26 November 2012

but guess who is gonna be dessert

It's funny, I grew up in a little village, and there was pretty much no shopping to speak of at our nearest town aside from groceries and takeaways and florists and such. And yet I have this very distinct memory of choosing which clip-on earrings to wear to go to the public library. Though I'm pretty sure I've always been quite cynical, bordering on snide, it also did not take much for me to get disproportionately excited (in fairness: the library was damn thrilling. A diary entry from 1996 marks the singularly bleak occasion where neither mum nor dad wanted to drive in that weekend and WHAT was I to do now?) But in terms of things that were genuinely exciting, every now and then Mum and I might go on a small spree, in the form of purchasing a Lindt Chocolate Ball each from - I can't even remember which shop sold them, maybe the florist? 

The mouthpleasingly spherical chocolates encase a softer, buttery chocolate filling which bursts in the mouth with pupil-dilating deliciousness. Unlike many a chocolate from my youth, Lindt Chocolates have held up quality-wise, and still have that special-occasion, grab-your-clip-on-earrings rush of joy.

Which is why, when rereading Katrina Meynink's delicious book Kitchen Coquette, I became a little fixated on her Lindt Chocolate Puddings, in which not one but two entire chocolate balls, frozen, are submerged in batter and briefly baked to produce a dark chocolate pudding with a slowly liquefying white chocolate Lindt centre. I rationalised hazily that buying a ten-pack of Lindt chocolate balls was better value than the three-pack; that I'd been doing some temping; that if I didn't spend the money on the chocolates said money would only be sitting in my bank anyway, and that I'd really, really felt like pudding - one of those days, in fact, where you wake up and just know in your bones that you'll need pudding later on.

That said, if you're really fixing for this recipe but can't physically bring yourself to fork out for Lindt - and I understand - pieces of decent white chocolate from a bar will still produce a damn excellent finished product, I'm sure.

Gold, since they cost as much as getting a gold tooth inserted into your mouth. Kidding! It's more like the cost of a root canal procedure.

Seriously though, Katrina's book is totally dreamburgers, and she's a genuinely entertaining, evocative writer about food - not praise I really can say about all that many foodwriters. This recipe is but one of plenty recipes in Kitchen Coquette which will make you yearn to throw together ingredients immediately.

Lindt Chocolate Puddings

From Katrina Meynink's book Kitchen Coquette.
Note: I halved this recipe, went for two eggs but 50g sugar.

200g dark chocolate
100g butter
3 eggs
115g sugar
2 tablespoons flour
8 white Lindt chocolate balls

Place the chocolate balls in the freezer for at least an hour. When said hour is up, set the oven to 200 C and gather ye four 250ml ramekins.

Melt the chocolate and butter together gently, then allow it to cool a little and quickly stir in the eggs, sugar and flour. (This allows you to just use one bowl, but mix up the non-chocolate stuff separately if you wish.) Divide the mixture between the ramekins, and unwrap the frozen chocolates and push two into each ramekin, spooning over a little batter if they're popping out the top. Bake for 15 minutes, till firm on top and bulging out the top. Don't overcook - you want that saucy squish of barely-set cake batter.

And yeah, as I said, I've been doing some temping, the sheer exhausting nature of it being why it's been so long between posts here. It was fairly...um. I won't actually say what I did and how I felt about it or I'll just end up sounding deeply unprofessional: the point is, I got paid, it was only a week, and I got paid. As well as that I've had a couple of interviews lined up for jobs I've applied for, which is quite cool right? My last interview that I had was back in 2006, for a clothing chain store - I didn't get it - so going through the process again is nothing if not good practice. That said, Tim and I joked about having a bake sale today to boost our dwindling funds, and the joking turned kind of serious and strategic. I know I'm talking about a lack of money in the same breath as buying fancy-pants chocolate, but I'm not into policing how people spend their money, however limited, so...am hardly going to start on myself. And look at this pudding: what cost that happiness?

Two of my dearest friends are flying to Japan today - Kate and Kim, who both worked on my cookbook with me (stylist and photographer, respectively) and I'm incredibly happy and excited for them, especially having done a huge trip overseas myself, but Kate's not coming back till the end of January, which is really a long, long time away from someone so wondrous. Sigh. All the sighs. Kim is returning back to NZ in two weeks' time, like some kind of collateral or flat bond (but a million times nicer), so there's that. I'm hopeless at articulating myself at the time of significant goodbyes - but with people that are such good friends I feel that you don't have to make big speeches or anything, you just know. And also, fortunately there are still excellent and dear friends here still. It's Kim and Kate's time to shine, and I'm sure they'll shine hard like the ethically-sourced diamonds they are. If you hear any strange noises at any stage though, it's just me expressing my dramatic emotions via the application of a pillow to my tearducts. Totally cool. No big deal.

In amongst all this caginess and hand-wringing maudlinness, what of the puddings? Were they delicious? Hot damn, yes. Like a hot, barely cooked chocolate brownie, the frozen chocolates slowly melting within creating a vanilla-y, creamy contrast to the bitter darkness of that surrounding it. I liked mine with cold, cold cream filling a spoon-excavated dent in the top and spilling out over the ramekin, Tim austerely preferred it without. Make them, and make them immediately, without excuse or delay, as soon as you're able to and also feel like pudding.
Title via: Barbra Streisand singing You Are Woman from Funny Girl with Omar Sharif. OH, her voice. 
Music lately: 

Elastica, Connection. I remember feeling, speaking of 1996 diary entries, such injustice that Justine Frischmann and Damon Albarn were going out. Because that, specifically, prevented him being my boyfriend. Still sorta wish he was, still adore this song.

Neneh Cherry, Woman. Speaking of 1996. This song is intense, and intensely excellent.
Next time: a supercool ice cream cake from my 60s American pudding cookbook. 

14 November 2012

holy moly, me oh my, you're the apple of my eye

There is nothing like the frantic job-hunt to make you consider yourself - not as in the significantly annoying, yet impossible to remove from one's brain once it's there song from the musical Oliver! - I mean to consider your personality, and your approach to things, and your skills. Just your general self-ness. 

Yes. I, Laura Vincent, am prowling like a jungle panther in search of that elusive, distant gazelle: gainful employment. After three months of being married to the cookbook and a further month traveling in America, there are no more savings and no more distractions. I have learned that even with two significant smarty-pantses proofreading my CV I can still somehow then go and insert the words "data entry" twice into my list of skills. That's about all I've learned so far since I haven't got a job yet, but I am remaining positive. Six years since I last looked for a job, I've been finding it interesting reconciling the difference between talking about my achievements in a non-threateningly corporate manner while at the same time blogging in my usual lavishly verbose way here. Both the CV and this blog are totally honest, but I'm not going to talk here about a recipe being a series of key deliverables, just as I'm not going to mention having a panic attack or eating pastry dough on my CV. My CV says that I work well in a team, while in real life I'm a total non-compromising grump about certain things. Is my inability to compromise on what I feel strongly about a sign of immaturity and a bad attitude, or does it make me a strong person who knows themselves? (Probably both, right?) But see? All this talking myself up is making me self-scrutinise all over the place. Nevertheless, I'm hoping there's some kind of job out there for me - occasionally belligerent and anxious and over-analysey as I am, if any potential bosses are reading, I'm pretty much definitely employment material, honest. 

Now, if inventing new recipes constantly was an employable skill - which I suppose it technically is, what with my writing a cookbook and all - I'm sure I could work my way up to CEO quite fast. Ruling with the enthusiasm and abundant excellence of Leslie Knope, the powerful vintage dresses and street smarts of Joan Holloway, and the cool songs and intimidation abilities of Ursula from the Little Mermaid. Till that day, I'll just share the most recent recipes I came up with here for you all. Minus the intimidation and so on, although incidentally I am wearing a vintage dress today. (It's purple!) 

Have you ever had Turkish apple tea powder before? It'll set you back about $7 for a tin, but I can't apologise because it's so utterly, spoonful-by-the-spoonful delicious that you'll be glad to have it around for aimless snacking purposes. It occurred to me, as these things often do, that it might be quite fantastic rubbed into pork which is then slowly, slowly cooked. 

Well, speaking of honesty, I'm giving you this recipe with the caveat that I'm not entirely sure it was successful for me, but I'm very confident it could be successful for you. That is, it tasted incredibly good, but I don't think I quite cooked it long and slow enough. I'm not the Grand High Chancellor of Meat Knowledge (or am I...okay, I'm really not) and every recipe of my own is an experiment that might or might not work. If you just cook this a little slower and longer than what I did, it will undoubtedly be perfection.

Every other time that I've made pulled pork with belly-cut shoulder or pork belly, it has quickly become ludicrously, dissolvingly tender. This time with regular shoulder it resisted my fork's proddings, and its fibres didn't separate into meaty strands at the tugging of my tongs. I may have panicked a little, I may have contemplated whether or not human tears are an effective meat tenderising condiment, I may have played good cop bad cop with the pork in the oven (mostly bad cop.) At the very last minute it appeared to have gained some tenderness, but wasn't quite at the falling-to-pieces level I was used to. So I shredded it to bits anyway - surprisingly therapeutic, recklessly hacking at a large piece of meat with little care for aesthetics - and as the ever-pragmatic Tim ever-pragmatically pointed out, two kilos of pork is still two kilos of pork. The point is, it still tasted really, really good. So it's highly likely this will work for you.

Though the pork unavoidably requires a lot of your time, the accompanying slaw is as swift as swift can be. Its provenance is simply that I had silverbeet and parsley and horseradish in the fridge and not much else. I would've wanted a more interesting nut to go with, like almonds or pine nuts, but sunflower seeds are what I had. And with a little toasting they can hold their own. If you have almonds or pine nuts or whatever though, for goodness sakes use them instead. Sorry sunflower seeds, no offense intended.

Apple Tea Pulled Pork

A recipe by myself.

2 kg belly cut pork shoulder, or pork belly, or or or, pork shoulder
2 heaped tablespoons Turkish apple tea powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspooon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Set your oven to 130 C, and place the pork in an ovenproof dish into which it fits rather snugly. Mix together the apple tea and the spices, taste it if you like, as it's compellingly weird, then tip it evenly over the pork, turning the meat over to make sure it's evenly covered. Press the tea powder and spices into any slices in the meat and really rub it into the surface, spooning over any that falls off. 

Bake slowly for as long as you like really, but for at least five or six hours. Turn it over once or twice and spoon over any roasting juices. A couple of hours in, pour the vinegar over the meat, then return to the oven. 

Tear to shreds with a pair of tongs, one in each hand (or however you choose, this is what works for me) discarding any bones and off-puttingly large pieces of fat (I have no idea whether or not you want to eat it, it's up to you of course) and mix it in its roasting dish with any saucy liquid that has formed during the cooking process. Serve.

Silverbeet, Parsley and Horseradish Slaw

A recipe also by myself.

1 bunch of silverbeet
1 handful curly parsley
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce from a jar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (or anything cooler. Almonds would've been cooler.)

Wash and drain the silverbeet if you like, then finely slice it into shreds, in the same way that you might with a cabbage if you were making coleslaw. Roughly chop the parsley. Mix the two together in a large bowl, or indeed, the bowl you're going to serve it in. In a small bowl or cup or whatever, mix together the horseradish, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt, then stir this through the leaves till they're evenly coated. Finally, toast the sunflower seeds in a pan till fragrant and lightly browned, and stir them through the slaw. 

Pork and apple are an OTP from way back, but this gives a new slant to these classic bedfellows. The apple tea powder soaks into every last filament of the pork, giving the already sweetness-friendly meat a kind of juicy, fresh sugariness. The paprika's throat-catching smokiness and the cumin's deep, earthy savouriness counteract any bubblegum tendencies and give it that I've-just-been-barbecued vibe even though it was just in my tiny oven for a few hours.

Silverbeet and curly parsley are both a little bulky and bitter and unsexy, but once finely sliced the silverbeet tendrils become light and aerated and the old-timey, boldly verdant flavours of both greens work surprisingly well together. It's the dressing that makes this memorable though, with the fresh sting of horseradish mellowed by the olive oil and the sweetness of balsamic, giving the potentially dull greenery a much-needed sprucing. The sunflower seeds aren't actually strictly necessary, but I like my salads crunchy, so what can you do?

I guess this shows my problem solving abilities (even if, like Kristy Thomas from the Baby-sitters Club, it's perhaps not so much about problem solving, but about seeing no problem, creating a problem, and then fixing it.) Yes, I hate to compromise and do things I don't want to do, but I'm also willing to put in a whole ton of effort. Um, for the want of pulled pork, but nevertheless: effort. And for all you know, I put data entry twice on my list of skills on purpose because I just really love it...okay I don't, but what human does? Experience has taught me though, that as long as I've got some headphone-funneled source of music, I can more or less shut off my brain and enter data for hours on end. So: still feeling positive about my job prospects, for now at least.

It's worth noting that the pulled pork is also quite magnificent cold the next day, as I found out while drinking gin with my dear friend Kim as we sat side by side and contentedly, silently blogged. We had nothing to eat it with, but both of us decided simultaneously that heaped into a bowl and eaten with a fork would be fine: it totally was. The caramelised sugars and spices lends the pork a certain beguiling smoky stickiness once cold - it's worth buying more pork than you feasibly think you can cope with for this reason alone.

Title via: Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. When I first heard this I dismissed it as designed to manipulate your emotions immediately with its breezy twee-ity. And then I was like, shut up Laura, so is most pop music! And so now I just love it. 

Music lately: 

Atlantis, Azealia Banks. This woman is just flinging out singles like she's the one holding the bag of candy at a lolly scramble. I love the video for this, it reminds me of when my family first had a computer, and the amazingly terrible, but of course amazing-then graphics, but as well as that the song itself is brilliant too.

Another Hundred People, Melanie C. Spice Girls plus Broadway, that Broadway being specifically Sondheim's Company which I'm quite obsessed with? Oh, my heart. Melanie's creamy, elastic voice is showcased rather excellently here in this challenging song, too, and I like to think in this case she's singing about London rather than the intended New York. I like to think about these things, okay?
Next time: Still intent on making something from the Momofuku cookbook that I bought in NYC...

8 November 2012

blue wind gets so sad, blowing through the thick corn and bales of hay

I was going to blog yesterday, but instead spent the afternoon nervously clutching a satin-bepillowcased cushion to my fervently beating heart (that is, I hugged a pillow) while watching the US election results unfold. I...should've seen that coming, that I wouldn't get any blogging done. I can't pretend I entirely saw Obama's victory coming, but I am so utterly, viscerally relieved that he did get in again. That's all I'll say, except - how extremely excellent was his speech? I was punching the air pretty much the entire time, like an animated gif of Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club. 

What a week it has been. From dizzying highs - a Halloween party, purposefully in November so Tim and I could be there with our wondrous friends. Tim dressed as Effie Trinket from Hunger Games and I dressed as the Wicked Witch of the East (complete with a house fascinator and hand-spangled ruby slippers) - to literally dizzying lows, when I had a small panic attack on the street last Friday evening. It's by no means the first one I've had, but it has been a good long while, and it took me completely by surprise. I was of all things, on my way to pick up my engagement ring which was being resized. I assure you, as I assured Tim, that my sudden inability to breath and my burning face and dizzy brain were nothing to do with the act of getting the ring. Tooootally unrelated. Which now makes it sound like I'm being deeply sarcastic, but honestly! It just happened. And it sucks, and it's not a particularly food-bloggingly-sparkly subject, but what can I say? It's my life, and though I'm annoyed by the signals my brain sends out occasionally, I shall be not ashamed of them. And in case you're wondering, yes, almost a week later we are still finding red sequins everywhere that my shoes shed hither and yon.

Back to the dizzying highs: I made an incredibly good dinner and thought I'd share it with you.

Corn and Tomatoes doesn't sound like much, and I guess it isn't, but it's intensely delicious - the corn sort of stews in the tomato juices, which become syrupy-rich with the olive oil. The paprika offers the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes a deep smokiness, and it suddenly seems all a lot greater than the parts of which it sums. I called it corn and tomatoes because that's what it is, which seemed to justify the slightly fancifully-named Miso Poached Potatoes. It simply occurred to me that cooking new potatoes in miso-enriched water might make them rather magnificent. It did.

Corn and Tomatoes

A recipe by myself.

2 cups frozen corn
3 small, ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Mix everything together in a roasting dish. Bake at 220 C for about 25 minutes.

Miso-poached Potatoes with Butter

Also a recipe by myself. I couldn't possibly guess how many potatoes you can eat, but in case you're wondering, for the two of us I went with about eight smallish potatoes, a heaped tablespoonful of miso paste, and about 50g butter.

New potatoes
White miso paste

Quarter the potatoes lengthwise (or really, cut how you please.) Fill the pot you're going to cook them with half to two-thirds full of water, then add a few spoonfuls of miso paste depending on the quantity of water. Simmer the potatoes till they're tender, then drain them and stir through as much butter as you please, till it's melted. Serve.

The miso soup really seeps into every last granule of the potatoes, giving their blandly creaminess a kind of nutty, rich caramelised savouriness, which is only intensified once they're smothered in fast-melting butter. I'm never particularly enthused over new potatoes (I like my potatoes to be sustaining crispness to 90% of their bodies) but this turns them into something thoroughly exciting. In direct proportion to the quantity of butter you coat them with.

Tim's and my American holiday has suddenly been sucked into the realm of feeling like a distant, highly vivid dream. It's over a week since we landed at Auckland at 5.40am. Speaking of things I did not see coming, Mum - my parents live an hour south - had hinted that she might or might not come meet us at the airport. My supposing was on the side of not, since it was so ridiculously early, but I murmured dazedly to Tim as we trudged through customs, "$5 says Mum is here and has turned this into a girls' adventure with her best friend". My small wager was in fact, correct, but I had entirely underestimated the crazy capers afoot. My mum and her best friend were indeed there, as was my aunty who I hadn't seen in over a year. But wait. A small red checked napkin was produced by way of tablecloth. There were wine glasses. And bubbly. And a crystal bowl of strawberries. Right there in the food court at the international airport, to congratulate us on our engagement. Tim and I were slightly dazed, as well you might be at 6am after flying for thirteen hours and then suddenly finding yourself drinking fizzy wine, but we couldn't have had a nicer, sweeter, more hilarious welcome back home.

Title via: the adolescent-angst musical Spring Awakening, and its suitably mournful song Blue Wind. 

Music lately: 

Moon River, as sung utterly plaintively and yet subtly and yet devastatingly as always by Judy Garland.  I mean this song could even render some emotional response from a particularly jaded lab rat, but in Judy's hands, and lungs, it just slays me.

Baby Says, The Kills. These two are terrifyingly good. We were lucky enough to see them at Third Man Records in Nashville. Luckier still: the concert was being recorded live onto vinyl. Luckiest of all: a copy of that vinyl will eventually be sent to us here in New Zealand.

Next time: I bought a copy of the Momofuku cookbook while we were in New York. Do you know how badly I want to cook every last thing in it? Quite, quite badly.

2 November 2012

there's no place like home

They say that certain activities are like riding a bicycle, you never forget. Well, "they" obviously never met Laura Vincent, She Who Could Not Be Bike-Broken. I'm sure I've brought it up before, but I cannot ride a bicycle. In New Zealand, when you say this, people will often sharply suck air through their front teeth or emit a low whistle, and say accusatory words to the effect of "you had no childhood." It's true, I never learned to ride a bike (I'm not that good at whistling, either.) Oh, people tried. At one point I did manage a few uncertain circles around a paddock before careening into a tree, but you know? I really don't care about bike riding, not everyone has to do it, and the only reason I brought it up was that I was nervous that after a month away in America I would have totally forgotten how to blog. And yet here I am, already one long, self-absorbed paragraph in! Hooray!

Firstly, an enthusiastic kickline and a round of applause for my two glorious and excellent guest bloggers who filled in during my absence. Thanks a million, Pocket Witch and Coco Solid! You are the ruliest.

Tim and I had the wackiest month on holiday, during which time we concluded that we LOVE America. Oh sure, I'll be the first to sneer at their politics (I mean, I love you hard Obama, my sneers are directed firmly towards Romney and his merry band of women-hating quease-mongers) and to be nervous about their gun-control laws and so on, but in general, it is the greatest. They have so much stuff. And that stuff is so cheap. And the people are so friendly, especially the further south we went. And, and, and. It was just, apart from a few mishaps which are now hilarious anecdotes the more time expands between myself and them, the greatest holiday ever.

And, uh, in case you'd missed me saying it, Tim and I are now affianced. Which is exciting and weird. In some ways it feels like it has been like this forever, and sometimes I will punch him on the shoulder and say "whaaaaat, we're getting married, I can't even." It's just so strange. It's very exciting, and yet - people get married all the time. Married people are not exciting. Yet we are? I don't know. Likewise, I veer between shrugging indifference towards the wedding and excitedly focussing on miniscule details and catering and planning three changes of dress during the party. However, we decided on the spot that we wouldn't actually get married until marriage equality was law in New Zealand - which is not to say that we do not abide people who are already married or planning to get married. No! Not at all! This is just a very personal decision we made to stay true to ourselves. So uh, any MPs reading this: I want my wedding, damn it! And lots of people want their weddings. Don't make me hate you. That aside - it's all just...really nice. For all of our sakes, I'll try to keep any syrupiness to a minimum. Which, given my non-propensity for syrupiness, shouldn't be too burdensome.

As with blogging itself, a month away from cooking makes one a little apprehensive in the kitchen. After three intense months of writing, testing, and photoshooting my cookbook (that's right! My cookbook!) it was utter bliss to traipse around America simply handing myself over to people and being fed. Would I be able to get back into it though? Well, yes. Luckily muscle memory kicked in and I actually remembered how to cook and bake after all.

Sorry to bring it up again, but rugelach were present at the picnic Tim and I had when he proposed to me (ugh, I know, the romance of it all) but that's not quite the reason I made them upon returning to New Zealand. That is, I'm not blogging about them because they're now my Cookies of Romantic Memories or anything, it's just that - eating them again reminded me how damned good they are, and that I hadn't made them since December 2007, and that I should make them again as soon as possible. That's all. These Jewish confections are simple enough to make, but just fiddly and involved enough to also feel like I'm really significantly catching myself in the act of baking.

They're also arrestingly delicious. Buttery pastry made particularly luscious with cream cheese kneaded through it, brushed with melted butter and rolled around chocolate and brown sugar. Oof. It really is everything good in this world, wrapped around everything else good in this world.


Adapted slightly from Nigella Lawson's recipe in her truly excellent book Feast.

425g plain flour (awkward quantity, I know, but go with it.)
50g sugar
Pinch salt
250g cold butter, cubed
150g cold cream cheese 
1 egg
Optional: 1 sachet instant dried yeast. 

50g butter, melted
250g chocolate (dark is specified, but all I had was Whittaker's milk chocolate, which so richly, caramelly delicious that I minded not)
50g brown sugar (I reduced this to 25g since milk chocolate is sweeter than dark. Fiddle as you wish.)

I know yeast makes everything sound scary to the not-overly-confident baker, but all you have to do is throw it in. There's no extra steps or anything. But if you really don't want to, just leave it out and these'll still be grand.

Mix together the flour, the sugar, and the yeast (do it, do it). Throw in the cubes of butter, and using the tips of your fingers and thumbs, rub everything together till the butter is incorporated and it all looks like damp sand. This is not a fast process, and you can totally just throw it all into the food processor. It's just that some dear friends of mine had their food processor break down recently and it would've felt disrespectful of their pain to go on about how convenient this piece of machinery is. So in solidarity, and because damnit if I don't like the feel of cold butter and flour against my fingertips, I went hands on. 

Either using your hands, or switching to a spoon, thoroughly mix in the cream cheese. It'll start to look like a crumbly dough. Mix in the egg, which should, after some effort, see it coming together properly. 

Cover with gladwrap and refrigerate for an hour (regardless of whether you added the yeast or not.) You can also leave it overnight if you need to. Just take it out of the fridge fifteen minutes before you intend to use it, is all.

Set your oven to 190 C and line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper. Roughly chop (or, sigh, process) the chocolate into rubble, and mix it with the brown sugar.

Divide the dough into three even portions. Take one and roll it roughly into a circular shape, of about 25cm - though did I measure mine? Nay. Slice this circle like a pizza into eight triangular shapes. Nigella says 12, which you're welcome to do, but with my shoddy geometry skills I felt better making eight. Which are, anyhow, bigger.

Brush the sliced up circle with melted butter. Liberally sprinkle over some of the brown sugar and chocolate, then, roll up each portion from the largest side till it forms a rather sweet, squidgy little croissant shape. Lay each one on the baking tray, and repeat with the remaining two portions of dough.

Brush the tops with any remaining melted butter, then, if you've used yeast allow them to sit on top of the oven for about 15 minutes first. Either way, bake them for 20 minutes till puffy and dark golden on top.

I ate, I would estimate, about an eighth of the pastry dough - it's incredible, and these make so many that you can't possibly feel bad about the diminishing returns. But it's also worth stopping at some point, as these are one of those creations where the finished result honestly tastes even better than the uncooked mixture. Puffy and aggressively buttery, somehow not too sweet, the chocolate just a little smokily scorched from the oven - this is baking nirvana. And a pointed reminder that though I love being on holiday, it's delightful to throw my arms around the kitchen again and give it a big old hug. Metaphorically, I mean.

I'll leave it there lest I suddenly get sick again and have to postpone this blog post by yet another day. Thanks for coming back to me, my people! I'ma metaphorically throw my arms around you, too. Actually I think I mean...figuratively? Because it's not a metaphor for anything. No: I really will leave it here, because I feel like my month away from constant writing and self-editing is becoming reeeeeally obvious all of a sudden.

In my haste to get this published, I did - somehow - forget one thing, which is that our friends met Tim and I at the airport at 9am, completely unbeknownst to us, to strew us with garlands and beads and hug us and pretty much make us feel like MUCH better people than we really are. The belovedness was just bouncing off the walls, and we couldn't have fathomed a better way to come home. Friends: we love you. See a few beautiful snaps (please be charitably kind about my blanched, long-haul-flight face) from that morning from clever photographer Sarah-Rose, if you please.
Title via: it's not a song, but it's Judy Garland's quote from The Wizard of Oz, and Judy Garland is flawless perfection, so. 
Music lately:

Dark Dark Dark, Daydreaming. With a name like that, I knew I was going to love them. Tim and I saw this band in New Orleans. They're really, really beautiful.

Down In The Treme, by John Boutte. We...were not only staying in the Treme, we also saw John Boutte himself sing this song. Oh, that place. "It'll get you, child", as our host told me knowingly.
Next time: I'm not sure - am looking forward to just regularly cooking again. However, I am on a noble crusade to find a really, really good American biscuit recipe, being so sad that they don't seem to exist here in New Zealand - so if you know of one you can point me in the direction of, I'd be super obliged.