Nigella Hacker

One of my favourite time sinks is the website Ikea Hacker. I love seeing the innovative and creative ideas that people come up with using Ikea products, and it’s one of a few blogs that have inspired me to become DIY.

In the spirit of this site, I thought I’d devote a post to Nigella recipes that I’ve changed. I was prompted to do so when I read a review of Nigella’s recent appearance at the Melbourne Food and Wine Show, during which she was reported to have been interested in ways people adapt her recipes.

So here are my Nigella hacks – much loved Nigella recipes that I have adapted.

  1. As a general rule, I halve her sugar quantity, and it is always sweet enough.
  2. Chocolate Cheesecake: as Graham crackers are an unknown in Australia, I use a combination of Choc Ripple and Oreo biscuits for the base, processed with butter and hold the cocoa. Also, I do not drizzle chocolate topping over it as it’s already waaaaaay rich enough. A simple sprinkling of cocoa powder is perfectly fine. And the last time I made it, I substituted the sour cream for thick plain yoghurt (the Greek style ones are best) and I did not taste the difference. I have also left out the little bit of cocoa in the cheesecake mix as I don’t think it makes any difference at all.
  3. Chilli Con Carne with Cornbread Topping – Feast: I leave out the tomato sauce (ketchup) in the chilli and I don’t think you can tell at all. Otherwise, I am faithful to this chilli recipe because it is just so effing good. Do not be tempted to omit the cocoa powder, it really works. To the cornbread I add about a third of a cup of polenta, and a small tin of corn kernels, to give it a little extra texture and crunch.
  4. Banana and buttermilk pancakes – Feast. These pancakes are the bomb. And I don’t even like pancakes. I made about 100 of them at my son’s school fete recently. Despite their perfection, I couldn’t resist a hack. First, I add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mixture which I think really improves them in a subtle way. Also, when I made them once I forgot to add the melted butter to the mixture and did not notice any difference so I now omit the butter. Finally, this is probably the only Nigella recipe where I add MORE sugar than she has indicated – a tablespoon as opposed to a teaspoon in the recipe that is in Feast (surely this is a typo?). I couldn’t find a link to these, but they are in the Feast book.
  5. Penne Alla Vodka – Feast: I use really good quality fresh ricotta instead of cream. Less saturated fat, no compromise on flavour or texture.
  6. Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Lasagne – Nigella’s Christmas: I have only made this once and if I were to make it again, I would first of all halve the quantity. There’s about $30 worth of goat cheese alone in the recipe, pushing it into the very unaffordable category. Plus it made a vast amount, so halving would still give you a substantial meal. Also, I would not use passata but would make my own tomato sauce, as it really did have a “just out of the jar” taste and I felt the extra effort to make a proper sauce would serve your investment in the goat cheese well. There is no link to this recipe on the website.
  7. Mince Pies – Nigella’s Christmas. I love her teeny tiny little star topped mince pies, which are now ubiquitous, but I don’t use her filling. Instead I use one from Gourmet Traveller because I felt it would have more flavour. I haven’t made Nigella’s filling so I have nothing to compare the ones I made to, but I thought they were smashing. Also I added some hazelnut meal to the pastry mixture which gave it a nice flecked texture and an extra flavour dimension. Here is the Gourmet Traveller recipe I used the filling for: although I omitted the very hard to find cedro.

When I have time I might devote a post to the Nigella recipes I NEVER mess with – and there are a few.

Have you got any Nigella hacks you’d like to share?


3 thoughts on “Nigella Hacker

  1. Ilaria March 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm Reply

    I hacked her idea of poaching blueberries in maple syrup from an episode where she cooks pancakes for a gaggle of kids as a breakfast treat. I have used the blueberries on pancakes, but I have also poached them with other berries and stored them in a jar, like some sort of runny jam. On bread and butter it makes an instant deconstructed summer pudding (or if you prefer it makes a slice of bread and butter with runny jam). I have also maple-syrup-poached nectarines, with cardamom and a vanilla bean. They go well with vanilla ice cream and cognac.

  2. theabbotsfordkitchen March 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm Reply

    Good hacking Ilaria. I might try maple syrup poaching now, esp with summer fruits coming to an end. Thank you! x

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirit Guide April 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm Reply

    These are great tips. Most recipes could do with less sugar, whether they’re Nigella’s or not.

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