Ode to Nigella 25 – Lamb with Garlicky Tahini

I figure after all that chocolate and for some, all that thanksgiving feasting, lets have something a little less cloying. I have a deep and abiding love of whole foods – that is lots of vegetables and fruit and whole grains and low-GI leanings. Tahini sits well and truly in that camp and I adore it. This garlicky dip-type paste is divine in its palate thwacking capacity.

Lamb with Garlicky Tahini

  • 1 oion
  • 1 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, plus more, for garnishing
  • 10 lamb of noisettes, about 1 1/4 inches thick
  • 8tbsp tahini
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
  1. Put the onion into one large shallow dish in which the noisettes will fit in one layer – or into a freezer bag
  2. Add the oil, lemon zest and cumin
  3. Give a good stir and add the lamb then cover or seal and marinade for as long as you’ve got
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C and put a nonstick or cast-iron pan on the stove
  5. Remove the noisettes from the marinade, brushing off any bits of onion
  6. Sear each side for a minute or two, then transfer to a baking pan and then to the preheated oven
  7. 10 minutes should be right for pink (but not bloody) lamb – you may need a bit longer if the meat started off very cold. You will need to check for yourself, obviously, and when cooked as you want, remove to a warmed plate
  8. For the sauce, put the tahini in a bowl and add the garlic and salt
  9. Stir with a wooden spoon, adding the lemon juice as you do – it will seize up here, but don’t worry, because it will loosen
  10. Slowly add some water (I find I can use about 1/2 cup), pouring from a measuring cup, so only a little goes in at a time and keep stirring.
  11. When you have a smooth mixture–the consistency of heavy cream–stop adding water
  12. Put into a bowl with a spoon and sprinkle with the additional ground cumin.

The tahini is spectacular with diced tomato and parsley and some warmed pita chips as a light and nutritious lunch.

Ode to Nigella 24 – Brownies

Well, these started out as a disaster (they took more than double Nige’s suggested cooking time) and ended up as a triumph, which has only endeared them to me even more.


  • 375g unsalted butter
  • 375g best-quality dark chocolate
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1tbs vanilla
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 300g chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the brownie pan (measuring 33x23x51/2cm)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan
  3. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla
  4. Measure out the flour in another bowl and add the salt
  5. Let the chocolate mixture cool a little before adding it to the eggs and sugar
  6. Add the nuts and flour
  7. Beat to combine smoothly then pour into the lined tin
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes*
  9. When it’s ready the top should be a paler brown speckle but the middle dark and dense. It is a big batch so you need to watch it.

Makes 48 smallish squares.
Variations – replace walnuts with different nuts or shredded coconut or white chocolate buttons or just ditch them altogether. I made them with half slivered almonds and half white chocolate buttons.

*I took them out of the oven after about 40 minutes and let it cool. Then when I cut into it, it was still just a gooey mixture. I was taking them out to dinner last night as a surprise birthday cake for my friend, but had to ditch that idea. I just dumped the whole tray back into the oven to deal with when I got home. Of course, that didn’t happen, so this morning, I just turned the oven on to fan bake rather than conventional bake and they took about 30 minutes to cook up a treat. I took them to a thanksgiving do at the park this afternoon and they were devoured. Devoured I tell you.

Ode to Nigella 23 – Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Let’s stay with chocolate shall we? I have a chocolate cake recipe which is on relatively high rotation because it’s a one pot wonder so to speak, in that you bung it all in the bowl, mix it, bake it, ice it and it tastes great. This gives it a serious run for its money and in fact, I’ve probably made this one more often as it is deeply chocolately but not overly rich.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 40g cocoa
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150ml sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line (or flour) two 20cm round cake tins
  2. Bung the ingredients all together in the mixing bowl or food processor and process until combined
  3. Spatula into the tins and spread out – the mix is very thick
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes then turn out and cool.

The icing

  • 75g butter
  • 175g best quality dark chocolate
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tbl golden syrup
  • 125ml sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt the butter and chocolate together, cool slightly
  2. Add the golden syrup, then the sour cream and vanilla
  3. Mix into the icing sugar, beat until combined and no lumps
  4. Use 1/3 to sandwich cakes together, 1/3 for the top and 1/3 for the sides

Ode to Nigella 22 – Chocolate Rice Pudding

Three words:

What is not to love. Because I was feeding Chef and three boys, I increased the recipe (originally for 2 serves) by 2 and 1/2, the amounts of which I have put in brackets after Nigella’s original. It blew the timing out as well as I did it in one dish as opposed to little individual dishes because, hello, washing up little dishes with hard baked on custardy rice. Get real.

Chocolate Rice Pudding

  • 1tbsp cocoa (21/2tbsp)
  • 4tsp boiling water (10tsp – or 3tbsp and 1tsp)
  • 250ml milk (725ml)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (2 1/2tsp)
  • 2tbsp arborio rice
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C, put a baking tray in as you do and grease two 150ml pudding dishes or ramekins
  2. Put the cocoa in a measuring jug and dissolve with the boiling water and then stir in the milk
  3. Add the vanilla and divide between the two dishes
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of rice and sugar to each dish
  5. Give them a stir then put them in the oven on the baking tray
  6. Cook for 30-40 minutes and let stand for a while before eating.

I would advise you to use the best quality cocoa powder you can afford. I used the cheap and nasty stuff I had in the cupboard and I think it diminished the flavour somewhat.

I must also confess that I made this with skim (low-fat) milk which I think means you definitely need the good quality cocoa powder even more.

The cooking time for the increased amount in one dish was approximately an hour.

Ode to Nigella 21 – Bread-sauce-flavoured Potato Gratin

The gratin dauphinois I normally make has been in my repertoire for almost 20 years. Parting with it to try something new, even if it was a Nigella recipe, was a big tall order. But I did it. To be honest, the extra steps in this (in terms of the onion, cloves etc) did not really change the flavour that dramatically, so my original will stand this test of time.

Bread-sauce-flavoured Potato Gratin

  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 500ml pouring cream
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves
  • 1tsp blade mace (or 1/2 tsp ground mace)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1tbs Maldon sea salt
  • 2kg floury potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 220c and lightly grease a large baking dish
  2. Put the milk and cream in a large saucepan
  3. Peel the onion, cut in half and stick one of the cloves in each half
  4. Add onion to the milk and bring nearly to the boil
  5. Turn off heat and leave to infuse
  6. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1cm slices
  7. Put potatoes into the milk, return to the heat and bring to the boil with the lid on
  8. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender but not disintegrating
  9. Fish out the onions and blades of mace
  10. Pour the potatoes into the baking dish with the liquid and cook for about 15 minutes until the potato is bubbling and browned
  11. Let it stand out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving (lets the sauce settle down and thicken).

Delicious with any roast meat whatsoever.