T H E E S S E N T I A L N I G E L S L A T E R. The story of my cooking life, from the first tray of jam tarts I made with my mother when I was nine, to the food I cook now, in my kitchen at home. With over 200 recipes, each with its own story of how it came to be part of my life, the collection is a mixture of my personal favourites and many new ones. There are chapters on vegetarian suppers and meat-feasts; cakes for everyday and special occasions; bread, everyday suppers and the ritual of tea. Dutch, German and US editions will be published later this year.
From the introduction:
I am a cook who writes. You could measure my life in recipes. Each one a letter to a friend, a story of something I have made for dinner, the tale of how it came to be on my table. A salad tossed together with broad beans, salted ricotta and the first white-tipped radishes of spring; a roast chicken, its crisp skin served with a fat jug of its roasting juices on an autumn day or a gloriously messy platter of grilled aubergines, hummus and torn flatbread shared with the best of friends.
That letter might accurately chronicle the details of a cake with which I am quietly pleased, tell the reader of a quince that has simmered peacefully in lemon juice and orange blossom honey on my hob on a winter’s afternoon or mention a pillowy dumpling I have just lifted from a steaming bamboo basket. Sharing food with those at your table - passing round a bowl of late autumn raspberries or a slice of sugar-encrusted blackberry and apple pie – is heart-warming enough, but a recipe posted in a newspaper, ephemerally on social media or in more lasting form in the pages of a book, has the chance to be shared even more widely. It is just a recipe, a suggestion for something you might like to make for others, but it is what I do.
There is something - and this is the point really - that goes hand-in-hand with making something to eat, that transcends putting the finished dish on the table. Cooking - for me at least – is about making yourself something to eat and sharing food with others but is also – whisper it - about the quiet moments of joy to be had along the way. Watching the progress of dinner as you stir onions in a pan, at first crisp, white and pungent – you may have shed a tear - then slowly becoming translucent gold, darkening to bronze, all the time becoming softer, sweeter. Take them too far though, and those sweet onions will turn bitter. And that is where a good recipe comes in and partly the point of what I do, to guide a new cook towards a pleasing dinner, and for those who have been cooking for years, to share a recipe that they may not know.
He is king among food writers . . . There is not a cook or a reader in the land who wouldn’t gratefully hug this new volume of his to their chest’ Nigella Lawson
‘A magnificent volume of comfort. After all these years, no one describes the simple sensuous pleasures of food better than Slater’ Bee Wilson
‘This is a book for life . . . This, and it’s high praise, is Slater’s best book’ Diana Henry, Sunday Telegraph
‘It’s so good. I think it’s his best one, and I say that because every single recipe is something you’d make tonight, for supper, with no fuss or stress . . . It’s super-homey and a friendly, comfortable book for people who don’t view recipes as projects. Divinely written, as per’ India Knight, Sunday Times
‘I've got five Nigel Slaters – and in all honesty I don't need a single new recipe in my life . . . But that's absolutely nothing to do with it. Cookery books are like new clothes – you imagine a whole life to go with them’ Alexandra Schulman, Daily Mail
‘It is beautiful’ Grace Dent
‘This beautiful book has all you’ll ever need’ Graham Norton, Virgin Radio
‘Every time Nigel Slater announces a new book, I quickly make a spot next to all his other books that sit on my bookshelf. His latest book, A Cook’s Book is like your favourite chocolate cake, sweetened with fond memories and layered with Nigel’s wisdom to make us all better cooks in the kitchen’ Nik Sharma
‘It’s gorgeous’ Felicity Spector
‘It’s beautifully designed, spilling over with tempting ideas’ Express Books of the Year
‘The beauty of his prose is matched to the warmth of his recipes’ Tom Parker-Bowles, Daily Mail