NIGELLA seems to have a knack for knowing exactly what’s needed, when. The food writer and cookbook author has always been adept at producing recipes that are grounded in nourishment, memory and comfort, and after a year like this one – when most have us have spent more time than ever before trudging in and out of our kitchens, desperately looking for something to nibble – hers is the kind of food that can make things feel a little easier; a little less overwhelming.
Cook, Eat, Repeat celebrates the small, ceaseless, every day wonders of putting together a meal, and the headspace and satisfaction to be found in doing something as simple as chopping up an onion, or breaking open a pomegranate. Here’s what we thought of it…
:: The book: Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
Who will love it? Anyone who has a whole shelf of soup-splattered, crumb-encrusted Nigella cookbooks propping up their kitchen already. Anyone who has grown sick of their own repertoire of dishes, worn thin by pandemic-induced overuse. Anyone who has developed a newfound sense of escapism in the act of cooking; whose love of it has only evolved and expanded due to being largely confined to the house over the last few months. Anyone who enjoys reading about food as much as they do eating the stuff.
:: What is it trying to get us cooking?
Nigella isn’t trying to make us do or cook anything. Instead, it’s a cookbook that unfurls with her own thoughts, ideas and feelings around ingredients. She provides possibilities, alights on ideas you can stretch and revise, depending on what you have in, and talks about individual ingredients (rhubarb, anchovies, ‘brown’ foods) imbuing them with opportunity. That said, she also caters to meat eaters and vegans alike, shares how to reuse bits of one recipe with another later on in the week, and proffers recipes fit for a banquet (spice-studded rice, toasted marshmallow and rhubarb cake) as well as for eating alone in the kitchen when everyone else has gone out (creme caramel for one, chocolate cookies, also for one).
:: How easy is it to use?
If you’re looking for a book broken down into straightforward sections: starters, mains and desserts, you will be disappointed. This is far more meandering; recipes are grouped to align with Nigella’s musings (say, ‘Much Depends On Dinner’, or, ‘Christmas comforts’), not with actual, quantifiable dinner times. But the recipes themselves are easy to digest – although they can be a tad wordy. Fortunately, Nigella writes recipes almost conversationally, as though she’s stood right beside you in the kitchen, nudging you gently along (and often apologising for causing extra washing up).
:: The best recipe is…
The Lasagne of Love looks destined to become a household staple, as does the Luscious Vegan Gingerbread; not to mention the Chicken In A Pot With Lemon and Orzo.
:: The recipe we’re most likely to post on Instagram is…
The Ruby Noodles. Bright pink strands of spaghetti, scattered with dill – how could you not?
:: The dish we’re least likely to try is…
The Roast Quinces, because although they look lovely and golden, quinces are a rare find at the supermarket.
:: Overall rating:
8/10 – the wordiness may, at times, delay you getting food on the actual table, but if you don’t mind losing yourself for an hour or so before you even pick up a knife, or switch the oven on, Cook, Eat, Repeat will sustain, encourage and cheer you.
:: Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson is published by Chatto & Windus, priced £26.