Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Nigel Slater seesaw

worth extracting the retainer for
On Tuesday, I am scraping Nigel Slater's revolting duck, marmalade, and turnips casserole into the garbage and mentally composing my resignation letter from Project Tender.

On Wednesday, Owen and I are eating Slater's braised oxtail straight out of the pot an hour before dinner because it is so hideously delicious. And I do mean hideously.

Trust me: GOOD
His recipe for prawns with limes and leaves didn't work at all.

But his beef stew with onions and beer may have been the best beef stew I've ever made.

His apple marmalade tart was unusual and surprisingly tasty, especially the thick shortbread crust of which I ate far too much.

What is it with Nigel Slater and marmalade?
 But the beet seed cake was a dry brown lump.

Although the batter was pretty. What happened to all that pink?

Slater may in fact be cosmopolitan and polished, but I picture him as a hobbity eccentric in a cardigan and soft-soled shoes who futzes around a thatch-roofed cottage scooping marmalade into his pot of braised duck, currant jelly into his stew, and grated beets into his cakes. He is definitely weird. I like that. Sometimes his freaky ideas work and sometimes they are just horrendous, but interacting with this book is always interesting. I've never had a cookbook experience quite like this one.

I'm sticking with Tender, but I'm also going to start cooking from both the Food52 cookbook and Eat Good Food because they're my other new cookbooks of the season and they're full of appealing recipes. No need to live in a straitjacket.

A reminder: I will be reading and signing Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California on Saturday at 1 p.m. It would be great to see you there.


  1. Nigel doesn't seem to be one to care about appearances. And I would argue that anything that includes marmalade would be better without the marmalade.

  2. I for one feel anything with marmalade is naturally better......

    I made the Eat Good Food chocolate cake. You are correct: an excellent chocolate cake. Definitely a keeper...One adaptation: I was out of sour cream so I used coffee yogurt instead...and I had trouble with the glaze.

  3. i want to know more details about the hideously delicious oxtail braise. what was it braised in? what did it taste like? i want to know everything there is to know about something you'd describe as hideously delicious.

  4. Duck, marmalade and turnip casserole? I would definitely skip the work and throw the ingredients straight in the compost. Good to know my instincts are correct.

  5. there is nothing so delicious as a braised piece of meat. thanks for braving this bizarre conglomeration of recipes. Seriously, where did the pink go?

  6. Anonymous -- fatty bits of succulent meat clinging to knobby bones. Hard to stop eating and at the same time hideous.

    Tori -- To be fair to Slater and to myself, the actual name of the duck dish is: "a sweet and sticky casserole of duck with turnips and orange." Which to me sounded unbelievably good, like a variant on Chinese roast/barbecued duck which really is sweet and sticky and delicious. This dish was sweet, but neither sticky nor delicious.

  7. I would eat all of that shortbread crust - total weakness of mine. What an interesting overview of a cookbook!

    I've marked quite a few recipes to try in the Food52 book, and those I've made so far are terrific. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  8. Hi, might this be the ox tail recipe:

    Sounds delicious! I want to try the fig recipe as well. It's getting a little chilly in NYC.


    P.S. I've just ordered Make the Bread! Can't wait to read it.

  9. Deane -- No, that's not the oxtail recipe. I searched for it online and never found it. Maybe I'll just go ahead and post it in my next entry -- it was so, so good, and I've been a hard sell on oxtail in the past.
    Those figs do look good!

    Hannah -- the Food52 zucchini pancakes get four stars. The pink beet greens are great. The zucchini cookies are better than they sound. Let me know if you cook anything great from that book.

  10. I eagerly await your views on Food 52, as I have ordered the book. And let me just say that I wish you posted everyday because I so love your blog. Your fearlessness in the kitchen, coupled with your honesty and lack of pretentiousness, are just the best. LOVE it.

  11. a fact for you: squirrels will eat anything. if you have squirrels outside, dump your unwanted food where they congregate and it wont stay there long enough to get cold. our squirrels get all our leftovers.

  12. Any plans for a booksigning in the peninsula or south bay?

  13. Nothing planned on the Peninsula as of right now.

  14. I made your Mother's Apple Cake to give to my daughter and her boyfriend, who were going to Highlands, NC for the weekend. It looked beautiful, but I did not get a taste. Last night she said it was the BEST cake ever! Now I have to see for myself!

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