Nigella Lawson has finally written the book she’s always wanted to write. It’s a love letter to the kitchen, the place where Lawson lives and thrives. As a journalist, cook, beloved television personality, and best-selling author—she’s written Nigella Express, Nigella Fresh, Nigella Christmas, Nigella Bites, Feast, How to be a Domestic Goddess, and How to Eat—Lawson has become a culinary icon. And with her new book, Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, which debuts alongside her new Food Network show of the same name, we are offered perhaps a more intimate glimpse than ever of how this domestic diva truly feels about cooking and food.
Q: What inspired you to write Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home?
A: The kitchen itself inspired me. I spend so much time in the kitchen, and have done since I was a child, and derive so much of my sense of home from being in my kitchen in all the homes I’ve ever lived in. I really felt I wanted to honor this room that generates a feeling of comfort in all of us. Plus, I really wanted to itemize all the different ways in which the kitchen can be harnessed to our needs and demands, and celebrate the food, the real home cooking, that emanates from it.
Q: What is your favorite meal to throw together with only a moment’s notice?
A: I think it either has to be the Scallops and Thai-Scented Pea Purée, or Chorizo and Chickpea Stew with Bulgar Wheat Pilaf. The former is simply an instantly comforting but still glamorous supper, and the latter is an off-the-cuff dinner party with a lot of brio that you can throw together with ingredients kept on-hand in a store cupboard.
Q: What is your best advice for avoiding holiday stress in the kitchen?
A: Do not overstretch yourself. Write a list of everything you want to make. Walk away, have a relaxing cup of tea, then return to your list and strike half the items off your list! We all set ourselves up with too much to do in the first place, and I have trained myself to fight this ingrained habit. More is not better; “more” can be a recipe for nervous collapse!
Q: What is your favorite “dessert to save the day?”
A: My chocolate chip bread pudding—it is traditional comfort food with a deluxe twist!
Q: What are your three favorite kitchen gadgets and why?
A: My favorite and only must-have kitchen gadget is my mezzaluna—so-called because it is the Italian for “half moon” and is a curved double handed-knife—as it makes everything easy to chop. And because both hands are wrapped round the handles, you can’t cut yourself. I also cannot overemphasize how important good kitchen scissors are. And I love my kitchenAid mixer!
Q: With your emphasis on comfort food, how do you achieve a balance between satisfaction and good health?
A: I firmly believe that if you allow yourself treats, you will achieve balance and avoid bingeing. Denial can lead to over-toppling obsession!
Q: What is your philosophy in terms of adjusting classic recipes to make them more healthful?
A: I would rather not have a foodstuff than eat a modified version of it: I would rather eat something that doesn’t require cream than choose a recipe that does, and use half-fat cream instead! Anyway, I adhere to the French saying: “Everything in moderation—even moderation!”