CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: A dollop of Marmite in macaroni cheese

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: A dollop of Marmite in macaroni cheese… you’ll love it or hate it

Nadiya’s Fast Flavours


Mary Berry — Love To Cook  


Pass the bicarb.

Back in the heyday of stodgy food, when every dish was glazed in lurid gloop and vegetables came in tins, our medicine cabinets were stocked with tablets for stomach cramps.

The commercial breaks came crammed with ads for Antacids and Tums, Rennies and Alka-Seltzer.

You can still get them of course, but we no longer gobble them like sweets. Even the slogans were national catchphrases. ‘Plink-plink fizz!’ we said, doubled over with acid reflux.

Nadiya Hussain’s Fast Flavours (BBC2) is a hymn to what she calls ‘comfort food’, could be renamed Nadiya’s Indigestion Attack

Nadiya Hussain aims to bring those days back. Her Fast Flavours (BBC2), a hymn to what she calls ‘comfort food’, could be renamed Nadiya’s Indigestion Attack.

She opened her series with a recipe for macaroni cheese, which has inexplicably been rebranded as the American-sounding ‘mac ’n’ cheese’.

Not everyone will agree with her decision to spoon half a jar of Marmite into the pan. ‘Ah, nectar,’ she said, sniffing the yeast extract.

‘Amber nectar’ is what Aussie comedian Paul Hogan used to croon over a warm tin of gassy Fosters — another sure-fire way to give yourself a stomach ache.

But the macaroni cheese didn’t start to look truly revolting until Nadiya took a couple of packets of Cheesy Wotsits and crumbled them into the mix.

‘They add that extreme cheesy flavour,’ she cooed. What they add, in fact, is enough E numbers to turn your insides to sulphur.

In case your tongue wasn’t already a permanent shade of yellow, Nadiya suggested a breezy way to make toasted brioche without eggs. Simply mix up some powdered custard, dip slices of bread into it, and fry the result.

That’s right: bread soaked in instant custard, sizzling in a pan. Nurse, I’m going to need another packet of those plink-plink-fizzies.

Nadiya hadn’t finished comforting us with platefuls of abdominal pains. For pudding, she whisked up a gallon of ice cream, filled it with frozen blueberries and whacked it between two slices of sponge.

Then she smothered it in cream and broken biscuits.

The iced blueberries, she claimed, were like ‘sorbet shots — oh my goodness, oh so good!’

Mary Berry had the answer to potato shortages on Love To Cook (BBC2): grow them in an old fish tank on the kitchen windowsill

The rest of it looked like a wheelbarrow filled with solidified cholesterol.

Nadiya’s innocent energy is always fun to see, and her bright outfits — this time, a neon pink jumpsuit — were matched by bright clips of ingredients bouncing and bursting against DayGlo backgrounds.

Her shows are certainly cheerful.

But I was grateful for an interlude with Ukrainian cook Olia Hercules, who grew up in the Soviet Union and who showed us how to make borscht or beetroot soup — a bland staple, from the era when Slavic housewives had to queue for eight hours to buy potatoes.

At least that gives your digestion time to recover.

Mary Berry had the answer to potato shortages on Love To Cook (BBC2): grow them in an old fish tank on the kitchen windowsill.

‘So rewarding and anyone can do it,’ she declared. It’s a pity there weren’t more fish tanks back in the USSR.

Her recipes included a vegetable noodle soup, and a cake made with grated courgette and carrot, mashed up with a brown banana. ‘It’s a bit of all right,’ she said.

Visiting an allotment in the Rhondda Valley, where Terry Walton has been growing his own veg for more than 70 years, Mary admired the variety of greens, herbs and fruit he produced.

Terry’s secret: ‘You have to teach your palate to eat what’s in season. I never understand eating strawberries in the winter.’

I bet he’s not keen on frozen blueberry ‘sorbet shots’ either.

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