Nigella cooked up a no-effort family roast dinner of poussin and a refreshing salad with punchy wasabi dressing for her father and children. Then for a quick after-work supper with a friend, she whipped up her ever-ready standby of Crispy squid with garlic mayo. Supper need never be a chore again.
Nigella shared her shortcuts for getting dinner on the table in minutes. She proved that a three-course meal needn't be a daunting proposition and can be ready in half an hour. Finger-lickingly Moorish Prawns with spicy dipping sauce and Spanish-inspired Scallops with chorizo are out of the pan and onto dinner plates in the time it takes to get everyone around the table.
There was an Italian-style feast on the table as Nigella revisited the dishes of her youth and her days of living and working in Italy. Childhood trips to the Italian gardens in Hyde Park with her grandmother were always followed by a steaming bowl of Chicken alla cacciatora. It's a treat that Nigella revisits for her own children, but her express version of this Italian classic is the work of minutes, not hours. Spicy Calabrian-style lamb cutlets made a quick dinner with a friend and Marsala honey pears with gorgonzola were the homemade centrepiece of a spread of antipasti.
Never say never to workday entertaining - you might feel too tired to attempt elaborate dishes and complex techniques, but Nigella has ideas for quick, effortless food to impress with maximum flavour and minimum effort. For a casual, super-speedy supper, Nigella made an elegant salad with a zesty Japanese-style dressing. Coq au Riesling bubbled away happily without interference, while a sizzling steak slice was an instant crowd-pleaser.
Nigella showed that eating on the move needn't mean resorting to buying snacks. She put together packed lunches that would make a welcome change from sandwiches for kids, and would more than satisfy the grown-ups too. For picnics, chicken drumsticks marinated in a buttermilk mixture and then baked were effort-free finger food, while Rocky road crunch bars were an indulgent chocolatey treat.
Nigella showed how to kick-start the day with her speedy breakfasts. She cooked two working breakfasts and made an easy smoothie for when there really is no time to spare. For two dishes that went down a storm for a teenage sleepover, Nigella made scrambled eggs with a twist and pancakes served with blueberry sauce. For a weekend brunch, her frittata was hard to beat.
Comfort food got the Express treatment, proving that calming, delicious food can be the work of moments. There was a fast, restoring bowl of ragù to ease away weekday tensions, rich chocolate cookies to banish the blues and a warm, soothing Noodle soup for needy people. It was a long hot bath for the tastebuds, and all comfortingly quick and easy to prepare.
Nigella showed how to turn those odds and ends of jars lurking at the back of the cupboard into impressive dishes to serve to unexpected guests. East met west in a Lamb, mint and redcurrant salad with hot and sour Thai-style dressing, there was a warming one-tray dinner of spicy sausages and halloumi, and Chocolate pear pudding was an effortless crowd-pleaser.
Nigella served up fast food with a Latin vibe. Oozing Quesadillas with a jalapeño kick were a satisfying snack, while zingy, fresh Chopped ceviche and punchy Margarita ice cream made fun but sophisticated food for friends.
This week's show was all about meals that may not be ready in a flash, but which are low on preparation and effort. The chicken and ribs go into a bag to marinate before being put to roast along happily in the oven. The tagine improves with a couple of days' rest, meaning last-minute panics are avoided. And for dessert, the exotic trifle takes moments to throw together, then can just sit in the fridge until you're ready to tuck into the feast.
This week Nigella revisited some favourite dishes from her past and gave them the express treatment. She relived her student days with a friend, tucking into a rich, indulgent fondue and a cheesecake for pudding. Then the 'domestic goddess' was in her element cooking a 1950s-inspired dinner of crunchy fish goujons followed by boozy Crêpes Suzette - dishes that are too good to be relegated to the annals of cookery history.
With the party season fast approaching, Nigella found a happy medium between fiddly canapés and the 'open a few packets of crisps' approach. Potato cakes with smoked salmon and dill were effortlessly elegant, while little wraps filled with tuna or crab were sure to have guests hovering around the food table. White chocolate and mint mousse, served in shot glasses, provided a kick of something sweet to round off the evening.
In the final episode of the series, Nigella prepared for the Christmas season, leaving the big day itself to one side to concentrate on the days around it. Sweet roasted butternut squash with pecans and crumbled blue cheese made a great side dish or veggie main for cold days. Spiced peaches, perfect served with gammon, and indulgent Chocolate pistachio fudge doubled up as gifts and get-ahead goodies for the festive table.