Not Quite Nigella by Lorraine Elliott

not quite nigella

I hadn’t looked at Lorraine Elliott’s blog before reading her book, but since I don’t live under a rock, I had already heard of the very popular Australian foodie blog, ‘Not Quite Nigella’.

The blog Not Quite Nigella has been around since 2007, which probably makes Lorraine a great, great grandmother in the field, although in her author’s photo on the front piece of the book she looks quite young, with a resemblance to the beautiful Nigella Lawson, who Lorraine calls her “cooking mother.”

Lorraine is an Australian woman who lives in Sydney, whose parents were from Hong Kong and Singapore. The book consists of stories about Lorraine’s husband, Mr NQN, their friends and family, and the adventures she has as a lover of food and as a very successful blogger. Quite a few chapters end with a recipe, which range from family recipes and comfort foods, to spectacular cakes which would hold their own as a dessert in fancy-pants restaurants.

The recipe in the book that most appealed to me was 2000 Feuilles. The combination of puff pastry, hazlenut paste, praline crisp, meringue buttercream, vanilla creme patissiere and praline cream sound absolutely wonderful, although I will never make these for myself because the recipe is just way too much hard work. If I ever get to Paris I will be on the lookout for a Pierre Herme boutique, where I will purchase one of these precious pastries and carry it away with me to laugh and cry over, photograph and eventually gobble up. 

Lorraine’s stories about her parents are hilarious. I particularly enjoyed a story about her mother, who will share her recipes but leaves out ingredients, in order that her children have to visit to enjoy their favourite meals, since they can’t replicate her recipes.

Mr NQN grew up in a vegan family eating mostly raw foods. The stories about his parents are funny too, and I have sympathy for Lorraine trying to prepare a meal for her in-laws who don’t eat meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, bread, wheat or chilli. There wouldn’t be many recipes in my repertoire that would suit Mr NQN’s family. Thank goodness He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers and his family aren’t fussy eaters.

For her blog, Lorraine interviewed Nigella Lawson, who Lorraine says greeted her with Eurpoean kisses and said, “Oh, it’s Not Quite Nigella” when they met. It’s probably obvious, but Lorraine says discovering Nigella Lawson’s books started her love for cooking. Lorraine says that when she was interviewing Nigella, inside she was a “river of melted chocolate”.

Lorraine visited prisons to blog about the food, volunteers with the Salvos where she cooks desserts for those in need and goes off on adventures across Sydney chasing the perfect Peking Duck.

The book finishes with some good advice about how to blog and how not to blog, which ‘Not Quite Nigella’ is perfectly qualified to give.