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Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

By Joanne Smart, web producer

August 25th, 2014

By Nigel Slater
Ten Speed Press; $27.99

As I paged through Nigel Slater's new book, Eat, I stuck a Post-it note on every recipe I was excited to try. By the time I was done, the book looked like a porcupine with pink paper quills. Slater, one of Britain's most highly regarded food writers, is not a professional chef, and this award-winning book, originally published in the U.K. in 2013, is geared to home cooks. The weeknight-friendly recipes (around 600, if you include variations) call for few ingredients, but they're intriguingly and intelligently combined. Each short, narrative-style recipe features a color photo of the finished dish under which is an at-a-glance shopping list. The directions read easy and breezy, but Slater includes the evocative details that really matter, such as the direction to scrape up "all the toasty, crusty chicken bits" on the bottom of the pan in his One Pan Sunday Lunch. Further eschewing traditional recipe structure, the serving size (usually two but easily doubled) comes at the end of the recipe along with a haiku-like fragment describing the dish: "Nannying, frugal. Utter bliss." (This for Cauliflower Cheese Baked Potato.) Because the chapter titles also defy convention-"In the hand," "Under a crust," and "On a plate," for example--there's a helpful index of "what to eat by main ingredient." And by the looks of my sticky notes, that's just about everything.

Recipes Tried
Cod with Lemon, Tarragon, and Crème Fraîche, p. 217 An ingenious way to cook fish: cod, butter, lemon juice, and tarragon start in a cold pan, and then simmer before capers and crème fraîche get added to finish. The result is silky, tender fish and a luxurious, fragrant sauce.

Marmalade Chicken, p. 271 How can three ingredients--drumsticks, marmalade, and whole-grain mustard--taste so good? Try it to find out.

Excerpts from Eat
Root Vegetable Tangle
Potatoes, parsnip, carrots, onion, rosemary, pumpkin seeds
Serves 2. A light main course. A side dish for any grilled meat.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Shave 8 ounces potatoes, a large parsnip, and 2 large carrots with a vegetable peeler. Peel and finely slice an onion into rings. Toss the potatoes, parsnip, carrots, and onion in a large mixing bowl with a heaping tablespoon of rosemary leaves, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, then transfer to a baking sheet. Spread out into a shallow layer. Bake for 20 minutes, till tender and lightly crisp on the edges.

Marmalade Chicken
Chicken drumsticks,marmalade, whole-grain mustard
Serves 2 to 3. Sweet, spicy, succulent.

Put 6 large chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet or in a small roasting pan. Mix 6 heaping tablespoons of marmalade with 3 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard and a grinding of black pepper. Spoon the seasoned marmalade over the chicken and bake for about 30 minutes in an oven set at 400ºF, keeping an eye on them so they don't burn.

Reprinted with permission from Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Photos: Jonathan Lovekin © 2014

posted in: Blogs, eat, Nigel Slater
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