Firstly – I just want put it out there that my job is neither made up, nor am I using ‘job’ as a euphemism for ‘going to the loo for an uncomfortably long period of time’, which, I am quite aware, is in itself a euphemism for ‘looking at the undeniably magnificent Nigella and then touching myself’.
Now, interestingly Nigella is just one of those TV chef-type people that I’d never really watched a lot. I’ve never bought any of her books or paid particular attention to her shows – I guess mainly just because … I dunno – I apparently don’t have a lot of time for breathless finger licking and seemingly ENDLESS midnight raids on the fridge for no apparent reason other than so that we can watch her in a nightie. But this is TV – I understand that the woman has to work her angle, so I’m not going to hold that against her.
Bollocks, now in my head everything just sounds like a euphemism for ‘looking at the undeniably magnificent Nigella and then touching myself’. Oh well, cracking on.
Anyway – in the process of browsing through endless clips of her cooking various things for an infinite supply of friends that seem to just hang around her house and mooch off her, I did come across one of her series that was designed around the concept of embracing short-cuts; using pre-made sauces, bottled pastes, and canned this that and the other. It’s an idea that I like, quite frankly, because not everything has to be made from scratch, and I’m slightly suspicious of people who seemingly get off on the idea that that’s the only real way to do it.
Lets face it – no-one really cares if you made your Colombian Squid-ink Reducto-jus Infused Saffron rice from SCRATCH bitches, because it’s mainly just a wild ego-wank that proves you either have no life or are desperate to get laid by a food-groupie. The people who’re actually eating it only really give a crap if tastes good – which is the point of cooking in the first place, so everyone just relax for a bit and put down your specialist quail egg shell-removers.
So, if anything, it was kinda empowering to be reminded that a) certain things do come pre-made – and are actually excellent when used properly, and b) finger-licking Nigella can stay.
Now if you excuse me I have to go to the loo.
I’d recently read about a Moroccan street meal called a ‘brik’ – essentially because of a special sheet of dough used to make a kind of pie/food parcel. I’ve adapted something sort of similar out of this notion, which is absolutely nothing like the real thing, but I think works really nicely. If this was a movie, it’d totally have a title up-front that would say: Inspired by Real Events.
Ingredients (for 4)
150g self-raising flour
200 ml warm water that had about 2 tbsp of honey dissolved into it
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp salt
half a cup of semolina
3 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into smallish, neat strips
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
juice of one lemon
2 generous tbsp of bottled Korma paste (whichever brand or type your prefer)
1 egg, beaten,
What to do
In a large bowl add the flour, salt and olive oil. Make a well in the middle and add a bit of the honey water, and mix it in with either a wooden spoon (or your hands if you don’t mind them getting doughy). Keep going by adding a bit of water, mixing it in, adding more water, mixing it in – until all the dry flour has been absorbed and you have a wettish dough (it doesn’t matter if you haven’t used up all the water). It’s going to be incredibly sticky and clingy, so resist the temptation to dust with extra flour and try and work it with your fingers as best you can so that it’s free of lumps, then just cover the bowl with clingfilm and bung it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.
Get a pan on the stove, and heat a splash of olive oil, then add the chicken. Once the chicken has started to brown nicely, add the Korma paste, half the lemon juice, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir it all about and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat.
Let the pan cool, then mix in the raw celery, onion, coriander and the rest of the lemon juice then set aside (give your pan a wipe-down at this point, you’re going to be using it again).
Get the dough out of the fridge, and on a large chopping board or clean work surface, scatter a good amount of the semolina. Break off a small burger-patty sized piece of the dough and, using your hands, press it into a roughish disc. Then flop it onto the semolina so that it gets a good coating on both sides, and start to gently roll it out with a rolling pin. Keep making sure it’s got a semolina covering so that it doesn’t stick, and roll it until it’s about 2mm thick and roughly circular. At this point you should have a lovely crust of semolina on your fake brik dough.
Spoon some of the chicken onto one side of the dough circle (about 3-4 tablespoon’s worth), keeping about an inch away from the edge. Using a kitchen brush, paint that side with the egg, and then fold the dough over and bind it – so that it looks like a cornish pastie.
Heat some vegetable oil in a pan, then gently lift the brik into it, and gently fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on some paper towel and serve.
Just a note – you won’t end up using all the dough, but it’ll keep, if covered in the fridge, for about 3 days.