Nigella Lawson Offers Time-Saving Holiday Tips Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson shares some of the secrets from her new cookbook, Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast. Speedy recipes and clever short cuts come in handy during the hectic holiday season.

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

For most of us, life gets even more hectic at this time of the year, endless to-do list, long lines at the post office, long hours at work, chauffeuring the kids around, parties you have to go to and parties you have to give. Shopping for food and cooking a family dinner can seem like just another chore. So we thought we could all benefit from some fast food. No, we're not talking Mickey D's.

Food writer and television star Nigella Lawson has a new book out called, "Nigella Express," which offers 130 recipes for those who love to cook but have little time to do it. She joins us in just a moment.

Later in the program, the movie version of the bestseller, "The Kite Runner," opened this weekend. Set in 1970s Kabul, it's the story of a man atoning for a childhood sin. We'll talk about how the movie portrays Afghanistan the 30 years of its history with Peter Bergen and take your calls later in the program.

But first, "Nigella Express." If you'd like to talk with Nigella Lawson about cooking and how to manage those holiday dinner menus without losing your hair, give us a call, 800-989-8255, 800-989-TALK. E-mail is

Nigella Lawson's new book is called "Nigella Express" and she hosts a television show on the Food Network of the same name. She joins us from the BBC's Western House in London. And it's nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Ms. NIGELLA LAWSON (Host/Author, "Nigella Express"): It's always lovely to be with you.

CONAN: And one of the things I admire about your books is plain speaking and it was a revelation to see a cook admit that planning and shopping are often the most stressful part of dinner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAWSON: Well, I think so. I mean, I think it's incredibly hard to find the time to get everything you need and sometimes it just feels that the lists of tasks is endless. I mean, I rather like food shopping but I can't do it terribly well in a very for-working day. But I've learned to make do with rushing out at lunch time, getting a good store of things that will be there if I haven't got the time to go shopping. And I suppose I'd do what many women do everywhere which is I make lists, add in some item.

CONAN: And you shop a lot in the Internet you said.

Ms. LAWSON: I do, but I have a very bad Internet habit and I don't suppose everyone else to be so weak. It's a very dangerous thing to get into because, of course, if you shop and you don't have to carry what you're buying, you can buy many things you don't really need because someone else is going to carry it for you. I mean, it makes slight difference that I work at home, so I don't have that problem with - is someone going to be there to let in all the groceries, but I do. I mean, I shop enormously on the Internet. It's particularly good, I'd say, for those specialist products or fresh produce even that we might not get normally, you know, in a set of time.

CONAN: Those - you call them recondite items. That are…

Ms. LAWSON: Yes.

CONAN: …sometimes a little difficult to find.

Ms. LAWSON: But it can make all the difference. And sometimes buying a particular ingredient means that you have got the wherewithal to do something that is impressive but it doesn't take enough load of energy. So it's about using what's scarce to save what's even scarcer, namely time.

CONAN: And you also said your life has gotten a lot easier since you've admitted to yourself that the pre-chopped fruit and veg is okay.

Ms. LAWSON: Yes. I mean, I do feel the shade of my late mother absolutely berating me because it would have shocked her, partly because she came from - she was a child in the Second World War, therefore, brought up with rationing which I don't believe you had.

CONAN: Not to the same degree. No.

Ms. LAWSON: Not to the same degree. So, therefore, it was very much the idea of the waste and the unnecessary expense you get from chopping. I'm afraid I came to accept it through a rather spurious little path, which is I was in the Rialto Market in Venice, which is one of the most beautiful displays of food ever and you can possibly see, I mean, it's absolutely astonishing. And, of course, the Italians are very, very precise about their food and how it's prepared. And I saw a lady manning the pumpkin stall, as you know in Europe they have these fabulous stalls which have anyone but of produce.

CONAN: And there are several by architects somehow.

Ms. LAWSON: Yes. And they're extraordinary, much better than any still life. And yet, she had peeled and chopped some to those customers who didn't have time for that themselves. In other words, the - it's good enough for the Italians, I'm no longer going to balk.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Our guest is Nigella Lawson. Her new book is "Nigella Express." I have to say one of the first recipes I turn to - I am not much of a cook, though I do it from time to time - but I saw your recipe, your Calamari With Garlic Mayonnaise and I have to say I was little taken aback to see that you include Old Bay Seasoning.

Ms. LAWSON: Yes.

CONAN: Now, where does a Brit like you find out about Old Bay Seasoning?

Ms. LAWSON: Well, the thing is that what seems to be very normal. You've got to understand for me has this fabulous touch of the exotic. So when I go abroad, I always go food shopping. You know, some people spend many mornings in museums and art galleries but, actually, I'm in markets. And I first of all back a little tin of this stuff because I found the tin itself is enchanting. It wasn't even known how delicious it was. And I supposed that's in a way, if you like, a sort of form of tourism that I find in a way very agreeable which is putting something back, somehow making it part of your own rituals even though it's a borrowed technique or a borrowed ingredient.

So I suppose I'd say that all that I don't get fill out on fusion, I certainly think that through travels or through reading, which often is the way we travel as well, you can pick up little hints or an idea from overseas, so I love that.

CONAN: Most people around these parts, of course, we're broadcasting in Washington, D.C…

Ms. LAWSON: Mm-hmm.

CONAN: …and in Baltimore, Annapolis, the whole Eastern shore have this wonderful crab restaurants where you get - they just dump a dozen on your table. It's just covered with brown paper and you crack it open with a hammer. And the way you know when you've had enough is when there's so much old bay seasoning under your finger nails. You can't stand it anymore.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAWSON: Such a fabulous picture. When I've seen an eaten crab in the States, it is so much (unintelligible) than the crab I come across here. I mean, it looks to me as if it's from some 1950s, you know, science fiction B-movie with, you know, a crab that could take over the world that's so huge.

CONAN: And the waterman, of course, would say, well, back in my day when they are much bigger - anyway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Now, let's get some callers.

Ms. LAWSON: It still tastes good.

CONAN: It is still very good. Get some callers in on this conversation. Again, our guest is Nigella Lawson. Her new book and her new television program is "Nigella Express." 800-989-8255. E-mail is

Sophie(ph) is with us. Sophie, calling us from Douglas, Michigan.

SOPHIE (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi. You're on the air.

SOPHIE: Hello. Actually though, Nigella, I'm shopping right now to make the Chocolate Fruitcake that you made on your show two weeks ago and I'm going to be serving it on my party on Wednesday evening.

Ms. LAWSON: That's so nice. It's such an easy fruitcake and, you know, I think that in the States people got a rule down on fruitcake because you think it's very dry and this fruitcake is almost more of a pudding. It's so moist and damped and dark.

SOPHIE: Oh, I know. After I saw you make it, I thought, oh, my goodness, you know, our fruitcakes are such a joke here. But this is just going to be wonderful.

Ms. LAWSON: Although, I'm really (unintelligible), I have actually a funny story about that. When I was filming it, my cameraman who I always work with said, oh, prunes, I hate them. And I said, do you mind? I was very, very close with him. And then he ate it afterwards and he said that is the best fruit cake I've ever had. And he asked for the recipe to give his wife, so I felt I triumphed.

SOPHIE: Well, hopefully, others will make your recipes and eat them and enjoy that. Thank you so much.

Ms. LAWSON: Thank you.

CONAN: And good luck with the fruitcake, Sophie. Don't tell your guests what it is until after they've eaten.

Ms. LAWSON: Good thinking.

SOPHIE: I will. Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

SOPHIE: Bye-bye.

CONAN: Let's try now to go to John(ph). John's with us - John's calling from Sacramento.

JOHN (Caller): Good afternoon, Nigella. How are you?

Ms. LAWSON: I'm very well. I hope you are too.

JOHN: I'm doing very well. I do the same thing with the HP Sauces you do with the Old Bay.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, I'm really…

JOHN: (Unintelligible) back with me.

Ms. LAWSON: And, you know what, it's called HP Sauce.

JOHN: Yes, because of the Houses of Parliament.

Ms. LAWSON: Exactly.

CONAN: Really?

Ms. LAWSON: Yes.

JOHN: So, anyway, my comment is on - what I really appreciate about your books and your show is your freedom with ingredients and using them in unconventional ways sometimes, and also your ability to use kind of corny techniques that may be old fashioned or something that your mother would have done and you just make it so practical and cool that my wife and I, we really, really enjoy it.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, thank you.

JOHN: Enjoy watching your shows and reading your books.

Ms. LAWSON: Thanks, a lovely thing to say. I mean, I have to say I think that I'm on a chef, I mean, not by a long shot. I'm not even - I mean, I'm just an ordinary family home cook and I think that that's what everyone understands because cooking at home isn't the same thing as in the restaurant. You can use the parse and you don't have to be, you know, always dizzyingly nobel(ph).

JOHN: Right. And cooking at home leads me to my last comment, and that is your trip at the end of each show to the refrigerator in your robe, is that something you actually do because it's definitely something I do after a good dinner at home.

Ms. LAWSON: I certainly do. And sometimes, I'm afraid, I don't even go to get my robe on and I'm just still wrapped in my bath towel.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOHN: Oh, it's been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you and bye-bye.

Ms. LAWSON: Lovely talking to you.

CONAN: John, before you go…

JOHN: Yes, sir.

JOHN: A lot of her recipes also call for something called Golden Syrup. I lived in England for a few years so I know what Golden - I know what the package looks like, anyway…

JOHN: Yes, we have Golden Syrup as well. It's a green and gold can…

Ms. LAWSON: That's right. Beautiful can.

JOHN: Yeah. My wife…

Ms. LAWSON: It's that golden syrup is…

JOHN: …is from Europe so I've been enlightened in all of these things.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAWSON: Golden Syrup is heavenly I'm glad you appreciate it.

JOHN: Oh, I do. I love it very much.

CONAN: Thanks very much, John.

JOHN: Bon appetit.

Ms. LAWSON: And you.

CONAN: And goodbye. I also wanted to mention clearly, not a trained chef. A trained chef would never say, look, I've got a recipe for chocolate mousse and we could skip all those silly egg yolk things and go right into melting marshmallows.

Ms. LAWSON: Yes. I mean, I certainly made chocolate mousse in the conventional manner as well. But I first made my quick chocolate mousse and my instant chocolate mouse, we had marshmallows falling out not because I just have to be speedy because someone didn't want their children eating raw eggs, which I understand.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. LAWSON: And if you melt marshmallows, you get the gelatin from that and it sets the mousse. But strangely, it gives it an enormously silky, (unintelligible) in the mouth that is personally agreeable without it having to be, if you like, a safety device. You just want to go for straight away and you don't have to wait for it to set. So if you suddenly got people coming for supper, you know, you can make it before you sit down to eat it doesn't have to sit for a day in the fridge.

CONAN: Would you go so far as to recommend - I'm not even sure they make it anymore - marshmallow fluff?

Ms. LAWSON: I'm - I haven't tried it. They do make it. I mean, I think it will be a very expensive way round of doing it. And I think there may be even more sugar in marshmallow fluff than in marshmallows. But…

CONAN: Hard to imagine.

Ms. LAWSON: …anyone wants to give it a try?

CONAN: If you're looking at an empty fridge, a full schedule and an upcoming dinner party, we've got just the cook for you.

Nigella Lawson is with us. You can send us e-mail, 800 - e-mail is and you can also call us 800-989-8255. Back with more talk with Nigella Lawson in just a moment. Stay with us.

I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking with food writer and television star Nigella Lawson this hour. And just in time, as well as struggling to eat something other than candy canes this season, if you haven't been taking notes on the conversation, you can find Nigella's Eat-and-Run Breakfast Ideas as well as recipes for glazed salmon and instant chocolate mousse at our Web site And if you want a little direct advice for Nigella herself, give us a call 800-989-8255. E-mail is You can also check out our blog at

And one of the things I also like about your book is the line: only have a starter and appetizer if it makes life easier for you. A lot of people feel compelled if they're having people over for dinner. Well, that's one of the courses.

Ms. LAWSON: I know it's - I do think people have not quite updated how they think about entertaining and I - people act as if they're giving some grand ambassadorial dinner with many courses and a huge process of, you know, a little (unintelligible) here and then put something up there, and it's all different. And, you know, sometimes unless you have a huge array of china - I mean, sometimes, you have to get up and wash plates and crockery in the middle of a - you know, in the meal. And I think that people work much longer hours than they use to, so that it means you don't get home until so late and we will get up early for work. And so I think that two courses is fine. I think what makes us even feel relaxed often is something to pick at over drinks.

But really, no one really needs to have three courses in the evening or even in the lunchtime. I think you've just got to liberate yourself and think what makes it easy for me and also what makes it comfortable for my friends.

CONAN: You also note the idea is to have a good time when your friends are over for dinner.

Ms. LAWSON: Yeah.

CONAN: And even if you messed dinner up, it doesn't mean you're going to have a bad time.

Ms. LAWSON: Not at all. And I think that we've all either given dinners or gone to them where someone has been so stressed that the tension in the room is palpable. And really, you could have the best meal you've ever, ever eaten in your life, but in that atmosphere, it's not going to taste that good. So really, I mean, I was - you know, amused people when I say that I'm a food writer, but I really think if the food is the most important thing at your house, something's wrong because conversation and just the mood of the room really are very important and the food should facilitate that, it shouldn't get in the way of that.

CONAN: Let's get some more callers on the line. This is Dawn(ph). Dawn with us from Louisville in Kentucky.

DAWN (Caller): Hi, Nigella.

Ms. LAWSON: Hello.

DAWN: I just want to say I absolutely love you. I have been hooked every since, and I'm collecting your cookbooks, apparently. Your newest one is on my Christmas list. And it's funny my boyfriend says that you and I are lost twins, we look similar, we cook in the same fashion, have the same approach to foods.

CONAN: Your boyfriend is a lucky man.

Ms. LAWSON: I can have you a lovely accent.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAWN: And the funny thing is one of your recipes for Coca Cola hams…

Ms. LAWSON: Yes.

DAWN: …has become a holiday tradition. I cannot stop making it. If I did, there's a revolt.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, very good. You should try my version I do as well with Cherry Coke.

DAWN: Oh, I - see, my son wants me to try it with root beer and orange soda and all these things.

Ms. LAWSON: Well, you know, I think orange might be too strong, but I have tried it and I think it went out in one of the holiday programs I did. I did also do it with dried ginger. You know, we call it ginger ale.


Ms. LAWSON: I think it's not - but I think that the marriage of salty ham and some sort of sweet preserve is a very traditional one and with those using - if you like a rather convenient way of bringing this about.

DAWN: Oh. And it's so easy everybody is like, Oh, Dawn, it's so good, how you do it. I tell them you just - you drown the ham in coke and you cook it.

Ms. LAWSON: You know, most cooking, a lot of cooking is like that. It think a lot of professionals often - well, maybe they have to make it more complicated, but one people say it's me how do you make it so simple. I'm just say, well, it is that simple, really, I mean it's not - there's no trick is it?

DAWN: Right. And all of your recipes - I mean, that's what I love about them and it's something that everybody can eat, that it's so simple, you know, I'm - my goal/wish this past year was to try and more recipes and I've tried several things out of the cookbook, and everything and everything just turned out wonderfully, and I just absolutely love it.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, thank you.

CONAN: Dawn, thanks for the call and good luck with your cherry Coke can next time around.

DAWN: All right. Thanks.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's go to - this is Matt(ph). Matt with us from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ms. LAWSON: Wow.

MATT (Caller): Hello?

CONAN: Hi, Matt. You're on the air.

Ms. LAWSON: Hello?

MATT: Yeah. I was - you just kind of answered my question. I was wondering what a good, fun way to cook some meat for, you know, about six, seven people would be this holiday. And unfortunately, not like the rest of your callers, I'm only familiar with you from listening to NPR.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAWSON: Well, that's fine. So, I mean, that's a good way to cook it. I mean, I still think that the best way to cook meat is always a simplest and there's something I do an awful lot, which is from an earlier book but I think it's still a fits into my express philosophy because although it cooks for so long, it actually requires no time from you to do the cooking and that's - I roast pork sometimes and usually for more than about eight people, but I get a whole shoulder of pork and I cook it for 24 hours and that is in a really, really low oven. But certainly, if you got, say, a 9-pount giant of pork and you put the spices of your choice all over the skin make sure you score it with a knife by which I mean, you know, do thin lines in the skin as if you're going to play noughts and crosses.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. LAWSON: And then, put it in a - well, let's say, 325 oven or even 300 oven for five to six hours - even if you did for 12 hours it would still be heavenly - and it just melts and is extraordinary and you really don't do anything.

CONAN: We call noughts and crosses, of course, tic-tac-toe.

Ms. LAWSON: Tic-tac-toe. Oh.

MATT: I didn't know that Coke would work with mousse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAWSON: Well, I don't know. You tell me.

MATT: Well, we'll find out.

Ms. LAWSON: Tic-tac-toe, yeah.

MATT: Hey, have a Merry Christmas.

CONAN: Thanks, Matt.

Ms. LAWSON: And you.

MATT: Bye.

Ms. LAWSON: You remember that line that Bernard Shaw - that Bernard Shaw was -George Bernard Shaw who said, two nations divided by a common language.

CONAN: Yes, I believe it was. Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Here's an e-mail from Amam(ph). My precious but finicky 10-year-old daughter is a self-proclaimed vegetarian and has been for over a year now, which would be fine. But you also detest recognizable vegetables, both raw and cooked. She's not fond of fish and is worried about mercury in sea food, torture of egg-laying hens. You get the idea.

Ms. LAWSON: I do.

CONAN: I'm a working single mom who has little time for and no natural talent for cooking. I've tried to make a big batch of veggie lasagna, for example. She'll eat the first night, but never again. On the other hand, she'd eat chocolate until it oozed out of her ears. Please help.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, I wish I could. As someone with children, I really have every sympathy because children are really the sternest critics and the fuzziest eaters. I find my children will each all manner of vegetables in soup and I -and really get them into eat anything green otherwise is a bit of an uphill struggle. I also think that children have a natural - naturally leaning towards carbohydrates, and who can blame them.

So I think I divert something I call a white bean mash, which I buy cans of white beans and I drain them and I heat them up with a little olive oil and if your children, if your child will have garlic good but otherwise all well with salt. And then, I just use a wooden spoon and slightly make a lovely mash and the pan as it heats up three minutes or so. And then, you can think the least with pulses your child is getting some protein as well.

And I'm - pasta you know, obviously, you really don't need to tell you but if I didn't have pasta and pesto on my weekly menu, I would have a much harder life. But I think it is difficult because although children love repetition, they only like repetition when it makes it nice for them. When it makes your life easier somehow they get bored, and I'd - there's no way around that I'm afraid. It's really a question of trying to freeze things in small things so you bring things out of the freezer the next week.

In the old days, I remember going - for example, I remember going - when I was very small child - to my grandparents' house and you could tell what day of the week it was by what you ate when you went there. Because my mother had a - my grandmother had a rigid timetable that, for example, roast meat on Sunday, some set of chopped up meat thing on Tuesday. And I mean - it went on like that. But actually, it makes all life easier if you do that. It feels very, very dull what it probably is the only way to feed children without going mad.

CONAN: Let's talk with Kevin(ph). Kevin with us from Portland, Oregon.

KEVIN (Caller): Yeah. Hello.


Ms. LAWSON: Hello.

KEVIN: Hi, Nigella. I just want to tell you that my partner and I love your cookbooks and your show and we cook your food often.

Ms. LAWSON: Thank you.

KEVIN: I have something. You went to the Godolphin and Latymer Academy, is that correct?

Ms. LAWSON: One of the many schools, but - see, I'm afraid I was a very naughty girl when younger so I went to more schools than my parents would have liked.

KEVIN: Well, my cousin is Bill Vellutini(ph), who actually…

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, yes. I - Mr. Vellutini.

KEVIN: Yeah, and if…

Ms. LAWSON: Indeed.

KEVIN: …that's correct.

Ms. LAWSON: I must as quickly say that he was my English teacher at school…

KEVIN: Yeah.

Ms. LAWSON: …and he was - oh, wonderful. And we - I did, we have a different way of doing it, but it's like the highest part of school before you get to university and I did English which meant Shakespeare. We did "Anthony and Cleopatra" together, the Shakespeare, and Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." And he was a very, very important course in my life.

KEVIN: Oh, well that would - that will mean the world to him because he's (unintelligible)…

Ms. LAWSON: And he's a good at mending China, I remember.

KEVIN: He is. And he's isn't just a wonderful man and…

Ms. LAWSON: Yeah.

KEVIN: …there'll be stories about taking you to school before, and he always…

Ms. LAWSON: He did, he did. He used to pick me up. His partner worked in the Harrods.

KEVIN: That's right.

Ms. LAWSON: And he used to pick me up on the bus stop on the way to dropping his partner to work. It was fabulous.

KEVIN: Yes. Well, I'll tell them that you said hello and they're both doing well…

Ms. LAWSON: Please send my love, and say thank you.

KEVIN: I had a question - of course, I will. Of course. I had a question for you, though. He said your mother was a wonderful cook. Is that correct?

Ms. LAWSON: Yes. Yes, she was.

KEVIN: What was one of the favorite things that she made that you liked?

Ms. LAWSON: Well, it sounds so undynamic, really, but she used to make a really fabulous poached chicken with rice and egg and lemon sauce. And the egg and lemon sauce was really like a French Hollandaise sauce. And it had a bit of saffron in and it's so - in other words, she put egg yolks in a double broiler and beat in more butter than people would really want you to be using now. I obviously had my problem with that. And add lemon and saffron and then, at the very end, a ladle-full of the stock that - the broth that the chicken had been poached in. And, for me, it's like a food that doesn't really exist anymore because any form of poached or boiled food will sound very unexciting for people because everything have to…

KEVIN: Very traditional English then.

Ms. LAWSON: It's - well, it was a bit of French in as well.


Ms. LAWSON: You know, a sort of - a bit of a hybrid as indeed my family are. And so that I really loved.

KEVIN: Well, thank you very much and I'll send Bill your love.

Ms. LAWSON: Please do.

KEVIN: I will. Thanks. Bye-bye now.

CONAN: Thanks, Kevin.

Here's an e-mail from David(ph) in Des Moines. Many recipes will note the amount of time it takes to prep and cook a dish. It always seems to take me at least twice as long as the recipe indicates. Can you explain why this is? And are the recipes in "Nigella Express" really going to save me time?

Ms. LAWSON: Right. I can easily explain that. But I that if people are not used to cooking, it can make them hesitant. And I think it is probably true to say that we - the more we do things, the faster we get. We do it almost in automatic. So I can see that if you're doing a recipe that you haven't approached before or uses a method you haven't approached before, it might take a bit longer. I'm pretty brutal. I even add on time. I mean, it's certainly true that I do everything at very dangerously high speed. But when I do a book, I also try and make sure, always, that I am edited by someone who doesn't cook a lot. Because I think it's very good to have normal queries and people who are perhaps not so - I won't say new to the kitchen - but certainly, not so used to being in the kitchen.

I really think that all my timings - if anything err on the side of saying, well, it might - this takes longer than it might take. But you always have to build in - quite a part from the prep time - you have to build in that ovens all very different. And it always frightens me when I cook at other people's ovens - how one must be - is so different in their kitchen than it might be in mine. But if anything, things take longer in mine because I use a gas oven and not an electric oven. So at least, if anything, things will be ready faster in a more modern oven, perhaps. But, you know, I love a gas oven. And you can see, if you would look at any of the recipes in my new book, you can actually see all the steps and you could see how simple they are. I mean, they even have to peel an onion on this book.

CONAN: One of your recommendations in the pork chop recipe is to take the pork chops, put them between two plastic pieces - pieces of plastic and then smash the briefly but brutally to make them thinner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I like that very much. We're talking to Nigella Lawson. Her new book, "Nigella Express: 130 Recipes For Good Food Fast." You're listening to talk of the nation from NPR News.

And let's talk now with Diane(ph). Diane with us from Tucson, Arizona.

DIANE (Caller): Yes. Hello.


Ms. LAWSON: Hello.

DIANE: Hi. Nice to speak to you. I'm a huge fan of your show.

Ms. LAWSON: Thank you.

DIANE: And one of the things that I just love about it is the very poetic way you describe the food as you're interacting with it. You're not just cooking it. You're having an affair with it.

Ms. LAWSON: Well, I'm not really having affair with it, but just carry on.

DIANE: I absolutely love it and I love your show. And are you going to be on Food Network again soon?

Ms. LAWSON: Well, I think it's - I've had a show that's just been going on. I've just done the 13-part show that started in the fall.

DIANE: Right.

Ms. LAWSON: So it must just got to the end.

DIANE: Right.

Ms. LAWSON: I mean, the thing is - well, there's two things I'd say to you. One is that I don't come to this from a food background, really. I started off as a journalist and a literary journalist at that.

DIANE: Right. That shows.

Ms. LAWSON: So the words interest me a lot. Also, I don't use a script, which makes people anxious. But I think it's always better to have the odd mumbling, and ahmming(ph) and ohhing(ph), but actually just talk from the heart and straight out there.

DIANE: Right.

Ms. LAWSON: But one the reasons why the show look good - it has nothing to do with me - it's because they are filmed a bit like a movie.

DIANE: Right.

Ms. LAWSON: And so that for one show that may be 21 minutes, it's almost - it's four days filming. So that it's quite difficult for me to do enormous numbers. And I feel that because my children aren't happily old…

DIANE: Right.

Ms. LAWSON: I want - yeah, I can't take them to school and pick them up when I'm filming. So only really film 13 shows a year. And that was really my maximum.

DIANE: Right. Well, as they get older, I hope to see more of you and just know that we in America just love the way you present it and I can tell that you're a writer. You know…

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, thank you.

DIANE: …it's just beautiful to listen to and fun to watch. It's a delight to talk to you today.

Ms. LAWSON: It's so lovely to talk to you. Thank you.

CONAN: Thanks for the call, Diane.

DIANE: Thank so much. You bet. Bye.

CONAN: One part that you admit that the shows leave out is that you're obsessive about some things in the kitchen.

Ms. LAWSON: Well, I think I couldn't do what I do unless I weren't obsessive about things that get done that - anyway, if you're going ask me, I feel flatly apprehensive. But I certainly - I'm not obsessively neat or anything healthful like that, but I…

CONAN: Your note-taking.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, my note-taking. Yes. And such legible notes at that. And not only note-taking. And I will explain which is that I didn't really know I was going to do "Nigella Express" as a book. I had another book which was slightly bigger venture in the sense it had those research and little avenues to go down. But I was standing having a cup of tea in my kitchen and I was looking at my notes because whenever I cook, I scribble down what I'm doing or I dictate to one of the children - because I'm a great believer in child labor, as my mother was before me. And I suddenly thought, what am I doing? Here is my book because these are all the recipes - they weren't strictly recipes - that I cook all the time, because I haven't got time to cook anything else. And that's how it evolved.

But not only do make notes when I'm (unintelligible) first (unintelligible) of everything I cook. And I'm not even a very good photographer. And I'm of those people who's very grateful for the digital age because in the old days, when you have to get your photos developed, I was always embarrassed that I go on vacation and I come back and maybe two pictures would be of the children and all the other pictures would be of meals I'd eaten. And I could see the man giving me back my photos thinking, what kind of a mother is this? So now, at least, it's only me and my computer.

CONAN: Nigella Lawson, as always, thank you so much for being with us.

Ms. LAWSON: Oh, thank you.

CONAN: Good luck with the book and with your next program.

Ms. LAWSON: Thank you so much.

CONAN: The book is "Nigella Express: 130 Recipes For Good Food, Fast." Nigella Lawson joined us from BBC's Western House in London.

Coming up, if you ever wept over Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel "The Kite Runner," we've got a review of the movie for you from one of Afghanistan's frequent visitors, Peter Bergen. Stay with us.

I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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