vegan chelsea buns

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Each day is an internal battle between myself and whatever little metrics and rubrics I’ve set out for myself to plod through, and still I usually end up more disorganised than if I’d just thrown myself headfirst at the day to navigate by vibes alone. Once you identify the rules of a situation, however, you can work out what’s stupid about them, and then, maybe, you might start getting somewhere. For example: I wasn’t going to blog about these very delicious vegan Chelsea buns, despite them being about as pretty and sweet and delightful as Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias (guess what I just watched) because the ingredients were a little too specific, and one of my personal rules is to keep the ingredients on this blog within a reasonable realm of what a person could — reasonably — get hold of.

But then, I considered, with a slap of palm to forehead, reasonable is a moving target, and many of the ingredients I currently reach for without thinking might have seemed out of reach only a few years ago. And the Chelsea buns are really delicious! Who am I to say what you can achieve? Why should I mentally undercut your abilities before we’ve even started?

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That being said, it would be kind of unreasonable to say that these Chelsea buns can only be made with a ready-prepared batch of Nigella Lawson’s roasted quince fruit mincemeat, appositely named Quincemeat, as I made them. That is quite the roadblock. In the interests of keeping things as accessible as possible, I have offered both the truncated Quincemeat recipe, options for making this with simple dried fruit, and if that’s all too much, you can just sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and sugar a la the Lazy Cat Kitchen cinnamon buns, whose recipe I used as the starting point for mine, and if you want to do even less than that, just go to a bakery and buy your own buns. They’re professionals for a reason, this is no failing on your part.

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But if the idea of padding about in the kitchen purposefully appeals, kneading dough into life, and waiting as the sun rolls across the sky and the dough expands and swells and eventually, in the oven, fills your house with the kind of scent you yearn for in bottled form, if all that appeals, then this recipe is for you. Maybe not as popular or cool as their cinnamon bun cousins, Chelsea buns — rolled and stuffed instead with dried fruit — have a lot going for them, especially with — sorry! — the quincemeat as their filling. Its heady, fragrant sweetness is utterly sumptuous, with magnificent contrast between the soft graininess of the quinces and the dried fruit bulging with (in my case) overproof rum. There’s an old-fashioned charm to these buns, and making them gives you the feeling of being a small anthropomorphic animal — a hedgehog perhaps — in a Beatrix Potter story, using a leaf as an umbrella and a spool of thread as a chair, safe and warm, et cetera.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan Chelsea buns, full recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com 🍞🥐 #baking #cookingtiktok #breadtok #foodblogger #nz #vegan #fyp

♬ Forever – Pete Drake

As you can see in my tiktok above, the rolling and slicing is a little dexterous — but not overwhelming, and the results are stunning; feathery soft yeasted dough, glossy sticky fruit, you will not so much eat these as devour them.

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(While I’m holding myself accountable, I know I said, literally in my most recent blog post, that I couldn’t face eating a handful of raisins, and yet here I am, espousing buns wrapped around vast quantities of that fruit? I still stand by my statements: they’re a woeful snack on their own, but both delicious and necessary in these buns.)

Finally — and particularly for those of you reading this outside of the quince’s brief and thrilling season — I cannot wait for pink rhubarb to appear so I can make a batch of these with Nigella’s Rhubarb Vanilla Fruit Mince, and I invite you to consider the same.

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Vegan Chelsea Buns

Sticky-sweet, tender, and heavy with fruit, these scrolls are almost as easy to make as they are to eat. I’ve included a brief rundown of Nigella Lawson’s quincemeat recipe at the end if you want to go the same route as me; otherwise I’ve given options in recipe for making them simply with dried fruit. I used the Lazy Cat Kitchen cinnamon bun recipe as my starting point for the dough, it’s reliable and comes together in minutes.

Dough

  • 1 and 1/4 cups oat milk (or similar), lukewarm
  • 250g high-grade/bread flour
  • 250g plain/all-purpose flour
  • 9 grams instant dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pouring/table salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for the rise

Filling

  • 250g-300g ready made fruit mincemeat, or see in recipe for other options
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup, for brushing

1: First, get your milk lukewarm — I zap it for fifteen-second intervals in the microwave till it’s warm, but doesn’t have the slightest sting of heat to it. Place the 250g each of high grade and plain flour into a large mixing bowl, along with the 9 grams of dried yeast, the two tablespoons of brown sugar, and the teaspoon of salt. Stir in the lukewarm milk, followed by the tablespoon of olive oil.

2: Start kneading this shaggy dough — you’re welcome to tip it out onto your work surface, but to save on mess I just do it inside the bowl, either way, push the dough away from you with the heel of your palm or your knuckles, fold it back towards you, and repeat for a few more minutes until it’s gone from shaggy and floury to springy and smooth. If you’ve been kneading for a while and it’s still really sticky, dust over just a little flour and knead that in — this almost always work for me. Once the dough is a smooth ball, drizzle over a small amount of olive oil, then cover your bowl with a tea towel and leave the dough to rise for one hour.

3: Once your hour is up, punch down your dough — which is just how it sounds, you plunge your fist, happily, into the swollen dough, releasing the air from it. Tip the dough out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, and press or roll it into a large rectangle, folding over any wobbly bits to make the sides fairly straight. You’re looking for a size of about 40x20cm, but as long as two sides are shorter and two sides are longer you don’t need to worry about getting out your ruler.

4: If you’re using ready-made fruit mince, spoon it evenly over the surface of the dough rectangle, in a fairly thin layer — too much and it will all fall out — and press it very gently into the dough. Otherwise, brush the surface of the dough with olive oil — about two tablespoons — and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar (about four tablespoons), then scatter over about 75g currants and 150g sultanas. I’d also sprinkle over plenty of cinnamon. If you want to make your own quincemeat, see the notes at the end of the recipe.

5: Starting with the long side closest to you, carefully and slowly roll the rectangle of dough into a long tube. Slice the tube at roughly 3cm intervals — again, just follow your heart here, this is home cooking, not a production line — and arrange the slices near each other on the same baking tray. If any of the “tails” of the scrolls look like they’re about to get away on you, pinch them gently into the rest of the dough, and if any fruit has fallen out in the cutting and lifting process, just prod it back into the nearest coil of dough. Cover these buns with the same teatowel from before, and let them rise for one more hour.

6: About forty minutes into this hour’s rising, set your oven to 180C/350F. Once the hour’s up, remove the towel, to behold your now-puffy and expanded Chelsea buns, and bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Don’t worry if some of the fruit catches a little, it still tastes delicious. Finally, brush them with a little golden syrup while they’re still warm.

Makes 10 to 12 Chelsea buns, depending on how you slice them (both times I’ve made these they all ended up different sizes, which I liked: something for every mood.) Eat them fresh, or store them in an airtight container once they’ve cooled. They’ll be good for a day or so, after that, they’ll want a little warming up in the microwave first.

Notes:

Some recipes call for an icing drizzle, you’re welcome to mix icing sugar and water together and do so, but — and it’s not often I say this — I don’t think they need it.

Here is a fairly brisk rundown of the quincemeat recipe if you want to make it for yourself; you can usually find quinces in baskets at op shops very cheaply this time of year, from someone or other’s tree. The quincemeat is from Nigella Lawson’s book How To Be A Domestic Goddess, along with many other beautiful recipes.

Roast 1kg quinces, peeled and (carefully) cut into rough chunks and tossed with a tablespoon of coconut oil, at 150C/300F for forty minutes. Once cooled, roughly chop the quince and mix together with 250g each sultanas, raisins, chopped dried apricots, brown sugar, shredded vegetable suet (I used the Atora brand, it’s in a brightly coloured box and should be available in most supermarkets); one teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground cardamom, and ground cloves, a good pinch of nutmeg, 100g crystallised peel, and 100ml quince brandy, regular brandy, or — as I used — dark rum. Store in an airtight container or in clean jars in the fridge; this makes, give or take, around 2kg. Also: I didn’t have any mixed peel, so I just used the finely chopped peel of a couple of oranges, and added a bit more sugar.

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music lately:

Obsession by Animotion, fittingly, I am VERY obsessed with this song. Wait till 28 seconds in, then it will all make sense (I also recommend watching the video, which gives the impression of an automated bot having been fed 1000 hours of 80s music videos and spitting out results based on the learned algorithm.)

Tell Me (I’ll Be Around) by Shades, for all that winter is my favourite season this song always made me long for an endless summer where I could drive around in a convertible and Be Summery (in this fantasy, not only do I enjoy hot weather, I can also drive.) Anyway, this song is lush and should’ve been a bigger hit!

I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls by Michael William Balfe, sung by Sumi Jo. She was recommended to me when I asked for opera suggestions, and — oh my! Every time I hear this song I’m always taken aback by its fake-out chorus, climbing higher and higher before finally resolving, Sumi Jo’s watered silk voice is a stunning vessel for 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!

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!

The Best Granola [vegan]

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I may be prone to exaggeration, but I come by it honestly; that is, I wouldn’t consider how I describe things to be exaggeration, merely accurate. So when I call this The Best Granola, it’s not to be cute, it’s just telling you exactly how good it is. In fact — honestly — it’s better than any granola I’ve ever made before, and I have put my name to a lot of granola recipes. The idea for this recipe comes directly from Rachel Ama, and her book Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats; prior to that I hadn’t considered flipping the quantities of oats to nuts and seeds, now I will never make granola any other way.

This recipe is comprised almost entirely of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, the oats are there but resolutely in the background, and the result is extraordinary — so light, so crunchy without being the slightest burden on your masseter muscles, rich and very filling, but filling you with the sense that you could take on the world (or at least pick up that sock from the middle of the floor, where it has sat procumbent for the past week) instead of immediately needing a nap.

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There’s no getting around the fact that this is an expensive recipe — although it does make a gratifyingly whopping five litres — but when supermarkets will charge you anything from $7 to $17 for a teeny-tiny bag of mass-produced granola, making your own pays for itself by the second bowlful, not to mention that in these times of alarmingly spiking cost-of-living, it’s one more way to avoid buying off the shelf from our tyrannical supermarket duopoly overlords. With that in mind, I obviously wouldn’t recommend using your local supermarket to buy the ingredients for this (unless wherever you happen to live isn’t currently experiencing the same price surges we are, coupled with an excellent range of products, in which case, good for you, and what’s that like?) If you have a Bin Inn or other bulk store nearby then this is the time to use them, if you weren’t already, otherwise, I recommend going to a smaller greengrocer or Asian supermarket, as they tend to have bags of nuts and seeds (usually on a small shelf above the fruit and vegetables) for significantly more reasonable prices than the supermarket, indeed, I recommend prioritising them over regular supermarkets as much as you can anyway.

@hungryandfrozen

babe wake up she’s making five litres of granola again • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com • thanks @rachelama for the inspiration #granola #breakfast #foodblogger #vegan #fyp

♬ You Don’t Have to Cry – Emma Ruth Rundle

As for the ingredients themselves, I know it might seem pedantic to ask for both whole and slivered almonds, but both of them together are necessary for just the right texture, and I swear they do taste different somehow! So far I’ve kept the flavourings fairly simple: a generous hand with the cinnamon, the smoky sweetness of molasses and golden or maple syrup, and the muted sourness of dried cranberries. You can use whichever dried fruit you like, but for me the cranberries work well here, feeling like more of a treat than sultanas, but still relatively inexpensive, and their jewel-bright colour is a lovely visual contrast to the Sahara-golden toasted nuts and the subdued green of the pumpkin seeds. Such is my trust in this recipe that I know whatever you end up putting in it will still work, indeed, I’m looking forward to slowly working through all my existing granola recipes, keeping their flavours but changing the method to match this one.

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I do like breakfast in theory, and I like the idea of being a breakfast person, but committing to any kind of routine is where I stumble — and not just at breakfast — this granola, however, is so delicious that my day simply hasn’t started until I’ve eaten some, and if I have it in the house I will eat it every day for breakfast without fail, and all things considered I can’t offer any greater recommendation for it than that.

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The Best Granola

Make this once and you’ll be hooked on its superlight, crunchy texture and deliciousness. This recipe makes a LOT, and I find that it’s worth the financial outlay in the short term to do it this way, but I have included smaller quantities in the notes if that suits you better. This recipe is based on Rachel Ama’s from her excellent book Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats, I’m forever grateful for it and am sure you will be too upon making this.

  • 500g whole, natural almonds
  • 500g whole, raw cashews
  • 500g slivered almonds
  • 500g pumpkin seeds (preferably organic)
  • 500g sunflower seeds
  • 200g whole flaxseeds (that is, not ground — they are also sometimes called linseeds)
  • 150g sesame seeds
  • 150g coconut chips/flakes
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup, or maple syrup
  • 3-4 tablespoons molasses
  • 3-4 teaspoons cinnamon, to taste
  • a hearty pinch of salt
  • 250g dried cranberries

1: Set your oven to 190C/370F on fan bake. Set aside two large baking trays — I use the ones that come with the oven, which fit into it like shelves, making sure that they’re very clean first with no prior roasted garlic etc residue on them. Basically you want something with a broad surface area and shallow sides.

2: Roughly chop your 500g each of whole natural almonds and raw cashews, so that you have some smaller, rubbly pieces and some nuts left whole. Logic would dictate that the quickest way to do this would be to hiff them into the food processor and pulse a few times, but for some reason I feel compelled every time to chop them by hand with my mezzaluna knife, which takes significantly longer and tends to send bits of almond flying everywhere. Up to you; but either is fine and, more importantly, doable.

3: Get the largest mixing bowl you can find — otherwise you may need two separate ones — and tip your chopped almonds and cashews into it, followed by the 500g slivered almonds, 500g pumpkin seeds, 500g sunflower seeds, 200g whole flaxseeds, 150g sesame seeds, 150g coconut chips, and the 250g rolled oats. Give them a stir, carefully, and then tip in the three tablespoons of refined coconut oil, three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons golden syrup, three tablespoons of molasses, and three teaspoons of cinnamon. Carefully stir this together — it shouldn’t be overly sticky, but add an extra tablespoon or so of molasses if you think it needs it.

4: Carefully divide this mixture between your two roasting trays, spreading it into an even layer. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. This seems like a long time but it has never failed me, that being said stop and check once or twice — sometimes it needs stirring before the twenty minutes is up, sometimes it doesn’t. After twenty minutes, remove the trays from the oven and stir, making sure the granola from the edges of the tray comes into the centre and vice versa, and return to the oven for another five to ten minutes, or until everything is nicely browned. It pays to stay in the kitchen while this is happening, because it can only be a matter of moments between toasted and burnt nuts; but don’t be too cautious either, you want the granola to really get some colour on it.

5: Once you’re satisfied at the done-ness — and bearing in mind that it will get crisper and crunchier as it cools — remove the trays from the oven and let them cool completely. At this point, sprinkle over a good pinch of salt (it seems easier to disperse it this way than in the mixing bowl) and finally tip the 250g dried cranberries over the two trays and stir them in.

Makes about 5 litres. Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.

Notes:

  • If feeling flush or freewheeling I’ll sometimes add a small packet or two of pecans, roughly crumbled in my hands first, and while they’re not essential, they really do add a little something as you can imagine.
  • I say 200g of flaxseeds but I have never once actually measured these properly, I just start pouring and stop when it feels right, I trust you to do the same. And if you can find organic pumpkin seeds, get them — for some reason they just taste nicer. Don’t stop yourself making this if you can only find regular ones though.

Quantities for about 1.5 litres of granola, as you can see it’s not a mathematically downscaled ratio by any means, but it works:

  • 500g natural almonds
  • 250g organic pumpkin seeds
  • 250g sunflower seeds
  • 100g flax seeds
  • 100-200g sesame seeds, cashews, pecans etc, whatever you’ve got
  • 100g coconut chips/shredded coconut
  • 150g rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 150g dried cranberries

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music lately:

Wo de Schönen Trompeten Blasen, from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, sung exquisitely by Jessye Norman in this 1972 recording. I’ve started listening to opera while I’m writing (there’s only so many ambient beats I can cope with before getting bored) and so far it’s working well, the inherent beauty of opera makes for a great creative backdrop, most of it is more or less unfamiliar to my ears, and generally it’s not sung in English so the words themselves aren’t distracting. Which is not to damn Norman’s singing by calling it background music; her voice demands to be listened to — and so I will, again, outside of the context of writing — and I found myself pausing my typing to gaze misty-eyed into the middle distance while this particular piece played.

There is precisely one song — Army — by Ben Folds Five that I like (admittedly I haven’t tried very hard to find more) but I REALLY love it, but even then I specifically want to listen to this stripped back live version with just Ben Folds himself — there is not much more satisfying than when the audience comes in halfway through to sing the part of the horn section in the original studio recording. That being said, this live version with the full band, providing their own vocals for the horns is very charming, and Ben Folds playing two pianos at once is very impressive, but it’s the simple live version for me, and not much else.

Tornado, by Minako Yoshida, from her MONOCHROME album, which I have listened to so many times; it’s the kind of music that makes you feel like a Sophisticated Lady Late At Night (and I realise that saying those words is very unsophisticated, but.) All the tunes are spectacular, but you might as well start with the opening track, it’s moody, neon-lit, with not a small hint of Steely Dan.

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 (including this one, two months ago) 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!

Ottolenghi’s White Bean Mash with Garlic Aioli or, Cannellini Beans Three Ways [vegan]

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Food blogging is an endurance sport at the most air-conditioned of times, but in the middle of summer, you really feel like an Olympic marathon runner accessing their deepest well of psychological stamina, with all the bargaining and motivational platitudes one can muster. Or at least, that’s how I felt while simmering a large pan of beans for reasons increasingly lost to me with each passing minute, unable to tell whether I or the beans were currently experiencing more discomfort. My concentration wavered at various stages including one point where I thought I would actually never be finished with making this, and it would just be me and the beans, forevermore.

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With all that in mind, why would I then pass this recipe on to you to toil over? Well, presumably you don’t all live in the same violently prickly microclimate as me (by which I mean, the house that I live in is, by some cruel trick of nature, more humid and swampy than anywhere else in the same area code) and if you have your wits about you, this dish is incredibly rewarding and delicious. And even I, with my wits absolutely not about me, still managed to make it and found it to be both these things.

In this recipe, cannellini beans are sent off in three directions and then brought back together in a fantastic crescendo; mashed, blitzed into a garlic-heavy aioli, and dressed with infused oil. It’s a recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour, written by Ottolenghi himself and Ixta Belfrage, and I am quite sure that given a more temperate climate, the hardest part would be remembering to soak the beans overnight beforehand.

@hungryandfrozen

white bean mash with garlic aioli from @Ottolenghi Flavour 🧄 full recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #veganrecipes #aioli #foodblogger #beans #tapas

♬ The Big E – A Certain Ratio

What all this effort gets you—and it’s really more time-consuming than effortful, there is a significant difference, as Nigella taught me—is a side dish or snack of self-possessed simplicity, as ivory-neutral and elegant as Shiv Roy’s high-waisted slacks. And I think, very subconsciously, this simile may have drawn me to the recipe in the first place. Alongside the beans is a garlic-infused olive oil which informs all three components, and the result is rich, mellow, heady with garlic but not the slightest bit acrid. I was a bit nervous for some reason about presenting this to my family (once again, I blame the heat), like, it’s just a big plate of beans on beans on beans, and I know beans are the best but how do I explain what I’ve got myself into, but everyone not only got what I was going for, they all ate it enthusiastically. Anything less than enthusiasm probably would’ve been the undoing of me at that point but I trust my own tastebuds and they say: this is good stuff.

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Ottolenghi’s White Bean Mash with Garlic Aioli (or, Cannellini Beans Three Ways)

Very minimally adapted from Ottolenghi Flavour, this takes a bag of dried legumes and turns it into mash, aioli, and, of course, actual beans, all infused one way or another with slow-simmered garlic oil, chilli and herbs. It’s somehow very low-effort and quite strenuous all at once but very worth it, and it makes an excellent side dish for almost anything, or an elegant snack for swiping at with bread and crackers alongside other dips and bits. I freely admit that my alterations mostly came from a place of being flustered and overheated rather than thinking I could do better than the original.

  • 350g dried cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 spring onion (or use a regular onion)
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 red chilli, stem and seeds removed
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar)
  • Juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • extra thyme and rosemary, to serve

1: The day before you intend to make this, soak the beans in a bowl with plenty of cold water and the teaspoon of baking soda. I kept mine in the fridge since it’s so hot at the moment but if your kitchen is cool they should be safe, covered, on the bench. Either way, check once or twice to see if the water levels need topping up.

2: Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan with the trimmed spring onion, (or the peeled and quartered onion as the original recipe suggests), and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil—I placed a lid half-on to hasten the water along—and then lower the heat and simmer for around fifty minutes or until the beans are completely tender. Top up with extra water at any stage if needed, and once cooked, drain the beans well under cool water and set aside. At this point you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

3: While the beans are cooking, make the infused oil. Place the 10 garlic cloves, two sprigs of rosemary, three sprigs of thyme, and the red chilli (which I sliced up but you don’t actually need to) into a saucepan that you have a lid for. Pour the olive oil into the pan and place it on a medium low heat, covered, till the garlic cloves are lightly golden and soft to the prod of a wooden spoon. I kept the heat very low – a tiny bit of bubbling is fine, I think, but you don’t want the herbs deep frying in there. This is more of a slowwww warm bath. Once the garlic is soft and golden, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes, although longer is fine. At this point you can transfer it to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to three days. If you’re using it right away, discard the herbs and set aside the chilli, garlic cloves and the oil.

4: Now that the beans are cooked and the oil is infused, we can actually make the three components of the finished dish. First: the dressed beans. Stir 150g of the cooked beans in a bowl with the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of your garlic-infused oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. Set aside.

5: Secondly, the aioli. Place all the garlic cloves into a food processor along with 100g of the cooked beans, the tablespoon of dijon mustard, the juice of half the lime, 75ml of the oil (that’s 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon), a splash of water, and plenty of salt and pepper. Blitz thoroughly till it’s thick and creamy as aioli should be. Spatula this delicious mixture out to a bowl or container.

6: Then, the final component, the mashed beans. Without washing out the processor, tip in the remaining cooked beans, along with the two teaspoons of Chinkiang vinegar, the juice of the remaining half of the lime, plenty of salt and pepper, and—if you used a whole onion—throw that in, too, and process to a creamy thick mash. I somehow completely missed the onion-adding step, and also didn’t have an onion anyway, just a spring onion which was entirely too limp after cooking the beans to be of any use, but it still ended up tasting fantastic.

7: Finally-finally, the assembly: Spatula the mashed beans onto a wide plate or large, shallow bowl, and spread it around thickly. Spoon the aioli on top, and then tumble over your cooked, dressed beans. Let any remaining infused oil fall from its container onto this pale plate, and then sprinkle over more fresh rosemary and thyme leaves. If you have Alleppo chilli flakes, this is what is recommended by Ottolenghi to serve, and I would certainly back up this recommendation, but I don’t have any. In lieu, the herbs are quite fine. And if you want to scatter over the chopped red chilli from the oil, now would be the time.

Serves 4 as a side, maybe 6-8 as part of a larger table of snacks or mezze.

Notes:

  • I found dried cannellini beans at my nearest Asian supermarket, and nowhere else, and they were labelled “white kidney beans”. Since that supermarket is by far my preferred outlet this was not a problem, but consider this a heads up in case you were looking for the beans in a nationwide franchise-type supermarket.
  • As well as blanking on the onion in the mash I also forgot completely to account for the dill that Ottolenghi instructs you to add to the dressed beans, and the anchovies that he uses in the aioli—not that I’d be eating anchovies, but I didn’t replace them with anything. Nonetheless, this still tasted so good.
  • As I didn’t have the lemon juice the original required I used apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and black vinegar, but if you have actual lemons (probably a higher likelihood than having all three of the former ingredients) he specifies one and a half tablespoons juice in the dressed beans, 2 tablespoon in the aioli, 2 and a half tablespoons of juice in the mashed beans.

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music lately:

I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City by Harry Nilsson, simply one of the most lovely songs ever written. When the verse goes—up? Like that? That’s the ticket! I am also partial to Sherie Rene Scott’s version from her Broadway show Everyday Rapture, the minimal production and her mellow voice suit the melody beautifully.

Love You Down by Ready for the World, but also INOJ’s version with its jittery little drum machine, you know I cannot choose between them! They’re both perfect.

The Big E, by A Certain Ratio, surely one of the most comforting and reassuring songs from the post-punk scene with its insistence of “I won’t stop loving you, I still believe in you”.

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

Vegan 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!

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!