Tag Archives: Nigella Lawson

Spicy Asian Minced Beef in Lettuce Cups

Perhaps my favorite Chinese restaurant in New York City is one that is close to my apartment on the East River midtown, the glorious Mr. Chow’s. One of my favorite dishes is minced chicken served in lettuce cups. So when I started to read Nigella Lawson’s cookbook years ago “Forever Summer” she had me with that title by the way.  No surprise here that one of my favorite dishes would be her Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wraps! I’ve made this dish many , many times, especially for a quick week night recipe when you are looking for something light to eat, quick to make and delicious to eat. Below is my twist on her recipe, clearly inspired by the many Asian versions of minced meat served in lettuce. You will definitely want to try this recipe!

From by the bay, wishing you lovely food memories cupped in  lettuce!


blog minced meat let cup

Spicy Asian Minced Beef in Lettuce Cups

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s  cookbook “Forever Summer”


1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 red bird’s eye red chili, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound ground sirloin beef

1 tablespoon thai fish sauce ( nam pia)

4 scallions, white and light greens parts only, finely chopped

zest and juice of one lime

4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 head of iceberg or romaine lettuce, leaves separated


Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and when warm add the finely chopped chillies and garlic cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add the beef, turn up the heat and, break up the ground beef with a wooden spoon or fork, cook for 3 or 4 minutes till no trace of pink remains. Add the fish sauce and, still stirring, cook till the liquid’s evaporated. Off the heat, stir in the spring onions, zest and juice of the lime and most of the cilantro. Arrange the lettuce leaves on to a platter and fill each lettuce cup with a few spoonfuls of the spicy ground meat mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Holiday Start : Cranberry Soda Bread with Cranberry Jam

blog cranberry soda bread
This is the perfect Christmas breakfast. Let me specify that I do not use the word perfect lightly!!!! This breakfast is inspired by two of my favorite cooks, Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten, so how perfect is that! Last Christmas as I settled in with some cookbooks on a snowy night, I reread one of my favorite books from Nigella Lawson, “Feast – Food To Celebrate”. Tucked away in the book was a recipe within a recipe for cranberry jam and I just had to make it! Now, I always had a fear of making jam of any kind. My first reason was a fear of using pectin My second reason was another fear, the fear of canning. I would worry that I wouldn’t seal the jars properly. Nigella’s cranberry jam is so easy that my fears just faded away and the results were delicious! Cranberries are filled naturally with pectin, so making this jam is almost as easy as boiling water. I decided to just refrigerate the jam the way I do cranberry sauce and that decision saved the whole stress about sealing the jars properly. I made this jam last Christmas morning and it disappeared as quickly as Santa did up the chimney. I did have the perfect accompaniment to the jam that morning Irish Soda Bread without the raisins. I use Ina Garten’s recipe because , why fool around with perfection. The only change I made is one that I always do , I switch the raisins to dried cranberries. This switch is a result of the fact that my sister Nancy hates raisins and she loves dried cranberries. I have to tell you that once I switched, there was no going back. You need to try this bread. Nothing beats the combination of warm cranberry soda bread topped with cranberry jam. It screams Christmas, holidays and that something really special is going on. Enjoy – tis’ the season!
From by the bay, wishing you very cranberry food memories!

Cranberry Soda Bread
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread from “Barefoot Contessa At Home” published in 2006.

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Jam

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Cranberry Jam  from “Feast Food To Celebrate Life ” published in 2004

12 ounces fresh cranberries 
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

Put a film of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and add the cranberries and sugar. Stir patiently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar; this will take a little while. Turn up the heat and boil the pan rapidly until setting point is reached, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively it will have reached a jam-like consistency.)
Pour the jam into a sterilized jar (s) and seal immediately or keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. 
Makes approximately 4 cups.

Brisket with Cola Barbecue Sauce

I have been intrigued with cooking with cola and other soft drinks ever since I first read about it – which was in the Nigella Lawson’s book “Nigella Bites”. Leave it to me to learn about Southern cooking  from a British food writer.  I started to experiment with barbecue sauce and the result is this jazzed up version for brisket. It’s a great way to entertain a crowd with big flavor and little work. The sweetness of the cola permeates the brisket which is then perfectly balanced with the acid coming from both the Balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. You will find yourself making dish over and over again. Yes, it’s that good!

From by the bay wishing you sweet cola food memories! Maryann

blog cola brisket

Brisket with Cola Barbecue Sauce

Serves 6

3 pounds brisket

3 cups cola barbecue sauce


Place brisket overnight in a sealed plastic bag along with the barbecue sauce. Next day, preheat oven to 275F. Empty the contents of the plastic bag into a Dutch oven include all the sauce. Cover with lid and place in the oven for approximately 4 hours. Brisket takes approximately 1 hours and 15 minutes per lb to cook. Remove from oven. Using two forks pull the meat apart and shred into the remaining sauce. Combine and serve. This can also be served as a sandwich using either fresh rolls  and coleslaw or as a soft taco along with some sour cream. 


Cola Barbecue Sauce

Makes 3 cups

12ozs. Cola

1 ½ cup ketchup

4 garlic cloves, smashed

5 bay leaves

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

5 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped


In a medium saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes , sauce will thicken . Cool and use with steak, chicken or pork.

Note: no diet cola for this – the sugar is essential to the taste of the barbecue sauce.


Recipe for Dreamy Limoncello Ice Cream and More

My early years were spent growing up in Glendale, Queens. The streets were all two story brownstones. These homes were filled with families many with young children. Each day in the summer as it turned to dusk you would hear the bells of the ice cream truck and see kids pouring out on to the street, waiting impatiently in line to order their daily ice cream. It was the perfect end to a day filled with playing games outside or splashing around those small kiddie pools, At that young age ice cream never tasted better. Well, kids grow up and tastes become more selective. I never had the desire to make ice cream, thinking it was a lot of work , until I discovered Nigella Lawson’s recipe for no churn ice cream in her book “Forever Summer”. It tasted terrific and was just too easy. It’s a cross between having dessert and a cocktail. I created my own version, reminding me of how meals ended while visiting Capri, Italy. At the end of each meal , you would be served an ice cold shot of Limoncello. Limoncello is a digestive make from the peel of Sorrento lemons.  It is both sweet and tart without being bitter. It became the perfect base for this adapted no churn ice cream. You’ll love eating this dreamy, pillowy dessert!  From by the bay wishing you dreamy food memories! Maryann

Maryann Kraker
blog lemoncello ice cream
Recipe for Dreamy Limoncello Ice Cream Serves Six:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 tablespoons Limoncello liquor
1 1/4 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pour lemon juice and Limoncello into sugar and dissolve. Add cream and whip until thick but not too stiff. Spoon whipped cream into and airtight container. Place in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve as is or with a little Limoncello poured over the ice cream.Here are some dreamy variations from the recipe above:
blog apricot ice cream
Dreamy Apricot Crunch Replace 1/2 cup lemon juice with apricot juice and skip the lemon zest. Replace limoncello with 3 tablespoons Amaretto Liquor and 3 tablespoons crushed amaretti cookies.
Dreamy Chocolate Replace 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, replace the lemon zest with one teaspoon vanilla and replace the limoncello with 5 tablespoons chocolate liquor. Add some chocolate shavings to the top when serving.
Eating this ice cream brings back the happy memories of those wonderful “Ice Cream Nights”!