Feast: Food to Celebrate Life

Feast: Food to Celebrate Life

by Nigella Lawson
     
 

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Nigella Lawson, Gourmet magazine's "It Girl," New York Times "Dining In" columnist, and bestselling cookbook author, is celebrating life—and you're invited.

Feast, Nigella's most festive book yet, offers savory, spicy, and delicious recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Eid, New Year's, Passover, Easter gatherings, and any time

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Overview

Nigella Lawson, Gourmet magazine's "It Girl," New York Times "Dining In" columnist, and bestselling cookbook author, is celebrating life—and you're invited.

Feast, Nigella's most festive book yet, offers savory, spicy, and delicious recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Eid, New Year's, Passover, Easter gatherings, and any time you want to celebrate food and life. This book is filled with festive recipes, and in it, Nigella offers tips, tricks, and shortcuts that will ensure you dine with ease, style, and fun. Feast also includes some surprising gems, like Nigella's Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame, and her best cheeseburger. And like her other cookbooks, Feast is a cookbook that will be treasured all year long.

Editorial Reviews

Korby Cummer
Lawson is always full of good sense, but she strikes me as exceptionally sensible in her chapter on cooking for children.
The New York Times
Wine News
The genius on display here is the exotic combination of irony, joie de vivre, curiosity and nurturing.
Publishers Weekly
"Cooking has many functions, and only one of them is about feeding people," writes Lawson in a cookbook that makes the preparation of Thanksgiving, Christmas and other feasts seem so approachable and richly rewarding that it may coax even hardcore cynics or cowards to give roast turkey with all the trimmings a try. For starters, there is Lawson's star quality. "When we go into a kitchen, indeed when we even just think about going into a kitchen, we are both creating and responding to an idea we hold about ourselves, about what kind of person we wish to be." The person that Lawson has demonstrated a wish to be while cooking on her TV show Nigella Bites and in her cookbooks (How to Be a Domestic Goddess, etc.) is a woman in full, alive in body and mind. Lawson has always playfully gloried in the erotic possibilities of cooking. She has always proclaimed herself an eater rather than a chef, but what she is really is a marvelous, funny food writer for our pressured times. She knows exactly how to balance her relish of the earthy with just the right twist of smarty-pants, Oxford-inflected wit. Explaining, for example, why she now chooses to bake stuffing in a terrine, she hastens to note that while she is "perfectly happy with my arm up a goose as I ram it with compacted sauerkraut, or whatever the occasion demands, I find turkey-wrangling just one psycho-step too far. The bird is too heavy, the cavity too small, and the job is just too tragi-comic to be managed alone and after all that Christmas wrapping, too." Lawson knows how to make her readers fall in love (or at least in lust) with her. Readers will come away from this book with a sense of what she thinks is worth loving. Along with her recipes for Christmas pudding or her "amplification" of her mother's green beans (involving "vicious amounts of lemon"), Lawson teaches what is primal and timeless about feasting. "I am not someone who believes that life is sacred, but I know it is very precious," she writes in a final section about funeral feasts that describes Mormon potatoes and Jewish eggs, comfort food to remind the bereaved "that life goes on, that living is important." She ends the book with Rosemary Remembrance Cake in honor of her grandmother Rosemary (and anybody else who happens to have read Shakespeare and knows that rosemary is for remembrance). Lawson shows that creating a feast doesn't just nourish the body and the mind-it creates an even more interesting self that also has a heart, whose function is remembering. 150 color photos. Author tour. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780676974126
Publisher:
Knopf Canada
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
7.69(w) x 9.91(h) x 1.64(d)

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 awire 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.

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