Last night was one of those nights when stress and misery was rife, (I’m being a tad dramatic, I was just in a bad mood) and urgently needed something to take this misery out on. Step forward Nigellas’ How To Be A Domestic Goddess and the recipe Lahmacun. She describes it as being similar to a pizza but do not be fooled by such a description! Firstly, pizzas have cheese, non? A pizza without cheese is either an abomination or in fact not a pizza at all, and as this recipe is not an abomination then one must conclude that it is not a pizza. The Lawson informs me that Lahmacun, as well as being fun to say, is a Turkish flat bread covered in a spicy lamb topping and the first thing she always orders when in any Turkish restaurant. I can tell you that while the Lahmucan itself was very nice with lots of flavour and crisp bread, the making of it was a complete disaster that nearly had me giving up on it. I’ve made various types of bread before and any that weren’t from a Nigella recipe have been a dream to work with, but as soon as I make bread from a Nigella book the dough ends up being so sticky it is almost un-kneadable. I don’t know why this is, although have my suspicions that as Nigella is an avid fan of electric gadgets in the kitchen she isn’t bothered about how sticky it is as the electric mixer does all the work for her. Not that this does the humble cook with no KitchenAid mixers any favours. In the end instead of kneading the normal way, I had to hold it in my hands and bang my hands together for what felt like an eternity until it reached desired consistency. Who needs the gym when you have unreliable bread recipes? And then there was a huge amount of dough literally stuck to the work surface that took a lot of convincing to budge, as well as getting it in my hair and on my clothes. Still, while it may have been a disaster, all that alternative kneading meant the anger was kept at bay for a while. Once I’d kneaded and proved the bread, I had the impossible task of rolling the dough out. Impossible because no matter how much I rolled it out, it kept shrinking back to miniature size, meaning these would have to be mini Lahmacuns. It was all worth it in the end though because they were really tasty, but if I were to make these again I’d have to use a different flat bread recipe, or, heaven forbid, buy some pitta bread.
Apart from bad dough recipes, How To Be A Domestic Goddess is one of my all time favourite cookbooks. The food all sounds so dreamy and it makes me want to spend all my days in a pinny with a rolling pin in hand. Nigella got a lot of criticism for the title of the book and for making it seem like women belong in the kitchen, but the people criticising obviously never read any of it. Nigella herself says that this isn’t being a domestic goddess, but about feeling like one, and that by baking it doesn’t mean women have to ‘renounce the world and enter into a life of domestic drudgery’. Far from it. Just because a woman chooses to enjoy cooking/baking/spending time in the kitchen does not mean that she is taking a step back in time to a world where women had no choice in life but to stay at home, raise the kids and get dinner on the table for Fred Flintstone. Nowadays, women have the ability to choose what they want from their life, whether it be having both a career and children, or one or the other. If a woman chooses to go down the traditional route then good for her, because she has chosen it and not been forced or pressured. Being pressured or forced into a lifestyle you don’t want nor enjoy, whether it be working mum or stay at home mum, or even a wife or mum at all is anti-feminist, choosing and then doing what makes you happy is feminist. Quite a lot to get from spicy lamb pizzas I know! Still, if you want to get to grips with baking or have a wealth of amazing sweet and savoury recipes at your fingertips, then give this book a go. Try the dense chocolate loaf cake first and I guarantee you will be hooked!