Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pieces of a long weekend

Perfect, yet completely un-tended roses from our garden

If there's one benefit to full time work, it is surely that it forces you to fully contemplate the beauty, wonder and majesty of long weekends. This last one was pretty quiet for me, lunch and afternoon tea with a few friends, a bit of housework, some flower picking, snuggling away from the cold, lots of 30 Rock and Mad Men and the completion of a rather wonderful DIY project which I'll tell you all about as soon as I take a decent picture. Also:

My jonquil bulbs made a very unexpected appearance.

I baked Molly's famous lemon yoghurt love cake, and was rather delighted with the result.

I put roses in the bathroom. This is a habit I picked up from my mum, who incidentally isn't the world's most wonderful housekeeper, but clearly knows her flower placement. It makes the bathroom feel lovely and fresh. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

brownie, hazlenut gelato, honey

This was the dessert I whipped up for my beloved friend and former house-mate Katherine's last night in Australia. It followed a main course of painstakingly prepared, intensely rich moussaka and a fresh, zesty Greek salad. I wanted to fatten her up good and proper before sending her off for months and months of riotous living in central America, and decided that a fat moussaka followed by a fat brownie topped with more fat would be the perfect way of doing so, and might make her feel a little bit guilty for leaving such a fantastic friend in the proccess.

The brownie recipe is my all time favourite, perfect-every-time standby sweet thing to impress and comes from an old issue of Donna Hay Magazine. It has that perfect combination of gooey, fudgy, chewy and just a teeny bit cakey that drives pretty much everyone I've ever feed these too (which is a lot of people) wild with lust, gluttony and just a touch of envy. The hazelnut gelato was purchased from my local fancy supermarket, and the honey was a stroke of pure, impromptu genius. A pretty perfectly autumnal classic combination of flavours and textures, if I may say so.

The ultimate brownie recipe

From Donna Hay Magazine


200g unsalted butter
125 g superior dark chocolate - I tend to go for your regular, not super 85% dark.
1 cup plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare some kind of square or rectangular baking vessel or cake tin by lightly coating it in a little additional butter. Place the butter and chocolate in a large ceramic bowl which is able to comfortably sit in - but without actually touching the bottom of - a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with as much water as you can without it actually making contact with the bottom of your bowl. Bring the water to a hearty simmer, and allow the chocolate and butter to melt, stirring occasionally. This, my friends, is a proccess you may be familiar with called double boiling. Whence the chocolate and butter is melted and smooth and all stirred together, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder. Add the melted chocolatey buttery goodness along with all four eggs, and stir with a strong hand till thoroughly combined. Tip into your greased tin, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes depending on how molten you like your brownie. Do not overcook or it will not be dessert you end up with, but a disaster.*

If going fancy, allow your brownie to cool somewhat (although not completely), then cut into squares and top each with a large scoop of quality hazelnut gelato (or another flavour - try ginger, coffee, hokey pokey, or a berry sorbet if feeling fruity) and a generous drizzle of honey.

*Line stolen from Nigella Lawson. You should always err on the side of under cooking, rather than overcooking brownies, as they will firm up significantly as they cool.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Stars, regrets, chocolate dreams

Photograph by Hannah Davis, current fave

Chim Chimenees,

So I forgot to post my to-do list for April. But never fear, my April plans basically involve preparing myself for the onset of winter, which you can read about in scintillating detail on my other blog, here.

Also, stay tuned, because tomorrow I will be sharing a recipe for brownies that will fulfill all your chocolate dreams, and quite a number of your non-chocolate dreams too. You'll see.