Get Nigella Lawson’s Easy Entertaining Tips
Food editor Kristen Eppich sits down with celebrity chef Nigella Lawson to get her expert entertaining advice.
On a tour promoting her new book, Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food (Random House), Nigella Lawson swept through town this week and I had the opportunity to speak with her. Here are a handful of tips she shared with me.
1. Be Mindful
“[Home cooks tend to feel like] they must emulate restaurant chefs in their own homes,” says Nigella. She reminds us that restaurant chefs have brigades working together to create dishes, whereas a home cook neither has the manpower or tools to create the same type of dining experience. “Trying to do too much means we can’t be in the moment,” she says. Instead, she encourages cooks to focus on the simple things, and find “calm focus” in the routine tasks of stirring and chopping.
2. Slow Down
A chapter in her book titled Breathe focuses on easy-to-make recipes that involve using a slow-cooker. Here are her tips for mastering the art of slow cooking:
- Use a slow cooker with a cast iron insert. This allows you to brown food in the pot maintaining all the built-up flavors. If you can’t find a slow-cooker with a cast-iron insert, try to find one that has a stovetop friendly insert for browning, which keeps the washing up to a minimum.
- Reduce the amount of liquid when adapting a recipe that isn’t intended for a slow-cooker. She suggests placing a piece of wet parchment paper right on top of a stew in a slow cooker (so it’s floating on top of the liquid) to prevent the meat from drying out during the cooking process.
- A slow-cooker is the best way to cook legumes. In fact, she claims that her slow-cooker Chick Peas With Cumin And Spinach (a recipe from her new book) converted someone who didn’t like chickpeas into a chickpea-eater.
3. Keep It Simple
When it comes to entertaining, Nigella claims she’s never been one for overly fussy dinners. “Don’t act like you’re hosting an ambassadorial dinner,” she says. “The most important thing is to make the evening easeful for you and your guests.” She recommends starting with simple bites that people can help themselves to, like her Caramelized Garlic Hummus or Sweet Potato And Chickpea Dip. She also keeps it casual by putting cutlery in canisters instead of laid out on tables, having pitchers of beverages so people can help themselves and serving food family-style.