I get a little tired sometimes, of television personalities turning out a book a year whether we want it not (and, it seems, whether they want to write one or not) and frankly, I could barely summon the energy to languidly flip the pages and look at all the pretty pictures in this one. Nigella looks great, and has--endearingly--packed on a few visible pounds despite all of the above-the-waist shots and black clothing. She isn't really in a lot of the pictures, as she has been in past books, and her breasts, thankfully, are firmly put away (I guess Giada didn't get the memo).
But the food--that's what were talking about, correct? I thought so.
I've been overwhelmed lately. Not necessarily an unknown feeling in my psyche--perhaps it even can be characterized as a baseline from which I compare all of my other mental states--but at the moment, it is a persistent and crippling. Too many to do lists, too many obligations, and a lot of friggin' time spent circling the city endlessly in my car with little bickering ballerinas on the way to and from classes and those constant Nutcracker rehearsals. Never say I don't do anything for this city, folks; every single year my family puts our holiday on hold, just so you, dear citizens, can enjoy your favorite Christmas show. You know why? Because we love you, that's why. Every little mouse, every adorable lamb, and every sweet ringleted party child of The Nutcracker does it just to give the city of Richmond a once-a-year kiss wrapped up in a tangle of velvet and tulle.
It's all out of control and its only November 30th. It's bound to get worse. That's why I was relieved, once I was able to focus on the pages of Nigella's new book, to find that most of the recipes in it have just a few ingredients--many of which are spices and condiments we all have already. Some of the ingredients are even frozen (hush, now, don't cry).
But lordy, they're good. And as fast as promised. I forgot a crucial ingredient at the store for a much more time-consuming recipe I'd planned, and faced with the prospect of dinner at 9 pm (after a run to the store), I realized that because I had frozen, boneless chicken breasts in the freezer and some emergency frozen vegetables (perfect for sprains and bruises) and a can of beans, I could literally get dinner on the table in ten minutes, aided by my handy dandy panini maker for poultry defrosting, if I made the Rib-Sticking Stir-Fry on p.171. I had nothing for lunch, but I had frozen peas and frozen pesto cubes (yeah, I actually do that in the summer time just like the books and magazines recommend), so I made the excellent Pea and Pesto soup (Nigella recommends the "fresh" pesto you buy at the grocery store and I have no problem with that) with a grilled cheese and was burping up satisfaction fifteen minutes later. Best of all was the Mirin-Glazed Salmon, sweetly oozing umami goodness, and pronounced by my daughter as the best fish she'd ever had. Along with a little rice and some sauteed green beans, that baby made it to the table in about ten minutes, as well.
I'm still cooking away from this book, with no clunkers so far, and I think it's my new best friend. So, if you're anything like me (I feel your pain, I really do), do yourself a favor and buy this godsend as an early Christmas present to yourself. It will help to make your spirit bright when that old string of lights inside starts to flicker and dim.
Nigella Lawson's Mirin-Glazed Salmon
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 4-4 oz. pieces of salmon
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1-2 scallions, halved and shredded into fine strips
Mix the mirin, sugar, and soy in a shallow dish that will hold all 4 pieces of salmon, and marinate the salmon in it for 3 minutes on one side and, flipping it over, 2 minutes on the second. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat.
Cook the salmon, skin-side up in the hot, DRY pan for 2 minutes and then turn it over,add the marinade, and cook for another 2 minutes (I probably cooked mine for about five minutes because I was, typically, distracted by other things).
Remove to a plate and cover with another one to keep warm. Add the rice vinegar to the pan (now off heat) and stir glaze for a moment.
Pour the dark, sweet, salty glaze over the salmon and top with scallion strips. Serves 4 surprised diners (What?! Dinner's ready, now?! But I have to finish rearranging the furniture in my Webkinz®'s room!!).