Nigella radio

I can pretty much guarantee I’ll never-ever-ever cook the ham & Cherry Coke recipe Nigella Lawson described on NPR’s Morning Edition today, but I still feel inspired hearing her go on about it.


It’s not just the accent. It’s that she shares the same heartening “everybody can and everybody should cook” philosophy that I love in Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

If you like to cook — and particularly if you’re keen on the loose art of kitchen improv — you’ll enjoy this interview. Nigella talks about using a recipe as a jumping off point for one’s own food creations. We tend to say we are “following” a recipe, but a recipe follower is just that: a follower. Not necessarily a negative thing. Following a recipe, with the intent to reproduce a dish exactly as described in print, is indeed cooking; it achieves the end goal of food on the table.

But when your intent reaches beyond the recipe — when you’re engaged in that risky and adventurous behavior of trial and error — that’s when you’re cooking well.

And that holds true even if your spontaneous broccoli pesto proves a bit too garlicky. Because, like Nigella says, that just means you know what to tweak next time around.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    them apples said,

    I, too, will never cook the cherry Coke ham thing. It sounds revolting.

    Slavishly following a recipe has helped me to produce some great meals over the years, but there are many more times where I’ve looked at a recipe and thought ‘nah, doesn’t sound right’ and gone and done something completely different.

    Take the Thai dish I’m eating right now, the remains of last night’s dinner. I heard a chef talking on the radio about the best way to use up odds and ends in the fridge. He suggested a Thai curry of assorted vegetables, coconut milk and store bought curry paste as a quick and efficient midweek supper. There’s plenty of slightly withered veg that need using up – quickly – in the fridge.

    I didn’t have any curry paste, but I found a recipe for one and used lemon instead of lime, Spanish onion instead of shallots, cayenne for heat instead of shallots and parsley instead of cilantro. The only things I had in that were really meant to be in the paste were garlic and ginger.

    The curry took a few minutes to prep and even less to cook and it tasted wonderful, a million miles away from the recipe from which it was born, but great all the same. I was strangely proud of myself!

  2. 2

    Trisha said,

    them apples: I’d be proud, too! The curry sounds wonderful!

  3. 3

    food4two said,

    Hi Trisha,

    I didn’t realise Nigella was popular in America, I guess her accent must so strange to you all. I could listen to her voice all day.
    I’m also a big fan of Nigella, everyone of her recipes that I have tried have been delicious, they never fail to please. But at the same time I always feel I can tweek with them to get the flavour I want and some recipe books I don’t feel that, because they say things like ‘it must be pink peppercorns’ (or something silly like that and you think ‘why? because you said so?’
    I definitely think I need to push myself to experiment more and listening to that radio interview has inspired me.
    Love the site
    Claire, from England
    See my blog a

  4. 4

    Trisha said,

    Claire: We do love Nigella over here! We all need a little impetus to experiment more, and it’s nice when we can count on someone as experienced and enthusiastic as she is. Thanks for stopping by! Can’t wait to check out your blog.

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