Nigella's Kitchen

Crab Cocktail
Photo: James Merrell

Nigella's Kitchen

01 of 04

Chocolate Raspberry Heart

Chocolate Raspberry Heart
James Merrell

For cake:
2/3 cup milk
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon butter
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons best unsweetened cocoa
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda

For filling:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup raspberries

For icing:
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
51/2oz dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1 cup raspberries

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and line two shallowish 9 inch heart-shaped pans with cut-out hearts of parchment paper.

Pour the milk into a small pan with the butter and heat until warm and the butter has melted. When hot, add the vanilla.

Whisk the eggs and sugar untill thick, light and frothy. Meanwhile, combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Buy the best cocoa you can find, as this is what determines the rich taste of the cake.

Still beating the eggs and sugar, pour in the hot buttery mixture and slowly fold in the flour-baking soda-cocoa mixture.

Divide this mixture between the two pans and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out, and then turn them over so that they are sitting on the wire rack, out of their pans, the right way up.The cakes may look thin and flat at this point, but the finished cake has the requisite depth once it?s filled and iced.Leave the cakes until cool before icing.

To fill the heart, whip the cream until thick but not stiff. Add the raspberries and crush with a fork, though not too finely. The cream should turn pink, in a rose-and-white mottled fashion. Sandwich the hearts with this raspberry cream.

To ice, put the cream, chocolate cut up in small pieces, and syrup in a pan over low to medium heat and when the chocolate seems to have all but melted into the warm cream, take off the heat and start whisking until you have a smooth, glossy mixture. Pour, and then spread, preferably with a palette knife, over the top of the cake to the edges of the heart (not worrying too much about drips).

Take out raspberries and, about 1/2 inch or slightly less in from the edges of the heart, stud the chocolate topping with the raspberries.

02 of 04

Candied Almonds

Candied Almonds
Douglas Friedman

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups whole almonds

Heat oven to 400°F.
In saucepan heat butter, sugar and paprika until melted. Toss butter mixture with almonds. Season with salt to taste. Place almonds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

03 of 04

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
James Merrell

1lb. package spaghetti
1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
2 cups cubed pancetta or bacon
black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 eggs

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Remove rind from pancetta and cut into 1/2 x 1/4 inch cubes.

In a large pan that will fit the pasta later, cook the pancetta cubes in the oil until crispy but not crunchy. Chuck over them the white wine or vermouth and let it bubble away so that, after a few minutes, you have a small amount of salty winey syrup left. Take the pan off the heat.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan, cream and some pepper. Keep pasta al dente; start checking it 2 minutes before the package says it's done. Lower in a cup and remove approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Put the pan with the bacon cubes on the stove and add the drained pasta, tossing well to coat with the syrupy pancetta. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to lubricate if necessary. Take the pan off the stove again and add the eggs and cheese mixture, swiftly tossing everything to mix. Garnish with pepper and nutmeg.

04 of 04

Crab Cocktail

Crab Cocktail
James Merrell

1/4 cup mayonnaise
11/2 cups white crab meat
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Enough Chinese leaf cabbage to line 2 small plates when shredded
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
A few drops sesame oil
1 scallion
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
Approx. 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1/4 inch fresh ginger
1 lime, halved

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil and wasabi. Peel and mince or grate the ginger into the bowl and add the zest of 1/2 the lime. Squeeze 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice into the bowl and mix everything together.

Toss the crab in the sauce, and then finely shred the Chinese leaf cabbage. Arrange a bed of shredded cabbage on two plates. Divide the crab between them, piling it into the center of each one. Finely chop the scallion and scatter over each plate. Garnish with crushed pink peppercorns.

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