Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine [vegan]

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It has been, as the band Staind once said, a while. I’d like to offer up the fact that I moved house yesterday as a defence, but as for the weeks prior to that all I can say is that sometimes not doing stuff begets not doing stuff and that’s about all there is to it. But I’m back, I’m here, and importantly, I’ve got pasta for you.

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Something about a new beginning always puts me in mind of old beginnings: Lemon Linguine was the first recipe I ever made from Nigella Lawson’s seminal text How To Eat, and it then became the first recipe I blogged about on here back in 2007. Mum sent me off to my new digs yesterday with a bag of lemons and herbs from the garden as a kind of offering, and immediately I pictured this Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine, the first recipe to sanctify the new space with — not the same method as Nigella’s linguine but an echo of that memory for sure. Better yet, I made it, better still, it tasted excellent.

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Fettuccine is very comforting to me, probably because it was one of about four pasta shapes you could buy when I was a kid and it seemed to be by far the fanciest, and therefore fancified whatever it was served with. Now its fanciness is kind of outdated, but that makes it even more comforting, a taste of the world idealised rather than how it is. On a less fanciful note, its generous width suits the delicate sauce, but if you’ve only got spaghetti this will still taste good.

There’s hardly anything to this, and once you’ve stirred the near-instant sauce into the pasta it may look like nothing’s happening at all, but the flavours slide briskly down each broad strand of pasta like a kid at a waterpark: the optimistic freshness of the lemons, the creamy tang of the yoghurt, the rich pepperiness of the olive oil, and the herbs, which even in their small quantities make themselves known. Especially the strident rosemary, hence her place in the recipe title. I know in my heart of hearts that this would be perfect with a scattering of chilli flakes — Aleppo pepper, gochugaru, whatever — and I almost added them, but in the end I wanted a more subtle, diaphanous effect. It was delicious without them, but keep in mind that it would be delicious with them, and add or subtract them according to however you feel in the moment.

And if you’re really in the mood for pasta, you could consider my recipes for Bucatini with Chilli Oil Pumpkin Seeds; Thai Yellow Curry Mac’n’Cheese; or Spaghetti with Horseradish Butter.

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Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine

Simple, fresh, absolutely pinging with lemon. Ever since finding an affordable yoghurty yoghurt I’ve been using it in everything, and this is my latest effort: it forms the base of a sauce that’s so fast you barely need to start making it till the pasta is al dente. Recipe by myself.

  • 100g fettuccine
  • salt for the pasta water, and to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 3 heaped tablespoons dairy-free yoghurt of your choice, ideally an oat/rice blend

1: Bring a good-sized pan of water to the boil on the stove (sometimes I’ll boil the kettle first and pour that into the pan if I’m impatient) and then add several pinches of salt and the fettuccine. Let it return to the boil and cook until the pasta is tender, which should take about ten minutes.

2: While the pasta is cooking, roughly chop the tablespoon of rosemary leaves and stir them together with the tablespoon of thyme leaves, the zest and juice of the lemon, the tablespoon of olive oil, the three heaped tablespoons of yoghurt, and salt to taste.

3: Drain the pasta, transfer it into a serving bowl, and stir in the lemon-yoghurt sauce. That’s it, you’re done. Pour over more olive oil if you like (and I did.)

Serves 1.

Note:
The Collective vegan oat/rice/coconut yoghurt is the one for me, it’s cheaper than any other brand on the shelf and it really tastes like yoghurt. I love regular coconut yoghurt but I can never afford it and it does mean whatever you cook will taste like coconut. This is never a bad thing but sometimes you want other options!

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music lately:

Oceanic Beloved by Alice Coltrane. Those harps! Like the aural equivalent of someone running their fingers through your hair. This entire album (A Monastic Trio) is a masterpiece.

Voices Carry by ‘Til Tuesday. When new wave is good it’s SO good, engulfs your sinuses and makes you question if there’s any other music you could possibly listen to. This is one of those songs, feather-light and airy and yet crushes your heart like 5000 tons of atmospheric pressure is bearing down upon you.

Polish by Fugazi. “We’ll take the package/let the contents remain.” So energetic yet so weary, I love it.

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 Kiwifruit Ripple Ice Cream

I’m a simple woman: all I need for my personal Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to be amply and abundantly fulfilled is to come up with a new ice cream recipe once a month. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say, exasperatedly and broadly, removing my spectacles and pinching the bridge of my nose in great weariness, that this year really has just been one thing after another. But realising that we’re six months in to 2022 and I still haven’t invented an ice cream recipe? Well, that did shed some light on this on-the-back-foot feeling; sure, ice cream wouldn’t have changed any of the events that were completely out of my hands, but I would’ve had ice cream! In my hands!

We’re not entirely out of the woods here; this isn’t a brand-new recipe but a vegan reworking of an old recipe from my 2013 cult hit cookbook, but it’s new-ish, and it is, undeniably, ice cream, and that’s enough for now. Not to undermine my capacity for invention, but to me kiwifruit aren’t theeeee most versatile recipe, and the recipes that I do see using them have a kind of strained, strenuous quality (steak with kiwifruit, et cetera). Fortunately, their mouth-shrinking sour-sweetness is made to be paired with creamy, mellow vanilla ice cream, especially in this format, with the contrast between the ice cream and the ribbons of green snaked throughout.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan kiwi fruit ripple ice cream 🥝➿🍦no churn, no ice cream maker, totally delicious. Full recipe on my blog hungryandfrozen dot com #icecream #kiwi #vegan #nochurn #cooking

♬ Powerman – The Kinks

I’ve pretty well settled into my condensed milk/coconut cream base recipe for ice cream so there won’t be any surprises there for longtime readers; and as always, I am rallying against Big Ice Cream Maker by keeping this no churn (in fact, the less you touch it the better, to preserve those precious delineated ripples.) There is a bit more dishwashing than usual involved because you have to puree then heat the kiwifruit, but it’s still the work of minutes. The other thing I should warn you about — although you can probably see from the photos — is that the kiwifruit puree won’t be as vividly green as the cut fruit themselves promise, it will still look pretty, but not quite as cartoonishly green as you’d initially expect.

And the result, easily won, is glorious: a parenthesis of velvety ice cream around bursts of fizzingly brassy and sour kiwifruit, two opposites in each spoonful, like listening to an EDM remix of a piece of classical music (though I’m not sure if that description is actually selling it or not.) This might be my first new (ish) ice cream for 2022, but it will not be the last. Also, if this has piqued your interest for ice cream of the ripple genre, see also my recipes for  Vegan Jelly Tip Ice Cream, Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and Vegan Treacle Black Pepper Ripple Ice Cream (in all cases I’d use the same base that I’ve used here, some of these were made before the advent of condensed coconut milk.)

Vegan Kiwifruit Ripple Ice Cream

Lush vanilla ice cream rippled with swirls of pureed kiwifruit, sweet and sour and delicious all at once. And, of course, like all my ice cream recipes it’s no-churn with no ice cream machine required! Recipe by myself.

  • 8 kiwifruit
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder (optional)
  • 1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut cream
  • 1 x 310g tin sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1: Scoop the green flesh from your kiwifruit and puree it — either using a blender, or you can put them directly into the saucepan required for the next step and blitz them with a stick blender. Either way, it’s fine to have a few bits and pieces of fruit still in the blended mixture.

2: Gently heat the pureed kiwifruit and the tablespoon of sugar until the sugar has dissolved and then, (optionally) mix the teaspoon of agar agar powder with 1/4 cup water and stir it into the kiwifruit mixture, then continue stirring over the lowest possible heat for another two minutes. If it starts to bubble, remove it from the heat — you’re just warming it through. Set it aside to cool a little. (If you don’t have agar agar just skip this step and simply stir the tablespoon of sugar into the uncooked, pureed kiwifruit, but the agar agar does help with the texture of the eventual kiwifruit ripple.)

3: Now that the hard part is over, just whisk together the tins of coconut cream and sweetened condensed coconut milk with the tablespoon of vanilla; then tip 3/4 of this into a 2 litre freezer-proof container. Spoon over the kiwifruit mixture in dribs and drabs, followed by the rest of the coconut cream mixture, and use the tip of a knife or something similar to gently ripple the two mixtures together. Go easy: too much agitation and it’ll all become one uniform mass, which will still be delicious, but the less you touch it the more ripple-y it will eventually be.

4: Clip the lid onto the container and refrigerate it for two hours, then freeze for six hours or overnight. This needs to sit on the bench for twenty minutes before you try to bust into it.

Makes around 1.25 litres.

Notes:

  • I used Nature’s Charm vegan condensed milk since…they seem to be the only brand that makes it. I’m glad they do, it’s rather revolutionised the way I make ice cream.
  • Agar Agar is usually easily found at asian supermarkets and health food shops, but you might be able to find it at a chain supermarket, either in the baking aisle or the dark corner where they shunt all the vegan and organic food.
  • I haven’t tested this recipe without the agar agar, but the original recipe in my cookbook just used pureed kiwifruit and sugar, nothing else, and that turned out fine.
    You probably don’t need to refrigerate the ice cream before freezing it, I’ve decided that it improves the flavour and texture but I’m not sure I could defend that claim in a court of law.

music lately:

My Good Fortune by PJ Harvey, ugh this song is so cool and we all will be too if we listen to it. That zig-zagging guitar lick! The drawn-out word endings! The big apple, baby!

We Care A Lot by Faith No More (specifically the Chuck Mosley — RIP — version from Introduce Yourself.) Look at the nearest clock. What time is it? Time to listen to this song. Speaking of time, I love — aside from everything else I love about this song — how the drums somehow feel half a beat too fast and yet half a beat too slow. Like, same.

Bless The Lord from the film version of Godspell, by Lynne Thigpen. Despite having seen this movie a million times and owning about seven different versions of the cast recording on vinyl I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what’s happening here — there’s something about putting Jesus in a musical that begets the most unintelligible vibes, but also the most incredible music. Listen to that “oh yeah” breakdown at about 1 minute in and tell me you don’t get chills! The filmed versions of stage musicals don’t always get it right, but Thigpen’s rendition of this is the best I’ve ever heard, and I’m not sure there’ll ever be a better one.

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 Pecan Sandies

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I’ll speak freely with you: these cookies did not blow my hair back, and they are not the stuff of hyperbole (even though I like to maintain that I never actually use hyperbole, and only ever describe thing accurately.) But sometimes you just need a nice, calm biscuit. There is a place for them! We can’t all be pupil-dilatingly exciting like these Chocolate Rosemary Cookies (incidentally, adapted from the same author) or my Vegan Hundreds and Thousands Cookies. So no, these are neither hellzapoppin’ nor knee-tremblingly intoxicating but they do taste very good, and were born to sit robustly alongside a cup of tea at 10.30am or 9.30pm.

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Besides which I haven’t blogged in an age (no dramatic reason, I just haven’t cooked a whole lot this month) and I had to write about something and here these Pecan Sandies were, sturdy and stalwart and reliable and ready to step up to the figurative and literal plate.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan pecan sandies • easy and delicious cookies from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s I Can Cook Vegan • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com 🍪 #vegan #baking #cookies #pecansandie #foodblogger

♬ Adagio / Spartacus – Josu Gallastegui

I’d never heard of these cookies before — although I understand they’re quite normal in America — and I admit the name put me off slightly (reading it made me feel like I’d suddenly got sand caught in my sleeves somewhere about the elbow, this is absolutely likely a me-problem and not the recipe’s fault) but they’re very easy to make, with a supple dough that comes together in minutes and a low oven temperature meaning you’re unlikely to overcook or burn them. The pecans, crucially, give it a little razzle dazzle with their rich smokiness and soft crunch, but if you are for some reason hankering after a very plain biscuit you could leave them out and increase the spices — maybe adding in some cinnamon while you’re at it — at which point you might consider half-dipping them in dark chocolate — but then we’re veering around to blow-your-hair-back territory again. In lieu of pecans, walnuts would be the most sensible replacement, with their similar almost-bitter softness. Whatever you leave out or add in, the biscuits themselves have a melting texture, a hearty flutter of vanilla, and despite my usual heavy hand in this regard, the modest amount of sugar gives just the right level of sweetness. Simple? Yes. Fantastic? Also yes!

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Vegan Pecan Sandies

A simple, not-too-sweet cookie studded with pecans, very easy to make and unsurprisingly, very easy to eat. Recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s excellent book I Can Cook Vegan, I’ve bumped up the allspice but that’s the only change I made. If you want to make these cheaper, you could use one of those little 70g packets of pecans from the baking aisle instead of a whole cup’s worth, just make sure they’re broken up well so you get plenty of pecan dispersed through each cookie.

  • 2/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oat milk, or similar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup pecans

1: Beat the 2/3 cup refined coconut oil and 1/2 cup sugar together in a mixing bowl. Coconut oil is usually soft enough at room temperature, but if it’s a really cold day, giving it about ten seconds in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl) is enough to make it pliant.

2: Beat in the 1/4 cup milk, followed by the two teaspoons of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the flour to form a thick, pale dough.

3: Break up the pecans into small pieces using your hands, and stir them through the dough. Place the mixing bowl in the fridge for twenty minutes, and while this is happening, preheat your oven to 165C/325F and get out a cookie tray/sheet and a large piece of baking paper to lie on it.

4: Once the 20 minutes are up, roll the dough into balls (using a tablespoon to scoop out the dough) and place them about 2.5cm apart on the baking paper-lined tray. Flatten them a little, gently, with your fingertips, and bake for about 18 minutes, or until just lightly golden around the bottom edges. Transfer the hot cookies to a cooling rack and continue rolling and baking the rest of the dough.

Makes 18 – 20 cookies (that is, the original recipe yields 18, but I got 19 out of this and I ate enough dough that I probably could’ve got about 21 cookies had I a little more discipline.)

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music lately:

Kool Thing by Sonic Youth, there is something comforting about listening to a song that is cooler than you or anyone you know will ever be, it’s like ok, thanks for shouldering that responsibility, guys.

There’s Always A Woman from Sondheim’s musical Anyone Can Whistle as performed — thrillingly! — by Bernadette Peters and Madeline Kahn at a concert in 1995, whoever thought to put them and their energies together on stage is a genius and I’m forever grateful. This footage isn’t very good quality but the sound is fine, and their tremulous voices by turns querulous and harmonising is something I wish we’d got more of before Kahn sadly passed a few years later.

About once every six months I medically have to listen to this — bear with me — isolated and looped sample of doo-wop group The Marcels’ song Heartaches as used in the song I’m So Humble by Andy Samberg’s character in the mockumentary film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. It’s unbelievably obnoxious and yet I will sit there listening to it for a good six, eight, nine minutes flat. I can hear what you’re saying already, “If I had a nickel for every time I did that,” etc etc.

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!

Catalan Chickpeas and Spinach [vegan]

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I have come to realise that time — as a concept, as a thing that happens to me and as a heavyweight opponent with whom I must fruitlessly wrestle — is simply none of my business. There is no point trying to understand how “it’s night before it’s afternoon/December is here before it’s June”, as Dr Seuss put it. If I had a tab open on my browser since last October, intending to presently reference the recipe therein, and if I have only just returned to it now, in the following April, and feel as though perhaps a week has passed, a month at the most, who’s to say that’s not true? Who’s going to come for me? The time police? Even if they did exist, I do not acknowledge them.

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Back in October, when I first consulted this recipe, time was moving in a more comminuted way — we were partway through a hundred-plus day lockdown, and my family’s solution to making one 24-hour period even marginally different from the one before was to choose a different country each day, and cook its food (or an approximation thereof) and listen to its music. (We stayed in lockdown so long that this was just one of our various daily schemes, but it’s the relevant one to this recipe.) I made these Catalan Chickpeas with Spinach when we got to Spain, along with some other Spain-wards recipes, and it really floored me — for something so simple, starring two undeniably excellent but not terribly flashy ingredients, it’s just beautiful. Gutsy, earthy, mellow, layered, delicious.

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I feel that of all the ingredients I might need to reassure you about in a kind but firm manner, it’s the raisins. If you’re already au fait with raisins in savoury recipes then this doesn’t apply to you, but if you are feeling suspicious, let me not only put your mind at ease but request, specifically, that you don’t leave them out — the tiny, lightly swollen bursts of winey sweetness are absolutely lush against the grainy soft chickpeas and the dark leafy spinach, to leave them out you’d lose what makes this dish so elevated and spectacular. That being said, if your suspicion for raisins veers into sensory issues territory then this doesn’t apply to you either! But put it this way, I have never once been a person who would eat a handful of raisins, the thought makes me shuddery, but once there’s some salt and olive oil involved they suddenly become entirely welcome.

@hungryandfrozen

Catalan Chickpeas and Spinach • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com • adapted from @gimmesomeoven #vegan #cookingtiktok #beantok #chickpeas #foodblog #fyp

♬ Sascha – Jolie Holland

Maybe I’ve got time especially on the mind because my birthday is approaching, and, well, we live in a society where interrogative introspection follows each blowing out of candles; currently I’m coping by declaring, at every opportunity, that turning 36 is “so chic”. If you’re also in the ballpark of my generation or older you’re most welcome to use this framing device yourself, it’s…kind of helpful. Anyway, these chickpeas: time may be none of my business, but nonetheless I do wish I’d made them again sooner in a literal way, rather than in a “soon, in my warped and debilitating experience of the passage of time” kind of way. You should make them, and then make them again, for yourself, for friends, as a bring-a-plate, should you be in a place where socialising is relatively chill again. It would be a charming light meal for two with bread alongside (or, alternatively, the promise of dessert after); or it could easily feed four when served alongside a few other dishes, and if you’re feeling hungry, it’s all yours and no one else’s.

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Catalan Chickpeas and Spinach

An incredibly delicious, hearty, and simple dish, and impossible to make just once. I found this recipe on gimmesomeoven.com and have toyed with it just a little; if I had pine nuts I would’ve obviously preferred to use them as the original suggests, but the significantly less expensive sunflower seeds are a fine substitute.

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or, 1 teaspoon ground cumin)
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons dry vermouth (or dry sherry, or a splash of water)
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (or sultanas)
  • 3 large handfuls spinach
  • salt, to taste, and extra virgin olive oil, to finish

1: Toast the three tablespoons of sunflower seeds in a hot pan for a few minutes, until they go from pale to golden brown. Tip them into a bowl or plate and set aside.

2: Peel and finely dice the onion, then peel and roughly chop the six cloves garlic. Warm the two tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan — I used the same one that I toasted the sunflower seeds in — and fry the chopped onion and garlic over a low heat until they’re softened. Tip in the teaspoon of smoked paprika and half teaspoon of cumin seeds, and stir to coat the onions.

3: Turn up the heat a little and tip in the chickpeas, followed by the three tablespoons of vermouth (although, I generally slosh rather than measure, for what it’s worth), and the three tablespoons of raisins or sultanas, and let it simmer for about five minutes, adding a splash of water if the pan is looking too dry.

4: Roughly chop the spinach and throw it into the pan. You can simply stir the spinach into the chickpeas with the heat on, or you can turn off the heat, clamp on a lid, and let the residual heat and steam wilt the spinach. Either way, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two for the spinach to flop into almost nothing.

5: Remove the pan from the heat, scatter over the reserved sunflower seeds, season with salt (and pepper, if you wish) and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil. You could also consider a squeeze of lemon juice (especially if you used water instead of vermouth or sherry).

Serves 2—4, lightly, depending on what’s being eaten alongside, or one hungry person.

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music lately:

Forever and Ever by Demis Roussos, although this song evokes memories of Alison Steadman in the horror film (not in genre, but in vibe, you understand) Abigail’s Party, there’s something about those effortlessly gliding vocals and the full-hearted romance and proto-dream pop energy that is very loveable.

Persuasive by Doechii, I love how this is somehow quiet and loud at the same time. Utterly hypnotic, I can’t stop listening to it.

Forever, by Pete Drake. I was sent this video, along with the description that it was staggeringly Lynchian, and: I agree! If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s from 1964 I would have sworn on my own grave that David Lynch’s handprints were all over this tableau, it’s got that mix of heartbreaking comfort and looming, yet unidentifiable sinisterness and a general pervading Americanness. It’s almost hard to believe it’s real, but, somehow, it is.

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 Chocolate Rosemary Cookies

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One of my favourite things to do with rosemary, in a prior life as a bartender, was to garnish drinks (most specifically, a blackberry daiquiri made with halloumi-infused rum) with a sprig that had been held over a lit match — a brief singe from the flame made the rosemary’s already heady fragrance positively dizzying. I love rosemary in all its smoky, haunting richness, and use it as often as is practical, but like an absolute dunce, it never occurred to me to pair it with chocolate. But that’s the joy of reading cookbooks, isn’t it? Someone else does the thinking for you, and you get to enjoy the delicious results of their creative toil. While reading Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book I Can Cook Vegan I landed upon her recipe for Chocolate Rosemary Cookies, and immediately knew I would love them and, more pragmatically, that I had to bake them.

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Of course it makes sense: chocolate is sweet, sure, but there’s all that cocoa bitterness; and rosemary, while associated more with dinner than dessert, has just the right level of robustness to match the chocolate’s dominance, and its woodsy fragrance is very amenable to sugar.

Grateful though I am for this recipe, I ended up adding quite a bit more flour to get the dough to a workable consistency, curiously, however, it still made the same quantity of cookies as stated in the book. (Actually, this is not so curious; I did eat some of the dough as I was rolling the cookies, it’s very good and consider yourself warned.) Aside from that, the recipe is a breeze; one bowl, a wooden spoon, that’s all you need.

@hungryandfrozen

chocolate rosemary cookies • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com 🍪 #vegan #nz #baking #chocolate #cookies #foodblogger

♬ So Long, Marianne – Leonard Cohen

And the taste? So good! The rosemary gives both herbal delicateness and elegant intrigue (I was about to call it a cookie of mystery before realising that’s veering into Austin Powers territory), and the double action of both cocoa and chunks of dark chocolate makes these meltingly intense.

If you’re not already a fan of rosemary then I don’t seek to change your mind with these; they’re also possibly — despite the chocolate, and without wanting to generalise about children’s palates — not the most immediately child-friendly biscuit. Rather than being a workhorse tin-filler, these cookies are incredibly chic and would be perfect after a dinner party with coffee or liqueurs. These would also be an excellent gift, so long as you know the person likes rosemary — you could even consider fixing a sprig of rosemary to the package with some rustic brown string; I offer this suggestion as someone who is dreadfully uncoordinated at wrapping presents, and it may or may not work. Nevermind: the cookies, delicious as they are, speak for themselves.

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Vegan Chocolate Rosemary Cookies

Rich, dark and melting, with a pastoral scattering of rosemary through the dough — let me assure you, having eaten many of these cookies now, that chocolate and rosemary are an excellent match for each other. This recipe is adapted a little from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book I Can Cook Vegan.

  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oat milk, or similar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (or, you can use ground flax seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup good cocoa powder (see notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 120g dark chocolate

1: Line a flat baking tray/cookie sheet with a piece of baking paper. Finely chop the two tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, and, while you’re at it, you might as well chop the 120g dark chocolate into rough chunks and small pieces (although keep them separate, the rosemary is added at the start; the chocolate at the end.) Because I let the cookie dough rest in the fridge for a bit, I tend not to preheat the oven at this early juncture, but just so you know I haven’t forgotten about it and it will happen.

2: Place the 1/2 cup of room temperature refined coconut oil, the 1/3 cup each brown and white sugar, and the chopped rosemary leaves into a good-sized mixing bowl, and beat briskly with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Pour in the 1/4 cup of oat milk, the tablespoon of chia seeds, and the two teaspoons of vanilla and beat again.

3: Sift the 1 and 3/4 cups of flour, the 1/3 cup cocoa, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda — and don’t skip the sieving bit here, neither cocoa nor baking soda is something you want lumps of — and stir to form a thick dough. Fold in the chopped chocolate from step one, and then put the bowl of cookie dough into the fridge to rest while you heat the oven to 180C/350F.

4: Use a tablespoon — as in, a measuring spoon, not a large serving spoon — to scoop out the cookie dough, gently rolling it into balls in your hands before setting them out on the awaiting, paper-lined tray. I laid them out four by three, they don’t spread much but it’s good to give them a little room to breathe. Use the back of the tablespoon to flatten the dough balls just a little, then bake for 10-12 minutes (bearing in mind that the cookies will continue to firm up as they sit out of the oven) before transferring them to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.

Makes around 24 cookies although, if you don’t eat any dough — and I’m warning you, it is really nice — you could probably get at least 26. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, although if your kitchen is cool, they should be fine just in the pantry.

Notes:
Regarding cocoa — if the nutritional information states that it contains anything less than 20g of fat per 100g cocoa, then it’s not worth your time or money. By which I mean, look for cocoa with 20g fat/100g and above. There’s not much I’m really fussy about in the kitchen but this is important!! You deserve good chocolate.

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music lately:

A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, in character as Mitch and Mickey in the film A Mighty Wind. The music to this satirical film is so GOOD it’s UNREAL, you know when a dog gets overexcited and runs around in circles chasing its tail, well that is me thinking about the music to this film. This song, the emotional heart of the film, also makes me so emotional, and this specific iteration, where Levy and O’Hara, in character, perform the song at the Oscars, where — abhorrently! Reprehensibly! — they did not win the award for best song, undoes me every time. I literally cannot sound normal when talking about the music to this film, and for that I apologise; and also for the fact that I’m not done yet; as I also urge you to listen to When You’re Next To Me, written by Levy himself for the film; the way he and O’Hara’s voices were made to harmonise together — the way the last chorus builds to a cavalcade — there’s nothing parodic about this, it’s just purely, breathtakingly beautiful.

Breathe Again by Toni Braxton. A perfect song, and Braxton is such a master of her vocals — the way she goes from her deeper register to that gorgeous “breathe again, breathe again” refrain gives me the chills every time.

Then Comes Dudley by The Jesus Lizard. My second-favourite band with “The Jesus” in their name; but it’s not a distant second by any means, not with songs like this!

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!

Coconut Oat Chilli Crisp

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We all have our little fallback phrases to mutter like a protective mantra, for me: “just gotta get through this week” is a phrase—if not a mood—that I return to frequently, and in February it’s gone into overdrive, no sooner have I said it, but it’s time to say it again. A month absolutely redolent of thwart but not in a cool way, more in a stupid, losing-things, splitting-my-favourite-trousers, leaving-everything-to-the-last-minute kind of way. And then I turn on the news and it’s like, okay, the week that I just gotta get through is pretty modest compared to the other options out there. But still, the sentiment stands: just gotta get through this week.

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This is my slapdash way of explaining why I haven’t blogged since the start of the month, and why I return with a recipe that I was missing key ingredients for and then managed to burn parts of. I figured if I said “just gotta get through this week” too many times I might psychologically yeet myself straight into March without realising it, or indeed, achieving anything, so I cut my losses, took some photos, and here we are. Even despite all these setbacks, this Coconut Oat Chilli Crisp is wonderfully delicious, and I can only but imagine, greedily, how good it will taste when I make it again at peak mental and organisational acuity, whenever that happy day might be. The recipe comes from Hetty McKinnon’s fantastic To Asia: With Love cookbook, the sort of collection of recipes that makes you slap the nearest firm surface and bellow “YES” as you read through them. Towards the end is this recipe, as part of a salad, I chose to make it stand-alone (and added the word “coconut” to the title just to emphasise what we’re in for) and despite over-frazzling my onions and not having the right ginger, I couldn’t be happier with the results.

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I’m a relative newcomer to chilli oil—in fact, truth be told, I’m a relative newcomer to chilli. As far as I can remember there was only cayenne pepper for dusting redly across devilled eggs, and then sometime in the late 90s sweet chilli sauce became A Thing (mostly poured, stickily, over upended tubs of cream cheese, to be gouged at with crackers), and as such I simply assumed my taste buds would be terrified of any real chilli experience and more or less avoided it for years. It turns out that I actually love chilli, and have a decent capacity for it—but it also seems that the only way to get your tastebuds used to chilli is to simply eat chilli. They’re not going to randomly do it of their own accord. A brief scan of my recent recipes will show my great latecomer’s enthusiasm for homemade chilli oil (the chilli oil beans; the bucatini with chilli oil pumpkin seeds; the sushi rice with chilli oil nuts, etc) and this recipe of Hetty McKinnon’s is my new favourite thing.

@hungryandfrozen

Hetty McKinnon’s oat chilli crisp is SO GOOD slightly adapted recipe at hungryandfrozen.com #cooking #chillicrisp #chillioil #vegan #recipes #fyp #nz

♬ Breathe Again – Toni Braxton

What really caught me was the clever use of oats as a crisp element in this oil, and their unobtrusive and nutty flavour and wafer-y fried crunch give marvellous texture and surprising richness, especially when paired with the waxy, sweet coconut. I added chopped roasted peanuts for extra crunch, and—I admit—to dilute the taste of the burnt green bits of onion. I was fully prepared for this recipe to be a wasteful disaster, fortunately, it still tasted excellent. This makes a large quantity of gloriously magma-coloured—although, not magma-hot—chilli oil, and with its versatility and long shelf-life, it would make an ideal gift.

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If you already like chilli oil, or have a jar of Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp perpetually near-empty, you won’t need me to tell you what to do with this, but the thing is, it really is versatile: it’s not so much a case of what it goes with, it’s more trying to find literally anything that can’t be improved by a glossy red spoonful of it. Rice and noodles, obviously, cold, sliced and bashed up cucumber, a ripe avocado, all friends to chilli oil; pouring this over savoury oats would be deliciously symbiotic, and, I suspect, symbiotically delicious. Or there’s always my number one summer meal, the meal that I would’ve been lost without this year, through humidity and record-high heatwaves and summer cyclones: a wobbly and pale slab of fridge-cold silken tofu, with chilli oil spooned over it. Perfection, and the kind of dish that makes you happy that you’re here, right now, and not barrelling towards next week.

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Coconut Oat Chilli Crisp

Coconut flakes and rolled oats give texture and richness to this delicious and versatile chilli oil. This is a very slight adaptation of a Hetty McKinnon recipe from her beautiful book To Asia, With Love, and the first of many, many recipes I’ll be cooking from it. The only real changes I made were to increase the oil a little, to add chopped roasted peanuts for even more crunch, and to specifically use gochugaru, the Korean red chilli powder, because I love it (and I also have a giant bag of it).

  • 3 shallots or spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced (see notes)
  • 1 cup (100g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (30g) coconut flakes (also called coconut chips)
  • 3 tablespoons gochugaru
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 and 3/4 cups neutral oil, such as rice bran
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, to taste (or about a teaspoon of pouring/table salt)

1: If using spring onions, set aside the green parts (otherwise, you will end up with what I had: burnt bits of onion.) Place the three finely sliced shallots or the white parts of your spring onions, the two finely sliced garlic cloves, the finely chopped ginger, the cup of rolled oats, the half cup of coconut flakes, the three tablespoons of gochugaru, the three tablespoons of sesame seeds, and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Pour over the 1 and 3/4 cups neutral oil, and the two tablespoons of sesame oil.

2: Bring the pan to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then set the heat to medium-low and cook for a good 25-30 minutes, until all the bits and pieces are crispy. It really will take that about that long, and you’ll start to feel—and hear—when the crispening is happening. If you’ve used spring onions, add the green parts in towards the end of this time, so they can get crisp without overcooking.

3: Pour (or ladle, which felt a bit safer to me) the contents of the pan into a bowl with a wide sieve sitting in it, so the oil can fall through to the bowl below and all the crispy bits are caught in the sieve. Let this sit until it’s cooled, which will allow the oats to get even crisper. At this point you can either mix it all together again, along with the three tablespoons of chopped roasted peanuts and the salt, and then pour that into a jar, or you can do as I did—which felt a bit more manageable—and stir the salt and peanuts into the bits and pieces in the sieve, spoon all that into your jar, and then pour the oil over the top. Whichever way you choose: make sure your jar is clean and sterilised first.

Makes around 450-500ml. The recipe book says that this can be stored at room temperature for several months. I am very slovenly about some things and nervous about others; garlic in oil is one of the latter, so I might be inclined to keep mine in the fridge—and in this current heat everything benefits from refrigeration.

Notes:

  • I hate to confess it but: I didn’t have any proper ginger and had my heart set on making this so used crushed ginger from a jar, obviously it’s not nearly as good and you should definitely make the effort to buy the real thing (and so will I, next time I make this)
  • The gochugaru brand I have is Wang. The bag will give you considerably more than you need for this recipe, which is obviously in its favour since I hoon through these mild and sweet chilli flakes pretty quickly.

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music lately:

What’ll I Do, by Janet Jackson. Obviously the entire album is a classic but I love how this song comes in halfway through to jolt you with that sixties-via-the-nineties sound, and highly intoxicating it is, too.

Ambition by Subway Sect, the kind of helter-skelter energy that I cannot get enough of (the opening riff sounds a bit like The Clean’s Tally Ho if it were run backwards) and whoever’s decision it was to have that faint bloopy bubble-pop sound in the background…thank you.

You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me by Tammy Grimes, from the 1980 original Broadway production of 42nd Street. This show is a great comfort to me—the music just is comforting, in that baked-in way very old songs can be, but also because it was the first ever musical that I saw at a very young age, and subsequently the cassette of the cast recording was played until its magnetic tape gave up. Tammy Grimes’ breathy voice is very particular, but I love it, and I’m not sure she’s ever sounded better – or more comforting – than on this album.

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 Ginger Crunch

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Any recipe that centres around a thick layer of frosting and not much else will have my immediate and enduring respect. And yet, even as a dedicated lover of icing, I also respect and understand that you need the contrast, the cake—something to hold the icing up like a plinth bearing a golden trophy, something for the icing to drape across like a silk-robed lounge singer reclining on a grand piano. Ginger Crunch is a classic recipe—by which I mean, I guess, that I remember seeing it in glass-covered bakery cabinets as a kid and I have some years to my name now—and it is an unrivalled victor in the genre of Modest Base/Big Icing. (And saying this suddenly brings to mind the cinematically perfect pairing of short king Joe Pesci with the tall and absurdly beautiful Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, a film I recommend to one and all.)

I assumed the internet would be flush with vegan versions of Ginger Crunch but ten pages into Google and all I could find were raw vegan recipes, usually involving large quantities of dates, and like, no disrespect to dates but that is NOT what I was looking for nor am I interested in pursuing that path. Of course dates can have their place in baking, but they don’t have to be in everything, and more importantly, everything vegan doesn’t also have to be raw and supposedly healthy. So, without anything to compare it to, I just made up a recipe myself and hoped for the best. I was determined to make this as simple as possible: no extra spices, no nuts, no crystallised ginger or pistachios or anything to interrupt the simple alchemy of flavours at play. I’m confident enough to make a vegan version of something everyone will recognise, but I’m not going to let that confidence go to my head. (Also, I didn’t have any crystallised ginger or pistachios or anything in the pantry.)

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And fortunately, what resulted was – the best! Just as it should, my vegan Ginger Crunch has a crisply oaty and entirely unobtrusive base, and a thick, fudge-dense, throat-burningly gingery frosting. The trick is to really go up to the knife’s edge of too much ginger, too hot, too peppery, and then to balance it out with so much sugar that your palate is constantly trying to process what’s happening to it. I mean, otherwise, what’s the point? That’s what makes this interesting, that push-pull between heat and sweet, between the intensity of the icing and the mildness of the base. In case I’ve made it sound scary I assure you, this Ginger Crunch is very normal and will be easily reminiscent of the ones you may have eaten yourself throughout your life. Nothing raw, nothing masquerading as health food, just happy, delicious, (vegan) nostalgia. And it only uses one bowl. (For reasons that infuriatingly I can’t fathom the tiktok that I made absolutely refused to embed despite not being in any way different, so if you want to watch it you’ll have to follow this link like they did in ancient times.)

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Vegan Ginger Crunch

My vegan version of the classic slice with no surprises, just an oaty base with a thick layer of ginger icing. Simple as that. Recipe by myself.

  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup oat milk, soy milk, or similar
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • a pinch of salt

Icing:

  • 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons oat milk, or similar
  • 1/4 teaspoon malt vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 level tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups icing sugar

1: Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a 20cm square brownie/slice tin with baking paper. Place the 1/4 cup refined coconut oil, 1/4 cup oat milk, and the 1/4 cup golden syrup in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients—the 1/2 cup rolled oats, 2 cups flour, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, teaspoon of ground ginger, and pinch of salt, and stir to form a crumbly dough.

2: Tip this dough into your paper-lined tin and press it down into an even layer with your hands, or the back of a spoon, or both. Use a fork or knife to stab a few holes here and there—this will help it cook evenly—and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

3: While the base is baking in the oven, you can get on with the icing. In a mixing bowl—and you might as well use the same one as for the base—stir together the 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, the 3 tablespoons golden syrup, the 2 tablespoons of oat milk and the 1/4 teaspoon of malt vinegar. It’s fine if the spoons of coconut oil and golden syrup are on the heaped side. Stir in the level tablespoon of ginger, then sieve the 2 and 1/2 cups of icing sugar into this mixture and stir to form a thick frosting, adding a little more milk if it’s too stiff (I had to add about a tablespoon).

4: Spatula the icing over the base while it’s still hot from the oven—the frosting will collapse and spread easily into an even layer—and then refrigerate until the icing is firm and matte (as you can see from the photos, I was not patient enough to wait). Cut into pieces as large or as small as you want, I got 25 pieces out of my somewhat wobbly slicing.

Notes:

You really do need to locate proper golden syrup for this to work (that is, if you’re in America or another country where it’s not a common ingredient.) Treacle would be absolutely fine, although I can’t imagine it’s any easier to get hold of. I don’t think maple syrup or corn syrup would work here, sorry, the former lacking the texture and the latter lacking the flavour, but having golden syrup to hand is endlessly rewarding so it’s worth the effort. Molasses would take it in an entirely new direction, but it probably wouldn’t be unpleasant.

The icing ingredients might not look very promising but real hungryandfrozen-heads will recognise my quick emulsion method (for which I really need to come up with a better name for) where coconut oil, milk, and a tiny splash of vinegar come together with icing sugar to make the most incredible, classic-tasting frosting.

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music lately:

Love Me More, by Mitski. There’s a new Mitski album. Naturally, I’m not okay! Naturally, it’s all brilliant!! I don’t know how she keeps coming out with new albums that somehow sound even more Mitski-ish than the ones before, but that’s why she’s Mitski and I’m just a weepily appreciative idiot.

Little Trouble Girl by Sonic Youth. Kim Deal featuring on a Sonic Youth song with this title and with this kind of mellow yet sinister arrangement is precisely the sort of combination that makes a hundred thousand people say “this was made just for me” and of course, I am one of those hundred thousand.

Aries, by Mary Lou Williams, from her delightful Zodiac Suite, composed and recorded with remarkable prescience in 1945. There is literally something for everyone (except, I suppose, people who don’t believe in horoscopes.)

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 Breakfast Banana Bread

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This is literally just banana bread with some bits in it, but I feel the granola-esque nature of the aforementioned bits more than allows for the confident title of Breakfast Banana Bread. And confident I shall be, for this banana bread is simple, only requires one bowl, and tastes wonderful—hearty yet light, comfortingly sweet yet posing no danger to your teeth, sensibly oaty yet luxurious.

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I’m feeling tentative and wary about 2022; it has started off in a way that knocked me sideways and threw me completely onto the back foot, and I’m still fragile from spending a third of 2021 in lockdown, and with the omicron variant of Covid closing in on us like a particularly dedicated homing pigeon, planning for the near future feels foolish. Besides which, it’s SO HOT, too hot to be cogent or reasonable, and I know it’s the middle of summer and this heat shouldn’t be a surprise but the news said it’s the hottest recorded summer of all time and I feel I’m within my rights to be agitated.

But even with all that I’m ready to cook again and this breakfast banana bread is an unassuming and low-key reminder of my love of thinking about food and then acting successfully on those thoughts. Banana bread was of course one of the culinary signposts of Covid Season 1 but my making it is no comment on the state of things—we just had some overripe bananas slumping on the bench, and regardless of the heat I was reminded of the comforting joy to be found in rustling up a warm baked loaf of something.

Though its long list of ingredients would suggest otherwise this recipe really is very straightforward. I imagine you could dispatch the seeds, dried fruit, and oats and replace them with 3/4 cup of actual granola for an even speedier route to your comfort food. And don’t let the name lock you into any kind of timeline: this would make an excellent midnight snack, too.

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Breakfast Banana Bread

One-bowl, very simple, mildly spruced-up vegan banana bread. Oh, and it’s delicious, of course, at any time of day. And if it’s regular, un-spruced vegan banana bread you’re after, my 2019 recipe should do the trick. Makes one loaf, recipe by myself.

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses or golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or similar)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil, or similar neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped (or sultanas, or other dried fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1: Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a small cup, mix the tablespoon of chia seeds with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside to let the seeds absorb the liquid.

2: Roughly mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl—I just used my wooden spoon to do this—and stir in the 3/4 cup sugar, the tablespoon of molasses, and the soaked chia seeds. Then stir in the 1/4 cup milk, two teaspoons apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons oil, teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup chopped dates, and two tablespoons of sunflower seeds.

3: Tip in the 1 and 1/2 cups flour and the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (I always sieve baking soda because I live in fear of finding lumps of it in my baking) and gently stir everything together till the flour is only just combined with the wet ingredients. Spatula this mixture into your prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the cinnamon over the surface. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Once cool, store in an airtight container.

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music lately:

Fantaisie-Impromptu by Hazel Scott—her piano virtuosity breathes new life into this already pretty thrilling Chopin number.

30 Seconds by Tracy Bonham. My bordering-on-unhinged obsession with the TV show Yellowjackets has seen me revisiting Bonham’s music and I hate to sound completely ancient but I miss when music sounded like this, all Breeders-y and sweet but knowing and sinister! Who’s doing it like that these days?

30/90, the opening number from Jonathan Larson’s musical, and also later the 2021 film adaptation, Tick, Tick… Boom!, and it is with a supreme and entirely unearned confidence that I link both the 2001 original Off-Broadway cast version and the 2021 film version. I imagine there’s about three of you who could be bothered to listen to both, let alone one. But still I link them both, because I can’t think about this electrifying song without considering Raul Esparza’s unearthly, not-found-in-nature vibrato in the 2001 stage show, and honestly I have to hand it to Andrew Garfield in the 2021 film adaptation, he gave it his all and seems to embody Jonathan Larson, both the person and the version of himself that Larson wrote into his shows. Because I’ve been so utterly burnt by film adaptations of musicals before I can afford to be generous here, I really loved Tick, Tick… Boom! and the slight changes to the arrangements of this song, like bringing forward the harmonies with Joshua Henry, make it somehow even more exhilarating.

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!

Fast Crispy Sweet Chilli Oyster Mushrooms [vegan]

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It’s 2022 and I can barely process this information because it’s just too hot. It’s too hot to think, it’s too hot to write, it’s too hot to work, it’s too hot to eat. With an emphasis on the former; I wrote “it’s too hot to think” three times before realising I’d repeated myself and also spelled the recipe title as “Sweet Chilly Oister Mushrooms” and stared at it for five minutes unable to work out what was wrong. Despite my gloom at us having strode purposefully into a new era of climate crisis, and despite my heat-induced fatigue, I still somehow have a recipe for you, but it’s easy to make, easy to read about (truly, I won’t go on much longer than this paragraph) and, most importantly, VERY delicious. I didn’t even take proper photos, just took some desultory snaps on my phone while trying to not faint in the midday sun—indeed, you can see the shadow of my phone in the first photo.

@hungryandfrozen

fast crispy sweet chilli oyster mushrooms 🍄 recipe @ hungryandfrozen dot com 🍄 #vegan #mushrooms #recipe #foodblogger #veganrecipes #easyrecipe #fyp

♬ Fade Into You – Mazzy Star

Oyster mushrooms are a somewhat imbalanced beast; the flavour is faint to the point of nothingness, but the texture is excellently chewy and robust and it’s this texture that makes them a high priority for me. Frying things till crisp and brown, however, makes anything taste important, a dash of mustard and Maggi seasoning or soy sauce gives the mushrooms bite and then finally—rather than getting you to make a sauce from scratch at this taxing juncture—you just pour on some sweet chilli sauce and call it a day. So now it’s sweet, sticky, crunchy, oily, and salty, and only ten minutes have passed from start to finish. The most demanding part was taking the photos in the blazing sunlight, and of course, you don’t have to do that. If you’re reading this from a frosty northern hemisphere location and can’t relate to my melodramatics, well, I’m very envious of you and these will still taste good in cold weather.

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Fast Crispy Sweet Chilli Oyster Mushrooms

Barely a recipe; but it’s quick and good and just what you want to be eating. Add whatever extra seasonings and sauces you like, and if you want more mushrooms, just bump up the quantities of everything else a little. Recipe by myself.

  • 10 or so oyster mushrooms, some big, some smaller
  • 1/3 cup oat milk, soy milk, or similar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Several dashes of Maggi seasoning sauce, or two teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried celery, or a dash of celery salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons rice bran oil, or similar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • Chopped herbs, such as basil, parsley, or chives, to serve (I used basil)

1: Trim the ends of the mushrooms (as in, the very ends, the tips where they join together, I want you to leave the stalks themselves intact) and brush off any dirt with your fingers or a paper towel.

2: Mix the 1/3 cup of milk, teaspoon of mustard, few dashes of Maggi (or soy sauce), and half teaspoon of celery salt in a bowl. Drop the mushrooms into the bowl and briefly stir so they all get thoroughly dunked. Tip the 1/3 cup flour over the mushrooms and stir again briefly, just enough to let the flour and milk combine somewhat and for the mushrooms to get coated in something, be it unmixed flour or the batter that has formed from mixing the flour and milk. Does that make sense? Don’t put too much effort in, basically.

3: Heat the oil in a large frying pan and once it’s hot, drop the mushrooms in and let them cook thoroughly on each side until well browned. Don’t be tempted to remove the mushrooms once they’re merely golden, a few minutes more patience will yield a brown and crispy coating. Transfer the mushrooms to a serving plate and spoon over the sweet chilli sauce. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, if you want them.

Serves one, depending on the size of your mushrooms and appetite. Could easily serve two as part of a more padded out meal, like a rice bowl or tacos.

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music lately:

Summer’s Cauldron by XTC—the entire Skylarking album is absolute magic, but this song particularly captures my current vibe, as you can probably tell by the title.

Out Of Space by The Prodigy, if anything can shake me from this heat inertia and make me feel alive for the first time it’s surely this song!! This is the sort of song that makes you long for the sun in the middle of winter, so you can leap around on the grass like a happy idiot while everyone looks on benevolently.

Beneath The Lights of Home by Deanna Durbin. I love talking to my Nana about old movies. She mentioned that she particularly loved Deanna Durbin’s singing, and so I’ve been listening to her (both Nana’s opinion, and Deanna Durbin’s singing.) This song is beautiful, the kind of richly comforting arrangement that reassures you everything will be, not only okay, but wonderful.

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!

Nigella’s Chocolate Pistachio Fudge [vegan]

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Between the unrepentant 100% humidity and anticipating Christmas and finally emerging from lockdown (only to find that having people expect things from me again can be as overwhelming as the numbing nothingness of the last three months), I have been witless, utterly witless. I had great intentions to achieve things this week but kept blowing all my energy and acuity on relatively innocuous activities—the Succession finale, sending one single email—and with them, my battery life would plummet like a six-month-old smartphone. I suspect I’m not the only one in this hole-punctured boat, so this is not going to be a long blog post, nor is it an emotionally taxing recipe.

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And fortunately I have the reason for the season—Nigella Lawson—to be the one set of footprints in the sand carrying me through with her boundless enthusiasm, knowledge, and reassurance. This recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Fudge couldn’t be easier—melt and stir, that’s literally it—and the results are so luscious, so elegant, so immediately celebratory and generous, you can practically tell just by looking at it who must’ve come up with the recipe.

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Somehow the simple combination of dark chocolate and condensed milk produces a flavour of immense, complex richness, almost as if there is a liqueur involved, or at least a significantly longer list of ingredients. I haven’t done anything particularly clever here in making Nigella’s recipe vegan; the sweetened condensed oat milk is very easy to find nowadays (and condensed coconut milk, even more prevalent) and the refined coconut oil is an easy replacement for butter. The pistachios sprinkled across the top (modestly, since it’s near-on double figures for a very small package of them at the supermarket) provide mellow, buttery crunch and visual opulence, their bright green almost neon against the moody chocolate backdrop.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan chocolate pistachio fudge 🍫 inspired by Nigella 🍫 recipe at hungryandfrozen.com #vegan #chocolate #christmas #homemadegift #recipes #foodblog

♬ Sugar Rum Cherry – Duke Ellington

It goes without saying that this fudge makes an excellent gift. Just make sure you keep it in the freezer (or at the very least, the fridge) both before and after it’s received. And of course, if you’re in the mood to make edible gifts for people this year, there’s my recipe list/round up at your service, and I’d also like to draw your attention to my 24 Hour Party Seitan if you’re after a main course idea for the day itself. I hope everyone out there has a Christmas that’s as peaceful and mellow as is feasibly possible, whether it’s a great big deal or just another day of the week, and I’ll see you all in 2022—a year whose repetition of numbers makes it feel impossibly futuristic, but apparently it’s coming, and it’s real! (Also It’s Coming, It’s Real by Swans was my most-listened to song on Spotify this year. You know what they say, the medium is the message!)

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Nigella’s (vegan) Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

This is almost shockingly simple, for how delicious and elegant the results are. It’s not the traditional kind of fudge—more of a general rich confection—but who cares, it tastes amazing and looks gorgeous. I’ve simply swapped the condensed milk for condensed oat milk and it works perfectly, you could also use condensed coconut milk, both are usually next to each other on the shelf and both are made by the good people at Nature’s Charm. I’ve also reduced the pistachios to a mere sprinkling on the surface, because they’re so expensive at the moment. If this isn’t something that bothers you, by all means add more. Recipe adapted by me, from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express.

  • 375g dark chocolate (50% is good here), roughly chopped
  • 1 x 320g can of sweetened condensed oat milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped

1: Place the chocolate, condensed milk, (making sure to spatula out every last precious, sticky drop) coconut oil, and salt into a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over a very low heat until the chocolate melts, turning everything into a glossy, thick brown liquid. This only took a couple minutes at most for me.

2: Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper (or, as Nigella suggests, use a throwaway foil tray) and spatula the chocolate mixture into it, spreading it gently towards each corner in an even layer. Sprinkle over the pistachios and refrigerate till firm. That’s all there is to it!

Makes 64 squares if you slice it eight times vertically and horizontally, which seems like a magically enormous quantity to achieve from such a small amount of ingredients, and definitely justifies the cook trying a few pieces.

Store the fudge in an airtight container in the freezer (I re-use the baking paper between the layers of slices) where its texture and flavour only improves. This does soften quite quickly, or at least in this vicious heat it will, so if you’re going to give this as a gift, still keep it cold.

Notes: 

  • If you need this fudge to be gluten-free, use the condensed coconut milk instead of the oat milk
  • Refined coconut oil, specifically, doesn’t taste at all like coconut and won’t impart any such flavour to your fudge. If you get regular/unrefined coconut oil it will probably give a distinct flavour to your fudge, but will behave the same otherwise 
  • Because our tins of condensed oat/coconut milk are smaller than the dairy condensed milk tins, I increased the quantity of chocolate a little to compensate 

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music lately:

Have Fun Go Mad by Blair—just when I think I’ve excavated every possible memory, something will appear that I haven’t considered since the turn of the century and I’ll suddenly be flung back in time. The title of this song and artist may not ring any bells but click through and if you’re of a certain age you, too, can experience this backwards-flinging towards the mid 90s. This song is so uncool that it comes full circle and is in fact the coolest thing I’ve ever heard, and I’m glad to have heard it again after so long.

O Holy Night by Mahalia Jackson. It simply isn’t Christmas without Mahalia, her voice rises up to heights we can only see by telescope without even breaking a sweat.

Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond, look, he’s not a man to whom I’ve ever given the time of day (to the point where I had to search for this song by typing “what is that one Neil Diamond song that I like, you know, that one that slaps”) but this song! It unequivocally slaps! He really pulled a rabbit out of a hat here! I’m not ashamed to say it!

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