Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dispatch from the Great White North

It’s beautiful in Moose Jaw today… a balmy +5! That means I can stop eating soup. Last week the weather dipped below 30 and I found myself making batch after batch of soup.  I enjoyed these healthful concoctions from within the cozy comfort of my igloo, my whale oil lamps burning, the sled dogs snuggled up beside me (might have to shave those poor brutes now…); there’s truly nothing like muskox-tongue stew to warm the bones.

You know what I mean, right? Certain climates call for certain cuisine. And now that Saskatchewan is having a hot flash (seriously, this province has moods that make menopause look like a joyride), I can get back to eating solid foods. Like raw buffalo organs – or whatever it is that people of other nations think us uncivilized Canadians eat.

Anyway, before I go out on the hunt, as I will inevitably do since I live in a totally uncivilized territory (I have been called a “moose strangler” and if you have seen my extremely muscular build, you will know that, indeed, I pose a threat to many large mammals), I shall tell you about the fabulous french onion soup I made recently…

It was fabulous.

That’s about all I have to say. The recipe can be found here. (You don’t have to use homemade chicken stock. Unless you have a couple extra live chickens hanging around that you want to squeeze the juices out of.)

I know it’s not baking, but it will have to do. But speaking of baking, I have had a special request from a recent Canuck-ized Englishman, to post the recipe of his favourite brownies. We enjoyed a batch of these on his last birthday while drinking Moosehead lager in The Maple Leaf – a lovely Canadian joint in the heart of Covent Garden. It’s rather unrealistic, though, what with the lack of polar bears walking around, offering piggyback rides to the locals… sigh. I guess one can only expect so much from London. You’ll just have to come here, Lizzie, if you expect to mount a pleasantly-mannered furry white beast.

So here it is, Robbie Sutton, and anyone else who enjoys simple chocolatey pleasures:

Toffee Brownies

Ingredients:

350g/12oz dark chocolate (50-60% cocoa), broken into pieces

250g/9oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 large eggs

250g/9oz dark muscavado sugar

85g/3oz plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 160/Gas 3/fan 140. Butter and line the base of a shallow 23cm/9in square cake tin. Melt the chocolate and butter together, then stir well and cool.

Whisk the eggs until pale, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy and well combined. Gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture, then sift in the flour and baking powder and gently stir until smooth.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Test by inserting a wooden cocktail stick into the middle – there should be a few moist crumbs sticking to it. The mixture will still be soft in the centre, but will firm up on cooling.

Cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, then cut into 16 squares and finish cooling on the rack.

These are very yummy and gooey, and taste like toffee ’cause of the dark sugar. They’re pretty much a can’t-fail hit at parties as well (or picnics! Remember, Lizzie? Sigh… that was when we were just getting to know each other… in the ‘honeymoon phase,’ so to speak, and I was trying so hard to impress you…). They can also probably be found on the BBC Good Food website but I didn’t check.

Oh, and because I don’t have a recent picture of the brownies, I thought I’d take a picture of me eating the recipe of them instead. It’s almost the same.

 

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The Pastry Moose

A moose stumbles upon a salted caramel tart...

A Merry (Khaki) Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

I finally got to do some baking the other day, after weeks of work stress, my first choice was to spend some time making red and green velvet cupcakes. Normally you just get red velvet cupcakes, but I’ve been thinking about doing green ones as well for a while because, well, it seemed more festive. My downfall was not having the foresight to realise that when you mix green food colouring and cocoa powder you get… khaki. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t affected the taste, but they are slightly less exciting looking than the bright deep green I had envisioned, as can be seen here:

Oh well.

The recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and can be found here (but a word of advice, you might not want to make as much icing as it says – all Hummingbird recipes have far too much icing…unless you want more icing than cake)

The lovely display stand the cupcakes are on was given to me by my friend Ffi. The result of me displaying the cakes in this way was that my Dad didn’t want to eat them because they looked too pretty. I have made a mental note to set anything I make for anyone else out this way to stop him eating it – honestly, it’s the only way. 

One of the more exciting results of Christmas was that I received many many new cookery books. I sat on Christmas morning looking through them all thinking “I don’t want to go back to work…I want to stay at home and bake”.

 

My favourite book so far is the Peyton & Byrne, which is the best British baking cookbook ever, and everything just looks beautiful – I think it’s something you really need to own Jordi. I always choose cookery books by the way they look – there have to be plenty of photos and the food has to look reaaally good – which is at least partly why I love Nigel Slater so much, because Jonathan Lovekin, who does all his food photography, is brilliantly talented. 

On New Year’s Eve I made Nigel’s potato and mushroom pie, and chocolate truffles for my friends. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of those, and the truffles didn’t really set enough because we wanted to eat them, which ended in us consuming very squishy truffle mixture (which is melted chocolate and cream mixed together in case you’re wondering).

Incidentally it is one of my new year’s resolutions to bake more – which is starting this evening, as I am going to bake lots of exciting things (salted caramel tart included) with my friends, so there will be more to follow this in the next few days…

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