lost your love of life, too much apple pie

vegan apple tart

You might be the sort of morally upright person who enjoys a job well done, but I personally subscribe to the singular pleasure of the illusion of a job well done, where you’ve put in hardly any effort and yet the results yielded appear to be drawn from a time of great toil. This recipe is one such exemplary example of this genre, there’s just nothing to it, but fresh from the oven it precisely resembles the kind of confection that the lead in a romantic comedy, perhaps played by Kristin Wiig or Mila Kunis, would make in her job as a very part-time pastry chef who lives in an spacious, light-filled loft apartment in Manhattan.

Admittedly, I made this and then immediately ate the entire thing myself so the window of impressing other people with my no-effort-effort was quickly slammed shut but I’m going to assume that all of you are impressed while reading this at least.

P1180933

I’m in Wellington for a few more days, and have reached the point of my itinerary where I’m still staying at Kate and Jason’s house but they’ve gone away on a trip for a while, which is how I found myself looking at an apple that had hitherto belonged to them and being like, “I’d really better put this to use.” I don’t know if you get like this when you’re staying in someone’s house while they’re not there but it’s like a strange lawless urgency, like, should I drink all their shampoo and conditioner before it expires? Will they expect to have flour when they get home? Do all their cushions now belong to me?

In case your respectful awe at my apple tart making has turned to concern, like, I’ve literally only used this one apple, everyone’s belongings are intact, I’m just being farcical. (Although I do also literally think this every time I step foot into someone’s property.) (I just don’t generally act upon it.)

vegan apple tart

I already had some pastry sheets in the freezer from making some olive and almond pinwheels for book group last week and so it seemed prudent to put the remainder to use. My recipe takes direct inspiration from one of Nigella’s in her 2007 book Nigella Express, and it’s as delicious as it is un-stressful to make, as is to be expected from something of her provenance. It’s somehow sturdily old-fashioned yet daintily elegant at the same time, and there’s a pleasing delicacy to the whole proceeding, from the light, fluttery pastry to the gently sweetened, almost translucently thin apples, which retain both their shape and just the slightest, merest hint of sour bite. If you wish to emphasise this you could strew over some finely milled lemon zest, if you want to make it sweeter by all means add more sugar, but I like it just as it is.

vegan apple tart

Easy Apple Tart

Based loosely on a recipe of Nigella Lawson’s from her book Nigella Express

  • 1 sheet ready-rolled flaky puff pastry (check the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan, if you want to make sure it’s vegan)
  • 1 large red apple (or green or whatever, the one I found was red, is all)
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup (or maple syrup, or similar)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • small pinch of salt

Set your oven to 200C/400F and take your sheet of pastry out of the freezer to thaw a little if that’s where you’ve been keeping it.

Slice two cheeks off the sides of the apple and then, as thinly as you can, slice them into half moons. Continue with the rest of the apple.

Using the point of your knife, score a border one inch or so in from the edges of the sheet of pastry, by which I mean, run the knife along the pastry so there’s a partial incision but don’t cut all the way through. This will allow the border to puff up, and no, I have no idea how it works.

Arrange the slices of apple in overlapping layers in the centre square of the pastry, avoiding crossing the border that you’ve cut in. Mix the golden syrup, cornflour, water and salt in a small bowl and drizzle it over the apple slices.

Carefully slide this onto a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper – or better yet, move the pastry to the baking tray before you arrange the apples on it.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the apples are golden and the border of the pastry sheet is puffed and risen. Allow to sit for five or so minutes then cut into squares.

vegan apple tart

I feel duty-bound to draw your attention to the serendipitous vegan-ness of a lot of frozen puff pastry, but also wearily acknowledge that it often substitutes palm oil for butter, and like, on the one hand there’s only so many things you can be self-flagellating about at once in regards to late capitalism (believe me, I’ve tried), but on the other hand…actually I don’t think I have a counterpoint, but I do think I’ll be googling homemade vegan puff pastry recipes.

P1180946

It’s Ariel’s time to shine! (By which I mean, studiously ignore me, but it’s a gentle disregard unlike my parents’ cats who sit in the corner looking like cartoon villains plotting dragon-related revenge against any number of perceived slights, and so, it feels like love.)

My Patreon patrons will have known this for a minute now, but let me tell those of you who aren’t yet aware: an exciting opportunity has befallen me. In July, a new online vegan magazine will be launching from the US, via Medium.com, called Tenderly, and I will be a regular contributor to them! Do you know how specifically wild it is to have a paid writing opportunity at all and to have that writing be about a subject I am genuinely into? It’s wild!

So, you better believe there are going to be some changes around here! The quantity of content I’ll be writing for Tenderly means I will be gently receding my content on here, just like, super slightly, so that my brain doesn’t dissolve into a nourishing yet highly un-vegan broth. But then, once a month, I will be putting a blog post very much like this one on my Patreon for subscribers only to read. The good news is that if you want in, this will be available for just a dollar per month, and if you don’t want in, there will still be other blog posts for you here on hungryandfrozen.com, and the really good news is that if you want to spend more than that, well I can totally accommodate you there too.

You know that scene in The Simpsons when the teachers are on strike and Vice Superintendent Leopold busts into Bart’s classroom and he’s like “all right, you listen up, you little freaks! The fun stops here, you’re going to shut your stinking traps and behave, damn it! This is one substitute you’re not going to screw with!” and then Marge Simpson comes in radiating absolute niceness? That’s kind of my vibe with all this. It may sound like a wild door-kicking change but I’ll still just be right here, being nice. I’ll just also be writing more for Patreon (probably with appalling titles like “all in all you’re just another brick in the paywall,” some things never change.)

title from: Kennedy by The Wedding Present, a rollicking song with fabulous drums and vocals that suggest peevish gargling, by which I mean, I like it a lot.

music lately:

Sunshine On A Rainy Day by Naomi Campbell, who released an album in 1994, because why not, who would possibly stand in her way? It’s majorly patchy, and yet so endearing as a whole, it just sounds exactly how it should, it sounds how all albums like this wish they could. This song, a cover of Zoe’s 1990 hit, is a massive standout, with Campbell’s vocals so amazingly present and confident, and there’s something incredibly comforting about that 90s sound, combining gospel choirs and shuffling trip-hop beats and broad yet vague spirituality.

Whatever Lola Wants by Gwen Verdon from the musical Damn Yankees. The song itself is very old-fashioned – though oddly appealing – but she just completely embodies her husband and longtime collaborator Bob Fosse’s choreography in this. Even though the number is ostensibly a striptease, her character is a seductress for the devil who traded her soul for eternal youth so it’s supposed to be funny and disarming and Verdon, whose body moves like liquid, seems more like a cartoon than a real person – her movements are so precise yet so disjointed and so weird yet so purposeful – and notice how much of this is done in one take.

Next time: I’m in Wellington a bit longer but will be back at my parents’ place by the end of the week, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will be town cat or country cat in the background of the photos.

don’t have a cow, man

P1180394

I’m warning you right now, this blog post is long as HELL due to the fact that I was tinkering around with ideas for Christmas Dinner recipes and somehow ended up making three recipes at once in an absolute fugue state of proficiency and perspicacity: Brined and Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Pesto Glaze; Roasted Whole Pumpkin with Herb and Onion Stuffing, and Eggplant Roulade, AND Mushroom, Walnut and Red Wine Gravy. It’s suddenly less than a month till Christmas and whether or not you observe the holiday in an official capacity there’s no denying that this time of year calls for an excess of abundance and an abundance of excess so I was like why not just … write about this all this at once. So whether you’re the kind to settle in with a glass of port to scrutinise this from top to bottom or you’re already flexing your scrolling finger (or indeed, whichever body part you use to scroll downwards through large swathes of text), here we go.

I’m not one to not boast, but I just want the record to state that I made every single one of the below recipes all at once in just under two and a half hours. Why? You know and I know, because I bring it up a lot, because it happens a lot: I’m quite all or nothing. At times an inert snake lying in bed unable to finish, well, even this sentence; at times I’m like “Uh I wrote an entire violin symphony in twelve minutes” (to everything, turn turn, there is a season, turn turn) and while the presence of Ritalin in my life has helped to both enable activity on the inert-snake days and to moderate the high energy hyper-focus, that’s still just how I am. And I guess this week’s blog is precisely an example of that hyperfocus in action: I had all these ideas for recipes that might be cool for Christmas dinner, or indeed, any celebratory food-eating time, and I just put my head down and made the whole lot at once without really thinking through what I was doing and suddenly two and a half hours later there was an enormous meal just sitting there. (This is how I know I’ve made personal growth/consumed some Ritalin though: I actually wrote down the recipes as I was making them. Yes, this is what counts as personal growth for me.)

P1180379

Somewhat hilariously, none of the friends that I messaged to come help me eat it were available, leaving me alone at the table with this massive feast and wondering ruefully whether perhaps you really cannot, in fact, win friends with salad. I’m not saying I like, threw it all in the bin or anything, I had a delicious plateful of everything and have been eating leftovers gleefully ever since, but what I am saying is that you’ll just have to take my word for it that these recipes are good.

My aim for these recipes was to create a sense of lavishness, intense deliciousness and layers of texture and flavour, so that there was no sense of being without, that you would feel and indeed taste the effort and care taken. I wanted food that was somehow inherently Christmassy – which is a little weird, I grant you, because in New Zealand Christmas falls in the middle of summer but so many people still have a very traditional English style full roast meal. By which I mean, even though we’re all sweating uncomfortably, the food is resolutely winter wonderland because that’s just how it is. So that’s what I was going for.

P1180381

1: Brined and Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Pesto Glaze

A recipe by myself, but inspired by the title of this one on Food52.

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Brine:

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half/into bits
  • 1 inch or so slice of fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced in half (no need to peel)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Pesto:

  • The leaves from 1 of those supermarket basil plants (roughly two cups loosely packed basil leaves)
  • 1 cup loosely packed rocket leaves
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (can be from a bottle)
  • Plenty of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup water, optional

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and trim off as much of the stem as you can manage, so that the cauliflower is able to sit on its haunches, so to speak, without anything protruding from the base.

Place all the brine ingredients in a large mixing bowl, fill partway with cold water, and give it a stir just to dissolve the maple syrup and salt somewhat. Sit the cauliflower in this and top with water till the cauliflower is more or less submerged. Cover – either with plastic wrap or simply by sitting a plate on top – and set aside away from any heat for an hour, although if it’s like an hour and fifteen minutes because you forgot or something came up that’s honestly fine.

Get on with the pesto while the cauliflower is brining – throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz to form a rough green paste. Add a little water to loosen it up a bit, it can absorb it without making it watery. Taste for salt, pepper, or more lime juice, and set aside.

Set your oven to 200C/400F and get an oven dish ready. Once the oven is hot and the brining time is up, remove the cauliflower from the brine, shaking off any bits that have stuck to it, and place it in the roasting dish. Drizzle with the two tablespoons of olive oil and roast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, or until it’s evenly golden on the surface. At this point, spoon some of the pesto over the cauliflower, using a pastry brush to spread it down over the florets, and return to the oven for another ten minutes. Serve with the remaining pesto in a dish beside for those who (rightly) want more.

P1180389

2: Roasted Whole Pumpkin with Herb and Onion Stuffing

A recipe by myself

  • 1 good-sized buttercup pumpkin (roughly 900g I guess? But I personally relate more to “good sized” than weight for accuracy)
  • 1 can white beans, often sold as haricot beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 small ciabatta or similarly hearty bread roll
  • 1 tablespoon English Mustard or wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • Plenty of salt and pepper, to taste

Set your oven to 200C/400F. Cut the ciabatta in half and sit it in the oven while it’s heating up for about five minutes, the aim being to lightly toast it and dry it out (just don’t forget that it’s there.)

Using a small, sharp knife, make incisions in a circular fashion around the stem of the pumpkin so you can wiggle it out and reveal the insides. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon – set aside to roast them if you like but this level of sustainability was unfortunately too much for me, and I simply binned them. (This might be a good time to check on the state of your ciabatta in the oven.)

Dice the onion and gently fry it in the olive oil till it’s softened and golden. Add the pumpkin seeds and give them a stir for a minute just to toast them a little, then set the pan aside off the heat.

Drain the can of beans and roughly mash them with a fork, it doesn’t matter if some are left whole. Roughly slice the ciabatta into small cubes and add this to the mashed beans along with the thyme, rosemary, mustard, maple syrup, cider vinegar, nutmeg, plenty of salt and pepper, and the onion/pumpkin seed mixture.

Carefully spoon all of this into the waiting and emptied pumpkin, pushing down with the spoon to fill every crevice and cavity. Place the stem on top like a lid. Sit the pumpkin on a large piece of tinfoil and bring the tinfoil up the sides of the pumpkin so it’s mostly wrapped but with the stem still exposed (did I explain this right?) and then sit this in a roasting dish. Roast for an hour and a half or until a knife can easily pierce through the side of the pumpkin, thus meaning the inside is good and tender. Serve by cutting the pumpkin into large wedges.

P1180384

3: Eggplant Roulade

A recipe by myself

  • 2 sheets flaky puff pastry (check the ingredients to make sure they’re dairy free, if this is of concern)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 cup bulghur wheat
  • 70g walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • plenty of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter

Set your oven to 200C/400F. Place the bulghur wheat in a large bowl and pour over water from a just-boiled kettle to cover it by about 1cm. Cover with plastic wrap or similar and set aside for about ten minutes for it to absorb.

Meanwhile, slice the eggplant as thinly as you can lengthwise. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant slices a few at a time on both sides till softened and browned, adding more olive oil as you (inevitably) need it. Set aside.

Fluff the cooked bulghur wheat with a fork and stir in the walnuts, cranberries, rosemary, cumin, cinnamon, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Set the two sheets of pastry side by side with one inch overlap on a large piece of baking paper, and press down where they overlap to kind of glue them together into one large piece of pastry. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the almond butter over the pastry – soften it with a little olive oil if you need to. Place the eggplant slices on top of this in one layer starting from the left side, with the long side of the eggplant parallel to the long side of the pastry – I had six slices of eggplant so there was two sets of three laid horizontally, if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll try to explain further. Now take the bulghur wheat and spoon it in a thick column on top of the eggplant, roughly an inch in from the short side on the left. Carefully but confidently roll the pastry from the short side over the bulghur wheat and continue rolling, sushi-like, till you have a fat cylinder of pastry coiled around the eggplant and bulghur. Tuck the edges down and pinch them together, and carefully place the pastry into a baking dish. Make a couple of slashes in the top with a sharp knife and brush the surface with olive oil, then bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the pastry is puffy and golden brown. Serve in thick slices.

(There’ll be heaps of bulghur wheat leftover but it’s delicious reheated and drizzled with lots of olive oil the next day, however reduce the quantity if you don’t want leftovers.)

4: Mushroom, Walnut and Red Wine Gravy

A (vague, I admit) recipe by myself

  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 7 brown mushrooms (if you have like 9 this is not a problem)
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 70g walnuts
  • A pinch each of ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Make sure the mushrooms have any dirt brushed off and roughly chop them as well. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry all of this over a low heat until the onions and mushrooms are softened. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a couple of minutes, before raising the heat and tipping in the red wine. Stir till the wine is absorbed into the floury oniony mushrooms, then tip in the walnuts, the nutritional yeast, and the cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add water – around 250ml/1 cup – and allow it to come to the boil, stirring continuously till it’s looking a little thick. You’re going to be blending this up so all the ingredients will naturally thicken it, so it doesn’t have to be too reduced down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blitzing it carefully in a high speed blender. I tipped it straight back into the pan to reheat it, but by all means strain it if you want it to be super smooth. It may need more water added at this point if it’s too thick, but up to you. Finally add the soy sauce to taste, and serve hot over EVERYTHING.

P1180397

With all that in mind, let’s assess them individually.

1: The concept of roasting a whole cauliflower is, as I noted, an idea I got from Food52, and the idea of brining it first is something I got from a Nigella turkey recipe. I love the idea of treating a vegetable in the same way that you’d treat meat and while cauliflower is more or less going to look after itself in the oven this does come out sweet and tender with its crisp pesto-crusted exterior. It also looks rather wonderful in the roasting dish because it’s so big and whole. On the other hand, because one must be critical: even with the brining and the pesto, this is still just like, a cauliflower alone on a plate. My verdict: this is delicious but I would want it as well as something else, as opposed to being the only thing, otherwise it’s like “wow cool thanks for my slice of damp vegetable really appreciate this.” You of course personally might be more than satisfied by this! But this is how I feel.

P1180405

2: The whole pumpkin looks really cool, somehow splendid yet storybook-adorable at the same time. The stuffing has, somehow, and I mean this in an entirely positive and non-innuendo way: a certain sausagey-ness to it. Something in the way the vinegar and mustard play off the rich thyme and the mashed beans and the texture of the bread, it’s all very cured-smallgoodsy and hearty and traditional tasting. My verdict: I am super pleased with this, however I would recommend leaning further into the luxuriousness by making the pesto anyway to have alongside, and perhaps consider adding some pistachios or something else treat-y to the stuffing so that the vegan in your close proximity feels particularly loved.

P1180399

3: The eggplant roulade was my favourite! There’s something about pastry that makes anything feel like an enormous effort was made (which, if you managed to make it through my attempts at instructing how to roll the pastry up, is entirely true) and also tastes of true opulence. Happily, it’s very easy to find ready-rolled sheets of puff pastry at the supermarket which are incidentally vegan because they use baker’s margarine or whatever they call it; and it still somehow tastes exactly like it should, probably because it’s what’s used in all commercially made pies and pastries and so our tastebuds are used to it (depending on how many times you’ve fallen asleep with a half-eaten gas station pie nestled beside you on your pillow, I guess.) The eggplant is rich and fulsome and the cinnamon and cranberries in the bulghur wheat are merrily Christmassy. Again, you could consider adding more to make this more, well, more: pistachios, almonds, that ubiquitous pesto, but as it is this is just wonderful. My verdict: Yes.

4: Gravy is so important and I refuse to miss out! This is pretty straightforward, layering savoury upon savoury upon savoury. My verdict: absolutely necessary.

P1180404

Because this is already sprawlingly enormous I’m going to wrap it up but overall I’m delighted with everything and with myself. I mentioned last time that I was sick with something flu-like, I thought it had gone away but then halfway through Friday night at work my voice started to disappear, unfortunately I skipped right over sexy-husky and went straight to useless (whispering “hello…welcome” in a strangled modulation as customers blithely walked by, not hearing a single thing I’d said) and seemed to be regressing back into glum sickness. Fortunately I managed to harness the one burst of high-octane energy that I’ve had all week to hoon through making these recipes; I also managed to update my Frasier food blog (Niles and Daphne, sitting in a Gothic mansion!) and have spent the rest of the time when not at work in bed irritably lacking in voice, which is possibly why I’m luxuriating in talking so much on here. Whether it’s residual sickness or just sheer effort I now feel like I need a nap after writing down all those recipes and you may well too if you’ve managed to read this far: napping is the most seasonally-appropriate activity there is, let’s be honest.

title from: Initially I was going to make it “you don’t win friends with salad” from that Simpsons bit but then I thought the “don’t have a cow, man” Simpsons quote was even funnier, all things considered.

music lately:

Blackberry Molasses, Mista This was one of my favourite songs in 1996 and it’s still super sweet, but I am also so sure that the version we got on the radio was faster than this? Can anyone verify?

Laugh It Off, Chelsea Jade. I actually did 1 (one) other activity this week: I went to see local angel Chelsea Jade live at Meow. Her music is just incredible, floaty and dreamy but pinprick-sharp as well and it was so cool to see her again.

Two Dots on a Map, Russian Futurists. This song is so swoony and expansive and pretty much undeniable Laura-bait. While I’m here may I also recommend their aggressively enthusiastic song Paul Simon.

Next time: less is more, I promise.

PS If you wish to receive a version of this blog post before everyone else in your inbox, newsletter-style, every Sunday-ish, then consider signing up here. 

you’re lying with your gold chain on, cigar hanging from your lips

P1180256

I’ve been pretty committedly vegan for a few months now, but it felt like the one insurmountable hurdle I truly had to surmount was the issue of butter. And that’s because I’ve really made butter my thing over the years. Why, in 2009, when this blog was but two years old, I wrote the following:

“Maybe in years to come, when my blog has changed lives, and gets turned into a beautiful book, and then the movie of the book of the blog changes peoples’ lives (oh wait, that’s Julie and Julia that I’m thinking of, and somewhat more feasibly, I’ll probably slide quietly into further obscurity), and a naive child asks their grandparents what the ultimate blog post that would describe Hungry and Frozen would be, what the very distilled essence of this whole strange business is, the ur-text, the definitive piece of writing, their grandparents might lean down and utter with a wise, earthy croak: The one where she made her own butter.

(the blog post was about me making my own butter.)

I actually did of course, some years later but also some years ago, get my blog turned into a beautiful cookbook (such are my powers of manifestation) although it didn’t quite take the path that I so breathlessly imagined back then. The point is, I was extremely about butter and it’s scary backing down from anything you’ve been vocally definite about, right? When I first started this blog in 2007 the subheading was a quote from Nigella Lawson herself about butter and in all honesty, the very thought of butter alternatives (alright, margarine, the butter alternative that dare not speak its name) made me genuinely quite panicky. Like my reputation – whatever it may have been or currently be – would be utterly tarnished if one single person wasn’t wholly aware of my commitment to butter.

When you are as righteous and strident as I have been about ever so many things, it becomes extremely stressful to change that, because there’s this heavily-weighted sense that people will judge you for subverting the expectations that you’ve built up so thoroughly for them. That you’re letting people down somehow by stepping sideways into slightly newer versions of the person they usually recognise you as.

It’s chilling in every sense of the word (that is, it’s horrifying but also relaxing) that actually people never are thinking about you as much as you think they are; I’m also learning ever so slowly that being low-key instead of super righteous makes for much less stress in the long run, and reminding myself what people expect from me and what I owe people are pretty equally minimal. This is a good thing to remind yourself of, and while it’s easy to just say don’t worry about what people will think of you for your various life choices, just like…on the whole, none of us have to worry as much as we think we do.

P1180261

So with ALL this in mind, I handed over New Zealand Dollars in exchange for a butter alternative for the first literal time in my life the other day, and not only did the sky not fall in, not for want of me waiting for it to; the stuff I bought also tasted pretty decent. I do genuinely still believe there’s no better flavour on earth than actual butter but I’m also okay, currently, with just not having it. I suppose in the same way that any commitment you make has its compromises. Nuttelex Buttery is what I went for and it tastes quite similar to Lurpak, that pale European butter that I used to spread on my toast when I lived in England.

And I used it in this recipe (yes finally, the recipe!) comprising cauliflower roasted with miso and mustard, wrapped in sheets of filo pastry, each layer of pastry brushed with a mixture of the melted vegan butter and nutritional yeast. I purchased the former and the latter together and really felt like I’d levelled up in my veganism. If you haven’t had it before, nutritional yeast is this truly magical dust, it makes everything taste intensely savoury and savourily intense. If I were to describe the flavour it would be somewhere between parmesan, Marmite and roasted mushrooms, and it’s absolutely perfect with the cauliflower’s mildness and the papery-thin crispness of the pastry.

P1180260

I made these filo cigars very much on the fly, one of those recipes that is a reaction to whatever one happens to have on hand as opposed to the result of actual planning. But I was, as is often the case with such recipes, completely delighted with them and ended up eating five out of the six pictured in one go as opposed to having them sitting about for future snacking purposes. The whole thing is an exercise in savouriness – the sharp, salty miso mustard coating the cauliflower, the nuttiness of the sunflower seeds and the, yes, vegan butter, the crunch of the pastry with the aforementioned absolute magic of the nutritional yeast between each fragile layer.

Miso Cauliflower Filo Cigars

A recipe by myself

  • 9 sheets of filo pastry
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter (or actual butter, or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (Bragg’s is the brand I got)
  • half a head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Black pepper, to taste

Set your oven to 200C/400F.

Chop the cauliflower roughly into small pieces. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with the two tablespoons of olive oil and roast for fifteen minutes or until softened and browned at the edges.

Mix the miso paste, mustard, and black pepper together and spoon or brush it over the cauliflower, and return to the oven for another five minutes. Throw the sunflower seeds over the top at this point as well so they can get toasted by the oven’s heat, if you wish (I, for one, recommend it.)

Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave and stir in the nutritional yeast.

Three layers of filo pastry will yield you two cigars, so brush one sheet of pastry with the melted butter/nutritional yeast mix, then lay another sheet of filo on top and brush that with butter, and then finally another sheet. Cut it down the middle so you’ve got two layered rectangles.

Mix the breadcrumbs and dried rosemary in another small bowl (sorry about all the dishes involved.)

Spoon a small quantity of the cauliflower and sunflower seeds into roughly the middle of one of the pastry rectangles, followed by a heaped spoonful of the breadcrumbs. The simplest way to fashion these cigars, I find, is to tuck the sides in over the top of the cauliflower and then roll the whole thing away from yourself so you’ve got a thick parcel. Set aside onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, and repeat with the other rectangle of pastry.

Brush more sets of three sheets of filo with the butter and then cut, fill, and roll into cigars in the same manner. Brush the cigars with any remaining butter and bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and more rosemary if you like. And then eat them.

P1180263

You could be as reactionary as I’ve been and make these based on what you have to hand or can easily access – broccoli would surely be just as good as the cauliflower, literally any nut would be fine instead of sunflower seeds, obviously you could use real butter or olive oil instead of a butter alternative, and if you wanted to bulk it out with couscous or bulghur wheat instead of breadcrumbs I suspect it would be fantastic. But as they are, as I made them, these tasted incredibly incredible, and even the one remaining cigar, consumed cold and moderately soggy after work sometime around 5am, was unexpectedly delicious. Maybe even more so.

title from: Off to the Races, by Lana Del Rey. The very distillation of a Lana Del Rey song, to be honest, and I love her for it.

music lately:

INXS, Don’t Change. As far as INXS songs go this one from 1982 is not nearly as well-known as their main hits but it’s so, so good! It has this drive and energy and sounds so ahead of its time, like a song from 2004 written by a band trying to sound like they were from 1982!

Felt, Primitive Painters. This already lovely song is sent into the stratosphere by the presence of Elizabeth Fraser, “the voice of god” – she sounds like cold falling water, like a feather being run across the back of your neck, like a casual angel (to corroborate this, should you have your doubts, may I direct you to where you’ve probably heard her already: Teardrop by Massive Attack.)

Tim Buckley, Song to the Siren. SO sad and pretty, a real exemplary example of this genre. (The genre being, sad and pretty.)

Next time: CAN YOU BELIEVE it’s technically, and worse, literally, October; I’m super excited to eat some asparagus, should I manage to ever not sleep through the Sunday markets, or indeed, Spring itself.

PS: if you want to receive these blog posts ahead of the crowd like the bon vivant you are, you may consider signing up here which will allow you to get these posts sent to your inbox every Sunday, which, if you’ve done it already, means you already read this post three days ago, in which case congratulations on your excellent taste for making it through this far upon second reading. 

my heart’s a tart your body’s rent

Don’t get me wrong, everything is DIFFICULT. Life is hard. A genuine slog. I’m not even talking about in a global bees-are-dying-ice-caps-are-melting-america-is-political-hell way, I’m talking very much in the personal, up here in my head kind of context. But I’m not going to focus on that today! Lol I’m ADHD, I can’t focus on anything! Kidding: I’m instead going to talk about some lovely things that have happened, because no matter what’s happening, if you don’t stop and acknowledge good things and hold onto them they might disappear, like a dream you can’t quite remember even though you can picture frames and fragments of it. (Side note though: last night I dreamed that I composed an incredible pop punk song, and in my dream I even wrote down, well, not the notes because I don’t know how to write them, but I drew a line that depicted which directions the melody went in, because I was like I’m going to want to remember this, and then I woke up and all I had left was a few flashes of the accompanying music video and like, there goes my definitely burgeoning and inevitable music career.)

But anyway? What’s good, you ask? Last week I found out I was a national finalist in a cocktail competition. Isn’t that amazing! I’ve been feeling a tiny bit shaky about my abilities of late but it was a shot (ha) of confidence that I needed and honestly just such a wonderful happy feeling, that a cocktail I created out of my own brain resonated with someone. I’m so excited and happy to be involved and cannot wait to present it to the judges because if there’s one thing in this life that gives me joy, it’s having an audience.

On Saturday I had the supreme joy of going to the wedding of two dear friends of mine. I’m gonna be straight up with you, one of said people getting married was Tim, who I used to talk about on this blog a lot on account of he was my partner for some time. It was such a wonderful thing to be there to witness and share the special day for him and his now-wife, and the whole time was so filled with happiness and love and good friends and literal puppies because they held it at the SPCA (thus setting the gold standard for any future weddings I shall attend: will there be puppies?) I’ve been to some fairly dull weddings, this one was pure nonstop goodness and a golden high point of my week.

Last week I also got to be squired to dinner at Shepherd, a fancy restaurant of the kind that I could only go if someone was indeed squiring me. My two best friends, Kim and Kate, and Kate’s mum (the one whomst squired us) drank champagne and ate amazing food and I left replete and happy. I don’t get to go out to dinner, well, honestly ever because I’m either broke or working, so this was a rare treat and to share it with my favourite people was just perfect. On that note, if anyone ELSE wants to squire me out to dinner, you need only but giz a yell.

I’m trying out a new medication in order to temper the wild grunty cantering boar that is my anxiety and the leaden-weighted lead weight that is my depression, and while it’s making me super sluggish I’m kind of excited to be doing something new and to have a doctor who listens to me and is trying to take practical steps to help me out. Thus far the sluggishness is a bit deadening but on the upside I’m too sleepy and gluey of brain to be truly anxious, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when it starts to even out a bit.

And! The other night, in a CLASSIC me move, I thought up this recipe whilst unable to sleep. Ironically, I was so excited about it that all I wanted to do was go to sleep so that I could wake up and buy the ingredients to make it. As with most ideas, it appeared in a rush – a fig and feta tart with layers of spiced butter brushed on each sheet of filo pastry in the base. I figured it would be elegant, with the filling all tart and salty and darkly sweet, and that the delicate buttery bite of the filo pastry would be excellent against the grainy figs and creamy feta. As is so often the case, I was correct.

Even if the idea of just up and making a tart sounds like too much admin, this one is supremely easy – no one on earth will ever, nor should they, expect you to make your own filo but damn if it doesn’t look fancy once it’s all baked up. The rest is more or less literally just feta and figs, no actual real filling to worry about, and the spice-studded butter gives it immensely good depth of flavour and stops it being, you know, too uncomplicated.

feta, fig, and spiced butter filo tart

a recipe by myself

  • one package of filo pastry
  • 50g butter
  • one teaspoon ground cumin
  • half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • half a teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 250g – 300g feta cheese (look for one that’s soft and creamy – happily, this is usually the cheapest one)
  • 100g figlets or dried figs, but ideally the uh, soft and damp kind, if that makes sense? Not those rock-solid crystallised ones. 
  • one tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • one teaspoon Dijon mustard, or any mustard that you fancy
  • pink peppercorns and thyme leaves, to garnish

Set the oven to 200C/400F. Melt the butter and stir in the cumin, cinnamon, and chilli flakes. 

Using a pastry brush, paint the base and sides of a 20cm pie dish or fluted tart tin with the spiced butter. Place a sheet of filo pastry on top of it, pressing it gently into the inner rim of the dish. Paint it with butter and layer with another sheet of filo. Continue in this manner for roughly ten sheets of filo, pressing them snugly in to fit the tin as you go. It’s honestly up to you how many layers you do really but once you run out of butter that’s as good a time as any to stop, I guess. Trim any major overhang from around the ruffly, layered edges. 

Take 2/3 of the feta and mash it roughly with a fork along with the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Spatula all of this into the filo-layered pie dish, spreading it gently and evenly over the base. 

Slice the figlets in half and place them more or less evenly on top of the feta, then sprinkle over the remaining 1/3 block of feta. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then bake it for about 20 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are a deep golden brown. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and thyme leaves, and some more balsamic vinegar if you like. 

PS: if all you can find is really dry hard mean figs, try soaking them in some boiling water first to plump them up and soften them somewhat. 

The textures at play here are wonderful and even though it’s a modestly filled disc of pastry, the buttery richness and punchy flavours make it extremely satisfying. That said, I reckon two people could demolish this quite qualm-free. It would be easy enough to make it bigger – just use a bigger pie dish and more butter, feta, and figs. I feel like pistachios would be a wonderful addition here, not least because of their colour, but anything at all really. Filo pastry is so lovely – almost dissolving under the weight of your teeth, so fragile and crisp and delicate and butter-absorbing. If you’re feeling like a fancy person this would happily translate to individual tart tins for a dinner party or something too.

Guess what, something ELSE nice happened – I was interviewed by Re: about my ADHD (ADHD is an acronym that stands for “I Will Literally Never Let This Slide and Will Reference It At Every Given Opportunity”) and it was a really fun experience because as I said, I love attention! And also drawing attention to mental health issues! We ended up talking for about ninety minutes but it got sliced down to a snappy four minute clip that you can watch here if you like. Also I woke up about nine minutes before this interview was taken and got dressed in a panicked frenzy and was not happy with my outfit that I ended up choosing; please make any snap judgements with this context in mind.

Also, you’re on a total pie buzz may I also suggest the following for your consideration? Quince tarte tatin, Tomato and feta tart, Chorizo Wellingon, or Scone Pizza.

title from: Every Me Every You by Placebo. Deliciously whiney. Imagine getting to be the first person who wrote about this band for a magazine or whatever and getting to be the first to use the title “The Placebo Effect”. I wonder where that person is now. 

music lately: 

Marystaple, Labourer. I was obsessed with this song during its major rotation on Channel Z back in like….I wanna say 2000? 2001? Anyway if the lead singer still looks like that and is reading this, CALL ME. Either way, the song is still extremely good after all this time.

Alan Alda, You Are Not Real, from the 1966 musical The Apple Tree. Yeah, as in Hawkeye. He sings, too. This song is weird to listen to out of the context of the story that it’s telling but also so weirdly compelling in a romping, bawdy, kind of way that you could just have it come on shuffle and be quite happy to leave it on. I like it, is what I’m saying.  

Tricky, Evolution Revolution Love. This is another 2000-y song, and it’s like, really lovely. Even if old mate from the band Live who features feels toooo earnest. We were all so earnest back then!

next time: Here’s another nice thing, I have had TWO perfect avocados in the past week. So maybe I’ll tempt fate and get more. I mean, to make something with, I’m not saying the next blog post is going to just be a picture of an avocado. 

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.
_______________________________________________________________
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. 
_______________________________________________________________
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. 
_______________________________________________________________
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. 

share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie

My flatmate is an actual sweetheart, and has done you all a favour. She used her professional photographer skills to be like “have you tried changing the white balance in the settings” and now I can finally, after starting this blog seven years ago, take pretty decent and decently pretty photos inside at night. See?

This recipe is from Katrina Meynink’s really gorgeous book Kitchen Coquette. It’s from a chapter that lists ideal recipes for the first time you cook dinner for someone you’d like to pash exclusively on a regular basis. I really can’t speak to how effective it is in that regard…but if you ignore the brief and make it for yourself you (a) can’t get your heart broken and (b) get to eat both pies.

chorizo wellingtons 

(I find the name particularly cute since I live in a place called Wellington. Also cute because these are not nearly as much of a horrifying undertaking as the traditional Beef Wellington.) 

a recipe from Kitchen Coquette by Katrina Meynink

100g frozen peas
60ml (1/4 cup) cream
2 chorizo sausages 
zest of a lemon

1 sheet of puff pastry


Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. Cook the peas in boiling water till very tender, then drain them and throw into a food processor with the cream, and blitz it into a smooth-ish puree. 

If you’ve got fresh/proper chorizo, squeeze the filling out of the casing into a hot pan, which is incredibly disgusting but in an undeniably rewarding way. If you’ve got the type that’s more like salami, just slice it into 1cm rings. Either way, fry till it’s crisply cooked through and then stir in the lemon zest.

Slice the pastry sheet in half down the middle. Put a generous spoonful of the pea puree about an inch and a half from one end, then put some chorizo on top of that, then fold over the other end – turning your rectangle into a square, essentially – and press down on the edges, using a fork to flatten and seal them and also to make cute forky indents that will look nice once it’s cooked.

If you have any extra cream left it’s nice to brush some over the pastries, but it’s not essential that you glaze them with anything. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is evenly golden. 

If you’re feeling resourceful, or if you see the word resourceful that I’ve said just now and think “hey that could be me” then make double the pea puree and stir the rest through pasta sometime. These pies are dinner perfection – they feel special, but they’re incredibly un-taxing to make, the juicy spicy chorizo against the soft creamy peas is wonderful, and flaky pastry makes everything more fun. If you’re not sausagely-inclined, this would be great made with some kind of vegetarian substitute with plenty of smoked paprika added, I daresay.

Speaking of things that I dare say, I’d like to introduce my super cool sponsors (there are some more to come, also, I’m just impatient) over in the sidebar on the right. They are all gorgeous wonderful businesses that I love, but also many of them have an online shopping component in case – for once – not living in New Zealand means you feel left out. And in case you’re feeling all concerned and betrayed because I’m talking about commerce and profit, I cannot possibly care, for the following reasons: I think I’m a good writer whatever it is I’m talking about so just keep reading, silly; I’m a grown woman generating money out of something I love; and Swonderful Boutique only went and made a dress named after me. Truly, you can buy the Laura Dress yourself, isn’t that the most? To say the least? 
My friend Kim, who was one of the photographers for my cookbook and who I trust with my frozen if-it-ain’t-a-selfie-I’m-terrified photo face, came over to take some snaps of the dress upon me. 

The Laura Dress. I am that Laura. 

*plays the theme song from New Girl*
so many accessorising possibilities: with hat or hatless, repeat, hatless
why the smug smirk, Laura? Because the exquisite cut of this dress celebrates how stacked I am and sometimes my eyes disappear when I smile too broadly.

Bonus outtake: me recreating Blair Waldorf’s awkward photoshoot where her best friend Serena helps loosen her up. “Give me more tiger, give me more tiger!”

So thanks Swonderful for this blessing of a dress and thanks to the rest of my sponsors for being rad.

And thanks above all, to pie: always there for me.

________________________________________________________________________
title from: Pink Floyd’s thematically on-point song Money. I used to be into Pink Floyd in an incredibly co-dependant kind of way, which is why it’s probably advisable to not get tattoos too early in life otherwise I’d be covered in, I don’t know, the lyrics to Shine On You Crazy Diamond or something. These days I’m more just nostalgically fond of Pink Floyd, because they wrote some ridiculously catchy tunes and took themselves SO seriously, to an almost adorable level. 
________________________________________________________________________
music lately:

Tim Paris featuring Coco Solid, Rain. Moody and 80s and unsettling and excellent.

Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball. Just can’t stop listening, it’s so full of feelings and emotion and references to building construction, two out of three of which I am really into.

Jennifer Lopez, Baby I ❤ U! One of her most cruelly undercelebrated songs in my unhumble opinion.
________________________________________________________________________
next time: Unfortunately for you, probably not another elaborate photoshoot of me, but who knows, I mean, life, huh?   

one more dawn, one more day, one day more

I don’t know who even has time to read blogs at the moment (indeed, I hardly have time to write this) with Christmas insisting on being closer and closer every minute. And it’s not just Christmas – there are other festive high days and holy days, people have birthdays, people have work, things still need to happen. So I’ll keep this as succinct as I can manage, which for me means a quick nine paragraph dissertation on my feelings followed by another six paragraphs on my feelings for today’s recipe, followed by an essay on why a particular song I’ve been listening to this week accurately and devastatingly reflects all this. Brevity! It’s the soul of wit. Or the lowest form of wit? Whatever, I guess it’s too late to carry on pretending I’m gonna provide it for you, but I honestly am trying, for what it’s worth. 
So, I’ve mentioned a few times on here about my steady diet of two-minute noodles, microwaved pies, and microwaved marmite and cheese sandwiches as I grew up. But, after getting out a thrillingly American cookbook from the library at the age of, oh, nine or so, I was struck by a rather chic and unusual sandiwich combination: apple and cheese, which it turned out, I loved. So, if I really felt like putting in some effort, like making myself a baller snack, like putting the glam in glamwich (which also puts the glam in sandwich. Portmanteaux! Talk about classy) youthful me would forego the marmite and instead make an apple and cheese microwaved sandwich. I know. You can see how I got a cookbook deal.
(PS: I’ve never actually said the word “glamwich” before and my christmas gift to you is that I’m never going to say it again.)

Nigella, that moon of my life, has an excellently fast recipe in her book Kitchen for something she calls Crustless Pizza. It’s kind of a cross between a yorkshire pudding and cheese on toast, hence its enormous appeal to me. While the original recipe of Nigella’s is perfectly brilliant, I suspected that an apple and cheese variation, spattered with mouth-heating mustard so you know for sure it’s not pudding, would be…equally brilliant.

Apple and cheese together have this bizarrely pleasing salty-sweet, crunchy-melting symbiosis, which isn’t so odd really. I mean, fruit appears in all forms on cheeseboards, and there’s something lovely about the clean, crisp, delicate freshness of the apple slices subverted by the golden, buttery, bubbling cheese. Oh wait, I was supposed to be succinct. It’s just really good, okay?

apple, cheese and mustard pie

Adapted from a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s important book Kitchen. Serves two. Or four, I guess, but I am terribly whiny and reluctant about sharing anything with melted cheese on it. 

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
pinch salt
150g cheese, something cheddar-esque, grated
1 apple, I liked Granny Smith here
Dijon mustard

This is very simple. Set your oven to 200 C. Butter a 21cm pie plate or similarly shaped dish. Mix together the flour, egg, milk, salt, and about half the grated cheese. Bake for ten minutes. Meanwhile, slice the apple thinly. Remove the pie from the oven, arrange the apple slices howsoever you please on top, and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for another ten or so minutes, then drizzle over the mustard. Slice into four, and use a spatula or something to wiggle the slices out – they’ve never stuck once for me, so hopefully they don’t for you either.

And that’s it, really. It would be quite nice with a kind of peppery, crunchy salad of rocket and stuff like that, but there’s no need to play up the sophisticated side of this. It’s just as good eaten with your hands while staring glaze-eyed into space because you’re very tired and just want to deliver carbs to the outstretched, clasping hands of your blood cells with zero distraction.

So, Christmas, huh? It has arrived. Considering it’s Christmas Eve today, I really shouldn’t be too surprised about this. Were I much more flush with cash than I currently am, I would shower myself with the following gifts:

Vogue Knitting magazine
A deposit on another tattoo
At least one really pretty, out-of-my-reach sundress from twenty-seven names
A copy of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Nigella’s book Nigellisima
A supermarket pallet of San Pellegrino Limonata (when I get famous, this is going to be on all my riders. It’s tooth-zappingly lemony and my best friend while mildly hungover. But also I like to drink it other times.)
A bottle of Campari
An intense hand and nail cream
Candles, for lighting and feeling deep and purposeful (and flatteringly lit)
More Devon Smith artwork
A meadowlark trinket of some kind. So out of my reach currently that I’m not even at the stage of choosing one or two to sigh over.
A landlord who will let me have a pet cat. (I don’t know quite how, but I figure being rich makes everything simple.)
A pet cat.

What about you?

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas (even “celebrate” might be a little too enthusiastic, occasionally my mood is more like… “accept stoically” or “admit defeat in the face of”) I of course hope that times are good and people are nice and social situations are fairly stress-free and that your tables are laden with good food. Because stuff like that should be for life, not just for Christmas. (Like a pet cat. Hmph.) I’m flying home today to my parents’ house, and I can’t wait to see them, and the rest of my family, and the cats, who are of course family, but oh man I should really stop talking about cats. I’m planning on knitting myself a beanie, reading books, and taking lots of selfies with the cats.

Also, uh, I suppose it behooves me one last time to remind you that my cookbook Hungry and Frozen is super amazing and makes a majorly excellent present idea. Also if you already have it, there’s a fairly simple Christmas Cake recipe in there which you can make quite last minute and still feel good about.

May the rest of your December be dreamy.
_____________________________________________________
title from: facing the season with bared teeth and dizzyingly contrapuntal arrangement, One Day More from Les Miserables. The version I’ve linked to is the 25th anniversary concert. Featuring the bafflingly handsome Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras (look him up on Google images if you’re so inclined, I thoroughly recommend it.) I also like Key and Peele’s highly apt take on it
_____________________________________________________
Music lately:

I know I’ve linked to it twelve million times, but this is the only time of year I watch Turkey Lurkey Time from Promises Promises, and marvel at Donna McKechnie’s loose-limbed perfection and the sublimely bonkers choreography leading to a rather shivers-making ending.

Speaking of people worth looking up on google images to marvel at, Zooey Deschanel’s band She and Him made a thoroughly endearing Christmas album. As if Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree wasn’t already massively endearing to begin with, too.

Sleater-Kinney, One Beat. It’s not allllll carols round here.
_____________________________________________________
Next time: I might be reunited with this blog before the year is out, and then it really just depends on what I can excavate from my fridge….

there are marshmallow clouds being friendly, in the arms of the evergreen trees

s’mores pie
I made this over the weekend to take to a Thanksgiving-y housewarming barbeque that some American friends were having. Thanksgiving isn’t my holiday (and let’s not forget that it has a troubling background of colonisation and oppression) but I love the food of America and so figured I’d try to improvise something fittingly flaming-eagle-on-a-clifftop-as-old-glory-waves to bring along. So: s’mores pie. There were some giant marshmallows left in the cupboard from the hallowe’en party, I have this amazing cookie-pie dough recipe that comes together out of almost nothing at all, and I had half a block of Whittaker’s dark dark chocolate to counteract the sugar-pillows of marshmallow with its bitterness. That’s it. cookie, marshmallows, chocolate. I had planned a whole lot more – custardy filling, that sort of thing – but in the end, s’mores really ought to only have those three main components. I’ve seen enough American TV to know that!
By the way, I’ve had no time to blog lately, which is why this has taken a while to get here. But today I woke up feeling horrendous, and inevitably/concerningly thought to myself, “ooh, a sick day! This is my one opportunity to finish that blog post!” So here I finally am, pie in hand, hand on heart, and head in hands, because there’s now pie all over me and in my hair. 

If you don’t like marshmallows, well, this really isn’t going to change anything for you. Since that’s mostly what it is. But I myself, am strange and unusual, and don’t like them that much either. However, when they get gooey and puffy and sticky and smokily browned from the heat of the oven – excellent. Especially with the bursts of dark cocoa-embittered chocolate and the warm cinnamon from the cookie dough. Just don’t overthink it. (As if being told not to overthink something helps you not overthink things! Wouldn’t life be simple if that were the case.)

s’mores pie

a recipe by myself

175g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup golden syrup or honey (or a mix of the two)
1/2 cup plain oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

4 large marshmallows or about 12-15 regular sized ones
100g dark, dark chocolate

Stir together the flour, baking soda and powder, the cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Tip in the syrup and oil and stir together to form a rough, crumbly cookie dough (the texture may vary depending on your flour, the humidity, bla bla bla, so add a little more flour if it looks unmanageably damp, otherwise it’ll probably be fine.) 

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F.

Reserving a couple of tablespoons of dough to sprinkle over the marshmallows, roll it out to a circle just larger than your pie plate (use one of around 21cm) and transfer it to said pie plate. I tend to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, and then lift the entire thing up, place it in the pie plate, then remove the top layer of baking paper and press down the dough. That way there’s much less cleaning involved – of both the pie plate and your rolling pin.  

Jab the pastry a few times with a fork, which will help stop it puffing up in the oven, and bake for around ten minutes, till golden and a little crisp. 

If you have giant marshmallows, halve them and arrange evenly within the pie shell – otherwise just cram it with regular marshmallows. Roughly chop or break up the chocolate and tuck pieces of it evenly amongst the marshmallows. Grind over a little salt, and scatter with the reserved crumbs of dough. Bake until the marshmallows are puffy and a little browned  – about ten minutes. 

Surprisingly easy. It was dubbed “s’morestravaganza” at the party, and then “s’morepocalypse” and then I yelled out “s’mored of the rings!” and everyone laughed because you can always count on Lord of the Rings humour to be topical in New Zealand, since they have been making those films here for the last thirty years and will continue to do so for the following thirty years. Or at least that’s how it feels.

Pie aside, I was thinking those “where am I going with my life” thoughts, as I am wont to do every time my heart beats, and I have also been thinking a lot about my girl Nigella Lawson. Because she is so important to me and was one of the key people who shaped how I think about cooking, it seems right that she gets mentioned often when I have interviews about my cookbook and so on. I often bring her up myself, as an influence – but I was also thinking…

While I adore Nigella, I don’t want to be the next Nigella of cooking. There’s only her, and I could only be a diluted, carob-replacement version if that’s what I was trying to be. Nope. I want to be the Kanye West of cookbooks. The One Direction. The Mariah Carey. The Lorde. Kanye – he says some ridiculous things but makes so much sense and is all about his art and believing in his worth and generally being so brilliant that he can shoot down anyone who thinks he should keep quiet or be more humble. One Direction are so connected to their fans and recognise the ridiculousness of their situation and seem to just radiate fun and genuineness and also have a million gifs of themselves on tumblr, which I would love to have happen to me one day. Mariah Carey is flawless. But also very flawed. But also flawless. And Lorde – she’s such a young woman, and her words are different, and she’s not afraid to be clever yet simple, and she has amazing hair. So. Sounds maybe like I’m being toooooo ambitious, but I strongly believe in holding on to your instincts and flinging yourself at big ideas when they are kind enough to appear to you.

I’m sure you all feel so much richer for having read these musings I had about myself while like, washing my hair or painting my nails, but y’know. Look! Pie!

Try though I might, there’s no use fighting how far into December we are already. I’m having my annual flat xmas dinner tomorrow night with some friends so dear I’d make some kind of Rudolph The Red Nosed Rein-dear pun regarding them but I’m too tired to make it work. I’m really excited about it though, especially now that I’ve had my sick day and am feeling more like a human again. So that’s what I’ll be blogging about next time, as well as my annual list of food-related xmas gift ideas. I like saying phrases like “my annual xyz” as it makes me feel very established, like people will say “well if LAURA said that salted caramel bla bla bla this xmas then I will too!”
____________________________________________________________________
title via: Dean Martin, that old so-and-so, singing Marshmallow World. Whether he phones it in or not, I could listen to him sing about the stupidest things, like fornicating trees and candy, for a very long time.
____________________________________________________________________
music lately:

Angel Haze, No Bueno. I adore this person.

Turkey Lurkey Time, from the musical Promises Promises. The best thing ever about this time of year: it’s Turkey Lurkey Time time! Donna McKechnie is literally a goddess.
____________________________________________________________________
Next time: My annual xyz!

take my hand, we’re off to never never land

Okay, let’s all check ourselves before we wreck ourselves: my cookbook is officially out next week, for real, in the flesh, etc. On 23 August. And at the end of this blog post there is a giveaway competition thing you can enter to win one of two copies for yourself! (COMPETITION CLOSED) But if you don’t read this entire blog post first – and it’s as long and self-indulgent as ever! – I will know and my ghost will hang around you and sigh heavily and say “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed”. And yeah, in this scenario I have a ghost while still being alive, it’s not entirely improbable, right? At the least, I’d read the heck out of a young adult lit book which had that plot.

The ‘after’ photo – above – of the plum hand pie is so much better than the ‘before’ photo of said hand pie and its little pie pals below, taken the previous evening. On account of I will possibly never work out how to take decent photos at night-time, illuminated only by an environmentally friendly lightbulb, which casts a gloomy yellow haze over everything within a metre of it and makes you squint like you’ve never squinted before, but does save ten percent power or something. Now that I’m done both damning myself and faintly praising myself, the important thing is: these hand pies are delicious and very easy and cute, and probably about to be really ‘in’, too. For what that’s worth. (Now that I’ve said it, hand pies will probably be widely denounced as embarrassingly tacky, which to be honest will probably make me love them even more.)
I made these to be eaten at a spontaneous-ish gathering of friends to watch a movie on our projector on Saturday night (Wet Hot American Summer, if you’re wondering, because as I always say, nothing bad can happen when Wet Hot American Summer is on.) It was a very fun evening, just really relaxed and lovely and silly and hilarious and low-key, the sort of fun you wish you could schedule in on a bi-daily basis, while knowing it’s best to just wait and let it happen accidentally.

 

Above: the morning after. Tim went to swoop in on the lone, remaining pie for a pre-breakfast snack, till I squawked “stop! The light is really great right now and I can salvage the terrible photos I took last night!” Oh, and that’s right, individual bowls for every snack and a commemorative teaspoon for the candy. Sure, we’re really messy, but we also have bizarrely specific high standards, you know?

So when I say hand pies I simply refer to what we might normally call pastries or turnovers or mini-pies. But ‘hand pies’ are deeply intertwined in the the cuisine of the American south, and I cannot resist a little culinary Americana. Or any Americana. As befits a kid who grew up in New Zealand but was obsessed with the Baby-sitters Club books and ensemble movies like Now and Then. Not that hand pies are mentioned in either of those, but let’s not get lost in semantics. My version is not strictly traditional, but what it is, is really very easy and fast and non-stressful. And delicious. I appreciate that there’s a bit of a cost at the outset in buying ready-rolled sheets of pastry, but sometimes it’s just as much looking after yourself to buy something pre-made as it is to make it from scratch.

Seriously, very little actual work gets you these fantastically good, gently spiced pockets of plummy sweetness. The the lemony warmth of the cardamom, the tear-jerkingly comforting scent of cinnamon and the toffee flavour of the brown sugar lends the tart juiciness of the plums some welcome richness. The fruit softens up but doesn’t collapse, and any juice is absorbed into the cornflour to give the filling a little heft. And they’re hand-sized! Who cares if they’re on-trend, as long as they’re on your hand and fast approaching your mouth.

plum, cinnamon and cardamom hand pies

a recipe by myself

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry (all-butter if possible, but I know only three supermarkets in the fanciest bits of New Zealand actually sell that, so just deal with the weird fake margarine stuff this time round – you can’t even taste it if you don’t think about it.)
2 plums

Set your oven to 200 C/ 400F and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Mix the brown sugar, cornflour, cinnamon and cardamom together in a small bowl.

Finely dice the two plums, discarding the stones, obviously.

Slice the pastry sheets into nine equal-ish squares, by making three slices downwards and three across. Maths! Finally useful. Spoon half a teaspoon – at most – of the sugar-spice mix into the middle of each square. Spoon a small teaspoon of diced plum over the top of that, then fold the pastry in half, pinching at the edges to form a snugly-filled triangle. Repeat with the remaining squares. You might have some plum or spice-dust leftover. Arrange the triangles on the baking tray (it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out how the triangles could all fit on there evenly, I guess maths is useful, sort of) and bake for about 20 minutes. They’ll be piping hot at first, so let them cool a tiny bit.

Hand pies! Get some.

So, now you want to know how to win a copy of my cookbook, yes? I was going to interweave references to The Monster at the End of This Book throughout the blog post, but am too tired and so will cut straight to the point: I have two copies to give away. This competition is open to people in New Zealand only. Sorry, international admirers! However, I’m also giving away a copy on Instagram which anyone in the world can enter, so if you’re international and want in, follow me on there. (username: hungryandfrozen.) For everyone else…

here’s what you have to do. 

1: Leave a comment on this post telling me a recipe from this blog that you like the look of. It can be from like, last week, I’m not going to give extra points for people who go deep into my archives, but who knows, you might like what you see once you start looking.
2: Be a person from New Zealand.
3: Wait till 10am Sunday morning (sorry for those with short attention spans, myself included) which is when I’ll do a post on here letting people know who won.
4: See if you’re one of the two people who got drawn at random! And either console yourself by baking hand pies, or rejoice in your winning by baking hand pies. And emailing me your address.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

title via: my guitar heroes Metallica with their joyfully sinister song Enter Sandman.

Music lately:

Joan Osborne, Right Hand Man. This song is so excellent and saucy and great. And, um, also has the word ‘hand’ in it, but this is entirely coincidental.

Lillias White, Don’t Rain On My Parade. Brilliant song, oh-damn-that’s-so-true lyrics, and Lillias White’s smashing voice. There are a million different renditions of this song from Funny Girl, and at least a hundred of them, this included, are my favourite.

Next time: I don’t even know, especially as I’m going to be out of the house most nights this week, but we’ll see, we’ll see. Maybe even one of the recipes from my own book. If nothing else the words “my cookbook” will probably appear a lot, accompanied by a palpable air of smugness.

i’ve got thirty-six expressions, sweet as pie to tough as leather

Like all weeks are really, this one just gone by was kinda strange. On Monday morning – at work, shoes miserably saturated with rain, bag weighed down with a cake I’d baked for a new person’s welcome, planning to watch relaxing TV shows later on – I got a call from Tim. And while I’m not psychic (good thing too, with the weird and sinister dreams I get) I just knew, as soon as his name flashed up on the screen, that he would be calling to say his grandmother Jude had died. 
So, two gas station pies and seven hours later, we were in Wairoa. Which is where we stayed until late Thursday evening. By which stage I’d eaten a million Osler’s pies (Jude was an Osler); attended my first Catholic rosary (she was intensely devout, but like all things, she seemed to exuberantly enjoy it); slept fractiously in a tiny bunk bed with an enormous spider overlord; drank endless cups of tea; washed dishes as much as I could to try and be useful; and cried harder at a funeral than I ever have before. I don’t know why I normally feel so rigidly dry-eyed at funerals, but this time it started pretty much as soon as we walked through the door. Though, I felt lucky to have known her as long as I did, having been with Tim for ages now.  Jude (she was called Jude by all the family, not grandma or nanna) was incredibly beloved, a real life-of-the-party kind of person, and very involved in the community and her large family’s life. The sort of person where the void left by their absence makes itself felt very, very quickly, and often. 
Gotta say, it’s also the first funeral I’ve been to where the music everyone proceeds out to is the Bird Dance. Which maybe gives you a better picture of things than anything else I’ve said so far.
The other strange thing that happened this week is that I ended up on a list of 20 People of Influence and Effect in a national newspaper and its website. I say ended up, but I knew it was happening, but I thought it was going to be much smaller – maybe a little paragraph in the lifestyle section about food trends for the upcoming year, with a thumbnail picture of my face. Instead I’m there beside like, Kimberly Crossman and Emily Perkins and businesspeople and activists and a rugby player. (Kimberly Crossman was an actress on a local soap opera, now making good on every single opportunity coming her way; Emily Perkins is a brilliant author, in case you’re not familiar/not from here/not inclined to google them.) My brain being what it is, I was partly all “whoa, cool! I love this kind of thing! I’ve got a blog and a cookbook coming out! Go me!” and partly all “this seems like a grave mistake somehow. Is watching Bunheads and painting your nails on a Saturday night influential?” And partly feelings about my photo and wondering if my eyes are actually that crooked. But the whole thing is truly, very cool and exciting. 
The comments have been…interesting though. Everyone who knows me in one way or another has been really enthusiastic about it (sample: my nanna txted me to say “Wow what an honour to b 1 of 20! Yr my girl!” – lovely). People who don’t know me, and who specifically comment on the stuff.co.nz website, are TERRIBLY OUTRAGED. Either by a food blogger being on there, or by the whole concept altogether. One person was so angry they said they’d stop reading stuff.co.nz altogether! Which is what I usually say when they publish something, say, racist or homophobic! But I told myself firmly to stop reading the damn comment already, and also, more practically, that people wouldn’t be complaining about you at all if you weren’t on the list of 20 influential people and so it’s still pretty thrilling and all part of the package deal of being in the public eye (or in my case, attempting to be.) 
So there’s that.

If you’re new here, either prompted by my status as influential, or hate-reading for sour kicks, I acknowledge this particular post is very long and full. They’re always like that. But finally – since this is a food blog, after all – a recipe!

I made this for an impromptu picnic at the Botanical Gardens while watching some live music. Which is quite a fun thing to just say you’re doing, all carefree and summery and instagrammy. The execution was fun too – hanging out on a blanket with great friends; their flatmate’s band The Concerned Residents playing (great name, huh?) as well as surprisingly endearing opening act Lost Bird; a tiny dancefloor, made up of scarily cool Wellingtonian children; chocolate and Doritos and cider and beer and this pie. Which I found in a cookbook that’s proving to be one of my most favourite and most-used: The Favourite Recipes of America: Desserts (And Party Beverages). It was called Ozark Pie, which I found fascinating – I presume referring to the Ozark Mountains of America, although I’d like to think Mrs N.B Knightlinger of Port Clinton, Ohio, who submitted said recipe, was just really into the TV show Ozark Jubilee (hilariously, sadly: “the centerpiece of an unsuccessful strategy for Springfield, Missouri to challenge Nashville, Tennessee as America’s country music capital”) or Ozark Henry, the Belgian musician.

Semantics aside, this pie is so easy to make, and can be changed to suit whatever fruit you have to hand. It’s not particularly flashy – just a sturdy, sugared dough with fruit on top – but it honestly takes less than five minutes to put together and it’s ideal for a picnic, being easy to transport, great hot or cold, and, as I said before…sturdy. Picnics are no time for meringue towers or souffles.

Ozark Pie

Adapted so liberally from the Favourite Recipes of America: Desserts (and Party Beverages) book that it’s really not the same recipe any more, but I do like the name Ozark Pie. You can call it Apricot Pie if you wish. This mixture is quite small, so don’t go eating any of the batter as you mix it. You need every last skerrick of it.

1 egg
3/4 cup sugar, plus 3 teaspoons extra
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 apricots

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease a 20cm pie plate or springform caketin. Whisk the egg lightly, then add the sugar and beat for about a minute, until thick. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla, then dice one of the apricots and mix that in as well. Spread this thick mixture on the base of the pie plate or cake tin, then slice up the remaining apricots and arrange them on top of the batter. Sprinkle over the extra sugar. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. 

Because the base is so utterly plain, the vanilla extract really shines, and adds to the voluptuous summery sweetness of the apricots. Should your apricots be very ripe, you might not feel that you need the extra sprinkling of sugar on top – mine were firm and tart and refusing to soften up, no matter how many bananas I tried to pair them with (apparently sitting certain fruits beside each other has an effect on them…a bit like people.) I’d leave the sugar in though, as it gets a little crunchy and textural once it has been in the oven a while. The original recipe called for chopped apples and nuts, which would’ve been brilliant, had I actually had either in my possession. I’m sure this’d be excellent with many things though – pears and ground ginger; canned peaches; nectarines, whatever you’ve got handy.

It feels like there are a million other things that happened this week that I could write about, but this is already so long so I’ll leave it there and say adieu to you all, regulars, new readers, and new hate-readers (I bet if I was hate-reading this I’d smirk at “adieu”.)

Oh wait: one more thing. In the spirit of this being my blog and I can do what I like with it, I’m starting a new segment this week. I mean, there have never been any “segments” before and I don’t know if I like that word – but anyway – what’s happening is: a short post where I interview musicians, very briefly, about food. It’ll either be happening weekly or fortnightly, depending on how many people I can actually get involved, but it’s looking promising so far, and will be starting this week with Anna Coddington who is way excellent. What day will it be starting? Um, as soon as I think of a cool/uncool-pun-related title for it. I’m not saying that so you’ll check back every day. I’m just waiting for that pun to appear.
________________________________________________________________________________
Title via: Somewhat fittingly, Barbra Streisand effortlessly belting out I’m The Greatest Star, a song I’ve always identified with, from Funny Girl. Ugh, she is so great.
________________________________________________________________________________
Music lately:

Mathematics, by Mos Def. For a record that came out well over ten years ago, this feels incredibly, urgently fresh. I love it.

Idina Menzel, I Feel Everything. It’s not my favourite of her songs, but it has become one I’ve grown to love a lot more over time. And I adore this live clip of her changing the arrangement to be much more rocky. And also I adore her.

Jessie Ware, Wildest Moments – I’ve linked to this song before, but it’s so glorious, and I’m so glum about missing her and Bat For Lashes at the Laneway festival next week…
________________________________________________________________________________
Next time: this pasta recipe I thought up – very simple, just what you want in the middle of summer when you can’t be bothered thinking too much.