Early Impressions: Nigella Bites and Some Baked Goods

This post was supposed to be a review of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, but I forgot to take a photo of my copy and I’m away at the moment. Thereby, my review is postponed. Foreshadowing alert: I loved Of Mice and Men. It’s the second book I rated five stars on goodreads in 2016.

You may think it’s a bit silly to delay a book review just because of its cover. Yes, I can easily upload a picture of one of the hundreds of Of Mice and Men covers floating online. But my copy is dear to my heart. It previously belonged to my grandfather and was published in 1938, merely one year after Of Mice and Men was first released. I kind of want to give whoever is reading this blog a feel of how damn thick 1938 paper were. Reading my grandpa’s Of Mice and Men felt luxurious, even if I shudder to think of the unnecessarily murdered trees.

So instead, here’s a mini-review of Nigella Bites and some tested recipes.

I adore Nigella Lawson. I love her style, her personality, and her philosophy. As a young teenager, her television shows were a revelation. Wow, I thought, cooking really isn’t so difficult. I can do that.

Until little over two weeks ago, however, I did not own any of her cookbooks – even though I’ve always had lemmings for all of them. Cookbooks are notoriously expensive. The inside flap of Nigella Bites says it normally retails for 35 US dollars, but I scored it for around 11 bucks at the Big Bad Wolf sale.

Now, I haven’t read the cookbook from cover to cover. Nor have I tested all the recipes (who has?). But this is a lovely book to flick through when tired after work. Or when searching for practical recipes. Nigella has a wonderful “voice:” funny and charismatic, unaffected and unpretentious. Weirdly, I find that she is more eloquent when presenting her television shows; naturally rattling off quotes by Oscar Wilde and John Keats. Her prose is more restrained and simple, but no less charming. I like both her speaking wit and her writing, but it is funny when someone’s prose is more conversational than her actual conversations, is it not?

(Yes, yes, someone probably scripted her television monologues – but she always pulls them off with aplomb)

I’m more of a baker than an actual meal cook, so the recipes I have tried were the chocolate fudge cake and the breakfast orange muffins. What I loved most were how easy they were to make. I’ve tried plenty of Nigella recipes (mostly from online and by memorizing the telly shows) by now, and she has never lied about the practicality of her recipes. Texturally, the cakes turned out wonderful. Visually, they had that rustic/homey look yet were still somehow attractive.

Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

What I think the recipes lack were that extra kick of flavor. I wanted the cake to be even more chocolatey and the muffins to be even more citrusy. Although in this case, your mileage may vary. The Javanese have a word called medok, which essentially means thick – too thick, tasteless makeup; too thick a speaking accent; or too thick a taste – almost vulgar flavors. My preference is for my food to be medok. I rarely want subtle, delicate, or flimsy. I want overly flavored nearly all the time.

Breakfast Orange Muffins

People that I have offered the orange muffins were pleased with the subtlety. And the same people found the fudge cake very chocolatey already, so again, different strokes for different folks. They also appreciated the fact that the cakes weren’t overly sweet, I sentiment I happily share, even though I didn’t reduce the sugar content of the recipes.

Now I’m curious about the savory dishes listed in Nigella Bites. I’m already bookmarking the gingery-hot duck salad, although I think I’ll replace the duck with beef.

Oh, I still want Nigella’s other cookbooks, by the way.


10 thoughts on “Early Impressions: Nigella Bites and Some Baked Goods

  1. Ive recently discovered Nigella (library for me, her books cost $45 Canadian! ) and also find her baking very subtle in flavor. I kind of like that, and it gives you room to experiment and add your own flavors. I will see if my library has this one. Also cannot wait to see your copy of the Steinbeck.


    1. That’s true actually — next time I can always add more citrus or chocolate. Although I hope I don’t muck up the baking ratio too much. Which Nigella cookbook did take out of the library?


  2. I have also really enjoyed Nigella’s TV shows but sadly don’t have any of her cookbooks. For the same reason as you, cookbooks are expensive here in the UK so I always have my eyes peeled in bargain stores and second-hand bookshops for any I fancy. Reading you’re thoughts has really made me want Nigella’s cookbooks even more!


    1. I hope you find a decently priced Nigella cookbook one day! Cookbooks really are expensive — I honestly wouldn’t mind cookbooks formatted like a novel, even with the same paper quality if it would drive the prices down.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! New reader here. Ohhh Nigella, I think I grew to love cooking because I watched her cooking show as a child. There’s something about the way she cooks that makes cooking seem more than just mixing things in your pot and feeding yourself. I haven’t read any of her cookbooks, would definitely want to get a copy! Anyways, have you ever read racheleats, a blog by Rachel Roddy? These days, reading her writing about food and her cookbook, Five Quarters evoke similar feeling of “it’s more than just cooking,” for me. 🙂


    1. Hello and welcome! I hope you enjoy this little blog 🙂

      I know! I think it’s partially because she was somehow able to communicative her love and passion to the audience. Nigella upended the way I viewed cooking. Prior, I saw it as a grim chore. But Nigella made cooking look pleasurable and satisfying, which is more than a daily chore.

      Thank you so much for the recommendation, Siti! I always enjoy food writing (well, any writing) and new recipes. I will definitely check it out.


  4. I have this cookbook too! Another second hand find. I’ve made the sticky toffee pudding many times (it’s so easy) but fear it may not be medok enough for you either. That duck salad looks divine…


      1. Cinnamon could work. I am also thinking that ginger would be a good choice–candied ginger, perhaps. It has a lot of dates in it and I think ginger might go well. Hmmmm….maybe I have to try this too!!


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