Every now and then I get a cookbook that I not only love but also make one of my best kitchen friends. Among the members of this exclusive bunch is Nigella Lawson’s Feast (Hyperion, 2004). Similar to her first book How to Eat, Feast never fails to chase away my cooking blues or tantalize my taste buds.
Possessing the tag lines “food to celebrate life” and “a feast for every reason,” Feast presents its recipes according to events. Halloween, Easter, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day all have sections as do weddings, funerals, breakfast, meatless dinners and midnight feasts. Lawson provides a little something for practically every occasion and includes her lively wit and humor with each recipe.
Thumb through my copy of Feast and you’ll notice little scraps of paper scattered throughout the book. The first appears on page 44. Like the others that follow, this faded receipt indicates an exceptional dish, in this case for pink picante shrimp. Served as both an appetizer and an entree, Lawson’s paprika- and pink peppercorn-studded shrimp garner rave reviews every time.
Another hit comes just two pages later in the form of snow-flecked brownies. Divinely rich and gooey, these white chocolate-studded brownies always satisfy. The same can be said for Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake. Iced with an ethereal cream cheese frosting that bears a striking resemblance to the head on its dry stout namesake, chocolate Guinness cake remains a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. Whether I’ve taken it to a holiday party, served it for a birthday or just shared it with friends, this gorgeous sweet gets showered with compliments.
Along with countless opportunities to be bathed in praise, Feast supplies me with interchangeable, festive recipes that can be used throughout the year. Replace the frozen peas with fresh in Halloween’s slime soup and I have a lovely soup that celebrates spring’s bounty. Similarly, Rosh Hashanah’s pomegranate jewel cake works wonders at Christmastime while New Year’s bitter endive salad dazzles in spring.
Entertaining, informative text. Versatile, accessible recipes. Useful cooking tips. It’s no wonder that Feast is one of my best kitchen buds.