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December 2012 Cookbook of the Month: How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food

The December book has been chosen, and it's ...Nigella!
This llady has quite a story -- born into privillege, a llife of lluxury in Llondon, llove, drama, tragedy too. Ambition, tallent, llooks, books, tellevision, and even retaill merchandising -- success llooked down on her, and fell into her llap!
So -- we'll see how we llike her mealls this chilly month. Some have asked for an adjunct thread for other Nigella Lawson books -- it shall be done.

If you'd llike more information about the COTM -- Cookbook of the Month -- you can find it here:

Everyone is wellcome to participate -- pllease join us!

The voting thread that brought us to this winning book is here:

Thanks to posters and voters -- the threads for discussing this book will be posted on December 1st.

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  1. ...and llamas and Lloyd, and, hmm, I can't think of any more 'll' words! Glad this won--my library copy will be in tomorrow and I already have Kitchen (which I've never used) and Domestic Goddess (which I have). Thanks for tallying up the votes!

    1. Fantastic, thank you, blue room.

      Both the US and UK versions are indexed on EYB (remember, you don't have to be a member of EYB to scroll down the listing of recipes in a book...)



      Lots of Nigella's recipes:




      1 Reply
      1. No Nigella's books on my shelves and not desire to add any. Happy cooking everyone! I will pop in now and then just to see how thing are going:)

        1. Yay! I've been wanting to get better use out of this book for a while now. I am going to try for lots of participation next month!

          1. Well, I ordered this last week as it seemed to be the way the COTM wind was blowing, and I sincerely hope that my Abe seller does a better job of getting this one to me than they did delivering the Union Square book (shipped out to me Oct 24, still not here, nor is the replacement they sent Nov 8...) I admit I'm a Nigella Newbie. Never bought any of her books, or cooked any of her recipes. This should be fun!

            1. Thanks blue room... another job well done.

              LLike geekmom I too bought How To Eat during the nominations. This is the second NL book I've owned. When her goddess book was published I bought it thinking because her TV show was entertaining and the food looked pretty good the recipes would be good as well. After reading through and not finding anything that appealed I gave it away. Now I can give her another chance.

              Happy Thanksgiving!

              17 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                I have all Nigella's books and I think Goddess is actually her weakest. I think her strength is more in savory foods. How to Eat might actually be my favorite -- it's kind of pre-celebrity Nigella. Among other things, there are no pictures - it's not about Nigella the person, more about her philosophy of cooking, which I happen to like quite a bit.

                1. re: Savour

                  Thank you for that Savour. That makes me feel much better. Now I'm really looking forward to cooking from HTE...

                  1. re: Savour

                    You know, I was seriously considering buying the Goddess book when I found it at an antique mall in the summer. My aunt was with me and said Nigella's recipes were good, and my daughter looked at all the pastry recipes and urged me to buy it, but there was something about the book that just didn't appeal. I'm really glad you said this, Savour, because it makes me feel like it wasn't a mistake to pass that book by.

                    1. re: geekmom

                      Part of it is that she's very much of a pinch of this, bit of that, wing it sort of cook, which doesn't lend itself well to baking. (That said, the Clementine Cake in HTE is really worth making).

                      1. re: Savour

                        I have heard a lot about her clementine cake. Didn't know its in How To Eat. I'll definitely mark the one to try!

                        1. re: Savour

                          Hi Savour, would you equate her style of instructions with Jamie Oliver. I find him to be very much of the "bunch of X" school, and while I like him I'm not sure about adding more books of that type to my collection. I'm a bit on the fence on this one since we will be away for the both the first and the last week of December.

                          1. re: delys77

                            I don't actually have one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, so I can't compare. A lot of Nigella's recipes are available online at Nigella.com. There's also a preview of the first Chapter of How to Eat on Google Books. See if it tickles your fancy. For me, it's one of the cookbooks in my collection that makes me want to get in the kitchen. (It isn't really one for super complicated recipes or ones that require a lot of finesse. David Chang this is not).

                          2. re: Savour

                            That's funny.. it's my favourite one of hers! I suspect that this may be because it is my first Nigella, and it's mainly baking, which is my preferred type of kitchen activity. I've made some really good ones out of there.
                            I also have "How to Eat" which I picked up used a few years ago.. this will be a good reason to dust it off and try some recipes from it!

                            1. re: Savour

                              Isn't the Clementine Cake an adaptation of the famous Claudia Roden orange cake?

                              There is a recipe for molten chocolate cakes in How To Eat that was my fail-safe, stand-by pudding for years. I've probably made it a dozen times and it never fails to impress. I think HTE was one of my first cookery books actually - back when my collection only filled half a shelf!

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Yes greedygirl, that's what Nigella said in the clementine cake recipe. It's an adaptation of Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake. But I haven't made or eat the Roden's version either.

                              2. re: Savour

                                Savour, talked to a friend and she said the Coca Cola ham is in this book too. We don't eat red meat at home so I'll have to pass that one. But others might want to mark that one to try. It's also quite famous. And blue room, there's a bakewell tart recipe in it too. That's definitely very very British. (I've never heard of them in New Zealand).

                                1. re: lilham

                                  Bakewell Tart is yummy - one of the things my Mum used to make, along with parkin and millionaire's shortbread. Bakewell is actually a town in Derbyshire. We used to live quite near to it..

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Hmmm...never heard of a bakewell tart! I think Dec is going to be fun! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakewell... OMG! Sounds delicious!


                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      wow, if you are from that part of the country, did she also make eccles cake? and if so do you have a good recipe? I had a version in Durham once that stands out in memory.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        Funny you should ask that, as a friend served Eccles Cakes with lancashire cheese the other day at an informal dinner at her house. It was the first time I'd had them in years, and they were super delicious, especially with the crumbly cheese.

                                        She bought them from a bakery, but I see from EYB that I have several recipes to choose from. Jane Grigson has one in English Food, which I may try soon, and there's also Delia Smith (which may well be online) and a previous COTM, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea has a recipe too.

                                  2. re: Savour

                                    In the Nigel Slater interview that lilham linked to in the voting thread ( http://thebrowser.com/interviews/nige... ) he says this about Nigella: “She mentioned at a talk in New York recently that when one of her recipes calls for two carrots that’s normally because that’s what she happened to have in her refrigerator. It’s really up to you if you want to put in one carrot or three… There is a school of thought that recipes are set in stone and that you have to follow them word for word. The lovely thing about Nigella’s writing is that her recipes do work in spirit as well as in practice. You can do exactly that, you can think, ‘Well actually I’ve got three carrots, I’ll just put three in.’”

                                    Love that type of thinking, but you're right, not so much for baking.

                                2. re: Savour

                                  If a book's title is "How To Eat" it *better* include some decent--even excellent--recipes!
                                  I too ordered this, haven't received it yet, but have seen a lot of her online content.
                                  I don't mind that there are no pictures in the book. You can't eat prose and philosophy, though, so I'm hoping for some solid food-making instructions a.k.a. recipes too!

                              3. Thanks so much blue room!

                                When the nomination process started I didn't own this book (or Plenty for that matter). Of course as folks started making a case for their selections I had to check the books out on Amazon and EYB to learn more. While I was on the fence about Plenty, I found the Amazon reviews for Nigella's book to be quite compelling. Reading page after page of reviews a theme started to emerge, this seemed to be people's favourite Nigella book and many folks commented on what an enjoyable read the book was. Many described the tone of the book to be like that of a conversation w a friend or family. (It reminded a little bit of the passion that some folks show for Nigel Slater's books). Needless to say I was curious and couldn't resist ordering it.

                                My book arrived a few days ago and I didn't have much of a chance to look through it at all as I was heading out on a business trip but I just had to read a little bit before I left and I have to say, I was hooked immediately. I'd definitely describe Nigella's writing style as conversational and I found it quite engaging.

                                What I didn't know (until I read blue room's intriguing introduction to this thread and felt compelled to Google Nigella to learn more about her) was that Nigella was formerly a journalist and broadcaster.

                                If her recipes are as impressive as her writing, I'm going to LOVE this COTM!!

                                First up, that clementine cake everyone is raving about!!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  I vaguely knew that Nigella Lawson was the Domestic Goddess person -- and at the time I dismissed her because of that "title" -- it didn't sound like food to me, just polishing the coffee table in high heels stuff. I am seeing now some happily good looking recipes! My respect is fast building. The Dairy Queen has linked to lists of recipes (near the top of this thread) and the BBC Food site has some too. I'm hoping to find some proper really English recipes in her book -- trifle and scones and that outrageous thickened cream.
                                  BBC link http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/chefs/nigel...

                                  1. re: blue room

                                    I have started to read the basics chapter last night. It is indeed a delight to read. I actually stayed up late not wanting to put the book down. Blue room you won't be disappointed if you are looking for proper English food. I already spotted crumble and custard in the first chapter.

                                    1. re: lilham

                                      Yes -- dishes with adorable/prim names. Cornish pasty etc.
                                      Should be a fun month.

                                2. For all the Nigella fans out there I thought I'd mention that Nigella is on the cover of the Nov issue of Delicious magazine (UK). There's a feature on her called "Notes from Nigella's kitchen" where she shares her " very personal" kitchen ethos. I bought the mag. but haven't read it yet.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    Just an update on this post about Delicious Magazine. I had the opportunity to have a good look through the magazine last night and realized that there's also a good feature piece on Nigella's new Italian cookbook "Nigellissima" - several recipes (and scrumptious-looking photos) are included too!!

                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      Her recipe from the TV program Nigelissima for Pork loin with Parma ham and oregano is on my Sunday lunch menu day after tomorrow...

                                      Here are other recipes from the program; probably in the book of the same name...

                                      And the book...to be published 12 Feb 2013

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Oh that pork looks lovely Gio. I know she suggests serving it over arugula but I bet it would be wonderful over rapini too. Curious she doesn't peel the shallots or onions that become part of the gravy though.

                                        Coincidentally we have Porchetta on our menu for Sunday lunch!

                                        Thanks for the link to those recipes Gio. I was very tempted to order the UK version of this book so I'd have it for our COTM adjunct thread. February seems so far away when it comes to waiting for a cookbook!!

                                        Your post made me Google the Delicious magazine and it turns out some (not all) recipes from this recent edition are online. Here's a link:


                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          I did the same after I read your first post about Delicious... now I Googled Nigellissima and I beg you not to buy the book until you've at least read some of the reviews , which are hilarious, or seen the book first hand...




                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Oh dear. Do you still plan to make the pork? ; - )

                                            Like most books, there are likely hits and misses. Just to be sure though, and to your point Gio, I think I may just wait until I can l look at it myself to decide. Thanks for posting those links. That meat-za pie really does sound odd doesn't it?!!

                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              I don't like the recent Nigella's at all. The books have too many pictures of her. And she's a caricature of herself on TV. It's so refreshing when I see reruns of old shows of hers on TV.

                                              But to be fair, she said in the Nigellisma show that it's about Italian inspired cooking, not Italian food. So look at it as English/Italian fusion.

                                              1. re: lilham

                                                Me neither, lilham. I haven't bought any of them since Nigella Express and am not interested at all in Nigellissima (dreadful title).

                                                Gio - that Daily Mail review is hilarious, but the DM does specialise in catty demolition jobs.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Wow, both harsh and sarcastic criticism in those links! (Probably the most damning is from the Italian cooks, don't you think?)
                                              I've yet to get "How to Eat", but now I'm doubly curious.

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                I have Nigellissima, and actually I don't think the criticism from the Italian cooks is that relevant: she says clearly and often that this is not Italian food, but Italian food as cooked by a British person, to suit her own needs. That it's not traditional is part of the point: as she says, if you want an authentic Italian cookbook, surely you would go to an actual Italian...?

                                              2. re: Gio

                                                Oh those are hilarious! Personally, I am turned off by the title alone. But, I'm impressed by her weight loss http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri... I wonder if she did so simply by following the rules in the "low fat" section of How to Eat, which is part of the book that appeals to me right now?


                                      2. I took down her book from my library.
                                        I am surprised that I never cooked from it.
                                        I like the layout of the book and the red/black/italics. The sub sections- before u start pantry shelf, etc.
                                        I appreciate the section called low fat although it is not low sodium
                                        I c several recipes I will try.

                                        1. Eat Your Books has links to almost 300 Nigella recipes available online! You don't need to be a member to see this info/use this feature:


                                          1. So I discovered I have two copies of this book, not sure how that happened. So if anyone in the Calgary area is following along, I'd gladly share.

                                            1. I am looking at one one the recipes that calls for tomato puree. Even though my version of the book was printed in the US, I thought I had read that tomato puree in the UK is what I know as tomato paste. Does anyone know if this is correct or just a figment of my imagination? Thank you.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                Yes, it's paste. The BBC glossary may help with converting British foodisms (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/tomato_puree) if it's necessary - as I live in Britain I don't know how divided we are by a common culinary language ;)

                                                1. re: limoen

                                                  Thank you for the response and the link.

                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                    On the other hand, I've been substituting passata for NZ recipes that call for tomato puree. I'm not sure if US tomato purée is the same as what we have in NZ.

                                              2. Very excited - thanks for the work, blue room, and thanks to fellow cooks. We'll actually be around most of December (although, of course, busy with seasonal stuff) so i'm hoping that I'll actually get to cook a bit more from this one.

                                                1. Oh well, I succumbed to COTM's siren call and order How to Eat for $4 including shipping - will be joining all of you excited people in December :)

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: herby

                                                    Oh I'm so glad!

                                                    P.S. bllue room, your OP made me llaugh out lloud!


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Thank you TDQ. I will be at home for 2/3 of December and should be able to make a dish or two out of How to Eat. I must admitt that the book title really bugs me; we all know how to eat - if we did not, the human race would not be around as long as it has been!

                                                      1. re: herby

                                                        I know what you mean--her essay in the front of the book (which you can read on google books if you just can't wait until your book arrives) explains the title of the book a little, but I still don't think it's the best title.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Along with the rest of the title ("The Pleasures and.." etc.) it sounds a little better. (Under the dust cover, no part of the title appears on the front of the book! I would have tried to talk her out of that.)
                                                          I've just begun to read, got it just a day ago --
                                                          "Clapshot with Burnt Onions" page 287 ! I knew the English names would charm me.
                                                          I like that she says a recipe has to work, and that it's not about "strenuous originality."
                                                          I think I'll just ignore her personality and prose and reputation and let the recipes make their impressions on me.

                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            Last week I googled for a recipe for the clapshot & burnt onions and found that it's nothing more than boiled rutabaga mashed with butter served with beyond crisp onions over top. Can't wait to make it. It's a traditional Scottish recipe usually served with roasted pheasant. Now There's a seasonal menu if I ever saw one.

                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                              This is my resolution too, BR! Put all my prejudices aside and let recipes speak for themselves - we'll see how it goes.

                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                My copy of the book arrived yesterday (I had previously taken it out as a library book)--I already want to try the roast chicken recipe. True, roast chicken is nothing we haven't all tried before but it is a staple in my house and Nigella's seems like a twist Hazan's. I think Nigella's gift, aside from being a talented writer, is having a genuine appreciation of good food and the ability to pluck the exceptional recipes from the field, then tweak them ever so slightly.


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  Do you mean the basic one on page 7? I saw another with "all the trimmings" somewhere too.
                                                                  I don't know yet where I'll start -- probably a soup or bread.

                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    Yes, the basic on page 8 (US paperback edition) along with the roasted garlic and shallots. I've done roasted garlic before, but never shallots and doing them together while roasting my weekly chicken is a great idea. Kind of a nice reminder of something I sort of forgot about.

                                                                    Soup would be a wonderful start.

                                                                    LLM--I don't know why, but I'm really excited about this book! I think it's just the book for me right now!


                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    In rereading this book yesterday, I thought of you, TDQ. It seems like it should be a good book for you - I hope that works out to be the case.

                                                                    I got pretty excited and have a long list of things I want to try. At least 2 on the menu for next week.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      I haven't gotten past roast chicken, garlic and shallots, but I can't wait to dive in.