Nutella Hell

Or, why I obsessively write stuff down now…

Just over a year ago my friend Toria and I were translating an American recipe for Nutella cookies.  She converted the measurements and I followed the instructions, secure in the knowledge that I could simply retranslate the recipe if it was a good one.

It was.  Those cookies were perfect!  Thin and crisp but still chewy, they were everything a cookie should be, only with Nutella added in.  Ohhhh…. those cookies…. *drools*

Later that evening, after Toria had started the drive home with a bag of cookies I’m told didn’t make it all the way, I scribbled down what I remembered of the recipe into my book and tucked it away for future reference.  It wasn’t until I came to make those cookies again that I realised I’d got one of the measurements wrong…  I couldn’t possibly need almost a whole kilo of flour!

Fortunately I’d tucked the original in at the same page so I simply converted the measurements and started to make the cookies.  But the consistency was all wrong.  I could see it even before the dough was ready.  Somewhere, something had gone horribly awry.

Those cookies were awful.  Thick and stodgy, they sat heavily on the stomach.  Chewing them felt like the cookie was trying to pull your teeth out.  What had happened to my perfect cookies?

There were three ingredients that were my variables.  Flour, sugar, and butter.  Any one of those could be wrong, or it could be all three! So, I started to experiment.

It took three large 400g jars of Nutella, and 192 cookies before I managed to recreate the original recipe Toria and I had mysteriously invented. I might have been the most popular person in the office that day, but I’ve never been able to look at Nutella the same way… I certainly hadn’t made those cookies since it happened!

So why has this come to mind after over a year? Well, over the summer holidays my nephews came to stay with me for a week. I bought and made a lot of food that I don’t normally eat simply because they do. And now they’ve gone home and there’s a jar of Nutella sitting on my kitchen side just daring me to make cookies again.IMG_0956

So I did.



Mmmmm……. coookies….


Nutella Cookies

Makes: 40  Takes: 45 minutes
125g unsalted butter
75g white sugar
125g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
200g Nutella

Preheat your oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4 and line several baking trays with greaseproof paper. Beat the sugar and the butter together in a large bowl until fluffy and well-combined. Add the beaten egg and vanilla and mix together.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and beat until the flour has combined with the butter, sugar and egg mixture and the dough is just starting to come together. Add the Nutella to the bowl and swirl it through the dough using a knife.

Drop heaped teaspoons of dough onto the paper lined baking sheets, spacing them approximately 3 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, by which time the outside of the cookies should be golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool in the baking trays for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you only have the one tray and want to keep baking batches, carefully lift the greaseproof paper from the tray and place directly on the wire rack as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven. Make sure you take care if you do this – the cookies and baking tray will not only be extremely hot, but the cookies will be inclined to crumble!


Roast Goa’uld

AKA oak-smoked pork loin.

I recently spent a weekend with some old friends in Somerset who have all the kit needed to hot and cold smoke food.  As an added bonus, they’re also accomplished wood-turners so they have large bags filled with shavings and tagged with delicious labels like maple, apple, and oak.  Fortunately it didn’t take much begging to persuade them to set everything up so we could play.

Blog Cold-smoker

After four hours of careful tending, the first batch of maple smoked goodies were ready.  That night we feasted on cheese, bread, pate and smoked mushrooms cooked in butter (the mushrooms were slightly disappointing).  The following day, we loaded up the smoker with oak shavings and more food, including a pork loin.

When the second batch was done, we decided to marinade the pork loin before cooking it.  After rooting around in their kitchen cupboards, I assembled a batch of ingredients and went to work.  Once the marinade was ready, we realised that the pork had a distinct resemblance to a Goa’uld… complete with mouth, eye, fins, and tail.  Blog - Goa'uld uncooked

That Goa’uld spent the rest of the day and night in the fridge, being shaken every time one of us passed through the kitchen.  Meanwhile we learnt that camembert take to smoke well and brie prefers maple smoke over oak.  I thought that the oak worked better on cheddar, but my friends preferred maple.  Red Leicester on the other hand was delicious with either smoke, as was the bacon.  The maple smoked sausages were brilliant and my friends let me take the oak smoked ones home, where they made a truly spectacular toad-in-the-hole.

The next day we roasted the pork loin for 40 minutes at 180C, spooning the marinade over it halfway through, rested it, and then carved it up.  Now I’m not the biggest fan of barbeque, but this was probably the best barbeque I’ve ever tasted.  Particularly since it was roasted not barbequed!  Sweet and succulent, salty and smoky, the flavours mingled and lingered on the palate.  Definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.

Goa’uld Marinade
1 oak-smoked pork loin
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Combine ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from fridge and allow meat 20 minutes to come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.  Pour excess marinade into a bowl or jug and roast pork for 40 minutes, spooning over some of the reserved marinade halfway through.  Remove and rest for 5-10 minutes.  Carve and serve.


An Introduction

Hi!  I’m Kizzy.

When I was 12, after I managed to reduce an innocent casserole to a charcoal briquette, my home economics teacher told me in front of the whole class that I’d never be a good cook.  When I got home, I cried.  While comforting me, my mum suggested that I prove her wrong.  Inspired, I returned to the classroom and promptly churned out a truly disgusting Christmas cake.

It was the start of a lifelong journey to improve my cooking abilities.  Over the years I’ve had some spectacular successes, and countless more inedible atrocities.  Despite every setback my love of good food has stayed with me, pushing me to go further, learn more, and experiment with unfamiliar techniques and ingredients.

That same love affair with food led me to relocate over a hundred miles to Devon, seduced by the lure of fresh, high quality ingredients and some truly sublime restaurants and producers.  This blog aims to chart my progress as a cook.  My failures and my triumphs, experimental recipes, new techniques, reviews of suppliers, books and festivals.  I hope you enjoy it.

Bon appetit!