from Nigella Lawson’s new book Cook, Eat, Repeat
Nigella’s recipe for Fish Stick Bhorta, inspired by controversial British journalist and political activist Ash Sarkar’s Fish Finger Bhorta, is sure to dust up some controversy of its own in the media, but no matter. Nigella has this uncanny way with words that turn her books and recipes into a page turners! Her inquisitive enthusiasm for food and cookery is nothing short of compelling for anyone who loves to cook and eat.
I am sure you are asking yourself, as did I, what is a Bhorta anyway? The short answer is a Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Indian highly seasoned mashed up of vegetables stir-fried together in mustard oil. That description is most likely not going to convince you to give this recipe a try, but I was won over on the first go around.
Cook, Eat, Repeat was written during the pandemic and focuses on inventive home coked meals for one or two people, with ample leftovers, made with what is on hand. Cooking your way through a year of relative isolation has had its challenges as well as its rewards for all of us. But having had the time to experiment, savor, and reflect on how and what we eat and how we prepare our food enriched our daily lives during a year of uncertainty.
Fish Stick Bhorta
Serves 2 with some leftovers
For the pickled onions, make in advance
- ½ red onion
- red wine vinegar or lime juice
Make your pink-pickled onions as far in advance as you can: at least 2 hours and up to 24. Cut your red onion in half- or use a whole onion if you prefer, as you will easily find yourself adding them to much else- into fine half moons. Put these in a jar with a lid, or simply into a bowl that you can cover. Pour over red wine vinegar (or lime juice) pressing down the onions until they are all just immured. Put the lid on the jar or cover the bowl and leave the onions to steep.
For the Bhorta
- 2 regular onions (approx. 10 ounces)
- 2 small red (birds eye) chiles
- 2 fat cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 12 fish sticks
- 3 tablespoons cold pressed vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons English mustard ( Colman’s) from a jar
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
- 4 oz young spinach
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons roughly chipped cilantro, plus more to serve
preheat the oven to 425 f
Peel and slice your 2 regular onions into fine half moons, seed the chiles (or not if you prefer) and slice them thinly, and peel the garlic. Peel the ginger and grate it finely to give 1 tablespoonful.
When the oven is hot, and your ingredients are assembled and ready, put the fish sticks on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 20 to 25 minutes, which may be slightly longer than the package directs, but will ensure the bread crumb coating is really crisp.
Meanwhile warm the oil in a large skillet or wok, and cook the onions over medium low for 20 minutes stirring regularly, by witch time they will be pale gold and soft.
Add the sliced chiles and cook, string all the while, for 3 minutes, then stir in the grated ginger, minced or grated garlic, and cook, still stirring, for another 2 minutes. Spoon in the mustard and salt, stirring to combine, then add the spinach leaves and let them wilt in the pan for 2- 3 minutes, stirring regularly, then squeeze in the juice of the lime.
Take the pan off the heat while you get the fish sticks. Break them up a bit with a spatula then add them to the frying pan or wok. Toss everything together, breaking up them up further and mashing them into the frying pan, then sprinkle in the cilantro.
Serve topped with the pink-pickled onions, adding extra chopped cilantro if wished.
Rotisserie chicken soup seems to be getting a lot of buzz these days. It’s a given that those beautifully browned super market rotisserie chickens more often than not fail to live up to expectations, so why not repurpose the chicken for a better outcome. The bones will make a very flavorsome stock for any hearty home made soup that strike your fancy.
The Mexican rotisserie chicken soup recipe that follows is just one of many possibilities you might choose for your rotisserie chick soup. The idea is to be creative and utilize what you have on hand. The objective is to make a hearty soup with all the depth, character, and flavor of a hearty regional chicken soup from any culture that inspires you.
Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup
A whole rotisserie chicken, skin, meat, and bones separated
For the stock:
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- reserved chicken bones and skin
- 6 quarts water + more as needed
- 1 bunch of cilantro sprigs or broad leaf parsley
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
Heat the olive oil in a stock pot and add the onions and sauté until the onions have softened. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened.
Add the bones and skin and stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the cilantro or parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the marjoram.
Bring the pot back to a boil and lower the heat too a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours. The broth/stock should have reduced by about half.
Let the stock cool and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be sure to press the solids and bones as you strain to extract all their flavor. Set the stock aside and discard all the solids.
Once the stock is cool skim off excess fat and discard. Otherwise refrigerate the stock and skim off the fat once it has solidified.
For the soup
Prepare ahead: flame roast or broil 1 large red bell pepper and 1or 2 green serano chiles until charred. Place them in a bowl and seal with cling film and set aside to sweat. When cool enough remove the charred skin and discard. Open the pepper and chiles and remove seeds and membranes. Slice the red pepper into thin strips and cut the stripe into 1 inch lengths. and finely dice the serrano chiles .
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 ½ quarts stock
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- pulled rotisserie chicken
- 1 prepared red bell pepper and serrano chiles as described above above
- salt and pepper to taste
Add the oil to a sock pot set over medium heat. When hot add the onions a sauté until the onions soften. Add the corn, carrots and sauté for several minutes. Then add the stock and bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Add the marjoram and cook for 20 minutes.
pull the chicken into bite size strips and add them to the soup and bring back to a simmer.
Add the prepared red pepper strips and diced seranno chiles and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- tostada chips
- fresh cilantro leaves
- fresh lime wedges
Bring the soup to a simmer and ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls.
Place the tostada chips, cilantro leaves and lime wedges on the table to be add to the soup to each persons liking.
Here is a recipe for an Italian butterscotch budino that I came across years ago in Nancy Silverton’s The Mozza Cookbook. Of course we Americans remember those Jello butterscotch puddings our mothers whipped up when we were kids. They seemed good enough at the time, though once you have tasted a rich and creamy homemade butterscotch budino you will discover a butterscotch pudding like none other. As a cook this is a butterscotch pudding you can rely upon to elicit oohs and aahs whenever you serve it, and reaffirms the old adage that there is indeed proof in the pudding!
makes 6 servings
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cups whole milk
- 2 extra large egg yolks
- 1 extra large egg
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup water
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds browned in butter
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl inside. Set a fine-mesh strainer in the smaller bowl.
Stir the cream and the milk together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg, and cornstarch together and set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, salt, and ¾ cup of water in a large heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium high heat. Cook the sugar without stirring, instead swirling the pan occasionally for even cooking. Don’t be alarmed: the sugar will become foamy and lava like with slow-bursting bubbles as it cooks. Once the sugar is caramelized, nearly smoking, nutty smelling, and dark caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes, promptly pull the pan off the heat!
Immediately add the cream milk mixture in a thin steady stream, stirring with a whisk as you add it. This stops the cooking process and prevents the sugar from burning. This will cause the sugar to seize up and harden. Return the pan to the heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the seized sugar has dissolved and the mixture is liquid again, 5 to 7 minutes.
Turn off the heat and ladle out about one cup of the hot cream and sugar mixture and gradually add it to the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the cream mixture from cooking the eggs. Continue adding the cream to the eggs until you have added half the cream. Then gradually add the contents of the bowl to the saucepan with the remaining caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk, and cook the custard over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not overheat the custard to avoid lumps in the custard.
Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey or brandy until combined and smooth.
If there are any lumps in the custard pas the custard through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice water.
ladle the budino into dessert bowls and set a side to cool until the custard has set. Then and decorate the centers of the budinos with the slivered almonds.
Let the budinos cool to room temperature. Then cover each bowl with cling film and refrigerate.
Remove the budinos from the refrigerator about an hour before serving to bring them to room temperature before serving .
Sometimes that impulse to bake something first thing in the morning can send you off on a tangent until you say to yourself” hold on” I just want a nice pastry to enjoy with my morning coffee!
With resolve this simple French apple tart can be assembled and put into in the oven in no time. That said, I tend to keep several disks of pastry dough in the freezer. This is a habit that saves time and makes the prospect of baking pies and tarts so much more appealing.
The simplicity of this tart will have you returning to this recipe again and again.
French Apple Tart
1 disk well chilled sweet pastry dough
4 or 5 tart green baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
3 tablespoons orange marmalade, warmed and thinned with a splash of water
Preheat the oven to 400 f / 205 c with the rack set in the middle position of the oven
Needed: a 10 inch tart pan
Use your own favorite pastry dough for this recipe.
Roll the chilled pastry dough out to about12 inches in diameter. Fit the dough into the tart pan and press the dough onto the sides of the pan and trim the dough evenly around the top edge.
Arrange the sliced apples, slightly overlapping, beginning at the outer rim of the pan and working your way around the pan to the center.
When you are satisfied with the arrangement of the apples, pour the melted butter evenly over the apples.
Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the apples and scatter the demerara sugar over the top.
Transfer the tart to the preheated oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Check on the tart as it bakes and turn it front to back if it is browning unevenly.
The tart is done when the apples have softened and are lightly browning to your liking.
Remove the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
After about 10 minutes generously glaze the tart with the marmalade glaze using a pastry brush.
Ideally serve the tart while still warm from the oven or reheat before serving.