Ah Nigella! The woman who really taught me to love food. I remember the first time I bought one of her books. It must've been during my first year at university. The thrill of walking into a bookstore during my lunch break, not to pick up a text book, but to buy How To Eat! I considered it a present for myself so I even asked the sales clerk to wrap it up in shiny, golden paper. Only to tear into that wrapping as fast as I could. Every single page was read, every delectable word savored and not very far into the book, I knew that Nigella would always remain a source of inspiration.
What makes me love her, you ask? Well, she isn't a professional chef. She doesn't have her own restaurant. And she doesn't even swear on television. Her cooking style is simple and beautiful. No intellectual ingredients or high-brow cooking terms. Just passion. A love for food. In short, she is my breath of fresh air in a world of gastronomic arrogance. Her recipes have a certain 'soothing' factor, too. Feeling a little under the weather? Sad? Bad day at work? Make her old-fashioned chocolate cake. It is still the cure for all ails at my house.
I decided to welcome the weekend with one of her recipes: Italian apple pie. A new one from her latest book, Nigellissima- an ode to the Italian kitchen. Nigella was inspired to make this recipe after one of her followers on Twitter posted a photo of the cake, because yes, it really is more a cake than a pie, as Nigella says:
"The English title Francesca gave to her Torta di Mele was Italian Apple Pie, and I have stayed faithful to it, although the finished product is really more of a cake. Whatever it is, it is just wonderful: simple to make, and alluringly rustic."
I must admit that it's been a while since I've followed one of Nigella's recipes (or anyone else's for that matter). But while the cake was in the oven and the scent of warm apples and cinnamon filled my house, I was suddenly reminded of all those times I welcomed Nigella into my kitchen. The Ritzy Chicken Nuggets and Slime Soup for Halloween, Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins to make Kirstie smile when she came home from school, meatballs in tomato sauce or roast chicken on a lazy Sunday, brined turkey for Thanksgiving, chocolate fruit cake for Christmas.
Guess what I'll be cooking this weekend?
PS: Here's a peek into the book. Don't forget to catch her on BBC 2 this Monday evening! There's also a free taster app!