Category Archives: cooking at home

Very chocolate brownies, that can be vegan, if that’s your thing 

If you’re anything like me, it’s not very often that you need a big pan of brownies. It’s not like I have to do bake sales or church dinners or anything. Mostly I need brownies, all to myself, every 28 days. I just need a small little pan that I can eat too many of, and then offload the balance of the pan off on my coworkers the next day. This does the trick. This might make these brownies sound medical. Maybe they are. I also find gin and tonic helps. 

But back to these brownies. They are rich, moist, chocolatey, and EASY. You can even leave out the egg, and reduce the cocoa powder by a tablespoon and just like that, vegan brownies. So virtuous!

The trick to good brownies really is cocoa powder. Cocoa is, when you think about it, chocolate flavour concentrate. Seeing chocolate melted in and incorporated into a recipe for brownies is likely a hint that a recipe will not turn out the way your hoped. 

Directions

Prep

15 m

Cook

22 -25 m

Ready In

50 m

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 

1/2 cups white sugar 

1/2 Demerara sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup + 3 tbsp water 

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. Pour water, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla into a measuring cup and mix together with a fork; mix into dry ingredients until just blended. Spread evenly in a 9×9 inch baking pan lined with baking parchment.

Bake for 22-25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Note: if you really want to go H.A.M. on your cravings, melt 1 bashed up Skor bar in a small saucepan over low heat with 2 tbsp golden syrup, and drizzle over you slightly cooled brownies. While Skor goo is still warm, top with a few handfuls of broken pretzels. 

You’re welcome. 

Coconut Banana Bread

I made this last Monday night as a last desperate act of long weekend optimism before it was was all over. I was trying to make a concerted effort to clear out the freezer, which resulted in a pile of defrosted bananas. Im not sure what else in the world anyone can do with defrosted banana. This turned out so well that even my super healthy gym bunny boys in my office ate it and loved it, and my office mate asked for the the recipe.

Two fun things to mention; one, I baked this in a disposable loaf pan, which I found at Gourmet Warehouse and which is perfect for baking treats to bring with you anywhere, no having to remember to bring the pan home. Two, this is a perfect use for virgin cold pressed coconut oil. You get the moist consistency that you would get with margarine, but no nasty hydrogenation. Plus delightful coconuttyness (possibly not a real word) that is enhanced with more coconut and other tropical inspiration.

Note: if you has some Terry’s Chocolate Orange, it would be ideal in this.

Coconut Banana Bread

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup virgin cold press coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon orange flavoring
1 tablespoon lime cordial
1/4 plain yogurt
1/4 milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 chopped dark chocolate

METHOD
No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix coconut oil into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, Orange and lime flavoring, yogurt and milk. Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, coconut and chocolate last, mix just barely together. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. If you use a single use loaf pan, after cooling just cut right in the pan and wrap in cling film tightly. Makes 12 slices.

The Best Raspberry Cheesecake

I was at a great party last night and brought this cheesecake and it went down tremendously well. There is nothing more gratifying than someone saying they don’t like something normally, but that they like this one you have made so much that they want the recipe. This is especially nice as cheesecake doesn’t always work out. It’s got a bad reputation for cracking, collapsing, undebaking, overbaking, burning…in fact I’m pretty sure the few times growing up I ever heard my mother say the word “fuck!” It was when a cheesecake was coming out of the oven.

This makes a very large party sized cheesecake, but if you would like to do the more reasonable home version I suppose, follow this link. I have made a few small changes to my recipe below. The linked recipe has a weirdly small amount of cookie crumbs, and I like to use vanilla sugar ( just pop a slit vanilla bean in a container of sugar and shake occasionally. Keep topping up the sugar, it will keep flavoring and scenting the sugar for years). I also like to whip the egg whites before incorporating as I like to try to get a little lightness into it any way I can.

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients
about 30 digestive biscuits (or half a sleeve)
70g butter , melted
900g cream cheese or 4 packages
3 tbsp corn starch
263g sugar or vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
210 ml sour cream
450g raspberries or 3 little grocery store punets
2 tbsp raspberry jam

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Crush digestive biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with melted butter. Press into a 24cm/10″ springform tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool.

Beat cream cheese with cornstarch, sugar, vanilla extract, egg yolks and sour cream until light and fluffy (you can use the rinsed food processor for this). Whip the whites until firm and fold into the cheese mixture. Stir in 1 punet raspberries and pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Leave in the oven with the door ajar to cool.

Using the remaining raspberries, keep a few for the top and put the rest in a sieve with the jam and force and stir though. Serve the cheescake with the raspberry sauce and raspberries.

There is no calorie count as it would make your head explode. Besides, raspberry are good for you. Fruit! When you think about it, this is practically breakfast food.

20130113-204407.jpg

Newfie Trifle

Christmas is over pretty officially now. Lights are coming down in all but the most oblivious households. All the cookies and baking have been begrudgingly eaten or gone stale. January diet season has started. It can all feel a little anticlimactic. It did for me anyways. I did not see my parents at all, in fact I spent the holidays with me new-ish boyfriends family, which was lovely. They did a great Christmas meal. But there is something a little formal about being around the new family. Everyone is on better behavior, you can’t force upon them your own, and perhaps eccentric, traditions.

My mothers family is from Newfoundland, a provence with a long tradition of eccentricity and also of making the most of often scant resources. So the traditional Christmas treats I grew up with I now can’t help but consider and think, what the good goddamn?

For example, my Nanny would make little treats called ‘Penguins’. They are little white cone shaped sweets dipped in a little bit of chocolate, thus, look a little bit like a penguin. But get this; the ingredients are coconut, icing sugar, and MASHED POTATO because why the hell not I suppose. And let me tell you, they are divine.

‘Trifle’ growing up was eaten, as you will see from the recipe below, not at all in the commonly held English idea of Trifle at. That is to say; cake, sherry, jam, custard, whipped cream, decoration. That is English Trifle.

This is my great-aunts trifle recipe, and could be considered a little weird perhaps. For one, there is no cake, because there would not have been cake just lying around having the opportunity to go stale. It in fact has white bread in it. This sounds completely mad but works SO MUCH BETTER THAN CAKE. It keeps the sweetness down and keeps its shape in a nice way. This is also something you can make entirely out of boxes and cans of things. In face if you wanted to go purely authentic with my aunties trifle, it would have tinned carnation condensed milk in it, because that’s what they used.

Regardless of how weird this recipe in its entirety might seem, please understand that this is the taste of total normalcy to me. It is a great example of how in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. In all the holiday wind down, when the weather stared getting really cold here, when I missed my family, this was what I had to make to make the post holiday sadness abate for just a little while. Because like this trifle, you don’t know you’re weird until you’re compared to someone else’s normal. And this is deliciously weird.

Newfie Trifle

2 slices white bread, frozen
1 box strawberry jello
1 can fruit cocktail
2 boxes vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
250ml whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
Maraschino cherries

Put the kettle on. Straight from the freezer, cut the crusts off the bread and cut into cubes. Put in the bottom of a glass bowl or trifle dish. Make up the jello with one cup boiling water and cool down with 4 ice cubes. Empty the can of fruit cocktail, juice and all, into the jello and pour over the bread. Chill for an hour or so.

Make up the vanilla pudding using the 2 cups milk and pour over the jello layer. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and blob over the pudding layer. Decorate with a few halved maraschino cherries.

Eat by the loving bowlful.

20130113-211814.jpg

Sexing up Star Anise

I had a pretty little jar of star anise in my magnetic spice containers for heaven knows how long. I was sure it was mostly for looking pretty, or maybe mulled wine in December. How wrong I was. The secret is this: star anise does amazing things to any meat with a good deal of fat in it.

This recipe is a dinner time savior. It’s easy, flexible and has a wonderful, glamorous spiciest too it. While it contains mostly flavors that would be categories as Asian, it somehow does not come off that way at all in the finished product.

The clincher is the carrots. Just for a little backstory, when I was growing up, I had an Auntie Norine who went to discos and traveled and I thought was very glamorous. I remember me night she had a dinner party where she did these carrots in butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. I though she was mad, but the way they tasted was pure 80s solid gold dancer.

When you get everything roasted together with the chicken schmaltz and 5 spice, you get a hint of what those cinnamon carrots taste like, but maybe in a slightly more modern way. This is the easiest path to winter food Valhalla.

Sticky Chicken Legs With 5 Spice Carrots

Marinade

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek (or more if you like)
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp dried ginger
1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
2 star anise, crumbled

4 chicken legs
8 or so carrots, cut into sticks
About a tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder

Stick all the marinate ingredients and chicken in a large ziptop plastic bag, squidge everything around and stick into the fridge with a plate under it for at least a few hours, but up to two days will do nothing but good to it.
(Protip: you can also bung everything straight into the freezer, flat. When it thaws later it marinades itself beautifully.)
Lay chicken on a double layer foil lined baking tray that had been oiled and cook in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. Half way though cooking time, add in the carrots. Sprinkle over the 5 spice powder and give everything a toss to coat the carrots in the cooking juices and spice.
It’s done when everything is bronzed and crispy skinned.

Might I also recommend using this same marinade on some nice pork ribs? Thought I could twist your arm.

20121127-210939.jpg

Still here…

I’m still here! I’m alive! Alive and reading my stats from the last year. I find it amazing and positively blush-worthy that after all this time, and all my neglect, people still find this blog and read these articles.
I spent a little time, a year I think in my twenties, working at an SEO company and ever sine I get a kick out of webstats and charts of individual impressions and other general web dorkyness. It’s very encouraging to see all the visits and clicks, and from so many countries! Hello Australia and England BTW, I love you too!
I did have to come on and update my “About Me” section as there was the business of removing the heterosexual life partner. Not that I’m no longer heterosexual (far from it!), but I think I’ll just leave my love life a little more on vague side. I’ll just say, gosh darn it, that i am very happy.
I have some articles coming up very soon. I’ve discovered the best way to cook a chicken, the very best apple pie recipe possibly ever in the world, and have a few choice words to say about food budgets and how we are being culturally strong-armed into spending way too much money on food.
So, as nobody says anymore because they have Netflix, stay tuned.

Juice Feasting

It is winter. February is drizzling on and on and I am trapped between Christmases exuberant feasting and the cheap Valentines Day chocolate to be sold off in approximately 3 days. I am puffy. I am pale. I am a hairs breadth from going back to the gym.

I am going back on a juice fast.

I decided to try juice fasting last spring after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead . I went for a few months drinking juice all day and eating real food pretty much only ay night. I felt really good. I dropped a few pounds, but not as many as I was hoping. I glowed. And then I completely and totally lost interest.

The problem with liking food and trying any diet-type thing is that I feel a bit like a traitor. I thought, how incredibly boring it was turning every conversation into a blow by blow of what’s going into my mouth. This is something other girls do. I don’t want to sit around vegan raw food restaurants talking about the latest diet I’m on. Who wants to hear about that?

Hmmm. Who wants to hear about everything going into other peoples mouths.

Food writers. Oh god.

Because really, what is the difference between taking a picture of a pie or a veggie smoothie and whoring it all over Facebook. They are both going on and on about the mundane business of eating.

So I’m at my local market this evening buying a comical amount of produce and a pack of Du Maurier distinct regulars, and the sales girl looks at my tomatoes and goes “Doing a lot of baking? or…”

“oh, I’m starting a juice fast in the morning.” I reply, a bit embarrassed. Why did I have to buy cigarettes with all this? I look like a Yaletown oxymoron. I should have bought a box of wine and a round of Plan B, I would look like less of an asshole.

But she is now my new Bestest Mate. “OMG I do a juice feast once a month! I super love it!” etc etc, something something, glowing skin, etc. Did she just call it a juice FEAST? It’s noisy in here, but I’m pretty sure she said Feast. How little is the average woman eating when eating pureed kale for days is described as a Feast?

Look, I recognize that as someone who self-describes as a “food writer” (its more exciting
than office administrator) I am supposed to be enjoying the fecundity of the culinary arts daily! Every minute should be a romp through tastes and textures, drowning in butter, damn to all the haters. But fuck, how people can eat all day, for a living even, and not look like their trying to shoplift a sack of potting soil under their top all day is beyond me.

Fat may be a feminist issue, but damn it, I feel like I’m made out of packing peanuts at the moment. So excuse me if I go miserably chug down ginger-apple-beet juice for a few weeks.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the toilet.

Getting Fabulous.