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Nicest Nigella yet
on 2 September 2010
It's a lovely treat to find a warmer, more relaxed and low-key, funnier Nigella on show in this new book than ever before. She invites us into her home kitchen for more typically everyday cooking than the six previous books (Christmas in particular saw her becoming almost a cartoon character version of her own finger-lickin' self), and the tone of this book is intimate and friendly, whilst retaining her knack for a turn of phrase.
'Kitchen' begins with an essay in praise of cooking that is enjoyable and thought-provoking: for example, why does restaurant cooking aim for sameness, when most of us could pick out our own mum's Bolognese in a blind tasting? There's also an intriguing exploration of kitchen equipment plus a totally hilarious discussion of the dozen most useless gadgets she's ever bought.
In the end, though, the book is about the recipes: we'll be cooking them over the next few months, finding our favourites, but in the meantime, here's a flavour of what you'll get:
Recipes to suit children, including a dozen crowd-pleasing frittata, pizza, chicken and mince dishes. A dozen quick suppers, fairly sophisticated mostly, like mussels, lamb chops, lemon sole, scallops, calamari. Midweek dinner party menus, including couscous, Indian lamb chops, a butternut squash salad that is top priority to try, chicken with chorizo, lemony salmon - lots of simple tempting things.
A section on using up ingredients: wilting apples to make muffins and black bananas for Banoffee Cheescake. There's also a coconut and cherry banana loaf and a chocolate chip bread pudding that make me feel fat just reading them.
A whole batch of new puddings, from chocolate key lime pie tthrough chocolate peanut butter cheesecake to Frangelico tiramisu (ah, we can finally use up the bottle we bought for the Nutella cake in Domestic Goddess).
And storecupboard dishes such as pasta puttanesca, pantry paella, halloumi with beetroot and lime, and chorizo and chickpea stew.
A whole section of chicken recipes, including many different useful leftover recipes to encourage us to cook a bigger bird to start with, in anticipation.
A lot of baking recipes: blueberry muffins, a devil's food cake, a simple coffee sponge, scones, bakewell and treacle slices, the inevitable [this time, red velvet ] cupcakes. Preserves, too.
A section of "weekend" recipes, like roast seafood, jerk chicken with rice and peas, a "date" steak, and its opposite, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Five risotto dishes; some recipes using meat on bones, like ham hocks, spare ribs and pork knuckles -as well as a great rib dish; a couple of pages on pasties.
Finally, a chapter on snacks, with home-made pork scratchings, sausages and coconut crab cakes; and one on Sunday night dishes, such as Toad in the Hole, meatloaf and her very own version of Heinz tomato soup.
It's a testament to how much we've learned to trust her that I'm looking forward to trying peanut butter humous, pasta with Marmite and Guiness gingerbread, rather than just being scared. And the book as a whole is really charming, modest and whimsical: the nicest Nigella book yet.