Monthly Archives: September 2012

Rolo & Pecan Brownies, Bite-Sized

Afternoon.  It’s pelting with rain here in England.  Totally unacceptable.  Also, the leaves are falling from trees and it’s getting cold at night and although it’s still September I’ve heard rumours of supermarkets with Christmas goods on display already, and a hotel in a mid-England city with a tree up already.  DISALLOW.

Obviously having come home from an amazing food-laden holiday the boyfriend and I made all sorts of promises to eat healthy.  We kind of are during the week but I had a good enough excuse (friend’s birthday) to do some baking, and so did.  This recipe is originally from an Aussie Women’s Weekly one (therefore is guaranteed Good), but they made it with walnuts (which are ok).  I made it with pecans (which are infinitely superior).  The Rolos are pretty nice, too.  Eat the last one yourself, obviously.

They’re brilliantly delicious and fast to cook – don’t let anyone tell you brownies are an artisan art form – anyone can make them if you use good ingredients and don’t burn the living hell out of them.  Remember that.

And so:-

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Stick your oven on moderate.  I put ShitOven on a low Gas Mark 3.  Still too hot, as you’ll discover shortly.

Get together:-

1/2 cup (50g) pecans, toasted, chopped finely
80g butter
150g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
3/4 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
3 x 50g packets Rolos

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Melt the butter and chocolate, broken into pieces, over a very low heat until combined and silky.  Don’t let it boil, you’ll ruin it.

Once combined, let it cool a while. I think the recipe says to do all this in a medium saucepan and you can subsequently mix everything in the saucepan, but I didn’t read that far ahead and so melted it up in a tiny saucepan and therefore had to transfer the mess into a new mixing bowl and THEN had more washing up to do.  Sucks to be me.

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Whilst the choc-butter mix is cooling, chop your nuts, or your partner’s nuts, depending on how he has been behaving.  I guess this also depends on whether you have a he for a partner.  I don’t mean to be exclusive.

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In a muffin or yorkshire pudding tin place some patty cases.  I suppose you could just cook them straight in the tin, come to think of it.
Obviously I didn’t.

Place a sprinkling of chopped nuts in the bottom of each muffin case.  See above for precise sprinkling.

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Mix your brown sugar into the choc-butter mix, and add your lightly beaten egg.

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Then the flour, then the cream.

It also now occurs to me that you could stir in the sugar whilst the choc-butter stuff is still nice and warm, to dissolve it.  Do that.

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Spoon the mix into the muffin cases, equally.  They rise only a little bit so don’t be measly.

Plonk a Rolo in the centre of each one.

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Gently move the mix over the Rolo.

Again it occurs to me now that there’s nothing actually wrong with leaving the Rolo out in plain view.  Personal choice.  You choose.

Chuck them in the oven for up to 15 mins or until cooked.

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Whilst they cook, please feel free to admire my favourite thing from Italy, a chocolate grater thingy.  I also found one for cheese by the boyfriend wouldn’t let me buy it.  He’s like that.  He’s always looking for reasons to say no and I’m always looking for reasons to say yes.  It’s why we live in such perfect harmony.

Check the brownies.  If you have ShitOven they’ll be ruined.  If not, take them out and let them cool.

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ShitOven ruined brownies, with added taste of carbony charcoal.  I HATE SHITOVEN.

Anyway never minding that, they actually taste pretty yum and properly brownie-like rather than cupcake-like.  See below for internal display of melted Rolo.

Delicious.

Enjoy.  I must away back to work, I’ve an unwanted uni course to pay for.

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Chicken Parmigiana Oz-style

Hola.  Or Ciao, seeing as our departure to Italy is imminent (not gloating, merely practicing my advanced language skills).  In homage to Italia today you get a distinctly un-Italian version of Parmiagiana, as I remember eating it in Australia.  No actual parmesan in the thing, as it happens, although maybe on reflection there used to be some of that vomit-smelling dried parmesan powdery dust type stuff included in the breadcrumbs.  Either way, this is what the boyfriend would rightly but Italian-ly disparage as a blot on the Italian food landscape.

He helped cooked it, though, and ate a bloody large portion so I believe that’s 1:0 to Australia.

As I type this he’s having an early afternoon bath and I’m sat on the sofa with a towel on my head, having spent the morning packing and walking the dog in various pleasant locations.  We ate this dish last week, I think, when it was still cooler weather and not the lovely sunshine we’ve been having. We just took the dog to the local park again and it’s full of oiled bodies.  You can tell the non-brits, they tend to use a lot of oil and have better bodies.

Ahoy!  Chicken!

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You want:

As many chicken breasts as there are people to feed

Some breadcrumbs – we made ours out of some old ciabatta

Egg, for wash

Plain flour, for flouring

Passata, about 1.5 cups for 2 people

Cheddar (or some other more sophisticated cheese)

Oil, olive of course but also some vegetable

Pinch sugar

Same of salt

Balsamic vinegar

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I wazzed up the bread with some seasoning in the blender thingy till coarse but properly crumbed.  If you want to use pre-bought I’d recommend Panko or similar, rather than very fine breadcrumbs.

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Lay out your crumbs on a plate, your beaten egg in a bowl, and your flour in another bowl.  Far me it from me to dictate the order but if you don’t go Flour-Egg-Breadcrumb you’re going to suffer.

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Remove the skin from your organically free-range chicken breast (I’m assuming) and then kind of slice in half.  I think this is called butterflying – demonstrated above is the original version, still quite chicken-breasty, and the sliced version, sort of butterfly-y.  Basically slice into the breast as if you’re dividing it in half through the width, but don’t go all the way.
WELL TECHNICAL.

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Throw over a piece of clingwrap, imagine that creepy Science teacher who taught you in Year 10 and bash away.  I find a rolling pin useful.  You don’t have to make these all specially thin but you do want to reduce the thickness somewhat and even out the meat.

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Then pat it gently in the flour, covering it, dunk into the egg, making sure it’s all egged up, and then get it covered in breadcrumbs.  See above.  It’s quite straightforward.  Most of you should manage.

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Whilst I was getting on with the high tech chicken prep, the boyfriend was making the sauce.  He bunged some passata in a saucepan, added some minced garlic gloves, a splash of balsamic and a pinch of salt and sugar, with some olive oil, had it on a low simmer till it reduced and itensified a bit.

I’m sure this is very authentically Italian, as he is half Italian.

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Heat up a good half and inch or so of the veg oil in a frypan, over a medium heat (not too mental) and then fry off the chicken.  You’ve essentially made chicken schnitzel here. If you’re feeling more German than Italian then stop here, serve with pickled cabbage and some lager in a vast stein.

Cooking should be about 3-4 mins each side at most, taking care not to burn.  The chicken, I mean.  You’l totally get spat at by the angry hot oil.

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Under a grill, spoon out some of the tomato sauce onto the chicken.

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Lay hands on the cheddar, and lay the cheddar on top of everything else.  Shove under the grill till it’s all bubbling.

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It’ll look a bit like the above.  Not at all health.

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It’s bloody delicious.  I believe we decided to eschew vegetables, eating it on its own.  Well class.

Below are a couple of photos from this morning.  The dog is in one, and I am proud of the boke in the other, so you’re getting that one for free.

See you either from or after Italy.

CIAO, YEAH?

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Asian Noodle-y Brothy Soupy Stuff

Hullo.  Again.

Britain’s putting on some lovely sunshine this whole week which  means we should go straight from British sun (weak, pale, carefully optimistic) to Italian sunshine (hot, tanned and confident).  Deeply pleasing.  In the meantime here’s another pre-cooked post.

It’s technically an Asian broth of indiscriminate heritage.  I used fresh corn and prawns in this version, but you can substitute for practically anything, including tofu for vegetarians, chicken for fowl-lovers and probably some nice belly-pork (all meat pre-cooked, please) for the rest of you.  I thought it only just ok on the night, but the boyfriend was much more complimentary.  I think I was distracted by helping our neighbour climb the fence, having locked himself out of his house.  Mildly amusing, quite distracting.

Anyway, it’s quite tasty, pretty healthy and takes about 10 mins from end to end.  Can’t complain about that.

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Get together whatever you fancy, but definite requirements include:-

Stock – I generally use vegetable or chicken (vegie this time)

Noodles – I only had japanese in the cupboard, I’d have ideally used vermicelli

Fish sauce

Soy sauce

Seasoning

Garlic

And I used:

Fresh corn, sliced off the very cob it was born to (this is fun, I recommend it, and fresh corn is way nicer than frozen or canned)

Chopped bok choi or chinese greens of any variety

Spring onions

Prawns

Umami powder

I also meant to put in ginger but forgot.  Also I bought lemongrass to add but couldn’be bothered to mush it all up, so didn’t.

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Over a gentle heat cook the garlic, corn and spring onion (only the harder bits, leave the green tops for nicely decorating the finished product) in some vegie oil.  PLEASE DON’T BURN ANYTHING.  I’m serious, keep it gentle.

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Add in your stock – made up – as much as you want depending on how much you’re making.  I suppose there’s about a litre here.  Bring it to a gentle simmer.

Add in your soy and fish sauce to taste – I used a good tablespoon of soy and probably only just a bit less of fish sauce but then I am partial to a face-slapping from it’s old-sock aroma.

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Oh, I forgot to mention lime. Get some lime.

Whilst you’re waiting for the liquid to warm, slice up your chinese greens and leftover spring onions.  And that lime.

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Boyfriend and I found this at Sainsburys during our last shop.  Umami is a fun word to say.  Go on, try it.

*waits*

Eh?  EH?

Anyway I had nothing to lose so I chucked some of this in.  It’s got lots of stuff in it, I find it quite lemony.

Then throw in your greens, prawns and noodles (you can pre-cook the noodles if you want to speed things up).

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Look – soupy stuff!  It’s a gastronomic miracle.  Takes only a few minutes for all this to cook through.  Don’t over-do it unless rubbery shellfish are your thing.

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Serve in a bowl, sprinkle over some spring onion and squeeze in some lime.  Eat, wearing a piece of kitchen towel as a bib.

The dog comes in quite useful on rare occasions.  Demonstrated below is her cleaning out a yoghurt pot so we can just chuck it straight in the recycling.  Saves a rinse.

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Lazy Person Pasta – Version 2

Evening.

I trust you’re all well.  I’m quite well.  More well than I had expected to be considering yesterday was the boyfriend’s parent’s annual summer party and I traditionally get embarrassingly drunk.  I did, yesterday, but religiously stuck to white wine (with ice cubes in, of course) over the course of a good 9 hours, and so the cumulative effective of utter pissedness happily stayed (mostly) away until relatively near bedtime.  I do recall patting down a friend for his last cigarette (I don’t really smoke at all) and apparently I showed everyone photos of me and my mother in the mid-70s (great flares) which I have no recall of whatsoever.  I tried to show everyone the photos again this morning, sober, but was very politely informed I’d been so kind as to insist they all enjoyed them last night.

Christ.

Anyway today’s post is something I very much could do with eating now but is in fact something I cooked last weekend in an effort to store up a few posts because of the busy weekend AND impending holiday.  Boyfriend is sitting next to me as I write this booking our first night’s accommodation which we only just remembered we hadn’t organised.  Don’t fancy camping out in the hire car, parked out by the airport.

I believe it’s a bit of a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingwotsit recipe that comes from yet another torn out piece of the Guardian magazine.  It’s easy, very fast, and delicious.

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Gather up:

peas

pancetta

pasta

p’garlic

p’seasoning

p’olive oil

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I am not sure why this picture is sideways.  Do enjoy.

It’s attempting to demonstrate some neatly sliced pancetta (even the bits up if you buy pre-cut) and the kind-of finely sliced garlic.

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Fry the pancetta over a bit of a high heat until they go golden and release their glorious fat.  Pour in some olive oil, you want more oil.  Turn the heat down and tip in the garlic.   Fry till it begins to soften.

Shit – forgot to say, you should obviously have been putting some salted water on to boil by this point, if not making that the first thing you do.  Chuck in the pasta, cook.

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Pour in peas, as many as you feel like eating.  I like quite a lot.  Pour them in frozen, cook for a few minutes.  They won’t take long.

Drain your cooked pasta.  Smaller pasta would be good.  I think Hugh recommended risoni for this and I had a tanty when neither Carluccios nor Sainsburys sold it.  Middle class nightmare, it was.  Anyway ended up using some leftover orecchiette (Italian for little ears, I believe) instead.

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See above for good example of my recipe collection.  I have actually several presents of those twee make-your-own-recipe books that I think I am supposed to paste all these into.  I never have.  They live in the drawer with the foil and clingwrap, quite happily.

Right.  Mix through the peas and pancetta with the pasta.  Season to taste.  Serve.  You don’t need cheese, it’s surprisingly rich.  Boyfriend didn’t believe me, he’d sleep in a bed made of parmesan would I only allow it.

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