i got my eggs i got my pancakes too, i got my maple syrup, everything but you

It’s been one heck of a time lately: there was a fire at the Burger King under my bar at 1am on a Friday night and we had to evacuate, the next day the bartender whom I saw more than anyone else in my life had their last shift at work, then I went up to Auckland to support them in a cocktail competition they were a finalist in before saying farewell for real when they moved to Melbourne, I then went home-home for the first time in forever, saw my parents, my nanna, my parents’ chickens and the less-disdainful of the two cats; flew home to Wellington in the middle of a cyclone on a flight so bumpy that they couldn’t serve us drinks; contracted a horrible cough, saw my brother who was down in Wellington from Auckland, fell down two flights of stairs on two separate days and made these halloumi pancakes. On top of that I’ve officially entered Existential Angst and Self-Evaluation mode as my birthday rapidly approaches. 

But back to these pancakes. A friend crashed at mine on Wednesday and when we woke up I was like, are you hungry? And they were like, nah. And I was like, me neither. But too bad, because I’ve had this really good idea and I’m going to make it for us. 

 eggs milk and flour, pancake power

eggs milk and flour, pancake power

My idea went thusly: thick slices of golden fried halloumi, encased in pancakes as pillowy as the pillows you wrenched your head from to cook yourself breakfast. Fluffy, soft pancakes giving way to chewy, buttery cheese. Fried sage and walnuts on top, for contrasty crunch and because fried sage is just really, really good. 

My idea worked perfectly.  We were also, coincidentally, suddenly really hungry. 

I went for an American-style pancake, the sort that’s squat and thick rather than delicate and crepe-like, and adapted a fairly standard Nigella recipe for the batter. It’s honestly really easy, for all that X stuffed with Y implies massive fiddly-ness. My only advice is don’t be lazy and try to put four pancakes into the pan at once because they’ll all squish together and look horrible (in the spirit of egalitarianism, my friend and I got one decent pancake and one extremely ugly pancake each) but once you’ve scattered them with crumbling fried sage leaves and crunchy walnuts and the leftover browned butter it really won’t matter how it looks. 

halloumi pancakes with fried sage, butter, and walnuts

a recipe by myself

  • four thick slices of good halloumi
  • one and a half cups flour
  • two teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • two eggs
  • one cup buttermilk
  • 60g butter
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • a handful of walnuts

Briskly mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, and buttermilk together in a mixing bowl (a fork will do for this.) In a large nonstick pan, melt half the butter, tip it into the pancake batter, and stir it in. Set the batter aside. Place two of the slices of halloumi into the pan over a high heat, and fry for about ten seconds before scooping a half-cupful of batter over each slice so they are snugly covered. Continue to fry till bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then carefully flip them over and fry on the other side until you’re confident that they’re cooked through. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the remaining halloumi. 

Melt the remaining butter till browned and sizzling – the pan will be pretty hot by this point so it won’t take long – and drop the sage leaves in. Quickly remove them once they’re crisped and curled up at the edges, and scatter them over the pancakes. Tip the walnuts into the pan and give a quick stir to toast them briefly before removing the pan from the heat and scattering the walnuts (along with any remaining browned butter) over the pancakes. 

Halloumi on its own is obviously an unimpeachably perfect foodstuff, melting and yet solid, bulgingly salty and buttery, and needs little adulteration. But! If you happen to be feeling adulteratey, and indeed, have someone to impress (simply wanting to impress yourself is an extremely valid option here by the way) then these pancakes are both easy yet spectacular, which is one of my favourite combinations in a recipe. Another case of Well Done, Brain! on presenting me with an idea that actually works.

Speaking of me, as I said it’s my birthday coming up and I am like, flustered to say the least. Every year I get all like, what am I doing? What twenty things have I achieved since lunch? Who am I? Where do you come from, where do you go? Where do you come from, dated pop culture reference? Both my best friends are extremely out of town on the day and a google search for “what to do on your birthday alone” is all like, “take a trip! discover a museum!” which is like, all well and good if you don’t live in a tiny city and have 40 cents in your savings account. I am, however, working on some kind of scheme to make the day amazing and am also trying to be nice to myself about all the existentialism stuff, I mean: the world is awful, American politicians are out of control, the bees are dying, so just existing day to day is an excellent achievement. And if that sounded convincing, maybe I can believe it too. (On the other hand: oh god my birthday is coming and I’m the only person who ever had a birthday ever.) 

Anyway! If delicious pancakes are very your thing, you may also want to consider my blog post about Nigella’s American Breakfast Pancakes, or Johnnycakes (like cornbread in pancake form), or my recipe for Lemonade Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

title from: tearjerker-era Jewel, You Were Meant For Me.

music lately: 

Rina Sawayama, Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. I got introduced to this song by the reliably reliable Martyn Pepperell and guys it’s amazing, like, euphoric. 

Jan Hellriegel, Pure Pleasure. This song still BANGS twenty-ish years later. 

next time: I plan on having a more mellow time of it. Also the weather is starting to get absolutely freezing so maybe something like…..broth-y? Slow-cooked? Vaguely warmed through?

you’ve got eggs in the same basket, writing the check

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a week and a half now and every time I’ve laid my fingertips on the keyboard I’ve almost immediately fallen asleep. Including one point on Wednesday where I determinedly took my laptop to a cafe to write, and suddenly felt almost ill with tiredness and had to go home to body slam my bed for some aggressive napping. This afternoon, finally with some time to myself, I went to write in an “I’m tying this laptop to my head until I’ve finished a blog post” kind of way and then my laptop died and refused to charge for forty minutes. 

If it wasn’t for the fact that this sundried tomato scramble is so delicious, I’d be thoroughly tempted to throw both my laptop and myself into a bin, as it seems to be the most productive course of action right now. The issue is not that I’m working even later nights than I used to as a bartender, the issue is that my idiot body insists on waking up at 7.30am every day, even if I didn’t get home till 5.00am. 

 a candid photo of me blogging today

a candid photo of me blogging today

All of this has been just creating layers and layers of frustration, a lasagne, if you will, of inactivity: I have this weird guilt about sleeping in because I feel like I should be working during that time, but because I’m so underslept the hours pass this zombie by; and the more I don’t get this blog done the more irritated I am with myself but also the harder it is to make any progress because I’m just looking at the same thing over and over. 

But here we are finally! I’ve acquired some Valley of the Dolls brand sleeping pills, the kind I used to rely on during periods of intense insomnia, and I’ve also got, for the first time in forever, after two years sleeping on a couple of mattresses stacked on top of each other on the floor: a real, grown up, incredibly comfortable and supportive bed. Did you know that having a nice bed is nice? I’m as astounded as you are! My butt feels so calm just sitting on it, when I lie down it’s like being held aloft by a friendly cloud. So this is definitely something I’m working on. 

Back to this scramble though: it was in the middle of an up-ludicrously-early fugue state that I invented it, the recipe somehow building up before me as I went along, like the landscape in an old school racing computer game. It’s so simple that it can’t help but work though – roughly chopped sundried tomatoes become soft and fattened in a pan of butter and olive oil, before turning almost jammy with the addition of a little tomato paste and water. You then stir through eggs which become gently, softly scrambled. Put some feta and thyme on top mostly to make it look less unsightly, add some buttered bread and you have yourself a perfect little meal, be you hungover, in rudely good health, or 92% asleep. 

The sundried tomatoes have such intensity of flavour – almost bacon-like with their salty-sweet-savoury vibes – that the eggs provide the ideal backdrop, all creamy and mild in comparison. The sundried tomatoes I had were a particularly sandblastingly salty kind, so if you suspect yours are similar maybe reduce the quantity somewhat, the ones from the supermarket deli or sold in jars are generally a bit more mellow though. 

As I said, the feta and herbs and capers are mostly aesthetic, and I had a small handful of each in the fridge waiting patiently to be asked to dance so I figured I might as well use them up – you certainly don’t have to though. You could add parmesan, or toasted pine nuts or walnuts, or parsley, or oregano, whatever! Thyme is one of my favourites though and I will put it on top of anything (like, I would make a crown out of it for my own head if I could get it to hold its shape) and feta can do no wrong. At the other end of the scale, leave the cheese off and use olive oil only and this is easily dairy free. As per usual with my recipes, a sentiment of “whatever works” prevails. 

sundried tomato scramble

a recipe by myself

  • half a cup of sundried tomatoes, roughly diced
  • about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter
  • one tablespoon tomato paste, or puree/pasta sauce if it’s all you’ve got
  • half a cup of water
  • two eggs
  • thyme and feta or similar and some capers to serve

Heat the olive oil and butter in a good sized frying pan. Add the sundried tomatoes and stir them till they’re softened and warmed through. Add the tomato paste and water, and more butter or olive oil if you like, and stir over a high heat till it has formed a thick sauce. Lower the heat significantly and add the two eggs, stirring slowly to incorporate them into the tomato sauce till they thicken and gently scramble. Gentle is the key word here – you don’t want to overheat or overmix this stuff, or the eggs will be all tough instead of creamy and soft. Remove from the heat altogether, scatter with feta, herbs and capers and serve with toast or fresh bread if ya like. 

The fact that we’ve suddenly catapulted into September has not exactly aided with my chillness; but I’m doing my best to be all like, mindful and peaceful and accepting that I need sleep sometimes and that sleeping is not a morally wrong activity to partake in now and then. Plus: exciting new bed. Plus, my horoscope this month was all “maybe kinda look after yourself and try to get into a good routine or something you dingus” so you know it’s meant to be. 

Oh, and if eggs are your thing, kindly also consider my recipes for miso scrambled eggs and Spanish potato omelette.  

title from: brat-pop artist Uffie and her really, really good 2010 song Difficult

music lately: 

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, Side to Side. It’s a great track and visually it’s like, everything, but as per Nicki completely makes it. 

The Internet, Girl. God this song is so dreamy and I shall never be sick of it. 

Alien Ant Farm, MoviesThere’s something so heartfelt about this song that makes me love it a billion years on.

next time: good grief, I’m going to try to not lose so much sleep over it but also sleep so much on it simultaneously, also I found this recipe for homemade matcha spaghetti which sounds amazing.  

philosophy is the talk on a cereal box

In testament either to how good this granola is, or to what a monumental grub I am – why not both? – the last time I ate this granola was yesterday, in a charming tableau: I was on my bed, face smeared with organic coconut oil (it felt like a vaguely beneficial thing to do) and about to take a nap. I was, however, ravenously hungry. The jar of granola was the only thing I had to eat and it also happened to be on the floor by the bed. I sighed – so dustily unsatisfying, why couldn’t I have a jar of cheeseburgers by my bed instead – and listlessly opened the jar to paw myself out a handful.

One chewy, buckwheat-rich mouthful in and I was all, oh that’s right, I make amazing granola like it’s no big deal. Verily, I began chugging it straight from the jar, which obviously-in-hindsight ended up with granola dust tipping out heavily onto my face and sticking to the coconut oil that I was thickly daubed in. This…this did not stop me. I kept eating it, while it was also stuck to my face, and like, I did shower, but it was quite some time later. If this visual doesn’t impel you to make and eat this granola then frankly I understand completely.

This first time I ate it, I was catsitting for a good friend, on their wooden floor in a sunbeam like I myself were also a cat, eating it with almond milk and coconut butter, and reverently watching Beyonce’s new visual album and masterpiece, Lemonade.

My takes on Lemonade are absolutely not required, but I will just say that it’s one of the more exciting and beautiful and heartstoppingly good things I have ever witnessed, and whatever your thoughts hitherto on Beyonce and whether the music she makes is your kind of thing, you should 100% watch this. (Seriously: if you can sit through The Wall, you can easily make some time for this.) I was utterly transfixed.

This granola is largely comprised of buckwheat, which is super good for you and majorly gluten-free, despite the use of wheat in its name. I find this hilariously cavalier. Like what if a dog was all “I’m a horse. I’m not actually a horse, it’s just the name of my species. Call me a horse!” That was an appallingly ineffectual analogy but I’m very tired so that allows me to get away with such things.)

But anyway – buckwheat has a pleasing crunch to it and that same kind of non-committal I-am-your-breakfast flavour that oats have, making it an ideal background to whichever direction you’d like to take your granola in. I decided to have coconut be a major player, as if it were as important as the buckwheat itself rather than just a mixed-in secondary thing, if that makes sense. I’d been given some dried cranberries and so it seemed a reasonable idea to add them to it, and they work beautifully – little bursts of sour-sweet liveliness amongst all the mellow coconut. This is very, very easy to make and gives you a great big jarful. To make the coconut butter that I had sprinkled on top of it, just place two cups of toasted coconut chips in the food processor and blitz them for ages and ages until you’re scared that your processor will blow up, at which point let it cool down, and continue on until you’ve got what looks like peanut butter, but tastes like white chocolate. I let it firm up and harden, which made it even more like chocolate. It was a very good time.

buckwheat, cranberry and cinnamon granola

a recipe by myself

two cups hulled buckwheat
half a cup LSA mix (or other similar ground up thing, like plain ground almonds) 
one cup coconut chips/shredded coconut
one cup dried cranberries
two teaspoons of cinnamon but feel free to add more 
one cup mixed nuts and seeds, eg walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc, all roughly chopped
two tablespoons chia seeds (optional

Put the buckwheat in a large bowl or measuring jug and cover with water. Leave to sit for about an hour, by which point the grains should have swollen up and absorbed a lot of the water (and feel free to top it up if need be.)

Set your oven to 130 C. Drain and rinse the buckwheat in a sieve, then spread fairly evenly in a thin layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pop the tray in the oven and leave it for about half an hour. Put everything else except the cranberries and chia seeds onto the tray, turn the oven off and let it toast slightly in the remaining heat of the oven (or you can just leave it there cooking for another 20 mins, this is just my small attempt at being conscious of power usage and stuff.)

Stir in the cranberries and chia seeds if using, add more of anything that you feel like it needs more of, and then tip into a large jar. 

This is the cat I got to hang out with. He’s the same one I was looking after over Christmas and he is a character. I was incredibly grateful however that this time he did not bring me any offerings of rat.

look at this snug little piglet
Oh yeah, and I bleached my hair the other day and instead of becoming some kind of platinum goddess it turned peach, for the sake of my poor hair I’ve decided to roll with it for a while though. No less than three separate people have been all “Debbie Harry!” at me though so I am now delighted with it.
title from: What I Am, by Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice. It’s soooo nineeetieeeeees and so great. 
music lately
 
Cream, Prince. Like many, I was massively saddened by his recent death. This song hasn’t got any particular significance (I do remember dancing to it in a club in Greece one time I guess) but ugh it’s brilliant. So brilliant.
 
LEMONADE. Find it. 
next time: I made amazing fudge. AMAZING. You can make it too. 

i’m free but i’m focused, i’m green but i’m wise

Ever since I was able to form cognitive thoughts I’ve been seriously into horoscopes and similar things. I can’t decide whether to joke that this means I’ve been into them since last week or, to paraphrase the T-Rex song over the opening credits of Billy Elliot, to imply that I was analysing my star sign in the womb, but either way, yeah. It’s a thing. It’s my birthday on Sunday which means that my usual self-absorption and introspection is now off the scale. I can’t stop thinking about myself! With all this in mind, my tarot card for this month was all, “don’t focus on what you don’t have and don’t push people away if you’re feeling down and don’t be stupid you stupid idiot” and my horoscopes are all telling me about how Mars is going into retrograde on my birthday, which like, why doesn’t the shunned fairy aunt in Sleeping Beauty just turn up and predict that I’m going to prick my finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a coma or something, and all in all I’m finding it a bit hard to just relax and be myself at the moment. It’s not because of what the tarot card and horoscopes said, but it’s more like I’m hyper aware of trying to not do stuff wrong because of their advice and I end up like a small bird flying into windows as a result. Classic Aries? Classic me, really.

(Seriously though, if you ever read descriptions of the various star signs it’ll be all, “Virgo – steadfast and thoughtful” and “Sagittarius people are ever so open-minded and motivated” and “Cancers are loyal and intensely nurturing” and then “Aries are big idiot babies who hit their head a lot and will not stop shouting to get your attention.” I mean, I don’t deny it…)

I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah

However! I’m not all uselessness. A particular horoscope that I joyfully subscribe to is the wonderful Meredith Graves’ Stargrazing column for Lucky Peach magazine. It’s food-related horoscopes and they’re very fun and interesting to read (truly – check yours out) and this month I was advised to get into soup, basically because I needed to be really kind and gentle to myself – funny that – and since I wasn’t in the mood for actual soup I decided instead to go find the most aggressively, ludicrously healthy ingredients I could lay my hands up on and make a thing out of that in the name of self-care. Those ingredients were matcha powder and chia seeds.

And that’s how I ended up with this matcha coconut raspberry chia pudding. Matcha powder is ground up green tea leaves and apparently one teaspoon of it has the power of 20 glasses of green tea, although it all depends on which Pinterest pin you’re reading. I nevertheless feel very calm and trusting of it. Chia seeds are little microbeads of intense goodness, with a billion omega’s and proteins and vitamins and antioxidants. Put them together and nothing will ever go wrong in your life, ever.

I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby

Chia pudding is essentially a delivery mechanism for chia seeds to get into your stomach, but it is delicious. And easy. The seeds absorb liquid with the-thirst-is-real enthusiasm and end up like a cross between jelly and sago (which might sound horrifying, but go with it, please.) Pink and green are a rather ultimate colour combination in my opinion so scattering freeze-dried raspberries across the top helped both visually and flavour-wise, but honestly use whatever fruit you like – passionfruit would be cool here, as would defrosted frozen berries, canned pears, or juicy slices of ripe mango. Whatever fruit you put up on there will complement the delicate green flavour of the matcha-tinged coconut and look lovely.

And yeah, the flavour is what I would describe as very green. It’s green tea! What did you expect? There’s nothing wrong with this, but I add a little honey to gently sweeten it and mellow out any intense fresh-cut grass vibes. My tastebuds appreciated this – yours might too.

Wait, one more thing – okay so matcha powder and chia seeds are both expensive ingredients, but once you’ve got them you only need to use a teaspoon or two at a time and thus they last near-on forever. This is me here, I wouldn’t just casually tell you to buy something pricey! (Without getting defensive about it first.)

matcha, coconut and raspberry chia pudding

a recipe by myself although let us be real, I am 100% not the the inventor of this or anything. This is just what I made for myself.

one teaspoon matcha powder
around 125ml/half a cup of coconut milk or your choice of milkstuff
one teaspoon of honey or similar – I feel like agave syrup would be perfect here
one tablespoon of chia seeds
a handful of shaved coconut or coconut threads
a couple of tablespoons of freeze-dried raspberries

Using the teaspoon you measured them with, mix the matcha powder, coconut milk and honey together in a glass or whatever receptacle you’re making this in – I recommend a glass because that way you can see the pretty layers of colour, but that’s just me. Also when I say teaspoon and tablespoon I don’t, for once, mean the kind that you measure baking ingredients with. This stuff isn’t an exact science, so just use the kind of spoon you find in the cutlery draw and don’t worry about whether they’re heaped spoonfuls or whatever. Likewise just add more coconut milk if your glass doesn’t look full enough.

Stir in the chia seeds, making sure there aren’t any lumps, and then refrigerate the glass for about an hour, although you can leave it longer, and then when you’re ready to eat it, pile it up with coconut shavings and freeze-dried raspberries and wade in with a spoon.

and what it all comes down to is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet

It’s so healthful that it seems like you’re gonna actually levitate after eating it. I’ve made it almost every day since, and while I can’t entirely tell if I feel more brilliant or not, it’s got to be doing something, right? It’s as easy to consume as it is to make- the swollen chia seeds give it this soft, barely-set texture and the zing of raspberries and quiet sweetness of the coconut milk work beautifully with the verdant-as matcha powder. It’s also remarkably filling, so makes an ideal breakfast or mid-snack snack.

And what with turning thirty and all, despite having done a deal with the devil so I stay looking young it certainly doesn’t hurt to think of one’s health more, right? (how I know I’m getting proper old: I used to be really indignant about being ID’d and now I’m like, “awwww yeah”) And it seems this is how I prefer to do health: by slothing about all day and then engaging in hardcore consumption of actual green tea leaves ground into dust like I’m the bones-eating giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. Like health shift-work. A lack of moderation followed by a hardcore lack of moderation!

everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

But back to my birthday: if you’re wondering to yourself, “what can I do to make more delightful the birthday of my favourite food blogger- nay, my favourite writer altogether” – well! My paypal is always open (it’s my email address – laura@hungryandfrozen.com) and any donations big, enormous or small would be majorly gratefully received by ya perpetually bank-account-challenged gal. For free you could spend the day in quiet, solemn reflection on how great I am on twitter, or…you could carry on with your day because I hear a horrifying rumour that I’m not the only person on earth to have a birthday and everything doesn’t stop on Sunday just because I do. It’s chill, I’ll be over here serenely glowing with omegas and the power of a thousand glasses of green tea and being myself and seeing what comes of it.

title from: Alanis Morrisette and her laconically powerful and kinda deeply meaningful song One Hand In My Pocket, from the iconic Jagged Little Pill album. I saw her in concert in 1996! What! Ladies be aging!

music lately:

Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen. Her E-mo-tion album is SO important and this video is so important and her haircut in it is frankly very important and it’s all just very, very good.

The Kills, Sour Cherry. I’ve been watching a lot of Gossip Girl, and this song is on the soundtrack. I love how both this show and this band’s main aesthetic is “bratty”. I’m feeling very influenced by it, nearly ten years after the show actually screened.

next time: I made a massive three layer creme egg cake for a friend’s gf’s 21st birthday and was thinking about blogging about it just because, otherwise I made this mayo from scratch with matcha in it and it was amazing, so on the very other end of the scale, there’s also that.

 

we’re so much more than pointless fixtures, instagram pictures

*lou reed voice* shiny shiny 

I’ve always been one to self-absorbedly imagine that I’m in a scene in a movie while doing otherwise mundane things like staring inscrutably out the window while on a train or sitting inscrutably on a park bench or getting a coffee by myself, inscrutably – I know I’m not the only one that does this! It’s like, this is the quiet bit in the indie movie where the camera stays fixed on me for an almost uncomfortably long time while I do something very normal but in an utterly enigmatic way. Right?

Anyway after spending the longest time of only listening to podcasts when getting to and from places, I’ve started listening to music through my headphones on my phone again (having got the Spotify app and an ad-free premium account) and wow, nothing enhances the “I’m a mysterious and important character in an indie film that you’ll guiltily download because you can’t stomach spending $25 on a ticket during festival season or waiting forever for it to have a limited-at-best release” feeling like walking down the road utterly immersed in your own personal soundtrack. Sauntering in the dark to Lazy Line Painter Jane by Belle and Sebastian – the lyrics are stupid but the beat and the melody are heavenly and the coda makes the mere act of walking seem like art; striding through the rain to Shazam by Spiderbait feeling like a complete brat as you jaywalk (in my defence the roads in Wellington are ridiculous and there’s nothing to do but jaywalk); drifting dreamily, almost floating, through the industrial end of town to Julee Cruise’s Rockin Back Inside My Heart. I know this is the most pretentious thing I’ve written in a long time and I sound like a teenager who has just discovered Morrissey (you should’ve seen me when I was a teenager who had just discovered Morrissey) but like, it’s just so, so, so long since I’ve done this and it’s such a small thing but it’s so amazing. That’s it, that’s the story: listening to music through headphones is nice, did you know?

*freddy mercury voice* hash! Aaa-aah, saviour of the universe!

Speaking of all the small things; I still haven’t replaced my lost SD card for my fancy digital camera, partly out of not wanting to spend excess money and partly out of a self-flagellating sense of punishment. As such my phone has graduated from being merely my best friend and confidante to my main camera. Which also makes it slightly harder to get a decent bundle of blog-worthy photos happening for any one dish I’ve made at any one time. In lieu of that, I’ve decided to do a wee round-up of some food I’ve made and quickly instagrammed lately – united they are greater than the sum of their parts, or something. All three of these things – peanut butter cookies; sausage and potato hash; and tomato and feta tart – are stupidly delicious and the recipes can be imparted to you super quickly, so…yeah. No harm done.

peanut butter cookies

one cup smooth peanut butter
one cup sugar
one egg
one teaspoon baking powder
dark chocolate

set your oven to 180 c/350 F. Mix all the ingredients together, roll the mixture into rather small balls (the smaller they are, the less likely they are to crumble) and place on a paper-lined baking tray. Press down slightly with the back of a spoon to flatten them juuuust a little. Bake for about ten minutes, then let them sit for ten minutes (important so they don’t crumble…again) before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool. Melt the chocolate and spoon it over the top of the cooled cookies as you please. Makes many. 

If you’re a gluten-free person you will likely have encountered some version of this recipe already a million times but man it’s good – soft, chewy, salty-sweet cookies, the throat-coating peanut butter cut through with the crunch of bitter dark chocolate. I’d usually prefer milk chocolate here but using dark makes them dairy-free too – I made these to take into work one evening in a kind of a sustain-the-troops kind of move, and also because I thrive on presenting people with food that I’ve made whether they want it or not.

sausage and potato hash

four fresh pork sausages
two large floury potatoes
one onion, diced 
dried thyme
oil and butter
two eggs
HP sauce and/or ketchup/hot sauce/whatever other condiment your sodium-caked heart desires

It’s fairly uncool but if you microwave the sausages in a bowl of water for three minutes and then microwave the potatoes for three minutes (give both of them a stabbing with a fork first) then your life will be an awful lot easier. Otherwise consider simmering them in a pan of water for a bit first or just plough ahead and hope for the best. 

Heat plenty of olive oil or similar in a large pan. Gently fry the onion until softened and golden. Roughly chop the sausages and tip them into the pan, allow them to sizzle and brown. Then dice the potato fairly small, and add to the pan – try and get as much surface area touching the base of the pan as possible to encourage browning and crisping. Put a lid on the pan for about five minutes to allow the steam to cook the potato through, then remove the lid, turn up the heat, add a knob of butter and the thyme and allow everything to sizzle like whoa. Push everything to the side and crack the two eggs into the pan and allow them to fry till you’re quite satisfied. Remove from the heat; divide the sausage and potato mixture between two plates, top with the eggs, and apply as much sauce as you please. 

I made this for my wonderful girlfriend and myself on Sunday when we were both varying degrees of hungover and indecisive (okay, well she fried the eggs – I’m just not that great at eggs and she is) and it was the absolute perfect thing. Cheap, fast, fried, carb-loaded, slightly greasy, sustaining, nourishing, hot, covered in salt and sauce, and the ideal accompaniment to watching 21 Jump Street. From which we can learn two things: one, Dave Franco has ascended to being The Superior Franco, and two, Channing Tatum’s acting career is the greatest thing to happen to America this century.

tomato and feta tart 

one sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
half a tin of chopped tomatoes
one tablespoon cornmeal
about fifty or so grams of feta cheese
thyme leaves
a little oil, milk, melted butter or something for brushing the pastry with

Set your oven to 200 C/400 F and place some baking paper on a baking tray. Put the sheet of pastry on top and score a one-inch border around the edge – this is where you use the point of a knife to almost-but-not-quite cut through it, like you’re drawing a slightly smaller square inside of it. This is gonna make the edges puff up and make a fetching border once you bake it. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the middle of the pastry, drain the tomatoes well and spread them evenly across, then sprinkle/crumble the feta on top of the tomatoes. Brush the edges with melted butter or whatever if you like, and then bake for about 15-20 minutes until it’s golden, puffy and risen around the edges. Sprinkle with salt and strew with thyme leaves. Slice into bits and snarf the lot. 

Look, if you have some ready-rolled pastry in your fridge or freezer then you have the makings of a good time no matter how meagre the rest of your pantry supplies may be. You could literally just bake a piece of pastry and it would still be a charming snack. I mean, I wouldn’t be above such things. Tomatoes and feta are obvious pals so don’t even make me try to explain it to you, but there’s something fun about the tangy feta once it’s warmed through and how it contrasts with the relative sweetness of the tomatoes and the buttery, puffy pastry. This is another one that I threw together for my excellent gf and myself one Sunday and it’s the perfect lunch for two – cut it into four squares, have two each, put a little rocket or spinach on the side if you’re feeling outlandish, and deliciousness shall abound.

*no particular voice* this is a tomato and feta tart
As I alluded to before I’m trying so hard to spend as little money as possible right now, on account of how living paycheck to paycheck is no fun, but I also decided to ignore that rule and hoist myself off to a cafe to write this blog post over a coffee. Also it’s payday today! I doubt I’m gonna be able to afford to replace my SD card any time soon, so you’ll just have to get used to these phone-photos, but honestly instagram is so great that I’m not even too bothered (that said if you’re feeling like you’re too rich right now may I remind you that I have a paypal, pal) – somewhat unsurprisingly I love making my life look more dreamy and hazily lit than it really is. Just as I’m massively digging soundtracking my life like I’m the first person who discovered how to do this. Some might say it’s whimsical, some might say it’s insufferable and not even particularly interesting, but as long as they’re saying something I really don’t mind.
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title from: Queen Beyonce, with her drown-in-the-sexy song Rocket from her incredibly important self-titled album. Don’t listen to it unless you’re ready to fall over sideways. 
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music lately: 
Misterwives, Twisted Tongue. Uhhhh this is such a good pop song, I can’t even deal and I frankly refuse to deal. 
Beach House, A Walk In The Park. Another good one to make your way from A to B to. The perfect child of Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face and The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind (a perfect child that I never knew I needed, to be fair.) They’ve just been announced as coming to Laneway festival next year and I MUST GO. 
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next time: I mean technically it’s Spring, despite the weather being more appalling than it has been all winter, and I am determined to hunt down some asparagus. 

swallow it down, what a jagged little pill

that cactus is a visual metaphor for how my throat felt, also, juxtaposition! The word that saved me in Art History 101 

Next time you’re just hanging about, you know, existing within your corporeal form or whatever, take note of how many times you unconsciously swallow. Turns out humans do it a ton which is super fun when out of nowhere you have a sore throat and it feels like a serrated knife has lodged itself horizontally within your larynx. Every time you swallow. Which, as we’ve established, is unfairly often! Anyway so I’ve had a miserable bunch of days (the sore throat came with the free gift of an earache!) to the point where I couldn’t even eat soothing stuff like ice cream or soup because it was agony to swallow anything. Even cool, clear water might as well have been a nutritious bowl of sand, because they both would’ve felt the same to my poor tender throat.

In wonderful news I am now thoroughly improved, mostly due to ibuprofen, rest, and gargling so much salt water and apple cider vinegar that I’m surprised I haven’t turned into a pickle. However, I choose to attribute my entire recovery to the incredible bowl of porridge that I fixed for myself yesterday. I’d taken enough painkillers that my throat was tentatively amenable to food, and I wanted to have something aggressively nutritious and filling, but also soft and warm as the underbelly of a rabbit. Oatmeal covers all these bases, as well as allowing me to be irritatingly cute by using the portmanteau of Sore Throatmeal, and I do love to be irritatingly cute.

 rock the oat

I mean, everyone has their own way of making porridge and you can feel free to ignore my method or write it off as garbage (but if so, honestly, why are you still reading this far?) but mine has much going for it – the oats are toasted first, a step that only adds a minute to the cooking time but turns what could be gluey flavourless glue into a richly flavoured, warmly nutty concoction. I also stir in ground almonds, which add a gentle sweetness and swollen softness and richness and also, y’know, almonds put a shine on your coat. You could use any dried fruit you like but cranberries are full of anti-inflammatory and hella-vitamin properties, they also look incredibly pretty, all ruby red against the white cream and pale oats. Similarly, you could use coconut milk or almond milk or ginger instead of cinnamon and so on and so forth; but this is the recipe I made and it is so damn good.

Also I know this recipe looks really long and complicated, it’s because I’m talky and like to hold your hand throughout the process just in case there’s any small detail that confounds you. Once you sift through all my added nonsense it’s really, really straightforward, I promise.

the softest porridge, or, sore throatmeal

a recipe by myself

a handful of dried cranberries 
half a cup oatmeal or finely rolled oats
quarter of a cup of whole oats 
half a cup of water
half a cup of milk
a pinch of salt
quarter of a cup of ground almonds
cinnamon
brown sugar
cream, and lots of it

Place the cranberries in a small bowl and cover with water from a just-boiled kettle. 

Place a smallish saucepan over a medium and throw the oats in, stirring them frequently to allow them to toast – they’ll start to smell incredibly, well, toasty, and when this happens remove them from the heat and allow them to sit for a minute just to cool slightly. 

Stir in the water, milk, and salt, and return to a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking as it heats up and thickens. You want to get it to the stage where it’s starting to have big bubbles rise to the surface and burst, like some kind of geothermic mudpool (I think, I mean I have very little knowledge of geothermic…stuff) and at this point stir in the ground almonds and decide whether or not you think it needs a splash more milk or water – I like my porridge a little on the softer, creamier side, but you might like yours thicker. So, either it’s ready, or you need to stir it a bit longer with more liquid. 

Once you’re done, remove it from the heat, drain the cranberries (I just used a spoon to hold them back while tipping the water into the sink) and stir them in along with a hearty pinch of cinnamon. Spatula all this into a deep bowl (a deep bowl helps it stay warm for longer!) and spoon over as much brown sugar and cream as your mouth desires. 

I took one bite and was literally cured 

On account of this peskily sore throat I’ve done more or less nothing lately, I’ve either been in bed or at work; when in bed I’ve been on a Nigella-watching spree – I mean this in the nicest way, but I don’t have to think at all when I’m watching her show, and it doesn’t matter if I fall asleep halfway through, and all the stirring and gentle clattering and plummy vocals are utterly soothing to someone like me who adores background noise while I sleep. So you can see how I’m so Hallelujah-chorus rapturous over this porridge, it’s pretty much the most exciting thing to happen to me in the last few days. It was so delicious though, that I’m very sure it would still provide some kind of thrill even if you’re in full health.
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title from: Alanis Morrisette, You Learn. Remember when this album was the hugest thing in the world? This song has such a strange, meandering, conversational vibe to it that you don’t get a lot now, and I remember thinking how subversive and rad it was that her voice was kinda screechy and drawly (I was ten, okay.) 
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music lately:

Fiona Apple, Sleep to Dream. So dark and moody and intense, “this mind, this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways,  so don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise” – ooof. 

Kendrick Lamar, Alright. I mean the song itself was already amazing but the video is just… *falls over sideways*
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next time: it is SO FREEZING in Wellington right now, so I’ll probably be cooking something to try and warm myself up, which at this stage is going to be a bowlful of the earth’s molten core. 

we should hash it out like a couple of grownups

hashtag hash
I come to you buried under three layers of exhaustion: firstly I ate a lot of macaroni cheese for dinner and with every passing second the carbs are lulling me into a dopey stupor (well the only pasta I had was risoni and then I was like is this macaroni risoni or macarisoni and then I was like Laura quit being insufferable and eat your pasta. Once you’ve instagrammed it.) Secondly I had a useless night’s sleep last night. And reason the third, I am in the process of leaving my current job and starting another and there is some overlap of schedules and as a result of all these things I am less human and more a tired baby penguin, fluffy and confused and keen to get around by lying down and zooming on my stomach instead of having to stand up.  
(The changing of the jobs is all very jolly by the way, I’m grateful to the first job for teaching me a lot and delighted by the opportunity of the new job, which is also a bartender role. I realise I’m being cagey about what these places are called, but if you have an issue with that then that’s kinda weird.)
So it’s with all these floaty, veil-like layers of tiredness, that I can’t promise that this post is going to be my best work. Just kidding, all my blog posts are amazing. But uh, this one might sound a little strained as my eyes increasingly struggle to remember what their one job is.
oh look, the same thing from a slightly different angle. 

It wasn’t on my agenda to blog about this – I made it up on the spot and it seemed too simple and insubstantial. Then I told myself, that what is essentially a two-ingredient dish, which uses those specific ingredients because that’s all I had in the house and couldn’t afford to run out and buy more, could still be something that other people might want to have in their own lives on purpose.

And well you might, because it’s decidedly delicious.

 spot the can of golden pash in the background: very on-brand. Speaking of brands the hot sauce that I have is called Secret Aardvark and it comes from Portland, Oregon, and I just want to say Secret Aardvark again. 
I made this for my girlfriend and myself the morning after a friend’s beautiful engagement party, where there was wild dancing and cat-patting and wine-drinking and cake-eating and a general mood of lovely happiness. But yeah, let’s not bury the lede: there was so much dancing and wine drinking. I was determined to use only ingredients I had in the house to make something brunchily cool yet bolstering and reviving. Miraculously I had some eggs, which I scrambled, y’know, satisfactorily. This potato and corn hash was a bit of a revelation though, and so I’m sharing the recipe with you here. Quantities can be upped easily, just make sure your pan is big enough and your heart is true. (I’m so tired, okay.)

smoky potato and corn hash

a recipe by me

two decent sized potatoes (kind of the size of a decent-sized tomato, or a small avocado? No smaller than that but feel free to go wayyyy bigger)
about three tablespoons of olive oil 
roughly 20g butter
one cup frozen corn kernels
salt, to taste
liquid smoke 

Finely dice the potatoes into roughly 1/2 cm cubes/rectangles/any four sided shape you can approach a likeness of. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and once it’s proper hot, tip in the potatoes and spread them out evenly. Allow them to fry for about ten or fifteen minutes, stirring and turning very occasionally – the longer you leave the potatoes in one place the more golden and crisp they get. At this point, add the butter and let it sizzle for a little longer, then tip in the corn and stir. Again, the less you stir the better, so that the corn gets a little bit scorched, but you don’t want it to get burnt. Basically, use your eyes, see what needs moving around and what needs more time on the heat.

Finally, sprinkle over a few drops of liquid smoke – you don’t need much – and stir it in, then add as much salt as your merrily brined wee heart desires, and divide between two plates. 

hot sauce hand model (also you can see in the foreground where we both spilled juice from a truculent and entirely uncooperative tetra-pak)

This would be so good with some chopped up herbs, or diced onion fried with the potato, or some parmesan grated over, or some turmeric and cumin, but on its own it was quite perfect. The potato is cut into minute pieces which cook quickly in the sputtering oil and become darkly golden and crisp in that way that makes you feel weepily grateful depending on what else is going on in your life. The corn is sweet and juicy and slightly browned in places and just wonderfully corn-like (I really like how corn-like corn is.) Liquid smoke has saved me from blandness many a time, but if you don’t have it – and it’s not necessarily that easy to get hold of – you’ll lose some of that standing-near-a-barbecue vibe, but it will still be so good. Just add more butter and salt and keep on truckin’.

what are you trying to hide, parsley sprig?  

Look, I just love brunch so much, it’s such a kind meal – you get to sleep in, you get to eat so many rich foods, you get to feel fancy, you get the rest of the day still to do things. Making it for yourself is charming in its own way that going out for it can’t replicate (especially if you are cooking for someone else) and while you have to do the dishes at least you can eat while wearing severely ancient trackpants and an insouciantly draped blanket.

I sold my last cookbook today, which was a strange feeling. I’m so determined to write another one, and soon, but also looking at this cookbook, which was written, tested and photographed in its entirety in just three months, I’m very proud of myself. On a wearily capitalistic note, it’s also a shame because I was making money from selling them and now I’m not, but I still have a good feeling that I’ll be a zillionaire or even a mere billionaire pretty soon. I’d just be so good at being rich!

One last thing, before I leave you, and frankly I can’t believe I made it this far, but of course I did because I am good at pushing myself to write when I’m 90% asleep, and anyway: I thought it would be kinda dinky and fun to put all the songs I’ve listed in the music lately section at the bottom of the blog onto a Spotify playlist. So far I have one for this year, one for the back end of last year, and one that I’m going to put Christmas songs in. My username is Laura Vincent if you want in – sometimes I couldn’t find the specific song (damn you Taylor Swift, release your iron grip and let the people listen to you on Spotify) so I’d try to get the next best thing, but it’s more or less everything I’ve been recommending. It’s…not coherent, but it’s cute! Like me.

bye
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title from: so hash is an interesting dish to find a title for…this one is from Drake and Jhene Aiko’s dreamy dreamy song From Time. Oh Drake, trust you to come through for me. 
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music lately: 
Fiona Apple, Every Single Night. This song is bewitching.
De La Soul with Redman, Oooh. I haven’t heard this in so long and it makes me so happy, how compelling is that melody! (very compelling.)
Rilo Kiley, I Never. This song is so beautiful, and sounds like it’s from another time, maybe the sixties? I don’t know. But I love how it gets so swoony and bigger and bigger the further it goes along.
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Next time: I’ll have done the groceries and have more to play with, don’t worry

we live in a wheel where everyone steals but when we rise it’s like strawberry fields

December is really dissolving like a sachet of colourfree raspberry flavoured Raro juice powder into a litre of water, huh? For some reason this year I’ve barely heard Christmas music or been exposed to any other trappings of the season. I’ve seen like, one Christmas tree. For all I know it could still be mid-September. I clearly need to find a pine tree to lean into and reverently sniff and then to play thirty two renditions of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, y’know, basically method acting that it’s this time of year until it sinks in that it really is this time of year.

Somewhere in the middle of all this seasonal denial I made breakfast for my roomie Kate, who was being a bridesmaid, as well as for the bride herself and the rest of the bridesmaids. That same weekend I was also feeding a friend’s cat while they were away. How unlike me to be so selflessly helpful! How like me to tell everyone about my good deeds and blow them way out of proportion! I made a large jar of Strawberry Jam Granola, and then chopped up some actual strawberries and a mango and sprinkled them with sugar and put them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours sort of get to know each other better, and then there were also grilled croissants with brie which Jason made and I therefore cannot take credit for (I swiped some and they were so, so delicious.)

The recipe comes from my cookbook, and you should know that I still have copies left and it makes a really, really good Christmas present. The thought of them all being finally gone fills me with a weird kind of foggy dread, because the book itself isn’t being reprinted and so these are the only remaining copies left in the world. Just one year ago I was in a glowing bubble of joy from being freshly published. I exist in the pages of those books. Once they’re gone, that’s it. It won’t be available anywhere, to anyone. Oh wow, so I’m doing a truly appalling job of encouraging you to buy my book from me, but yeah, I unyieldingly believe that my cookbook is a brilliant read that you all deserve to own. If you do want to order one of the remaining copies from me – and my stocks are dwindling rapidly, so better hustle – then completely ignore all my existential angst and confidently email me (my email address is in the sidebar of this blog).

This granola is very, very easy and fairly adaptable – I doubled it without any difficulty and always use the cheapest jam I can find when I make this. The strawberry jam gives the oats a sticky-sweet summery flavour while making them pleasingly clumpy, and the almonds and linseeds bring their own toasty crunchiness. Add other nuts or seeds if you like, but I find almonds and strawberries to be particularly friendly together.

strawberry jam granola

a recipe by myself, from my cookbook Hungry and Frozen

  • one and a half cups whole oats
  • one and a half cups rolled oats
  • three tablespoons linseeds
  • 70g almonds
  • 50g brown sugar
  • half a cup strawberry jam

Place everything except the jam in a large saucepan and stir over a low heat till lightly toasted and warmed through. Stir in the jam and continue stirring over a low heat till it’s sticky and slightly clumpy. Allow to cool then transfer to an airtight container or jar.

The gloriously lipgloss-like scent of the strawberry jam slowly seeps into the milk, making this a highly perfect breakfast (especially with fruit and a large mound of thick Greek yoghurt) but I also like to just grab a handful from the jar at any time of day to snack upon carte blanche.

The granola itself would also make a swell Christmas present – personally all I ever want is wine, food, or money, (or something so meaningful and so deeply from the heart that it makes me cry as soon as I see it, no biggie!) so giving someone a jar of breakfast cereal doesn’t seem in the slightest bit weird to me. Put it in a cute mason jar, since they’re everywhere these days, tie a cute ribbon around it, you could even write the recipe out on a cute notecard for the person. Cute!

Once more with feeling, in case you haven’t quite absorbed what I’m trying to impart because I am far, far too wordy while trying to get my point across: if you want to buy a copy of my cookbook for a Christmas present then there’s no better time than now. Considering it’s like, not yet Christmas. It’s yours for the taking while my stocks last! Give the gift of literary perfection! (Well, so far I’m the only person who has described the book like that, but I think I’m a fairly trustworthy source.)

title from: Bush, Glycerine. I remember when I first heard this on the radio when I was maybe eight or nine and did not get it at all, pronouncing it boring and gloomy and pointless. For what it’s worth, Bush, I quickly realised I loved grungey music and that your song wasn’t that pointless after all. (Gavin Rossdale: “well thank goodness for that”)

music lately:

Sky Ferreira, I Blame Myself. This song is really, really perfect. That is all.

Belle and Sebastian, The Blues Are Still Blue. I always thought the only Belle and Sebastian song I liked was Lazy Line Painter Jane (which I could listen to over and over and over again) but yay, I found another one! This one is so simple but also zigs just when you think it’s gonna zag.

Janet Jackson, I Get Lonely. Damn, though.

next time: Gonna try and be more Christmassy! And might make a list of lots of food-present ideas and recipes.

 

suburban trees suburban speed and it smells like heaven

look what happens when you move to the suburbs: brunch!
 
Ah, the suburbs! I say, with arms wide open like Maria Von Trapp on top of a mountain doing an impression of Scott Stapp from Creed in their song With Arms Wide Open. It has been a true rollercoaster ride of being ignored by the neighbour’s cat, taking slightly longer to walk to work, and picking fresh herbs from the garden to use as garnish. For real though, I’ve been cooking so much more than I have done in a long time, and it is good for that soul of mine. And also for inter-flatmate relations, since there’s nothing like being plied with brunch. On some recent morning (I forget which, I’ve been working day shifts as well as night shifts at work and it completely messes with my sense of what day or time it is at any given day or time) I made this for Kate and I  – a kind of improvisational thing vaguely based upon the Middle Eastern dish Shakshuka, using what I could find around me. Those things being tomatoes, a can of ‘Moroccan-style’ chickpeas, and some eggs.

Pulling it all together was some impossibly thick Zany Zeus Greek yoghurt (seriously, it has the texture of buttercream icing) mixed with sumac, dried thyme and sesame oil, with olive oil pooling on top along with torn mint leaves.

If Marmite on toast is the most adventurous you get for breakfast (and that’s cool, because oh man marmite and butter and toast together are sublime) then this might sound a little dubious, but obviously it’s going to taste amazing, so deal with it and expand your horizons. On the other hand, if you’re used to actual proper Shakshuka, this is a not-bad variation on that theme, I guess. Either way, it’s thoroughly delicious, with the softly baked eggs melting into the buttery tomatoes and spiced, grainy chickpeas. The tart yoghurt lifts up all these flavours and stops it being too, too rich, but also kind of adds to the luxuriant feel of it at the same time. If you’re only inclined to get hold of one herb then mint is what I’d recommend – its icy fresh-sweetness is perfect. But spicy basil and adorable pea shoots also help, if you happen to have some to hand like I did.

baked eggs with roasted tomatoes and chickpeas, also yoghurt with sumac and olive oil

a recipe by myself, but it’s not overly original, serves two to three people

four tomatoes
butter
olive oil
a pinch of ground cinnamon
a pinch of smoked paprika
about a tablespoon of brown sugar
one can of Moroccan style chickpeas, or just one can of regular chickpeas and about half a cup of tomato puree
one teaspoon ground cumin
three eggs
basil, mint, fancy pea shoots if you’ve got them

half a cup or so thick plain Greek yoghurt
one teaspoon sumac
one teaspoon dried thyme
one teaspoon sesame oil
olive oil 
a pinch of salt
more mint

Set your oven to 200 C/400 F. Halve the tomatoes and arrange snugly in a roasting dish. Sprinkle over a little cinnamon, smoked paprika, and the brown sugar, and put like, a teaspoon/small square of butter on each tomato half. Finally, drizzle with a little olive oil and then roast for about 20 minutes, then tip in the chickpeas and the ground cumin and return to the oven for another ten minutes. Crack the eggs one at a time into a small cup or bowl and then carefully tip them into the roasting dish (or just crack them straight in but it’s a little easier this way. Return to the oven and lower the heat to 180 C/350 F, and bake for another ten to fifteen minutes until the eggs are juuuust cooked. Remove from the oven and scatter with your herbs and then serve. Oh wait, the yoghurt: mix the yoghurt, sesame oil, thyme and sumac together. Sprinkle over some more sumac, drizzle over some olive oil – a couple of teaspoons – and sprinkle with some torn up mint. 


(this is Kate’s instagram. I kinda wanna vow that my next cookbook, when/when it happens, will *only* have instagram photos. Because look at this, seriously.) (Aside: ohhh how I want to write another cookbook.)

When I’m not cooking I’m being fed like a queen by Kate and Jason too, so it’s all pretty blissful. (Examples: apple fritters, handmade pasta with roasted butternut, cheese and tomato mousetraps, fried asparagus) I mean I’m still me, y’know, where am I going with my life, why am I so broke (likely answer: dating. It makes you broke), how do you be a human without making it look as though you’ve read a book called How To Be A Human, will I ever get another cookbook, what’s the deal with self-esteem, that kind of thing. But I’m reeeeally well fed. And making progress with the cat!

magnanimous kisses from princess Ariel

What else has been happening lately? I managed to pull together two costumes for two massively fun Halloween parties in a row this weekend, with only things found in my wardrobe (Baby Spice and Andrew WK, if you’re wondering.)

(bonus cyberspace me at a recent galactic-themed party. Everything I wear I think of as a costume, but I really love literal costumes too.)
title from: Modern Lovers, Roadrunner. I am straight up obsessed with this song and have been since the moment I heard it. I’m gonna listen to it about twelve times in a row right now. One, two, three, four, five, six!
music lately:
 
Boom Clap, Charli XCX. Just so, so sweet.
I Could’ve Been Your Girl, She and Him. Zooey Deschanel’s voice, I love it. This song, I love it.
Good Kisser, Usher. Sleek.
next time: I made this amazing Ottolenghi pistachio soup, but am not sure if the photos turned out that well…so…?

maybe if i knew french i could tell you more than i shall do

halloumi for my roomie
 
First blog post from my new home! Despite being stridently anti-suburb my entire life, including when I grew up in a tiny rural village – I knew at the age of like, two months that I was destined to live in the city – I’ve adjusted faster than a bra strap to my new life in Newtown.
(My New Life In Newtown: the spin-off TV show from the TV show I already imagine my life to be.)
I live with my best friend Kate and her also-rad husband Jason, I am practically neighbours with another best friend, I’ve made friends with the guy who works at the corner dairy already – I actually nearly cried when he said “welcome to the neighbourhood, I hope you’re very happy here” but it had been a long day of moving house and I desperately needed an ice cream, so that may have had something to do with it. I live with Ariel the beautiful peach of a cat who I am slowly befriending, and my heart feels so full from simply having a cat around all the time. And I now have a super cool kitchen with a gas burner oven and natural light and a ton of general aesthetic cuteness going on! Yesterday I had my first go in the kitchen, by making halloumi and apple French Toast for Kate and myself.
fried cheese for my main squeeze

Microwaved Cheese and X sandwiches were a mainstay of my childhood eating (them, golden syrup sandwiches, canned spaghetti and two minute noodles) the most prominent being microwaved cheese and marmite, followed by microwaved cheese and tomato sauce (I know. But: pizza vibes!) One day after reading an American cookbook I’d got out of the library, I discovered the magical combination of cheese and apple together, and the sandwich-related part of my life was changed irrevocably. Something in the sweet, nuclear-waves-softened apple slices and the melting, nutty cheese tasted impossibly good to me, and while this isn’t surprising now – I mean, cheeseboards always come with some kind of fruit accoutrement, whether it’s fruit paste or crisp slices or just something fruity – at the time it was a pretty radical concept to my unsophisticated rural tastebuds.

So yeah, it was nostalgic thoughts of those sandwiches that inspired this brunch. Brunch is my favourite (well, breakfast eaten at a slightly later hour, basically) (that said I love breakfast any time of day, especially night) (I’m so fascinating!) and so it seemed a good way to break into the kitchen.

french toast for my mensch host (I am nothing if not committed to this bit) (and also apologetic)

 

My nostalgia was totally correct – this was completely delicious. I mean, halloumi is boundlessly astounding, and the buttery meltingness of it went quite perfectly with the soft, caramelised sweetness of the apples and the squishily fried bread. Cool hits of mint livened it up a bit and made it look better in the photos, and as well as being a pleasure to eat, it was really quite straightforward to make. I mean, I felt a bit nervous promising a lush brunch, it being my first time in this new kitchen and a recipe I’d made up on the spot, but it emphatically worked. Cheese and apple! Together at last, again.

halloumi and apple french toast

a recipe by myself/serves two

this will be easier and everything will stay hot if you make the French toast in one pan and the apple/halloumi in another, but it still worked fine all done quickly in the one pan. Up to you/your resources/ability to deal with doing more dishes. 

four thick slices from a loaf of white bread – slightly stale is good
three eggs
half a cup of milk
a pinch of ground nutmeg
four slices of halloumi
one apple
butter
mint leaves

Mix the egg, milk and nutmeg together until you can’t tell where the egg starts and the milk ends. Heat a pleasingly-sized slice of butter in a large pan until it’s sizzling, and then carefully dip the first two pieces of bread into the egg and milk, allowing both sides to soak up plenty of liquid. Transfer these to the hot pan and fry on both sides till very brown (I use a spatula/flipper thing to lift them up slightly to have a look underneath, it always takes longer to brown than you think it will. 

Finely slice the apple while the toast is cooking – you don’t have to use the whole thing but more is better. I cut off one side and then slice that into semicircles, and then carry on all round the apple till it’s all used up. In case you needed to know that.

Remove the cooked French toast to a plate and repeat with the remaining bread. You may need to add a tiny bit more milk to the egg mixture if there’s not enough – that bread is absorbent stuff. 

Fry the apple slices in more butter until softened, then scatter them over the two plates of French toast. Finally, briskly fry the halloumi slices on both sides till golden brown, put them on top of the apple-topped French toast, scatter with mint leaves, and placidly eat. 

fresh outta rhymes, to your relief
 
Other cool things about the ‘burbs: I mean, first of all for all my righteous posturing, Newtown is so close to Wellington city, the two neighbourhoods are clasping hands with fingers lovingly intertwined. Also, there are local cats.
this is moustache cat, whose detectable personality traits thus far appear to be “lurks” and “poses obligingly”
I think I’m going to be very happy living here.
Oh, and: despite having too many projects and commitments for my laughably small hands to carry, I’ve decided to start a little web series. Emphasis on little. A few years ago I tried doing some youtube videos and I never really liked them, but did them anyway, but this feels a bit more fun and chill and low-key and me? Anyway, if you like eating food in bed then you might want to watch because that’s all that really happens. Normally I’m quite upfront about telling you if I think something I’ve done is amazing, so this isn’t false self-deprecation for the sake of it, but the video is really not that great. But it’s something! And that’s something.
title from: First Aid Kit’s quietly twinkly little tune Valse
music lately:
 
Emily Edrosa’s self-titled EP. It’s all rumbly and moody and I love it so much and can’t stop listening.
Banks, Goddess. You shoulda crowned her, cuz she’s a goddess, you never got this. Really feeling Banks at the moment.
Mya, My Love is Like…Wo. Bedroom dance party perfection. And she TAP DANCES in the music video.
next time: omg I don’t even know but you can look forward to more photos with new interesting backgrounds and also me borrowing all of Kate and Jason’s super cool plates to put my food on!