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Set Your Tivo: "Jamie at Home" and "Nigella Express"

There are few things more joyous in this time of wet and cold in Los Angeles than to curl up on the couch on Sunday mornings, a steaming cup of tea in one hand, my TiVo remote in the other, and catch up with Jamie and Nigella.

I'm speaking of course about British authors Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, both as well known for their remarkably cozy cookery series as they are for their amazing and sinfully delicious cookbooks. Both are culinary heroes of mine and my dining room is filled with their books as, typically, my kitchen is overflowing with their delicious (and sometimes quite naughty) recipes.

Thanks to Food Network, both are currently running new series at the moment: Oliver has Jamie at Home, a back-to-basics series about growing your own veg and preparing it at home, and Lawson has returned with Nigella Express, a series tied around making fantastic food quickly in an "express" style all her own.

When he's not traveling around Italy in a refitted 1969 camper or trying to save schoolchildren by changing what they eat at school, Oliver is a culinary workhorse, challenging Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, running growing restaurant empire fifteen and its similarly-named foundation, making podcasts, overseeing a line of cookbooks and culinary tools, and keeping up with wife Jools and their two daughters.

So it's a nice change of pace to see Oliver in a little ramshackle kitchen on his property on Jamie at Home, picking vegetables from his own garden and cooking them (along with meat and dessert, yes) in inventive, seasonal ways that Alice Waters would approve of. There's no flashy camera work (a la Oliver's first series, The Naked Chef), no celebrity guests, no banter with the producer, just straight, honest cooking from a chef who brought a paired-down, simplified aesthetic to the masses. See Jamie rave about chilies, wax nostalgic over the simple fare of his dad's pub, and offer up some mouth-watering meals that you'll want to make at home: pappardelle with slow roasted leeks, omelet salad with bresaola, meringue with hot pears and chocolate sauce, hot and sour rhubarb with crispy pork and noodles, hot smoked salmon with chile salsa.

While Jamie might be all about paired-down simplicity, Nigella is all about express excess in her new series, Nigella Express, which offers recipes that are so simple and the opposite of time-consuming that it would be a surprise if you weren't heating up the stove minutes after watching her latest episode. Here, the time-saving recipes are often not for the fat-conscious though they are deliciously sinful affairs: caramel croissant pudding, a Camembert and Brie-laced cheese fondue with kirsch, rocky road crunch bars, flash-fried steak with white bean mash (a favorite of mine already), cherry cheesecake, doughnut French toast, buttermilk roast chicken. Which is part of the point of watching: think of it as aspirational television. Even if you can't possibly eat everything Lawson is making, the style and flair with which she does it is so disarming that you can't possibly look away look enough to wipe the drool from your mouth.

Nigella Express is home-style cooking at its most seductive and easy and Lawson offers up recipes and tips for all occasions and meals but the emphasis is always on the fact that, while there are tricks and some shortcuts, it's homemade and the point is to enjoy food with your guests (or family) and not be slaving over the stove for hours while the party carries on without you.

My hint: record them both and then watch them back-to-back on an early Sunday morning, still in your pyjamas with that aforementioned cup of tea and a dog on your lap. You'll almost swear you can smell the food emanating from the television set.

Jamie at Home airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am ET/PT and Nigella Express on Sunday mornings at 10:30 am ET/PT, both on Food Network.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Power of 10 (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); American Idol (FOX)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS);
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); Lost (ABC; 9-11 pm); Moment of Truth (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC)

What I'll Be Watching

9-11 pm: Lost.

Catch last season's two-hour finale ("Through the Looking Glass"), here repeated in a special "enhanced" broadcast with on-screen facts and info about storylines and backstory. In other words: the perfect opportunity to catch up before tomorrow night's Season Four launch... and to lure in new viewers.

10 pm: Project Runway on Bravo.

On tonight's repeat episode ("Even Designers Get the Blues"), the remaining designers are tasked with creating an original denim design out of jeans and jackets of various hues and textures; Jillian reaches her breaking point; Ricky turns on the waterworks once more.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Damn, damn, damn.

I knew Jamie was doing a show and have been TiVoing it since the second week, but I had no idea I was missing out on new Nigella shows.

Damn, damn, damn.

Hopefully they will rerun the dickens out of it.
These two fabulous people have changed my life. I never though I would be able to cook and, somehow, their passion for food and preparing it in a simple, yet delicious manner, has changed all that. I have loved all of their cookbooks and shows and "Jamie at Home" and "Nigella Express" are no exception. If you haven't seen them in action, I highly suggest tuning in. Just be sure not to watch on an empty stomach!

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