2 March 2015

soy un perdador

tofu is made of soy, and soy is Spanish for I AM, as in "I am being so deep right now."  

Right, well I intended for this blog post to be about the meal I cooked on Valentine's Day, but what transpired was this: I had an elaborate dinner planned, then my reason for the season came down with a brutal case of tonsilitis, and then I mysteriously also ended up with a sore throat myself, and so postponed said elaborate dinner to instead make us the world's most nourishing broth which I then took terrible photos of, so the whole thing was a flop, really. (That is, it was a very pleasant evening, mutual ailments aside, and the soup was also very pleasant, it was a flop only in terms of being bloggable. Let me be clear lest I sound more obnoxious than usual!)

With that option unavailable to write about, it took me a while to get my act together, but to paraphrase Beyonce the god, I woke up like this: craving tofu. And so I made myself this rather incredibly good tofu and cucumber salad for lunch today and now here we are!

those flowers were just sitting there on the table when I walked in but nevertheless I'm gonna assert that coordinating your flowers to your lunch is a clear sign of success in life

I know tofu gets regularly maligned for being flavourless or unfun or the epitome of dull vegetarian eating, but in the words of Harvey Danger, if you're bored then you're boring. Let the record state that I think tofu is amazing. Fresh, chilled tofu is an actual joy, all cashew-mild and milky of flavour with a softly firm (yes, both those things) protein-rich texture and the world's most absorbent surface for whatever flavour you should choose to throw at it. Also deep-fried tofu is a revelation, but so is everything - I mean, probably even deep-fried socks would be palatable, so that's not necessarily an impressive fact.


This recipe mostly came out of my head, although it's inspired by a bunch of different things I've had at restaurants over the years. It's so cold and crisp and refreshing and even though the dressing is all salty and oily and sour, somehow the cool juicy cucumber and dense cubes of tofu keep everything very mellow and calm. Both sesame and miso paste have this mysterious, magical savoury taste which help spruce up the ingredients that frankly do need some sprucing, and it's all just very satisfying and nourishing and good. You could leave out the spring onion (by the way I think they're called green onions in America, for my readers in that neck of the woods) but the flavour is so gentle and a million miles removed from actual raw onion.

tofu, cucumber and spring onion salad with sesame miso dressing

a recipe by myself. I know using olive oil in the dressing is a bit out of place with the rest of the ingredients but it's all I had and honestly it tasted amazing so...yeah. 

100g firm tofu
half a cucumber
one spring onion
one tablespoon rice vinegar
one tablespoon soy sauce
one or two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
two heaped teaspoons white miso paste
a pinch of caster sugar
one tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Make sure your tofu and cucumber are well-chilled. Dice them both into small squares, about 1.5cm but, y'know, this is not a time for measurement accuracy. Just something smallish and squareish. Finely slice the spring onion, reserving some of the green for garnish.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy, olive oil, miso, and most of the sesame seeds until it comes together as a smooth dressing. Tip in the tofu, cucumber, and spring onion, stir to cover, then transfer to whatever bowl you're going to be eating it from (if it's a different bowl, that is) and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and green spring onion slices. 

this serves one, but if you can't work out how to increase it to feed more then...actually I cannot judge, my maths is hopeless, but seriously, it's pretty easy to increase the properties to feed more people here.  


my new flat is a bit cute, yeah?

The other thing to note about tofu is that it's aggressively filling. So even though this salad may not look like much, it is indeed...much. We've just ticked over into March here so it's officially autumn, but Wellington is so whimsically changeable as far as weather goes and today I'm disgustingly overheated so this was a perfect meal for the temperature my body is currently burdened with, however I feel like this salad would be perfect any time alongside roast chicken and rice; to take to some kind of potluck thing, or with noodles that you've maybe also sprinkled with soy sauce and sesame oil. On its own though: a perfect little meal. 

I just realised this is pretty much my first blog post that include photos of my new flat, which is fitting, since I moved in just under a month ago and yet still am not entirely unpacked. I've decided to see the glass half full and congratulate myself on being amazing at progressing very slowly and being incredibly disorganised. My new room is so dreamy though, and will only get dreamier as I firmly take myself by the hand and make myself continue to tidy it up and unpack fully. 

fairy light grotto (they're solar powered so hopefully I get to actually enjoy them, oh Wellington weather you're easy to poke fun at! But really. I hope I get to enjoy them.)

make up n stuff nook! Also there's nothing like the haunted eyes of Judy Garland greeting you as you wake up, if that's wrong I don't want to be right.

But really, it's now March 2015, holy wow. From February last year to February last month it was basically nonstop turbulent difficult times, and even though I'm very much in this quagmire of "what the heck am I doing with my writing and am I making my own opportunities and why won't endless flailing about wanting to write another cookbook afford me the ability to do just that" I am also feeling rather cloyingly serene and delightful about many things in life right, so watch out. Ya girl is quite happy. I mean, look how rapturous I'm getting about tofu.
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title from: Beck's shufflingly and charmingly dour song Loser. Check me out, making truly awful Spanish puns all over the place. Obvs Beyonce shoulda won that Grammy but this is a damn nice song and the opening guitar riffs are truly excellent. Nice work, Beck. 
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music lately: 

Let Me Be Him, Hot Chip. The chorus (or whatever it is, this song just kind of drifts) is so uplifting and pretty and dreamy and full of "Oh-ohhh" bits and it's just a lovely, lovely thing to listen to. Definite mood upswing stuff.

Eternal Flame, Joan As Policewoman. I've loved this song for years and years but have been listening to it over and over lately, it flickers like a candle and swoons and sways and the lyrics are so, so excellent. I love how soft and whispery and then deep and rich her voice goes. Oh yeah and also this is not a cover of the Bangles song which was later covered by Atomic Kitten, they just share a title, ya know?

The Killing Moon, Echo and the Bunnymen. Love a bit of tremolo, I do. 
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next time: I've made two batches of this Nigella coffee ice cream but I keep eating it all before I can take photos of it. If this trajectory is anything to go by though, there will probably be at least one more outing of the recipe in my near future so maybe that's what I'll blog about next! 

17 February 2015

fancy plans and pants to match: the library

Well hello there, and welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match, where I'm all, "hey pals, sometimes nice things happen to me because I'm a cool food blogger but in my defense I'm going to be juuust self-deprecating enough about it to make you feel comfortable and relaxed".

I used to avoid talking about it in case I came across as an unrelatable prig who was excited by nothing and filled with ennui by everything, but it turns out that while I can never be that unexcited person I probably should worry about pushing people away by using the word "prig". Anyway! The name Fancy Plans and Pants to Match is a quote from the wondrous Jimmy James, a character in the woefully slept-on 90s sitcom NewsRadio. And in case all this wasn't quite enough of a thrilling ride for you, I have a giveaway, whaaaat (imagine me sounding an airhorn right now, if you would be so kind) for a $100 voucher for The Library. You could scroll right to the end for the instructions on how to enter and ignore this post, but just know that I'll know. Oh, I'll know. I always know. But also there's nothing I can do about it, so yeah, really, scroll by merrily if you wish!


feast

so here's the thing: I was invited to eat and drink up large at The Library, a baller bar and live music venue in town. This kind of sybaritic activity is exactly how I'd like to live my life but so rarely get to, so it was some kind of wonderful to have this opportunity.

the pitch: The Library has long been known for their excellent cocktails and desserts, but they have very recently updated their food menu, and so there's no better time to do some investigating into these developments with one's mouth.  

what happened: In the interests of clutching at any brief opportunity to look cool and like a hell of a swell about town, being all rakish and debonaire and decadent, I brought my girlfriend along as my plus one. We were given a number of options for seating, and decided upon the secret dining room, a pleasingly sneaky nook hidden behind a curtain, with a window looking over Courtenay Place, The Library's signature ceiling-high shelves piled with books, and, the most important thing: perfect light for taking selfies. 


this is the prawn cocktail salad, not a selfie. But how cute would a prawn taking a selfie be! Anyway.

The new menu is positively rippling with flavours and playful, interesting takes on established combinations. For the indecisive amongst us (hi!) this could be fraught-making, but the size of the plates lends them well to ordering many and sharing amongst a few. We started with a cocktail each - the Mrs Peacock (blueberries, raspberry gin, sparkling wine) and Roses Are Red (rose wine, raspberries, cranberry juice, rosewater, rose petals), both the colour of velvety theatre curtains and both a glorious way to start the meal. I believe my words to the impressively mellow person serving us were "I would like to take a bath in this stuff". After much deliberation, we chose the following:

Prawn Cocktail Salad, with prawns, smoked salmon, bloody mary mayonnaise (verdict: punchy, crunchy, retro-fun...chy)
Honey Marinated Salmon, with cauliflower puree, avocado mousse, and pickled vegetables (verdict: how'd they get the salmon so utterly tender and pink, how, also the pickled vegetables were the perfect textural contrast to all that satiny puree)
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with basil gremolata, 12 hour tomatoes and olive oil caviar (verdict: milky soft cheese, basil and slowly-cooked tomatoes made sweet and intense will always be an ideal combination. The olive oil caviar was very cute, but maybe didn't add much other than cool visuals - this may be my heathenish self being unappreciative of subtlety, though.)
Beef Carpaccio, with wine barrel smoked mushrooms, shaved parmesan and micro greens (verdict: Wow. How dare you. This is frankly too, too good. I'm outraged.)
Tempura Tuna, with soba noodle salad and wasabi mayonnaise (verdict: the feather-light tempura, super-rich rare tuna, and cold, slippery, sesame-tinged noodles were wonderful together.)
Smoked Brioche Bruschetta, with wild mushrooms and sage butter (Verdict: okay, how did something so simple, which we almost overlooked, taste like wandering through the forest after the rain, like jumping into a pile of autumn leaves, like...sturdy boots - oh wait that last one is kind of insulting. This was just really, really excellent.)


honey marinated salmon: a veritable symphony of textures, if you ask me


tempura tuna with soba noodle salad: my hair is so shiny after all this omega action

We finished with two mighty fine Old Fashioned cocktails (that's one each, but I do like the thought of clutching one in each hand and not leaving till the Angostura bitter end) and we shared Organic Pineapple and Raspberry Sorbets which were so damn fresh and smooth and the only way they could've been bursting with more real fruit flavour would've been if they were one of those suspiciously fake-tasting fruit lollies which tend to insist in their advertising campaigns that they are, in fact, bursting with real fruit flavour. If that makes sense.


even in the face of unutterable fullness, there's always room for sorbet.


beef carpaccio, I shall now tell you how I feel about it through the medium of passionate interpretive dance

the best bit: Everything was straight up brilliant. Service, the place itself, the food, the drinks, everything. However, the standout dishes were the beef carpaccio and the smoked brioche. Carpaccio is one of those dishes I only want to pay for, because, like hair cuts, it's better done by other people. If I tried to do it myself there would just be roughly-hewn chunks of steak everywhere (same goes for trying to do haircuts to be honest.) This was silky layer upon silky layer of cool, rich beef, with thin slivers of parmesan and juicy mushrooms and every time I think about it I feel like I'm clenching my fists and standing in the rain in a dramatic music video, that's how good it was. Perfect ingredients, presented very simply. Perfect. The brioche arrived in a smoke filled dome, which I loved, and despite being something we picked offhand from the menu it was indubitably a favourite. Buttery bread, buttery actual butter, lushly savoury mushrooms tumbled over, everything kissed with smoke. You know a meal is good when you find yourself shouting metaphors and richly detailed imagery at it to illustrate how it makes you feel, rather than just eating it.


drama!


it's what's on the inside that counts

on a scale of one to is this the real life, is this just fantasy: While The Library is somewhere I'd happily wander into for a drink and a snack of an evening, this particular all-bets-are-off evening was like an actual don't-pinch-yourself-because-you-don't-want-to-wake-up lucid dream. I give it a nine.

would I do it for not-free: Okay, so I literally cannot afford to recreate the exact quantities that we ate and drank anytime soon, but I am so enamoured with the food that I will most definitely be back to revisit some of the brilliant things we had and to try some more. The coconut coated smoked halloumi, hand-cut potato skins with pecorino and proscuitto, and rare beef fillet with parsnip whip, beetroot tartar and kumara crisps could not be calling my name any harder right now.

more cocktails! The Fresh Prince (gin, elderflower, cucumber, apple juice, celery bitters, lemon, mint) and the Pin Up Fizz (gin, strawberry, lemon, lavender bitters, egg white, cream, sparkling water) one elegant and crisp and one cute and frothy, both way delicious. 

earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: The Library, upstairs at 53 Courtenay Place, Wellington. 04 382 8593 / bookings@thelibrary.co.nz. Cheers the the wondrous team there for finding us such a fun table, for being so knowledgeable about everything, and for being entirely chill about catching us taking selfies pretty much every time they walked in.
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so you want to win a $100 voucher: Well done, you made it to the end of this long post so I'm gonna finally tell you how. The extremely good people at The Library have given me a voucher for one hundred damn dollars to give away to one of you.

All you have to do is the following.

1) Be in New Zealand (better yet, Wellington, for obvious reasons, but as long as you can feasibly get to Wellington at some point I guess you're all good)
2) Leave a comment on this blog post recommending me a song you've been loving lately. It doesn't have to be anything brand new, just something that has been making you feel some things in your heart whenever you play it. Seriously, whatever song you like (there are three acts that I truly detest in this life: Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and Phil Collins, but like, in the interest of "fairness" and "ethics" I won't discount you if you mention something by any of them.)
3) Around midday Sunday February 22 I will select a winner at random, and will announce it on my blog's Facebook Page. I'll attempt to get in touch with you via email or whatever if I can work out how, but otherwise you've got around 24 hours or so to get back to me, otherwise I'll have to pick someone else, okay?

PS: The Fancy Plans and Pants to Match archive is here, and feel free to get in touch with me anytime if you're a haver of fanciness out there who wants me to check out your goods.

3 February 2015

fallin' madly in love with the pop

pop, pop, pop that thing

Kinda considered opening with an apology for both (a) popcorn being barely a recipe and (b) not having blogged for a lil while now, but have you considered this: Popcorn? It's so great! Also I've been really busy and have only just had time to sit down and blog and even then I don't actually have time to sit down and blog which is why I'm propped up in bed at 6am trying to make this happen. If you're after an apology, I'm sorry, really truly sorry, but it's not going to happen. 

Mate, what a week though. I flew up to Auckland last Sunday to go to the Laneway music festival the following day, staying with my little brother in the spare room in his impressively central apartment (seriously, I was like, I cannot reciprocate this generosity. I have a patch of floor in the hallway for you, at best.) I caught up with some friends on Sunday night, filling an hour or so wait for a table at the Federal Deli with a drink at the casino across the road - I'd never been to one before and it was kinda weird, I couldn't tell whether I was going to be sucked into a new life sitting at a slot machine or if George Clooney was going to leap out from behind a croupier to impel me to commit a heist - in the end all that happened was I drank a house pinot gris. The company was rad though and it was fun being all Out And About In Auckland which I generally get to do about one and a half times per year. 

bright lights big city

Laneway though! As soon as I got there I was hit with feelings of wait, I don't like crowds unless they're in front of me and I have a microphone and carte blanche to ad-lib; I immediately fry in the sun like a kernel of popcorn over a skillet; I am cranky and short and what am I doing here...Fortunately the universe smiled benevolently and it was to be a singularly perfect day full of good fortune and friendly vibes and beautiful gal pals and incredible music. Let me just briefly say, FKA Twigs separating every molecule of her body while she danced and St Vincent snarling and yelping while dancing with brittle angularity and Angel Olsen and Courtney Barnett and Jungle and heck, even Belle and Sebastian, whose audience we were adjacent to while waiting for FKA Twigs. I'm only really a fan of one or two of their songs but they were so affable and we were so full of anticipation that it was all wonderful, in a very 'getting there is part of the journey' kind of way.

good current snacks in front of evidence of good previous snacks 

I'm not even there yet, there being the point where I ate this popcorn. Because the day following Laneway, I went and stayed with my parents for a few days, which, having not been home since September, it would've been way remiss of me not to do. I had a very good time hanging with Roger the cat, who had had an operation on his leg and needed constant head pats; seeing family that it had Been Too Long since I'd last seen; being with Dad on his birthday for the first time in ages and getting to make him a birthday cake; picking up some treasures from the Waiuku op shop; watching well made British period dramas with Mum, running into wonderful ex-teachers of mine, and all those other being-home type activities.

And then I came back to Wellington and Kate and Jason and I threw a truly excellent housewarming party (okay, they own the house and I just parasitically lodge there! But it was also something of a 'bye Laura' party since I'm moving around the corner soon.) There was dancing, there was glamorous rum punch, there was raucousness, there was gazing at the (truculently hidden by clouds, but still) stars on a blanket on the lawn; there were so many glorious friends there and amazing snacks and ugh, I just love having parties so much. The next day there was an abundance of $5 Pizza Hut pizza (I typed in Pizza Hug by mistake into Google and could've almost cried with how appropriate that was and also I was a bit hungover) and coffee and Broad City and sluggishly snuggling.

gonna talk about how amazing this popcorn is, any second now 

So finally, this brings me to this popcorn. Getting there is part of the journey! Instead of, you know, feeding myself on a regular basis with a variety of produce, I tend to go through brief flurries of obsession with a particular foodstuff, followed by a long period of completely forgetting about it. Popcorn is one such foodstuff. For a while I was eating it nonstop, and then suddenly I was a person who went eleven months in possession of three tupperware containers of popcorn kernels and also a half-filled plastic bag of kernels held closed with a twist-tie.

The other day out of nowhere, with absolutely no cool story or provenance, it just happened, I said unto Kate: "I bet fried sage popcorn would be really good". And then yesterday, I made myself some. And it was amazing. See, aren't you glad I did all this gallivanting around the country with activities, otherwise this tiny paragraph is all that the blog post would've been! I...can also see how that might be preferable to some. If it is, I'm not sure why you're persisting with my writing though, because this is fairly standard behaviour for me. I can be succinct when I'm dead! But also right now, because this recipe could not be more succinct. A small reward for you after all this rambling, I guess.

corny

crispy fried sage popcorn

a recipe by myself. 

a handful - around half a cup - of freshly plucked sage leaves
20g butter
one tablespoon olive oil
a third of a cup of popcorn kernels

Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the sage leaves in a single layer and let them cook in the sizzling butter, till they darken and curl at the edges a little. Remove from the heat while you make the popcorn. Place the olive oil and popcorn kernels in a large saucepan, and put the lid on top. Let it sit over a low heat, till the corn starts to pop - keep an eye on it, shaking the pan occasionally, till as much as possible has popped. Remove from the heat (it might continue to pop for a little longer) and spatula the sage leaves and butter into said popcorn, stirring gently to disperse the crisp leaves throughout. This serves two as a snack. 



So this is magnificently delicious, people. Crisp, buttery sage leaves with their resinously herbal flavour and wafer-thin crunch work perfectly with the puffy, porous, pleasingly alliterative popcorn. The flavour of the sage works its way into the butter, and it's just a salty, textural, vaguely sophisticated yet childish-party-food-like joy to eat. I can't recommend fried sage leaves enough, frankly. Just fry a pile of them and eat them unadorned on their own, you're still in for a good time. 

PS my hair is now lavender and silver-grey! I feel like it's my favourite incarnation yet.

I look perturbed, but it's only because I'm trying to come to grips with how bowl-cut my hair has become. I'm talking large practical mixing bowl here. I can't afford a trim, okay! But will continue to distract myself and us all from this with strange colours. 

PS once more, I can't believe I forgot to mention this in the last blog post, since I love being interviewed so much - I'm in the February issue of Next magazine! I was interviewed as part of a story about teenage ambition and where you actually ended up and how you feel about your life (it's more positive than it might sound), and it was so fun to participate in. And Angelina Jolie is on the cover! Highly decent company to be keeping.

This is my last week in this adorable house with my adorable friends Kate and Jason and Ariel the cat - I'm not actually quite sure when I am moving as I won't get my roster for this week until today, but can rest unassured that it's gonna happen soon. My approach to packing could charitably be described as "limp", but I'm sure it'll alllll come together. I mean, considering it'll be my fifth address in less than a year, I should really know how to move house by now.
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title from: Oh Land, Heavy Eyes. I am suuuuch an Oh Land fan. 
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music lately:

Marina and the Diamonds' brand new track, I'm a Ruin. I love this woman, she just keeps on doing her.

Drake and Nicki Minaj, Make Me ProudOH, DRAKE. Of course I will. I love when these two work together, and also Nicki Minaj talking about how great her life is going is highly inspiring stuff.

Courtney Barnett, Pickles From The Jar. It's laconically exuberant and I love it. She was so great at Laneway.

Dawn Richard, Tide: The Paradox Effect. Juuuust listen. (If you have feelings about FKA Twigs you'll probably enjoy this, to employ some lazy shorthand to make you more likely to juuuust listen.)
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next time: maybe something in my new kitchen? Wooooo!  

21 January 2015

if you're one of us then roll with us

adorable and slightly complicated, just like me

So if the brief you've given yourself is "food that will feed yourself and a significant babe and be impressive but not too over the top and look rad but not intimidating and be delicious but also interesting and be filling but not send you immediately to sleep and will go with beer or literally whatever alcohol you just bought from the corner dairy", I have you quite, quite covered here. I made these last week in response to said brief, but have taken forever to blog about them owing to tiredness, busy-ness, and uselessness. But the greatest of these is uselessness. (That was an attempt at a bible pun, I'm not that hard on myself - oh no wait, I actually am, now that I think about it.) Seriously though, they're so good and I want to make them all the time just for myself, let alone other deserving parties, while the weather is sunny or thereabouts and eggplants are not wince-makingly expensive: grilled eggplant rolls with feta, pomegranate, and mint. 

The fiddly bit comes from having to toil through frying up all the slices of eggplant first. The actual rolling up part is weirdly easy, perhaps because it's okay if these end up looking a tiny bit tumbledown and if some of the filling falls out (which the pomegranate seeds are wont to do), as they're made to be gracelessly eaten by hand in a very I'm-a-carefree-dreamboat-in-high-summer kind of manner. 

well hello there

I'm a bit all-a-flutter because I'm heading up to Auckland on Sunday for Laneway festival the following day, I have not been since the very first year it was here in NZ and it's so very exciting. Cool festival costume to decide upon! Cool festival costume to frantically change my mind about seven times! Amazing musicians to see! Fancy old Auckland to feel like a gawky provincial rube in! Friends! And then my dad and brother share a birthday a couple of days later (how considerate) and since I was working here over Christmas I'm totally looking forward to being able to at least be up home for that. And also to try embarrassingly hard to make my parents' cats like me. But like really the line-up for Laneway this year is completely dreamy and I can't wait to sway under the setting sun to FKA Twigs and St Vincent (good name, that) and Angel Olsen and to try to not dissolve from said dreaminess in the process.  

this makes enough filling to eat heaps of as you go AND fill the eggplant slices AND stir the leftovers into a bulghur wheat salad, praise Beyonce.  

Am also all-a-flutter over these eggplant rolls because they are just hellaciously delicious. It's loosely based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's wonderful and underrated book Forever Summer, and the pomegranate seeds were my idea - their juicy fragrance and popping candy texture is amazing against the creamy feta and the oily, soft, scorched eggplant. It brightens it up no end and importantly, looks kinda gorgeous - I went on for a bit in my last blog post about how jewel-like and magical pomegranate seeds are, and that opinion is no less relevant here. As well as adding glorious flavour and texture, you sprinkle these damn beauteous seeds over the serving plate and it instantly makes it look like you've casually garnished your meal with actual twinkling rubies. I don't know, maybe I'm just very easily impressed. By garnish. But still.

 mate.

grilled eggplant rolls with feta, pomegranate, and mint

adapted from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's book Forever Summer. Serves two. Way easy to increase proportions, obvs.

one eggplant
one pomegranate
120g (or so) feta
two tablespoons olive oil plus extra for frying
three tablespoons of mint leaves, finely chopped
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of sumac
salt, to taste 

Slice the eggplant as finely as you can manage lengthways. There's no easy way around this, but if you faff it up somewhat you can sort of stick two half-pieces together and roll them up so it's all good. 

Mix together everything else in a small bowl with a fork, roughly mashing the feta as you go. Reserve some pomegranate seeds and mint for scattering over the serving plate. 

Heat a heavy pan over a high heat, and brush each slice of eggplant on both sides with a little olive oil. Place a few slices next to each other in the pan, and allow to get browned and softened before turning over to cook on the other side. It doesn't matter if they're perfect, as long as they're not, like, raw. Once you've done all of them, lay a piece of eggplant on a board, place a small spoonful of the feta mixture at one end, and roll it up lengthways. Place it on a serving plate and move onto the next. It doesn't matter if they're a bit roughly done or if bits of the filling fall out, because...it's all so delicious. Carry on until all the eggplant slices are used up, sticking two together and carefully rolling them into one roll with any scrap slices if you need to. Scatter with the mint and pomegranate, drizzle over a little more olive oil if you like, and you're done.  

 maaaate.

Also to hark back to something I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm still in a "moving house soon" state, which is going to come really rushing in on me when I get back from Auckland next week. I'm sensibly approaching this life-changing event by completely ignoring the concept of packing my possessions into boxes and instead drifting about on Pinterest finding articles with titles like "You'll Love These Forty Exciting Ways With Fairy Lights" and "29 Cosy Bedroom Concepts You Can Make With Just Paper Cups and A Prayer." Just being my usual inspirationally sensible and pragmatic self.

Speaking of sensible and pragmatic I think I'm literally addicted to dying my hair with semi-permanent colours, and since my hair is so pugnaciously healthy and strong it seems to be taking this colourful thrashing quite well.


Currently vibing with smudges of pinky blue amidst icy blonde, and next up I think I'm going to go for minty green, maybe with pink tips? It's so fun! (Despite what my blankly distressed face in this photo would suggest, that's just my Strongly On Brand Lack of Smile.) Everyone, go dye your hair! Or at least give a jaunty and affirmative "nice hair!" to someone having fun dying theirs! Making sure they catch your pleasant drift and it doesn't sound like you're cat-calling them lasciviously!
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title from: Kesha, We R Who We R. I sodding love this gal. She's wonderful. 
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music lately: 

Drake, Headlines. Here's what I have to say about Drake: Draaaaaaaaaake.

The Libertines, Can't Stand Me Now. This song is kinda sad and adorable at the same time, with its push-pull and "no you've got it the wrong way round" and it's both dated and ageless which is a completely lazy way of describing it but I care not.

Lorde, 400 Lux. "I'd like it if you stayed..."
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Next time: I don't know! Maybe I'll make something cool while I'm up home! Maybe I'll be too busy being uncool in front of the cats. 

12 January 2015

and my eyes more red than the devil is

 oh, just casually eating a bowl of rubies for lunch to absorb their power, you? 

Ya girl is moving house again! 2014 was a year of four different addresses, so I'm tentatively hoping this time things are even marginally more settled, but if not, at least I'm used to it? I'm really looking forward to properly unpacking all my stuff when I slide into my new address in early February, and and am going to try sooo embarrassingly hard to make my room all dreamy and tumblr-ish (meaning fairy lights and sheer, draping fabrics. It will very likely be a tacky mess. But it'll be my tacky mess.) I am less looking forward to trying to spatula together a bond payment from behind the couch pillows of my bank account, but hopefully it all comes together. And in what is a coup for my co-dependency (I guess I also have coup-dependency, now that I think about it) the new digs will be just around the corner from where I'm currently lodging with one of my best friends, so I can still visit all the time. And continue my mission to become best friends with their cat Ariel. We're currently on a first name basis kind of thing, although over Christmas we did have a nap together and it was without exception the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. 

I see red, I see red, I see red 

So, I am trying very hard to not spend any money that doesn't urgently need to be spent in anticipation of all the costs involved in moving house. I immediately bought a pomegranate after deciding this, but at least I put it to good use in this amazing salad, rather than how I usually treat spontaneous luxurious food purchases: gaze at it reverently for days, not daring to actually eat it, until it is completely withered and decayed and implodes at the slightest touch. (I also bought myself a coffee today but I admitted it so you can't scold me now.) Anyway, my dear flatmates had made this gorgeous tomato and pomegranate salad from Ottolenghi's newish cookbook Plenty More, and generously shared it with me. It was the kind of perfect deliciousness where you know you're going to try recreate it at the nearest possible opportunity, and so here we are.

This combination is glorious, so juicy and sweet and surprising and sunny, with the blissful crunch of pomegranate and the soft, juicy tomato and a tiny pinprick of smoky oregano and a dressing made with lip-smackingly sour pomegranate molasses and olive oil. And it looks like you're eating a bowl of damn rubies, I swear - so glossy and red and glowing. It's just the prettiest. While it causes me deep sighs to have to dice up all those tomatoes, keeping everything small means you can't tell where one ingredient starts and another ends and makes the pomegranate just as much of a star as anything else, instead of a garnish. It's just spectacular, okay. I love being surprised by food in the same way that I love being surprised by music - you know when you hear a new song and suddenly think yes, how did this song not exist in my life and I can't believe someone brought it to life out of thin air just when I thought all the songs that could possibly exist had already been written. Food can be like that too.


tomato and pomegranate salad

a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, from his book Plenty More

I've left his recipe pretty much as is here, but like, the tomato selection at the supermarket was no fun, so I made do with some cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes, and regular tomatoes. The dressing is so full of life that it'll embiggen some fairly pale produce, but try to make sure at least some of the tomatoes that you're using taste like tomatoes. Oh also I left out the red onion but whatever. 


200g red cherry tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice
200g yellow cherry tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice (or, sigh, just more normal cherry tomatoes)
200g tiger (or plum) tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice
four medium vine tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice 
one red capsicum, cut into ½ cm dice 
one small red onion, finely diced 
two cloves garlic, crushed 
half a teaspoon ground allspice (or cinnamon)
two teaspoons white wine vinegar (you could use almost any other vinegar here instead - balsamic, red wine, etc)
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (this stuff is sublime, but replace with lime or lemon juice if you can't find it)
60ml olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle at the end
the seeds from one pomegranate
one tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

salt and pepper

Mix the diced tomatoes, capsicum, and onion together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the garlic, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, allspice and olive oil and stir this into everything. Either transfer everything to a big flat plate, which is Ottolenghi's recommendation, or leave it in the bowl, which is what I did, and then sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and oregano. Drizzle over some more olive oil. This benefits from plenty of salt, so do some stirring and sprinkling and tasting till you're satisfied. That's it! 

red, the blood of angry men, tea, a drink with jam and bread (oh wait.)

This is almost ludicrously nourishing and vitamin-rich, which is a pretty cool side-effect of eating something so massively delicious and beautiful. It's the full package. I ended up eating 90% of it just as is by the bowlful, but it's obviously going to make anything else amazing if you serve them up together - halloumi springs to mind, but then, halloumi always does.

As well as being frugal, planning to move house, and smugly eating vegetables, ya girl is also dying her hair. This is of course something that people do all the time, since the beginning of time, but I've made it 28 years without a single drop of dye touching my hair and so it was kind of a big deal for me. While there were slight "what have I dooooone" vibes to start off with I've had a ton of fun bleaching and toning and tinting and generally wreaking havoc upon my poor mop of hair, and have ended up reaching more or less what I was aiming for, what I call Sunset Hair. (It also might look like a sunrise of the tequila kind, according to Kate, but I'm cool with that. Tequila is delicious. I do hate the Eagles song of that same name though.)

candy candy candy I can't let you go

The colour is a little mellower than this in person. Oh, and I love it! It's funny how as soon as you modify your appearance in some way it's suddenly no big deal and just the appearance you have and it doesn't seem like things have ever been any different, you know? And it's just hair. It grows back. Mine grows at a suspiciously fast rate, so a total do-over is not implausible.

Less mellow were the weird and whiny "I've achieved nothingggggg" thoughts that occasionally haunt me, although I then looked at the date today and like, it's only January 12. But still. Time to get moving on some ambitions and agendas and stuff. Not least because doing that will be an excellent way to procrastinate from packing for moving house!
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title from: Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Jay Z, Monster. If you haven't heard this, please love yourself and go straight to Nicki's verse. She kills it effortlessly, as per. I looove dancing to this song. 
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music lately: 

sometimes there is nothing you can do except curl up on your bed and listen to Lana Del Rey's Born To Die and Taylor Swift's All You Had To Do Was Stay a few hundred times over. (It's really really hard to find a link to Swift's song online, soz, however if this means you seek out the entire album then: you're welcome)

The Ting Tings, That's Not My Name. This song came on In The Club recently and it is just such a great song to jump up and down with friends and total strangers to.

Billie Piper, Honey To The Bee. This song is never not swoonily dreamily magnificent, okay?
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next time: Feeling kind of obsessed with pomegranate molasses right now, but only time will tell if I make elegant, nuanced recipes from it or just sit on the kitchen floor drinking it straight from the bottle before passing out. 

2 January 2015

rise up wise up say it loud

greet the new year with arms and bread wide open

On New Year's Day, my best girls Kim and Kate and I crawled into a small tent, away from the angry heat of the sun, and did tarot card readings for the year ahead. The tent was already up and we were at a barbeque/picnic thing, we didn't just go into a field and purposefully erect a Tent of Mystery, although that would've been pretty neat. Next year? The cards were from The Wild Unknown and each design was so utterly beautiful that I want the whole lot of them tattooed all over my body. The card that I ended up picking as my overall theme for 2015 was not the funnest but when I found out the meaning, I was like UGH you accurate damn tarot cards. It is all about not deceiving myself or being deceived, seeing reality instead of what I want to see, and not being sucked in by wishful thinking or being stuck inside my own head (two things that like, define me currently.) So it's not quite "a thousand riches shall befall you instantly and you can chill out indefinitely" but it's very wise and for someone who needs to take such advice on board, I'm sorta impressed with myself for instinctively being drawn to this particular card when I was choosing from the pack, instead of gravitating towards something nicer but less direct. 


Another thing I did on New Year's Day was get up early and bake bread with my own two hands, despite being out verrrry late the night before dancing wildly to Beyonce (the only way to end the year since she was my soundtrack for the entirety of it.) Am I a hero? Yes. Although, as far as they go this is a nice, unthreateningly simple bread recipe, which requires no difficult ingredients, very little kneading, and the deep characteristic slashes in the dough make it eye-catchingly gorgeous. Which means that you can loudly and obnoxiously announce "Oh, just some simple rustic artisinal exquisite Italianate bread" when you place it at the table in front of people.

This particular bread, with its leafy, sliced-open facade, is known as Fougasse. When I was a youth I used to claim that fougasse bread was my favourite food - if I was ever asked - because I tried it once from a bakery in Titirangi with my family, and was deeply impressed with it, and I guess, also with myself. I think my train of thought was that it made me sound loftily sophisticated, which when you grow up in tiny rural farmland with big city dreams and a hearty respect for Stacey McGill, is apparently very important. No-one actually cared about fougasse being my favourite food and the only impression it gave off was (an accurate) one of insufferableness. But at least my tastes weren't misguided! I wasn't wrong! Because fougasse bread is highly delicious.


This recipe produces two loaves (one of mine was much larger than the other because when I divided the ball of dough in half I didn't really get the 'half' bit right) of chewy, airy, crisp, wonderful bread. While it would be a fine accompaniment to literally anything (including another loaf of bread) probably my ideal way of eating it would be like this: just myself, sitting at a table with an entire loaf of fougasse, a bowl of very good olive oil, and maybe some balsamic vinegar and sea salt. And some wine.


fougasse bread

recipe by myself, mashed together from a bunch of different recipes I read online. The instructions look scarily lengthy but I just like to hand-hold you through anything that might be slightly unfamiliar or confusing.

500g bread/hi-grade flour
one sachet dried yeast
two teaspoons sea salt or some similarly fancy sodium product (or one teaspoon regular salt)
one teaspoon sugar
one and a half cups water
one tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
dried herbs of your choice for sprinkling over - I used za'atar, a mix of dried thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Some grated parmesan would be rad here.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Slowly pour in the water - just cold tap water is fine - and the oil, and stir together to make a sticky mass. Knead the dough either in the bowl or on a floured surface, pushing it away with your knuckles and folding it over and repeating, decisively, adding a little more flour or water if it seems to require it. However, it should come together on its own. When it's ready, the dough should be a smoothish, slightly springy ball. Put the dough back into the bowl (you might want to wash and dry it first) and cover with gladwrap/clingfilm. 

Allow the dough to rise in a warmish spot - a sunny windowsill, a hot water cupboard, something like that, but don't stress too much about temperature, just on the bench is fine - and in an hour's time it should be puffy and doubled in size. 

At this point, set your oven to 250 C/480 F and put an oven tray in there to heat up with it. Place a large sheet of baking paper on the bench, cut the dough in half, and carefully transfer half of this dough onto the baking paper. Use your fingers to gently push it out into a large, rough oval shape - the idea is to retain lots of air, which is why you aren't using a rolling pin - and when you're satisfied, use a sharp knife to make cuts in it to form a kind of leafy pattern like I have done in the pictures here. Spread the slices apart with your fingers (otherwise they'll merge back together when you bake them) and then brush the loaf with a little olive oil and sprinkle over your sprinklings of choice - as I said in the ingredients, I went with za'atar. Cover loosely with gladwrap/clingfilm and allow to sit for fifteen minutes, which will help it puff up a little. Finally, open the oven, being careful not to blast yourself with the heat of it like I did, and carefully pick up the piece of baking paper with the dough on it (it's not that hard to transfer it, but like, don't wave it around or anything.) Place the baking paper and dough straight onto the oven tray and bake the loaf for ten to fifteen minutes, until deep golden and bready-looking. While it's baking, get another sheet of baking paper and shape the second half of the dough as per the instructions above, and once it has rested for fifteen minutes, bake that one. Yayyy, two loaves of bread! 

slash fiction

I truly hope that all of you reading this (and also basically everyone, even people who don't read my blog deserve love) have exciting goals, thrilling plans, and a lot of love for yourself as you start this year. And if you don't, that's incredibly normal and fine and tomorrow's another day. 2014 was a seriously weird year and very uneasy in places, but 2015 seems to be tentatively full of promise. Good and bad and strange and surprising things will always happen though, and I'm just going to do my very best to do my very best. 
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title from: those twin cuties Tegan and Sara with their scrappily heartfelt song Missing You
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music lately: 

Nicki Minaj, Pills'n'Potions and Azealia Banks, Soda. I feel like these two sad, sweet, dreamy songs go together well. Also, both these women have new albums out and they are killer, go listen, go listen. 

Scarlett Johansen, Anywhere I Lay My Head. Her album of the same name is SO great, and this is my favourite from it. It's just glorious. (Yeah, she made an album.)
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next time: gosh! I don't know. Something summery and dreamy, hopefully. 

24 December 2014

and my friends i've returned to wish you a happy christmas



oh christmas tree, oh christmas tree, I hope you don't fall down on me

Have yourself a very little blog post: this one. It's Christmas Eve and for the first time in my life I'm not at home, I'm in fact all alone in Wellington. Well, this is not entirely true: there is also Ariel the cat, who I'm simultaneously looking after in the absence of her owners and also trying with zero chill whatsoever to befriend. The reason I'm here and not up home is because I have work tomorrow (another first) and while it's not ideal to not be seeing my family, it is at least interesting seeing what this completely different experience is like.


one for you, three for me

I baked some cookies over the last couple of days, mostly just so I could feel like it's Christmas, since baking is What I Do at this time of year, and partly because I wanted something to pad out a work Secret Santa gift. These cranberry and white chocolate cookies of Nigella's are completely serviceable items for this time of year should you feel pressed to churn out some baked goods yourself, they are sturdy and durable and last for ages, they are delicious yet comfortingly unchallenging to eat; they are very easy to make; and the uncooked dough tastes brilliant. Dried cranberries, like sour little jewels, pair magnificently with sweet, buttery white chocolate, and the red and white has a kind of christmassy holly-and-snow vibe going on which is pleasing. If you want you could add pistachio nuts to really go all out on the colour theme, but going nut-less is way cheaper.


white chocolate cranberry cookies

adapted barely from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. A lot of white chocolate chips and buttons out there taste of absolutely nothing, just a vague waxy textural sensation, so try to get something that tastes like...something. Otherwise take a bar or two of white chocolate and chop it up. 

125g soft butter
half a cup sugar
half a cup brown sugar
one egg
half a cup oats
one cup flour
half a teaspoon baking powder
half a teaspoon salt
a slosh of vanilla extract
half a cup dried cranberries
half a cup white chocolate chips or buttons

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F, and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Using a wooden spoon or similar, beat the butter and the sugars together in a large bowl till thick, creamy and light. And delicious. Beat in the egg, then fold in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate the mixture for about 10-15 minutes. 

Take tablespoons of the cookie dough and place on the baking tray, an inch or so apart. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork and then bake for fifteen minutes, although check after ten minutes - they should be a significant, but not overly dark, golden colour. They'll be really soft at this point but they'll firm up on cooling, so carefully transfer them to a rack or plate of some kind and carry on cooking the rest of the dough. 

Makes 24 or so cookies, depending on the size you make and also how much cookie dough you eat. It's really good cookie dough. 


Bonus recipe: Ginger Beer Shandy (or just Ginger Beer if you don't like the word shandy for some reason.) Take ginger beer, take beer beer, make sure they're both ice cold and pour half and half into a glass. Drink with utter joy! Any kind of lager or pale ale is good here, and even though I like the idea of the circularity of using ginger beer with the beer, it's actually even nicer with dry ginger ale. This is also a Nigella recipe, from Forever Summer. Thanks, Nigella! You are the reason for the season. The season being "the concept of love and also the endlessness of time itself." 

For christmas this year my wishes are simple and rustic as homemade broth. I simply want - a new pair of boots for work, something sturdy yet giving off a 'sullen Victorian ward of the state' vibe; a book deal from a publisher who truly cares about me (or at least pretends to) (or at least just a book deal to be honest); mighty and omnipresent fame in the field of food blogging and being a self-appointed food authority; someone to hold my hand and be nice to me; a bafflingly generous influx of donations into my Paypal; the makings of a killer liquor cabinet (beginning with fancy gin and a selection of vermouths); at least quadruple my current number of twitter followers; chunky black sandals for that summer goth look; something approaching inner peace; these shorts and these shorts; the eternal love of all neighbourhood cats; for all my family to be in excellent health, and lots of candy. Oh and also my own TV show would be rad.

If tomorrow is indeed Christmas for you (well, for many it's just another day) and you're kicking back with like, Buck's Fizz and a laughably enormous feast and so on, maybe think a nice thought for those in hospo and other roles who are going to work as you recline and open gifts. I'm not even going to try and front like my job is as arduous as being in an emergency ward or being a taxi driver or whatever, but like, if you're working and not in bed then you're working and not in bed, you know? Whatever happens when the clock ticks over to the 25th, I hope it's a truly swell day for you, but also that every single other day that follows is also excellent (getting into the same territory here as when I used to as a child make wishes with increasingly nervous caveats, like, I wish for a thousand dollars but it can't fall from the sky onto my head and squash me.) Basically I want things to always be nice forever, that's not so much to ask this Christmas, huh?

Finally, in case you missed it and feel like cooking up some last-minute trouble for yourself, my previous blog post was a list of recipes I've written up here which would make excellent edible gifts. These cookies are now a post-script to said list.

 Finally-finally, merry christmas to you from me. xx
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title from: Sufjan Stevens, Sister Winter. When he's not doing his usual material, this guy specialises in Christmas music that is aggressively plaintive and gently devastating, which is sometimes just what your ears need to hear. 
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music lately:

Christmas Bells, from the original Broadway cast recording of RENT. I mean. This song is somehow ridiculous and ridiculously touching at the same time, and has to be one of the very few songs about Christmas that can claim to contain relationship exposition, drug deals, heavily layered syncopation, parodies of existing Christmas songs, and a reference to Steuben glass. It's wondrous.

Robyn, With Every Heartbeat. This song just slays me, is all.

Taylor Woods, Out of the Woods. This is so dreamy and urgent and Roxette-ish and so perfect and I can't stop listening.    

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Next time: it might be 2015, but it might not, because I am sure I won't let one last opportunity for pre-new-year maudlin introspection pass me by! 

15 December 2014

if you are the ghost of christmas past then won't you stay the night?

My own xmas cake recipe. Boozy and nostalgically delicious, just like your, um, favourite food blogger used to make.

Well, I sniffed a pine tree and it did make me feel more Christmassy. I also watched Love Actually and once I'd stopped ranting at how horrible it is to its women characters, many of whom are barely, at best, one-dimensional props who exist only to help a man realise something important about himself (and those things they realise are usually "I like this hot chick rather a lot") I did notice that in said movie, everyone keeps going on like, "well since it's Christmas I'll tell you the truth/finally acknowledge that I love you/run after you in an airport/generally make an enormous sweeping gesture at great risk to my reputation in the name of love." Far be it from me to suggest that we should be inspired by Love Actually as such, but I am an all or nothing gal who enjoys a good solid enabling every now and then. Since everything is so ridiculous and high-drama and fraught at Christmas, you might as well make things more like this if you've got the inclination, y'know? 

 Candy Cane Bark: for those who want to put candy crush where their mouth is
  
Unsure quite where I'm going with this, I guess I just have a lot of feelings about Love Actually and also Grand Gestures. I'm honestly not in a delightful headspace right now, which is just neat because it coincides with me doing little in the way of actual blogging and everything in the way of rounding up for you, curating, if you will, a list of recipes I've already put on here that would make great Christmas present ideas. Aren't I wonderful! I've done this for the past few years and logically it grows every time. I happen to be a staunch believer in the joy of giving and receiving edible stuff as a present, and so, if you feel the same this list might be of some use to you. Oh sure, you could go onto Pinterest or Buzzfeed or even go old-school and make a Google search to find a zillion such lists, but none of them are going to be as self-absorbedly devoted entirely to my own content. For...for what it's worth.

Berry Chia Seed Jam: it's almost too healthy, and there's always someone that you have to buy for who digs that kind of description. 

Worth noting that whether or not Christmas is a significant thing for you or passes you by completely, these are obviously all nice recipes for a present for anyone. For any reason, at any time of the year. Just because Christmas is the overwhelmingly unavoidable societal status quo doesn't mean you can't enjoy Candy Cane Bark in the middle of April. 

Category One: Things in Jars.

Jars are cute. Jars are everywhere. Jars are gonna save you this Christmas. 

Orange Confit (This is basically just slices of orange in syrup, but is surprisingly applicable to a variety of cake surfaces. And it's so pretty. And so cheap.) (vg, gf)
Cranberry Sauce (this is stupidly easy and you should make it to go with your main meal anyway) (vg, gf)
Bacon Jam (Best made at the last minute, because it needs refrigerating) (gf)
Cashew Butter (vg, gf) (just don't drop your wooden spoon into the food processor) 
Red Chilli Nahm Jim (gf)
Cranberry (or any-berry) Curd (it involves a lot of effort but it's so pretty. Just like me.) (gf)
Rhubarb-Fig Jam (gf)
Salted Caramel Sauce (gf, has a vegan variant) (I knowww, salted caramel is so boringly pervasive these days but a jar of it all for yourself is still the greatest thing ever) 
Apple Cinnamon Granola (vg)


Peach Balsamic Barbecue Sauce: give a fusspot a pot of fussy stuff. And if anyone makes any calls about barbecues being the domain of men, kick them to the curb and enjoy some chargrilled goods in peace with this delicious sauce. 

Category Two: Baked Goods.

Make your house smell glorious, eat some cake batter, wrap the baked things you haven't eaten in rustic-looking brown paper and tie it all up with string, then toast to your own productivity and excellence.


First of all, my Christmas Cake is amazing. It just is: deal with my lack of coyness. Even if you decide at the last minute to make it on Christmas Day itself, it will still taste so great. 
Cheese Stars (make twelve times the amount you think you need because these are addictive and also great to serve alongside the inevitable copious liquor that happens this time of year)
Coconut Macaroons (gf)
Chocolate Macaroons (gf)
Gingerbread Cut-out Cookies (vg)
Coconut Condensed Milk Brownies
Salted Caramel Slice (hello again Salted Caramel! Your persistence is as admirable as your deliciousness!)
Fancy Tea Cookies
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Also, if you click on the link to the Orange Confit above, you'll see a recipe for the easiest, fastest fruitcake loaf. It makes an excellent present, for the sort of person who'd like to receive fruitcake. And 'tis dairy free.

Mars Bar Cornflake Slice. I have nothing funny to say about this. Its deliciousness requires seriousness.

Category Three: Novelty!

This is mostly either homemade recreations of things you can buy from the corner dairy for fifty cents, or sticky-sweet things where you melt one ready-made thing into another. It's frankly the best category and you know it. 

Moonshine Biffs (like homemade Milk Bottles!) (gf)
Raw Vegan Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffles Candy (vg, gf)
Lolly Cake
Peppermint Schnapps (vg, gf) (this is some harsh moonshine but also SO FUN. Weirdly, more fun the more you drink of it?)
Candy Cane Chocolate Bark (No effort, vegan - well, I think candy canes are vegan - gluten free, amazingly delicious, just store it carefully so it doesn't melt)
White Chocolate Coco Pops Slice 

Chocolate Cookie Dough Pretzel Things: I ain't delivering them to you anymore so make your own! Everyone will love you eternally, and buying peoples' love with gifts is what Christmas is all about.  

Because I am an actual darling, I also give you a bonus recipe which I made for myself on the hop when some plans I'd had fell through and I'd also had two large craft beers. I had more or less nothing with which to scrape together a meal, and then was all What Would I Do? in that same way that people might ask what Beyonce would do. After all, I wrote a cookbook with a chapter full of food you can make yourself when it's getting late and you're feeling seedy. And thus, with only three ingredients, was born the following: 


Spaghetti with Buttery Breadcrumbs.

Cook as much dried spaghetti as you wish to eat in a large pot of boiling water till tender. Meanwhile, take three slices of white bread from the packet and kind of crumble and rough them up in your hands till they have all broken up into irregularly sized crumbs and bits and general bready rubble. Melt around 50g butter in a large pan and once it's sizzling, throw in the breadcrumbs and stir them around till golden and crisp and fried. Drain the spaghetti, stir in the crumbs, eat.  

I've heard of a similar method of topping your pasta dish with breadcrumbs referred to as Poor Man's Parmesan but that is both ickily classist and misleading. Crunchy, butter-soaked breadcrumbs don't need to be hidden by pretending to be something else. They'll make your pasta taste utterly fantastic and so that's why I'm calling them what they are. Plus all those carbs will both act as blotting paper to anything you've had to drink and will zap you into a calming, mellow stupor. Which is so necessary at this time of year and also always. Happy holidays to you all, but also just, like, happiness to ya too. 
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title from: the splendid Regina Spector and her song Ne Me Quitte Pas. It's French, for don't leave me! 
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music lately: 

Turkey Lurkey Time. DUDE. No wonder I wasn't feeling Christmassy, I forgot to watch this! It's a scene from the 60s musical Promises Promises and features a spectacularly rubber-limbed Donna McKechnie and also just the most stupid lyrics you'll ever hear. But the dancing is incredible and I don't quite know why but the end makes me all gaspy and faster of heartbeat every single time. 

Beyonce, XO. It's a full year since Queen B simultaneously blessed us and messed with the music industry by dropping her actually perfect self-titled visual album. It has been the soundtrack of my year in many ways and this song still gives me that headrush feeling of giddy happiness that it did upon first listen. 

Oh Land, Sleepy Town. I've been listening to so much Oh Land lately, her music is so dreamy and yearning and poppy. 

Tove Lo, Habits (Stay High). It just gets to me. 
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next time: I don't know what I'm gonna make but I will be blogging again before Christmas for sure. Fa la la la la!