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Wake up your inner goddess

Get inspired by Nigella and make that kitsch, wildly generous chocolate salame
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First Published: Thu, Oct 11 2012. 09 02 PM IST
The Chocolate Salame best represents Nigella Lawson’s love of over-indulgence and excess. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
The Chocolate Salame best represents Nigella Lawson’s love of over-indulgence and excess. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Updated: Fri, Oct 12 2012. 06 02 PM IST
I should come clean straight away: I’ve been a devoted Nigella Lawson fan ever since she first transformed cookery in Britain from dowdy to dazzling and urged us all to get in touch with our inner Domestic Goddesses. I’ve stuck by her through personal tragedy, the battle of the bulge and even last year’s dreaded “burkini” beachwear debacle. I once queued up twice at a book signing in Edinburgh just to get a better look at her ethereally porcelain skin.
Two of her books, How to Eat: The Pleasures And Principles of Good Food, a rich compendium of ideas and experience, and Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, an exploration of how we celebrate through food, are classics and deserve a place on any serious cook’s kitchen shelf.
Nigella famously and poutingly found herself through food. It turns out, though, that she’s become a bit burdened with the self that she found: the eyelash-fluttering, cleavage-flaunting kitchen siren who can find a sexual innuendo in a pan of Puy lentils.To the delight, needless to say, of publishers and TV programmers the world over, her most recent output has been more concerned
with Nigella’s sensational beauty than breaking any new culinary ground.
Her latest, Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration, is, unfortunately, more of the same. This time it’s her take on Italian food, that is to say, Italian-ish riffs on things she’s done many times before, accompanied by endless pictures of Nigella channelling Sophia Loren. Many of the recipes, she admits herself, are barely recipes at all: “I should feel bashful about giving a recipe that involves little more than opening a can…” Well, yes Nigella, you should, especially when it takes you two pages to give that “recipe”.

      Still, as Nigella says, “enough of this harrumphing”—there is always plenty to enjoy in a Nigella book, not least her evocative descriptions. The perfect panna cotta, for instance, “must have a voluptuous and quivering softness, as if trembling between solid and liquid”. And one thing Nigella hasn’t lost over the years is her love of over-indulgence and that, to my mind, is always a cause for celebration. This chocolate salame is typical of the book—nothing remotely authentically Italian about it, very kitsch and wildly generous. It tasted pretty good too. I made it for a dinner party of 10 and no one was disappointed. There was even enough for everyone to take home a doggy bag.
      Nigella’s Chocolate Salame
      Makes approximately 20 generous slices
      250g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
      250g amaretti or Rich Tea biscuits (I used Marie)
      100g soft unsalted butter
      150g caster sugar
      3 large eggs
      2 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
      2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
      75g unskinned almonds, roughly chopped
      75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
      50g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
      1-2 tbsp icing sugar to decorate
      Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. While the chocolate’s melting, put the biscuits into a large freezer bag, seal and bash them with a rolling pin until you have a bag of rubble—not dust. When the chocolate’s melted, remove it to a cold place (not the fridge) and set aside to cool.
      Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and super-light. Gradually, one by one, beat in the eggs. Then beat in the Amaretto liqueur.
      Push the cocoa powder through a little sieve or tea strainer into the cooled chocolate and, with a small rubber spatula, stir until combined, then beat this into the egg mixture too.
      When you have a smooth chocolate mixture, tip in the chopped nuts and crushed biscuits. Fold these in firmly, but patiently, to make sure everything is chocolate-covered. Transfer this mixture, still in its bowl, to the fridge to firm up a bit for 20-30 minutes. Don’t leave it for much longer than this or it will be difficult to get out of the bowl to shape.
      Unroll and slice off two large pieces of cling film, overlapping them, so that you have a large cling-covered surface to roll the chocolate salame out on. Tip the chocolate mixture out in the middle of this and—using your hands—mould the mixture into a fat salame-like log, approximately 30cm long.
      Cover the chocolate log completely with the cling film, and then firmly roll it, as if it were a rolling pin, to create a smooth, rounded cylinder from the rough log you started with. Twist the ends by grasping both ends of the cling film and rolling the sausage-log towards you several times. Put the log in the fridge for at least 6 hours—though preferably overnight—to set.
      Once it’s set, tear off a large piece of greaseproof paper and lay it on a clear kitchen surface. Take the salame out of the fridge and sit it on the paper. Measure out a piece of string six times longer than the salame and tie over one knotted end of cling film. Remove as much cling film as possible but keep the knotted ends to attach the string to.
      Dust your hands with a little icing sugar and then rub 2 tbsp icing sugar all over the salame to stop it getting sticky as you roll it up.
      Make a loop with the string, a little wider than the salame, and feed it over the end of the salame, close to where it is tied on. Pull the trailing end to tighten and form another loop. Repeat this process until you reach the end of the salame, then attach the string to the other knotted end of cling film.
      Feed the remaining string through the back of the salame, twisting through the loops, then tie again when you come to the end.
      Serve cold—transfer to a wooden board and cut some slices, fanning them out as if they were indeed slices of salame.
      Pamela Timms is a Delhi-based journalist and food writer. She blogs at Eatanddust.com.
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      First Published: Thu, Oct 11 2012. 09 02 PM IST