Nigella accused of copying recipes

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Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it appears to have landed Nigella Lawson in hot water with her viewers.

The Domestic Goddess was forced to confirm that recipes in her latest show are her own after viewers accused her of plagiarising them.

Nigella, 57, cooked a sunken chocolate amaretto cake, mussels with ditaloni pasta and a radicchio and a chestnut and blue cheese salad this week in her BBC2 series, At My Table.

But eagle-eyed viewer Kathryn Grant pointed out that a book written in 2005 by River Café founders Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray featured strikingly similar recipes and nearly identical ingredients.

Having flicked through her own copy of River Café: Two Easy to prove the remarkable likeness, Grant went as far as to suggest Nigella had simply ‘taken’ them. 

She tweeted: “Is it pure coincidence that all the recipes on Nigella_Lawson #AtMyTable tonight are basically taken from  the “River Café: Two Easy” cook book?!”

The TV chef said: “None of them are.” She added: “I always always credit when I’m inspired by other recipes or cooks. Always.”

However, she had to elaborate after being shown photos of the similar recipes from the River Café cookbook, admitting: “It is a coincidence. Now you’ve shown me, I am somewhat amazed. I don’t know these recipes of theirs.” 

Lonel Cironneau, AP

After being shown Gray and Rogers’ recipe for ditaloni pasta with mussels and white wine, she explained: “That short pasta is traditional with mussels btw, but I agree many similarities.”

The viewer added: “They’ve all been tweeked with your own stamp – but surely an homage at least?!”

A representative for the River Café declined to comment last night.

These two recipes resemble each other very closely. 

Nigella recommends gorgonzola or stilton, as well as radicchio and vacuum-packed chestnuts as the basic ingredients. 

The River Cafe uses radicchio, walnuts (in a ‘Recipe Tip’, Nigella points out that walnuts can be successfully used as well), and some Parmesan. 

The dressing for each uses olive oil and citrus juice, though Nigella has lime and orange and the River Cafe lemon. 

In addition, there is mustard, honey, sesame oil and sea salt flakes. 

Very similar ingredients in these flourless cakes: 70 per cent cocoa solids chocolate, unsalted butter, eggs, caster sugar and cocoa powder. 

But Nigella’s has ground almonds and the River Cafe suggests blanched ones (but then you grind them in a processor), as well as a vanilla pod. 

Both are baked for around half an hour and dusted with cocoa powder.

Nigella says she “likes to use ditaloni which is a sturdy but small pasta” – or, as the River Cafe calls it, ‘small tubular pasta’. She cooks up olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes and vermouth, then adds mussels to steam in the ‘aromatic liquid’, before adding parsley. 

The River Cafe uses ditaloni, mussels, garlic, parsley, butter, olive oil, wine and cream. 

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