Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Nigella Lawson - Kitchen Cookbook Review

I'm sure many people will have bought this book already, or are getting it for Christmas (I won't tell if you've had a sly look!) It's an absolutely massive book, clocking up an impressive 512 pages. I just have to have a think of where I can house it since my shelves are rather full already. Oh well, don't think it'll stop me from buying more though! Obviously a lot of these recipes have featured in her BBC show, I've not quite caught up with my backlog. It's always good to find every recipe in the book that you've seen on TV, not always the case (Great British Bake-Off book I'm looking at you!). Nigella isn't necessarily everyone's favourite cook on screen, I know someone who can't bare to watch more than 5 minutes before he wants to kick the screen! I'm not quite so extreme in my reactions and she does make nice food, I'm just not overly enamoured with her flowery descriptions and her made-up recipe names. I can cope much more when it's a book! And this one is a very family orientated book so no over-complicated recipes.

If you can manage to lift the book you'll find chapters such as 'The cook's cure for Sunday-night-itis and The solace of stirring. There is a short introduction about what her kitchen means to her, useful items to have and a funny 'kitchen gadget hall of shame' - something a lot of people can relate to! Mini doughnut maker anyone? And I surely can't be the only one who bought a candy floss maker and used it once!

The photography is good and I'm pretty sure there's at least one picture for each recipe, huzzah!! I do like my photos! I started my trials with the Carbonnade a la Flamande, using brisket instead of shin of beef. Having had a delicious carbonnade in Brussels I knew the sauce had to be thick and rich and the meat falling apart. This recipe really delivered. It was easy to follow and the instructions were surprisingly succinct after a whole page taken up with a description of the dish. I put puy lentils in the dish to drink up some of the sauce. The sauce did need to be boiled a little after cooking to get a thicker consistency but became just right in minutes. I used Newcastle Brown Ale, that part of the supermarket confuses me so the fact that it said 'brown' and 'ale' helped me out!! I've made beef in beef before and used Belgian cherry beer which was completely delicious so I might use that again in the future. But all in all, very happy.

The second was another brisket dish, I've become slightly brisket happy after eating a yummy example from a place called Southern Eleven in the Arndale Centre in Manchester. They do the most amazing BBQ dishes, cooked for hours. Mmmmm! And pulled pork, and corn bread. Now I have a craving! So I thought I'd try to recreate it with the Texas Brisket. Sadly it wasn't to be. I was missing the liquid smoke but Nigella said this didn't matter too much. It kinda did. I ended up with a sweet onion sauce rather than anything BBQ like. It did go very well with the beef though.
It was also much thicker than I expected but I think my onion to liquid ratio was a bit off! Shame, I still haven't found my ultimate BBQ sauce recipe, the hunt goes on. Again, more lentils, saute potatoes and the ubiquitous fried cabbage!! Never gets old! So slightly less successful but still tasty.

This cookbook being mahoosive (have I mentioned the size of the book before?!) I thought I'd have to try more recipes than just 2. Next up was the Slut's Spaghetti! How cheeky! And you get a photo of Nigella eating a dish of it in her red silky dressing gown too! I'd made a pizza the night before and had some passata left so I thought this dish would be just right. Quick and simple to make. I had no black olive to hand so these were left out and I was probably a little free with the capers but I love them so that's fine. Plus my anchovy love is no secret so I'm always happy for an excuse the eat them. Very yummy indeed and going on my mental list of dishes to make when I want food quickly. Success, hurray!
Last of all was her Marmite Spaghetti. This definitely won't be for everyone but I'm a lover not a hater so it sounded great to me. Ooooooo, it was lovely and even quicker to make than the dish above. Not the healthiest of dishes, loads of butter and parmesan, but great for a quick fix and the marmite wasn't as overpowering as I thought it would be. Really happy with this.

Alas I have no photo but I tried the Sweet and Salty Crunch Nut Bars at a friend's house. Gorgeous though make too much of it and I think you'd need a second mortgage! A hell of a lot of chocolate going on but well worth it.

I like that there are little notes at the end of each recipe about making things ahead of time and also if the recipe freezes well and how long for. A lot of thought has gone into each dish and you can tell it hasn't just been tried once and then bunged in the book. There's inspiration for different occasions, Scallops with Thai-scented Pea Puree could easily be served at a dinner party, so it isn't all family-style cooking. Nice ideas for party food too - could be good for a little event coming up this week!

Next I want to make Churros and her Dragon Chicken among many other. Oh, and in the photo for her Lone Linguine with White Truffle Oil she has the same plates as us!! Rock on Blue Denmark!

Happy Christmas everyone!


  1. I had a peek through this book and drooled, I have to admit. Perhaps I will get it when the budget allows. The slut spaghetti looks lovely! :)

  2. These look fantastic! What an awesome idea I can’t wait to try this!

    Thank for sharing the best recipes