Lifestyled by Paula Joye

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July 11th, 2012

Not Quite Nigella (Part One).

Not Quite Nigella (Part One).

I met one of my favourite food bloggers Lorraine Elliott from Not Quite Nigella in Coonawarra on a food and wine road trip – it couldn’t have been more perfect.

I got to eat and she told me what I was eating, why it was special and how I might replicate it at home.

Lorraine has created a huge following to her site through her yummy recipes and honest reviews. I started visiting her site for the cakes. They are ridiculous! She gives very, very good cake.

I asked her to share a little of her cuisine (and blogging) wisdom and then later she came over to my house and we cooked gnocchi.

The Baker & Blogger.

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Just some of the cookbooks in her collection.

Where did you learn to cook?
By trial and error and at the beginning, using Nigella Lawson cookbooks!

What is your favourite dish to cook?
Cakes. I love seeing smiles on people’s faces.

Does your family have a signature dish?
Yes, it’s Singapore chilli prawns (my mother’s recipe).

What is your ultimate comfort food dish?
I love baked items as I usually look for comfort food in winter. Baking food makes the place warm and smell intoxicatingly good. Or perhaps a lovely rich stew (I recently made a dark chocolate and red wine beef stew) with some celeriac or potato puree. The beef was tender and soft and the puree silky.

Talk us through a typical day for you.
I really wish there was a typical day for me! Every day is different because it’s just me doing this so it might be hanging out and cooking with the gorgeous Paula Joye in the morning and then going home and experimenting with a recipe, trying to tweak it to get it just right. Or I could have meetings or phone calls with sponsors or I could be on the way to the airport to explore a region of Australia or a country overseas that is doing wonderful things with food.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Just being out and about provides inspiration but often produce is inspiring. I’ll want to create a recipe around a particular item.

Who is your cooking hero?
Nigella Lawson.

The Business Of Blogging.

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How did your blog ‘Not Quite Nigella’ begin?
It actually began as an accident and was really just meant to be a hobby. I wanted to relieve the boredom of a dull corporate job in advertising. My husband thought that a blog might allow me to be creative and do something interesting and new. This was about five years ago when blogs were quite new so we were all feeling our way around things.

How long did it take before you started to get a loyal following?
I didn’t look at my stats for the first six months and one day my husband did. He asked me how many readers I thought I had and I guessed about 20 or 30 and he told me it was 30,000. I was shocked!

What was the best lesson you have learnt along the way?
To value yourself. With blogging, there are so many people and companies that ask you to do things for them and you really should try to be selective.

What are your top 3 do’s and don’ts for blogging?
Do…
- Be yourself
- Think of your readers foremost
- Understand that a blog is different from other mediums and make the most of it

Don’t…
- Accept ad or sponsorship deals that aren’t right for you and your blog
- Think short term
- Write for free -it devalues the whole industry

What has been your most popular recipe on your blog?
Haha, my bacon jam is notorious! It’s one of those recipes that people initially turned their nose up at but it honestly is delicious. If you like bacon and maple syrup with your pancakes or pork with apple sauce then it has a similar flavour profile.

Top Cooking Tips.

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What kitchen implements should everyone own?

I love my cordless mini food chopper from Braun which has an immersion stick for soups which I have used a lot this winter. I also have a spatula fetish it seems and have three containers with kitchen implements and spatulas seem to feature highly. A good whisk, a microplane grater (fine and coarse), a range of mixing bowls, a stand mixer (I use both a Breville and a Kitchenaid), baking tins, measuring spoons, chopping boards and a stocked pantry.

What are the top ten ingredients everyone should have on hand in their fridge?
Ooh an interesting question! I had to look in my fridge for this.
1. Butter
2. Milk
3. Flour
4. Rice
5. Nuts (I keep 3-5 types in the fridge)
6. Sauces and spreads (mayonnaise, jams, tomato sauce, bbq sauce, dressings)
7. Cream
8. Eggs
9. Fruit
10. Vegetables

Not-Quite-Nigella-5

Inside her pantry.

How can a cooking novice build their kitchen confidence?
I’d suggest starting on easy items from trusted and trialed recipe sources. Failures are inevitable but if you have them early when you start cooking, they can hurt your cooking confidence.

Also having your “mise en place” or ingredients chopped and prepared always seems to make things go much smoother and avoids any panic -I know this from first hand experience!

Best tip for throwing a dinner party?
I’d suggest making things that don’t require you to be in the kitchen while everyone is talking in another room. Usually dessert is easy for this (or just put out a lovely cheese platter). Entrees can be a cold salad or a soup warmed up and mains can be things that you put in the oven as guests are there. Also people take their cues from the host and/or hostess and if you are stressed, guests won’t relax. At my first dinner party, I was stressed and spent most of the time in the kitchen and vowed that wouldn’t happen again.

The LifeStyled List.

Tea or Coffee? Tea.
Favourite Flower? Freesias or gardenias for smell, Arum lilies or peonies for look (can you tell that I love flowers?).
Heels or Flats? Heels.
Style Crush? Morticia Addams.
Favourite City? Rome.
Reading… The Fifty Shades trilogy.
Listening… Snow Patrol.
Wearing… High heeled boots.
I need… rest and sleep.
I want… a spa day.

The Rainbow Cake.


I know what you’re thinking. Where is the recipe for that cake in the first picture? Just look at this thing. I mean…. I’m going to give it a try but maybe one of you will beat me to it.

Ingredients

19 oz or (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
1 cup granulated or caster sugar
7 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups (400g) sifted cake flour (to make cake flour, place 2 tablespoons cornflour in a 2 cup measuring cup and top fill up the rest with plain flour)
2 teaspoons (10g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
Food colouring gels in: Royal Blue, Violet, Sky Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red

To decorate

Fondant in the colours of your choice

Mini white marshmallows

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the centre. Butter and line a 21cm round springform pan. Weigh the bowl of your electric mixer and record the weight-this is important.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well-it may look curdled but it’s ok, it will come together once you add the flour. Then add the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture and baking powder at low speed until just combined.

3. Now comes the tricky part. Get your food colouring and get 7 bowls or containers. Figure out how much your batter weighs. To do this, you weigh the bowl with the batter and subtract the weight of the bowl that you recorded. Mine weighed about 2 kgs. Divide into seven which was just less than 300grams per container. The last colour that you put in will dominate so gradually put a little less for the last colour (which for me was red). I started with 280grams for the Royal Blue and ended up with about 220grams for the red.

4. Take your lined pan. place a circle of the Royal Blue batter in a circle shape. Then in the centre of this place another circle of batter in the Violet. Keep doing this with the rest of the colours until you reach the last colour, red. My dough was a bit too thick so I pressed it down with a sheet of parchment so that it reached the sides. Place it in the oven, being careful not to tip the tin sideways.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then cool.

The Vanilla Buttercream

125g butter, soft at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
vanilla extract

1. Beat butter in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Gradually add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time along with the milk to help it bind. Beat for about 5 minutes on medium to high speed. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Spread onto cooled cake.

To Assemble

1. Roll each fondant colour into a long sausage shape and then flatten out with a small rolling pin. With a sharp paring knife or a pizza cutter, trim it to make a rainbow shape and place on cake.

For pictures and Lorraine’s explanations CLICK HERE 

 

  • Sasha

    ooh yum..am interested to see what the lovely Not quite Nigella thinks of the Thermomix craze..do serious cooks use these?

  • Stefanie

    Hi Paula, my 2 favourite bloggers :) Have been keenly awaiting this post, hope you had fun and can’t wait for the gnocchi recipe. Impressive pantry !

  • Kylie

    I would be interested in her view on this too! I see chefs like George Colambaris rave over them but I wonder if they’re just a gimmicky fad? I love cooking but I’m not big on gadgets apart from the basics…I’d rather use my le crueset cast iron casserole than an electric slow cooker. But I do wonder whether I’m “missing out” !!!

  • http://twitter.com/CookSuck Cook Suck

    11

  • http://twitter.com/CookSuck Cook Suck

    whoops, i didn’t mean the “11″.  well ahh now i’m here.. a fridge without one good and one bad bottle of sparkling white on hand at all times is no fridge of mine

  • Sarah

    Wow that rainbow cake is amazing!!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Sasha and Kylie! Thanks for your comments and I’d be happy to offer my opinion on the Thermomix. I should just preface it with the fact that I haven’t used one long term although I have seen chefs use it and some of my friends have one :) I think it’s great if you have a small apartment and benchtop space is minimal and from what I understand, it’s really useful if you have babies/kids because you can set it to do all sorts of food without you standing over it-apparently risotto and baby food are both really good in it.  Also, if you haven’t outfitted your kitchen already with processors etc then it’s not a bad idea at all. Since I already have food processors and I don’t really have the spare funds to buy a Thermomix as they’re still not inexpensive (although the cost has gone down quite a bit since they first launched) I haven’t purchased one.
    For any bakers out there, is that it doesn’t really replace a stand mixer and whisk. If you are as big a cake maniac as I am then you will need both. Although one really cool thing it can do is make caster sugar out of regular sugar which would mean that it can grind things really fine which is really handy as I don’t have a coffee grinder.

    I hope that helps! 

    Lorraine
    xxx

  • ash

    Love it! I want to make a colour layer cake like that but was thinking of baking the layers seperately and then putting them together with icing and only icing the top of the cake … so you can see the layers from the outside!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Aww thanks so much Stefanie! :D Paula is amazing isn’t she? With a great kitchen too I might add! ;)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hehe well the wine omission was very remiss of me! ;)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thank you so much Sarah! :D

  • GourmetGetaway

    Great Story about a lovely and generous lady. I am
    going to have to make that cake. Yum!

  • http://catslovecooking.com/ Chanel

    My jaw literally dropped in awe when I saw the pantry shot! Wonderful interview of my favourite blogger :-)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thanks so much Chanel! I wondered if I should tidy up the pantry before taking the shot but I ran out of time. I hope there’s nothing embarrassing in there ;)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thank you so much Julie, right back at you! :D

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    HI ash, that sounds like an amazing idea! It would put a smile on anyone’s face :D

  • http://twitter.com/OrgasmicChef Maureen

    I love Lorraine’s blog and her style of writing.  All the people she blogs about seem like old friends.   Nothing beats the cookies she did that look like her mother’s embroidery.  Amazing work.

    When I grow up I want to be just like her.  (I’ll have to reincarnate for that)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Maureen! You are so sweet to say that-thank you so much!! :D 

  • Sasha

    thanks so much Lorraine, I always feel under so much pressure to get one when i am invited to those parties, but at $2k for one I would feel i need to use it all the time to justify it!

  • Natalia

    Hey Lorraine,
    When you say “don’t write for free” what advice would you have for aspiring bloggers? I’m just starting my own blog and one day I hope to have paid advertisements, but for now obviously I’m new and would have to wait a while if it ever happens.

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    You’re very welcome Sasha! :) 

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Natalia! I should clarify with what I mean by that :) 
     I think that’s detrimental to the writing industry when publications (online or offline) ask you to write for them for free in exchange for a link or prestige. People should be paid for what they write and I think that’s important to keep the journalism/writing industry alive and healthy :)

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  • http://cookinwluv.blogspot.com/ Javelin Warrior

    Wow, I love this interview with Lorraine – she’s such a wonderful blogger and it’s a real treat to get a glimpse into her life and home. This was awesome and thank you for sharing…

  • http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/ Eva

    I love Lorraine’s blog too, and what she failed to mention is how loyal a follower she is herself and that her comments are thoughtful and lovely. I am indeed flattered and honoured that such a celebrity would even bother to take the time with my lowly blog.

  • Glamorous Glutton

    Lorraine’s blog is great I read it often.  Thanks for the insight.  Apart from being really interesting I love a snoop around someones home!  GG

  • Passionate cook

    You must try NQN ‘s macadamia anzac biscuits – they have chocolate on the bottom but I have never bothered to put that on as they don’t last long enough. They are amazing. Everyone wants the recipe. I give them away or I’d be the size of a house. I can barely wait for them to harden whenthey come out of the oven.

  • http://twitter.com/DaisyNTSFM Daisy

    Ohhh great post :) Thanks for sharing Lorraine ~ It’s so nice to get a sneak peak of your kitchen and your blogging tips :D LOL Your cook book stand looks a bit like mine and your pantry is definitely very well stock hehe ~

    I totally agree you always need BUTTER in the fridge :D

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thanks so much Daisy! Hehe butter makes everything better doesn’t it! :P

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Passionate Cook! I’m so glad that you like them! I wish I were more disciplined as they tend to disappear into my mouth lol. Thanks for the kind words :D

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    GG, I do too! I love looking into other’s homes (with permission of course! ;) ) :P

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Eva, you have a great blog! It’s a pleasure to read it every day!! :D

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thank you so much Javelin Warrior! You are too kind, as always! :D

  • Eha

    Well, I have been one of Lorraine’s ‘faithful’for over 18 months now without missing a post!  Doesn’t everyone have to have a ‘first thing in the morning’ agenda :) ? Am so glad I clicked on this link ’cause have learnt quite a few new things about milady and that top photo of hers is just out of the world!  Hope we continue to connect for ages to come, even if I am guilty of not baking :)

  • http://phoodie.wordpress.com/ Phoodie

    Lorraine is THE BEST!

    She was actually part of what inspired me to start my own blog!

    Like one of the commenters below said, she is always SO GRACIOUS and SO THANKFUL to the people who support her. She ALWAYS responds to readers and commenters on her blog and on twitter which is so endearing!

    Keep it up Lorraine! We <3 you!

    Phoodie
    xx
    http://www.facebook.com/phoodieblog

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  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Phoodie! Thank you SO much! I’m blushing, you are just so lovely to say that! Love YOUR blog!! xxx

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hi Eha! Thank you for reading my blog every single day. I so enjoy reading your comments and I really enjoy your take on things! :D

  • http://www.thelegaltart.wordpress.com/ Meg@Thelegaltart

    Great interview. Gorgeous cake!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thanks so much Meg!! :)

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