Food Writer Fridays – Not Quite Nigella

by Maureen on February 17, 2012

Not Quite Nigella, Lorraine ElliottWhat can I say about Lorraine Elliott that most people in Australia and many parts of the world don’t already know?  She’s the busiest food writer I’ve ever known.  Follow her blog at and you’ll instantly see what I mean. She adds a new post every day — well before I get up.  One day it’s a beautiful cookie that looks like her mother’s embroidery and then the next day it’s a post about a recent restaurant visit or a special feature about a product or where to buy specialty produce.

giant edible embroidery cookieNot Quite Nigella is the most popular food blog in Australia and it’s for good reason.  (Lorraine is the Pioneer Woman of Australia minus the ranch, the kids and the cattle. She does have the hat.)  With over 190,000 monthly readers and nearly 400,000 page views, it’s no surprise that Lorraine has a book coming out this year by Penguin Books — a memoir of the adventures of her blog. I don’t know what the title is yet but I’m sure I’m going to be one of the first to buy it.

Back in 2007 she was an advertising media strategist who was coaxed into creating a blog by family and friends.  In January of 2009 she went full time with her food writing and aren’t we glad she did.

notquitenigella.comOur friendship began slowly.  The more I visited her blog, the more I felt I knew who she was and not only Not Quite Nigella.  Through her writing I swear I could meet her, Mr. NQN, Queen Viv and Miss America at any restaurant and fit right in with all four.  They seem like old friends and not every food writer can do that.

Check out this post about Mulligans Psychic Thursdays and you’ll see what I mean about Lorraine’s writing style and how I’ve come to care about them all.  They also eat at the most amazing and interesting places!

Then one day she visited MY blog AND she left a comment.

I asked her how she got from the corporate world into blogging full time and who taught her to cook.  I love her answer.

“I think my background in advertising helped me understand brands and where they sit in the marketplace. Although I’m the first to tell you that I have no food experience or journalistic experience (I don’t think the year 10 Journalism certificate was going to get me very far ;) ). I think I approach things as an enthusiastic home cook.

I’m a perfectionist and if I have my name to something I need to make sure that it is as good as I can do it. Although thankfully not everything takes 4 goes-a lot of things work out in the first or second attempt. Also I get quite cranky when I try a recipe from a cookbook and it doesn’t work out. And the reason why the blog was called Not Quite Nigella was because Nigella, through her cookbooks, taught me how to cook.”

Not Quite NigellaWhen I asked her what part of her blog she enjoyed the most – the writing, the photography or the cooking, she couldn’t choose just one.  She enjoys all three parts because they are all creative but in different ways.

Guess who she would most like to have dinner with?  If you’d given me a list of 100 names I wouldn’t have guessed any of these 5, but they all make sense when you read her blog.  Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall next to that table?

Sacha Baron Cohen
Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Lisbeth Salander
Tina Fey

As I was reading through Lorraine’s reply to my questions, my husband came to my office and said, “what’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” I replied.

“Why are you yelling?”

“I wasn’t yelling.  I was saying YAY!  Lorraine doesn’t clean as she goes, she’s a cook like me.”

He rolled his eyes and said, “ok, dear,” and walked back to his office.  It’s probably a good thing that he loves me.  Seriously, I look at the photos that Lorraine takes and think, “geez, she must stop everything and clean up and then start again to get those photos.”  But she doesn’t, she does it like me, only better – she cleans up the spot she needs to photograph and then when she’s all done she hoses down the kitchen. (Okay, she didn’t tell me that she hoses down the kitchen after cooking, I might be a tad bit messier than she is.)

As you probably know, one of the things that interest me the most about food writers and anyone who eats is about the food memories they have.  What foods do you eat that trigger the best memories?  When Lorraine was young she was often unwell and her mother prepared this congee for her, the chicken soup of Asia, and it’s something she still loves today. Who doesn’t love chicken soup in the winter or when they’re not feeling 100%?

congee from

Doesn’t that look great?  I feel better just for looking at the photo.  Click over to Lorraine’s post about her Congee recipe.  I’ve added her recipe below but not all her clever comments.  From Lorraine about congee:

“For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a soupy rice porridge into which other ingredients are added like egg omelette, mince, meat, eggs, fried bread sticks, shredded BBQ chicken as well as soy and ginger. It’s whatever you really fancy and I can imagine many a mum found it useful as that meant she could add whatever she wanted into it.”

5.0 from 6 reviews
Congee Rice Porridge
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is the dish that Lorraine Elliot from remembers eating as a child and continues to love today.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 10 cup chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
  • a little salt
  • peanut oil
  • 315g minced pork or lean beef (or choose fish etc.)
  • 1 cup spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water chestnuts (available frozen or in can at Asian shop), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
Condiments: (optional add what you like)
  • Bowls of spring onion
  • small bowl of sweet cucumber (char gwar)
  • small bowl of sichuan preserved vegetables
  • small bowl of finely shredded ginger
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • Or things like preserved eggs etc.
  • Dark soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil
  • OR
  • I had on hand: sliced spring onion, a Hainanese chicken rice seasoning of ginger and sesame oil, Tofu cubes, fried gluten balls, sweet potato cookies, stir fried chicken, Lup Cheong (chinese pork sausage), stir fried eggplant and stir fried capsicum. I usually add an omelette too sliced into strips but didn’t have time. I had hungry people to feed!
  1. Wash the rice. Drain off water. Work in a bit of salt and peanut oil with your fingers or a spoon. Stand for 1 hour.
  2. Bring the stock to boil. Add rice, stirring until it comes back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours. I stopped here as I was making it for vegetarians.
  3. Beat in the mince (or you can make little pork or beef balls). Cook until the meat is done.
  4. Adjust salt to taste.
  5. Ladle into serving bowls. Each person adds their own favourite condiments.
Original recipe by Elizabeth Chong from Beyond Fried Rice and adapted by Lorraine Elliott from


Lorraine and her food apathetic husband, Mr NQN, live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia with her collection of 140 pairs of shoes.  You can follow her on Twitter @notquitenigella.  I look forward to meeting her in person one day.




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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

lisaiscooking February 17, 2012 at 5:24 am

I’m a fan of NQN too! Can’t wait to see her book. What a great interview. She made great choices for dinner guests.


Bestfoodies February 17, 2012 at 7:37 am

Another great blogger to follow…thanks…I went over and visited and immediately added her to my blogs I read list…thanks!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Thanks so much for the lovely article Maureen! It was lots of fun to do and I loved thinking of who to invite for the fantasy dinner party :)


Nami | Just One Cookbook February 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I’m a huge fan of NQN and it was so much fun reading this post. Maureen, you write really well and it makes regular interview much more fun. I think her book will be phenomenal and hope to get it when it’s out!


Libby February 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

NQN is awesome, isn’t she?! :D

Looking forward to the book :)


Ruby February 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I love this feature. Great article – I’ll check out her site today. And i, too, am intrigued by the link between memory and food/smell. It sometimes just knocks me flat on my a** and then, poof, it’s gone. Wild.


Hotly Spiced February 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm

What a great interview – you did so well! I was once asked to do a speech and I knew the audience wanted me to be funny and then I found out that Sacha Baron Cohen was going to be invited and in the front row right in front of the podium where I would be standing. I just couldn’t sleep. I was so stressed. I prepared as much as I could and when I turned up to the event, he’d had a clash with another function and had sent his apologies. As much as I was relieved, I was also disappointed. I really wanted to see if I could make him laugh, even see if his smile could curl a little


yummychunklet February 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Awesome interview and tasty looking pudding!


Sanjeeta KK February 17, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Wow..a post a day! Hats off to the hard work and passion for blogging, love her blog. And this recipe looks similar to what we make in India..Khichdi with a little difference.
Sanjeeta KK recently posted..Recipe | Baby Potatoes in Healthy Green Gravy


Ann@Anncoo Journal February 18, 2012 at 12:43 am

A great post interview with NQN. I’m a big fan of hers too :)
Nice to know you too Maureen!


Eileen February 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

Great post. I’ve never hear of NQN but I’m headed over to her site now. If you like her than I know I will. By the way, I’m subscribing to your blog so I never miss another one of your posts! Have a great day!


Heather @girlichef February 18, 2012 at 1:28 am

I have heard of her, but not really spent much time at her blog. It sounds like I need to remedy that situation. I will definitely make a point of reading her stuff more often. That cookie is insane -so cool!
Heather @girlichef recently posted..50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #35 Delia Smith – Bean, Bacon, and Parsley Soup


Lisa February 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

What a great tribute to Lorraine, Maureen! I’ve been an avid reader (and drooler) since ’08, and I always look forward to the stories that accompany her brilliant and beautiful creations :) That congee looks insanely good!!
Lisa recently posted..Potato Rosti with Bacon, Brie, Scallions and a Quick and Easy Brown Butter Applesauce – Plus, Bad Boy First Love, Part Four.


Kitchen Belleicious February 18, 2012 at 2:11 am

what a wonderful article and person to feature. I am going to visit her blog now. I love the rice porridge recipe and Maureen- I swear girl- you are such a great writer and so creative to do a food writer feature like this!


Greg February 18, 2012 at 2:40 am

Great post. That cookie really is a work of art.


Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb February 18, 2012 at 3:03 am

Hi Maureen!

I like NQN too, always a refreshing read and a great inspiration. =)
The congee looks so comforting warming, I wish I could have some now.


Jenny @ Savour the Senses February 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

What a great interview. Thanks for turning me to her blog!


Gina February 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Hi Maureen,
Thanks you for introducing me to Lorraine, must go see for myself. Forgive me for sounding like I just fell off a turnip truck, but I have issues with the technical stuff. How do I get your feed? I don’t see a subscribe button. Thanks. I saw your cool plug-in too, is it only for wordpress. I was thinking of switching, but been so busy working and moving hadn’t decided.


Kiran @ February 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for featuring Lorraine — she is an amazing blogger, and through you I’ve got to know her even more :)


Tina@flourtrader February 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This was a wonderful interview with a talented blogger. Lorraine is living proof that you don’t always need a culinary degree to be successful. Also, I think it is her down to earth quality that appeals to most people, besides her skills in the kitchen1 Great post.


Jamie February 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I love Lorraine – absolutely adore her blog – but I always feel, everytime I read one of her posts, that she and I are twins separated at birth. I love her food but more than anything I love her writing; it is at once so well-thought-out for the maximum effect (and laughter) yet so spontaneous and delightful. I often use extracts from her posts for my writing classes (on what to do, not what not to do ha ha ha if you read this response, Lorraine). I absolutely hope to meet her and share a meal or two with her one day. I’m also waiting to be invited to one of her Halloween parties… Great interview, Maureen.


Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen February 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

What a great article, Maureen and a lovely tribute to Lorraine. As for being a cook who doesn’t clean as she goes… I can identify with that. The kitchen usually looks like a hurricane by the time I’ve finished and why use 1 teaspoon when you can use 8? Hope you are having a great weekend.


Deanna February 19, 2012 at 1:47 am

I’m loving these profiles, and NQN is amazing. She must have magical elves doing all of her blog reading and commenting.


Reem | Simply Reem February 19, 2012 at 5:47 am

I love Lorraine…..
I think she is one of the most amazing and talented blogger of our time….
This is such a lovely post….


Maureen February 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thanks for all the great comments and I’m so pleased that those of you who know Lorraine’s work feel the same way I do about her.

Hester – the kitchen cleaning was the best bit! :)
Deanna – I honestly have no clue how she does it all.
Gina – there’s an RSS button on the right hand column. I added an arrow for you but I’ll make the icon bigger.

Can’t wait for the book to come out, Lorraine!


PolaM February 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I discovered Congee and NQN quite recently and they are both great!


Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I’m really loving these blogger introduction posts! I’m a big NQN fan, in fact, she’s the one that started me on my food blogging and is the source of all my blogging motivations. :D Her life and her cooking always sounds so amazing, including this recipe. Love it Maureen, keep up the great work!
Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake recently posted..Coin Laundry Cafe, Armadale


Rocky Mountain Woman February 20, 2012 at 4:47 am

Hah! I absolutely love “Not Quite” also! I have been reading her blog for years and I agree that I could have dinner with her and her husband and friends and feel right at ease.

I love reading about all of the lovely places she goes because except for a few trips to the coast every year, I tend to eat at home and travel little.

Love this review of her work, it’s spot on!


Sheila February 20, 2012 at 6:13 am

I have not heard of Lorraine! I’m telling you there are so many amazing food blogs out there it boggles my mind! cant wait to check out NQN. thanks for sharing her with your readers ;)


Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious February 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

I love how you invite other blogger to introduce to your readers. I really loved congee growing up; but I haven’t never made one myself. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)


Lana February 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

I love your new feature, Maureen! Both Nelly and Lorraine are an inspiration:)
I have been reading NQN for a while now, and her writing always lifts my spirits and makes me smile:) I don’t know how she manages to put up so many wonderful posts regularly (we all know that blogging just eats your time:)
Thanks for another great interview! Keep them coming!


Tandy February 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm

What a great post – and I think most of us just clean up the bit of the kitchen we take the photo in :)


Jenni February 22, 2012 at 7:04 am

Okay, so I must be the only person in the world who’s never heard of her! Thanks for the introduction. Glad to find your site as well!


Maureen February 22, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Jenni, lovely to meet you and we all were new followers of NotQuiteNigella at one time :)


My Inner Chick February 23, 2012 at 9:19 am

—Lorraine is the first blogger I experienced as a newbie…

I love love love her. She gives her reader EVERYTHING.

In fact, I give her credit for making my blog better.

Great post. xx


celia June 30, 2012 at 5:20 am

One of my fave people. Love her to bits! :)


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