Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson returns to the kitchen next week with a new BBC2 series celebrating Italian cooking.
The six-part series, Nigellissima, features easy-to-make Italian-inspired recipes, from pasta to desserts, using ingredients available in most supermarkets.
TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with the 52-year-old cook what’s on the menu…
The idea for Nigellissima was all mine… I have worked with the same production crew for ever and we are like a family now. I am really proud of this series and I hope people will be enthused by it.
I worked as a chambermaid in Florence when I was younger… I spent a lot of time cleaning lavatories, but I also learned about real Italian food, and by the time I’d left I had found my spiritual and gastronomic home.
I am not a diva… I am an easy person to work with and I don’t throw strops. Neither do I act a part. I’m the same on screen as I am off screen.
Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated… I think my recipes are straightforward. I stay true to the Italian inspiration, but I inject some of my Englishness into the dishes. For example, a very traditional recipe from southern Italy is pasta with sardines. But I use smoked mackerel instead as it is far more accessible. I also take a pavlova and add some cappuccino to give it that Italian taste.
I don’t know if any of the show’s ingredients will spark a ‘Nigella effect’… If there were one, I would love it to be the long fusilli that I use on the programme a lot. It’s like spaghetti only very curly.
I don’t cook at home for this series… I actually cook in a replica of my kitchen. It worked far better for everyone. There was no disruption and my family could get on with their lives.
Like most women, my weight goes up and down… I eat three meals a day and I do exercise, too. Maybe it is an age thing, but I have come to realise that exercise does make a difference.
Juggling work with being a mum doesn’t get any easier as the children get older… As someone pointed out to me, ‘Little children, little problems. Big children, big problems.’ But being at home a lot means I can drop everything for them.
I am not as brave as I used to be… In the early-1990s, I went on Newsnight and Question Time. I am not sure if I would do something that was not related to cooking on TV now, though it’s important to give yourself a challenge.
Nigellissima begins on Monday, September 24 on BBC2 at 8.30pm