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March 26, 2006

IMBB #24: Nigella's lemon linguine, apple tarts, and the happy food dance


I have a "thing" for Nigella Lawson.  I know that sounds clichéd, and, for what it's worth, it is, but let me try to explain.  It all boils down to this: there's something magnetic about a woman who takes profound delight in the act of eating.  I don't mean this specifically about her, either.  It applies equally to all women, really.

My wife Rachel delights in good food.  Whenever she enjoys her first bite of something exceptional, she invariably does the "Happy Food Dance."  I believe it's a relic of her genetic heritage, because I've seen her mother perform the same seated hip wiggle.  If she especially loves what she's eating, Rachel has even been known to swing her shoulders a little, too.  The Happy Food Dance is so reliable I now use it as a barometer to measure the quality of any dish I prepare.

The flip side to my attraction to women who are passionate about food and cooking is a mistrust for people who don't enjoy or don't care about what they eat.  You know the type.  They view food as "fuel," or they refuse to try anything outside their comfort zone.  If a person can't open themselves up to the simple pleasures of a good meal, what else are they hiding?

The entrée and dessert we're presenting for the "Make it in 30 minutes" edition of Is My Blog Burning are not only quick and easy to prepare, they have both induced full body Happy Food Dances from Rachel.  That means quality, people.

For our entrée, we prepared Nigella Lawson's lemon linguine, from her book How To Eat. Aside from cooking pasta, this recipe involves nothing more complicated than mixing together some cream, lemon juice and zest, and a couple of egg yolks with some parmesan and seasoning.  It is astonishing how wonderful simple dishes can sometimes be, but the sharp brilliance of lemon gives this plate of pasta wonderful taste, while the cream and egg lend it body and mellowness.


Rachel's been looking for a better way to make tarte tatin since her apple sauce pie mishap, so she was excited to see the recipe for caramelized apple tarts by Lucy Waverman in the The Globe and Mail. Granted, tarte tatin this is not, but by caramelizing the apples in cider, then adding them to separately baked puff pastry shells, this dish is the time-pressured home cook's equivalent.  Rabbani Orchards, in the North St. Lawrence Market, sells a wide variety of local apples as well as the best fresh-pressed apple cider you'll find in Toronto, including the Spies and cider we used in this dish.  As a shortcut, we had to use the PC All-Butter Puff Pastry recommended by the wise people over at The Cookbook Store, without which it's simply not possible to prepare this meal in time.

These tarts are superb.  Good cider makes all the difference, intensifying the apple flavour of the filling and imparting sweetness and body to the syrup.  The recipe is available as a Word document on Waverman's website.  We've also added some twists to this dish.  The first is to add a generous dollop of Calvados crème fraîche, available at Alex Farms in the St. Lawrence Market. The second is to omit the puff pastry entirely, and top a bowlful of the caramelized apples with Cognac whipped cream (just follow the recipe on our lobster bisque post, but add a tablespoon of sugar with the salt).  Using the warm apples as a topping for vanilla ice cream is also wonderful.

I have caught Rachel standing in the middle of the kitchen with a bowl of the caramelized apples on their own, doing the Happy Food Dance as she eats.  I think she may have been humming, too.  Damn that's sexy!

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» IMBB24 Roundup, Round 3 from Too Many Chefs
5 of 15 done in this post. We're up to the third batch of participants in this month's Is My Blog Burning Event - IMBB #24, Make it in 30 Minutes, wherein we challenged you to make a full meal as much from scratch as possible in just 30 minutes. If yo... [Read More]



Hi Rachel

You have an awesome site. The lemon linguine and the apple tart look fantastic and in 30 minutes, v. impressive! With food like that in front of me, I would be doing the happy dance too!



What an entertaining post! First of all, we must be related because I have many family members who do the "happy food dance".

Secondly, I completely understand the "Nigella" thing. I have great respect for a woman who eat and not care a whit for how she looks while she's eating. It's all about the good food!

Finally, the apple tart ... too delicious!


Your tart looks great! PC also makes really nice phyllo...the sheets are not broken and/or ripped like other brands I've tried. Also, I know the family that runs Rabbani Orchards and you'll always get the best. Of course, you already know this! Keep up the great and interesting blogging. :)

Bea at La Tartine Gourmande

This looks SO good! I think that I am also a candidate to do the happy food dance ahahah, no problem!


Sam, thank you for the compliment.

Ivonne, I love it when we agree, especially about Nigella.

Jen, it's a small world. We're quite fond of the wide selection of apples from Rabbani.

Bea, I'm very glad you find the dishes appealing. It appears the happy food dancers are finally coming forward.


Hey, I'm a dancer but I always do the happy dance when I eat. The shoulder shimmies too - even when I am in public, to the embarrassment of my friends! Rachel, you go girl!

Anyway, love the apple tart - am just dying here reading about it.

I've unforgiveably tagged you both for the Around the World Meme - forgive me! Blame Ilva!


The linguine looks amazing - I love simple but flavoursome recipes like this.

Nigella is so entertaining to watch and I also agree with you about being suspicious of people who are not interested in food :)


I too have a 'thing' for Nigella, and I also do the Happy Food Dance. However, I only do it at home, as it involves various props and a bit of floor space to perform it properly.

The linguine sounds delicious - I'm definitely going to attempt it.


This is a great post to read - I love the way you both write - and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous...that apple in the background really brings everything together.


Ooh ooh... I'd happily do a happy dance, shoulder shimmy for a serving of either dish too, they look heavenly Rob!


MM, you are forgiven in advance for the tag, and I will post my answers to the meme soon. I'm especially happy to see you like the apple tart.

verniciousknids, I love your name, especially because I grew up on Roald Dahl (but prefer James and the Giant Peach, Danny the Champion of the World, or The Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Ian, the linguine makes a perfect after work dinner. It can be thrown together from readily available ingredients in a flash.

Michelle, thanks for the compliments, especially about the photos. It took us a long time to get that shot right.

Hi, Bron, and welcome. It's good to see there are more Happy Food Dancers out there than I ever suspected.


Wow, we really are on the same wavelength! Guess great minds think alike...

Haven't made the stock yet. But it looks as though the cooking thing in Salzburg is going to happen. In the meantime, I found out that there is a consomme double that is often made there, as well as something called Kraft Bruehe which is a very rich broth, so I think it must have been one of those. I'm going to try a test run befoe I go in June, and will post about it. Just need to find a free afternoon, which is becoming a rare thing for me these days...


I have a thig for Nigella too... I am in a Nigella's recipes obsessed period...



I also love those other Dahl books esp Fantastic Mr Fox. I'm rather partial to The Witches as well!


A 'mistrust' for people who don't enjoy or don't care about what they eat... what else are they hiding?' HA! HAHAHA-

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