Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cookbook Corner: How to Be a Domestic Goddess

NOTE: I'm a cookbook fiend. I have no idea how many cookbooks I have, but the number is well over 100. Easily. I've never stopped to count. If I go into a used bookstore, there's a good chance I'll come out with a new cookbook to add to the collection.

When it comes to cookbooks. I'm not picky. I like the classics, gimmicky books, books by celebs, hell--even books of recipes complied by members of neighborhood clubs are awesome. There's always something to learn from cookbooks. My only exception to this rule: all books by Rachael Ray suck. There's no nicer way to say that.

Since I have so many books, I thought I'd do a somewhat regular feature reviewing my collection. And today we're starting with Nigella Lawson's classic How to Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking.

What to expect: Nigella Lawson is British and her way of speaking is dizzying. I don't think the woman's met an adjective she doesn't like. Her word choice is grandiose and her writing style matches. When you read her books, you can hear her honeyed accent dripping over the pages. But that's what makes Nigella's books fun. I was given this book as a gift when I got married in 2003, and I must say that it's a great book for gift giving.

The book houses recipes of varying levels of difficulty and deliciousness that will tempt even the most committed dieter. If Nigella's flowery descriptions don't get your mouth watering, photos of scones drizzled with chocolate, overflowing martini glasses filled with syllabub, and stark iced gingerbread are sure to turn you into a salivating Pavlovian dog.

Nigella doesn't believe in perfection, which is refreshing. She makes baking approachable and tempting. There isn't one thing in this book that intimidates me.

Best recipes: I obviously haven't baked everything in the book, but here are five of my faves:
  • Banana Bread (page 33)
  • Blackberry Galette (page 115)
  • Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (page 166-I love this one so much that the pages are stained from batter splatter!)
  • Chocolate Mousse Cake (page 176)
  • Peanut Butter Squares (page 223)
Complaints: Because Nigella isn't into perfection, you may find that you need to adjust baking times and ingredient amounts a bit. Be careful if you use her Buttermilk Birthday Cake recipe (page 210). Greta tired this one out and ended up with a cake that was a bit too dense for our liking.

Nigella's coming from a very British perspective, so some of her combinations and ingredients may seem a bit off to us Americans (game pie with jellied stock [page 281], anyone?)

Deliciousness Scale: 4 1/2 spoons of yum out of 5!

This review was based on the 2001 hard back version of this book. ISBN: 0-7868-6797-3


phairhead said...

love her!!! her TV show is wonderful too :D do you think as a baking novice I would be able to manage her receipes?

Lydia said...

Yes, of course! Her food is really approachable. Plus your mom's an awesome baker, so there's a baking gene lying inside you somewhere. :) Make the dense chocolate me. Its easy and OMG so good.