Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 3, 2006 10:18 AM

Questions about "How to Be a Domestic Goddess"

  • s

I have owned this cookbook for a while. I have made a few things out of it and I have been very disappointed in the results.

Does anyone else have this problem with Nigella's cookbook?

Thanks for your input!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. i've had the opposite experience. i've made quite a few of the cake recipes (chocolate loaf, chocolate orange cake, banana cake, off the top of my head), and had great results every time. you know the feeling when you've had loads of cake failures, and then you take one out of the oven and it's perfect? that's the feeling i get with her cakes.

    i also made the pink grapefruit marmalade from that book to give as christmas gifts, and everyone who received it raved about it.

    having said that, different books/styles work for different people. for instance, i couldn't get along with Rose Levy Berenbaum's cake bible. even though many hounds swear by it, i never had a real success using that book despite many attempts. i guess i found Nigella's style relaxing and refreshing in comparison.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hobokeg

      It's interesting that even with cookbooks, the authors' 'voices' strike all of us so differently.

      I really didn't care for the Nigella Lawson cookbook I read recently, finding her too laid back and her tastes just didn't mesh with mine. On the other hand, I can't live without my Cake Bible and really enjoy Rose Levy Berenbaum's style of teaching. And everything I make from the book turns out wonderfully.

      *I guess that's why there's 31 Flavors!*

    2. I have not looked at or cooked out of that one but I do have Forever Summer which I like and I got Nigella Bites out of the library last week and have found a number of recipes in it that appeal to me.

      1. I generally have good luck. Her brownies, however, need to stay in the oven far longer than she suggestions.

        1. I was pretty disappointed with it as well, esp. since everyone raves about it. I couldn't even tell you what I tried out of it, but I know that nothing was very good. I had checked it out from the library, so I'm glad I didn't buy it. Maybe we've just tried the wrong recipes! One thing that I was particularly disappointed in was the fact that a lot of the recipes weren't even her own... I just feel like even I could make a compilation of my favorite recipes, but that doesn't make me a cookbook author! Oh well! Maybe her other cookbooks are better... I still want to try the grapefruit marmalade!

          9 Replies
          1. re: Katie Nell

            Yes, I felt the same way with "How to Eat" -- there were many recipes that she said weren't her own. On the other hand, maybe she's just being more honest than most, who knows?

            1. re: Dev

              That's quite possible!

              1. re: Katie Nell

                I guess I'm Nigella's lone fan here...I have both the books, and use them constantly. I've made her game pie (lot of work, but talk about a show stopper on a holiday buffet table), simple cakes, yorkshire pudding (my first attempt), and my all-time favorite, Barbados Cream. Despite my heavily Italian background (learned to cook from my immigrant Italian nonna and my mom), I love Nigella blending of traditional English, southern european, indian, and asian all mixed together. I'm baffled by the fact that folks might have trouble with her recipes, unless it's the euro-style of measuring and weighing...but using native Italian cooking magazines quite often, I long ago purchased a metric measuring cup and scale. And besides, the woman is drop dead beautiful!!!! :-)

                1. re: Jim

                  You're not alone. I love Nigella (and so does my husband). And that Barbados cream is fan-effing-tastic. I served it on the 4th of July over fresh strawberries and blueberries and everybody raved about it.

                  1. re: Kimm

                    Try her watermelon and feta salad with olives and red onions another fantastic dish. It is in Forever Summer and I am getting ready to try her fried haloumi cheese with oil andb chilis from Nigella Bites. I am a fan too.

                  2. re: Jim

                    you're definitely not the lone fan. as to a point raised by another poster, she doesn't claim to be a chef, and is very honest about the fact that she borrows and often adapts dishes that she learned from others. sure, we could all do that. and most of us probably do, in fact. we just don't write about it.

                    but in the end, i think what she contributes is the encouraging idea that cooking real, *good* food is possible, even for a busy working person with kids. lots of books have tried to do the "quick meal" thing, but the food never seems that appealing. with nigella, it's more about the food than the quickness, but she is very realistic about the time constraints on modern people!

                    as to her looks, i've seen her tv program once or twice and found it hilarious. at least she's got men paying attention to cooking shows!

                    1. re: hobokeg

                      I wish I would have known that when I started looking at her cookbook... I really knew nothing about her, expect that Chowhounders seemed to love her. I'm sure I just tried the wrong recipes, and will try again! (Interesting to me that she hasn't really seemed to receive any backlash like a lot of other "star chefs." Maybe she hasn't been over-exposed yet.)

                      1. re: Katie Nell
                        Amuse Bouches

                        I'm another Nigella fan, but I will also admit that I've had trouble with some of the recipes is How to Be a Domestic Goddess. The Gin and Tonic Jello Mold needs more gelatin, the Blackberry Gallette didn't work at all. It ran all over the place. But the chocolate peanut butter squares are little pieces of indulgence and the Supper Onion Pie has become one of my staples. The Zucchini Chickpea Filo pie is another fantastic one, and I had good luck with the chocolate cherry cupcakes. I like her writing style, and her recipes do inspire me. I own all of her books and cook out of them often. I would say that 90% of the recipes I've tried have come out very well, but there is that 10%, and if the possibility really bothers you that you might have to cobble something together, generally avoid her cookbooks.

                        FWIW, though, I think Domestic Goddess is probably the weakest of her cookbooks. How to Eat is my favorite (those Gooey Chocolate Puddings are pretty much the best thing ever) , followed by Feast and Forever Summer.

                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                          i have to agree that Domestic Goddess is her weakest cookbook, and with your assessment of the gooey chocolate puddings in How to Eat...i make them a lot!

            2. It's funny what you said about reading cookbooks and authors' voices. I have Nigella's How to Eat, and I often just read it straight through like a book (which makes sense, since it's very narrative--not just recipes--and no photos). I'm a cooking novice, and her reassuring tone and basic recipes for everything from a simple salad dressing to roasting asparagus are so useful. One day, I can use the same book to work up to complicated pies and roasts. It's not user-friendly in the way that you can flip from page to page with a recipe on each page, but it's an oddly comforting read.