Nigella Lucy Lawson (born 6 January 1960) is an English journalist and broadcaster-turned-television personality, gourmet, and food writer. She is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa Lawson whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. food and catering business in the UK. In 1999 she hosted her own cooking show series, ‘Nigella Bites’ on Channel 4 accompanied by another best-selling cook book author. ‘Nigella Bite’s won Lawson a Guild of Food Writers Award. Her 2005 ITV daytime chat show ‘Nigella’ however was met with a negative critical reaction and was cancelled after attracting low ratings. She hosted the Food Network’s ‘Nigella Feasts’ in the United States in 2006, followed by a three-part BBC Two series ‘Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen’ in the UK which led to the commissioning of ‘Nigella Express’ on BBC Two in 2007. Her own cookware range, ‘Living Kitchen’ has a value of £7 million, and she has sold more than 3 million cook books worldwide to date.
While some rate Nigella as an exceptional cook, others in the industry consider her to be no more than a ‘food constructor’ – but there’s no denying she does come up with extremely simple, tasty and easy-to-make dishes. Though Lawson has enjoyed a successful career in cookery, she is not a trained chef and does not like being referred to as a “celebrity chef”. Furthermore, she does not see herself as a cook or an expert in her field. Throughout Lawson’s television programmes she emphasises that she cooks for her own pleasure, for enjoyment and that she finds cooking therapeutic. When deciding upon which recipes to feature in her books she takes the view of the eater, stating, “If it’s something I don’t want to carry on eating once I’m full, then I don’t want the recipe … I have to feel that I want to cook the thing again”. She clearly has a huge following both in the UK and the USA, proven by the continuum of her own cooking and lifestyle shows every year for the past 15 years. Here are a couple of her quick and easy canape recipes that will definitely impress your guests…
NIGELLA LAWSON’S ITALIAN CHILI AND BLACK OLIVE LAMB CHOPS
Lets face it, everyone loves a lamb chop and these little beauties are bound to please all – no cutlery required either. For extra intense flavour prep the chops and soak them in the marinade overnight. Serve at room-temperature along side a bowl of warm water with lemon wedges for guests to clean their fingers afterward.
• 12 lamb rib chops
• 4 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons for frying)
• 3 cloves garlic (peeled and sliced)
• 1 teaspoon dried chillies
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon Maldon salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
• 15 pitted black olives (sliced)
• 1 long red chilli (deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
Layer the rib chops between cling-film and flatten gently with a rolling pin or mallet. Unwrap and place the chops in a large dish, so that they all fit in a single layer. Pour the 4 tablespoons of oil over the chops and add the sliced garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle with the salt and the olives, then turn the rib chops in the marinade so that both sides are coated. Cover and leave the lamb to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, and add the chops, scraping off the marinade before you put them in the pan. (Reserve the marinade.) Fry them for a couple of minutes a side on quite a high heat so that they take on some colour. Turn the heat down to medium and pour the reserved marinade into the pan over the now coloured chops. Add 2 tablespoons or so of water and cook for about 5 minutes for rare cutlets or a little longer if you like your lamb well done (this will also depend on the thickness of the chops). Transfer the chops to a serving plate, pour over the juices from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped red chilli or sliced up raw spring onions.
NIGELLA LAWSON’S WARM SPINACH AND COCONUT SHOTS
• 2 tablespoons green Thai curry paste
• 1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
• 500 grams frozen chopped spinach
• 250 ml freshly boiled water
• 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
• 1 red chilli deseeded and chopped (optional)
Put the curry paste into a medium-sized saucepan or casserole with a lid, and add a few tablespoons of the coconut milk to whisk it into a paste over heat. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, and add the frozen spinach chunks. Stir, then pour over the boiled water. (It should almost cover the spinach, but not quite.) Add the vegetable stock powder and stir to mix. Bring soup to the boil before putting on the lid and turning the heat down, so that the soup cooks at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. When serving, if so wished, sprinkle each bowl with chopped red chilli or crumbled crispy fried bacon bits.