I love a summer vacation, and this summer, I am ensuring I have no shortage of these little respites. My first this season was to visit friends and family on the west coast. While I still had a couple weeks of teaching left, I hauled my laptop with me and made sure that I only worked when necessary, the rest of my break reserved for wine tasting, reading and relaxing.
During my time on Vashon Island visiting my friend Carolyn, I partook in the indulgence of reading several of her cookbooks. One never has time or thinks of reading them-- reaching for them only when it's time to plan a meal or make dinner. But for me, there are few relaxations so satisfying as reading through a culinary tome cover to cover. Carolyn's collection showed preference for a few particular writers, Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson. After reading several of each gourmaven's works, I found myself drawn to Lawson's books the most. Her writing style is so charming, and her recipes draw you in with their quirky word choices and sumptuous descriptions. I snapped pictures of my favorite recipes from Nigella Bites, Nigella Express, and Feast. But as I packed up to head home from my journey, I realized these semi-illegal (fair use, I hope??) photo-ops would not be enough for me, the insuperable cookbook collector. So I ordered and quick-shipped a book from the beloved domestic goddess that would arrive just in time for my summer break: Simply Nigella. I've been cooking from it lots in the last week, and I've been truly waiting to have one of the recipes not turn out well...but it's yet to happen. (There's a Lemon Pavlova in the oven at the moment, though...so perhaps this will be it.)
Here are a few highlights:
Avocado and Cucumber Salad
Chicken and Wild Rice
Simple Roasted Radishes
What I'm most enjoying about with Nigella's recipes is that they are accurate. Maybe she and I have the same stove (doubtful), or maybe we have the same oven? In any case, I have found that following her directions to the T makes everything come out like it looks in her delightful pictures. For example, when she indicates one should beat egg whites into satiny peaks...they do in fact look a bit like satin that has ripples in it. And when the recipe says to add the eggs one at a time to the hash and cook for 5 more minutes, that is truly when the eggs are ready and at their best for gooey, runny dipping with the potatoes.
While I have some time on my hands (trying to actually take a hard-earned summer break this year), I have a bevy of recipes that I'd like to try. Between bouts of lakeside relaxing, that is. Cheers.