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on 22 January 2004
...I've always liked the way Nigella Lawson writes....her books make you want to read them, not just abandon to a dusty life on the kitchen shelf...She has a lovely way of making the recipes seem effortless, and most of them are as simple as they sound...I love the variety of recipes in this book, the little anecdotes that go with them, and the constant encouragement to experiment at home...the reader is made to feel that the recipes are not 'cast in iron', that it is possible to tweak and change them at our will...
The other thing I like about this book, is that Nigella is not selfish about her sources for recipes...if she finds a good recipe somewhere else, she gives the name of the book...like Nigella, I do a lot of 'middle of the night' browsing on the internet, especially in Amazon...and most of the books she mentions, or includes in the bibliography, I've been able to track down to purchase for myself...
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and my teenage son is testimony to the success of the recipes that I've tried. My favourites? the Chocolate brownie recipe, the Christmas-Morning Muffins, which take 25 mins from start to finish, (I've even been known to make these on a school-day morning, and I'M a teacher!)The easy danish pastry recipes, the calvados syllabub....I'd list more, but I really think you need to get your own copy!!
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on 9 May 2007
I had heard of the chef Nigella Lawson, the domestic goddess, but I was yet to read one of her books or try her recipes. I bought this last year as a gift for myself, and I must admit that the first thing to attract me to the book was the cover! Very pretty and feminine. But once I got home and curled up with the book and a cup of tea, I realised just why Nigella is known as the domestic goddess; the recipes are out of this world! I looked through the entire book and found lots of recipes that I was itching to make, and the illustrations are gorgeous, a visually stunning baking guide. The book has something for everyone, even if you do not have a sweet tooth, it also contains savoury recipes. The cheese and onion pasties went down a treat, and the pizza rustica was just delicious and unusual too. My favourite recipe was the sour cream chocolate cake, it sounds strange adding soured cream to a cake, but the result was a moist cake, not temple achingly sweet yet still gooey and chocolatey. And the cheesecakes were perfect, much better than the shop bought artificial creations we are accustomed to. Overall I would say that this is the best baking book I have ever read, and I have read a lot of Delia and Mary Berry too. Nigella deserves her domestic goddess name tag and this book is not only a joy to look at but is packed full of some of the best recipes you would ever see.
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on 29 December 2001
Nigella Lawson makes cooking a pleasure. This book has a healthy balance between cooking for the family and cooking for guests that you want to impress. There was not a single recipe that I didn't want to try and by the time I had read the book I felt I knew Nigella and her family as old friends. Nigella encourages you to alter her recipes and feel confident doing so. I have never before bought a cookbook by a famous chef because I felt the recipes were too fancy or the ingredients were too difficult to buy, the majority of the ingredients in Nigella's recipe's can be found in most kitchen's or in the local shop. I cannot praise this book highly enough.
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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2004
No, I am not refering to Ms Lawson. I recently bought this book and have already tried over 10 recipes - each one a complete success and by that I mean absolutely no left-overs.
If you are looking for something to impress without having to spend many slavish hours in the kitchen, this book will give you enough ideas to keep you busy for many weeks to come.
The recipes are easy and I mean dead-simple! No fuss, no fiddling about with kitchen gadgets, no watching over the stove - nothing. Each recipe is stripped down to the basics and presented in a simple, idiot-friendly manner and yet the results are worthy of a nod from a gourmet chef!
I love the Sweet and Salty Peanut Biscuits, so different from the peanutbutter type biscuits we know. The Brownies are spectacular given that they are so easy to make, but wait...the Molten Chocolate Babycakes will leave you quite lost for words!
There is also a chapter on breads all all things yeasty. Here Ms Lawson pleads us to use old potato water as the liquid. Huh?! Well, yes, that's what she says! Who am I to dispute a guru. So, improbable as it sounds, I tried it. And .... well, frankly I don't quite see the big difference. I have turned to making my own bread for a few months now but it always finishes in two days. I have yet to test the theory that bread lasts longer with old potato water.
I also love the chapter on pies. Loads of easy stuff here to make and bake and I must confess that I am guilty of using family picnics as an excuse to make the Pizza Rustica and Cornish Pasties.
And finally, do not over look the chapter on puddings. For something unusual, try the Red Gooseberry Clafoutis and Om Ali. They are different and guaranteed to get you some 'ooohs' and 'aaahs'.
In general, I have enjoyed the reading the recipes in this book as much and making them - but not as much as eating them!!!
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on 25 January 2009
Nigella Lawson's written style is colourful and ebullient and she coaxes you into trying these recipes like you're a close friend. But my word her oven is from a different planet to mine. I have tried her brownies, muffins, kuchen, various breads and biscuits from this book and ALL of them have needed dramatically longer cooking time (in some cases double). And this is in a variety of ovens, all with the same results. In fact, I have taken to annotating this book with my own temperatures and timings (as a general rule, notch the gas down slightly from her setting and add half as much cooking time again).

Newer editions may have amended this (they certainly fixed the error that had me making banana loaf in a 1lb tin rather than a 2lb), but judging from the scarily short cooking times Nigella gives for roast turkey in her new Christmas book, I doubt it.

That being said, the photography is a work of art on its own. Drool over this book, then go and make a Mary Berry instead.
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on 26 January 2007
I have had this book for about five years now - given to me by my cake loving husband. "Pah!" thought I, "I am already a domestic goddess!". However, to give Nigella her due, she is famous for a reason and she really does know baking. Even if you find her nauseatingly camp and simpering on television, she was always a journalist and this book is well written with amusing and useful comments throughout.

It's a great all round bible of cakes and biscuits with things to bake for all occasions, with children, for children, dinner parties, Christmas and a special chapter dedicated to chocolate - yum!. Nigella is a self confessed bodger and although this is not a desirable quality in a baker, the recipes give the impression that most people would be able to cobble up something resembling the illustration.

The accompanying photographs are just beautiful. Simple, stylish and mouthwatering. There are also some unusual recipes in there that even an accomplished baker like myself would find exciting and refreshing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to whip a little something up in the kitchen to delight their family and friends. I have used my copy so often that the cover has fallen off.
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on 3 August 2007
I've had this book ever since it came out, but the only reason I'm writing this review now is because I feel the need to defend Nigella's recipes. Any person who says her recipes are 'guesstimates' either doesn't own this book or hasn't ever cooked from it.Of the 100+ cookbooks I own, this is the one I've used the most and have yet to come across a recipe that has failed. If you love to bake then you must have this book and if you love to cook, then it is imperative that you own all her books.
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on 20 November 2006
This is my favourite cooking book at the moment. I think that Nigella and I have a similar taste in food, and she inspires me to WANT to cook her recipes. The cupcake recipes and the chocolate brownies are a firm favourite in my house. However, I took a star off for her totally inept cooking times! The brownie recipe does need an extra 15-20 minutes cooking - they're not so bad if you let them cool a litle and put them back in the oven, I know I tested 3 different cooking times! So if you're confident enough to have a go without being put off with having to 'tweak', then this is an inspiring read. Novices and the unexperimental beware - you may end up feeling like a Domestic Failure.
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on 18 February 2004
If you have children or simply just love to bake then this is the book for you. My kids and I have tried numerous recipes from this book and all have been a great succees (with the possible exception of the courgette cake). The peanut butter and snickers muffins are such a family favourite that I have had to put an embargo on them or else we would have them every day. Living in Hungary means that all the necessary ingredients are not always available, but with a bit of experimenting it is still possible to make our favourites. Buy a copy yourself, give the recipes a go and then recommend the book to all your friends.
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on 4 December 2006
I bought the hardback version in 2001 and can't imagine life without it. Although I have long been a baker and kitchen-potterer with an armful of books on the same, this is the book I always reach for.

Yes, there are some recipes which don't work for me and even one which clearly had an error in it, but that doesn't detract from the lush gorgeousness of the recipes, the writing and the magic feeling it inspires.

I have made so many of the recipes - the banana loaf and the cherry loaf frequently come out of my kitchen, as do the Chocolate Cherry cupcakes, and the fairy cakes. I refer to it for any kind of baking, jam making, chutney, children's sweet treats and tray bakes. It's my first port of call if I want something glamorous, sweet or comforting.

I love Nigella's bossy tone, her giving of history along with method, her explanations and her use of language. To say she has plagiarised others' work is simply spiteful: she gives all credit where it is due and admits her inability to leave alone, so all recipes have had her tinkering, even where clearly described in originating from another author.

If you love the fond idea of 'kitchen putskying' as Nigella calls it, more than the actual doing then this book is also for you. All Nigella's books need to be sat down with over a glass of wine or cup of tea. It's impossible not to be sucked into reading on and on.

In my mind this book is what you would hope a warm bossy mum or grandma would write for you. And as Nigella says in the intro; it's not about Being a Domestic Goddess, but about Feeling like one. It's about The Great Cake Scam (which she describes as how simple it is to throw together a simple sponge or a tray of fairy cakes and yet how everyone is so impressed).

Even with a few errors and misplaced enthusiasms, to me this book is just Perfect!
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