I object to men called Nigel. Isn’t that ridiculous? I am Nigel-ist. Nigel-phobic. Bloody stupid. I mean really what’s a girl to do if she meets the man of her dreams and he turns out to be called Nigel? Run I say. As fast as you can.
Unless my dears, we are talking about Nigel Slater in which case I suggest wrapping up in something cosy and watching this wonderful man cook something scrumptiously comforting…
Nigel Slater how I love your Kitchen Diaries.
This is a cookbook like no other. An intimate day by day description of every meal he ate in a year. A gorgeous memoir of changing seasons, personal moods, and the sheer bliss of combining food in your fridge with whatever is available at the Farmers Market that week.
One foody friend described it as "her Simple Abundance". No higher praise, I think, could be bestowed upon this lovely book, particuarly when Nigel is not only a fabulous cook but a writer as casually gifted as this…
Still haven’t made the vegetable soup I promised to make almost a week ago to clear out the vegetable rack. And now, when there is every opportunity to make a pan of creamy parsnip and carrot soup, I am distracted by half a dozen of the most meltingly ripe tomatoes on the vine, their skins ready to burst with juice. I slice them thickly, then toss them with black olives and pieces of thick toast torn into chunks and drizzled with unfiltered olive oil. No basil, no garlic, no seasoning; just the peppery rush of thick, green oil, ripe tomatoes and black-edged toast.
My local cheese shop has an entire shelf of blue cheeses: bleu de Gex, Fourme d’Ambert, two types of Gorgonzola, Colston Bassett Stilton, Cashel Blue, Picos, Beenleigh Blue and three types of Roquefort. I decide on a thick piece of Roquefort biologique. Later, three of us settle down to a salad of raw apple, spinach leaves, toasted walnuts and crumbled Roquefort. The dressing is little more than olive oil, walnut oil and lemon juice. We make it more substantial by putting long, thin slices of toasted baguette on the side, each one, as it came from the toaster, drizzled with some of the salad dressing.
Afterwards we eat crumble made with some late, dark red plums. For a change I put coarsely ground hazelnuts in the crumble and chopped ones on top.
A sweet salad dressing sometimes hits the spot when there is an autumnal dampness in the air. To a standard olive oil and lemon dressing, I add a little grain mustard and some runny honey. Even a fairly basic green salad can take on a pleasing smoothness here. But when you use such a dressing on the leaves of bitter radicchio, frisee, watercress or rocket, the whole thing really comes to life. Add a few large chunks of grilled bread and some walnut oil and you have a feast.
The tarragon plant has finally given up the ghost. Since I am unable to I keep a plant for more than a single season, the harvesting of the last | stems of curling leaves has become an annual event. This year they will be roughly chopped and used to flavour a crumb coating for pearlised flakes of haddock. Few fillets are as moist or meaty. We eat this with piles of lightly steamed rainbow chard, the leaves added to the pot only when the stalks have reached tenderness.
Gorgeous. And existing to prove that while we may not have the time or expertise for cordon bleu suppers every evening, with a little thought, life doesn’t have to be all frozen chips either.
Fall in love with food how it should be.