Friday, June 13, 2003

Last night I made shrimp cakes with lime-cilantro mayonnaise from Nigella's How to Eat. I saw her make them on an old episode of Nigella Bites and always wanted to try them, and now that I have a blender, I could.

Nigella makes me crazy sometimes. Her recipes can be annoyingly vague- "add enough water to make a thick batter" is fine, except how are you supposed to know how much water will make a thick batter before you blend it? And it's hard to blend shrimp without liquid. And you let it sit covered in plastic wrap for an hour- I assume in the refrigerator, but she didn't bother to say.

And don't get me started on her mayonnaise. I tried her version, which starts with just egg yolk and salt- dijon mustard is optional, and you add the lemon (or in this case lime) juice after emulsifying, and there's no vinegar at all. If you can make mayonnaise that way, more power to you, but I could not. I scrapped it and went back to my old version (scroll to the very bottom), minus the garlic and with lime and chopped cilantro added at the end.

The deep frying was interesting, too- I don't have a lot of deep frying experience, and though I knew the oil had to be hot hot hot, I still tried to fry the first cake before the oil was hot enough. Also, I suspect olive oil is not the best suited oil for deep frying. The cakes came out quite tasty, but not as crisp as I'd hoped.

I've learned more from watching Nigella- I use a mezzaluna to chop almost all my herbs- it's easier and quicker, especially when you have minimal knife skills, like me- than I have from her cookbook, which has been hit and miss. I do love watching her, though. We don't get Style Network, so I haven't been watching Forever Summer. I'm making up for it with Oliver's Twist, which is one of my favorite food tv shows of all time, because you can watch it, and without taking notes or anything, you can then go do whatever Jamie Oliver just did. I'm trying his seared tuna this weekend- sear some tuna, slice thickly, serve with chopped scallions on one side, grated ginger on the other, and soy sauce drizzled over. Simple, yes, but what I think TV cooking should be- pretty to look at and immediately replicable.