Both of us grad students and newlywed there wasn’t a lot of money floating around for fancy meals and at that time I wasn’t even a home cook (yes, I could cook in my home but I wasn’t what the term home cook implies now — a sort of high-functioning proficient in the kitchen). And so it was with the first cookbooks in my collection, How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Feast: Food that Celebrates Life, that Nigella Lawson gave us a way to eat at home yet retain that “just as good as a restaurant” feel as well as a way to entertain our friends (because back then nobody had a ton of dough to live it up either). If you’re curious to know what are my go-to favs from those books, the stand out recipes for me are the Coca-Cola Cake (from Domestic Goddess) and the Penne Alla Vodka (from Feast). Just between us I am neither a drinker of pop nor alcohol but oddly enough these recipes suit me quite well. Funny how that goes.
It was with happy feelings that I opened the box from the publisher to find Nigella Lawson’s newest book, At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking (the North American edition), waiting for me to explore. While no longer frugal-living students as a new(ish) parent I’m finding that I still enjoy (and prefer) to eat at home and my home-cooking skills have improved exponentially. What I think home cooking is presently moving towards is a way to find accessible recipes that become a reliable guide. Recipes that can be used as a template without a home cook having to follow them to the letter (except in baking as Lawson points out). At My Table follows this trend well while offering a way to find inspiration for ingredient use as well. One recipe that’s on my list to try (simply because the ingredient use sounds interesting to me) is her Brussels sprouts with preserved lemon recipe. In her introduction she warmly speaks to the heart of At My Table — the stories, recipes, and memories from around her own table that she’s hoping to inspire other home cooks with.
One of the things that caught my attention is that there are no chapters (!). Although the recipes do seem to follow an orderly trajectory from breakfast through to dessert the table of contents is just the list of recipes from the book, a feature Lawson says she borrowed from ebooks which she found “enormously helpful” and to be honest one that I found refreshingly helpful as well. At the end of the book is another section that I found enormously helpful too: Make Ahead and Storage Notes. I loved having that information at my finger tips and separate from the main recipe because I find that crucial information sometimes gets lost with all of the other notes and directions. She also uses a colour-coded dot-system to indicate which recipes are Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free, and/or Gluten-free in the index.
With my review this week comes something that is a first for these reviews I write — I’ve been given permission by the publisher to share one of the recipes from At My Table. The recipe I chose — Butternut and Sweet Potato Curry — is incredibly delicious and just happens to be suitable for Vegans and those who follow a Gluten-free diet. As you can see in my following picture I chose to serve it with Black Forbidden Rice along with her Cilantro and Jalapeno Salsa (the recipe is not included here but it can be found in the book) however I think you can totally feel free to doll this curry up what ever way you’d like. Vibrant and tasty this recipe was a big hit with my husband and daughter (and it made enough for us to have two big meals). This recipe uses an immersion blender but if you don’t have one I’d try using a small food processor or a regular blender.
What I really appreciated while I’ve been trying recipes from At My Table is that the recipes are flexible in terms of ingredients and method. While making her Lemon Tendercake w/ Blueberry Compote recipe I didn’t make it as a cake (but as mini bundts, an idea I scored from her notes) and I also didn’t make the compote either (I had some homemade blueberry-lemon chia jam that’s my daughter’s favourite that I thought would fit well here) and the recipe turned out perfectly. Lawson doesn’t treat her recipes as precious and doesn’t want you to either, which is why I think her recipes here are accessible and flexible. I noticed that she also used ingredients over many recipes which is helpful when it comes to both shopping and meal-planning. Each recipe seems to offer generous servings/portions so when I made her Waffles over the weekend I was able to also freeze a bunch to enjoy throughout the week (bonus!).
Her axiom “Life is complicated; cooking doesn’t have to be” from the back cover is what At My Table is all about — being able to enjoy food you’ve made, served at your own table with family and friends. She offers a true celebration of home cooking. This cookbook is full of recipes that answer the question “What’s for dinner?” in an easy and delicious manner. If you’re curious to see what I’ve been serving at my table from At My Table please check out my custom Instagram hashtag #everythingatmytableiseatworthy or my dedicated Facebook post. If you enjoyed the new recipe feature of my review please leave me a comment below!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Appetite by Random House / Penguin Random House for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.