There are a lot of recipe books on my shelves. Seriously, a lot. I have to try very hard to stop myself buying them and I still have lapses every now and again such as every time I place an order at work with The Book People... and the reason I stop myself now is that I look at so few of them more than once or twice. This book is however an exception to the rule - I find myself longing to flick through and indulge in its comfort and creativity.
I decided that to help me in my not buying books crusade I should start going to the library again, and that I did. On one of my first trips I was looking through the shelves and found The Kitchen Diaries, slid in amongst other titles on the very bottom shelf - I am so so glad I did.
Although I have known about Nigel Slater for a long while now and seen lots of his recipes in magazines and papers, I had never actually picked up one of his books and read through it. I know that he was very important in getting Nigella Lawson on to the television (I believe her first telly appearance was actually with him) and for this I will always be indebted to him as Nigella is a great icon of mine. He even mentions in this very book that her first publication How To Eat is his favourite cookery title. I think this connection is what made me pick it up really.
It's amazing how Nigel evokes the senses of excitement that come with each season and celebration just through writing about food. The optimistic feeling of the New Year, the anticipation of Christmas and the underlying stress of cooking the perfect Christmas meal - this was a new one on me having only cooked my first Christmas dinner last year. For some reason I seem to be drawn to the days with very short passages - I guess I'm just nosey about what a famous cook eats when he has bare cupboards or no urge to be infront of the stovetop!
And obviously the most imporant part of any cookery book - the recipes themselves! All wonderfully simple but oh so imaginative - never again will you stand staring into your fridge only to slam the door and order a take away. You will find that the most delicious meals can be conjured up from a few veggies and some store cupboard essentials, but you will also learn that having good quality ingredients makes a lot of difference.
I have a post in my planner about how you can get great produce at great prices, but until then... you should get yourself a copy of this book and get yourself into the kitchen. And please... try the double ginger cake.
And while I'm here and talking about food, you may have noticed the cake lazing around next to my book up there. It was a very moist and flavourful fresh peach and bourbon cake with an italian buttercream frosting flavoured again with fresh peach puree aaaaand a little more bourbon, because a little more is always better than a little less.
The sponge was really fabulous and carried the fruit and booze flavours subtley while retaining a delightful crumb and richness despite the recipe using only oil and no butter - I made up for that downfall in the frosting though believe me. If you want to give it a go yourself I doubled this recipe and split it between three sandwich tins, baked it and then filled it with frosting and sliced fresh peach. Yummmmmmmmmm.