Brownies. Mmmm.

Last week, Ken made brownies. I’ve only ever made brownies out of a packet before – the kind where the mix comes in a box and you add an egg and some water and then, viola, you have brownies.

But Ken made the real thing. And they were awesome. This isn’t the exact recipe, but it’s close.

This was the second successful recipe* we’ve made from the Darina Allen Cookery Course cookbook we got for Christmas (thanks Ben and Sarah). So far I’m impressed.

These brownies were more cake-like and less dense than some I’ve had but the texture was fantastic and they were super delicious. And Ken reckons they weren’t even that hard to make. A definite recommendation.

* We did have one failure when I tried to make ice cream. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, but it went horribly wrong and made a huge mess. I suspect it was my fault, not the recipe.

Parmesan rice with chicken and buttered almonds

This Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for Parmesan rice with chicken and buttered almonds was amazing. Comforting, interesting, delicious. The recipe is meant for 4-6 people, but it was so delicious, we ate it all. Granted, we felt like stuffed chickens ourselves afterwards, so I would recommend restraint if you do try it.

It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken and is pretty simple to make. The buttered almonds give it a nice texture and the sumac adds a citrusy kick (so definitely don’t skip it).

 

Moosewood Macedonian Salad

Over Christmas, we received a copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook (thanks Mom!) We aren’t vegetarian, but do like to try and eat healthy and figured we’d eat less meat if we knew how to make more tasty veggie meals. The book is fab – full of really interesting recipes, in a handwritten style with hand drawn images – this is quirky and nice, rather than twee (US translation: cutesy/cheesy).

We’ve made two recipes from the book so far – refried beans (which I didn’t blog, because a photo of refried beans rarely looks like anything nice) and this Macedonian Salad. It’s basically a roasted eggplant and veggie salad that you can have on its own or with other mezze type dishes. We had it with hummus, pita, olives and some yogurt on the side. Ken also tried it in a pita as a snack and said it was really good. Luckily, Food Network has put the recipe online if you’d like to try it out.

Beef and parsnip stew with cheesy dumplings

I know this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but this is a fantastic winter stew by Lesley Waters. Especially great if, like me, you’re never quite sure what to do with parsnips. It’s a pretty typical stew – beef, parsnips, carrots, onions, tomatoes – but what makes it delicious and special are the cheesy dumplings (or what she calls muffins) on top. Highly recommended.

A plum birthday cake

Last week was my birthday and my lovely husband offered to make me any cake I wanted. I asked for a plum cake, based on a Nigel Slater recipe.

This was made with Victoria plums, which are in season now. And it’s delicious. It’s also pretty simple to make – highly recommended, especially with some clotted cream ice cream.

Macaroni and blue cheese with broccoli

Macaroni and cheese is one of those comfort foods from growing up. I remember my mom making a quick and tasty version with tomatoes and tuna. This is a twist on the America’s Test Kitchen Creamy Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

No picture of the final product because, frankly, it's pretty hard to get a good looking photo of pasta and creamy cheese with green bits in it. But it tastes delicious!

For our version, we used a bit of dolce latte, and bit of Danish blue and a bit of mild cheddar. Amounts vary according to the strength of the cheese and how sharp you like it, but the total amount is the same as the recipe.

We also found that we didn’t need as much evaporated milk as called for in the recipe – we used only half the amount listed.

The broccoli was blanched beforehand and stirred in at the last minute.

The recipe makes enough for 4, so is great as leftovers the next day if there aren’t that many of you (and taste better then too).

Bacon cheeseburgers

<drool>

Not much to the cooking here, I’ll admit. But sometimes you really just fancy a bacon cheeseburger.

We made these by adding about 1 tsp each of garlic and celery salt to 500g beef mince (that’s a pound of hamburger to those of you on the other side of the pond).

Then we made some streaky bacon, divided the beef into 4 hamburger patties and cooked in the same pan the bacon was in, adding cheddar cheese after they are flipped.

We then toasted some white baps, added mayo, mustard, ketchup. tomatoes, onions, the bacon and some lettuce. Eat with chips (fries). Delicious.

Donut or doughnut?

Sugar doughnuts/donuts

Which is the better spelling?

Searching for a recipe brought up all kinds of interesting facts about the origin of donuts. Like the fact they were a way to use up leftover dough. And ‘nut’ bit probably comes from the fact that some baker decided to tie the dought into knots one day, creating a dough-knot.

Anyways, we’ve been (re)watching Twin Peaks lately, and I had forgotten about the huge spread of donuts that the cops eat quite often. It really made me hanker for a donut. So today I tried to make them myself, as we don’t have the proliferation of donut shops in London that you have in the States. (We do have Krispy Kreme, but not those mom and pop kind of places I remember from my childhood).

Cutting out doughnut shapes

I made the Simple Doughnuts from the Cake Baker site. The first few were nice on the outside, but raw on the inside, so I had to thrown them away. Then the oil got too hot and the next set were cooked on the inside, but burnt on the outside. The final set turned out ok, but not a patch on the doughnuts my grandmother used to make, or the ones my dad would buy for us on the mornings we accompanied him to his ToastMasters meetings.

I’m happy enough with these, but think they could be improved. Anyone have any favourite donut/doughnut recipes to recommend?

I used a tea cup for the outer ring and a water bottle to create the holes

Meals with home-grown herbs

This Spring, Ken convinced me to plant herbs rather than flowers in the window boxes of our flat. I was dubious – I didn’t think they would do well in that position. But I was wrong and our window box herbs have been growing like crazy. We have chives, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, coriander and thyme.

So this weekend, we decided to start cooking with the herbs. For dinner we made:

  • Chicken with herbs
  • Carrots with chives
  • Garlic and parsley potatoes

For lunch the next day, we made:

  • Carrot and coriander soup

Chicken breasts covered in olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped herbs (oregano, thyme, and sage) and baked in the oven at about 180 C for 20-25 minutes

Fried in butter and tossed with chives

Cubed potatoes, rinsed in water, dried, then fried in a little oil until crisp. Toss with garlic and parsley chopped together

Soup recipe from BBC Good Food