Blondies

lemon-brownies

I originally saw this recipe, which is from Rita’s Recipes, via Pinterest. This crazy little lemony version of brownies is dense, sticky, and with a tiny bit of zing. But the original recipe is all in American measurements, so I hope Rita won’t mind me posting my conversions here for Brit bakers.

They’re a refreshing alternative to chocolate if you feel as if you have too much chocolate in your life (NB I’m not sure I ever feel like that), though I reckon you could also put white chocolate chips into the mixture for some extra sweetness. Quite a chic cakey companion to a cup of tea, no?

for the brownies

100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
pinch of salt
115g butter
2 eggs
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon

for the glaze

about 65g icing sugar
juice of 1/4 lemon
water as needed

1. Combine the flour, caster sugar and salt into a big bowl. Blend in the butter.

2. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the lemon juice and zest. Add all this to your other mixture. Add in a glug of milk or two if it’s a bit dry.

3. Pour into a greased baking dish – I used those large disposable foil roasting tins you can get in Tesco. They’re good for brownies and anything else that can be tricky to turn out, but the large surface area did make the blondies quite thin and reduced the cooking time a little.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or just until pale golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in its dish.

5. Now glaze. Stir all of your glaze ingredients together – adding more water if it’s too sticky, and more icing sugar if it’s too runny – and pour over your baked mass of uncut brownies. Spread into all the corners with a spatula and leave to set. You might want to put the kettle on for some tea around now. When it’s set, cut it into slices and eat, licking your fingers after each bite.

kitchenaid

Incidentally, I’m seriously considering somehow procuring a Kitchenaid Artisan mixer, a la the one above. But it costs more than my rent. Is it worth it? I’m pretty lazy, and I get the feeling it would make quick work of bread doughs and lighter sponges, so I am sorely sorely tempted.

Smoked Haddock Pilaf

haddock 1So there we all were, merrily eating mackerel, feeling smug about our super-eco-sustainable-fishing credentials, and then the Marine Conservation Society decided that enough was enough. Mackerel’s been downgraded to ‘eat with caution’. It’s not endangered, but it’s not exactly jumping into boats with plentiful abandon, either. We ate it too much! Slapped wrists all round.

But with haddock, I think we are still OK. For now. Sean made this last night, riffing on a Simon Hopkinson recipe (and by ‘riffing on’ I mean ‘wilfully leaving out some of the ingredients for’). It’s a woodsy, wintry way of having fish – a lot like kedgeree, but less breakfast-like.

serves four, in theory
40g butter
2 tsp garam masala
250g basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1 lemon
375ml chicken stock
400g un-dyed smoked haddock fillet, boned, skin on, cut into 4 equal portions
2 eggs, hard-boiled
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
handful chopped fresh coriander
seasoning
haddock 2

As I say, Sean made this, so I’m no expert in walking you through, but this is what he said:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Hard boil your two eggs, peel, chop and set to one side. Melt some butter in a heavy ovenproof pot on the hob and mix a couple of tablespoons of garam masala into it, then stir in 250g basmati rice and get it nice and coated in the spicy butter. Then add the lemon zest and bay leaf and pour 375ml chicken stock over the top.

Put the fish into the pot face down, resting gently on top of the rice with the skin facing up (so you can take it off later when it’s finished cooking). Put your pot in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Take it out but make sure you don’t take the lid off (this is v important – don’t even peek), so you let the rice finish cooking for about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid and gently peel the skin off the haddock with a fork, then add in the spring onions, egg, seasoning and a handful of chopped coriander. Wrap the pot in a tea towel (make sure the towel isn’t resting on the mixture) and leave for 5 minutes so the food can soak up the excess steam, and then serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

We also had G&Ts.

scot 2

Poignantly Scottish man at bus stop, marking a disastrous weekend of rugby

Lemon, Pea and Mint Risotto

lemon

Pablo Neruda wrote a poem about lemons, where he says they have ‘the diminutive fire of a planet’. They freshen up a risotto, at any rate. Risottos are good for late winter, when you still want something hearty but you also need the suggestion of warmer weather.

This is a version of a Jamie Oliver recipe. Heat a tablespoon of butter and another of oil in a pot, then soften a chopped onion in it, slowly, for about 10 minutes. Pour in your risotto rice (allow 100g per person for maximum comfort), turn up the heat and toast the rice grains for just a minute or two. Tip in a large glass of white wine and let the alcohol cook off.

(Top tip: don’t lean over the pot while this is happening, because you may get a little lightheaded. I speak from direct experience in the field.)

risotto-spoon

Once you’re starting to get a slightly floral scent off your risotto mixture rather than an alcoholic one, turn the heat right down and ease in a ladleful of warm veg stock. Keep the risotto moving until it soaks up the liquid and the texture loosens up and turns slightly creamy. Keep adding stock until the rice is soft and swollen, tasting to make sure it’s not still nutty.

Five minutes before the end, when the texture of the risotto is just a bit gloopier than you think you want it, pour in a load of frozen peas, enough to stud the mixture liberally but not to overpower it. Let the peas cook through, and then stir in half a handful of chopped fresh mint, the juice of a lemon, an extra knob of butter and some parmesan if you like. Several generous twists of salt and pepper, and spoon it into a large bowl. Sprig of mint recommended for decor.

risotto-plate