IN the age of 24/7 food channels, it’s hard to imagine there’s much more to be learned about cooking, well, pretty much anything —- let alone a humble egg.
That’s what makes Nigella Lawson the home cook’s friend, still finding and sharing kitchen hacks, even she claims have “changed my life.”
And, after road-testing her latest handy hint — adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to an egg you’ve broken into a cup before poaching — this wannabe domestic goddess can confirm it as every bit the revolution Lawson declares it to be.
“You can use vinegar, but the important part is you put it in a cup first, you don’t put [the juice] in the pan and that’s what changes everything,” she told News Corp Australia.
“It’s changed my life and one of the lovely things about social media is I’ve had so many people say, ‘that’s the first time I’ve been able to poach an egg in my life.
The citrus tip airs in her latest series, Nigella: At My Table, as part of an exotic recipe for Turkish eggs.
Now, with the festive season looming, Lawson admits she’s bunkering down in snowy London, preparing one party menu after another.
Fans of her TV programs will know any invitation into the former journalist’s upmarket abode means, at a minimum, being lavished with an over-indulgence of twinkling fairy lights and tea candles, whether ‘tis the season or not.
“If you love sparkling lights, we’ve always got plenty of those,” she trills.
As for the food: “I’ve got quite a bit of celebration and meals to do before anything else,” she explains, preparing to host drinks and dinner parties right up to her traditional Christmas day turkey dinner “with all the trimmings.”
“There are many meals around Christmas time, so for me this year, it’s duck with orange, ginger and soy … a simple recipe but a wonderfully festive one.”
It features in the December 20 episode in the six-part series, along with sides of garlic and parmesan mashed potato gratin and sour-sweet soused red cabbage with cranberries.
Besides guiding her audience about what to cook and how, the culinary star also sprinkles a few sage words on etiquette — and despite her rounded vowels and Sloane Ranger styling, you’d be surprised at her inherited advice.
Dotting your dining table with low-level vases and floral arrangements that don’t block your guests’ line of sight seems an obvious one, but others would most certainly not be found in Debrett’s table manners bible.
“My mother had a rule which was that conversation was most important. If people were talking, you couldn’t interrupt them to say, ‘please, can I have the peas?’ She would say, ‘don’t ask, stretch!’ because she thought it was so important not to be interrupting people all the time … for the conversation to flow was much more important.”
On her last visit to Australia, she also shocked an audience at the Sydney Opera House when she told Kitchen Cabinet host Annabel Crabb she — controversially — put clotted cream then jam on her scones, a suggestion met with an admonishing gasp by fans, who tutted their disdain for the deviant way to execute the Devonshire tea staple.
“People are divided on that, completely,” she says, adding “my general rule in life is as long as people do what makes them happy, I’m fine.”
“Taste differs a lot, I do feel, in a way, that it’s a miracle we can unite so many people with recipes because we all have slightly different tastes. Not everyone likes the same herbs and seasonings and I think, in a way, if you can just encourage people and I explain to them why I love what I love … if someone wants to add a different herb, then they should. The thing is cooking is something we share but at the same time, it’s all our own.”
What she loves about Australian foods, and souvenirs regularly on her many visits, is our salt and wine.
“I take home a mixture of salts. Last time, I had some Murray River pink salt and Tasmanian salt. I always have to take home Tim Tams for all my Australian friends back in England, so I’m always weighed down with things like that.”
Back in January to begin filming the 10th anniversary season of MasterChef Australia, Lawson is also taken by the pioneering cooking show.
Besides the depth of talent and food knowledge of contestants, she says: “it’s a very kind program and it’s positive and helps people in the right way. It’s not at all about making people feel bad about themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere, really encouraging, so I love it.”
* Nigella: At My Table, 8.30pm, Wednesday December 20, Foxtel’s Lifestyle FOOD.