With her sensual, tempting, home-cooking-made-sophisticated style, the queen of the kitchen is back with this luscious, jam-packed tome of recipes – straight from the heart of the home.
Of course, Lawson would be horrified to hear herself described as sophisticated, after all, pretension and complexity are what she openly strives to avoid. This home cook (never call her a chef!) is known for her simplicity, seasonal flavour and consummate ability to appreciate the smallest pleasures food provides. Close your eyes and listen to Lawson speak, and you will see her dishes as vividly as a watercolour painting.
But this is a book, not TV. Nevertheless, ‘viewers’ will be no less disappointed. Fundamentally a peek into her everyday kitchen happenings, what I love about this book is that I can open it, open my pantry, open the flame on my gas stove and have a delectable, quick and easy dish on the table without feeling in the least bit intimidated or ruffled by the need to head to a specialist grocer for that quintessentially elusive ingredient (that I can’t even pronounce).
The other thing I love about this book is that Lawson hears us. She knows many of us tremble at the knees at the thought of cooking something outside our standard repertoire (let alone for guests!) and she understands the need for speed, simplicity, do-ability and deliciousness that tempts the whole family, without resorting to a frozen box.
Lawson’s recipes thrive on freshness, seasonality, colour and no-fuss construction. True to her seductive verbosity, the author prefaces her book chapters and each individual recipe with meandering musings on the whys and wherefores of food preparation, ingredients and fabulous tips that make cooking a joy.
In that sense, the book is almost part-memoir – totally understandable in that the author admits the idea for this book has been simmering on her mental stove for around a decade now. And we are all the luckier for her taking it off the heat and finally cooling it in the pages of a book.
So what does Queen Nigella have bubbling away for us inside these delicious pages? Not one to conform yet engendered by pure practicality, there’s no ‘meat’ or ‘veg’ or ‘dessert’ chapters in her book. Instead there’s a Part I – Kitchen Quandries and Part II – Kitchen Comforts.
In Kitchen Quandries, we are invited to face our fears, bust the boredom and beat the clock with recipes to feed the family, rustle up something pronto, make something that maximizes the use of what’s already inhabiting our fridge, not to mention suppers from the pantry and problem-solving puddings.
In Kitchen Comforts, Lawson focuses on several meaningful elements that deeply embrace her life-affirming adoration for food and cooking. She shares with us her mother’s kitchen legacy, her love of weekend baking, the comfort of dishes that need stirring, kitchen pickings from cocktails to canapés and how she has banished the dinner party from her house forever, so she can actually enjoy cooking and company simultaneously.
Kitchen is also scattered with useful notes on making dishes ahead (hallelujah!), freezing and even what to do with leftovers. The recipe variety covers an ocean and several continents of influence and recipe instructions are peppered with the language Lawson does so well – “so they are all well coated in the sticky, savoury syrup, then serve with a comforting pile of sushi rice”…
You know it sounds good. And of course, her recipes also look good via the colourful photos that kybosh chronic over-styling and instead serve up visuals that are both beautiful and comforting. It’s an all-round package, really.
Intimate, stylish, relaxed and as embracing as a pot of baked custard, this is a book you will slip into time and time again – both for its recipes and for the adoring way the author writes and shares her obvious passions. From Indian-rubbed lamb chops to hot and sour shredded salad and grasshopper pie, Lawson continues to entice by making the everyday sensual, stunning and unquestionably delicious.