NADIYA Hussain is, without doubt, The Great British Bake Off’s most successful winner.
Two years ago this month, the Luton-born mother-of-three first appeared on our TV screens, all wide-eyes and eyebrows, and won the hearts of the nation as well as the competition. You might not remember anything she actually cooked all series, but there isn’t a single Bake Off fan who wasn’t stirred by her victory speech. "I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again," she declared, as we all watched on teary-eyed. "I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I can. And I will."
And she has. From fronting her own TV programmes and appearing on talk shows, game shows and cookery shows, to releasing four cookbooks and being asked to bake a cake for the Queen, it’s been a decidedly busy 24 months.
"I can’t believe it’s been two years already," says the 32-year-old who’s latest project is a TV show and cookbook called Nadiya’s British Food Adventure. "I’ve been so busy, it feels like a bit of a blur. It’s all happened so fast. I’m having a blast though!"
Claiming "British food has become a melting pot of cuisines and cultures", Nadiya wanted to find out what was being eaten in the hubs of our homes, before getting creative in her own kitchen and coming up with her take on Brit-style cooking.
"Because I’m from Bangladesh, from England, Muslim, a mixture of a little bit of everything, I’ve always asked myself, ’What makes me British?’ And if somebody asks me what British food is, I’d say it’s what I eat at home.
"What I ate at home as a child was rice and curry, and then at school, I’d have pie and mash - to me, that’s British food. And I think everybody’s own experiences shape what British food is for them. So it was really interesting to go on that journey and find out what my interpretation is. And apart from what I grew up with and what I eat now, what I found, travelling between Scotland and Wales and parts of England, is that there’s no hard and fast rule. It’s actually about what British food has become - all these different cuisines and cultures, and that’s exactly what the book’s about. It’s recipes that I love and think make up what British food is today. I’m really proud of it."
Try one of Nadiya’s takes on Brit-style cooking with one of these delicious recipes...
NADIYA HUSSAIN’S PLOUGHMAN’S CHEESE & PICKLE TART
The good old cheese and pickle sandwich has been elevated to new levels by Nadiya.
It’s the ultimate al fresco treat and perfect for picnics.
350g shortcrust pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
4 medium eggs
150ml whole milk
200g Branston pickle (small chunks)
250g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1: Take the block of shortcrust pastry, flatten it out slightly and sprinkle all over with the paprika. Fold the edges in over the top, then knead the pastry until all the paprika is incorporated. If the pastry starts to stick to the worktop, dust with flour.
2: Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 and put a baking tray in to heat up.
3: Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and large enough to cover the base and sides of a 23cm diameter, 3-4cm deep, loose-bottomed flan tin.
4: Line the inside of the tin with the rolled-out pastry. Press it into the edges, right into the grooves, leaving some overhang. Pierce the base all over with a fork. This stops it puffing up while baking.
5: Cover the base and sides with a large piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans to weigh the pastry down. Take the hot baking tray out of the oven and place the prepared tart tin on it.
6: Bake for 25 minutes, then take out of the oven, remove the paper and baking beans, and bake for another 15 minutes.
7: Meanwhile, put your eggs into a jug and lightly whisk. Add the milk and stir.
8: Once the tart shell is out of the oven, spread the pickle all over the base and cover evenly with the grated cheese.
9: Pour in the milky egg mixture and place the whole tray back in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set and golden, with just a very slight wobble in the middle.
10: Once the tart is cool enough to handle, slice off the pastry overhang using a sharp serrated knife. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
NADIYA HUSSAIN’S FAVOURITE BEEF SKEWERS
It’s summer - and we’re going to barbecue whatever the weather. But instead of slapping some uber-predictable burgers and bangers on the grill, why not try your hand at Nadiya’s recipe of choice.
For the beef skewers:
4 beef fillet steaks (approx 600g), very thinly sliced
4tbsp olive oil
Peeled rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 small green chillies
30g fresh coriander, chopped
For the salad:
1 large clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 large red onion, diced
15g fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
3tbsp olive oil
250g cooked puy lentils (buy a ready-cooked pouch)
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
Juice of 1 lime
1: Soak eight wooden skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. This will prevent them burning during cooking.
2: Slice the steak lengthways as thinly as possible and set aside in a bowl.
3: Put the oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, chillies, coriander and salt into a food processor. Blitz to a smooth paste, then add the paste to the bowl of steak pieces. Mix well, then cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
4: Meanwhile, make the salad. Put the garlic, onion, coriander, chilli, mustard and oil into a bowl and mix well. Add the lentils and chickpeas. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix through the salt, then cover and set aside.
5: Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9 and lightly grease a roasting dish. Or if you prefer to cook your skewers on a griddle pan, grease it lightly and put it on a medium to high heat to start warming up.
6: Meanwhile, skewer the beef pieces in a zigzag pattern. Do this until you have filled all eight skewers. If you have any leftover marinade, just dab it on top of the beef.
7: Line the skewers on to the greased roasting dish and bake for eight to 10 minutes, making sure to turn them over halfway through. Or, if griddling, put them on the hot pan and cook for three to four minutes on each side.
8: Once cooked, serve the warm beef skewers with the salad alongside.
NADIYA HUSSAIN’S SUMMER FRUIT SEMIFREDDO
Nadiya might just have created the perfect summertime dessert with this delicious sweet treat that tastes as good as it looks.
400g frozen mixed summer fruits
100g caster sugar
7 slices of white bread (about 170g), crusts removed, halved lengthways
600ml double cream
2tbsp golden syrup
1: Put the frozen fruit, sugar and water into a medium pan and bring to the boil, then take off the heat. You don’t want the fruit to break down too much but you want to extract as much liquid as possible.
2: Drain the fruit through a sieve, making sure to catch all the liquid in a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push through as much liquid as possible. Then leave the liquid to cool completely.
3: Line a 20cm round Pyrex dish with cling film.
4: Dip each piece of bread quickly into the fruit juice mixture and place around the edge of the dish vertically, slightly overlapping each piece with the next to prevent leaking. Do this all around the edges - you should have one piece left. Break that piece down to size, then dip it in the fruit juice and place it in the base of the dish. Set aside.
5: Whip the double cream to soft peaks, then add the golden syrup and mix well. Add the fruit and ripple through gently.
6: Put the cream mixture into the lined bowl and spread it level on top. If any of the bread pieces come up higher than the top of the cream, simply fold them over. Cover the top with cling film and place in the freezer for three hours.
7: To turn out, tip on to a plate and remove all the cling film. Cut into wedges and serve.
*Nadiya’s British Food Adventure by Nadiya Hussain is published by Michael Joseph, priced £20. Available now. The accompanying TV show is on BBC Two on Mondays, and also on BBC iPlayer.