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The Kitchen Diaries [Paperback]

Nigel Slater
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 19 2007
Following the success of 'Real Food' and 'Appetite', this is the tenth book from Nigel Slater, the award-winning food writer and author of the bestselling autobiography, 'Toast'. 'The food in "The Kitchen Diaries" is simply what I eat at home. The stuff I make for myself, for friends and family, for visitors and for parties, for Sunday lunch and for snacks. These are meals I make when I stop work, or when I am having mates over or when I want to surprise, seduce or show off. This is what I cook when I'm feeling energetic, lazy, hungry or late. It is what I eat when I'm not phoning out for pizza or going for a curry. This is the food that makes up my life, both the Monday to Friday stuff and that for weekends and special occasions.' 'Much of it is what you might call fast food, because I still believe that life is too short to spend all day at the stove, but some of it is unapologetically long, slow cooking. But without exception every single recipe in this book is a doddle to cook. A walk in the park. A piece of p***.' 'Fast food, slow food, big eats, little eats, quick pasta suppers, family roasts and even Christmas lunch. It is simply my stuff, what I cook and eat, every day. Nigel's food - for you.'

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From Publishers Weekly

Few writers could get away with what London Observer columnist Slater does here: jotting down what he eats and recording recipes for the homemade items over the course of a year. Slater, though, has the writing chops to make it work—as proven in his memoir Toast. His style is lazily thoughtful, but also honest and unfussy: January 9 sees a "gray, endless drizzle" that makes it "the sort of day on which to light the fire, turn on the radio and bake a cake." The recipe for Double Ginger Cake that follows, however, highlights this book's sometimes problematic Britishness when it calls for both golden syrup and stem ginger in syrup, available, a footnote claims, "in some supermarkets and specialty shops." Slater's food isn't British in the stodgy sense. Indeed, he smoothly incorporates the flavors of other cultures into his cooking to make Indian-influenced Spiced Roast Potatoes with Yogurt and Mint, for example. Yet local references and recommendations, such as a tip that the best hummus may be purchased "at the Green Valley, just off the Edgware Road," will frustrate readers in the U.S. As George Bernard Shaw once said, the British and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language. Sadly, much of this wonderful book is lost in translation, or lack thereof. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Cooking in harmony with the seasons' produce has inspired the talented London food writer to share his culinary diary across a 12-month cycle. Each date records the foods he produces for himself and for his friends. For those special dishes whose ingredients and preparation aren't obvious, Slater provides recipes. These range in complexity from a simple herbed chicken stew to an eggplant, tomato, and lemongrass curry. Fresh fruits and vegetables star throughout, and he relies on locally raised organic goods wherever possible. Experienced cooks will have little trouble interpreting some of the vague directions or translating native British produce to American kitchens. Photographs also help guide cooks. Slater disparages the idea that consumers demand out-of-season goods, calling it a myth generated by supermarkets. Yet even he can't resist the lure of fresh fruit in the depths of winter. His diary's January 4 entry notes that he crowns his breakfast oatmeal with blueberries. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Year of Cooking and Eating March 14 2007
Format:Hardcover
When my son first started showing an interest in cooking in his mid-teens I gave him a cookbook by Nigel Slater. Slater's attitudes encompass all of the cooking things that make sense to me - use what you have on hand, understand simple ingredients that taste good together, toss things in and don't worry about it and if you make a mistake don't spend the whole dinner apologizing. Dinner is about sharing, not about showing off (although there are many who would disagree with that). This new book by Slater entitled Kitchen Diaries follows a year of his cooking and has the hallmark of those earlier books but with the added idea that he wouldl use local ingredients in season when he could and that he would avoid supermartkets as much as possible. Kitchen Diaries is a beautiful book filled with all kinds of insights about eating and cooking and thinking about cooking. Slater isn't a fussy cook and that is one of the great strengths of this book. There are a lot of recipes and most of them have very few ingredients. He does assume that the people who use his books know their way around a kitchen, so he doesn't go into exhaustive detail about how to do things, but that's okay - if you are a beginner, you can figure it out. Really. Unfortunately I don't live in the same place as Slater so I can't follow his dinner suggestions by the calendar. His March 19 diary exaults in the first alfresco dinner of the year - I live in Canada and March is still ski season. The photographs are beautiful and show simple food that looks like someone made it rather than some food stylist putting the photo together. My one quibble with the book is that the photographs aren't labelled so you don't know which recipe it is depicting, but that's a minor fault. I've tried a bunch of these recipes and they are simple, straightforward and taste great. What more can you as for at dinner time?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book Feb. 12 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not only are the recipes easy to use, the descriptions of why he chooses certain ingredients are evocative and give the reader the feeling of being right in his kitchen. Lovely writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure Jan. 7 2006
Format:Hardcover
This book is beautiful to touch, look at, read, and cook from. I have bought it as a gift for several friends and even though I thumbed through before parting with it could not resist buying a copy for myself. This is a book for everyday and for special occasions - but more than the usual cookery book gives a flavour for life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Nigel Slater book! Aug. 7 2010
Format:Paperback
I adore this cookbook. While, as a Canadian, I cannot claim to see rhubarb sprouting in February, I love this guide to English seasonal cooking. Simple, straight forward recipes that offer much freedom. This is my first go-to guide whenever I want something delicious, interesting and simple.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Nigel. Oct. 21 2006
By S. De Swaan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a fantastic book. Not many people could write down a years worth of eating and transform it into a highly entertaining and addictive book. Nigel Slater's writing wants you to start cooking -- and the best thing about it is that many of the recipes are very approachable and highly successful. Within a week of finishing the book I had made his Pumpkin Soup twice for very appreciative eaters. The best thing about this book, and his other books is that Nigel takes a few ingredients or some left overs and transforms them into something that you wish you'd been invited over to share with him. Nigel Slater is a great voice in today's food writing.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seasonal Ingredients = Wonderful Food Nov. 1 2006
By Erich Brueschke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A large cookbook of 390+ pages, organized in a month-by-month way, containing over 300 new recipes and speckled with wonderful food photography emphasising the use of seasonally available ingredients.

However, because of the way each month highlights the availability of particular produce within the month itself, this cookbook shows that the current attitude of "supply and demand" is perhaps not the best way to cook. Nigel says it best:

"Our culinary seasons have been blurred by commerce, and in particular by the supermarkets' much vaunted idea that consumers want all things to be available all year round...I worry that today it is all too easy to lose sight of food's natural timing and, worse, to miss it when it is at its sublime best...Right food, right place, right time - it is my belief - and the point of this book - that this is the best recipe of all."

That is not to say that 'The Kitchen Diaries' is merely a seasonal cookbook, far from it. The month by month approach makes full use of available in seasonal ingredients, while Nigel's at-home-baking knowledge guides you easily through the recipes.

Pork loin cooked with grapes, wine and seasoned with salt, pepper and juniper berries, bruised potatoes, and Nigel's simply wonderful apple cake makes for a simple, yet wonderful dinner. Easy to make and seasonal to boot.

These are meals whose success relies on the ingredients of the moment rather than the experience of the cook.

Nigel's style of cookbook writing is something you either love or hate. I like the style and find it enjoyable to just read even if I am not cooking.

The Kitchen Diaries is an excellent addition to any Nigel Slater fan and a book worth getting if you love good food you can make at home.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a cookbook! Feb. 20 2007
By lil' girl blu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Nigel Slater has done an amazing job with The Kitchen Diaries. Writing down everything eaten for dinner for an entire year must have been a daunting task, but it makes a wonderful read - as his stories are both funny and inspiring - and it was reassuring to see that even well known cooks are not above takeout and beer every once in a while!

So far I have made probably 15 recipes ...all have been wonderful, and the hot chocolate puddings alone are worth the price of book...oh, and so is the ham with chorizo, and the Thai curry, and his fabulous bolongese, and..well you get the idea, right?

A definite 'must-have'.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nourishing read for foodies... Dec 27 2005
By G. Whitham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you know of Nigel Slaters other books you will no doubt just buy this regardless of any review as you will know what an entertaining writer he is.

If you are new to Nigel Slater then here is what I would say about this book;

If you are looking for a straight out 'recipe book' this isn't the book for you (I'd start with the excellent 'Appetite' - also by Nigel Slater). However, if you are a foodie that is inspired by reading about others inspiration and seasonal eating, then you will find this book hugely entertaining.

More a book on enjoying simple culinery pleasures than technique or presentation.

Forget such lifestyle books as 'Under the Tuscan sun' or 'A year in Provence', what you'll get out of this is a sense of place, mood, season and good living which is obtainable by all of us (in the western world) through the simple but elegant satisfaction good food can bring.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an absolute must for Foodies - more than a cookbook - it is pure enjoyment Dec 26 2005
By A. Woodley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Nigel Slater is definitely one of the best food writers around today, his enjoyment of food - its textures, colours, tastes and aromas is inspiring and even now just thinking about the book I find my mouth watering.

He is a British writer and if you have not heard about him or his work then I strongly suggest you have a go - if you like Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver you will probably enjoy Slater.

In this hardback illustrated book he discusses his eating and cooking over a year. Each chapter is a month of writing and cooking - talking about food what is available and what he does with it. The start of the chapter has the month and a list of recipes he has made through the month. So you can flick through on a month by month basis, tasting the season's fruits etc, (there is also a helpful index by the way) Or you can just read it as a series of recipes in a diary like way.

The recipes are based on fresh and simple principles rather than trying to make complicated concoctions. And some of the simplest foods make the nicest things - I love his broad bean recipes (the American readers will probably know them as fava beans)and rhubarb deserts are great.

My only real issue with this book is that it is printed on a laid crean paper - which is fine for text but they also have printed the pictures in colour on it which loses a lot of the gloss and richness of the illustrations. I really enjoy good food photography - even if I never can present it to the same standard it is lovely to look at. While it is all nicely presented and printed I find it difficult to get the whole "Readers-Digest-Condensed-book" picture out of my head because that is what it looks like to me.

It is in hardback with decorated boards as covers, not easy to hold open to make any of the recipes. My suggestion is that you do what I did - read it though once and really enjoy it as a diary/book. It is a wonderful literary indulgence - then pick out the recipes you like, put them on paper in your own recipe book, and keep this lovely volume safely on the shelf to browse through at leisure (and without sticky fingers).
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