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A bit of a rehash
on 6 September 2010
OK, let's start with what I love about this book: It's beautifully written, it has amazing photos of the food, it's presented immaculately and the recipes cater for most tastes.
The biggest plus point for me is the fact that the recipes seems so well tried and tested. I am a big Nigella fan and have all her books and I can honestly say that I have never, ever been let down by one of her recipes. As with all Nigella's books, the recipes in Kitchen are easy to follow, with accurate quantities, extremely helpful hints and encouraging chit-chat along the way.
Since getting the book last week I decided to try some of the recipes from it: Tarragon chicken, smoked haddock my mother's way, speedy scaloppine with rapid roastini, chocolate chip bread pudding, maple pecan bundt cake and blondies. These all turned out well (even if they didn't look as good as the pictures) and I would cook them again.
The book is 500 pages long and has 190 recipes, accompanied by some really beautiful photos. Nigella's writing style (friendly-chit-chat-by-the-stove) is one of the best things about this book, and I read it through once, before I started cooking from it. This was a hopeful start before I went back through it to earmark the recipes I wanted to try. And this is where I started to feel disappointed (and also where I duck for cover).......
I had a touch of deja vu: the layout, the type of recipes included (comfort, quick, children's, baking, cocktails) and also the type of ingredients used (chilli sauce, pasta, spices, rice, mirin). In fact I would say this book has a predominantly south east Asian and Italian bent. There's nothing wrong with this, other than it all seems very over-familiar and done several times before in her previous books. Yes, on one hand this could be a good thing because you know what you're going to get. But I was hoping for something a bit more "Wow". Dare I say it, but to me, Kitchen seems a little bland. Apart from the six recipes that I tried over the past few days (see above) there weren't many more that I really fancied trying. I went through it a few times, hoping for more inspiration and also hoping to add more post-it notes reminding me of the recipes I want to try. I found a handful at best which was very disappointing.
It's almost like some sort of "Best of Nigella". It's got a bit of all her previous books thrown in and packaged very glossily. For this reason alone I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't already own a Nigella cookbook and wants to try her style of cooking. But for me it is just a rehash. A tired format that I suppose I have just become bored with. I don't think it's her best work and I don't think I will be using it as much as her other books.
I say this very reluctantly, but for me, Kitchen is an uninspiring regurgitation that looks very pretty but is mundanely average.