HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

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

blue room Nov 20, 2012 06:40 PM

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. p
    pavlova RE: blue room Nov 20, 2012 06:46 PM

    ...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. The Dairy Queen RE: blue room Nov 20, 2012 07:18 PM

      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. re: The Dairy Queen
        blue room RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 20, 2012 07:21 PM

        Thank you too, DQ!

      2. herby RE: blue room Nov 20, 2012 08:11 PM

        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. w
          Westminstress RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 09:41 AM

          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. geekmom RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 10:27 AM

            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. Gio RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 10:34 AM

              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
                Savour RE: Gio Nov 21, 2012 10:41 AM

                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
                  Gio RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 10:42 AM

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

                  1. re: Savour
                    geekmom RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 10:48 AM

                    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
                      Savour RE: geekmom Nov 21, 2012 11:11 AM

                      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
                        lilham RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 11:15 AM

                        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
                          delys77 RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 12:10 PM

                          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
                            Savour RE: delys77 Nov 21, 2012 12:27 PM

                            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
                            rstuart RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 07:15 PM

                            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
                              greedygirl RE: Savour Nov 22, 2012 01:33 AM

                              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
                                lilham RE: greedygirl Nov 22, 2012 01:57 AM

                                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
                                lilham RE: Savour Nov 22, 2012 02:42 AM

                                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
                                  greedygirl RE: lilham Nov 22, 2012 03:26 AM

                                  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
                                    The Dairy Queen RE: greedygirl Nov 22, 2012 03:28 AM

                                    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
                                      jen kalb RE: greedygirl Nov 28, 2012 08:53 PM

                                      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
                                        greedygirl RE: jen kalb Nov 29, 2012 08:08 AM

                                        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
                                    JoanN RE: Savour Nov 23, 2012 08:27 AM

                                    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
                                  blue room RE: Savour Nov 21, 2012 11:08 AM

                                  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. Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 05:16 PM

                                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
                                  blue room RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 21, 2012 08:06 PM

                                  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
                                    lilham RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 10:16 PM

                                    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
                                      blue room RE: lilham Nov 22, 2012 05:57 AM

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

                                2. Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Nov 21, 2012 06:17 PM

                                  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
                                    Breadcrumbs RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 23, 2012 10:11 AM

                                    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
                                      Gio RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 23, 2012 10:50 AM

                                      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
                                        Breadcrumbs RE: Gio Nov 23, 2012 11:08 AM

                                        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
                                          Gio RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 23, 2012 11:25 AM

                                          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
                                            Breadcrumbs RE: Gio Nov 23, 2012 11:47 AM

                                            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
                                              lilham RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 23, 2012 12:45 PM

                                              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
                                                greedygirl RE: lilham Nov 24, 2012 01:53 AM

                                                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
                                              blue room RE: Gio Nov 23, 2012 01:46 PM

                                              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
                                                limoen RE: blue room Nov 23, 2012 02:43 PM

                                                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
                                                The Dairy Queen RE: Gio Nov 24, 2012 04:11 AM

                                                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. jpr54_1 RE: blue room Nov 22, 2012 05:03 AM

                                        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. Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Nov 23, 2012 11:18 AM

                                          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. t
                                            tatiana131 RE: blue room Nov 23, 2012 12:24 PM

                                            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. BigSal RE: blue room Nov 25, 2012 09:38 AM

                                              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
                                                limoen RE: BigSal Nov 25, 2012 10:16 AM

                                                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
                                                  BigSal RE: limoen Nov 25, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                  Thank you for the response and the link.

                                                  1. re: BigSal
                                                    lilham RE: BigSal Nov 25, 2012 10:50 AM

                                                    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. LulusMom RE: blue room Nov 25, 2012 03:17 PM

                                                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. herby RE: blue room Nov 25, 2012 05:04 PM

                                                  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
                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: herby Nov 25, 2012 05:06 PM

                                                    Oh I'm so glad!

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


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      herby RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 25, 2012 08:14 PM

                                                      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
                                                        The Dairy Queen RE: herby Nov 26, 2012 04:26 AM

                                                        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
                                                          blue room RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 26, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                          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
                                                            Gio RE: blue room Nov 26, 2012 07:08 AM

                                                            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
                                                              herby RE: blue room Nov 26, 2012 09:13 AM

                                                              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
                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: herby Nov 27, 2012 04:08 AM

                                                                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
                                                                  blue room RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 27, 2012 05:22 AM

                                                                  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
                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: blue room Nov 27, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                    LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 27, 2012 06:06 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom Nov 27, 2012 07:22 AM

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


                                                      Show Hidden Posts