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Nigella Bites    by Nigella Lawson order for
Nigella Bites
by Nigella Lawson
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

As she is quick to point out, Nigella Lawson is not a chef. Nor, although she has a TV series in England, is she a performer. She is instead a mother of two, who cooks for herself and recommends to others what she eats. As a career woman, of necessity, she fixes quick meals. She contends that such meals need not be bland and uninteresting. In Nigella Bites, the author gives recipes and instructions for inspired meals - full of flavor, color and comfort.

Her Orange Breakfast Muffins convinced me - lovely; also the Welsh-Rarebit Muffins. I've never had kedgeree, but I would like to try her recipe. The Apple and Blackberry Kuchen has to be a winner. I have my own recipe for Salmon Fish Cakes (which Nigella considers comfort food) but think I'd like hers more. Stovetop Rice Pudding would provide lots of comfort for me - especially if I threw in a hand full of raisins. The Chocolate Fudge Cake comes with the notation that it will serve 10 - or one broken heart!

Nigella's idea of TV dinners bears little resemblance to what is found in the frozen food section of your grocery store. Instead try Mozzarella in Carrozza; a grand version of Fried Mozarella. Linguine with Garlic Oil and Pancetta (bacon) seems elegant but easy. Bitter Orange Ice Cream begs to be tried. For parties, how about Pigs in a Blanket, Bagna Cauda for dipping veggies, and the Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts? Halloume (cheese) is certainly different and would spark up any party table with its color.

Rainy Day cooking includes Pasta with Meatballs, a vegetarian Soft and Sharp Involtini (must try this), Pasta E Fagioli, and Rainy Day Cookies. Nigella updates old recipes with success. She says, 'You can plunder the past without scorning the present.' Ham in Coca-Cola stopped me for a minute. But, hey, it's in her Trashy Foods section. Watermelon Daiquiri turned my head. But Deep Fried Candy Bars with Pineapple went overboard in my humble estimation.

The Legacy section is filled with recipes from old cookbooks, from her grandmother's kitchen diary and memories of food eaten at her mother's table. Ginger-Jam Bread and Butter Pudding would make a hit with my grandchildren as well as myself. The Suppertime suggestions look and sound wonderful - Redfish with Anchovies and Thyme served with Chick Peas with Chilies, Garlic and Thyme and both married to an Egyptian Tomato Salad that sounds divine. Finish the meal with Chocolate Pots. Friends will be vying for invites to your dinner table.

Her Slow-Cook Weekend holds more great recipes, like Peppers with Feta and Almonds or Slow Roasted Aromatic Shoulder of Pork. For Temple Food - pampering yourself - Nigella includes a hangover cure that sounds ghastly. As she says, 'What doesn't kill you will make you stronger.' I have to admit that the recipes in this section wouldn't be my first choice to perk myself up, but that doesn't mean others won't find them saviors. The fruit recipes, though, would more than lift my spirits.

The author uses a lot of oil, heavy cream, sugar and butter in recipes; also fatty meats. This is my only objection to a really wonderful cookbook with innovative recipes and glorious photographs. 'Anything in moderation' might be the key words here.

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