Feast: Food That Celebrates Life

Overview

Feast is written to stand alongside Nigella’s classic and best loved book, How to Eat. Comprehensive and informed, this stunning new book will be equally at home in the kitchen or on the bedside table.

A feast for both the eyes and the senses, written with Nigella Lawson’s characteristic flair and passion, Feast: Food that Celebrates Life is a major book in the style of her classic How to Eat, applying Nigella’s “Pleasures and Principles of ...

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Overview

Feast is written to stand alongside Nigella’s classic and best loved book, How to Eat. Comprehensive and informed, this stunning new book will be equally at home in the kitchen or on the bedside table.

A feast for both the eyes and the senses, written with Nigella Lawson’s characteristic flair and passion, Feast: Food that Celebrates Life is a major book in the style of her classic How to Eat, applying Nigella’s “Pleasures and Principles of Good Food” to the celebrations and special occasions of life.

Essentially about families and food, about public holidays and private passions, about how to celebrate the big occasions and the small everyday pleasures — those times when food is more than just fuel — Feast takes us through Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays, to Passover and a special Sardinian Easter; from that first breakfast together to a meal fit for the in-laws; from seasonal banquets of strawberries or chestnuts to the ultimate chocolate cake; from food for cheering up the “Unhappy Hour” to funeral baked-meats; from a Georgian feast to a love-fest; from Nigella’s all-time favourite dish to a final New Year fast.

Evocative, gorgeous, refreshingly uncomplicated and full of ideas, Feast proclaims Nigella’s love of life and great food with which to celebrate it. Packed with over 200 recipes from all over the world — and from near home — with helpful menus for whole meals, and more than 120 colour photographs, Feast is destined to become a classic.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Nigella’s] fifth book is the best since her first. As [did] How to Eat this book appeals to both the cook and the reader. Nigella’s feasts range from a funeral reception to a Passover seder always using tempting yet simple dishes."
—the cookbook store

"Impressive battle plans for grand dinners and family celebrations."
Maclean’s

"Britain’s resident sultry queen of the kitchen."
Flare

"Britain’s finger-licking domestic goddess has morphed into a holiday deity with her latest cookbook, emphasizing that feasts for friends and family don’t have to be daunting."
The Chronicle Herald (Halifax) [Canadian Press]

"She’s funny and sexy, her food looks amazing and her blasé manner convinces even the most determined of kitchen loathers that cooking isn’t drudgery but something to be enjoyed. . . . The writing is witty, crisp and casual. . . .The photography is gorgeous in its simplicity and homeyness."
The Chronicle Herald (Halifax)

"A 472-page cookbook that features sumptuous recipes that honour the small everyday pleasures of life, as well as customary rites of passage."
The Leader Post (Regina)

"Like her other books, [Feast] is full of recipes both casual and fanciful, stunning photography and her endearing style of writing that’ll keep you happily reading for hours and inspire confidence in even the clumsiest of cooks."
The Hamilton Spectator

"Feast is simply the cream of the crop of holiday cookbooks."
Metro (Toronto)

"This book is as luscious and extravagant as the diva herself."
National Post

"It’s beauty and the feast. . . . Lawson’s recipes are straightforward, never pretentious and easy to follow. . . . What’s neat about her books is her smart, sassy presence, guiding you through the cooking process."
The Standard (St. Catharines)

"A gem of a thick, fat book brimming with Nigella-isms."
The Toronto Sun

"A great sense of place and occasion in a recipe book... Nigella is a very talented and evocative food writer."
Time Out (UK)

"Nigella has become the idealised home maker de nos jours, the domestic cook we would all like to aspire to be, Mrs Beaton cum Constance Spry cum Jane Grigson cum Caroline Conran. Her recipes are rich and motherly and sustaining and sexy, just as she is. The finished dishes gleam up from the photographs, not artful, glossy and precise as if they had been made by a team of home economists and food stylists, but artless, homely and natural, as they would appear in our own kitchens…. Feast, like so much of Lawson’s work, is a voluptuous and delicious piece of food writing…. This is the kind of food we can dream of cooking."
The Guardian (UK)

Praise for How to Eat:
“Her prose is as nourishing as her recipes and makes How to Eat a book that should please mere readers as well as serious cooks and happy omnivores.”
—Salman Rushdie

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780676974133
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson is the author of four previous bestselling books, How to Eat, How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Bites and Forever Summer, which together with various successful television series have made hers a household name in several continents. She is a contributor to the New York Times and writes regularly for other publications. She has two children and is married to advertising tycoon and art collector, Charles Saatchi.

Biography

Nigella Lawson is perhaps the most marketable TV chef yet: She's model-gorgeous but not skinny, reverent without being ceremonious, a mom with some personal tragedy in her past, and a woman who takes obvious pleasure in her own recipes. Men like her because she's easy on the eyes; women identify with her pragmatism and lack of pretension.

Lawson, who is the first to point out that she is not a professional chef, favors the hands-on approach to food, literally -- if there's a point where plunging one's hands in the dish will work just as well as anything else in the preparing, she's not going to get food-safetyish about it. Her tactics are not just about ease. She wants people to appreciate food's sensual and pleasure-giving qualities more than to achieve culinary greatness. Her stated motto: "To achieve maximum pleasure through minimum effort." Her carefree demeanor comes through most in her show, where she can be seen snacking and finger-licking her way through a recipe. Here's a pertinent citation from How to Be a Domestic Goddess: "Perhaps the greatest joy of pastry-making is that it's mud-pie time; you get floury, sticky, wholly involved. I don't mean by this that you shouldn't use any equipment.... But you still need to use your hands for that last crucial combining, the rolling, and draping into the pan, and the piecing together of your pie. Just do it."

And while Lawson isn't exactly topping her BBC predecessors Two Fat Ladies on butter and lard consumption, save for a single chapter in How to Eat, she does generally ignore calorie counts, low-fat substitutions, and other concessions to the fitness establishment. If this philosophy means venturing forth on ham baked in Coca-Cola, lamb shank stew, or chocolate fudge cake, then so be it. "If it's something I don't want to carry on eating once I'm full, then I don't want the recipe," the famously voluptuous Lawson said in a Guardian interview in 2000. "I'm quite ruthless. I have to feel that I want to cook the thing again, and more than once. I need to feel that I have to stop myself from cooking it all the time."

The table of contents of Nigella Bites -- named for the BBC-TV/Style Network show she films at her West London home -- shows that Lawson is more concerned with the everyday than with stunning parties and dinners. Categories in the book include "TV Dinners," "Trashy," and "Family Food." She is not administering advice that is going to keep you running to specialty stores or trapped in your kitchen. She does not turn up her nose at frozen peas or other store-bought ingredients. She also acknowledges that mistakes can be made and tells you how to fix them (even if that just means throwing the whole thing out). For those who just want to make something delicious without a lot of fuss, Lawson's kamikaze approach is refreshing and should keep her in our kitchens for quite some time.

Good To Know

Lawson is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, who served as Margaret Thatcher's chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lawson's husband, journalist John Diamond, passed away in 2001 after the couple had been married nearly ten years. They have two children, Cosima and Bruno. In 2002, Lawson became linked with Diamond's friend, advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi.

Lawson began her career writing the restaurant review column for Britain's The Spectator. She has also been food editor of British Vogue and had a makeup column for the U.K.'s Times magazine. She is also a staple on ABC's Good Morning America.

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    1. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 6, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Degree in Modern and Medieval Languages, Oxford University, 1979
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD

I'd never come across a chocolate gingerbread, and after making this one for the first time, I wondered why not. There's something about the glottally thickening wodge of chocolate chip and cocoa that just intensifies the rich spices of gingerbread. The chocolate chips add texture and nubbly treat within. This is very rich, very strong: not for children, but perfect for the rest of us.

Makes about 12 slabs

For the Cake:
175g unsalted butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle or molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons warm water
2 eggs
250ml milk
275g plain flour
40g cocoa
175g chocolate chips

For the Icing:
250g icing sugar
30g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cocoa
60ml ginger ale

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170° C and tear off a big piece of baking parchment to line the bottom and sides of a roasting tin of approximately 30 x 20 x 5cm deep.

In a decent-sized saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugars, golden syrup, treacle or molasses, cloves, cinnamon and ground ginger. In a cup dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the water. Take the saucepan off the heat and beat in the eggs, milk and bicarb in its water. Stir in the flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon to mix. Fold in the chocolate chips, pour into the lined tin and bake for about 45 minutes until risen and firm. It will be slightly damp underneath the set top and that's the way you want it.

Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the tin. Once cool, get on with the icing.

Sieve the icing sugar. In a heavy-based saucepan heat the butter, cocoa and ginger ale. Once the butter's melted, whisk in the icing sugar. Lift the chocolate gingerbread out of the tin and unwrap the paper. Pour over the icing just to cover the top and cut into fat slabs when set.

GEORGIAN STUFFED CHICKEN
I am never so innocently happy as when making roast chicken. This is a more work-intensive take on it, but the supreme dish for a feast: the bronze-breasted, crisp-skinned birds come to the table bursting with their sour-sweet rice stuffing. As I’ve said about turkey, in a very primitive way, the stuffing is meant to remind us of the fullness of life, which is what a feast essentially celebrates.

The rice stuffing takes on a deep savoury meatiness as it absorbs more flavour than you ever thought a chicken could have, but the only problem is you don’t get much more than a spoonful or two per person like this. You do lose some flavour, but it’s worth cooking a batch of the rice mixture in a saucepan, too, in which case use chicken stock (mine is, as ever, concentrated-instant not freshly made, though fresh organic stock from a supermarket tub would be a wonderful alternative) rather than water as you need to oomph up flavour. And when the rice in the pan is cooked, fork in a little butter as you add the parsley, sprinkling with more parsley and a few toasted pinenuts in the serving dish.

Please don’t feel this Georgian stuffed chicken must be cooked only as a part of the full-on feast. I don’t deny it’s particularly good with the beetroot and beans on pages 313 and 315, neither of which could remotely be called quick everyday recipes, but without the cheesebread and melon beforehand, this makes a fabulous weekend lunch that wouldn’t be ludicrously exhausting to make. Especially since the beetroot can be wrapped in foil and roasted the night before as you veg out in front of the TV, leaving you with a not too labour-intensive morning ahead and a lunch that’s really worth inviting people to.

As part of a feast, though, no part of this meal requires defence or apology for the work involved. A feast demands concentrated effort and there is no point embarking on one unless you take a policy decision to enjoy the bustling preparations. This may not be possible very often, but when it is, try and go with it. If you choose to cook, it can, in the right frame of mind, feel like a devotional activity, a way to celebrate being alive; if you’re forced into it, then it’s drudgery.

Serves 8

2 x 2.25kg chickens
30g soft butter

FOR THE STUFFING
60g butter (plus fat from inside the chicken cavity)
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
200g basmati rice
80g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
500ml water
4 tablespoons chopped parsley

For the stuffing, melt butter along with any gobbets of fat from the chicken’s cavity in a wide saucepan (one that has a lid). Process or finely chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pan with the butter, frying over a medium heat until the onion softens and begins to colour.

Discard bits of the rendered chicken, add the rice and chopped cherries, and give everything a good stir so that the rice becomes slicked with the fat. Add the water and a sprinkling of salt and bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid and cook at the lowest heat possible for 15 minutes. While the rice is cooking, preheat your oven to gas mark 7/220°C. When the rice is ready, by which I mean, all the water will be absorbed and the rice be more or less cooked, fork through the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the cherry-studded rice into the cavities of both chickens, and secure the openings with two or three cocktail sticks. The easiest way to do this is to pinch together the flaps of skin from each side of the cavity and make a stitch to hold them with a cocktail stick.

Rub the secured chickens with the butter and roast in the oven for 1 1/2—2 hours. The skin should be golden and crispy and the meat cooked through; test by piercing the bird between thigh and body and if juices run clear, the chicken’s ready. The reason why the chickens take longer than you would normally give them is twofold: in the first instance, the rice stuffing impedes the flow of hot air; in the second, having two birds in the oven tends to make each take longer to brown.

Pull out the cocktail sticks and let the chickens rest before carving.

From the Hardcover edition.

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