It is no accident that my ultimate cooking heroes are both called Nigel (male and female equivalents!). They both share my love of straightforward, tasty, unfussy, non-cheffy food, and are not afraid of ingredients like butter, cream, good-quality chocolate, and wine. They also see food as something for sharing (like music!); as Nigel Slater says on his website:

"There is something quietly civilizing about sharing a meal with other people. The simple act of making someone something to eat, even a bowl of soup or a loaf of bread, has a many-layered meaning. It suggests an act of protection and caring, of generosity and intimacy. It is in itself a sign of respect." 

I have long been a fan of Nigel Slater's cooking - and it was Nigel who first introduced Nigella to our screens, as she appeared in one of his earlier television series. Like Nigella, he writes beautifully and enthusiastically about food, and I always find his books a pleasure to read - in the kitchen and in bed. His recipes are easy, flavourful and imaginative. He is not into sexy, food-porn illustrations, and is more than likely to have a photograph of some potatoes, just pulled form the earth, or a bundle of freshly-picked herbs, next to a recipe.

Thus, it was a wonderful treat to see him back on television last night in the second series of his 'Simple Suppers' (somehow, I managed to miss the first series). After watching the final of Masterchef: The Professionals the previous evening (yes, I got sucked into it in the end!), it was so refreshing to watch someone who clearly adores food - preparing and eating it - making a new take on cottage pie (with turkey mince and mashed butternut squash topping), vivid green pesto with watercress (handmade in a pestle and mortar in the traditional way), and a free-form apple pie with a cheese pastry. He also possesses a beautiful kitchen, clean, simple, and uncluttered with unnecessary kitchen gadgetry or trinkets: the sort of large kitchen I dream of! Finally, he is a cat-lover - as am I - and many of his books are dedicated to his feline companions.

Fortunately, for me and my bank balance, there is no book to accompany this series; rather, the recipes are simply drawn from his personal archive. Otherwise, I would find it hard to resist adding another volume to my collection.

For more on Nigel Slater and his recipes go to:
Simple Suppers Series 2 BBC2
Nigel Slater's website
Amazon's Nigel Slater page


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