Why I love the "I Hearts Cooking Clubs", but not Nigella

I was a regular contributor to Tyler Florence Fridays. Loved cooking with Tyler, loved the interaction of TFF and the ladies hosting. And I was unhappy that TFF was going to be ending, sad that I would not have the extra incentive to find the time to cook outside my list of regular dishes and get back to my blog.

When the "I Hearts (I can't find the symbol for a heart) Cooking Clubs" came up, this should have been my cue to jump right in with a new chef and have some fun. I wanted to, I really, really wanted to.

But the chef of choice was Nigella Lawson, and I have problems with that.

Nothing personal against Nigella. She is a beautiful woman who is entertaining to watch. Some of her recipes look stunning, some scream out to me to be tried.

But I have never had any luck whatsoever with her recipes. None at all.

Take this one, my choice for this week's theme of "Potluck":

This is supposed to be Easy Sticky-Toffee Dessert, found on page 216 of Nigella Bites.

Looks disgusting, doesn't it?

And it is the best of the two I made.

This was my second try at this recipe, in 12 hours. I made it last night, after dinner, and realized I'd made two mistakes with it almost immediately. First, I miss-measured my flour slightly, but not by a huge amount, and second, my pan, which had the right capacity, was not a good shape for this.

Still, I persevered and put it in the oven. Forty five minutes later, I had slightly bubbling water in a baking dish with something sludgy underneath, but no "springy and spongy" dessert. Thirty minutes later, the same.

I tried again this morning, more careful with my flour, different pan to give it more surface area for the boiling water to seep through the batter and make a sauce.

After more than 1 hour in the oven, I took it out and used a spoon to try and let some of the water get under the "cake", and then let it sit on the counter to meld together some.

Spooning it up looked like this:

Not very appetizing looking, and frankly, boring to eat. No toffee flavor at all, despite all the

I may try something else from Nigella again, something savory where if the conversions are off, it won't destroy the recipe and create something awful.

For now, this is my contribution for the potluck party at I Hearts Cooking Club.


Megan said...

Um, yeah - not so much luck with that. I give you credit for your tenacity, though - two tries in 24 hours?

Terri said...


I happen to agree with you. I've tried a couple of Nigella's recipes and did not have success with either. They sound wonderful but don't seem to translate well to the finished product. Now, whenever I see a recipe adapted from one of hers, I just move along.

NKP said...

I am so sorry it didn't work out for you. I have had excellent luck so far with hers, but there have been others who haven't.
We start the vote for the next chef in March. Check the sidebar then. We are going boy/girl so it will be a couple of fellas to choose from to be our next chef. We make the switch to kick off April. Should be fun!

Deb in Hawaii said...

I am so bummed that you haven't found Nigella recipes that work for you ;-( I have seemed to have really good luck with most all of the ones I have tried. Hopefully you'll like the next chef we choose better. Be sure to vote when we get the nominations up. We want to keep cooking with you!

Arlene Delloro said...

I just couldn't walk away without posting. I, too, have been disappointed with nearly all of the recipes I've tried from the two Nigella cookbooks I purchased and those I've found on foodtv.com. She's witty and lovely, but I'm kind of waiting for her 6 months to be over so I can jump back into IHCC. I still hop over every week to see what everyone's cooking up, though, because it's such a great group.

Karen Baking Soda said...

I agree with you Jenny, almost never had any luck with her recipes, (same for Martha btw and some of Dories)
Eh..that said..maybe I just can't bake? Hehe

pam said...

I also was saddened to see the TFF end. My problem with the cooking club, is trying to find and make a themed recipe. It was easy enough to must find a Tyler recipe that I wanted, but I just don't have time to try and find a specific category.

Lara said...

I agree with the troubles with the conversions. We made Nigella's tropical chocolate cake and the conversions were a real treat. We ended up googling (sp?) almost everything to find out what the conversion would be for that specific ingredient. This helped a bit, but in the long run I think I am going to stick with her recipes on Food Network - they are already converted!

Anonymous said...

I cast my vote for Nigella, if for nothing more than her flourless brownies and chocolate cake. I have liked most of the recipes I have chosen.

I feel badly, others have not had the same luck.

I think that is the beauty of this group. If we don't like the person chosen, we know someone else is coming along.

I loved Tyler but I liked the change.

Maybe, it is the spirit of the team who keeps this going.