Monthly Archives: December 2011

Choccie Biscuits

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After a time of restraint and good health, such as Christmas offers, I thought today a great day to make really buttery, rich chocolate cookies.  Technically I’m making them to take to Wales, where we’ll be spending New Year’s, but we’re not due there till the day after tomorrow, via a night in Herefordshire, so how well they survive (ie: if they survive at all) is still up for discussion.

You’ll want your oven on at 180C or about gas mark 5-ish:-

125g softened butter

vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar (it says this but I’ve not yet, to date, ever put this much sugar in it, nor am I sold on it must be brown sugar – today I used a combination of leftover demarara and caster sugar and they turned out just fine)

1 egg

1 cup (150g) plain flour

1/4 cup (35g) self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/3 cup cocoa powder

and whatever choc bits you like.  M&Ms, mini melts, etc.  Today we went for white choc chip.

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The recipe is above, it’s out of that same Women’s Weekly book that I got the brownie recipe from.  I think.  I have a few.  It might be different.

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You’re supposed to soften the butter.  Inevitably I don’t so I spent about 10 mins chopping it up into extremely small bits so it softens in about 10 seconds.  See above.  It works fine.

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Beat the butter, egg, vanilla and sugar together but you don’t need to do it till light and fluffy or anything, just till it’s combined.  These bikkies are ace because they have a big of a sugary crunch at the end and I think it’s cause they’re not blended to within an inch of their life.

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Next, dump in both flours, the bicarb soda and cocoa powder.  It’ll look like a lot of dry stuff for not much wet stuff.   You’ll be right.  Get mixing.

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Keep mixing.  It’ll gradually get to this stage.  I’m not going to pretend this bit is fun.  It’s not.

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At about this stage of mixed-ness, add the choc bits.  Keep mixing.

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Keep testing your arm.  If you take it away from the bowl and it looks like this, your mix is probably about right.

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It’ll look like this.  Basically it takes a good few minutes of hardcore cutting in and mixing but it does combine.  It’s a dry but sticky mixture.  Fear not.

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Today I’ve gone for bikkies about this size pre-cooking.  I’ve done the same mix twice as big, all good, still delicious.  They don’t need rolling or anything, just lightly ball them up, as it were, trying not to be neat about it.

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Stick on a tray, thusly.  I pat mine down a bit, as demonstrated above.  It probably doesn’t do anything much but it makes me feel so much more in control of things.  Put them in the oven and they take only 10 minutes to cook.  I rotate my tray half-way through because of shit oven-ness, as you already know and are probably bored of already.  Biscuits are good, you know.  Short timescales = relatively immediate gratification.

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If you eat some mix, and you don’t lick your teeth properly, they’ll look like this.  You really need to work hard to hide the evidence you’ve had your face in the bowl.

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When you take them out of the oven let them cool on the tray for a few minutes to get a bit of body back.  Then transfer to a cooling rack.  Repeat till all the mix is used up.

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They should have this nice crackly finish, shiny from the butter and sugar.  Eat warm with milk or cold with coffee.  Eat fast.  They tend to be popular.

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BTW the dog wishes you warm felicitations for the Xmas and New Year period.  She really means it.

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Buttery Beef

The monstrously expensive fillet ended up, at least in part, as Beef Wellington. It looked liked this when cooked by the boyfriend’s father.

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Then like this when sliced. You didn’t need a knife to eat it with. It was s’ok good I refused to let the dog even get a whiff. She had, of course, already licked it prior to cooking. Am sure the boyfriend’s father didn’t mind too much.

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Chutners

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I like chutney.  I’ve had a few goes at making my own.  Here is one of them. My friend A has asked for a savoury recipe with cheese.  A – this is a savoury recipe good with cheese made available to you within 12 hours of your request!  I am your Best Friend.

Get together some tomatoes (I used about 20 or so medium sized) – they don’t need to be ripe or nice or anything, I’ve previously made it with green tomatoes.  Oh yeah.

Red Onions

A chilli, maybe one you grew yourself

Seasoning

Brown sugar

Red wine vingar

Hot english mustard

Jars

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You’ll want some jars.  I prefer Kilners but that’s probably cause they’re pretty rather than they’re better than any other jar.  These are the two types of Kilner jars you might be familiar with.  They’re a couple of quid at Robert Dyas, if you’re here in the UK.  Old clean jars are just fine, specially if you’ve spent time scrubbing off the leftover sticky bit from the label.

Put the glass jars on an oven tray, and into a hot oven for about 20 mins or so, leave them there.  Put the lids and/or rubber seals into some boiling water on the stove.  Boil a bit.  Leave them there.  You can have all that happen while you get on with the fun job of chopping a truckload of tomatoes.

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As I began chopping tomatoes, with a newly sharpened knife, I of course cut my thumb.  I called upstairs to the boyfriend (who was in the back room wrapping my stocking presents, of which I assume there are thousands) for a bandaid and he presented me with this tin.

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I got a bacon band-aid and the free gift was a tiny, tiny pig from whom the bacon band-aid was probably made.

It wasn’t a very good band-aid.  I have a different one on now.

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Chop up your tomatoes.  You don’t have to do this tidily but you do kind of want a roughly smallish but not diced chop.  Thumb-nail sized or so.  Chop them all.  I have the digital radio on Gold for this stuff, it’s not a cool job so I make sure to not listen to cool music.

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Chop your chilli.  Sorry about the photo.  This is supposed to demonstrate my fail-safe and entirely sensible way of checking the hotness of a chilli.  I stuck the whole one in, with seeds.  Now the chutney’s done I can’t really taste the chilli at all.  This happens a lot.  Sometimes I put finely chopped garlic in too.  I didn’t this time, but you might want to.

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Put your ‘matoes, sliced onions, seasoning, chilli, brown sugar (maybe about 3/4 cup but no more unless you’re a fan of the sweeter chutneys) and a good squeeze of hot mustard.  Slosh in about 250ml or so of red wine vinegar.  Sometimes I also splosh in a bit of water, too.  Depends how I’m feeling about water on any given day.

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Mix over a medium heat till you get to simmer.

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Let the beast simmer.  The tomatoes will break down a bit and it’ll get a bit liquid, smell whiffy and look like the above.

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Keep simmering.  It’ll get less liquid, it’ll reduce and it’ll start to look a bit more chutney-ish.  It’ll still be whiffy, though.

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I reduce the heat as the stuff itself reduces, keep an occasional stir to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.  Basically you’re waiting for it to reduce and dry out a bit.  So kind of what it looks like above.  It’s not rocket science.

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Carefully ladle into your sterilised jars and let it cool in there.  Eat.  Eat it all.  I’ve been known to dip crackers directly into it and eat half a jar at a go.  It’s vegetable, therefore it falls into the health category.  We’ve eaten this with basically everything.  We don’t do gravy in this house anymore.  It’s chutney or bust.


After you’ve washed up, ponder the blood-stained, wrecked receipt from this afternoon’s purchase of the Xmas beef.  Grimace.

Meat Hunting

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Took the dog to the park. She needs walking every bloody day. Who knew?

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On the way back we stopped at the butcher to collect the Christmas meat. It’s beef. The line wasn’t too bad. The turkeys were buff.  The customers were resolutely middle class.  Even the girl who served me, aged about 12, was posh.  She wasn’t able to give good meat advice though, pretty sure she wasn’t an actual butcher.

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This is the Meat.  It’s a whole, lightly trimmed beef fillet.  It was a few pennies short of £180.  I thought that a lot.  The boyfriend’s Italian father will be making very British Beef Wellington with some of it, and then some other deliciousness with the rest.  He’s a good cook.  The Italian father, I mean.  This is not to cast aspersions on the boyfriend’s cooking, I should point out.  He’s very good at things like risotto and coffee and pasta and muesli.

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Anyway the dog was pretty miserable because there were no dog bones at the butcher’s this visit.  She was also really bloody muddy from the park so I thought I’d improve her day by giving her a bath.  Look how happy she is.

 

I might blog about chutney later – depends on how I get on with sourcing tomatoes.

Panettone as Pudding

Hullo.  Today we’re making bread and butter pudding with panettone instead of bread.  It’s cause it’s Christmas.  Couple things first – you might have ancient traditional recipes for custard, for how you slice the bread/panettone and what flavours you like.  Keep those, go mad with them, in fact.    This is just me having a go with the recipe coming BANG!  out of my brain, this afternoon.  I think it’s turned out a bit eggy, actually, so that means I’ll have to eat it all as the boyfriend doesn’t like eggy stuff.  Oops.

Get together:

Panettone (any flavour you like, you don’t need a big one unless you’re making a mammoth pudding)

Vanilla

Butter

Eggs (bout 3 I reckon, I used 4 and think it’s prob a tad too much)

Milk (bout 350ml – some people add cream, too – s’up to you – I didn’t this time).

Sugar (as much as you like really – it’s all about taste – will also depend what fruit you use – as a minimum about 25g I should think)

Allspice or nutmeg.  We have allspice today cause I couldn’t find the nutmeg.  The spice jar cupboard is a bit out of control, I’m afraid.

The most out-of-season fruit you can find, if you like fruit.  Today I found apricots.  I owe a lot of carbon offset donations for that one.  I put the fruit in cause it mostly acts as a fresh and not-sweet foil to the sweet custard.  It’s not really traditional, it’s just my preference.  Leave it out if you don’t fancy it.

I halve the apricots.  See demonstrated above the very safe, not-at-all dangerous de-stoning technique I personally prefer.

Here are the various stages of apricot.

(i)  Whole

(ii) Halved with stone

(iii) Halved, without stone and with frypan

Put the fruit, whatever it is (as long as it’s not berries, they don’t need pre-cooking) into a frypan with a few splodges of butter, and cook them up.  Nice.

At this point realise the kitchen lighting doesn’t really light the worktop so use another extremely safe home-DIY solution and fix the lights.  You hate those lights.

This stuff is aces.   You want some of this in your cupboard, as well as the good vanilla extract.

Put the milk (and cream if you choose), eggs, vanilla, sugar and spice into a jug or mixing bowl.  Use about this much allspice (do include spilled and still spooned amounts…).  Whisk vigorously.  I didn’t do that bit quite vigorously enough and found a couple of gross cooked whites in the final dish.  You don’t want that to happen.  It’s bad.

By this stage your fruit should be cooked but not mushy, yet able to be mushed.  It’s a technical thing, that.  Take them off the heat.

Slice your panettone thusly, if thusly is your style.

Smoosh the cooked, warm fruit along the bottom of the buttered oven dish.  It really doesn’t need to be neat, maybe here pretend you’re Jamie Oliver and get messy.

Place your slices of buttered panettone in the dish.  I have been quite neat here.  Pleasing.  Don’t feel the pressure to be neat, it really won’t make it taste any better.

Pour in the custard eggy milky vanilla-y mix.  Push the panettone down into it till it absorbs the custard and looks a bit like the above.  I used a whisk to push it down.  It was already dirty and I didn’t want to use a clean spoon.

Put it all in a moderate oven, I used Gas Mark 4.

Your worktop will probably look something like this when you’re done.  I’m usually much neater.  I think this blog has changed me.

This is the dog refusing to shake hands (? paws?) with me in exchange for a piece of panettone.  See that look of resignation in her eyes?

It’s cause she knew she was going to do it.  Now she’s shaking my paw (? hand?) but can’t look me in the eye.  She ate that panettone fast, then ran upstairs.  She’s probably still crying with shame up there.

Bout 30 mins in check the pudding.  Because of my – ALL TOGETHER NOW – shit oven, I put some foil over it about now.  You might not have to.  For another 20 mins I let it rumble away, then have 5 more minutes without the foil to crisp the top.

Look!  It’s pretty cute.  Let it settle for a bit, and although that’ll mean the dramatic mountains of panettone currently evident will dimish somewhat, it’s kind of killer-hot at first.  Serve with whatever you like – custard and/or icecream is go.

NOTE  : I have just eaten some.  It’s fine and not too eggy.  Basically the eggs help it set, so you need to be sensible about how many you put in for the amount of liquid milk and cream you’ll have – 3 as a minimum and then upwards depending on milky volume.

Breakfast

We all eat breakfast. Well, we should. No one ever tells you how to make it.

I generally find it quite hard to eat when I get up, preferring to leave it an hour or so. Apparently that approach is quite bad for you. I also generally try to have something really dull like one Weetbix (or Weetabix if you’re here in England) with some honey and skimmed milk however (i) my personal trainer is on holiday and I’m not getting seen or seen to for another 2 weeks, (ii) there is bread in the house, and (iii) I have managed to coerce the boyfriend into coming with me to the gym tonight so that means today I shall eat EVERYTHING I can see. It’s entertaining having him there me at the gym, as I make him do all the horrific exercises my personal trainer makes me do. I am stronger, obviously. It’s like She-Ra and He-Man, but in reverse.

Anyway get yourself together some breakfast ingredients. Today we’re having toast and coffee.

This is a knife and this is a teaspoon. They are key utensils in the preparation of a satisfying breakfast.

Choose some bread. You’ll note I am not taking slices from the front of the loaf. This is cause I am my mother’s daughter. Never take the front slices. Always take the nicer, softer onces from a few slices in. It will drive the people you live with mad but you don’t care and will never not do this.

Put the nice, soft bread into the toaster which looks all pretty and red but is actually a torture chamber for wheat-based goods. They are bad, they must be punished.

This is a coffee capsule for the machine we own. Yours might look different, or it might be grainy bits of brown from a tin. Whatever and however your get your coffee (or tea, if tea is your thing), get it. This is the dark green one. It’s probably about my 3rd favourite. I like the purple and the light gold better. Just so you know.

Put the capsule in the machine and press the button. I wish I had some audio for you of the noise that is made when the coffee is being invaded by high-pressure boiling water. It’s kind of , ‘grrrrraaaaarrrrrrghhhhhowwwwwwwwbrrrrrrgggggggg’. Good coffee at the end, though. At this stage I add some Splenda I’ve inevitably stolen from the Broadwick St Pret a Manger. Go for sugar if that’s your thing. Never go for the aspartame-based fake sugars, very bad for you.

Add the milk of your choice. I go for skimmed 0.1% fat as I don’t really like the taste of milk a lot and I like it quite watery. Any kind of milk will do.

Stick the mug of coffee and milk into your fancy microwave. Your microwave will be the polar opposite of your oven. It’s new, clean and wonderful. As always, remind yourself to remove all the stuff that lives on top of the microwave to another place, as it’s there in direct contravention of the microwave codes of practice. As always, do nothing about it. Bout 1 min 40 seconds for a mug of this size, on high.

Toast will be ready now. This is my preferred level of brown-ness. Yours may differ. At this point if you, like my Gran, like your toast colder than the frozen graves of Russia, leave the toast alone for about 30 minutes. If, like me, you like it a bit warm, sorta toasty warm even, then give it 10 seconds or so, then butter.

Buttered kind of warm toast.

This is Promite. It is food of the gods. Get some.

I am not having Promite today, though. Because we have jam in the house, and because I am going to the gym later, I am going to have jam. Jam that toast right up.

Breakfast. Hot coffee, warm toast, jam. Eat then realise you’re quite late and need to get a move on otherwise you’ll not be at the office in time for that absolutely amazing 3 hour IT workshop scheduled for today.

Potato, baked

Here are two potatoes.  I am assuming it’s probably likely you’ve seen a potato before.  It’s also hard to get perspective on these two particular potatoes .  Trust me when I say they’re quite large.  Get yourself some.  Stick the oven on hot; if you’re in the UK that’ll be about Gas Mark 7/8 and if you’re in Oz about 200C or more, and if you’re in America, sorry, I don’t do Farenheit.

I should at this point mention that I’ve not had a lot to do with baked potatoes in my life.  Weren’t really a part of my growing up, maybe it’s an Australia thing, but they’re bloody popular here in England.  Rather awfully, it appears though the most popular combination toppings are things like tuna and sweetcorn and mayonnaise, or baked beans and cheese.  No such culinary offences shall be commited today, oh no.

Stab those potatoes.  Stab them like you wanted to that guy who was your first boss when you were worked to the bone in the salad bar restaurant, aged 17.  If you don’t have such handy, ancient grudges then just lightly prick the things all over.  Don’t go mad, though, a general few on each side is fine.

Wash.  Running water is a marvel, isn’t it?

Sprinkle with salt.  Only this kind of salt will do.  No other salt will suffice.  If you don’t use this salt, you will fail.

As you’ll have inevitably spilled some salt, despite the fact you’re not superstitious you’ll find yourself throwing some salt over your left shoulder with your right hand.

I am a bit superstitious though.  Totally without  basis but hey, I toss salt regularly.

Stick the potatoes in the oven, directly onto the shelf.

Look!  Some potatoes on the shelf in the oven!  Interestingly I am just now noticing the feral state of my oven.  I have decided I don’t care.  It’s shit.  It doesn’t deserve cleaning.

Bout 30 minutes in you’ll notice the skin getting a bit different.  Bit puffy, bit older looking.  The burnt bits on the bottom of the oven look a bit burnt-er, too.  How nice.

Keep cooking.  basically it’ll take anywhere from 60-80 minutes, on average, as always depending on your oven.  At about 60 minutes I have to cradle the potatoes in alfoil, to keep them from getting all burnt.  You may not have to.  Prod them with the skewer and when they’re cooked the skewer will go through nicely.

If you’re like me and love a good skewer prod, your cooked potatoes will look something like the above, accentuated with skewer holes.

Cute.

Stick the potato on a plate.

I read somewhere about the ‘karate chop’ technique of cracking open your potato.  See above.  This is not the result you’re after.

Tonight we’re having the leftover sausage roll mince.  I bought too much mince.  Or maybe I didn’t buy enough pastry.  One of those things, anyway, has left me with leftover sausage roll mince.  I dry fry it in a pan, chopping away till the mince bits are tiny, adding some chilli flakes and cumin, a bit more salt, and cooking and stirring till it pops like popcorn and looks a bit like the above.  It’s good, trust me.

We stuck the mince on the potato with the leftover creme fraiche, some cheddar and, for me, some parsley.  I can’t get enough parsley.  It looked quite nice at this stage, even to me who is not a big baked potato fan.

Course it wasn’t in edible form when it looked all nice.  I had a bit of a go at it, managed to get to the above stage, and was much happier with the outcome.  Ate it.  Was quite nice.  Felt full for about 4 hours afterwards which I suppose is good value considering the whole thing cost about £1.50 per person.  How dull.

This is the dog sulking on the sofa over a bit of leftover potato skin.  She was not offered any pork mince and was unhappy about it.  I don’t know why we let her eat this on the sofa.  It was bad parenting.

Banana Bread, Bread of the Gods

OK, banana bread. I cook this probably about once a week, mostly cause I buy bananas and then am never home to eat them in time. I like to eat them fresh just a bit under-ripe but cannot bear them over-ripe. Bearing this in mind, please pay close attention to the bananas in the above photo – they are rank (to my eye) and, therefore, perfect for banana bread. Anyway my friends are now loathe to come over to my house lest they have yet another loaf of this cursed stuff thrust into their unwilling arms as it’s such a frequent occurence. Must do better.

Pre-heat the oven to about Gas Mark 5 (I suppose 160-180C), again all this depends on your own oven. By now we’ve established mine is shit. Grease and line two loaf tins with baking paper (the amounts below will cook 2 good-sized banana breads – which confusingly are more cake-like – but obviously if you’re a maths genius you can divide the amounts by half and get only one loaf). Don’t worry about neat corners and perfect tin-lining technique – it really doesn’t matter. Banana bread is supposed to be a bit agricultural, it’s hard to make it look pretty, so basically embrace the home-made look and you’ll be all good.

Get together:-

3 rankly over-ripe bananas

ground cinnamon

75g butter, melted

2.5 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cups plain flour

1 cup brown sugar of some kind, doesn’t really matter – it’ll just change the appearance and the darker the brown sugar the more caramelly the flavour will be

3/4 cup skimmed milk

vanilla extract (as always, the good stuff. don’t use that cheap shit essence)

3 eggs (in australia we often call these bum-nuts. well, my uncle did. i like the phrase).

dried fruit (sultanas, blueberries, cranberries, etc, whatever you fancy) and/or choc bits. anything nice.

the careful recipe, as it’s evolved to present day, as outlined above. i hope you’ll appreciate the care and effort that went into transcribing it.

OK. You’ll need two mixing bowls. Big ask in a recession, sorry. In one mixing bowl put the flours, sugar and cinnamon. Generally you’ll be advised to sift this. Don’t. See above – when you’ve put all the ingredients in it’ll probably look something like this.

BIG SECRET. I never sift. Sifting is, for the most part, unnecessary. For nearly (please note caveat) everything you’ll be able to get away with not sifting. I whisk, instead. Whisking is (i) faster, (ii) neater, (iii) more fun and, (iv) better. See above for dry ingredients, whisked. I think you’ll agree they are indistinguishable from sifted ones. That tip’s for free. You’re welcome.

In the second bowl, break up the bananas into small chunks and mash up with a fork. I find this bit a bit floral, aroma-wise, as the smell of ripe bananas is the same to me as dead-mice-under-the-floorboards (which is a situation we are currently living with in our house, delicious), so I tend to get on with it fairly fast. I usually always get creative, pointlessly so, with shaping the mashed up banana, as demonstrated. I mush it up fairly finely but if you want big banana-y chunks in your banana bread, be less harsh on the poor soft fruit with your fork.

Add the vanilla, melted butter, lightly beaten eggs and milk to the banana mix and combine, then add the fruit and/or choc bits. This time we went for a mix of milk and white choc chips. Today’s loaves are presents for the in-laws and a crazy Italian friend who doesn’t need the sugar but is getting it anyway.

You should now have two bowls of stuff – one dry and one wet. It should look something like the photo. If you don’t, you’ve gone horribly wrong.

Assuming you’ve gone wonderfully right, move onto pouring the wet mix into the dry stuff. Mix through.

It’ll probably end up looking something like this. This is a touch too dry. It almost always happens. If so, add literally about a small dessert-spoon full of milk. Mix.

Hopefully you can discern some kind of difference now. See it’s marginally smoother? Or less glunky or something. Anyway it’s naturally quite a thick cake mix, don’t get all stress-head about it, it just needs to have a level of fluidity. If you get it wrong this time you’ll need to try again next time. You’ll get it eventually. Probably. I don’t know you so that might be untrue. It might be setting you up for a lifetime of failure. Sorry.

Pour into your loaf tins, as equally as you can. I didn’t quite manage it today. Stick in the oven, note the time. These will take somewhere between 40-60 minutes to cook, depending on the mix and your oven.

Contemplate your ‘tache, and make an appointment to get it waxed. It’s been a while. It’s now so thick snow will stick to it and that’s never a good look on a lady.

Then do the washing up. Your washing up will likely include the pan the bacon was cooked in this morning, left over from when your boyfriend ‘cleaned up’ the kitchen in order that you might make banana bread for your blog. Clearly.

About 20 minutes in your loaves should look a bit like this – they should have a gentle rounding of the edges such as those found on most average ladies leaving their 20s and launching into their 30s.

‘Bout 40mins in, if you have a shit oven like me (please note unreliable flame at the top of this photo) you’ll see the top getting nicely browned but the middle will still have a wobble unseen since the last new year’s resolution to hit the gym.

Foil those babies up, baby, and stick them back in. Obv if you don’t have a shit oven you might not need this step.

Using a skewer (we prefer wooden ones in this house) keep checking the wobbly inside bits till they are less wobbly. Basically I like to have a few soggy crumbs clapsing desperately to the skewer, then leave the breads in the now-turned-off oven for a few more minutes to finish off. Then remove and let cool a bit before snaffling.

There are various ways to eat this. Fresh and warm it’s good on its own. Fresh and cool it’s ace with slabs of butter. I have a friend (an aces cook who is good at literally everything, it’s very annoying) who has recently discovered the art of frying slices in butter, in a frying pan, which was bloody delicious, albeit heart-attack-ish. Give all approaches a go, just enjoy.

Finally, make the dog wear the wig your boyfriend wore last night at the 70s party. Doggy Parton. Then post on the internet.

Porky Sausage Rolls

Right.  Here we are again.  Already.  I’m capitalising this time, too.  I must mean business.  I’ve also had a headache and recently took a lot of Panadeine Forte so that may go some way to explaining how things turned out today. Anyway…
Sausage rolls are always popular but I can’t be doing with the Jamie Oliver cheat of sticking some actual sausages in some pastry and calling it good.  So after putting the oven on at Gas Mark 5 or so, get yourself together:-

About 500-600g good pork mince.  preferably from a butcher but, as I have done tonight, from a Sainsburys will do

10 or so fresh leaves of sage

medium red onion

dried chillies

puff pastry (I usually use Jus-Rol or whatever it’s called, from the freezer section, but this time got Sainsbury’s own brand from the fridge section.  Do not use this.  Use Jus-Rol.  I have erred).

1 egg & a dash of milk for the egg-wash

salt and pepper to season

Have the dog beg for some pork mince you then make her eat off the floor.

Tip the pork mince into a mixing bowl with the sage and red onion which you will, of course, have finely chopped.  I did it tonight with a blunt knife.  It was boring.  Add some crushed chilli if you like.  I generally like adding this for two reasons.  (i) I like chilli, and (ii) if there are kids at the party you’re making the sausage rolls for they won’t like the chilli, so you’ll get to eat more.

Add some salt and pepper, good pinches, don’t be scaredy cats with the seasoning.  Then get your hands in.  If, like me, you didn’t take the mince out of the fridge 30mins or so before you began, this bit will chill your hands down to about -7 degrees.  It’ll hurt.  Anyway, smoosh it all around till well mixed.  You can try doing this all polite-like with a metal spoon but you’d be an idiot.  Hands are better.

It’ll look like this when you’re done.  See that knife?  Blunt.

OK.  Get yourself some of this stuff.  NO-ONE MUST EVER KNOW YOU USE THIS.  NO-ONE.  This’ll be the reason everyone thinks everything you cook tastes amazing.  Get it, hide it, and prepare to use it shortly.

Lay out the pastry and cut in half length-ways, and place a nice roll (hence, I suppose, the idea of sausage ROLL) of porky goodness along one edge of the pastry.  By this time I’m sure you’ll have cracked your egg into a ramekin or glass or something, whisked it a bit and put a splosh of milk in.  Cause you’ve done that already, it’ll be easy to use a pastry brush to brush on the egg-wash along the far side of the pastry.

Roll the beast up, the ends should overlap a bit.

I use a very sophisticated and tidy technique to ensure the ends stick together with the help of the egg-wash.  Study this photo closely and reproduce as far as possible.  Use a finger.  I’ve not tried using any other appendage but please, have a go and let me know what works best for you.

Use THE SECRET STUFF NO-ONE KNOWS ABOUT and sprinkle it across the top of the long sausage roll, which you’ve egg-washed.  I keep telling you to do things too late, I know.  Sorry.  Anyway sprinkle that stuff on it and cut the long sausage roll into whatever sizes you want.  Helpfully, the codeine today has allowed me to demonstrate to you the multitude of sizes you might want to end up with.  Repeat endlessly till all your mince has magically turned into sausage rolls.

Place on a tray.  Don’t need to grease it, if you’ve been good and gotten pork mince of any quality (no way should you buy that  ‘sausage mince’ they try to sell at the supermarket, oh god no) then there’ll be enough grease making its way out of the sausage rolls during the cooking.

This did not happen.  The dog did not drink the rest of the egg wash.

Look fruitlessly into the shit oven, rotating the trays every 30 seconds or so to prevent burning.  If you don’t have a shit oven, (i) I am resentfully jealous of you, and (ii) you can skip this step.

After about 30 mins or so take out of the oven and inspect your work.  Tonight I’m not that impressed.  I’ve done better.  These are, however, destined for a Christmas Cocktail Party and will, therefore, be eaten by a lot of drunk people so I will probably get away with it.  Eat with home-made tomato chutney (I’ll post that recipe another time.  Probably) or the ubiquitous ketchup.

Have a coffee, frown at the burnt bits and wonder how on earth you’re going to find a 70s fancy dress costume in the 45mins you have left before leaving for the party.
Bon appetite!

Fudge Brownies

stick the oven on to heat, moderate (about gas mark 4 i suppose, depends on your oven) and get some ingredients together, as above (a partial selection). i recommend:

150g chopped butter
300g dark eating chocolate
300g firmly packed brown sugar (i use a bit less)
3 eggs beaten lightly (be nice to them)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the good stuff)
3/4 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
choc chips and nuts, of your choosing

melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over another saucepan of gently simmering water (no pics of this bit, sorry, fire was involved) and then put in a mixing bowl to cool a bit. add the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla and mix till glossy, glossy like the newly washed hair of a teenage girl.

in goes the flour and cocoa. mix it a bit till it doesn’t look like this anymore.

add the nuts and choc chips of your choosing. today we went with chopped hazelnuts and some dark choc chips. i go with visual amounts. if you want to get speccy about 120g choc chips and 100g nuts is about right.

add the sour cream. this is, in fact, creme fraiche which i have decided is almost the same thing.

tip into the baking tray but make sure you leave just a little* bit in the bowl to taste-test.

*a lot

at this stage i took some up on a spoon to my boyfriend who was bathing in a boiling hot bath. i didn’t take any pictures of that, mostly cause he was drinking dr pepper and i was ashamed.

lick the bowl. lick it good. if your eyes don’t look like this then you’re not doing it right.

pour into your greased and lined baking tray – should be about 20cm x 30cm or so. smoosh it around a bit with the spatula so it goes in the corners, but don’t go mental on the touching up.

if your bowl looks like this by the time the licking is complete, you’re doing it right.

take a picture of yourself trying to take a picture of the clock. take a picture of the dog watching you take a picture of yourself trying to take a picture of the clock.

note the time. you’ll need the brownies in the oven for 40 mins at this stage. 40 MINUTES in a moderate oven

do some washing up while the stuff’s in the oven. it’s good cheffing.

after 40 minutes, take the brownies out, swearing lightly at your shit oven.

wrap the brownies in alfoil. that’s if you’re australian. if you’re not australian, wrap your brownies in foil.

put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes. take note of the time. as you’ll see, i’m running slightly ahead of schedule. that’s cause of my shit oven.

after another 20 mins baking with alfoil on top, take the brownies out of the oven. take off the foil and let them cool. to be honest they’ll look pretty much like the did last time they came out, before the foil but there you go, that’s the mad science of baking.

let the brownies cool in the tin then slice into whatever size you like. we like half a tin each in this house. sprinkle with cocoa powder if you’re feeling fancy, then eat. eat as fast as you can. if you eat them fast the calories don’t stick.

this is the book i got the recipe out of. it’s australian women’s weekly thingy – the aussie women’s weekly do tops recipes.

the end product, best served with clotted cream ice-cream and ancient episodes of time-team.