Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Nigella Lawson's Kitchen

Recipes from the Heart of the Home
Nigella Lawson
Hardcover, 512 pages

The Domestic Goddess is back, just in time for the holidays, with a delicious book about the most wonderful room in the house - the Kitchen! Nigella's books are always such a divine pleasure as, not only are they packed with delicious recipes, but her playful and elegant writing style will have you taking the book to bed to read as a novel.

Kitchen, as you might imagine, delves deep into the heart of the home. In the introduction, Nigella shares "What the kitchen means to me, and why I live in it". She then goes into Kitchen Caboodle, The items and equipment that make my life easier, and Kitchen Confidential, Tips, shortcuts and habits either inherited or acquired during the course of a cooking life.

The book includes 190 recipes, including over 60 of Nigella's signature express-style dishes, which can be made in under half an hour, and lots of full-colour photographs. Many of the recipes also include detailed instructions and ideas to Make leftovers right - I love that!

As is her style, Nigella includes everything from savoury to sweet, small plates to larger gatherings.

Here's what we tried out in the KitchenPuppy test kitchen:

The Egg and Bacon Salad  from Hurry Up, I'm Hungry in the Kitchen Quandaries chapter. What a glorious idea for a salad, everyone loves bacon and eggs and the tart Dijon dressing pairs perfectly with the rich bacon and eggs and bitter greens. This was a definite family pleaser.

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes from the Easy Does It chapter of the Kitchen Quandaries section. A delicious meal that is so simple to put together. Everything goes on a tray and is baked together so that the components all flavour each other gloriously. Brilliant. 

Spanish chicken with chorizo and potatoes
From Kitchen by Nigella Lawson

Much as I love to have a pan bubbling away on the stove, I often feel that the most stressfree way to feed people is by taking the oven route. When I’m frazzled, I firmly believe that the tray-bake is the safest way to go. Enjoy the easefulness of the oven: you just bung everything in, and you’re done. I think I’d go to the supreme effort of laying on a green salad as well but, other than that, you may kick up your flamenco heels and enjoy the fiesta.

Serves 6
2 x 15ml tablespoons regular olive oil
12 chicken thighs (bone in, with skin)
750g chorizo sausages, whole if baby ones, or cut into 4cm chunks if regular-sized
1kg new potatoes, halved
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
grated zest 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Put the oil in the bottom of 2 shallow roasting tins, 1 tablespoon in each. Rub the skin of the chicken in the oil, then turn skin-side up, 6 pieces in each tin.

Divide the chorizo sausages and the new potatoes between the 2 tins. Sprinkle the onion and the oregano over, then grate the orange zest over the contents of the 2 tins.

Cook for 1 hour, but after 30 minutes, swap the top tray with the bottom tray in the oven and baste the contents with the orange-coloured juices.

Making leftovers right
chicken tortillas
You can reheat what remains (removing the bones from the chicken first) within 2 days, maybe with some canned chopped tomatoes, sherry and orange juice, but my absolute favourite final destination for this dish is a quesadilla. When I was last in Kansas, that shining city of lights, I breakfasted on a chicken, pepperjack and potato quesadilla (as one does) and it inspired me. So, just get as many soft flour tortillas as your leftovers command, take the bones out of the chicken, dice the meat along with the chorizo and potatoes, and stir in some diced, shredded or grated cheese (Cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, all are possible), dollop some of the mixture into each tortilla, fold, then griddle or fry. Make sure the chicken is piping hot. This makes for a splendid hangover-banishing breakfast or nearinstant supper, the sort you chow down on while watching something compellingly bad on TV.

Excerpted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson Copyright © 2010 by Nigella Lawson. Photo Copyright © 2010 by Lis Parsons. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Of course Nigella is the queen of making things as simple as possible, without sacrificing comfort and flavour. We had to try this No-Churn Piña Colada Ice Cream from the My Sweet Solution chapter of the Kitchen Quandaries section, for the name alone. Malibu rum, rich cream, lime juice and fragrant coconut make this a delightful way to end an evening with friends.

And I am always a sucker for condiments, this Spiced Pumpkin Chutney, from A Dream of Hearth and Home, in the Kitchen Comforts section, immediately caught my eye. It tastes as it sounds, gloriously like autumn. And would be perfect with turkey dinner or even a cheese platter.

This is Nigella's eighth book; How to Eat, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Bites, Forever Summer, Feast, Nigella Express and Nigella Christmas have all become well-deserved bestsellers and Kitchen deserves pride of place with them.

Added - Do you want a chance to win a copy of Nigella Lawson's Kitchen? Of course you do! Check out this fun kitchen gadget survey for your chance to win. Contest open until the end of November. (Canadian)