A pinch of this, a “splosh” of that, and “hey, presto!”, a delectable dish appears from thin air. only Nigella Lawson, the UK’s most influential food writer and self-anointed “domestic goddess”, could possibly whip up something so miraculous with a jar of marmite and a fistful of spaghetti.
of course, her new series Nigella: Kitchen has much more to offer than just minor miracles; it’s a cooking philosophy that she says will help you achieve “maximum flavour for minimum effort”.
As a busy mother of two, Nigella understands it’s all about beating the clock. But she also knows there’s something infinitely satisfying about delivering a no-fuss feast your family will love.
“The joys of food are so great that I really do believe that those who cannot allow themselves to wallow in them have lesser lives,” she recently declared in the Daily Mail. And it’s this joie de vivre that underpins her efforts in this new series. From a no-effort seafood roast, to instant orange and blackberry trifle, or even the rather racy “slut’s spaghetti” – Nigella’s take on the traditional Italian puttanesca (the literal translation is whore’s spaghetti) that substitutes fresh chillies for bottled jalapeños – everything is fast, fabulous and full of flavour. But best of all, there’s no need to feel ashamed of this hassle-free approach.
“I don’t feel guilty that I make my ‘slut’s spaghetti’ more or less by opening a few jars; indeed, I revel in it,” she says.
But Nigella: Kitchen seeks to bring viewers something more than just quick recipes that inspire, it also ushers in a whole new attitude to the place she calls “the heart of the home”. Instead of a domain of drudgery, Nigella illuminates the kitchen for what it truly is, a welcoming place you’ll want spend time in. “The kitchen is my favoured
space,” she says, “my messy haven and ramshackle sanctuary.”
However, it’s not always a quiet room – frequently it’s under siege by ravenous, rumbling tummies. Nigella’s solution? she keeps an arsenal of short cut recipes on hand that will feed the troops at a moment’s notice. There’s crustless pizza and small pasta with salami for the kids, while the grown-ups get to enjoy the delights of do-it-yourself chicken fajitas.
For the budget conscious there are also plenty of surprises in store. Instead of throwing out those old veggies in the crisper, why not transform them into a south Indian vegetable curry feast? Forget about tossing that stale loaf, you can transform it into a to-die-for chocolate chip bread pudding. And have you ever considered buying those cheaper cuts of meat like pork knuckles but didn’t know what to do with them? Nigella knows – braise them in beer and serve them up with apples and potatoes. Yummo!
And if you’ve been craving a vacation but are lacking the funds, why not become a “Kitchen Tourist”? Whether you’re hankering for exotic Asia, mouthwatering Italy or saucy Spain, a holiday for the tastebuds is on its way with Venetian carrot cake smothered with rum mascarpone, cheeky churros with a drool-worthy chocolate dipping sauce, and a lip-smackingly good chicken teriyaki with noodles and sugar snap peas that’s definitely not lost in translation.
Aside from the clever and innovative recipes, the real draw card of this series is the witty, and endearing Nigella, who explains the rewards of the kitchen best in her tasty tome Forever Summer.
“Cooking is not just about applying heat, procedure, method, but about transformation of a more intimate kind; none of us cooks without bringing our own character to bear on the food in front of us.”
This article first appeared in FOXTEL magazine, November 2010