So Paul Hollywood got hold of Dorie Greenspan’s brownie recipe and “fixed” it. I’m not sure why he felt the need to fix her recipe since on the whole, I think her recipes are pretty damn good but since I also think he’s more attractive, I went with his version.
I didn’t do any kind of research to see what he changed but I figured, it’s Paul Hollywood, how bad could it be? And since I was having dinner with a certified chocolate lover I made his recipe (see it here), sent to me by my friend Sharon. I followed the recipe exactly which is pretty unlike me, including trudging over to the Chocolate Sommelier to purchase cocoa nibs and milk chocolate chips which apparently are “absolute necessities” in this recipe.
I have to say, they were excellent. Excellenter when I made the leftovers into ice cream sandwiches with salted caramel ice cream.
I had an extra vol au vent shell left since one of our French colleagues was a no show. I used it to make a dessert. A tin of Bird’s custard has been clanking around in the back of my cupboard for a few years and the rhubarb is up so I made an . . . I am not sure what.
A rhubarb/honey and custard pastry of some sort. It looks very fancy. It was easy. I’m gonna totally do this again.
When Huzoor moved to Europe too many years ago to think about, he left me with a lot of stuff he couldn’t/didn’t want to take along. One of those things was a Cuisinart spice/nut grinder. At the time I thought, pffft, I’ll never use this. But as it turns out, I used it a lot. Enough that I killed it. (Fig. 1 Dead Cuisineart)
Yesterday I was standing in my kitchen trying to think how I was going to grind up cilantro for the street tacos I planned to make for dinner. The door bell rang and Fig. 2 arrived. I was literally standing in the kitchen trying to decide how I was gonna accomplish this. The ol’ ball and chain came through just in time.
Coconut cake. Quick, run to the medicine chest and take an extra cholesterol pill before you even read this.
This is one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten, coconut or not. King Arthur Flour’s recent email brought this recipe and I, for no reason I can think of, decided to make it. I like coconut, sure, but it’s not like I was dying for it. It was absolutely worth the trouble (and all those calories). Everyone who ate it loved it, including the coconut averse. (They scraped off the frosting and just ate the cake part). How can you not love all that butter? Julia Child would be proud.
It was also the maiden voyage of my layer cake slicer which has been sitting unused since my husband sent this ingenious contraption to me. I only used it to slice the dome off the layers so they were flatter—and immediately ate those—and it worked like a charm.
I rushed it out to my car as soon as I had the crumb coat on.
I made a birthday dinner for someone who has the good sense to tell me in no uncertain terms, and frequently, which food I make is her favorite so when her birthday rolls around I know what exactly to make her. Rather than annoying me, it takes the burden of having to decide what to make off my shoulders.
And if chicken pot pie wasn’t enough, I made the most exquisite herbed rolls for the 3rd time since Thanksgiving. They are so fine-o-mite. With Irish butter. I’d have made my own butter but that would have taken the dinner into the realm of ridiculous.
Thanksgiving meal was good. Everything went off without a hitch. OK, there were hitches, like this happened when I was trying to make the dough for the rolls.
OK, sure I lost my paddle, (used approximately 4 times) and had to hand knead. Not the end of the world. But these herbed rolls. OMG, so freaking good. Sally, who apparently has a baking addiction, gave me the recipe which you can find here. I took the long way ’round and did a 24 hour rise. I got nothing but time. I baked them the day before and right before dinner I brushed them with butter and flaky salt, and did a quick 15 mins in a hot oven to brown the top. Fabulous.
I gave my neighbor some of my extra produce and she made me a meal in return. Seems fair, I give her a couple 3 tomatillos and a cucumber and she gives me an entirely cooked meal with salad. She’s Puerto Rican and an excellent cook. The whole meal was great but the salad was especially good. It was a chop salad that included tomatillos. That was eye opening. I never know what the hell to do with them except make salsa.
So I took it a step further. I used my little black tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers and onions, all from my garden (now in decline—although the green beans did not get that memo) and I added some corn I had lying around. And while her dressing was simply vinegar and I was good with that, as per usual, I felt the need to do something a little more exotic so I found a recipe for honey lime dijon vinaigrette on a site unfortunately named The Yummy Life (insert eye rolling emoji). You can see the recipe here.
I make a lot of salad because I like leftover salad. There wasn’t much leftover, my guests went right for it, but I ate what little there was standing at the sink cleaning up that same night.
Food group met again and the theme this time was Ottolenghi, or maybe more loosely Middle Eastern food. I chose mezzes which are appetizers more or less. I do like Ottolenghi (if you don’t know who I am talking about you can look here and clearly you are not a friend of Sharon’s because he’s pretty much all she talks about). Anyway, I settled on swiss chard stuffed peppers. This is not something that appeals to me very much but it’s, you know, Ottolenghi!!! so it was gonna be ok with Sharon no matter what.
I dunno, this was a case of the sum equalling more than its parts. They were delicious. And pretty.
Baby peppers stuffed with chard and mozzarella
Bags of mixed baby peppers, 5-6cm long and in red, yellow and orange, are available from most supermarkets (they’re sometimes labelled “chiquino”). They vary in size, so use more or less of the filling as required. Serves four to six.
2 tbsp olive oil 1 large bunch swiss chard, trimmed, stalks and leaves finely sliced Salt and black pepper 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 2 tsp dried oregano 30g pine nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped 50g pecorino romano, finely grated 80g mozzarella block, roughly grated 500g mixed baby peppers (ie, about 20 baby peppers)
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the chard, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the stalks are soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, chilli and oregano, fry for another minute, then take off the heat. Leave to cool, then stir in the pine nuts and both cheeses.
Cut out a little V from the stalk of each pepper down almost to the base (reserve the bits of flesh for soup or salad), then scoop out and discard the seeds. Fill the peppers with the chard mix (you’ll need about 20g in each), then lay them cut side up on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 18-20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and caramelized, then leave to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm (if you want to get ahead, they are also good at room temperature).
My sister left me with a whole lotta shrimp when she went back to LA. I coulda made a nice salad but no, I thought, how about shrimp fritters? What could be better than shrimp fritters? Corn and shrimp fritters is what. Oh my god. Fresh corn-off-the-cob, shrimp, red and green peppers and onion. Ho-made tartar sauce (which I could eat for dinner with a spoon). Who cares that it’s a boat load of work and calorific to boot.
Yes. Deep frying is awful and makes me want to hang myself a combination of the spray of hot oil, the need to be entertaining but having to stand over the deep fryer, the understanding that your guests are waiting with only thinly veiled impatience). But so worth it, in the short run anyway, not sure about the long run.
Also clean up is really unpleasant—I did the deep frying outside and yet I could smell it in the house the next morning. A salad might have been the easier option but not the most delicious.
After my coconut pineapple cake triumph, or possibly fiasco, I had a lot of leftover coconut milk, pineapple and pineapple juice and in an attempt to make the best use of all of it (without the torture of making another coconut cake) I decided on Thai. Seemed like a good idea. I’m not all that familiar with Thai food but peanuts, pineapple and coconut feels Thai-ish. At least it’s heading more in that direction than, say, Irish.
Unfortunately I only managed to get a picture of the salad, which is just as well since it was the most photogenic item on the menu. But the Thai marinated chicken thighs roasted on sweet potatoes were fabulous and the coconut pineapple rice, the idea of which several people of the royal mounted variety turned their nose up, was absolutely outstanding.
I was anticipating having leftover salad. This was a citrusy, bell pepper, carrot, radish and lettuce Thai salad (I have no idea if Thais actually eat salad) topped with peanuts and dressed with a sweet and sour lime, brown sugar and peanut butter (seriously) dressing that was AMAZING. There were no leftovers unfortunately.
I only used the dressing recipe and was pretty fast and loose with it all. Not really measuring. It was helpful to have my 9 year old grandnephew here beforehand. He julienned the vegetables for me and did quite a good job. He was very interested in my knives.
Thai rice with pineapple and coconut. You’re on your own here. I didn’t use a recipe, just leftovers.