Nigella Lawson's Simple Food Philosophy

The Clever Cookstr is joined by award-winning cookbook writer Nigella Lawson, here to talk about her new book, Simply Nigella. She shares her food philosophy, the joys of bowlfood, and advice to aspiring cooks. 

Kara Rota
2-minute read
Episode #76

Nigella Lawson's cookbooks have truly changed people’s relationships to cooking—beginning with How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess. In her new book, Simply Nigella, she's sharing with us the meals that nourish her daily life. Here are the tenets of Simply Nigella's food philosophy:

1.) Cooking Is an Act of Comfort

Comfort food isn't just bland fare that's the edible equivalent of a cocoon, but it's also the act of cooking as meditative. Food should make you feel good not only when you eat it, but when you cook it. Simple and feasible recipes can provide a break from the mania of the workweek, but don't need to be nostalgic or stodgy. Comfort food should be uplifting and make you smile. Spice and texture achieve that.

2.) Enjoy "Bowlfood"

The concept of "bowlfood," which makes up a chapter of Simply Nigella, represents those meals that are eaten out of a single bowl, perhaps not even at the table: eating and cooking without any of the complications. It harkens back to childhood memories of eating a simple and comforting meal, but with grown-up spices and flavors that usher bowlfood into adulthood.

3.) Find Common Ground

When feeding a crowd that includes multiple dietary restrictions, cook one meal that everyone can eat. Over a meal, you're trying to find common ground. A vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake will please even the most omnivorous eaters. Cooking for restricted diets can be a challenge, but it can bring creativity rather than frustration. 

4.) Make Kitchen Mistakes

Cooking is like life: things go wrong all the time, and if you are afraid of making mistakes you are going to be very inhibited. Sometimes the wrong ingredient turns out to be the right ingredient. Almost every kitchen mistake can be righted, except for oversalting. Broken cake? There's very little that powdered sugar and raspberries won't cure.

5) Cook for Yourself!

You can't expect to whip up a three-course dinner for six friends without practice. By cooking for yourself, the pressure is off and you can experiment with flavor and methods. You can learn how ingredients work together and gain skills that will serve you when cooking for a crowd. You need to feel at ease in the kitchen by yourself before catering for others.

6.) Cooking Is a Generous Act

Don't worry about judgment when you're feeding people. Whether it's pasta, roast chicken, or bread and cheese, people are grateful to be fed and appreciate the effort you've put in to it. Your friends aren't there to judge you! Cooking for people is a generous act, and cooking for yourself is a generous act. Both are very important. 

Check out Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Books-a-Million, or Apple, for more delightful recipes and helpful tips.

Enjoy these two bonus recipes from the book: Breakfast Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cocoa Nibs and Chicken Traybake with Bitter Orange and Fennel.

Image courtesy of Keiko Oikawa.

About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.