There are two fat parcels on my desk today. Yeah, aren’t birthdays great! Okay it transpires that I’ve ordered both of them myself months ago but it’s still nice to get any parcels on a birthday. They are the latest missives from Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. They both coincide with their new television programs and both contain a plethora of exciting recipes. It has been interesting seeing their new shows. Jamie has been accused in the past of showcasing his aspirational life, family and friends amongst the tasty cooking bits. Much as I love to see food tasted, savoured and enjoyed on a cooking show (I always wondered if Delia ever tastes anything she cooks, I’ve never once see her stick a finger or even the merest point of a spoon in the treat she’s just dished up and I get so annoyed when she says ‘season to taste’, I wonder how she knows because we never see her taste it.) Okay, off my soapbox now but you know what I mean and then there’s Nigella - lots of close-ups of her licking her fingers, smacking her glistening lips and positively salivating over each creation. Clearly there’s a world of difference her. The jury’s still out on her new series, I love many of the recipes but not sure if we really need to see her, getting in and out of black cabs, tucking Bruno into bed I’m sure much earlier than he actually goes to bed or even standing at a bus stop slurping her just whipped up smoothie. And I’m not sure I believe she even gets on many buses. However, it’s supposed to be about the food and I guess that’s the issue you get distracted by their lifestyle and surrounding though admittedly I do enjoy the snoop at the kitchen, the various bits of scrummy kitchen paraphernalia and table bits and pieces but I’m not so interested in the family and friends.
Now Jamie’s show was all a bit like this in the past, jumping on and off his scooter, sliding down banisters, drumming with his band of playing table football with other friends. But his new show is all about his home grown vegetables, yummy things you can whip up with them when they’ve just been picked, dug up or plucked. And the only time we see anyone other than Jamie himself is when he chews the fat and the latest delicious treat with Ben the gardener. A quick flick through the pages and these leap out at me creamy asparagus soup with a poached egg on toast, crispy and delicious asparagus and potato tart, fresh tagliatelle with sprouting broccoli and oozy cheese sauce, incredible roasted shoulder of lamb with smashed veg and greens, really very delicious and simple lamb tartare, smoked barbecued shellfish, beautiful courgette carbonara, balsamic-baked onions and potatoes with roast pork, potato salad with smoked salmon and horseradish crème fraîche, grilled strawberries with PIMM’S and vanilla ice cream, roast of incredible game birds with proper polenta, game ragù with pappardelle, pan-roasted venison with creamy baked potato and celeriac, cheat’s pappardelle with slow-braised leeks and crispy porcini pangrattato, roasted white fish and leeks and finally Italian ham and spinach tart. Phew that’s not bad for starters!
And from the fastest Nigella ever - brandied-bacony chicken, potato and mushroom gratin, steak slice with lemon and thyme, flourless chocolate brownies, oeufs en cocotte, green eggs and ham, croque monsieur bake, maple chicken ‘n’ ribs, coq au Riesling, chicken schnitzel with bacon and white wine, scallops and chorizo, instant chocolate mousse, chicken, mushroom and bacon pie, Cheddar cheese risotto, macaroni cheese, totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies, potato cakes with smoked salmon, scallops-on-the-shell, duck breasts with pomegranate and mint, glitzy chocolate puddings, buttermilk roast chicken, pea and pesto soup and linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms. So not too shabby either!I think I’ve got a lot of quality time coming up in the kitchen soon. Aren’t birthdays grand?