Sunday, 29 April 2007

Sausage and Spinach Pie

'A pie is just what we all know should be emanating from the kitchen of a domestic goddess.' Nigella

I cheated slightly for my first official contribution to this blog. I cooked something I've actually made before, but only recently and I didn't do it at all properly the first time (was in a hurry, and hurrying with pie making could have disastrous consequences!)

The Sausage and Spinach Pie comes third in her series on pies made in a springform tin. I liked the idea immediately. I had visions of a deep, heavy construction packed full of fabulous ingredients.

That's kinda what I got.

The Verdict: The combination of spinach and skinless sausage, with great ingredients like sage thrown in, makes for an incredibly tasty savoury pie.

Unusual or substituted ingredients:
The recipe asks for 500g of cumberland sausages. I'm not sure they're readily available here so I just used good quality fat Italian sausages - you want the ones that have actual meat in them, not soggy, mushed up unidentifiable meat product.

The fun part is slicing open the sausages and pressing out the innards. But does anyone want to guess what a shed sausage skin looks like when it's empty of its insides? Best not discussed, I'm sure.

If you've never made pastry, do it. Be not afraid!

Nigella's pie pastry is very good and very easy. Bung it all in the food processor, blitz, wrap in gladwrap and then 30 minutes later, roll it out in the pie dish/tin. The amount the recipe makes is not a lot, so it forces you to roll it out quite thin so you don't end up with a heavy, sodden base. It's an incredibly light pie crust. I don't know if it's normal to add sugar to a savoury crust, but the 1tbs of caster sugar Nigella asks you to add seems to work very well.

Special Utensils or cookware: You'll need a large springform cake tin (mine is 23cm) and a food processor makes the pastry easy and no fuss.

Sauciness: My husband adores this pie. Anything with good quality sausages smooshed up inside it is guaranteed to make him ecstatic and very affectionate. So, the sausiness level of this pie is high!

Repeatability: You bet. This pie, and the basic idea of it, will become a standard in my winter kitchen.

Overall pleasure rating: This one's getting a 7.5 out of ten (ten being 'a mouthful of heaven'). It loses points for being not quite as easy to assemble as Nigella says. It's hard to get the depth of shape you might expect from a pie made in a deep tin. And when I make it again, I'll try harder to reduce the liquid - a lot of liquid came out of the spinach, even though I ran it through the salad spinner.


Saturday, 28 April 2007

Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing

the lemon spruceness of the topping is perfect with the musky sweetness beneath it - Nigella Lawson

With that description, how could I not want to make this recipe?

Apart of course from the fact that I've never actually cooked with fresh ginger before - I found the grating of it somewhat hard, because, you know, it's a bit woody inside. So I dare say the gingerbread ended up with some stringy bits of ginger, but it isn't evident from the eating of it, so hang it I say.

The verdict:
Unusual or substituted ingredients: For me, fresh ginger - when I was buying it, I couldn't remember how much I needed - for some reason, I thought 200g. Of course, it is actually 2 teasp. of grated ginger. Also treacle. Wasn't sure if you could still buy it, but it's there, in Coles (the second time I looked...). Dark muscovado sugar - sometimes you can get this in the supermarket, sometimes not. I used light muscovado instead (which, I discovered when I opened the package, is just good old brown sugar).

Special utensils or cookware: No - just make sure you use a big bowl to mix the liquid ingredients into the flour (I didn't at first, so had to transfer).

Repeatability: I would totally cook this again. Especially as I have a fairly large jar of treacle which I'm unlikely to use for anything else...

Sauciness: Created a medium amount of washing up (see "special utensils or cookware"!). Also, treacle and golden syrup do make for sticky fingers and spoons, which just beg to be licked clean. And who am I to resist?

Overall pleasure level (1 = bad, 10 = mouthful of heaven): I'd give this one an 8 - excellent eating, sweet but not sickening, keeps well, very more-ish. In fact, I'm going to go and have a piece right now...

Made on: 25 April 2007
Page 236

What she said...

Couldn't have said it any better myself, Bells!

Now, onto the baking - I've a domestic goddess to become!

Friday, 27 April 2007

How it all began

Welcome to Mouthfuls of Heaven!

If you love Nigella, hopefully you'll love our blog.

Do you like the title? It's a tad twee, admittedly, but the words come directly from How to be a Domestic Goddess itself and like Nigella and many of her recipes, it captures a certain indulgent, sensory delight that you just can't go past.

What draws you into Nigella's world is the sheer joy she finds in cooking, whether it's simple, traditional comfort food or sensationally rich indulgence. One way or another, there's passion at the heart of it, and most importantly, there's fun.

RoseRed and I each had the idea for this blog independently. When I saw a post from her declaring her intention to cook her way through How to be a Domestic Goddess, I sent her a message straight away saying I, too had thought of doing it and wouldn't it be fun to make it a double act?

She agreed with rather unexpected enthusiasm, and so here we are, just a month or two later, both a little nervous, despite being happy bloggers in our own right, but keen to get up to our elbows in pastry and tell you all about it.

And since our blogs are primarily knitting blogs, we thought we'd join forces and start a new one devoted entirely to Nigella.

What better way to indulge our deepest adoration?

Oh and one more thing, yes, we were each inspired by Julie Powell's book, Julie & Julia, based on her experiences of cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in her New York apartment, and then blogging about it. That's pretty much where the obvious similarity ends though. We're a couple of girls from Sydney and Canberra (who've never actually met!), not New York, and neither of us has a pet snake.

I'm also pretty sure cooking from How to Be a Domestic Goddess is never going to require us to hack into a live lobster!