26 January 2010

"eggs milk and flour, pancake power"

Without wanting to sound like Kristy Thomas pitching for the Kid-Kit - do you remember when you were a child, and you went to a friend's house, and it was so much more of a heightened experience than your own existence at home? Their toys seemed cooler, they had a haybarn, they were allowed to stay up later, they called their parents by their first names... Sometimes there was the disquieting reverse of that where leaving home for someone else's affirms how comparitively safe you feel in your own space and how you just have to hold on and let the minutes pass until you can return - ah, childhood. I realise of course that I'm looking at this through the fairly priveleged gaze of someone who grew up with loving parents and so on.

But anyway, I have this distinct memory of being down the road at my then best friend's place, and her mum made us pancakes in the middle of the day for lunch. We ate them with sugar, lemon juice, whipped cream and - and this which I remember well over a decade on - leftover chocolate icing. For lunch. Have you seen Scarface? (I've been in the same room while it was on, which was plenty.) You know that scene where he's surrounded by mountains of cocaine? These pancakes-for-lunch with chocolate icing were like the equivalent of that for 9 year old me. But you know, somewhat less alarming.

Living away from home means these childhood thrills can be recreated at your leisure and while it's obviously not the same, a decision to have pancakes for dinner still comes with a certain satisfaction, a feeling that you're Pippi Longstocking or something. Whimsy aside, pancakes do make a fantastic unconventional dinner - filling, cheap, easy to eat with the fingers, sociable, not too fussy. Tim and I decided it had been too long, too, too long since we'd seen Thoroughly Modern Millie (possibly I was the stronger force on this decision being made) and we invited our friend and fellow Thoroughly Modern Millie fan Ange over to watch it. For some reason the idea of pancakes for supper seemed amazingly delightful too - so that's what we had.

I used a recipe of Nigella Lawson's from Nigella Bites. I replaced the milk in the pancakes with soymilk to make them dairy-free and truly, these were the best pancakes I've ever made. I've made some sad, rubbery pancakes in my time and these reaffirmed my faith in the practice. They were fluffy, light, well behaved, quick to bubble, and a pleasing even nut-brown. I'd like to think it was the magic of soy that made this happen.

American Pancakes

From Nigella Bites

30g/2 Tablespoons melted butter (I replaced this with 1 T Rice Bran oil)
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
300mls full fat milk OR magical soymilk
2 eggs
Butter for frying (again - used a little rice bran oil)

Beat all the ingredients together, or just blitz them in a food processor. Heat a good non-stick frying pan, add a little butter or oil, then get pancaking. You can make these as large or small as you wish - I kept them relatively small but do as you please. When you see bubbles emerging on the surface, flip them over and cook for a minute or so on the other side. I find a silicon spatula useful for this.

I piled them onto a plate covered in tinfoil and they kept perfectly happy until the mixture was used up, so don't feel you have to feed everyone but remain slavishly chained to the stovetop. Makes enough to thoroughly satiate three hungry people, could probably feed four really. Nigella reckons "25 pancakes the size of jam jar lids".

To go with I made the blueberry syrup from Nigella Express. Had some bloobs (as I've been calling them, not annoying at all!) that I found on special at Moore Wilson's and it seemed like as good a use of them as any, as well as making the pancake dinner seem like a bit more of an occasion. It took all of five minutes to make but tasted relatively complicated - what more can you ask from a recipe?

Blueberry Syrup

From Nigella Express

Not just for pancakes - this would be brilliant on vanilla ice cream and as Nigella says, it does become rather jammy the next day and is perfect spread on buttery toast.

125ml (1/2 a cup) maple syrup or honey
200g blueberries

Put both ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Let it bubble gently for 2-3 minutes then pour into a jug. Like so!

I can't afford maple syrup - not even with my shoes from The Warehouse and op shop sweaters - and I have a feeling that even if I had some I'd be too scared to use it. I'm okay with this, and used honey instead. I wouldn't recommend using fake maple syrup, as there's only two ingredients and blueberries are so beautiful that you don't want to be gumming them up with synthetic flavourings.

Ange provided the lemons from her bountiful tree. The pancakes were, as I said, pretty fabulous. The satiny blueberry syrup was gorgeous - thick and sweet and studded with juice-bursting berries. Thoroughly Modern Millie was reliably incredible. (Seriously. One of the best movies of all time, second only to A Mighty Wind.) It was a good night.

Am heading up to Auckland tomorrow for meetings, then going home to see my family, then on Monday Tim and I are back in Auckland for the Laneway music festival. Which would be why it's 10.36pm and I still haven't packed yet...I'm getting really pretty hyped up for Laneway, the line up is both ridiculous but manageable which is a kind of a miracle for music festivals these days. It's going to be an intense day but I'm really, really looking forward to it.

Title brought to you by: the Pancake Crimp from The Mighty Boosh, Series Three. Howard Moon enters Vince Noir's bloodstream to save him from the Spirit of Jazz, and has to remind his protective white blood cells that they're friends, reminding them of the good times they had making pancakes. You know?

On Shuffle while I type:

Cornet Man by the superlative-worthy Barbra Streisand, from the Original Broadway Cast recording of Funny Girl. Bought this from Slow Boat the other day, had been meaning to for a long while and did not regret it. Her voice is just gorgeous, all rich and sinuous.

Tender by Blur from their album 13. I love this song so much and have since the moment I saw it for the first time on Video Hits back in 1998...actually I wonder if I saw it on MTV Europe? Maybe it was too late for that. Anyway, I don't really care if the lyrics are a bit appalling or whatever, it's such a lovely tune - it almost seems broken up into hooky compartments which come at you one after the other - and every time I hear it I feel all comforted, like I'm wrapped up in a woolly blanket.

Walk on Gilded Splinters, by Paul Weller from the Wire Soundtrack ...And All The Pieces Matter. Because the music in The Wire is 99% diegetic, it's nice to hear the music stretched out comfortably in a compilation like this. I love the guitars in the song and how it shuffles along but not without punch...I just love this song.

Next time: I made these fantastic raw cookies the other day - it's not often I get enthused about the concept of raw baking but these were not only easy and practical, they were seriously good tasting. Once I get back to Wellington...you'll be hearing about them.

23 January 2010

lime warp

I have never been a fussy eater. Nooooo. But when I was younger, and I don't think this classifies me as "fussy", olives were too salty, ginger was too spicy, and I couldn't quite see the point of black liquorice. As my tastebuds have aged, and no doubt reduced in numbers, I can suddenly eat olives by the oily handful and, well, the briefest of glances over this blog will show how much I love ginger now. Liquorice I still have no time for. There's a photo of me on my first birthday showing how I, with quiet resolve, plucked a black jellybean from my birthday cake and chewed on it. The photo shows my immediate distaste upon chewing. I'm very sure that if I ate a black jellybean now I'd pull a pretty similar face. And while my tastes have expanded, I still have that not entirely useful, Homer Simpson-like quality of "Ooooh look, food, I'm going to eat it all!" documented at that birthday party long ago.

I first tried preserved lemons last year when my godmother gifted me a jar of them that she'd made herself. I was never exposed to them as a child - Morrocan chic hadn't quite reached the rural outpost where I lived - but I'm sure they would have seemed aggressively salty and sour to my young self. Right now, to my current collective of tastebuds, they are so, ridiculously good. I'm pretty sure it's not how they're supposed to be used, but I love just eating slices of lemon whole, straight from the jar. This Christmas just gone, inspired by the now long-consumed preserved lemons I was given, and hungry for more, I decided to make my own as edible presents for people. Obviously I couldn't blog about this prior to Christmas, but now that we're safely in January...it's on.

Predictably, I turn to Nigella Lawson and her engaging book How To Be A Domestic Goddess. In the final chapter, all about preserves and pickles and jams and other exciting things, she has a recipe called "Edith Afif's Lime Pickles". The recipe is a little quirky but seemed straightforward enough, and the end result is exactly like preserved lemons, but with limes in their place. I couldn't afford as many limes as Nigella asked for so used a mix of limes and lemons and didn't feel bad about it at all. Limes are expensive but lemons are not, the salt I found for about a dollar at the supermarket and the olive oil doesn't have to be fancy so all up these are a rather tidily priced gift. As I believe in self-gifting, I set aside my own personal stash as well as divvying up the fruit slices into pretty jars for other people.

Edith Afif's Lime Pickles

From Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess

10 limes (or a mixture of lemons and limes)
1 kg coarse salt
Approximately 500mls olive oil, not extra virgin
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried chilli peppers, crumbled.

I have a confession to make. I completely forgot to add the tumeric and am retroactively kicking myself about it as I'm sure it would have looked gorgeous and tasted amazing. But the end result is still fantastic without it so don't fear or go on a dazed mission to the supermarket if you don't have any in the cupboard.
  • Cut the fruit into eighths lengthways and cover the bottom of a baking dish with them. Cover the limes in the salt and then put in the freezer overnight. I actually forgot about them for a couple of days and they were perfectly fine.
  • Remove from the freezer and thaw. Rinse under running water in a colander. I saved some of the salt which had absorbed an amazingly citrussy flavour and used it on a poached egg. A worthwhile recycling effort. Shake the lime/lemon slices to remove most of the water, and divide between clean jars (fills roughly 3 x 350ml jars).
  • Mix the oil and spices together in a measuring jug then pour into each jar. Add more oil if the slices aren't covered.
  • Close the jars, put away in a cool dark cupboard for a week or so - the longer the sit, the more ridiculously good they'll taste.

Nigella says "you either have a sour tooth or you don't" (and I maintain that I have a fat tooth, if not several) but I think these have mainstream appeal. The sharp, satiny slices of lime and lemon give this incredibly savoury, mouth filling citrussyness, not overly salty despite the fact that they were blanketed in salt at one point. Sliced or chopped finely they add a softly sour kick to basically anything - salads, couscous, pasta, tagines, anything meditteranean. As an added bonus the oil surrounding the fruit slices takes on a gorgeous flavour and can be spooned from the jar and used as a useful condiment in its own right. Hardly a day goes by when I don't use these in something. Even though they sound like something other people do and you don't, preserved lemons (or limes...or lemons) are completely within reach and not difficult at all. It's a tired argument but if I can handle making them without any ensuing trauma, basically anyone could.

So, I heard this wacky rumour that food blogs need to have decent photos. Which is a shame because I made this amahzing Feta Bread on Tuesday night and even though it tasted like a dream it didn't photograph so nice. While I was considering just uploading my ugly photos anyway as good photography isn't so much a right as a pleasant surprise round these parts, I think I'll just quickly share the recipe instead.

Feta Bread

From Simon Rimmer's The Accidental Vegetarian

This makes two large loaves. You could halve the recipe if this scares you, but you will eat all this bread, trust me.
  • 15g (2 sachets) instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 600mls/1 pint warm water
  • 1 kilo strong bread flour
  • 2 T salt
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 350g firm feta cheese, crumbled - I used Whitestone which was perfect - solid chunks of sharp cheese. If you use a softer variety it will likely disperse into the dough and you won't get any noticeable bits of feta in the bread, but it's not the end of the world.
  • Handful of mint leaves
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a little of the water. This will take about five minutes. Tip in the flour, the rest of the water, and mix to a dough. Knead for 7-10 minutes until it forms a springy, firm dough that isn't sticky. You may need to add a tiny bit of extra flour or water but go very gently with this. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, leave it to rise for about 2 hours. It will rise to spookily large heights. At this point, punch it down and knead the oil, mint and cheese into the dough. What Simon Rimmer doesn't tell you is that this is a mission and a half. The dough doesn't really absorb the cheese at all and you kind of have to prod the bits of cheese in with your fingers and hope for the best. Coax the dough into two loaf shapes on a paper-lined tray, cover with a clean teatowel or a bit of tinfoil and leave at room temperature for 40 minutes. Finally, bake at 180 C/350 F for 30 - 40 minutes, which doesn't sound like a lot but it's just right.

This bread is off the scale good - softly chewy, almost buttery in flavour which is odd considering there's none in there, crusty, and punctuated by chunks of gorgeous feta cheese and cool mint leaves. You could actually leave out the feta and still have wonderful bread - it's not exactly a recipe I can afford to make every week for that very reason. But it does make a lot of bread, and amazing stuff it is - shoved in a sandwich press for a minute or so, it makes the most incredible toast. The first loaf didn't last long but we sliced up the second, bagged it and froze it, toasting slices straight from the freezer. We finished the last of it yesterday and I'm actually feeling a bit fragile knowing that it's no longer in our lives. The feta aside, there's nothing unusual or different about the method so, putting aside the possibility that I am a bread whisperer, it's a bit of a head-scratcher why it turned out tasting so outrageously delicious.

I'm feeling much better than I was at the start of this week, which is good of course. On Thursday we attended an awesomely elegant book club initiated by our ex-flatmate, but not ex-friend Ange, and last night we finished Season 4 of The Wire. Gruelling? I felt like how a potato must feel after being mashed. Absolutely mind-blowingly good though, but now I'm torn about whether to recommend it or not - it's utterly brilliant but you get emotionally invested in characters against your will and none of them are really 'safe'. That's all I'll say...Tomorrow is that rare delight - a public holiday. (Wellington Anniversary Day) This year's a bit desperate as two of the usual public holidays have the useless bad timing to fall on a Saturday so I'll have to enjoy tomorrow even more, a bit tough because Tim's working tomorrow at stupid Starbucks, earning enough to be thankful he's got a job at all but not enough to actually do anything...but anyway. I'm sure I'll be able to entertain myself, if nothing else the fact that it's a Monday and I get a sleep in will be pretty fantastic.
Title comes to you via: Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Show...those of you who wanted to have probably already seen the film so instead I link you to a clip of the utterly lovely Raul Esparza of the 2000 Broadway revival cast vibrato-ing his lungs off. I love the music from Rocky Horror, it reminds me of the score to Hair in some ways because it's so joyful and all over the place and the lyrics and melody don't flow in the way you might expect it to. "It's just a jump to the left..."
On Shuffle while I type:

We're going to Laneway music festival next Monday so in honour of that fact we've been refresher-coursing the acts that are going to be there including...

Katrina by the Black Lips, I love their scrappy, poppy sound and can't wait to see them live.

I Had Lost My Mind by the deeply intriguing Daniel Johnston, another person whose name we've put a bit asterisk beside on the Laneway timetable.

Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine. It would be easy to narrow one's eyes in dislike at Florence Welch, what with her unattainably long legs and doe eyes and tendency towards music videos where she canters about with flowers in her hair and floaty capes and no trousers. But her music is gorgeous and this song in particular is pretty astounding - she's closing the festival and I'm very excited about hearing her sing it live.
Next time: Last week we invited Ange over for pancakes and Thoroughly Modern Millie (ie the second greatest film in existence, after A Mighty Wind, and that is truth.) The pancakes were flipping marvelous and I think I got a decent photo or two out of them so...that's what you're likely to be seeing.

17 January 2010

such a little thing makes such a big difference

There comes a point, when you've absent-mindedly eaten half a bowl of raspberry flavoured buttercream icing while spooning it ungracefully into an icing bag and are starting to feel a touch queasy, where you start to question the rationality of embarking on cupcakes at all. Luckily cupcakes are pretty things and the sight of them makes you remember why.

Can you tell where I started getting ideas above my station?

I've spent the last two days prepping for and working at the Big Day Out music festival in Auckland and partway through all the madness it seemed like a brilliant idea to make cupcakes when I returned to Wellington. It was a fantastic, and I think successful day, but also very very long and draining, and I haven't been feeling so well this week. For some reason my brain delivered me "cupcakes" as the comedown cure for all this. Who am I to argue with myself? It has been a long time since I've made any- the last time would have been when my flatmate was filming the intro to the Rising Star award for Handle The Jandal and needed my assistance.

I use a recipe of Nigella Lawson's, and variations or repeats of it appear in every last one of her books. I often wonder about cupcakes, (especially given what I guess you could call their pop-culture status) whether they were invented by some entrepreneurial type who hooked their thumbs thoughtfully into their belt-loops, rocked back and forward and then said in an auspicious manner, "Team: today we sell sponge cakes. Tomorrow we're going to make them one twelfth of the size but sell them for six times the price. Trust me. People will blog exclusively about them, replace their wedding cakes for them, and consume them in an influential manner on shows about sassy New York women in high heels." I mean I wonder, but not enough to actually google the history of the cupcake in case my well-rounded theory gets shattered. I'm tired. Let me have this.

The making of these cupcakes meant I got to try out two of my Christmas presents - a jar of vanilla paste and an icing kit. The vanilla paste is summin' else, its intensely vanilla fragrance rising up and curling round your head as soon as you open the jar lid. It's a thick syrup, dark and gritty with vanilla seeds and smells so heavenly that I sincerely want to smear myself with it and run down the streets flinging it at people by the spoonful. Luckily for the good folk of Wellington, it's too expensive for that kind of behaviour. The cupcakes were gratifyingly studded with vanilla seeds, almost as though someone had dropped iron filings into the batter (not entirely implausible, knowing how clumsy I am.) You can find some mighty tempting and elaborately iced cupcakes in shops, but these are a humble and relaxed version. And they're not audaciously priced.

Spot the vanilla seeds!


From every single Nigella book in existence.
  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract, optional
Set your oven to 200 C or 390 F and line a muffin tray with paper cases. Or in my case, use the very nifty silicone cupcake liners gifted by family members a year or two back. Put all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till it's looking good and batter-y; or do as I do and cream the butter and sugar, and once they're light and airy beat in the eggs. Add the flour, the milk and the vanilla and beat together. Drop spoonfuls into the paper liners and bake for 15 - 20 minutes till golden and puffy. Allow to cool before icing however you like.

These are wonderfully buttery, tender, spongy little cakes, and the vanilla flavour really shone, through the simplicity of the ingredients. Topped with pink, raspberry flavoured icing they're quite the delightful mouthful. They're not exactly useful, but they do taste fantastic and I feel distinctly soothed and defrazzled now that I've made them, like someone has taken a GHD straightening iron to my life. That said, I'm still not 100% unsick. These cupcakes are more palliative than completely restorative in nature but it's a start.

Title comes at you via: Morrissey's song Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference, which you can find on his gem of a live album Beethoven Was Deaf. a typically cumbersome-of-title tune. Like the cupcakes, it's been a while since I've quoted Morrissey and it's so rainy and cold here in Wellington even though it's supposed to be the middle of summer that it just felt right to put him in here.

On Shuffle while I type/sneeze

Downtime by locals Kidz In Space from their EP Episode 001: Chasing Hayley, who were seriously fantastic while occupying our stage at BDO. A head-nodder if ever I heard one.

Gershwin's Stairway To Paradise as sung by Rufus Wainwright. Tim and I, (both feeling under the weather) were watching a Broadway documentary and it occurred to me that I hadn't listened to any Gershwin in too, too long. A difficult choice but I think Stairway To Paradise is my favourite song of theirs. So optimistic...so beautiful.

Next time: well, hopefully I'll not be feeling so seedy. I really don't like being sick in the middle of summer (admittedly, the weather here in Wellington is hopeless) but unfortunately my immune system is unmoved by the stern telling off I'm giving it. I'm usually fairly robust so I'll surely bounce back from whatever this creeping malaise is. I've also bought what's probably the last of the season's asparagus to make what Nigella calls Pasta Salad Primavera...which is making me feel perkier just typing it out.

10 January 2010

the air, the air is everywhere


I got back to Wellington yesterday evening, after a week's camping at the same beach my family and I have camped at since 1986. This constant bookend to each year of my life means I fall into a pleasingly familiar pattern once in the camping frame of mind...read books, dip toe doubtfully in water at the beach, drink gin, observe fat woodpigeons in wonder, go for walks, read more books etc... While letting all that go isn't fun, I'm very, very happy to be back in the city where mosquitos don't seem to exist. I got so ridiculously bitten this time round, my legs resemble a topographical map of the Hunua Ranges.

All awkward itching aside, I had a seriously wonderful break. Lazy breakfasts merged into lazy lunches, books were read, long conversations were had with family, that sort of thing. For some reason the birdlife this year was particularly bold, but in a cute, Disney-esque way that makes you want to stride through the forest while singing scales and engaging in dialogue with squirrels. Or something. I managed to catch up with lots of family and also with one of my very best friends who I don't see very often, which was fantastic. Unfortunately Tim wasn't able to come to the beach because Starbucks stops for no man (and to be fair, he needed the money) and I suspect my family was even more disappointed than I was that he couldn't make it along. ...

Since we weren't going to be seeing each other for a while, on the night before I flew up to Auckland to go camping I thought I'd make us a decent dinner, of souffle and chocolate mousse. I didn't plan to have such a glam dinner menu - it was more a case of "what on earth is in the cupboard". I guess I wouldn't be much of a food blogger if my scraped-together meal didn't involve separating eggs and dark chocolate.

Both recipes came from that most seminal of all seminal texts, How To Eat by Nigella Lawson. I love coming back to this book - I bought it back in my first year of flatting when I hardly had any money for rent and bills, let alone enormous fancy cookbooks. But it has more than paid for itself since then. Actually that's a lie, between the pomegranates and the vermouth and the endless variations on homemade custard this book may well have financially crippled me and could be the reason Tim and I haven't been on a holiday since we started living together this time four years ago.

Both recipes are both easier than they sound, even though there's some egg-white whisking involved. Yeah, separating eggs is never fun, but there's something about the word 'souffle' that still equates to 'death-defying act of cookery' in many people's minds. You can choose to capitalise on this and win their gasps of admiration when you casually place a souffle in front of them, or you can just own up that they're not difficult at all. Doesn't bother me.

Notice the nice salad servers in the background - Christmas gift from Tim's parents.

So, I altered this recipe a tiny bit in that it was originally a pea souffle but all I had was soybeans and goat's cheese...yeah, I know. It should really be the other way round.

Goat's Cheese and Soybean Souffle

Although soybeans (or edamame) aren't normally paired with cheese, their soft nutty flavour makes them seem like they should. If you want to make the original pea souffle, and it's really really good, just replace the soybeans and cheese with 120g frozen peas and 85g gruyere or something similar.

150g frozen soybeans
30g butter, plus more for greasing
15g flour
125mls (1/2 a cup) full fat milk
pinch of nutmeg
50-100g goat's cheese or feta cheese, roughly chopped
2 eggs

Set the oven to 200 C, putting in a baking tray when you do this, and butter 2 x 250ml ramekins. Melt 15g butter in a pan and cook the soybeans till they are softened. Set aside. A souffle is basically white sauce with eggs and other things stirred in, so you need your white sauce first. Melt the second 15g of butter, and stir in the flour, letting it bubble away slightly before tipping in the milk and stirring constantly over a low heat till smooth. Remove from heat.

Separate the eggs, and stir the yolks into the white sauce, then add the soybeans, goat's cheese and nutmeg. In a metal bowl, whisk the egg whites with a small pinch of salt till frothy and standing up in soft peaks. This is fairly important as it's the air bubbles trapped in the egg whites that are going to give the souffle the push it needs. Using a metal spoon, put a good dollop of egg whites into the yolk mixture and stir it in to 'lighten' the mixture. Then fold the rest of the egg whites in, not beating it toooooo vigorously but not too fearfully either. Divide all this between the two ramekins, place them on the baking tray and shut the door carefully. Immediately turn the heat down to 180 C. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, and serve immediately while they're still risen and gorgeous - they will deflate, it doesn't make you a bad person.

Mine rose higher than this, I swear! Taking photos just gave them time to get all...deflatey.

These taste SO good. Intensely puffy in texture. Strangely it's the soybeans providing a buttery, creamy flavour while the rich goat's cheese gives a lemony sharpness, rather than the other way round. Definitely worth the little bit of effort that goes into it - these look and taste gorgeous.

The chocolate mousse we had while watching Season 4 of The Wire. Don't worry, we actually talked to each other while eating the souffle. The Wire time is quality time. The recipe comes from Nigella's chapter on children's food (which is possibly my most-used chapter in How To Eat, whatever that says about my eating.)

Nigella's recipe uses milk chocolate and golden syrup. I only had dark chocolate and honey so I used this instead. If you keep the dark chocolate instead of her originally specified milk, it makes this mousse dairy free.

Chocolate Mousse

100g dark chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon clear honey
2 eggs, separated. Obviously because of the uncooked-egg thing, you want these to be nice eggs.

Over a very low heat (or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water if you're nervous), melt together the chocolate, the honey, and the water. Remove from heat. In a separate clean metal bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks form. Nigella says it'll be easier if you wipe the surface of a cut lemon half over the bowl before you start; I believe her. Beat the egg yolks into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Take a dollop of egg white and stir it briskly into the chocolate/yolk mixture which will, as with the souffle, lighten it up a bit. Then gently but firmly fold the rest of the egg white mixture in with a metal spoon. Divide between two smallish ramekins, around 250 ml capacity. Nigella says to chill it for 6 hours, I'd say you could get away with an hour or two. Eat.

Possibly because of the lack of cream, this mousse was a little different in texture to what I expected - it had settled into almost a chocolate pudding rather than anything light and fluffy. No harm done, it was still completely amazing. Silkily rich but not overly heavy, this mousse tasted of nothing but chocolate, so don't be put off by the slim list of ingredients.

Title comes to you from: The song Air sung by the gorgeous Kacie Sheik, from the Broadway cast recording of Hair, as a salute to the significant reliance on air bubbles in the recipes I gave you. I am legit obsessed with this album. You may have noticed it popping up occasionally here. So it must be good, right? It has indeedy been getting a lot of repeat visits, this album of the current Broadway revival cast, starring the lovely Gavin Creel who bears the heavy crown of being one of the few stars of Broadway that Tim likes. Today I also started listening to the original Broadway cast recording (ie, the 1968 one) and fell in love with that too. Everyone sounds like Joan Baez! So you might as well try the original like me while you're at it.

On Shuffle these days:

Well, I've been away from technology for seven days and didn't really have my iPod on while out camping - it was mostly birdcalls and the sound of tent zippers for me as far as music went. But today I bought the soundtrack to The Wackness, which is a very enjoyable listen, with the same warm, eyes-half-closed summer vibe the movie has. I don't normally go in for soundtracks but this one is the reason why...I occasionally do. Right now Sam Cooke is providing a mellow background to my Sunday night.

Next time: My summer holiday is officially over - I'm back in the office tomorrow. This week is going to be busy however as I'm flying up to Auckland to work with the Big Day Out music festival. But there will be cooking! I've been to the vege market for the first time in weeks and feeling good about connecting with the kitchen again. In the meantime, if anyone has any remedies for speedy healing of mosquito bites I'd be most grateful...