To the degree that I dislike Martha Stewart, I love Nigella Lawson. I find her to be warm where Martha is cool, and self-deprecating where Martha is arrogant, and relaxed where Martha is uptight. Also, I like that she always generously and enthusiastically credits her sources and inspiration, whereas Martha always pretends she invented every recipe herself.
Nine or ten years ago, when Bob was in the Navy and Claire wasn't yet in existence, I used to sit down in our basement television room in Virginia and watch Nigella Bites for hours on end. I was just mesmerized by her prettiness and her accent and her command of English. (She has an MA in English and medieval languages from Oxford.) I loved her kitchen. I loved her dining room with a fireplace in it. I loved her midnight snacking.
And of course the food. Oh, the food. Nigella seems to really understand the emotional aspect of food and eating. "Food is love," she says.
I was 3,000 miles away from my mom (who is a cook extraordinaire), and this really resonated with me. :)
All this to say, I was pretty excited to download the Nigella Quick Collection app ($3.99) for my phone recently. It's really neat. There are about seventy recipes (ten are exclusive to the app, and the rest are from her cookbooks), and lots of videos and little tips.
The design of the app is really lovely, and there are some smart features . . . for instance, you can activate the voice command option for each recipe to tell it "forwards" or "backwards" so that you don't have to put your messy fingers on the phone screen when scrolling through the directions.
This morning Claire and I decided to make Nigella's Doughnut French Toast, which is from Nigella Express. On first glance, it just looked like a regular French toast recipe, but it comes out crispier on the outside than any French toast I've made before.
I should mention that all we had around the house as far as bread goes is regular ol' white bread (American, mushy, flavorless, nutrient-poor), and if you leave two slices of it in the mix for five minutes per side, as she says, it will soak it all up completely. So I guess these slices count as "large." I cut them in half diagonally.
So I doubled the recipe to have enough for four slices of regular ol' white bread. I'm sure it would taste better with a more substantial loaf, and of course American white bread gets so soggy when it's wet, but it still worked.
It makes for a very hearty breakfast, because you're getting two slices of bread, two eggs, a quarter cup of milk, and a bunch of butter and sugar in each serving.
It's really good. :)
Nigella's Doughnut French Toast
1/4 c. milk
4 tsps. vanilla extract
4 slices from a small white loaf OR 2 slices from a large white loaf, each large slice cut in half
2 Tbsps. butter, plus a drop of flavorless oil for frying
1/4 cup superfine (powdered) sugar
Beat the eggs with the milk and vanilla in a wide, shallow bowl. Soak the bread in the eggy mixture for 5 minutes a side. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan, and fry the egg-soaked bread until golden and scorched in parts on both sides. Put the sugar on a plate and then dip the cooked bread in it until coated like a sugared doughnut.