Inside the pages of Nigella Lawson’s latest cookbook At My Table ($35) — her twelfth, if you’re keeping track — you’ll find playful recipes flecked with global flavors and inspired by memorable meals she’s shared. The domestic goddess writes in the introduction,”Life is complicated; cooking doesn’t have to be,” and the 100 new recipes encourage the reader to enjoy the process of home cooking without worrying over perfection. Unlike most cookbooks, Lawson foregoes chapters. Instead she describes early on in the book that the recipes are naturally organized by time of day.
Within the recipes, her candor is rejuvenating as she writes about victory over her own personal cooking fears. For instance, in the note for a Turkish eggs recipe, she admits she has “an almost pathological fear of egg poaching.” You’ll find her confidence catching in the best possible way, almost like having a cheeky friend cheer you on in the kitchen. She may even inspire you to rethink the spiralizer, using it to make fried shoestring potatoes.
Lawson commiserates with the reader too. “One of the most gratifying things for a home cook is to scrimmage a meal together out of leftovers,” she says when opening the recipe for tomato and horseradish salad. You’ll find several traybake recipes, the British response to sheet-pan dinners, such as the chicken and pea traybake too, for those nights when you need a quick dinner solution.
Lawson’s ingredient obsessions pop up throughout the book. Preserved lemon is featured in a Brussels sprouts salad and a mint sauce spooned over lamb cutlets, the brine of which is then shaken up in a dirty lemon martini. She whizzes white miso into hummus and then rubs a whole butterflied chicken with its umami paste. Fruity Aleppo pepper, one of her “newfound enthusiasms,” tops whipped feta toasts and is sprinkled onto the roast loin of salmon. Her chopped salad recipe (below) will be your go-to during hot summer days when nothing could convince you to turn on an oven. It’s full of bright fresh flavors from the medley of herbs and crunchy vegetables tossed in a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. But save room for dessert; when you’re in a pinch, her emergency brownies (also below) make a small batch for last-minute necessity.
This is very far from the American classic, but — at least in its starting point — rather more Lebanese in style. I’ve added pomegranate seeds to the herb-flecked dice, not as a picturesque garnish, though it’s certainly true that even a garnish (and, oh, how I loathe that word) must add more than beauty, but because I feel them to be an essential ingredient here, giving crunch and tangy sweetness. I often eat this alongside the lamb kofta, but it graces any table it is brought to.
- 1 small zucchini, peeled in stripes and cut into small dice, to give scant 1 cup loosely packed
- 1/2 English cucumber, peeled in stripes, seeded and cut into small dice, to give 1 cup loosely packed
- 4 scallions, white and pale green part only, thinly sliced
- 4 regular-sized tomatoes, seeded and cut into small dice, to give scant 1 ¼ cups loosely packed
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- large bunch of Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped, to give 4 cups loosely packed
1. Put everything except for the parsley into a large mixing bowl and toss together very well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Add the parsley, toss again until everything is a beautiful jumble, and serve immediately.
(Serves 2 generous squares or 4 more modest rectangles)
This is for those times you urgently need a brownie, but don’t want to make – or, rather, can’t justify making – a whole batch. This recipe makes two (four if needs be) fudgy brownies to be snaffled straight from the pan. And they can be turned into glorious sundaes: squodge into glasses with ice cream, pour a little maple syrup over, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. It is worth keeping takeout aluminum foil pans in the house just to make these. Take my word for it, it will be a frequent occurrence.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon maple or light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips, dark or milk, as wished
- 1 (7 x 4 x 2 inches) aluminum foil pan
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the butter, sugar, and maple or light corn syrup into a small heavy-based saucepan and gently warm, stirring once or twice, until the butter’s melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
2. Fork together the flour, cocoa, and salt to mix, then beat into the butter and sugar pan with a wooden spoon or spatula until smoothly combined.
3. Whisk the egg with the vanilla – just casually, by hand – then stir into the pan, giving a final little whisk, if needed, to make sure everything’s mixed together thoroughly, before folding in the nuts and chocolate chips. Pour and scrape this nubbly brownie batter into an aluminum foil pan measuring approximately 7 x 4 x 2 inches. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until it is beginning to come away at the sides and the top has dried a little just around the edges.
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(Recipes and photos excerpted from the book At My Table by Nigella Lawson. Copyright © 2018 by Nigella Lawson. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Jonathan Lovekin. Photo of Nigella Lawson by David Ellis.)