Kitchen – Recipes From The Heart
Of The Home
By Nigella Lawson
Chatto & Windus – £26.00
As hefty as it is homely, the 471 pages of Kitchen – Recipes From The Heart Of The Home really are a colourful invitation to make the most of our collective kitchens. With a variety of recipes that’ll tempt even the most cynical of cuisine cynics, the ideas themselves – such as the brave albeit flawless paragon of some fried gnocchi on page 68 – are enough to send veritable taste-bud sluts into regal raptures of celebration – like that of my partner, who not only discovered it, but has been running, cooking and toying with the idea ever since.
At the outset of the second section ‘Hurry Up, I’m Hungry,’ Lawson states in a surprisingly down to earth manner (which suggests she’s either got a good editor, a good head on her shoulders, a good history of common sense, or, as is probably the case, a sensible mixture of all three): ‘’It often seems tauntingly unfair that the occasions on which we need most urgent succour from food, tend to be those when we have the least amount of time to cook it. In the middle of a working week, when chores pile up, and the demands of my own deadlines and my children’s […] eat through the hours, and stress levels could be measured on a Geiger counter, I need to be sure that I can get food on the table before blood sugar turns what is already a tense time into a traumatic one. I know I sound on the edge of hysteria here – or simply exaggerating for dramatic effect – when I say that going for too long without food can make me feel both suicidal and murderous […]. Accordingly, I have a pre-emptive strategy to avoid just such an unwelcome eventuality: namely, the recipes in this chapter.’’
Immediately opposite, are twelve, colour photographs of the most enticing and sumptuous of (relatively simple) meals, which wholeheartedly substantiate her words. Two of which, Tarragon Chicken and Speedy Scaloppine with rapid roastini, most definitely fall within her paradigm ‘’near instant gratification.’’
Tasty, delicate, light, yet easy to make, both meals are highly recommended – even if only to impress ones’ mates after the pub. The latter especially, which, as mentioned above, includes fried gnocchi: ‘’I had, in the small hours, one of my bathetic revelations that if I fried some gnocchi, they might turn out like my Express potatoes. I mentioned the idea around and was met with, at best polite, grimaces. I insisted, tried it out, and luxuriated in how right I was. These are crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and totally scrumptious […].’’
Indeed, they truly are, as our luxuriating (by default) on a number of occasions, has continued to prove!
Moreover, apart from a menagerie of terrific, mouth-watering meals, there are further sections herein, which are more than helpful. ‘Kitchen Caboodle’ and ‘Kitchen Confidential’ at the beginning of the book, being prime examples.
The introduction of the former, resoundingly underlines the aforementioned good head on shoulders scenario: ‘’[…] cookery books used to contain counsel called, according to the French classical tradition, ‘’batterie de cuisine,’’ in other words, a slightly panic-inducing list of all those pieces of kit and equipment that any cook worthy of the title should own. Don’t worry, I shan’t be visiting that kind of finger-wagging bossiness on you. I mean, really: how much or how little you buy for your kitchen is up to you. And even then, no one has a free rein. There are likely to be constraints before you even start: budget being one, space another.’’
Thus, before one even embarks upon the actual cooking, and gets remotely involved with Lawson’s logic, one is immediately put at ease.
Like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson knows how to address her audience and readership, and Kitchen – Recipes from the Heart of the Home is the perfect example of this. To further clarify the sensibility of her work ethic, Lawson also includes very helpful information on how long certain dishes can be kept, and how long things can be frozen for – which in itself, is particularly helpful.
In parallel with its author, this is an attractive, altogether ‘’compendious, informative and engaging’’ book, which will no doubt, readily appeal to all those of the rather adventurous and more gregarious, gastronomical persuasion. Replete with resoundingly fab photography and an easy on the eye layout/design, it’ll probably end up being the sort of cookbook to which one will refer time and again – as we already have.