The voluptuous kitchen vixen encourages you to channel your inner cook and direct your domestic goddess in her latest tome.
Nigella Lawson’s newest book is a departure from her previous works, all of which revolved around a central theme. Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home is an expansive discourse on the author’s self-described “love affair with the kitchen… a comfort chronicle…” and dare I say it, a collection of her favorite recipes, those she keeps returning to again and again.
The book is roughly divided into two parts: Kitchen Quandaries (i.e. “hurried” comfort food) that answer the questions, What’s For Supper? And Hurry Up! I’m Hungry. The second half of the book, Kitchen Comforts addresses a more relaxed form of cooking when time is not (too) much of an issue. Hence, sentimentally titled chapters: Chicken And Its Place In My Kitchen, and The Solace of Stirring. In this latter part of the book as well are entire chapters devoted to risotto, “bone” food (carnivores, rejoice!), and chicken. If you’re a total kitchen novice, the Kitchen Caboodle section will be helpful, detailing required equipment, or if you’re a cook who never seems to have enough time, the Express Index will have you setting the table in no time. Or if you’ve got a kinship with leftovers, Making Leftovers Right will appeal to your waste-not-want-not spirit.
If you’ve read or collect Nigella’s books with zealous fervor, then this book will “bring it home for you,” so to speak. Instead of the subject matter being tied to a unifying theme, recipes run the gamut of difficulty levels and are all over the world map, or how Nigella describes the kitchen as “a great place to travel.” Thus, try your hand at Korean calamari, Japanese shrimp, Mexican lasagna, and sweet and sour chicken. There are also the more unusual recipes, like fried gnocchi and slut’s spaghetti – a rather raffish take on putanesca.
A decidedly large and weighty book with sharp corners, this is no book to curl up with or prop on your chest. But Nigella’s overwhelmingly friendly and affable tone makes the alternative of sitting upright to read in a chair more bearable. And there are loads of colored photos to make the experience even more worthwhile.
Notice how it just seems so natural to call Nigella by her first name. It’s her approachability that’s so appealing as evidenced in her rah-rah headnotes. It really makes one feel, “Yeah, I could do this!” Having said that however, Nigella has a tendency to be quite wordy and uses words that are uncommon to non-British readers: I haven’t the faintest idea what a claggish texture might be. Still, it’s Nigella being her beguiling self and certainly I can’t fault her for her numerous pithy maxims where she assures me that “Cooking is simple, really…”; affirms that “Your friends are not coming to pass judgment on your food but to eat it.”; and my favorite: “Those who look at life rather than taking a bite out of it are not deserving of the pleasures they deny themselves.”
Nigella Kitchen is a book to cook from, full of doable recipes and all about doing away with fear. Your copy will be littered with Post-Its as mine already is.
Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home
By Nigella Lawson
Hardcover: 512 pages; P1,399
Hyperion, October 2010
Available from Fully Booked.