Thursday, October 11, 2012
Is it me? What did I do? Why aren't we getting along the way we used to? I still love you, but lately, it just doesn't seem like it's working out between us...
Nigella, my source of inspiration, is letting me down.
Well, ok. Not necessarily Nigella (she's still the highlight of my Monday evenings), but rather the recipes in her latest book, Nigellissima. I sang the praises about the apple pie (Francesca's apple pie) recently and so far, that has been the only recipe I loved. High expectations on my part?
Let's start from the very beginning- my reason for adding this book to my embarrassingly large collection. When I bought it I was well aware that it wasn't meant to be a source on authentic Italian cooking. As the title says: 'Instant Italian Inspiration'. Inspiration. That was the thought behind the recipes. My Italian bible will always be The Silver Spoon and I certainly didn't buy the book to teach me how to cook Italian food. I think I can handle that. (Hey, I had an Italian boyfriend in my younger days!)
All kidding aside though, I bought the book simply because I love Nigella. Nigella has been my source of inspiration.
As I leafed through the book, I noticed some recipes that didn't look very appealing (Mock Mash, Liquorice Pudding, Chocolate Hazelnut Cheescake, Chocolate Pasta with Pecans and Caramel, Gorgonzola & Cannellini Dip). 'No reason to panic', I thought. I don't have to fall in love with every recipe right away. But then I started to cook and the more I did, the more I lost heart.
First the Quick Calabrian Lasagne. The results were fine, but I wonder if that would've been the case had I not added lots of garlic and oregano to the sauce. Without that, I think it would've been rather plain. I think a pinch of sugar and perhaps a little chili would've also made it better. Didn't really dig the ham either and I spared myself the chopped eggs.
Then the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. I love (no, scratch that) I ADORE almond flour based cakes. Their dense, moist crumb makes me positively swoon! Mmmm, the Chocolate Orange Cake from Feast and the Clementine Cake from How To Eat! Masterpieces! This one didn't even come close. Again, my complaint was that I found it too bland. Not chocolaty at all and boring after the first bite.
Oh the No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream. How I wanted to love it, how I went out of my way to make it and how it left me out in the cold (pardon the pun). First the ingredients. The double cream is not something we can just pick up at our nearest supermarket here in the Netherlands, but that never stops me. I just get in the car and drive half an hour to the Kingsalmarkt where they stock the thick English cream. Anything in the name of good food. Then the espresso liqueur. Not something I would ever buy, but for this recipe, not even a question. I did the same with a bottle of Tia Maria when I made the Chocolate Fruit Cake and never regretted it. Hate the stuff, but used in a lot of recipes thereafter. And then the condensed milk. My utter weakness. Something I fear being left alone with. Too many cans guzzled down like tap water when I was pregnant. That's my own personal issue though. I know. But on to the results. Unfortunately, the ice cream tasted like icy coffee butter. So rich that I felt queasy after the first spoon.
And then this morning, when I had the overwhelming desire for cake. A lovely slice of cake to go with my ristretto. I remembered the Yogurt Pot Cake, dashed to the fridge and was thrilled to see I had yogurt! I separated, whisked, beat, folded and waited. Then the magic moment, after I took some pictures and was ready to be rewarded with what I was craving most. Alas, two bites and it was in the garbage. The taste of cornflour was horrendous. Like a badly cooked white sauce.
I just don't get it. Where am I going wrong? Is it me? Are there recipes in the book that will make up for all of these flops? If you know of any, let me know. Otherwise I think Nigellissima will not be graced with all the splatters, sauce and love that my other books have enjoyed over the years.
EDIT: Unfortunately, I returned the book. That disapponted.