeeky squeal coming from my direction.  He turned to see what it was.  I couldn’t form words to describe my excitement, all I could do was point to a small cooler advertising the product within: Coca-Cola from Mexico made with Cane Sugar.


According to Coca-Cola, there is no difference in the taste between Coke made with cane sugar and Coke made with HFCS.  I disagree!  I think you’ll disagree too. So hunt down some Coke from Mexico and see what you think. And Coca-Cola, if you’re reading this, you’d be wise to switch back to using cane sugar.  Coca-Cola with cane sugar is awesome, having to import it is not!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pudding for a Prince

When I was in 4th grade I did a report on Queen Elizabeth II, which involved dressing up as her and setting up a display in the school library and speaking to people when they passed by.  It was during my research on her that I first learned she had a grandson close to my age, a Prince, who would someday become King.  I, like most girls, dreamed of being a Princess.  But I never hoped that Prince William would meet me, fall in love with me and whisk me away to his palace in England.  I knew I would never be his Princess because he wouldn’t marry a commoner, (how wrong was I on that!) and because a British Royal would never marry an American, (obviously my research on the Queen did not fully educate me of the events which led to her Father’s ascension.)  Even though I never pined after the Prince, I have had a mild interest in his life, so I was eager to see the Royal Wedding this week. 

Sadly, we were not invited to the wedding, although my children are decedents of English and Scottish Royalty and my husband is 24th cousins with the Queen.*  We understand the snub, of course, they were trying to have an intimate wedding.   

I’ve still not seen the wedding, electricity has been out because of the terrible storms that shattered the South on Wednesday.  I had planned to watch the wedding with my own little Prince William and Princess Sophie.  Instead we have spent a lot of time sitting on the front porch, reading the newspaper, and counting our blessings. 

royal manner

I want to share a recipe adapted from the book, In The Royal Manner by Paul Burrell.  Burrell is an interesting character if you know anything about him.  He was Princess Diana’s butler and served her until her death.  His book gives “expert advice on etiquette and entertaining.”  Some of the recipes he shares are favorites served at Kensington Palace among other royal residences.  It’s a nice book to help with fancy party planning and cozy dinners or picnics with your family.  I enjoyed getting the peek into the royal household.  Below is a recipe most certainly eaten by Prince William as a child. 

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Banana Bread and Butter Pudding
Serves 4
3/4 stick of butter, softened
3 oz. sultanas or golden raisins
1 vanilla pod
12 oz. single cream or half and half
6 thick slices of white bread
1 banana
3 eggs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a small baking dish, (just big enough to hold three sandwiches tightly.)  Dot the dish with half of the raisins.  Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.  Add the leftover pod, seeds and cream to a small sauce pan.  Heat on medium to medium high heat until warm but  not yet boiling.  Remove from the heat and allow the vanilla to steep for at least 30 minutes or until the mixture is room temperature.

Spread one side of each slice of bread with the butter.  Thinly slice the banana and make three banana sandwiches.  Trim the crusts off the sandwiches and cut the sandwiches into triangles.  Place the triangles in the dish, they should overlap a little. 

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until smooth.  Remove the pod from the cream and whisk into the egg mixture. Pour over the bread.  Top with the remaining raisins.

Place the dish inside a larger pan with tall sides.  Pour boiling water into the outer dish until it comes about halfway up the inner dish.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Burrell suggests serving hot with pouring cream, (light whipping cream will do).

Click here for the Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

I’m sending this to Dessert Wars.  This last challenge was vanilla.  Believe it or not, this was the first time I’ve used a vanilla pod.  A sharp knife is very important.  Just letting you know.

As February’s Dessert Wars Winner, I’m not currently eligible to win any more challenges until December. But I can’t leave you without showing you what this month’s winner will receive.

The winner of April's competition will receive the following prize package:

Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans

Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake

1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes

Organic Valley $50 Gift Certificate

Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate

Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate

BEKA Cookware Crepe Pan

Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs

You will be rewarded for your loyalty, if you take part in every challenge and don't win, you will still be eligible to compete in the December Challenge. For more details check the rules tab.


*Really, they are.  Nana and I are working to prove the family ties, but it’s gonna take a while.  But we are on it!