Monday, May 21, 2007

Breakfast At Nigella's

Nigella Feasts with Nigella Lawson
Breakfast All Hours
Raspberry and Oatmeal Swirls
Boiled Egg and Toast
Chocolate and Peanut Granola
Bacon and Tomato Hash

To get the recipes:

It's not a bad idea to have the closed-captioning on when watching Nigella. She is by far the most articulate and well-spoken of all of our television chef/hosts, but her rapid-fire patois is sometimes a bit challenging for a lowly American to follow.

This episode is not a particularly challenging one. In fact, it seems like it's bits and pieces of previous shows combined to come up with a "new" show. But with Nigella's overabundance of charm, she pulled it all together.
She begins by poetically explaining that whether breakfast is a quick snack or leisurely affair, "it is a celebration of being alive." With all the loss she's suffered, she certainly has a right to remind us of that.

Nigella's own favorite breakfast is a precisely cooked egg, served with soldiers of buttered toast. She starts with a room temperature organic egg. The recipe goes into great detail, including specifying its country of origin (Italian). The salt must be just so (Maldon) and the bread from Poilane. Well, if you start with ingredients like that, you're bound to get a perfect breakfast. I guess that's the point - use only the best and the outcome is fairly assured...EXCEPT, if you mis-cook the egg. As Nigella says, the only thing that comes close to the disappointment experienced by a badly cooked egg is a not-warm-enough bath.

Next we see her shopping for granola ingredients. Oats, natural peanuts, applesauce...Wait, can't she make her own applesauce? It takes literally 3 minutes to cook a few apples in the microwave with lots of cinnamon and no sugar. Oh well, it's Nigella and she's busy choosing fancy frocks and attending to her lustrous curls.

Back in the kitchen, she puts together a granola of many other interesting ingredients. She adds cocoa...I have never added cocoa to my granola, but it is an intriguing idea. Here are the other ingredients: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground ginger and cinnamon, honey, sugar AND brown rice syrup (yes, she tells us with a heavy sigh, from a health food store.) She stirs everything together and bakes it until it turns into a kind of brittle. She fills it into a BIG jar and tells us that it lasts a good week.

Oh good, she's on to the cheesecakelets, even if they're not good, I just love the name. She's going to use cottage cheese, which reminds her of her Granny's cheesecake. She starts by macerating strawberries in a bit of balsamic vinegar and sugar - just a touch. She loves this mixture, which gives them "a burnished glow and ruby glaze". She separates 3 eggs and adds sugar to the yolks along with vanilla, the cottage cheese and flour. There are no other rising agents in the mixture, except the egg whites, she says.

She foams the eggs with a whisk. In a fairly self-deprecating aside, she says, "You wouldn't want to be doing this in a sleeveless dress, though". She folds the whites into the cottage cheese mixture. "Don't be afraid of egg whites, you're the boss." She puts spoonfuls of the batter on a hot griddle,

and cooks them for one minute on the first side and until browned on the second side. She "squidges" on a little of the macerated fruit and serves them. "Cheesecakelets for my little baby cakelets." She does love her young ones, our Nigella.

I'm not entirely sure why next she shows us individually wrapped sausages and bacon slices in the freezer. I guess she's proud of them.

For the next dish, she blends 2 cups of frozen raspberries in the blender. She tells us "frozen red confetti" is the result. She adds a bit of powdered sugar and blends again. She ends up with a luscious and vibrant raspberry sorbet looking mixture.

She bashes a few oatmeal cookies with a rolling pin. She spoons a bit of the raspberry puree in the bottom of tallish glasses,

then adds DELICIOUS Greek yogurt, which at 300 calories a cup SHOULD BE DELICIOUS
, then a layer of cookie crumbs and so on. It looks pretty awesome, but why didn't she use that beautiful cocoa granola?

Next scene is Nigella waltzing into the kitchen in her ballgown.

She puts oil in pan...bacon goes in and earrings come off. It's time for serious cooking! She chops tomatoes and yes, she's still in her gown (but, to be fair, it IS black). She slices bread and chops parsley, a lot of parsley. She takes the bacon out and adds the tomatoes, which give off such a sizzle that they must have gotten her dress. Unperturbed, she throws in a bit of Worchestershire sauce, swirls it around, and adds back the bacon. She pours the whole thing on a plate, garnishes it with prodigious amounts of parsley, black pepper and chili sauce and dips her bread in very happily.

Now let's get real about WHY she presented this recipe. Number one it is obviously an often-made recipe necessary to mop up the excess alcohol in her system. Number Two, and I'm not saying the bacon didn't look good,

it gave her an excuse to appear in her gloriously glamorous ball gown. To be honest, would we really be interested in watching Marge Simpson sop up a plate of oily bacon and tomatoes? I don't think so.

Let's get real about Nigella's appeal. She is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. On top of that, she has such a turn of phrase that we lowly Americans could listen to her forever AND she's not a bad cook. We get all of that and so much more with Nigella.

In the same vein, I guess we should be grateful that Giada is such a darn good cook, because she really doesn't have to be. Does that make us shallow people? Maybe, but they say that even babies are attracted to pleasant faces, so I guess it's just instinct. And I'll keep watching, even if I already know how to boil an egg.

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