Cooking Couple

Nigella Lawson and Rachael Ray: Separated at birth?
It must be globalization. British TV chef Nigella Lawson, with her lavishly filmed cooking shows, has already made her mark on American TV cookery. Half the shows on today's Food Network are indebted to her Nigella Bites, what with their glossy sheen, loving ingredient close-ups, and closing shots of the chef chowing down with giggling guests. But now Lawson's influence is spreading in another direction. The publishers of her new book, Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast (Hyperion, $35), say that it "is her solution to eating well when time is short," that the meals within are "quick to prepare and easy to follow," and that you "can conjure them up after a day in the office or on a busy weekend." That sounds an awful lot like the approach that made U.S. TV chef Rachael Ray famous.

Which has us thinking that although these two couldn't seem more different - Ray is an everywoman from upstate New York who grew up in the restaurant business, while Lawson is a former literary editor connected to British aristocracy - maybe they're more similar than we first imagined.

To wit:Rachael RayNigella Lawson
Personal Look:Long, flowing currently black hair. Simple tops and lots of jeans. Proudly displays her curves.Long, flowing always black hair. Simple tops (sometimes in denim) and lots of black skirts. Proudly displays her curves.
The Kitchen You Can't HaveBright green and orange, retro-chic, tiled decor. Excellent working antique stove that you'd be lucky to find in any condition, much less functional, on eBay.Softly lit, modern, and gigantic. Has the world's largest pantry - walk in and sit down.
Annoying QuirkIs she a chef or a traffic cop? Enough with the overexaggerated hand talking already.Yes, she's British. But, Nigella, we call it cilantro, not coriander.
Inefficient KnifeThe Santoku, a Japanese knife used for thin slicing, is her tool of choice. Ray uses it for everything, including chopping herbs, a horrible task for this knife's flat blade.Her mezzaluna's curved blade is great for chopping herbs, but who has a mezzaluna? Everyone, on the other hand, has scissors, which Lawson uses to snip just about everything. The trouble is, scissors have the unfortunate tendency to rust when you wash them.
Telling RecipeMakes pasta carbonara with rigatoni instead of with the traditional spaghetti. Otherwise, there's a standard allotment of pancetta, wine, eggs, cheese, and parsley. She makes you feel better by excluding cream.Makes spaghetti carbonara with lots of pancetta (about twice the amount called for in Ray’s recipe), wine, eggs (also doubled), and cheese. She makes you feel better by including a good dollop of cream.