Nigella and ISunday, October 31, 2010
Schnecken - You'll be cleaning you teeth with a jack-hammer for a week after these
Nigella and I go back a long way. While we’ve never met, I’d like to think that we would get on like a house on fire. At first I wasn’t sure. She appeared to be just a well dressed cook who had trouble keeping her fingers out of the food. I promptly changed my mind while honey mooning. I found a copy of How to Cook while waiting for my dearest to return with a coffee. For a book with no pictures, it certainly makes you hungry. I’m pretty excited to hear that there is a new one and even a new series on the TV. Please don’t call on Tuesday nights, the phone will be off the hook.
Despite keeping the books tucked away with my recipes, I’m not sure you could call them recipe books. These are the first cook books I have regularly sought out just to read. I seek them with imagination and time to spare. If I wanted a plain, no fuss recipe, I’d be looking elsewhere, perhaps in the Edmond’s. When I finish reading, I’m often left in awe and wonder, daydreaming of fantastic feasts. I’m fully equipped with the knowledge of exactly what I would do if my local Pak’n’Save started stocking the more exotic ingredients – golden icing sugar for burnt butter cupcakes, Maple essence for autumnal cake. I don’t always immediately cook after reading them but the inspiration does stick.
The recipes throughout the books on my shelf (How to Eat, How to be a Domestic Goddess and Nigella Bites) have largely been met with success. All apart from the liver and dried apricot baby food that is. The fact that I was convinced my kids would eat something I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole is more of a testament to her writing than my children’s taste.
I can’t begrudge her the fingers in the mix either. I am convinced that this is how she and her culinary team, tweak their recipes. This is based purely on the fact that the mixes taste so good. When I tried to make the Danish pastries I swear I could have devoured all the pastry before the second rising. However, I am not about to taste the meatballs as i roll them to check if the same holds true there.
On the other hand, some recipes have proven to be too sweet for me. If Nigella and I were to play chicken with spoons of sugar, she’d win. I’ll just have one molten baby-cake, thank-you and just the tiniest morsel of the peanut chocolate slice. Don’t get me started on the cleanup from making schnecken – my teeth, the oven, the dishes all covered in delicious walnut flavoured toffee.
The recipes are to be savoured, read over and anticipated. If you want quick, this is not the place to look (though, might I suggest the baby bundt cakes?). They all deserve the time and attention that they demand. It would be sacriledge to go all Julie and Julia on them. I’m sure someone has tried. Me, I’m just content with my books and looking forward to the next one.
* If you're looking for the schnecken recipe try here