Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At My Table - Nigella Lawson

Autumn, season of celebrity biographies, big name cookbooks, and sundry other Christmas hopefuls is upon us with a vengeance. There's a few food titles I'm hoping I might get for Christmas (Ren Behan's Honey and Rye, Kate Young's The Little Library Cookbook, and Supra by Tiko Tuskadze - which has been out a little longer, and looks excellent if anyone wants to know) and others that I've bought already.

'At My Table' was an impulse purchase when I saw it half price in Waterstones*. I've been a Nigella fan since 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and love all of her earlier books. I've been less enthusiastic about the later books, but I think that's natural - Lawson is one of those bankable names who seems to be expected to produce something annually, and I'm not sure how sustainable that is - you just can't write a How to Eat, or a How to be a Domestic Goddess every damn year. 

That and personal tastes change. How I cook and eat has certainly changed a lot over the last few years. Annoying shift patterns make it far harder to prepare, plan, or make meals, than it used to be. The food my partner prefers (both to prepare and eat) is different to my first choices as well. I like his cooking, I like him cooking and me not having too, but it does change the amount of time I used to spend playing in the kitchen (but then why should I have all the fun?). 

All of which is a long winded way of saying I wasn't sure I'd like this book until I actually saw it. There are things I'd never make in here (toasted Brie and fig sandwich because I loathe Brie and am ambivalent about figs) but not many, because mostly these are exactly the sort of recipes I want at the moment. 

Chicken and pea traybake, Hake with bacon peas and cider, the herbed leg of lamb, and the no churn ice creams all look great (those were the things that caught my eye during the flick test). It's a book full of recipes that don't need to much thinking about beforehand, and which don't demand to much effort to produce - recipes that a tired person can tackle with enthusiasm on a Friday night after a long week and a very quick trip around a supermarket. Or look forward to whilst they slowly do their thing in an oven and you try and catch up on all the tedious chores that seem to make up weekends at the moment. 

It's exactly the sort of home cooking I'm after (the emergency brownies which come in small quantities sound intriguing as well, I'm not sure any brownie recipe will ever quite supplant the HtbaDG version, but that one is built on industrial lines - this one isn't.) Apparently some people have been sniffy about a whipped feta recipe, but hands up, it's not something that had ever occurred to me to do and I like the sound of it a lot. 

On the whole a great book for beginner cooks, harassed cooks, and cooks (like me) who feel they've lost a bit of their kitchen mojo and want some inspiration. 

*Why are the books everyone is likely to buy anyway always so heavily discounted? 'At My Table' has a cover price of £26, which I imagine very few people will pay. Buying it for £13, or less, makes the books listed above look unattractively expensive by comparison, and doesn't make it any easier to understand what a book actually needs to cost. 


  1. I used to like Nigella and her books but for the last several years I have cooled toward her. I suppose it had to do with the way she was portrayed on screen - all those double entendres and saucy looks at the camera. If I happen upon this one in a shop I shall have a look though. Thanks.

    1. I've been the same, and actually dislike the tv persona. It's not that she isn't an attractive woman, she is, but it all seemed a bit undignified and old hat to see her raiding the fridge in black satin. I like the look of the food in this one though, and made the Chicken with frozen peas and leeks tonight. Forgot the garlic, but it was still excellent, and just the sort of low effort but lots of green kind of thing I wanted. I wouldn't say it was as good as the early books, there's not enough in it for that, but it's just right for my current mood.