Nigella LawsonNigella Lawson

I am over Nigella Lawson recipes. Feel free to argue with me, but I have done three of them in the last week, and each one had rather serious flaws. A long time ago, even a few months ago, I would have chalked it up to my own inexperience. But I have learned a few things since starting this blog, and I’m more than capable of following a recipe. I think.

As much as I loved the dense chocolate cake, as did everyone else at our Sunday party including the birthday boy, the baking time is off by about thirty minutes. Furthermore, she instructs you to add water and flour to the batter spoonful by spoonful “until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.” Does that mean that you should stop adding when the batter looks right? And what does “fairly liquid” look like anyway? The first time, I stopped short of adding the full amounts when I thought it looked right. The second time, I added everything. Both times, it took well over an hour to bake, and I have a hot oven.

I got started with Nigella when I saw her recipe for a gin and tonic gelatin mold, which sounded perfect for a party. A quick google search found other home cooks who had trouble with this one. Perhaps it’s because she tells you that your six cups of liquid ingredients should fit into a four-cup gelatin mold. Am I crazy, or can that not possibly be right? “You should have reached the 6-cup mark; if not, add more tonic water, gin, or lemon juice to taste.” And then you have to get that into a four-cup mold. Either way, it never set. I consulted with a master pastry chef, and she said to add more gelatin. I finally got it set, but at that point it was too gelatinous. If what is essentially a giant Jell-O shot sits uneaten at a gay party, you know there is something wrong with it.

The third and final Nigella recipe was for pizza rustica, which in all fairness was delicious. I was hoping to find the recipe online, because frankly it’s too long to type out and not really worth making. It’s a double-crusted pie containing sausage, ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, prosciutto, mortadella, and egg. I got almost all of the Italian ingredients at the wonderful Di Palo on Grand Street, where they give you a generous sample of whatever you’re ordering.

I had some trouble with the pastry, but that may be due to the heat in my apartment and my lack of expertise. Still, though, it’s annoying for Nigella to describe her pastry technique as “foolproof on every level” when you have melted butter on your hands and sweat dripping from your brow. I had much less trouble with André Soltner’s crust.

I’ll give this lady one more chance if someone presents us with a truly great recipe. Mom: aren’t you a fan?


No, I’m not a fan; I think someone gave me one of her cookbooks for Christmas, but I seem to have misplaced it. Regardless, I’ve never cooked any of her recipes. You may want to read Luisa’s experience with one of Nigella’s chocolate cakes ; it wasn’t pretty.

Somehow I’ve managed to miss out on the whole Nigella thing. I was given one of her cookbooks (Feast, I think) but I didn’t care for it and gave it away. I’ve never seen her television show, and I’ve never read an article she’s written.

Here is another post where someone had a problem with one of Nigella’s recipes. Based on the bad buzz about her baking recipes, I don’t think I’d attempt to bake anything of hers. Her non-baking recipes seem to garner a fair amount of positive feedback though.

I think the world has become enamored with the IDEA of Nigella. I watched her show once or twice…I distinctly remember an episode where she was making a traditional Sunday lunch. She talked about the ease of preparation, because she could prepare the roast on Saturday evening, stick it in the oven OVERNIGHT, and lunch would be ready when you awoke after a restful night sleep. The show also included scenes of a perfectly put-together Nigella prancing about her beautiful English-countryside kitchen in her shabby chic dressing gown as I believe she enjoyed a glass of warm milk before heading off to bed. (maybe it was sherry…) I would have to imagine that this scenario was also supposed to involve a variation on that scene from Cinderella when she wakes up to the sun shining, and the birds singing. I feel like reality would be closer to waking up in a blind panic as the smoke alarm goes off. Maybe I am overly cautious when it comes to any and all appliances that reach temperatures of over 400 degrees, but I think it best to be fully conscious when operating them, and I really do not think I am going to take advice from someone who suggests otherwise!

I don´t care what you say, flawed or not , Nigella is the ur-goddess, and I worship her!

Thank you, all, for your comments. The consensus seems to be that Nigella has good ideas for recipes, but that in practice, you have to be a pretty good cook to make them work.

Carly: I agree! Go to bed with the oven on? That’s nuts!

i made her old fashioned cake and it was the best chocolate cake i have ever had, no joke. it was light, fudgy and absolutely delicious.

I am not the greatest cook but I have Feast and I love it. Nigella’s Guiness cake has become something I’m known for making (it’s fantastic and not difficult). Her big pasta mushroom bake is a pain to make (many steps for just making pasta) but it is heavenly and tastes great cold the next day. I made her turkey recipe last year for Christmas and am getting ready to make it again this year. It’s easy & it’s the best turkey I’ve tastes (which is amazing because I’m really not an experienced cook!)

I agree that she has great ideas for recipes. I’ve been cooking with her recipes for a long time, and I’ve found some pretty grievous errors (which ere easy enough to remedy), but some of her recipes are just so wonderful I can’t help bu love her. I for one, love the pizza rustica, and found her technique of rolling the crust in plastic wrap helpful for other crusts as well. Her Pizza Casareccia (sp?) dough recipe is great, but I adjusted it to be a little less wet. Her Bagel recipe is very good. I use it all the time. Try the Danish Processor Pastries with the ricotta cheese filling. They are absolutely to die for! Whatever you do, don’t waste your flour on the Norwegian Cinnamon Buns. The amount of flour she calls for is about half what it should be (and she called for 4 cups, I ended up having to add another 3 or 4 to get it to be a soft dough…it was like cake batter the way she wrote it. It must have been a typo.) Her scones and welsh cakes are great too. Hope this helps a little. I just enjoy her writing about her recipes. She inspires me to play with my cooking.

I was a huge fan of her TV show but after making my first recipe I’m a little annoyed! I unfortunately picked the one recipe Susan here has asked us not to (cinnamon buns) and.. oh my.. the dough was a mess.. and there was already so much of it, I really couldn’t see myself adding anymore ! I’m hardly cooking for the battalion !

The whole point of a recipe is to be able to follow it without using your brain !

I have tried a few of her recipes and they came out just fine , actually supeeerb. Thanks to her my reputation as a cook instead of a eater is growing . So Cheers to her recipes!!!!

personally i think you need to let your luv for cooking flow from your being and not from a cook book , the book is a mere guide .

Good luck to all .

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