Saturday, 15 January 2011

food and me part 2 - Delia is God

... and whilst life continues... it's been nearly a 8 months since I wrote my first food and me post, so thought it was high time to continue the story...

...Nigella may be a 'domestic goddess' but as far as I am concerned, if you're stuck for a recipe, or you just need to know how to make a certain dish... perfectly, then there are three words - a mantra, if you will, that will save you every time...'DELIA IS GOD...' go on, repeat it a few times... now, see how comfortable it feels as it rolls around your tongue...

Her 'Compete Cookery Course' is the bible on my shelf of extensive cook books. Time and time again, when I tire of Nigel, or grow wearisome of Gordon, or become annoyed with Jamie, hers is the cookbook I  turn to.  It simply has everything in it and an answer for everything and if you follow it, to the letter, you cannot go wrong.

Leaving home to go to University was such a great time for me as it meant I could cook and experiment in my own kitchen and I think Delia made it easy for me to impress.  My flatmates will tell you of the fun times we had in various kitchens, cooking up a storm of risottos, lasagnes, pies and roasts... with Delia as my guide I would bake and fry and griddle... they called me Domelia in homage to my heroine!

My scones are her scones.

I was good (and still am thank you) at making soups... all kinds of soups.  It's funny because people seem to be so easily impressed by a bowl of soup and really they're so easy to make.  Anyway, they were a staple in our student household for years.

It didn't always go well though... i think the word 'experiment' pretty much sums up a lot of the cooking...

...I was trying to impress a friend once with my culinary skills and wanted to cook a rich duck dish that i'd read about... only thing was that my friend was on the brink of turning vegetarian, and anything he could associate with a cute cartoon character was not going to Daffy was definitely off the list! as you'll know, duck is really rich and fatty... all essential to the cooking process and also makes it good to cook with sweet, fruity flavours as they cut through the the recipe i'd found for duck with red grapes sounded perfect but I had to substitute the duck for plain old chicken and for the life of me I couldn't find red grapes and had to go with green...the bland, pale, listless, taste-free nightmare I presented to him did not impress and it was only after that he told me he didn't care much for 'mains and pudding' on the same plate!  The fact that he's still my best friend is testament to the fact that my cooking has clearly improved... or my 'experiments' have stopped.

a birthday present from my a hand written recipe for sushi rice

It was around this time that I found myself attending a 'cooking for cash' course at The Westmintser University.  It was a 8 week course, teaching us how to prepare food for catering or entertaining.  We were taught how to budget for parties, what to buy and then how to cook it.  It was quite a basic course but so interesting and I did learn some techniques that I would never have picked up if I had not attended.  I learnt how to make sushi... which was a godsend for me (and my flatmates) who got to eat whatever we'd cooked that evening.  I think I probably made sushi once a week for about 5 years after that, which was quite impressive not only for party guests but for my waist-line too!  As you can see from the photo above, i even wrote the recipe down on the inside cover of my much beloved Delia's Complete Cookery Course!

Other than her scones and shortbread recipe, one of my favourite Delia dishes is her Thick Onion Tart.. so simple, a classic really, but here it is for you.

Thick Onion Tart

for the pastry
2 oz self-raising flour
2 oz wholewheat flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2oz margarine or butter
1 1/2 oz cheddar cheese - grated
cold water to mix

for the filling
1 1/2lb onions - chopped fairly small
2 oz butter
2 eggs, beaten
4fl oz double cream
1 tblspn grated cheddar cheese
s and p

- pre heat the oven to 180 and grease an 8inch fluted flan tin

- first make the pastry by sifting the flours, mustard and salt into a bowl, then rub the fat in till it resembles breadcrumbs.  Finally bring it together with a small amount of cold water.  Once it forms a dough wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins

- melt the butter in a large heavy pan and add the onions then saute gently for 30 minutes until they have caramelised and gone a dark mahogany brown... stir them regularly though to avoid burning.

- roll the pastry out really thinly and line the fluted tin, prick with a fork and then bake in the oven for 15 mins.  Brush with a small amount of the beaten egg and then back into the oven for another 5 mins

- spread the onions over the bottom of the base of the tart, add the mixed cream and egg mixture and sprinkle the top with some grated cheese.

- bake for 30 mins until golden and risen

perfect!... but it is Delia after all.

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. But... how could you ever tire of Nigel?!

  2. I'm with you there Dom .... Delia's recipes ALWAYS work ... can't say that for any of the others.

    I also love her summer and winter books, use them all the time.

    Tart looks delicious.

  3. How lucky were your flatmates to have you to cook for them! Did they know how spoiled they were? I'm not familiar with Delia, but I'll look her up! I love onions, and your onion tart looks delicious, and I think I'll give it a try this weekend! Have a wonderful weekend!


  4. I must start chanting this mantra! Definitely going to have to do more recipes from Delia!

  5. Can you believe I have never made a Delia recipe? I feel slightly ashamed now! That tart looks absolutely beautiful.
    Have a great weekend!
    HH :D

  6. Lovely post and I love the dedication in your birthday gift from your housemates! I too started out with Delia and have made many successful recipes from her, as has my mum who has the original cookery course books.

    Love the onion tart recipe, must get round to making pastry soon.....

  7. Dom, great tart recipe. I make a very similar Quiche with Gruyere. I love these kind of dishes. Thanks for sharing yours.

  8. thanks all... was a good tart, lasted about 4 seconds!

    @ Charlene... love Nigel but he does go on sometimes!

    @ OBCS Delia is the British equivalent of Martha Stewart... she's a legend over here and her books are a basic staple for cooks in most households... you can find her recipes at

    @ HH - shame on you!

    @ MKITR ... as I was eating this I was thinking it would have been lovely with a strong blue or gruyere... so great minds and all!


  9. Domelia!!!! I LOVE IT ;0)
    But in all honesty I am with Charlene ... Nigel will always reign supreme in my kitchen.
    That said that onion tart does look mighty impressive, now all I need is to wait for some dry and warm weather so I can go on a picnic with it!

  10. Dom, what can I say, but I wish you'd been my flat mate at University! Westminster University? It was Poly of Central London in my day (or shouldn't I be admitting to that?)!

  11. Onions, eggs,cream, and cheddar cheese. My definition of comfort food. I would also love a cool glass of chardonnay to go a long with it. Yumm, you have great suppers.

  12. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I'm excited because now I can see yours. This tart looks beautiful and perfectly cooked

  13. Domelia, that is just perfect. Now, when we play kitchens you can be Delia and I'll be Nigella, ok? And if anyone doesn't play nicely they will have to be Antony Worrall-Thompson...

    p.s Nice tart!

  14. Wow! that is a perfect looking onion tart, never thought you could make tarts out of onions! Looks delicious!

  15. yum is right...that looks wonderful....

    got it on my list of things to make....

    and i'm up for a house swap, my friend :-)

    kary and teddy

  16. I think Delia lacks the pzazz on screen of some of the others, and she doesn't make me want to give her a cuddle like Nigel Slater does, but her recipes always work.

    I used to think Nigella's all did too, but an attempt at her stupid chocolate raspberry heart cake from Feast made me consider sending hate mail.

    OK, here's what we'll do about Nigel btw - I'll pick you up after you're done making your re-invented lamingtons, and we'll drive to his. He lives in Brighton, it'll be lovely.

  17. I am trying to say those words: Delia is God... but I can't. I feel like I am cheating on Nigella. :(
    I really enjoyed experimental cooking when I was at uni, and actually still do until now. And sushi? Love it! as well as that beautiful onion tart.
    "Delia is..." No, I still can't say it.

  18. Onion tart looks awesome! As for Delia... I feel so ignorant that I don't her as you and many of your readers do! I have, however, become familiar with Nigella ... very popular on Food Network in the States (or is it Food Channel?) ... one or the other!

    Love your memories of uiversity days and cooking with and for flatmates ... that is the time when so many become confident in the kitchen and discover so many new ways to prepare food! Excellent times all around!

  19. Hey Dom great writing, you got into a nut shell what it's like when you first start cooking. I'm a London lad like your good self, but instead of going country I've moved countries (Ireland) so I'll be popping back to read more posts soon!

  20. I think Nigella is god, but my hubby swears by Delia.

    Nice pie, and blog!

  21. The tart looks lovely.
    Lovely to see your book with the inscription,a personalised blog always stands out for me.

  22. thanks all again for your encouraging words... always so good to look back on occasion with fondness...

    @ choclette - actually I think my 'University' was called Middlesex Poly at the time... I did leave with a University Degree in the end tho

    @Brittany - thanks... I do love a beautiful tart!

    @ the KitchenMaid - AWT heaven forfend!

    @ Mr P... not sure what The other Mr P or The Viking may think of this menage but i'm up for a bit of celebrity stalking if you are!... oh and it's not the pzazz im after with Delia... it's the pure comfort of knowing she's right!

    @ Michael... come ON!! say it with me...

    @ TravelFoodPhil - thanks.. do come back again my boarders are always open! (this sounds smutty but its not intentional...)

    @ Northern Snippet ... I will try to write some more personal stuff as I agree, it makes it all a little more real x

  23. Never stop experimenting. Friends are the best test subjects , giggle. Love this onion tart recipe. Hugs!

  24. Gotta love queen Delia. Ihave a real craving for pie now and nothing in the house but dairy milk- shocking! I've named you for an award on my blog Dom, please don't feel pressured to accept it but just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your writing x

  25. The pics of the tart are impressive!

    I have issues with Delia. Yes, I refer to her for certain English classics, but I find her a tad finicketty and prissy. She uses too many pans and I often condense two or three of her 'fussing' steps into one. Think I'm just a bit of a slapdash, hurried (harried too) cook!

  26. Hi Dom,
    I discovered your blog through Recipe Rifle. I always find your comments to Esther entertaining so I thought I'd pop in for a peek at your blog.
    I too love cooking. We have our own hens & grow organic vegetables here in rural South East Ireland.
    I've enjoyed this post & can promise to be a regular visitor so get the kettle on!!

  27. well thank you Fiona... its genuinely so nice to know that people enjoy the rubbish that I write down on this blog and to have a fellow enthusiast on-board is always a bonus!... kettle's on!

  28. Thanks a lot, i have some time extra this week.


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