31 January 2013

Kitchen Diaries II

Title: The Kitchen Diaries II
Author: Nigel Slater
Year published: 2012
Pages: 532
Time It Took To Read: Three weeks

I have been obsessed with food and food writing since 2004. I moved in with my ex and his parents around then, and missed my mum's cooking dreadfully. My mum's cooked professionally since I was small, and always had a massive stock of food magazines and books. I started buying cookery and food books whenever I saw them. I have a fairly massive collection of them, and as I've grown older, I've grown pickier about what I buy. I've never been much of a fan of Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey. However much they scream "home cooking", it always strikes me as restaurant food. I don't want some arty farty salad or dessert full of egg whites, I want stew and traybakes. I prefer inspiration to aspiration.
Nigel Slater is my absolute favourite food writer. Nigella Lawson comes a close second, but I've never been able to get her savoury recipes to work, though her baking is sublime and ALWAYS works. The first Kitchen Diaries is probably my favourite cook book, especially when I just want some inspiration rather than instruction. So, I snapped up Kitchen Diaries II in the sales after Christmas. Nigel's writing is sensual, and greedy. He likes the same sort of food that I do, and sometimes he likes to faff about for hours making a curry, and sometimes he has a lump of cheese with some bread. My own cooking tends to veer wildly between cooking roasts, spiced noodle soup, cakes and egg and chips. I try to give my kids something proper to eat every day, and rarely resort to convenience food - fish fingers and chips being my sole freezer standby, coz my kids inexplicably don't like pizza. Oh, and peas. This isn't out of some snobbish aversion to convenience: I just like cooking and I *REALLY* like eating.

The book took me three weeks to read because I only read food/cookery books when I'm eating. If I read them at other times, I become overwhelmingly peckish and end up gorging on biscuits. It's designed to be read throughout the year, with seasonal recipes that Nigel has actually cooked and eaten, almost every day. There are a lot of recipes from Simple Suppers and Simple Cooking, as he was developing the TV shows while he was writing, though it's not a tie-in book. It's autobiographical, with lush photography and it's personal. Nigel doesn't dictate.

I've cooked two recipes so far, both for Thursday night tea for me, my boyfriend and my kids. First was beer braised sausages. I don't like sausages unless they've been braised - a hotdog is my idea of hell. So, I fried some sausages and onions up, then put them in the oven for an hour with Guinness, stock and some sugar to get it to caramelise. I served it with mashed potato and some steamed winter greens. It was the nicest thing I've eaten this year, so I'll be making it a LOT more often! Fear my food photography!

 I also made a hazelnut chocolate slice. Well, it was supposed to be a slice, but I didn't have a small enough baking tin, so I made a regular 23cm round cake. I'm quite a slapdash, sweary, messy baker. I'd be rubbish on GBBO. I messed about a bit with the quantity of hazelnuts - the original recipe had half the praline blitzed and cooked with the cake and the other half used as topping, but I just made the cake-praline. I didn't trust the kids not to choke to death on whole nuts. The praline...was a shit...I used cling film on the tray so I didn't ruin the baking tray/make the praline taste of chips, and wished I'd done the same on the spoon (ruined) and the saucepan (probably ruined). I also burned my thumb. Bloody praline! Otherwise, the cake came together nicely, even though I mixed it while holding the toddler on one hip because he'd decided me making a cake was absolutely unacceptable behaviour. The topping was a nutella buttercream, which I made with my eldest's 'help' (i.e. he shoved his face in the bowl when I'd finished mixing it, after cowering in the corner screaming about the noise the mixer makes).
Here it is, in all it's wonky glory (another reason I'll never be star baker). It is VERY hazelnutty, as you'd expect considering the whole tub of nutella in the buttercream...
Apologies for the lack of recipes. I did look to see if they're in the public domain, and they're not...so go buy the book.

Book count: 12/50

No comments:

Post a Comment