Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Cherry Tomato Dressing

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As someone perpetually sliding around in the gauzy formlessess of liminal spaces — or at least, as someone who feels this way — or, at least, as someone who once heard the word “liminal” and really latched onto it without being 100% confident of deploying the word accurately and yet still blithely using it several times a day — I find myself drawn to recipes which occupy more than one space, not quite a side, not quite a main, able to be raked through linguine or spooned over bowls of various grains, or maybe just eaten on their own with nothing before or after. Recipes like the Chickpeas Diabolique, or Roasted Zucchini with Spinach-Peanut Pesto, or Salt and Vinegar Beans, or Vegetables a là Grecque, or today’s recipe, the equally nebulous but compelling Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Cherry Tomato Dressing. Is it a side? How many does it serve? I don’t know! Is it delicious? Of course! Why else would we be here!

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That being said, if you’re someone who quite reasonably likes to know where you stand, it might help to think of this as a definite side dish, or as a potential pasta sauce, having eaten it as both I can assure you of its success in either regard. Infuriatingly, but with weary predictability, despite it being the middle of summer the cherry tomatoes were stupidly expensive (for full transparency: two punnets of cherry tomatoes, a garlic bulb, a bottle of lemon juice because there were no lemons, and a basil plant cost twenty-two literal dollars) but because I had this idea in my head already and because supermarkets, themselves quite the liminal space, send me into a kind of automaton trance where I dazedly make stupid financial decisions in the name of feeding myself (although to be fair these days it’s hard to buy anything at the supermarket, even the driest bag of lentils, without it being a stupid financial decision), I bought the lot and proceeded with this recipe.

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Anyway, enough of the requisite cantankerous captiousness at the state of supermarket prices; what does the dish taste like? As the title claims, it’s pretty simple: roasted cherry tomatoes, with a few unroasted tomatoes plucked out and whizzed up into a peachy-yellow dressing with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil, then poured back over their friends, so you get this mix of summer-sweet, glorious intensity from the roasted tomatoes and glibly fresh, raw zestiness from the raw tomatoes in the dressing and all that lemon juice. The two opposites meld together gorgeously, aided by the dusky richness of basil leaves bobbing handsomely on the surface like boats in a harbour at sunset. It’s a soft, messy dish with a lot of sauce between that which springs from the tomatoes in the oven and all the dressing, should you not know quite what to do with it I’d just get a spoon and some bread and use the two to empty and wipe the roasting dish completely of every last drop. Looking at that mess of red, yellow and vivid green, it’s easy to forget that tomatoes are more expensive than diamonds and it has rained every single day of 2023, tasting it solidifies this even more so.

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Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Cherry Tomato Dressing

Simple and gorgeous, tastes like a rising sun, and ready to eat on its own or to be stirred through pasta. Recipe by myself.

  • 2 punnets cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Dressing

  • 6 cherry tomatoes (from one of the above punnets)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • hearty pinch of salt
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, to serve

1: Set your oven to 210C/420F. Remove six cherry tomatoes from one of your punnets and tumble the remaining cherry tomatoes into a shallow roasting dish into which they fit fairly snugly. You can halve some of the tomatoes if you want — I halved roughly a third of them before losing interest. Drizzle over the tablespoon of olive oil and roast the tomatoes for fifteen minutes or until they’ve softened and buckled in on themselves a little, at which point they’ll also release a decent amount of juice into the roasting dish.

2: While the tomatoes are roasting, get on with the dressing. Halve the six cherry tomatoes that you set aside earlier, and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. (A slightly fiddly job and I apologise! But you do get to eat the seeds as you go, at least.) Throw the halved and emptied cherry tomatoes in a blender with the peeled garlic clove, the two tablespoons of lemon juice, the four tablespoons of olive oil, the half teaspoon of sugar and a good pinch of salt. Blend it up into a frothy, pale-orange dressing, and taste to see if it needs any balancing of salt, sweet, or sour.

3: Once the tomatoes are done in the oven, pour over the dressing — you don’t need to stir it, but if you want to go for a mere nudge and lift, rather than a vigorous folding — and scatter over the basil leaves.

Serves 1—2, though it depends on how you dish it up. As a side dish, it could serve three to four, but more if there are a lot of dishes; or two to three when stirred through pasta or spooned over polenta, et cetera.

Notes:

  • Weirdly I could not find lemons at any supermarkets near me, which just adds to that feeling of losing grip on reality that confronts me whenever I do groceries; if you can get hold of one I would encourage you to strip off the zest before juicing it and to scatter it over the tomatoes at the end along with the basil.
  • If you only have a really large blender you might struggle to whizz up such a small quantity of ingredients, in which case a stick blender would be a lot easier, if you have neither then you could try pushing the tomatoes through a sieve or just really finely chopping and mashing them along with the garlic clove before stirring in the remaining ingredients.

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music lately:

Sleep Walk by Santo and Johnny. There’s something about a beautiful instrumental piece of pop that occupies the same space in my brain as a beautiful piece of classical music; it evokes a mood and suggests a story with nothing more than notes and chord progressions, and listening to this glorious tune — and even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ve probably heard it — spins dozens of different stories, all poignant and atmospheric.

Manchild by Neneh Cherry, when those synths come in like a shiver up the spine, yes! To say nothing of the prescient lyrics!

Blues From a Gun by The Jesus and Mary Chain, part of the genre of music that I would describe, in this current economy, as “irresponsibly exciting”.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

chocolate, rum, and prune truffle ice cream [vegan, no-churn]

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2023! Personally, I think we’ve gone too far and should try a do-over of one of the previous years but since — as we’ve well and truly established — I have no influence over the passage of time, here we are and here I am, hastily squeaking a blog post in while we’re barely still in that phase of January where you can reasonably keep saying “happy new year”; accompanied by a handful of blurry photos of ice cream from my phone. December was a tumultuous month for reasons out of my control, like being handed a punctured bucket of sand and being told every grain of sand you lose is going to cost you twenty dollars and you also are expected to tap dance while picking up the falling grains; and unsurprisingly none of that has magically gone away just because December finally ended, hence my unsteady launch into a new year of food blogging, but — as always! — while very little else can be counted on, this recipe for Chocolate, Rum, and Prune Truffle Ice Cream is, at least, so delicious.

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While most of my ice cream recipes lean towards the dense rather than the fluffy, texture-wise, this one has a particular cellular compression, like a very solid ganache, hence adding “truffle” to the title to warn you of its approaching sturdiness, while also providing a distracting flourish from the presence of the prunes, which, to be fair, aren’t everyone’s favourite sweetmeat. Me, I love a prune, with their plummy, almost tannin-y sweetness and depth, and here they bring a potent, rum-drenched fruitiness to the ice cream, well-matched by the bitter dark chocolate and expansive sweet creaminess of the coconut.

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The result tastes rather like Christmas cake mixed with brownie batter, immensely rich and grown-up, with a husky rummy finish that avoids overwhelming. It doesn’t look as elegant as it tastes, so if aesthetics are your watchword, you could consider having diminutive serving glasses as I’ve done in these photos, or freezing it in a lined loaf tin to cut into slices, or serving it with icing sugar-dusted raspberries for a pop of colour, or giving up entirely. On serving-based aesthetics, that is, not 2023 as a whole, because despite my recent lived experience I still have high hopes for the new year to nudge new good things into existence. I mean, we have this ice cream! That is a start.

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Chocolate, Rum, and Prune Truffle Ice Cream

Dense, intense, rich, with plummy rum-soaked pureed fruit and dark chocolate. As always, no ice cream maker is necessary but you do need to allow several hours for the prunes to soak (and, of course, for the ice cream itself to freeze). Recipe by myself.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups prunes
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum (see notes)
  • 200ml rooibos tea (that is, one cup minus about three tablespoons)
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 1 x 320g tin condensed coconut milk (or condensed oat milk)
  • 1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut cream
  • a pinch of salt

1: Soak the prunes in the rum and tea for about six hours, or overnight, in a sealed container (or — I just poured the rum and cooled tea directly onto the prunes in their snaplock bag from the bulk section of the supermarket where I bought them.)

2: Once step one is complete, either several hours later or the next day, puree the prunes and any remaining liquid in a blender or food processor. It’s up to you whether you want this to be a velvety puree or to retain some texture, I went for the latter but either is fine.

3: From here it’s pretty simple; gently melt the 250g dark chocolate in bursts in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl resting (without touching the water) on a small pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in your condensed milk and coconut cream, and then spatula the prune puree from your blender into the chocolate mixture and stir again to combine. Finally, stir in a decent pinch of salt, to taste.

4: Transfer this delicious mixture into a container with a lid; I like to let my ice creams rest in the fridge for two hours first as I, perhaps misguidedly, feel that it improves the flavour and texture, so either after that or straight away if you’re impatient, freeze the chocolate mixture for about six hours or until, well, frozen.

Makes roughly 1.25 litres. Because of the alcohol content you only need to let this sit for a few minutes to make it spoonable.

Notes:

  • If you don’t wish to use rum, Marsala would be my second choice (in fact, it might be my first choice if I had both in front of me), otherwise bourbon or Pedro Ximinez sherry would be great. If you don’t wish to use alcohol at all simply leave it out, bearing in mind that the ice cream will be a lot more rock-hard without the softening effect of alcohol. I’d also add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract for another layer of flavour.
  • You also don’t have to use rooibos if you don’t like the taste. It’s my preferred tea to soak dried fruit in, however Earl Grey would not be out of the question.

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music lately:

Pets by Porno for Pyros, I was going to call this song “nonplussedly cheerful” but one of the youtube commenters bested me with a more accurate description of “nihilistically hopeful”, and something in Perry Farrell’s scraped-hollow voice adds to the nihilism and the hopefulness of it.

Long Ago by Mariah Carey. Despite her staggering body of number 1 singles, she is never lethargic or parsimonious on the album tracks, and this slinky, low-lit song could’ve absolutely been a later release from the incredible Daydream.

Serenade in Blue by Ethel Ennis, her plush voice is glorious for interpreting this standard, but I am also fond of the long-shadowed cinematic orchestrations on the Glenn Miller original.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

The Annual HungryandFrozen Edible Gift Recipe Round-Up!

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The thing about Christmas coming but once (thank goodness) a year is that with each iteration you realise, poignantly, how much has changed since the last one. While you could of course reflect upon this during any Tuesday or September, with its keen sense of tradition and consistency and focus on familial relationships and togetherness, Christmas certainly lends itself to introspection more than, say, Halloween — though don’t let me hold you back. It’s that very sameness that makes the changes sharply delineated, makes you wonder what will have transpired by next Christmas, but it can also be comforting; the same music, the same scent of pine, the same food. And despite the quinquereme of changes that 2022 has powerfully rowed into my life, we can all count on one thing remaining the same: my Annual HungryandFrozen Edible Gift Recipe Round-Up!

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If this is news to you, each December I gather a list of recipes from my prior blog posts that I believe would make ideal edible gifts, in case you want prompting in that direction, despite having the entire internet already at your disposal. It’s a self-serving action, yes, but hopefully helpful — and all I ever really want is to be useful while drawing attention to myself in the process. In the spirit of consistency and tradition, and also in the spirit of retaining my own sanity in these trying times, I’ve kept a lot of the text in this post the same as in previous years — there’s only so many ways you can launch into this thing, and I appreciate your understanding.

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Christmas is a pretty fraught time of year as it is, and inescapable even if you’re not particularly invested — a bit like that primary school exercise where we inexplicably had to look after an egg for a week without breaking it, Christmas is a responsibility handed to you by a greater authority, fragile, and kind of wasteful in the grander scheme of things. But it’s happening, and if, like me, you’re someone who finds comfort and calm in cooking, then focussing your energy on making delicious edible gifts for people can reign in some of that generalised seasonal tension. Make a list, check it twice, work out which tier each person is on — are they worth putting in the effort to boil sugar? — pour yourself a small glass of port or a fruity cup of tea, and fill the kitchen with the scent of cinnamon and melting chocolate while the lights twinkle in your peripheral vision.

If you keep a relatively small circle, there are still neighbours, the postal service, and any number of people nearby who might be cheered by a jar or box of something in their letterbox with a friendly note attached. But even just you, alone, are reason enough to bake a cake.

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As for the financial pressures of this time of year — I won’t lie, between the ludicrous supermarket prices, time, electricity, storage and wrapping, homemade edible gifts aren’t necessarily cheap, and there’s no moral superiority in making your own jam. It is undeniably delightful to receive something homemade — but if this is too strenuous, stick with the food concept and do your Christmas shopping at the supermarket. The aforementioned ludicrous supermarket prices (all I want for Christmas is for more than one green vegetable at a time to be affordable) are still there to be reckoned with, but it’s undeniably fast and easy. Chocolates, candy, olive oil, fancy salt, spices, peanut butter, curry pastes, hot sauce, olives, a complicated shape of pasta? All delightful gifts. It can be as simple as just buying food you know someone happily eats a lot of. They love beans? Get them beans! They love noodles? Buy them a week’s worth! I guarantee they’ll be pleased. Basically, we cannot escape capitalism, but giving an edible gift has so many upsides: it’s delicious, it has immediate practical application, it will eventually cease taking up space in the receiver’s house, and it makes you look like a really great person, but perhaps more importantly, it shows the people you love that they’re worth a little time and consideration.

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I realise to heaps of people Christmas is — quite reasonably — just another day of the week! But there will be some point in your life when giving a gift is required, and almost all the recipes listed below work beautifully year-round (though I personally can’t eat candy canes out of season.)

Anyway, let’s get to it. I admit, I look forward to compiling this, especially when, throughout the year, I blog a recipe that could potentially augment the list. I’ve grouped the list into three categories, and have also included a few recipes I wrote for Tenderly over the years.

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Two caveats: some of these recipes are from absolute years ago, as will happen when you have a fifteen-year-old food blog, but while details and contexts and locations and motivations have changed, the deliciousness remains constant. Also, I feel like it’s worth noting anything that could melt should be stored in the fridge rather than under the tree for as long as possible.

Finally — all these recipes are vegan.

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The Annual HungryandFrozen Edible Gift Recipe Round-Up!

Category One: Things In Jars

Things In Jars! That eternal receptacle, a glass jar makes the humblest of ingredients and least of efforts look welcoming and exertional. From relish to pickles to the unsinkable salted caramel sauce, Things in Jars are ideal gifts for your most marginally tolerable of coworkers or the most highly specific loves of your life. For added personal flair — though this could just be my neurological predisposition for over-explaining — I suggest including a gift tag with recommendations on ways to use the contents of the jar. I used to be extremely cavalier about the sterility of said jars, but after living at home I’ve been sufficiently old-wives-taled into respectful fear for botulism. I like to think that a jar fresh from the dishwasher is as close to sterile as you can hope for; otherwise, I’d consult the internet (and with the state of google these days it’s worth either going straight to youtube or adding “reddit” after your search term) for wise counsel on the process.

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Savoury:

Coconut Oat Chilli Crisp
Vegan Gochujang Bokkeum (if you know someone who likes chilli I cannot recommend this highly enough)
Roasted Plum Harissa
Cranberry Sauce (this recipe is super easy, and I make it almost every year to have with Christmas dinner)
Corn and Chilli Relish
Marinated Tamarillos
Taco Pickles
Sake Pickled Radishes
Preserved Limes
Dukkah (perhaps accompanied by a nice bottle of olive oil)
Spiced Peaches (very, very easy and good)
Olive Tapenade
Caramelised Onion Butter
Tomato Relish
Ras el hanout
Berbere
Khmeli Suneli (overachievers might consider making a tasting flight of these three spice mixes)
Cumin and Paprika Spiced Pumpkin Seed Butter
Peach Balsamic Barbecue Sauce
Roasted Chickpea Butter
Quick-Pickled Apples and Pears
Quick Pickled Scallions/Spring Onions
Pickled Eggplant

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Sweet

Pecan Cookie Granola Butter
Rhubarb, Raspberry and Cardamom Jam
Rhubarb Fig Jam
Berry Chia Seed Jam
Black Salted Caramel Sauce
Salted Pineapple Caramel Sauce
Orange Confit
Apple Cinnamon Granola
Strawberry Jam Granola
Buckwheat, Cranberry and Cinnamon Granola
Caramel Walnut Granola
Lux Maple Granola
The Best Granola (the others are still good, but it’s named for a reason)
Lemon Curd
Salted Vanilla Brazil Nut Butter
Coffee Cinnamon Hazelnut Butter
Rhubarb Fruit Mince (very easy and delicious and surprisingly easy to find ways to use)

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Category Two: Baked Goods

They’re baked! They’re good! While biscuits and cookies are more commonly gifted, don’t rule out a loaf, perhaps wrapped in baking paper and then brown paper — the ginger molasses loaf below keeps forever and would make a charmingly convivial offering. And at this busy time of year, having something to slice and eat with a cup of tea or a snifter of whatever weird liqueur you can find in the back of the cupboard is nothing if not a stroke of good fortune. I’ve made the Christmas Star Cookies a LOT and recommend them enthusiastically, but for some reason they work better if you make individual batches repeatedly rather than trying to double or triple the ingredients. As for how to present them, you don’t need to convert your house into an arts-and-crafts station; a handful of cookies in a cellophane or sandwich bag tied with a bow is fine, or pile them into takeout containers which is easy, practical, and less of a single-use-plastic vibe. I’m still partial to the magic of curling ribbon, but a wider ribbon will create a distracting flourish for simple packaging. Don’t stress about it too much though, the food itself is the star here.

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Christmas Star Cookies
Pistachio Toffee Cookies (gorgeous, but the toffee softens after a couple of days, so make them closer to the date of giving)
Chocolate Rosemary Cookies (very elegant, and you could tie a sprig of rosemary in with the packaging for rustic Christmassy effect)
Hundreds and Thousands Biscuits
Rum + Pecan Cookies
Chewy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
Pecan Sandies
Brown Butter Chocolate Brownies
Viv’s Crackers (good to make anyway for general nibbling)
Vanilla Chocolate Macarons (high effort, high reward, but like, really high effort, this isn’t for people you feel indifference towards)
Dark Rum Tahini Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Roasted Carrot Cake with Apple Cider Vinegar Buttercream (if this or the poppyseed loaf below has to travel a long distance I’d leave them uniced)
Lemon Poppyseed Loaf Cake
Ginger-Molasses Loaf Cake (I have made dozens and dozens of these, and it’s excellent with treacle instead of molasses)
The Very Best Vegan Christmas Cake (I do not exaggerate)

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Category Three: Novelty, No-Bake Sweets, and General Sugary Chaos

The best category, let’s be frank. Whether it’s dissolving candy canes in bottom-shelf vodka or adding pink food colouring to white chocolate for the aesthetic, sugar is the true reason for the season. And since dentists wildly overcharge us for their service, you might as well make them really earn it. Note: even with overproof vodka the passionfruit and mandarin liqueurs probably won’t be ready in time for Christmas; unless you can find out-of-season feijoas there’s no point trying that recipe either, but either give the intended receiver an IOU, or save it for their birthday — or next Christmas.

Homemade Feijoa Vodka
Homemade Passionfruit Liqueur
Homemade Mandarin Liqueur
Candy Cane Vodka (or Peppermint Schnapps if you will — it’s almost literally potable!)
Coffee-Orange Liqueur aka Forty Four
Old Fashioned Lemonade Cordial
Chocolate Pistachio Fudge (incredibly easy, and it’s a Nigella recipe so you can really trust it)
Chocolate-Nut Fudge Candies
Three-ingredient Chocolate Caramel Hearts
Candy Cane Bark
Homemade Bounty Bars
Salted Chocolate Cashew Butter Slice
Almond Butter Toffee
Old Fashioned Fudge
Chocolate Caramel Rice Bubble Slice
No-bake Cookie Dough Truffles
Vegan White Chocolate
Vegan Cookies and Cream White Chocolate
Raspberry Rainbow Slab

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(Pictured, in order from the top: Chocolate Pistachio Fudge; Candy Cane Bark; Rhubarb Fruit Mince; Sake-Pickled Radishes; Chocolate-Nut Fudge Candies; Candy Canes (just as they are, not a recipe); Rhubarb, Raspberry, and Cardamom Jam; Roasted Plum Harissa; Berry Chia Seed Jam; Christmas Star Cookies; The Best Christmas Cake; Homemade Mandarin Liqueur; Raspberry Rainbow Slab.)  

music lately:

Turkey Lurkey Time from the 1969 Tony Awards performance of the musical Promises, Promises. I have a small personal tradition where I watch this clip every December 1st and invariably start crying, which is where I should point out that it is absolutely not a number intended to stir that kind of emotion. I can’t explain it, it’s something about Donna McKechnie’s elasticated spine, it’s the diagonal convergence at the end, it’s the way I wait for it each year, it’s the culmination of all the previous years up until this point, it’s Christmas!

Amen, by Jolie Holland, a song of almost otherworldly soothing beauty from her glorious album Escondida.

Supervixens, by A.R Kane, I mean, this is a time for tradition after all, and this will always remain one of my top-listened songs of any year, and every time I listen it’s more messy, more yearning, more weird, more amazing.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Chickpeas Diabolique

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We are truly working overtime down in the Just Gotta Get Through This Week salt mines this year (where we spend all day txting each other “just gotta get through this week”), though if the inexorable passage of time has taught me anything it’s that the universe or fate or whatever force is responsible for all this does not care that you’ve made it through this week/month/year! All of which is to say, the external stresses in my life are really externally stressing me this week, and so I’m reproducing a recipe some of you will have seen already last year in the small but mighty island nation that is my Patreon; but in this economy, I’m saying outfit repeating is not only cool, it’s the responsible choice.

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Joking about being a thesis replicant has rather backfired on me since upon reflection an actual replicant would be much better equipped to deal with trials and tribulations than I am; at the very least a replicant wouldn’t suffer pain in their thoracic spinal region from slumping over a laptop like a collapsed circus tent for eleven hours at a time in the library. But I can report one thing that is literally good: on Friday, I handed in my thesis (roughly 80k words all up, and on time!). Despite, if not because of everything else going on, I am very proud of myself, grateful to those who supported me along the way this year, and relieved to be typing again without the watchful chaperone of APA 7 referencing guidelines. This recipe for chickpeas diabolique is just the sort of barely-laborious cooking you can do when you’re half-conscious at best, and its rip-roaring red-orange hue reminiscent of molten red devil marbles, and surprisingly feisty cayenne heat will help make you feel full-awake.

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This is my reworking of a Belgian scampi recipe; the chickpeas are not in the slightest bit intended to be a 1:1 analogue for seafood, it’s more that I thought this sauce and preparation would suit the legumes keenly, and I was correct. In fact, this is possibly my favourite chickpea recipe ever — so far — as much for its speed and ease as its dramatically delicious results from such a simple list of ingredients. Something remarkable, flavour-wise, happens somewhere between the tomato paste sizzling and caramelising and the vermouth hitting the hot pan and rising up again like a magician’s puff of smoke, and it tastes like you’ve done an awful lot more than you really have. It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s rich and decadent but rustic and unpretentious, and it tastes amazing.

@hungryandfrozen

chickpeas diabolique, probably my favourite chickpeas of all? recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com 🤠 #chickpeas #vegan #cookingvideo #fyp

♬ The Dark Of The Matinée – Franz Ferdinand

Serving the chickpeas with bread to swipe at the lurid, lycopene-rich sauce makes sense, as does serving the dish as part of a table of mezze or small plates, and it goes without saying — but nonetheless, for the record — this would be wonderful stirred through pasta. I’d choose a ridged shape, to catch the sauce; I do like the idea of pappardelle with this, like a playground slide for the chickpeas, but something with more structural integrity would probably be a better choice, like bucatini or fettuccini. Any leftovers (I ate about 75% of what was in the enamel dish in the photos and refrigerated the rest) are strangely good cold, but probably best kept as a solo snack unless reheating. I still very much just gotta get through this week, but this recipe is another tick in the somewhat lonely “literally good” column, and will long continue to be.

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Chickpeas Diabolique

Easy, fast, messily delicious, and with very few perishable ingredients you can keep the means to make it at any time safely in your pantry. Recipe by myself, but adapted from and inspired by the Belgian dish, Scampi Diabolique.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil, for frying — a couple tablespoons
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste, heaped is fine
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white vermouth (or dry white wine or dry sherry)
  • 1-2 generously heaped tablespoons vegan aioli, plain vegan yoghurt, or anything else rich and creamy — even hummus or thick coconut cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1: Finely dice the onion and garlic cloves. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan and gently fry both alliums over a low heat till soft but not browned. Tip in the chickpeas, stirring to warm them through, along with the teaspoon of smoked paprika and pinch of cayenne.

2: Turn up the heat and stir in the 1/4 cup tomato paste, continuing to stir to let the tomato paste coat the chickpeas and get stickily caramelised in the heat.

3: After a minute or so of this, pour in the 1/2 cup dry vermouth, which will hit the pan with an enthusiastic hiss, and stir it in, along with the tablespoon or two (and I lean towards two), of aioli. Let this warm through, still stirring, then remove from the heat. Season and taste, add a splash of water to make it saucier if need be (or, indeed, more vermouth), and serve.

Serves one as a hearty snack, or two with accompaniments. Could stretch to three if stirred through pasta.

Notes:
I assume confidently that the “diabolique” part of the name refers to the heat of the cayenne. If you’re serving this to kids, perhaps leave it out, but up to you — the dish is more punchy than truly spicy, but cayenne gets exponentially hotter pretty quick so if whoever’s eating it is not spice-confident, add with caution.

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music lately:

Out Here On My Own by Irene Cara, another shining star extinguished by this cruel year. I can’t begin to describe what the film Fame means to me, nor shall I try, so instead let’s just celebrate her singular talent — that delicate yet raw, gorgeously emotive voice, that vivid, vulnerable screen presence — in this, one of the most beautiful and perfect ballads of all time. If you feel like wallowing then you might follow it up with I Sing The Body Electric, an unhinged and extraordinarily joyous song that never lets you guess its next move, and which is often unfairly left out of the rightful praise heaped upon this film’s soundtrack.

Dragnalus by Unwound, seems like only yesterday I was recommending my little brother music to blow his mind and now he recommends me music because I am old and set in my ways and only listen to the same seven tracks over and over. Fortunately, this is music recommendation catnip for me: it’s old enough to rent a car, it’s obscure enough that I missed it first time around, and it sounds like angry chickpea tin cans fighting in the bottom of a council skip.

Nobody by Keith Sweat feat. Athena Cage. Even when playing over the speakers of the Chemist Warehouse, with its fluorescent lighting and narrow aisles closing in on you, surely the least amenable and most incongruent environment to hear this song, still a seductive slow-dance air pervaded between those disorientingly jammed shelves.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Chocolate-Nut Fudge Candies

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You can usually pinpoint the exact moment that I become cognisant of Christmas approaching because I’ll suddenly post an utterly frivolous recipe whose existence clearly serves to augment my annual edible Christmas gift round-up. Case in frivolous point, these Chocolate-Nut Fudge Candies, which you’ll see added to this year’s imminent list in a couple of weeks. I mean, I’m also aware that the Fideles are Adeste-ing because I’ve started having those dreams where I wake up on Christmas Day and haven’t organised any presents and everyone is deeply disappointed in me. But only one of these internal alarm clocks results in chocolate, and even though I am still largely in Thesis Replicant Mode (a mode which, admittedly, feeds on itself more than my thesis probably requires at this point) I still heeded the call.

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If you need to cook something giddy and impetuous there are few safer bets than a second-hand mid-century book of recipes compiled from women across America titled America’s Favourite Recipes, subheading: Desserts, sub-subheading: including party beverages. I love to read this book when in need of comfort, and they weren’t lying about the party beverages, such as Cranberry Eggnog, a “mock Tom Collins” with two cups of milk in it, and a punch that includes, but is not restricted to, maraschino cherries, pineapple juice, and peppermint extract. These chocolate candies — and I use the American word here since it makes sense, provenancially — are adapted from a recipe in the book by Mrs O.S. Dews, who was, at the time of publishing in 1968, the president of the Officers’ Wives’ Club in Ogden, Utah. Should Mrs Dews still be kicking about, I graciously thank her.

Though there’s a bit of boiling sugar involved here this recipe is remarkably easy and very delicious — admittedly, not a super complex flavour profile, it instead evokes solidified chocolate icing, but this is hardly a bad thing. Also, despite having not a lick of dairy, the combination of toffee shocked into submission by a pile of chocolate really does end up tasting like fudge, with its wet-sand, tooth-exfoliating soft melting grittiness.

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The dusting of dehydrated plum powder, scattering on the white baking paper like pohutukawa needles (or, I suppose, a Fargo-esque spray of blood) on fallen snow, is, I assure you, truly for aesthetic purposes only. You could consider sprinkling over edible glitter to give it the old razzle dazzle, lean into immaturity with rainbow sprinkles, or assume a soberly logical stance and simply press extra cashews into the surface of the cooling chocolate candies. Either way, these are delicious post-dinner fortifiers or, logically, edible gifts, and just be glad my eyes weren’t caught by the peanut brittle recipe at the bottom of the same page of this book, which lists 16 inches (!!) of paraffin wax in the ingredients; but then it did win a prize at the Tulsa State Fair…

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Chocolate-Nut Fudge Candies

You need to pay a little bit of attention here but these aren’t too arduous and they make, needless to say, an excellent edible gift. With their simple chocolate flavour they’re very kid-friendly, but maybe keep them out of the way while you’re boiling the sugar. Recipe adapted from the Favourite Recipes of America: Desserts book.

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup (or light corn syrup for the Americans)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • salt, for scattering over
  • dehydrated plum powder, to serve (very optional)

1: Roughly chop the 200g dark chocolate and set aside. Just leave it on the chopping board, no need to decant it into a separate bowl. You might as well rip off a couple sheets of baking paper and lay them on baking trays for later, too.

2: Place the two cups of sugar, cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup golden syrup, 1/2 cup water and teaspoon of vinegar into a large heavy-based saucepan and cook over a low heat for about fifteen minutes, stirring constantly without letting it bubble up, until the sugar is entirely dissolved, or near enough. You’ll see it on the back of your spoon — it’ll look clear and shiny rather than gritty — and you should be able to feel it as you stir as well.

3: Once the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and let the sugar mixture boil, without stirring, for three minutes. The second three minutes are up, remove the pan from the heat, and once the bubbles have subsided, throw in the chopped chocolate and stir energetically.

4: Once the chocolate has entirely melted and incorporated and the mixture has thickened considerably, let it sit for ten minutes to cool a little. While this is happening, roughly chop the 1/2 cup of roasted salted cashews and boil the jug for the water. Stir the cashews into the saucepan along with the 1/4 cup boiling water — the chocolate mixture will go from quite dry and crumbly to shiny again — and drop tablespoons of the mixture onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Sprinkle over a little salt and, if you like, shake a little dehydrated plum powder (or any other red fruit, plum is just what I had in the cupboard) through a sieve over the chocolate candies.

Allow the candies to cool and firm up, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes around 30 – 35.

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music lately:

American Teen by Ethel Cain, a fitting song to go with this recipe. Whether its an indictment of my age or just the fact that I genuinely prefer very old music, I’ve hit a point where I struggle to care about or resonate with much of anything that hasn’t already existed for many years, but this song broke through my walls and defences. Possibly because it has a distinct 1994-ish energy, but probably because it’s wildly beautiful and exhilarating with the kind of lively guitar riffs that make you want to raise a can of Pepsi-cola up a flagpole and salute it.

The Nitty Gritty by Shirley Ellis, the way this song perambulates and syncopates is so immensely satisfying, as is Ellis’ gorgeous voice, though little is as satisfying as the ludicrously sincere dancing in the video with it, I highly recommend clicking through.

(Birds Fly) Whisper to a Scream by Icicle Works, just the song you want playing as you run through concrete back alleys in the rain wearing a scratchy wool jumper while charmingly and cinematically coming of age circa 1983. Those drums — those drums!!

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Roasted Zucchini with Spinach-Peanut Pesto

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I’m an all-or-nothing gal: if there are schemes and contrivances afoot in my life you’ll either never hear the end of it or you’ll be completely innocent of their existence. To that end, it occurs to me now that I’ve still not mentioned here that I’ve spent 2022 working full-time on my Master’s degree. (Before we get too excited that I’m embarking on a new era of financial stability and societal worth, it’s a degree in creative writing.) Having lost a lot of time to illness, and with my due date bearing down on me like an energetic mosquito, I’ve entered a kind of fugue state where I only exist within the fluorescent-lit walls of the library, consuming an unholy quantity of tamari almonds from the vending machine to keep my essential salts up as I toil and study and format and edit.

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And so a recipe like this Roasted Zucchini with Spinach-Peanut Pesto is just what I need for those brief inbetween times when I’m not at the library: dazzlingly, conspicuously green and vitamin-rich, a solid easy-to-make to aesthetic-pleasure ratio, compelling enough to wrench my somnolent face away from my laptop, and of course, delicious. I’m already a bigtime Bryant Terry fan (I’d hate to imagine life without his molasses loaf) and his book Vegetable Kingdom is more of the same excellence; including this recipe which I adapted just a little — he used collards in the pesto, I had a bag of spinach in the fridge so went with that instead. I imagine any robust green leaf could work, although I’m not sure if I’d place my trust in silverbeet unless it was blended with other greens.

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It really is simple: just chop and roast zucchini (or courgette, as they’re more commonly known in these parts outside of a game of Scattergories, but with apologies to the French, the Italian term sounds cooler), blend up some leaves and nuts, there’s your recipe, it just looks — I hope — more complicated when you pile it all into a serving dish. The zucchini turns buttery and tender in the oven; the pesto is — despite spinach not having a wildly discernible flavour profile — boisterously salty and tangy. According to Terry, the inclusion of peanuts is inspired by a dish from Chad; they have an earthy near-bitterness that works well with the slightly metallic edge of dark-green leaves; while also softening and adding richness and welcome crunch.

@hungryandfrozen

roasted zucchini with spinach-peanut pesto via Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom, recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #vegan #recipe #foodblog #nz

♬ AIRPORT – Minako Yoshida

If you’re not consuming this as a mere conduit for vitamins to your gasping brain cells, consider it a useful vegetable side dish that asks little of you — you can throw the zucchini in the oven while other things are cooking, and they taste just as good at room temperature as they do hot (and I can confirm that this tastes especially good next to Thai Yellow Curry Mac’n’Cheese); or serve it as part of a table groaning with small plates; I’d also be happy to eat it stirred through pasta (and I’d go for something short and curly or ridged) or ballasted by any of the other usual carbs. Either way: so delicious, so easy, so green.

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Roasted Zucchini with Spinach-Peanut Pesto

A charmingly — and deceptively — simple way to serve this vegetable, and a delightful way to eat your greens. This recipe is adapted slightly from Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom. He used collard leaves in the pesto and if you can get hold of them that’s obviously the best choice; otherwise kale, cavolo nero, or a mixture of these robust greens would be great.

  • 4 large zucchini (aka courgettes)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Spinach-Peanut Pesto

  • 2 cups spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • extra chopped roasted peanuts, to serve

1: Set your oven to 220C/450F. Cut your zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice into half moons about 1/2 an inch thick. Or chop them however you like! This is just what I did.

2: Toss the zucchini slices with the tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and freshly ground pepper on a roasting tray — the sort that comes as a pull-out shelf in your oven is ideal, depending on how clean it is — and arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes or until softened and browning around the edges — bearing in mind that the slices may look pale on top but will be browned underneath, so have your tongs at the ready to check.

3: While the zucchini is roasting, put all the pesto ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor and pulse to combine, then blend while pouring olive oil through the feed tube till it becomes a fantastically green puree. Now, if you only have a blender to hand as I did, stick to pulsing rather than full-on blending, otherwise you’ll lose all the texture, and start by adding half the olive oil with maybe a tablespoon of water to keep things moving, then add the rest of the olive oil and pulse again to combine. And finally, taste to see if it needs more salt, more sour, more texture, etc.

4: To serve, dollop spoonfuls of the pesto onto a wide, shallow bowl, pile the roasted zucchini on top and sprinkle over a handful of extra chopped roasted peanuts. Put any remaining pesto in a small bowl with a spoon for people to help themselves, or just tip it on top of the zucchini.

Serves 4 as a side, or with other sides added to it.

Notes:
I bought two of those little bags of chopped roasted peanuts that you can find in the baking aisle for this recipe — it’s not as elegant as roasting whole peanuts and chopping them yourself but they are always cheap and it cuts out an extra step for you.

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music lately:

Glass by Yukihiro Takahashi, from his 1981 album Neuromantic, something in that raindrops-on-concrete opening really dances inside my brain and I love its slow-moving yet persistent urgency.

Plainsong, by The Cure, if anything can make you feel alive after doing a thirteen-hour stint in the library it’s the celestial starburst opening to this song.

Soliloquy by Joshua Henry from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In my correct opinion, it’s time for baritones to shine again and Joshua Henry shines in this song; if you don’t care enough to watch the whole thing then at least do yourself a favour and skip to the last minute, it’s spectacular.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Pistachio Toffee Cookies

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Since losing half of October to Covid I have struggled to get a grip on time, space, concepts, activities, et cetera, it’s like I’m trying to run underwater, (or, honestly, given my running abilities, trying to run on land) or get to the airport on time in a dream, everything feels liminal and indistinct. And it’s nearly November! And, let’s face it, pre-Covid I was not exactly a paragon of organization and grip-getting. However, these cookies appeared to me in a piercing moment of lucidity and the rush of coming up with a recipe again reminded me that just because my brain is still a bit out of reach, it does want to come back to me.

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The cookies themselves are delicious enough, but when you add the bumpy, glassy toffee-coated pistachios like molten gold and emeralds poured over each cookie, it suddenly feels like an artisanal bakery has sprung up in your kitchen. I can’t even begin to impress upon you how excellent the texture is: crunchy, splintering toffee, firm and buttery pistachios, and dense cookie, all yielding to each other in every mouthful.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan pistachio toffee cookies • full recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com • #cookies #pistachio #toffee #foodblog #vegancookies

♬ Central Reservation (The Then Again Version) – Beth Orton

Pistachios aren’t cheap, I know, but I guess the upside of everything being stupidly expensive right now is that the price of pistachios isn’t so shocking, comparatively (and by “upside” I do not at all mean “I accept this current state of things”, to be clear), and this recipe makes a modest quantity go quite some distance. The cardamom and coffee flavours in the cookie dough below are subtle yet entirely essential, together they give a kind of mysterious, almost gingery flavour profile (and as I note in the recipe, if you don’t like cardamom you could use ginger instead) and lend a sophisticated note to balance all the rambunctious sweetness coating the cookies.

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And go big or go home, right? If anything, I’m touched that my brain thought I was capable of monitoring the caramelisation of sugar and then rapidly transferring spoonfuls of the aforementioned boiling sugar from a saucepan to a tray of cookies, and I, in turn, believe you can do it too. Yeah, it’s a bit of work, and mildly treacherous, but the result is undeniably charming.

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Pistachio Toffee Cookies

To make it easier you could just fold the chopped pistachios through the dough, but truly, it’s all about that crunch of pistachio-studded toffee giving way to spiced cookie below: worth the effort. Recipe by myself.

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil, or similar neutral oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (see notes)
  • 3 tablespoons oat milk, or similar

Toffee Topping:

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • a pinch of salt

1: Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a cookie sheet/tray with baking paper.

2: Stir together the 1/2 cup oil, the cup of brown sugar, and the two tablespoons of golden syrup. Add the remaining cookie dough ingredients (and I tend to sieve in the baking soda because I live in fear of lumps of soda in my baked goods) and stir together to form a stiff dough. Add an extra splash of milk if it’s too floury still, but this should be just enough liquid to make it all come together.

3: Roll heaped tablespoons of cookie dough into balls and place about 2 inches apart on the paper-lined tray. Bake for 13 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, carefully as they’ll be a little fragile while they’re still hot, and then repeat this step with any remaining dough.

4: Once all the cookies are cooling on the rack (and not a moment before), you can start on the toffee. First, briefly chop the pistachios, so that some are left whole and some are in pieces. Rest the rack of cookies back on top of the paper-lined tray — as per the picture above — so it can catch any toffee drips.

5: Slowly dissolve the 3/4 cup caster sugar and 3 tablespoons of water together in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved — and you can check by dipping your spoon into the syrup and seeing if there are visible gritty sugar crystals on it — turn up the heat and bring it to a boil. Let it bubble away without stirring at all, until it turns from clear, to light gold, to a deeper amber-honey colour. As soon as it hits that point, remove the pan from the heat and tip in the chopped pistachios. Don’t be tempted to move away from the stove at any point, as it can quickly go from underdone to burnt, and will carry on cooking even when the heat is turned off.

6: Using a dessert spoon, and working quickly but not frantically, spoon the toffeed pistachios over each cookie. Don’t worry too much about uniformity or whether each cookie has an equal number of nuts, the haphazard, dripping vibe is part of their charm. Once you’ve done this, sprinkle juuust a little salt over the cookies.

7: Let the toffee coating cool completely, then remove the cookies from the rack (happily eating any crunchy toffee-droplets that fell through the rack to the baking paper below) and store them in an airtight container.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have coffee liqueur or don’t wish to use it, dissolve 1 teaspoon of instant coffee in two tablespoons of water, and add a splash of vanilla extract.
  • Just in case it’s not clear, by “shelled pistachios” I mean pistachios with their shells removed. If you can only find pistachios with the shell still on you’ll probably need twice the amount to make up 1/2 a cup of shelled nuts.
  • If you hate cardamom or just can’t find it, replace it with the same quantity of ground ginger or cinnamon.
  • Though the saucepan of toffee might look scary to clean, just fill it with boiling water from the kettle and let it sit for a bit. Once it’s cooled down, cold running water should dissolve any remaining stubborn toffee.

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music lately:

I Never Know When by Elaine Stritch, from the 1958 Broadway musical Goldilocks. Not, as the name might suggest, a depiction of the fairy tale, but a musical comedy about the silent film era, also starring Don Ameche and Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch of the West. I tend to associate Stritch with more brassy, acerbic numbers rather than torchy, wistful songs like this, but even when wistful she radiates weary steeliness instead of mere sentimentality, and it’s really quite beautiful.

Dig It, by The Coup, while rewinding repeatedly to the “how now brown cow” verse because it’s so satisfying is probably not the listening experience the group intended, I can’t help it! It’s so satisfying! The rest of the song obviously rules, too.

Up on the Sun by Meat Puppets. We all have those songs, where you look them up on youtube and scroll through the sincere, superlative, breathless comments below, and instead of sneering you’re like “yeah, I would absolutely say that unprompted about this song to a stranger on the street”. Cannot overstate the effect that the long moan leading into the discordant and downbeat yet oddly uplifting chorus has on me.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Tomato, Bread, and Olive Hash

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Each bracketed stretch of 365 days is unusual and burdensome in their own uniquely spiced way, but 2022 really does have more infinitely nihilistic, all-bets-are-off flavour than most. What is it this time, you ask? Well, I finally got Covid, and for nine days was pinned to my bed with all the force of a brick hurled into a paddling pool. On the upside I retained my sense of smell and taste, on the downside — brain fog. I feel so stupid, and not in the usual administrative ways that I’m used to. Unfortunately I’ve tied my entire personality and sense of self and worth into various acts of writing and it’s no fun having that gigantic part of my life become an arduous struggle, and I apologise if this is evident in today’s blog post. On the whole I’m grateful I got Covid when I did (post-vaccinations), am very grateful that I was taken care of, and I know my experience is comparatively tame, but still: 0/5 stars, would not recommend.

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So it’ll be no surprise that I’m coming back with a purposefully simple recipe, this Tomato, Bread, and Olive Hash — I mean, just the word hash lets you know that there’s little visual or structural expectations at play here — three main ingredients, a little frying, that’s all there is to it. This recipe is more or less the same as Nigella Lawson’s in her book At My Table, but I’ve added olives coated in flour for a little extra encrispening (although you could skip this step if you’re impatient) and while I wouldn’t expect to pay forty dollars for a plate of this at a restaurant, its pastoral unfiddliness is reassuring, and a comfort both to regard and to eat.

Simple it may be, but not bland: the tomatoes, just bursting and collapsing in the heat, soak into the oil-crisped cubes of bread, the almost meaty (almost, let’s not get carried away here) olives unite the tomatoes and bread with their briny salinity. I left out Nigella’s specified shallot and let the chives do the talking, allium-wise, and added the rosemary simply because I had some from Mum’s garden, but its earthy richness is always welcome. Something in the textural state of flux makes every mouthful of hash a thrill (specifically, will this piece of bread be crunchy or soggy?) and making, eating, and now writing about it makes me feel closer to being myself again.

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In happier news, hungryandfrozen.com is fifteen years old today! Having squandered all my brainpower on the preceding paragraphs I’ve got nothing clever to say about this momentous occasion, and wish I had the energy or resources to do something celebratory, but when it comes down to it I’m glad I started my blog and I’m glad it’s still here and to everyone who has ever taken time out of their day to read it: thank you.

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Tomato, Bread, and Olive Hash

Simple, comforting, easy, beautiful. Feel free to glance at the quantities specified and then just use as much of any ingredient as you want; if you add more tomatoes it will be more tomato-y, and so on: you really can’t go wrong. Adapted from a recipe in At My Table by Nigella Lawson.

  • 1/3 a crusty baguette, or one to two good-sized ciabatta or sourdough buns, depending on appetite
  • 70g pitted green olives
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chives, snipped
  • the leaves from one stem of rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1: Slice the bread into rough cubes and chunks (about an inch an a half in length, but it doesn’t matter) and set aside. Briefly chop the olives so that some are left whole and others are in bits, and toss with the two tablespoons of flour in a small bowl. Finally, dice your tomato into pieces about the same size as the bread cubes.

2: Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan and once it’s good and warm, tip in the bread cubes and let them sizzle away until golden and crisp and crouton-y. This requires patience but vigilance, as the cubes will first appear to be doing nothing and then they’ll rapidly toast up all at once, so be ready with the tongs to remove them to a bowl (or to your eventual serving plate, if you want to save on dishes). There should be a little oil left in the pan, but if not, pour in another tablespoon or so and fry the olives until all dusty traces of flour on their surface has cooked and they’re a little browned and crisped in places. Leaving the olives in the pan, tip in your chopped tomatoes, and stir for another minute or two, until the pieces of tomato start to collapse.

3: Return the toasted bread cubes to the pan, give it a stir just to amalgamate and to allow the bread to start absorbing the tomatoes, and then remove from the heat.

4: Pile everything onto a serving plate, and scatter over your chives (you can finely chop them on a board but I prefer to hold a handful over the plate and snip them with scissors) and the rosemary leaves. See if it wants any seasoning — probably more likely pepper than salt, since the olives are already salty — and eat.

Serves 1.

Notes:

  • I got some green olives that had been marinated in garlic which, as you can imagine, was a fine addition to the dish. If you can only get olives with the stone in them, remember that they’ll add extra weight, so you might want to use 90g instead of 70g (but also, those quantities are really just a guideline, add as many olives as you want.)
  • I know you’re not supposed to fry with extra virgin olive oil but everything is so expensive these days and it’s easier just to have one kind of olive oil on the go. If you have regular olive oil then use that for sure, but the olive flavour is important, so I wouldn’t recommend replacing it here with any other kind of oil like sunflower or rice bran.
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music lately:

Beautiful Briny Sea by Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. And we’re back to bad news: After Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury’s was the inevitable death I’ve most been dreading. She was a continual and immensely comforting presence in my life and someone with even a quarter of her astonishingly diverse career could consider themselves a high achiever. Any number of her songs matter to me but I was raised on Bedknobs and Broomsticks, taped off the TV onto a VHS and watched and rewound till I could practically act it out for you off-book. I’m still not sure if there’s a higher form of wit than cartoon and live action characters interacting, and I love that Lansbury was allowed to become a major musical star with such an off-kilter voice. I’m sorry she’s gone — I’m glad our lifetimes overlapped for a while.

Out on the Floor, by Dobie Gray. This song radiates happiness, no, elation, and with every “hey-hey-hey” it feels like sunbeams are shooting out of your outstretched palms.

Hail Holy Queen from Sister Act; while in bed with Covid I wasn’t up to watching anything challenging but even so I’d forgotten what a balm this film is, with every minute of its runtime swaddling you, telling you it’s all going to be okay. Whoopi Goldberg is so charismatic yet grounded, and Dame Maggie Smith could do generic disapproval in her sleep but you truly feel the searing rays of her vexation, and this song — with its fake out initial verse leading up to the beat drop, Sister Mary Roberts’ riffing, and the punchy Latin bridge, makes me wildly emotional. I sang this once with my primary school choir, and it’s every bit as exhilarating to perform as it is to watch, let me tell you.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Cardamom Thyme Chocolate Puddings

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Every time I think I’ve Done Something by adding a pinch of cardamom to a recipe I hear Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly saying “florals, for spring? Groundbreaking”, but as I favour known deliciousness over needless striving for innovation (or worse: striving for virality) I can calmly tell this fictional character onto whom I’m projecting that yes, cardamom is wonderful, and here’s more of it. Obviously people have been using cardamom for centuries — it’s referred to in ancient Sanskrit texts, was beloved of Hippocrates, part of the Song Dynasty economy — and it’s pleasing to know, as I tuck into this chocolate pudding from the comfort of my bed, that I’m participating in the noble continuation of a grand culinary tradition.

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Sometimes the right answer isn’t where you’re looking for it. This recipe started off as an ice cream, and very fine it was, but the wistfully cardamom-tinted richness of the unfrozen mixture stuck with me more, so I made it again and dialled it back a few steps. Both cardamom and thyme have a kind of resiny, oily fragrance that’s wobbling just on the precipice of lemon without actually being lemony; together they lift the chocolate’s heavy curtains while still emphasising its richness, adding an air of mystery without being intrusive. Now, the first time I made this I let the coconut cream sit with its bashed cardamom pods for six hours to infuse, the second time I was in more of a hurry and it only sat for half an hour; it was still good but the cardamom didn’t make itself so known. If you end up in this same position, put ground cardamom on your shopping list and add as much as you need to the chocolate mixture till the flavour pops.

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This recipe is, I grant you, kind of annoying: first I ask for cashew butter (what are we, squillionaires) and second it requires two separate saucepans, but at least you don’t have to use a blender? And after a certain point of streamlining and cutting corners we have to accept that cooking food does involve being in your kitchen. For your efforts and sink full of dishes, however, you get a chocolate pudding of astonishing lusciousness, so dense and dark that you half expect a curious hippo’s nostrils to emerge through its surface; wildly sophisticated thanks to the individual portions and fragrant cardamom (and my fairly low bar for what constitutes sophistication), and yet inner-childishly comforting with its yielding softness and vague evocation, as you drag your spoon through the chocolate, of being given a scraped-out bowl of cake batter to lick. (Also: no tiktok video this week, my phone has suddenly decided it has all the capacity and power of a 125mb thumb drive from 2006 and as such I was up till 3am last night trying to clear storage space so I could edit one single video of chocolate melting and was thwarted at every turn. I have about 1000 fewer photos on my phone but it’s still being all “no x” whenever I try to edit that one video. Can’t wait till I try this again next time!)

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Cardamom Thyme Chocolate Puddings

Velvet-rich chocolate kissed with cardamom and fresh thyme: it’s a little messy to make and requires some advance planning, but every spoonful is a reward. And if you don’t have time to let the coconut cream infuse, add 1/2 a teaspoon ground cardamom — or more to taste — as you’re mixing it into the chocolate. Recipe by myself.

  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut cream
  • 1 cup/250ml water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 3 heaped tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Extra thyme leaves, for serving

1: Split the cardamom pods with a knife to release the black seeds within, and place the seeds and pods along with the two sprigs of thyme and the tin of coconut cream in a small saucepan and gently heat it, stirring, till the coconut cream is just too hot to touch, with a couple small bubbles escaping to the surface, but nowhere near boiling. Remove it from the heat — if you have the time, let it sit for about six hours in the fridge to soak up all the cardamom and thyme flavour, if not, just set it aside while you get on with the rest of the recipe, and add some ground cardamom to taste when you mix it into the chocolate later.

2: Roughly chop the 200g dark chocolate and set aside. In another saucepan, stir together the cup of water, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, two tablespoons golden syrup and three heaped tablespoons smooth cashew butter. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly with a whisk — it’ll look very unlikely at this stage but with a little heat (and a lot of chocolate later) it will all come together. Once it’s reached the boil, by which point it should resemble caramel sauce, let it bubble away for two minutes, stirring constantly, and then remove from the heat.

3: Let the cashew syrup sit for a minute till it stops bubbling, then tip in the chopped dark chocolate and briskly stir till the chocolate has melted. Now, take your initial pan of coconut cream, and strain it into the chocolate mixture through a sieve, so it catches the leaves and bits of cardamom. Whisk the two mixtures together, adding ground cardamom at this point if you feel like it needs a boost, and divide this mixture between your chosen serving bowls. Refrigerate the puddings for about two hours (though they can happily sit in the fridge overnight if need be) and serve scattered with extra thyme leaves.

The number of servings depends on the size of your ramekins/bowls etc, but this makes roughly 700ml of pudding mixture, and I divided it between six different receptacles, which made for a comfortable serving of pudding: enough to feel like you’ve really eaten something, but not enough that you feel like you’ve overcommitted. It would look lovely in martini or other cocktail glasses, I also liked how they looked in the base of the capacious stemless wine glasses that you can see in some of the photos here. And you could always test how it will look by filling your glasses with the same amount of water first, eg if you have seven glasses then pour in 100ml water.

Notes:

  • I haven’t tested it either way so I couldn’t say for sure but if you can’t get cashew butter, I imagine you could replace it with smooth almond butter; you could possibly leave it out altogether, bearing in mind the effect this will have on the finished texture and richness. I periodically order cashew butter from Revive, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted, it keeps for ages, and they regularly put it on special.
  • If your cashew butter is unsalted, add a pinch of salt when you’re whisking the chocolate and coconut cream together; you could also sprinkle over some sea salt flakes to serve.
  • If you’re serving this to fusspots who don’t like cardamom and thyme, subtle though they are here, leave them out and add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract when whisking everything together at the end.

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music lately:

Kid by Steve Lawrence (aka Mr Eydie Gormé) from the 1968 musical Golden Rainbow. Apropos of nothing I’ve decided to work my way through every Broadway flop mentioned in the song Monkeys and Playbills from [title of show]; Golden Rainbow is second on the list and there’s something charming about this song, about that cavernous late-60s sound, and about Lawrence’s throaty, Scott Walker-esque voice.

It’s Like That, by Run-DMC and Jason Nevins. Simply cannot overstate the effect that this music video had on me in 1997! I require an oral history of it right now!

Seagull by Ride, the sort of song that makes you feel like you could run vertically up a gust of wind onto the roof of a tall building, perhaps following it up by leaping from rooftop to rooftop as you run from one end of the city to the other without any danger of falling.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Clove-fried Onion and Marinated Mushroom Sandwich

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In this era of Covid and cancelled plans a little absence is hardly a surprise but nonetheless I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted! I have spent most of September knocked on my ear with a bad cold — not Covid, at least according to the four rat tests I did — but not at all pleasant. Aside from sneezing with metronome regularity, the most noticeable feature of this cold was that it rendered me both ravenously hungry and completely stupid. A unique and infuriating challenge: desperate for lavish meals, a backlog of writing work calling me, and barely able to concentrate on even the most lowest-common-denominator television. Somewhere around day nine, after a brief and congested visit home to see my parents (and to deplete their resources of tissue and eucalyptus oil); I made this sandwich. It pleased me greatly, I thought it was delicious, but I was still insensible with cold; fortunately for you it draws inspiration from two separate reputable sources so the odds are in your favour that it actually is quite good.

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It’s not very attractive, let’s get that out of the way first: pale bread, pale creamy onions, pale mushrooms, and of course I forgot to buy parsley for garnish, though I’m not sure just how much pale expanse it could’ve masked, all things considered. And yes, we eat with our eyes first, but we also literally eat with our mouths, so that’s the sector we should be most concerned with appeasing. I read about a sandwich filled with clove-scented fried onions in Niki Segnit’s rollickingly entertaining book The Flavour Thesaurus, and its simplicity and warmth appealed; to further bulk out the sandwich I remembered the marinated mushrooms from Nigella’s pasta recipe that I blogged about a few weeks back — yes, this is outfit repeating, but the cold really did make me dopey as hell and this was all I could think of. (To be clear, repeating recipes is obviously fantastic in real life, just not so practical in a food blogging content way.) The sensation of soft onions fresh from the pan against the cool, vinegar-tanged mushrooms is a contrast sensation that jolts you back to life in the same way that ejecting and blowing on a piece of uncooperative technology sometimes does the trick.

@hungryandfrozen

clove-fried onion and marinated mushroom sandwich, recipe on my blog at the link above 🥖 #vegan #sandwich #mushrooms #recipe #foodblogger #fyp

♬ Goodbye Horses – Q Lazzarus

The cloves offer comforting yet bracingly strident warmth and sophistication — I could only find whole cloves, which made for a more subtle flavour profile, next time I absolutely want the unequivocal hit of ground. Their presence contributed to the name of this recipe (you’re telling me a clove fried this onion? et cetera) but there’s plenty else going on: punchy, autumnal rosemary, the meekly savoury onions, the sophisticated rasp of red wine vinegar. There’s nothing stopping you adding more elements to this sandwich; fewer would be fine too — I’d happily eat a bun filled to dripping with the onions alone. And who knows, the cloves, looking like tiny rusty nails dropped into the frying pan, may have helped hasten the cold’s departure with all their purported antioxidants and other vague health-giving properties.

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Clove-fried Onion and Marinated Mushroom Sandwich

Ugly but delicious, and surprisingly luxurious for its humble ingredients. Recipe inspired by an entry in The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons extra for frying
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 whole cloves, or a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons dairy-free cream of your choice (optional)
  • 1 fresh baguette

1: First get the mushrooms soaking up their marinade. Slice the button mushrooms (not too thinly, but not too thick either) and toss in a bowl with two tablespoons of the olive oil, the tablespoon of red wine vinegar, the teaspoon of maple syrup, the leaves from the sprig of rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you get on with the onion.

2: Finely slice the onion and gently fry in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and the cloves. If you’re using ground cloves just stir them in, and if you’ve got whole ones, squash them a bit under a wooden spoon or bash them with a heavy knife to help release more of their fragrance, and make sure to push down on them as you stir the onions. Now, it’s up to you whether you want these onions brown and crisp or soft and caramelised, the only difference is heat and time. I wanted them tender and golden, so I kept the heat low and stirred them for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once you’ve got them where you want them, stir in the cream (if using) and remove from the heat.

3: Split your baguette in half, and spread a thick layer of the creamy fried onions over one side. Top with a layer of marinated mushrooms, clamp on the other half of the baguette, and eat, messily.

Makes one substantial sandwich.

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music lately:

Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus. Toasty, hypnotic, otherworldly, makes me feel like I’m floating away but also like I’m extremely in the present moment.

This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter and Dinah Washington. These two songs are exquisite on their own, but mashed together? I honestly had a little Stendhal Syndrome moment when I first heard it as a bonus track on Richter’s gorgeous album The Blue Notebooks; it was recommended to me and now I’m recommending it to you.

The Whole World by OutKast ft Killer Mike, an unbelievably satisfying track, from Andre 3000’s Cole Porter-esque prelude to Killer Mike’s whip-snappishly dynamic verse and Big Boi’s words skittering around the beat like marbles in a Tupperware container.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time tha