The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater
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The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater

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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,381 ratings  ·  75 reviews
"Right food, right place, right time. It is my belief�and the point of this book�that this is the best recipe of all. A crab sandwich by the sea on a June afternoon; a slice of roast goose with apple sauce and roast potatoes on Christmas Day; hot sausages and a chunk of roast pumpkin on a frost-sparkling night in November. These are meals whose success relies not on the ex...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 19th 2006 by Gotham (first published 2005)
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Miriam

The title does not lie: this really is a culinary diary and not a cookbook. There is an entry for every day of the year: always food-related but sometimes merely about shopping for food, or what's growing in his garden, or what he bought and ate. Only occasionally are actual recipes spelled out in a way that can be reproduced. More often, a dish is described sufficiently that a reasonably experienced cook could figure out how to make something similar -- if she could find the ingredients.

Fresh,...more
Tamara
Beware: this is possibly the longest review I've ever written of a book I have only skimmed.

Three things I disliked about this book:

1. I had a very hard time convincing myself to “read” a cookbook. I usually skim. But when I skimmed I missed things!
2.I hate it when authors live in much more advanced, metropolitan areas and think that it’s easy to find 10 farmer’s markets “on the way home.” This just makes me jealous.
3. I find it suspect that someone would keep an ingredient such as rhubarb “...more
Sheena Lambert
Another great book by Nigel Slater. This time he cooks his way through the calendar year. As with APPETITE (his other book I own) this book reads as well as any novel, and introduces its recipes like anecdotes. I love being able to refer to the date (or month anyway) I am myself cooking in to see what might be a suitable recipe/shopping list for the day's dinner.
My one gripe with the format of the book, is that Nigel comes across as a little annoying insofar as all he seems to spend his day doin...more
Philippa
So many of my foodie friends talked about this book and now I know why. It is quite possibly the best cookbook I've ever read. Inviting, sumptuous, but never prentious, Nigel Slater talks us through a year of meals he cooks and eats, tantalising with delicious details. He eats seasonally, so each month reflects the best of what is naturally available at that time of year, which is the ideal way to cook and enjoy food. As well as recipes, there are just loads of great ideas - things to pull toget...more
Jessica
Jun 16, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lauren
Shelves: non-fiction
This month-by-month cookbook/memoir is the star British chef's diary of a year and what he really eats at home. If guests come over, it might be a roast with all the trimmings and a fabulous dessert. But if it's just him-and maybe his partner, whose presence is strongly felt but never named explicitly-it's a number of the kitchen meals we might do, described in an evocative way: a cold sausage from the fridge, perfect strawberries and cream. He writes about frustrations he finds in his weekly "o...more
Shimelle
I read this slowly and surely over 2007 and it has been such a life-altering experience. We live without television, so I couldn't tell you the first thing about Slater being a TV chef. We received Appetite as a gift a few years ago and fell in love with the simplicity of his recipes. Our favourite dish is from that book and it requires three ingredients, yet I guarantee it wouldn't be out of place with a high price tag at a good restaurant. So last year I picked up The Kitchen Diaries as a Chri...more
Garry
A lively read. Nigel Simpson writes "recipes" in the style of Elizabeth David. He does not number every little step and he is not always super precise in his measurements - "a good handful," "a glass of," and the like appearing more often than, say, "one and a half teaspoons" -- and employing lively, evocative descriptors like "enthusiastic boil" over traditional cookbookspeak. What is most interesting are the days when he confronts leftovers or seeks inspiration from what is on hand in his hous...more
Hallie
Warning: this book will fill you with longing for Nigel or his boyfriend's life. Every single day is documented. After a day spent making homemade flatbread and taramasalata, he writes "In my smug haze of good house-keeping from yesterday's baking session, not to mention my arch disdain for factory produced foods, I fail to notice there is bugger all to eat in the house. At seven-thirty I dash to the corner shop, returning with a can of baked beans, a bag of frozen fries, and some beers." See, n...more
Zarb
It's quite self indulgent to record your eating habits over a year and to then publish it all, but if you're Nigel Slater such an exercise just seems genuine. The man knows how to balance a passion for food with the need for practicality. It's not diner party stuff, it's cooking for the everyday, without compromising variety, taste or nourishment.
Alex
OK, so this is essentially a cookery book, but it's so beautifully written as a series of diaries it is much more than this! Fabulous seasonal recipes with delightful notes and commentaries. I know not everyone is a Nigel fan, but I just love his passion for good simple seasonal food, and his evocative style of writing.
Terri
A good book for those who like more to their cookbooks than just pictures and recipes.
This does was it says on the tin.
It is a kitchen diary. A good kitchen diary at that, a Nigel Slater kitchen diary, with about 300 recipes and pictures to go along with it.
Roz Dibley
I love Nigel Slater and the way he writes - like all good cookbooks, this is one that can be read whilst sitting in bed thinking about what you would like to cook.
Thomas
I love this book!

Food writer Nigel Slater, Britain's lesser known culinary hero, keeps a record of things cooked and eaten throughout the year, providing easy recipes and full color photos. The result is not just readable -- an accomplishment in itself, for a cookbook -- but thoroughly enchanting. And its so wonderfully unpretentious! He's into farmers markets and seasonality, for example, but he's not a zealot about it. And the meals he cooks sound amazing but they aren't terribly elaborate; of...more
Lee Broderick
After a few pages I was flexing my fingers, ready, with a flourish of my keyboard, to dismiss this book as food-as-lifestyle snobbery. Impractical and unreachable to the majority of the population - as indulgent as anything written by Simon Hopkinson. There is certainly that edge to it but it's impossible to level the food-porn guns squarely at someone who confesses to sardines on toast, fish and chips and takeaway pizza.

In truth, I'm not sure quite who this book is aimed at - Nigel Slater is cl...more
Elizabeth
Dec 23, 2009 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sarah
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Shana
I really can't recall the last time I enjoyed reading a book as much as I enjoyed The Kitchen Diaries. I spent most the weekend curled up with it on the couch under a warm blanket, drinking a hot mug of coffee. It's basically the perfect format for me - a combination of diary and cookbook, reflecting on seasonal eating, cooking experiments (both good and bad), and the pleasures (and sometimes shames) of food. After reading through half the year on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning dreaming of p...more
Becky
I heard Nigel Slater read from the "December" section of this book on the radio last Christmas Eve. I'm not kidding when I say I haven't forgotten it since. I've finally gotten ahold of the book and oh, the photos, and oh, the descriptions. One reviewer called it "food poetry." Will be cuddling up with this one for sure as the weather gets colder.

I've got to return this one, even though I could easily keep it on my nightstand and read each "diary entry" as the year goes by. This book could turn...more
devra
earlier this week, i finally finished my much-anticipated read of nigel slater's "kitchen diaries," a year-long account of what happened in his kitchen and garden in london. i had hoped it would provide me with some inspiration, especially for writing about my food, and as an added bonus might have a few pictures or a pleasant recipe.oh, how it was everything i hoped for and more. the writing was like food poetry. or porn, if one must be more graphic about it. every word conveyed this complete d...more
fourstar
Like all his 'recipe books' there is a theme running through this, which in this case is a whole year's diary of meals. Is this a fake construct or did he actually eat all those delicious recipes? I think he probably did (and more, which didn't make it into the final edit). Either way, some fantastic recipes included, all using seasonal produce from that fabulous little farmers market round the corner (yeah, I know, in reality it's shrink-wrapped from Tesco Metro at the Tube station).

Like Appeti...more
Samantha
There are a few books about food I read each year that I know within about four pages that not only am I going to need to acquire, but I'm going to end up stuck in the house reading each page, captivated, and am going to spend the next several weeks cooking avidly out of, and then use forever more on a regular basis.

Nigel Slater's "The Kitchen Diaries" is definitely one of these books.

Slater goes through a year of his own meals, sometimes giving full recipes, other times just offering a little m...more
Diana
This is more fun to read than to actually cook from. There are some good recipes in here, but also some that are just too much work (or leave ridiculous messes in their wake) to be worth it. It is nice, however, to read through his seasonal contemplation of what to cook, and his comments about the simple meals he throws together are the best part.
Finn
Food porn at it's best. At first I found this book tough to get in to as it's counter-intuitive for me to read a cookbook like a novel, cover to cover (especially a 400+ page one). But how very worth it! I want to buy a copy of this book and keep it on my shelves to reference and flip through. I want to swim through it's pages after farmers' market adventures and lick my fingers, smacking my lips with drizzles of olive oil and milky pillows of fresh burrata. Nigel Slater lives my culinary fantas...more
Anna
I got this book almost 5 years ago as a Christmas present from my husband (then-fiancé). I wasn't too sure about it at first, because I like my cookbooks to be ordered by courses, rather than by seasons.
But actually, this book has taught me a lot - making use of everything you buy, and learning to choose produce which is in season, rather than imported from other continents. And I have found that I enjoy cooking even more than before, thanks to this book. The diary part I avoided for a long tim...more
Julie Davis
I'm rereading this is a "devotional" sort of way. That is to say, meandering my way through somewhat in time with the journal entries. It is a wonderful way to keep a more spontaneous and different approach to cooking fresh in my mind as I wend my way through the months.

UPDATE
I finished rereading this and enjoyed it quite a lot as a kitchen "devotional" ... in fact, I'll be using Rose's shrimp risotto (planned for Friday) as the basis for next weekend's cooking, because Slater reminded me of Ris...more
Unwisely
Sort of a memoir/cookbook combo, recording what some dude I'd never heard of (but who has apparently published other cookbooks) cooked over the course of a year. His recipes are super-accessibly written (he says things like "the parmesan is indispensible in this", or "not necessary, but nice").

I haven't cooked anything out of it, but it was certainly a pleasant read. And if nothing else he's inspired me to attempt to ripen mangoes at home, something I didn't even know was a possibility. (Peache...more
Rachael
I loved reading this--it was a sensual treat. More cookbook-esque than I was anticipating, but the photographs were beautiful, and there was just enough non-recipe text to link the entries together (it's a year's worth of recipes from a fabulous British foodie and chef. As in, what he ACTUALLY ate every single day, not a year's worth of recipes for you). The photographs were beautiful and mouth-watering, yet simply composed so that it was obvious that this was freshly cooked food, not a plastici...more
Joanna
Reading this book was like eating the perfect meal—I enjoyed each entry and wanted to linger at his table for much, much longer. What I like most is how simple eating is to him. He assesses the weather and season and his mood and has no shame in feeding himself the antidote (or indulging in the sweet misery of a gray day with some kind of stew). Basically my new goal in life is to buy a cottage in the English countryside and recreate what I imagine his kitchen and garden must be, even though I k...more
Caitlin
Oct 28, 2008 Caitlin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cooks
This is the most wonderful book to read in bed at night before going to sleep because then you get to dream of all the amazing food that Nigel eats and writes about. This is more than a cookbook, it's a diary of what Nigel Slater eats for a year. He chronicles a years worth of his recipes, which are more like recipe ideas. Not too much is in clear measurements, instead there are food combinations and suggestions for what tastes good. I would love to spend a week eating what Nigel Slater eats...
Rebecca
This is such a lovely, atmospheric read- makes you want to run into the kitchen and start cooking ;)

Edit Aug '12- The wonderful news that a second Kitchen Diaries is coming out made me revisit this one, and how I love it. It is such a practical cookbook; there are recipes that you can plan for and impress with, but it is also very useful when you have something 'lying around' (like Nigel often does).... an on the spot decision to make plum crisp, p288, turned out beautifully just last week.
Julie Cameron
This is my absolute favourite cookbook. Reasons why:

1. chapters are organized by months/seasons, and the ingredients are very appropriate to what we tend to crave and what is available at that time.

2. His writing is incredible. It's rare that someone is able to express their love for food in such a literary fashion.

3. The recipes are delicious!!! I've tried so many of them, and they always turn out. I like his fuss-free approach, and the minimal ingredient list. Brilliant.
Deirdre Keating
Xmas gift from cousin Barb. Love Slater:-)
No idea how to shelf this one, memoir, nonfiction? Perhaps a cookbook shelf is in order, though is so much more. Loved his memoir Toast.


ETA:
Finally came up with a self for this and similar titles: kitchen-reads.
Haven't really finished it, read it here and there, especially as the seasons changed. The British taste of it make me think Laurie Colwin would have loved it. It will definitely continue to be opened regularly here.
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Nigel Slater is a British food writer, journalist and broadcaster. He has written a column for The Observer Magazine for seventeen years and is the principal writer for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. Prior to this, Slater was food writer for Marie Claire for five years. He also serves as art director for his books.

Although best known for uncomplicated, comfort food recipes presented in earl...more
More about Nigel Slater...
Toast Appetite Tender: Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch Real Fast Food Nigel Slater's Real Food

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“Good kitchens are not about size; they are about ergonomics and light.” 7 likes
“Almost anything is edible with a dab of French mustard on it.” 6 likes
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