22 May 2012

put me to work, you would think that by now i'm allowed, i'll do you proud



Look, at some point when I'm more emotionally stable I'll write something deep and meaningful that convinces you that I'm up to the task, of the task that I'm about to tell you that I'm up to, but in the meantime, know this. I've kept a secret from you since January 19. That day I got an email. Which resulted in hours and hours and hours of work. And some tears. And so much waiting. And then a phone call this afternoon.

The phone call which means that I, Laura Vincent, food blogger, am going to write a cookbook. A REAL COOKBOOK. For you! And you! And you and you and you you and you!

I've barely slept over the last few days and poor Tim (although, let's face it, lucky Tim), it's all I've talked about, and today was nothing but a strange blur (although dazedly asking if anyone wants to volunteer "as tribute" instead "for chair" during an important meeting that I myself was chairing kinda sticks out). I can't say just yet who's publishing it but you know them! You've totally heard of them and of course I'm going to say good things about them because they're being so cool but I promise you: couldn't have asked for a more exciting name behind my name. And of course they're awesome, right? They're publishing my cookbook! Who else had the foresight, the patience, the risk-take-ivity? This as-yet-unnamed publishing house, that's whom!

This is me after I found out, panic-stripped, and found myself wearing my shiny gold party dress. (I'm now back in trackpants, so you know.) That is the smile of someone who has wanted this for so, so long, with the fiery burn of a thousand French fries. This is the smile of someone who has had intense, self-worth-damaging disappointments along the way. This is the smile of someone who has kept a secret since January and has finally been able to share it with her parents and with the best friends in the world, who I'm totally dragging to the top with me to share in the joys of whatever being a cookbook author is like.

This is the smile of someone who sat on a bed this afternoon while waiting for the phone call and listened to Defying Gravity and cried and then wondered if someone who would do such a thing was suitable for a book deal. After giving it some thought I decided someone who does that absolutely deserves a book deal! I then watched the finale of Parks and Recreation again and cried again because I felt like what happened to Leslie Knope was a sign that everything was going to work out for me. Then I watched Defying Gravity (the Tony Awards show version) and cried again. Then I listened to Die, Vampire Die from [title of show] and looked at photos of capybaras and at a gif of Vince Noir and Howard Moon pashing. Then I watched Over the Moon from RENT. Finally, I started watching Donna McKechnie performing Music and the Mirror from A Chorus Line. It got to the bit where she's sings the amazing line, "I'll dooooo you prouuuuuud". And then the phone rang.

And I got it. I GOT IT.

I promise, as well as this being one of the most important things to ever happen to me, I will make sure it's something that makes your life more amazing too. I think a cookbook can do that. I think my cookbook can do that. There will never have been a cookbook like this before!

I mean, I hope so. Even as someone given to panic attacks and an I'm-sure-delightful personality mix of absolutely sure of myself mixed with nauseating insecurity (hey there, publishing house!) I do believe in myself. I know I can do this.


21 May 2012

who'd come through with lentils and to get the fundamentals

There are so many things that are not delightful about life in New Zealand in 2012 but I'll tell you one thing - and it doesn't just apply to me here in my homeland - the internet is really on form. I remember when I first heard about the internet - I guess in the mid-nineties - marveling at how much information was on it. I remember specifically saying to someone (possibly one of the cats) "so you could find a website about anything, if you want a website about bottle caps then you could probably find it". (Little did I know I predicted the zoomed-in nature of tumblr, where there probably is at least one dedicated to bottle caps.) Little did I know just how much ridiculously specific information this thing they call the internet could hold.

Where I'm going with this is, after a particularly wearying day of clumsy mishaps, I got into my usual grumble-rut of lamenting that women in comedy movies (TV sometimes too) often seem to be portrayed in a way that clumsiness is their only personality trait. You know. She fell over in a public place. And that's how you know she's nice and relatable and you want her to continue on this inevitably heteronormative path towards boy-meets-girlness, maybe falling over just once more in public just to remind you how 'zany' she is. Oh, I could ineffectually whinge further, but I suddenly thought, you know I just bet there's something on the internet that demonstrates what I'm talking about. And I was right. We're at the stage where information saturation means if you want a supercut of badly written female characters in rom-coms falling over, you can find it with the half-heartedest of Googlings. Sure there are the endless trolls, but still. For that I say 2012, you're okay. 

(If you're wondering what it was that I did that got me thinking in such a vague manner about romcoms and clumsiness, it was the following:

Pulled on stockings in a hurry and in doing so dug a massive, red scratch with my thumbnail along...the side of my right buttock. Mmmhmm.

Took a drink of water, dribbled it all over myself, I can't even think why.

Brought it all home with my masterstroke of weirdness: I walked into my bedroom swiftly and nearly got whiplash from being yanked backwards again because the doorhandle had got stuck in a buttonhole on my coat.)

Luckily, for those of us inclined towards ungainliness, the pear-shaped butternut squash is a squillion times easier than the pumpkin to slice into. Its tender flesh accepts the knife blade swiftly, as opposed to pumpkins which scare the heck out of me - every time I approach them with a knife it seems the stupid tough pumpkin shoots off in the opposite direction. Good to know for anything you require pumpkin for - butternut squash rules. Especially in this extremely simple soup I thought up. If you're not blessed with a food processor there's nothing to stop you taking the pesto ingredients and just adding them to the soup at the end - and there's also nothing to stop you not calling this un-Italian paste 'pesto', I just can't think of a better name for it.

Butternut, Lentil and Coconut Soup with Peanut, Rocket and Lime Pesto

A recipe by myself.

1 medium butternut squash, roughly diced and skin removed. (About two heaped cups)
1/2 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk or coconut cream

1/2 cup peanuts
2 handfuls rocket leaves
Juice of a lime
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Pinch salt

Place the diced butternut, red lentils and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer slowly with the lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if you feel it needs it. At this point use your spoon/spatula/etc to mash up the bits of butternut as you wish - this is a fairly chunky soup, although there's nothing stopping you from blending it all up, I suppose. Sprinkle in a little salt and stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and serve with as much of the pesto as you please and a swirl of coconut milk if you like.

Meanwhile, toast the peanuts lightly in a hot pan (I actually did this first, and then used that same pan to make the soup in. Minimising dishes for all!) and then throw them into a food processor with the rocket leaves and lime juice. Blend up, scraping down the sides as you need to, then add the salt and oil and blend again. 

This makes about enough for two people with some leftovers.

You'd think the soup would be a little boring but the mild, creamy sweetness of the butternut and coconut and the earthiness of the lentils bring their own excitement. The lentils melt into the butternut and the small amount of coconut makes it surprisingly rich. But even so, there's the pesto - lentils and peanuts aren't a million miles removed flavourwise, with peppery rocket and sour lime to stop it being too oily, but then plenty of sesame oil...in case it's not oily enough.

I don't always get all that enthusiastic about soup, but this is worthy of my time, a nice mix of familiarly comforting and compellingly stimulating. Perfect for those nights when you can see your breath puffing cloudily in front of you. While you're sitting on the couch. 

Tim and I had a ludicrously busy weekend but for now that's a story for another time, till then I still have news: I made a podcast! Called The HungryandFrozen #soimportant Podcast. I know, how can I possibly find ever yet more ways to foist my feelings about food upon the world? Don't feel forced to listen to it, I'm just doing it for the sheer fun of it - and it is fun - but should you be interested in what I have to say on top of everything else I have to say, you can listen to the first episode here! Oh, the internet. Couldn't have breezily undertaken this this back when I was a nipper! I think the closest I got was pretending to be all five of the Spice Girls and an interviewer and recording it on a cassette but I only got about thirty seconds in before realising all those different accents plus witty dialogue was a lot for an eleven-or-so year old to enact. 
Title via: I was hoping to get Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner's sprightly version of Little Me from the Broadway musical of the same name, but do you think I could find it on youtube? I could nay. And just when I was talking about how great the internet is. Luckily there's Faith Prince singing it on the New Broadway Cast Recording.
Music lately:

I was saddened to hear of the death of Donna Summer. You know I love to obsess over a song and I Feel Love was one that stood up to two or three or seven repeat listens in a row. A huge talent lost.

Louie the ZU with Leroy Clampitt, I Want You To Know: dreamy goodness. I love it.
Next time: Apologies for being this cryptic on a Monday, but knowing what I know, hopefully I'll have some interesting news for you.

15 May 2012

some are born to rise above sleepless nights and sloe gin love love love

If you wouldn't mind indulging me for a moment:

I've become slightly infatuated with Cinemagram, this app on my phone. It lets you create little gif-like moving images that can border from the barely mediocre (ahem) to the breathtakingly gorgeous. If you can't view the above, what's there is a bowl of ice cream ingredients and a bottle of cream, the former eternally emptying its delicious contents into the grateful latter. 

I won't, however, use this as a segue into talking about indulging in ice cream, because I refuse to buy into that. Ice cream is just what I eat when I feel like ice cream, no need be stacking on the guilt when you could stacking on the chocolate sauce instead. Right? Right. 

And I feel like eating ice cream a LOT. Good thing my ability to think up ice cream recipes can keep up with desire to eat ice cream. 

What a week it has been. On Thursday morning I read the news and punched the air joyously at Obama vocalising his support of marriage equality. On Friday night Tim and I went to Queer the Night, a march against homophobia and transphobia, with friends of ours. We ran into more friends along the way, and walking the streets of Wellington on a clear night chanting "two, four, six, eight, don't be sure your kids are straight" felt right and good. Hearing heart-clenchingly sad stories from those who spoke was a reminder that there's no place for complacency. An impromptu-ish party followed, from which my fondest memories include so many hugs, spreading crackers with butter and sprinkling them with salt, doing a highkick and landing in the splits (at the encouragement of others, not of my own volition, although I hardly require arm-twisting) and gasping over the staggering beauty, and utter importance of the Parks and Recreation final. I freely admit I've been inordinately affected by this half hour comedy show, and that there was a whole lot of crying and shaking going on. I may or may not have (or actually did) tweeted "Leslie Knope, moon of my life." Make of this what you will. 

And on top of all that, I thought that Gin and Tonic Ice Cream would be nice. Gin and tonic go together so excellently well. Why wouldn't they excel together in ice cream form? Well, it wasn't so much "nice" as "high-kick-then-landing-in-the-splits-ingly rapturous", but you be the judge. 

You no more need an ice cream machine for this than you need to know how to do the splits. It really couldn't be easier. Or more unconditionally delicious. Seriously, this is one of my finest creations, and I say that as someone who says that every time they create something, so...who can you trust? Only your own tastebuds, once you've made this for yourself.

Gin and Tonic Ice Cream

A recipe by myself.

1 cup sugar
Juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons gin
125 ml tonic water
600ml cream

Tip the sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice, gin, and tonic water. Stir to dissolve a little, then pour in the cream. Whisk till thickened. You're not looking for whipped cream here, just something that has the texture of, say, a good thickshake. Transfer to a freezer-proof container (like - haha! - an old actual ice cream container) and allow to freeze, of course.

Whilst vodka and soda water with no lime is my very favourite (I like a sneeringly dry drink) I have much room in my heart for gin. Gin comes with a sense of occasion and history. It calls to mind high summer, when I knew I was cool because mum and her friends let me have a G&T with them when we were camping. (Okay, 'cool' and 'hanging out with one's mum' can be mutually exclusive, but hey.) It speaks of nights spent watching Gossip Girl with dear friends. And...I just really like the taste. What you end up with here is an ice cream bearing a delicate yet absolutely present hit of gin's citrussy bitterness, which the inclusion of tonic, the arch older cousin to lemonade, only helps with. 

The proportion of liquor to cream gives you the most ridiculous texture - it's like soft-serve ice cream, straight from the freezer. Alcohol slows down the freezing process, but you don't want too much or you'll never actually get to the point of ice cream. It'll be sludge. Exquisite sludge, but still. For all its simplicity, this is one of the most delicious ice creams I've ever tasted. Creamy and aerated, yet with a lemon sorbet-lightness. And importantly, it's on just the right side of boozy, so you don't make this face when you eat a spoonful. 

And, if you're given to flights of dinkiness and frivolity, which I often am, you might as well garnish it with a slice of lemon.
Title via the Lowdown-down from the other version of The Wild Party musical, both equally as exciting as each other, really. This one had Eartha Kitt, Mandy Patinkin, and a swell Toni Collette as Queenie, who sings this glorious song.
Music lately:

Frail Girls/Salad Daze, the double A-side single from Street Chant. Will likely form some more comprehensive thoughts around this soon, but for now: I really, really, REALLY like these songs.   

Ghostface Killah ft Raekwon, Kilo. He's coming to NZ! And not just NZ, but Wellington. If I had a nickel for every act that just went to Auckland, probably entirely justifiably, but still, I'd be able to afford to fly up there more often.
Next time: Not sure, should probably do an actual dinner recipe or something as a bit of a contrast though, I guess....

8 May 2012

sugar, she's refined, for a small price she blows my mind

I grew up with some fully-formed ideas about, of all things, Toblerone chocolate bars. Firstly, as a kid I convinced myself that the droning chorus-y bit to Heavenly Pop Hit by the Chills was them singing "Toblerone, toblerone" over and over again. I know, what? A slight stretch of the imagination, but I was young, and there was no Google, and possibly I liked the idea of a band singing about a chocolate bar more than I enjoyed fact-checking, so I let my ears believe what they wanted. Less bizarrely, but closer to the truth, this chocolate bar was indelibly associated with other people going overseas. Yes, Mum and I went to Melbourne once when I was five to see her best friend, but that aside we weren't given to big holidays at the drop of a pay packet. However someone at school must've been, because I distinctly remember talk of Toblerones upon their return, and associating them with fancy-pants overseas trips. These days you can just buy this particular chocolate bar from your corner dairy, but back in the day, when it spoke of air travel and rock'n'roll, the very idea of just having one felt unspeakably sophisticated.

I'd like to posit myself as bearing no ill-will towards the Toblerone. They're really, really nice if you manage to get your hands on one, there's no attitude here of "the world needs urgently a new version of the Toblerone and I charge myself with the noble duty of providing an inconvenient and slightly inferior appropriation!" Nooo.

I just like crunchy toffee nutty chocolatey stuff, and why should Toblerone be the only thing that gets to monopolise that combination?

So I made this stuff, inspired by that chocolate bar. It's kind of a slice, kind of just melted chocolate with more sugar added, but it's simple and seriously wonderful to eat with its crystals of toffee and bashed up toasted almonds. Fine as is, broken into rough shards, particularly effective when chopped up and sprinkled over icecream.

Toffee Brittle Chocolate

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup salt (jokes! A small pinch of salt, that's all)
250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Whittaker's Dark Cacao)

Firstly, toast the almonds in a saucepan over a low heat till lightly browned. Tip them into either a silicon baking dish, or a medium-sized baking dish (the sort you could fit a roast chicken into, but not two, or use a pie dish) lined with baking paper. In the same saucepan, slowly melt the sugars and the water over a low heat, and bring to the boil without stirring. Stirring causes bigger crystals to form which isn't what we're after here. Allow it to bubble away merrily for about five minutes until it smells like caramel and the syrup under the silvery bubbles appears to be dark brown. At this point, carefully but quickly pour it over the almonds, getting as much as you can out with the help of a spatula. Sprinkle over the salt and allow to set.

Once set, chop it all up very roughly and then transfer it all back into the baking dish. Then slowly melt the chocolate and tip it over the chopped up almond toffee, stirring to mix. It'll look rough and like the chocolate's not going to cover everything, but that's all good. Pop in the freezer for a bit to set properly, then break into small pieces and serve as you wish.

Bubbling sugar and water is kind of beautiful, am I right? Just don't get close, it'll burn you faster than an insult from Blackadder.

It's also quite pretty once all chopped up but before getting covered in chocolate - all golden and sparkly. I guess food blogging has conditioned my brain to think such things, but I swear it looked pretty in real life.

I've been keeping it in a container in the freezer, and something about the icecold chocolate makes the delicate almond crunchiness even more excellent. It's perfect for a sweet thing after a big dinner but also, as I said, completely delicious chopped up over ice cream.

On Saturday night I went to see Rose Matafeo's show Scout's Honour as part of the Comedy Festival. I didn't know tooooo much about her apart from she's on TV and on Twitter seems like my kind of person, but in real life, on stage, she is a scream. Hilarious. She's got some shows coming up in Auckland so if that's where you're from, I most definitely recommend attending. Not least because her show had tea and biscuits, and super-nice audience members. I was by myself and appreciated the rolling-with-the-punches niceness of the people either side of me. In that when I asked "can I sit here?" they said "sure" and smiled, rather than blankly staring at me, or saying no. But also: about halfway through her show she worked in a Babysitters Club joke, so, you know, free pass for life.
Luckily everyone can join in basking in the tiny, adorable splendour of Rory the kitten, one of our friend Jo's foster cats. (Speaking of Jo, kindly check out this write-up she did of an incredible dinner we had at Hummingbird. Includes a panna cotta gif!) I can't adequately express how tiny and sweet Rory is, but I'll tell you this: he's truly much the same size as he appears to be in this picture. Spent significant time adoring him inbetween episodes of Veronica Mars. So important.
Title via: tick, tick...BOOM! the musical by a young Jonathan Larson, who would go on to write RENT, which this blog is named for. The song really is about sugar, in case you're wondering, and it is good, especially with Raul Esparza wrapping his sweet, sweet vocal cords around it. 

Music lately:
Woke up Saturday morning to the news that Adam Yauch, MCA from Beastie Boys had died. This is such sad news - Beastie Boys have been together longer than I've been alive and consistently putting out music that I love. Honestly part of the soundtrack of my life. Remote Control is one of my favourite songs of theirs. However I'd also like to call attention to this glorious rhyme from the glorious Sure Shot: "I want to say a little something that's long overdue/ the disrespect to women has got to be through."

Finally listened to some Lana Del Rey, and uh, have become mildly obsessed with her music. It's just so utterly melancholy, I can't help but love it.

It's not actually him singing, but a young Johnny Depp with an also-young Amy Locane in John Waters' Crybaby on Please Mr Jailer is worth suspending reality for. As is the heavily crushable Wanda Woodward, thanks to Kate for the necessary reminder!
Next time: I was thinking about Gin and Tonic Ice Cream. First to catch my gin...

2 May 2012

he's a hero, a lover, a quince, she's not there

I have come to recognise that while I'm pretty brainy (maths/science aside, but what have either of those disciplines ever, ever done for humanity?) said brain will sometimes mix things up entirely for me, usually the more confident I am that what I'm saying or doing or thinking is correct. For example, I got How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson back in 2006 and it only just, just this week clicked into place how great her Food Processor Danish Pastry recipe is. Normally with recipes like this you need to slowly massage cold butter into the yeasted dough while rolling it out over and folding it over and over again. Nigella's blasts the butter into the dough right at the start, so it's already there come the rolling-out stage. This whole time I've been all, "oooh, I'm using a food processor to briefly cut in the butter, la de da" (in a Homer Simpson voice) not realising she was removing a ton of effort from an otherwise intimidating recipe. Oh Nigella, moon of my life.

Another example, because I don't think I explained the singular drama of pastry comprehension very well: I recently with vociferous disdain described someone as a "typical 99 percenter." I was well into my spiel before I realised, prompted by puzzled looks of those around me, that "wait! I meant 1 percent! I was dissing the 1 percent! You know that!" Way to go, brain, constantly making me backtrack when I could be making pie.

This recipe for Quince Tarte Tatin is a significant undertaking, so I'm letting you know well in advance that you'll need to let yourself know well in advance that you want to make it. This is the kind of thing that ought to come with some kind of apologetic medical pamphlet covered in cartoonish diagrams. The pastry alone takes two days, the quinces at least two hours. However most of that time is waiting (apart from a brief but sweatily red-faced pastry-rolling session) and not all foodstuffs can appear to us immediately. If you want to make a pie with bought pastry and ingredients with swiftlier-to-disintegrate cell structure than quinces, that is completely fine. This is not the only pie in the world.

There's three parts to this recipe: firstly the pastry, which is care of a Nigella Lawson recipe, then dealing with the quinces, for which I adapted a Floriditas recipe, and finally slapping it all together, where I went back to Nigella and followed her timings for an apple tarte tatin recipe.

This is most definitely not the required 50x50cm square, yet still it turned into pastry. So, hopefully that's kind of encouraging to everyone. And it goes without saying that this is one of the most blissfully delicious kinds of uncooked pastry dough under the sun.

One nice thing about all the effort that goes into the pastry is that you only need half of it to make the tart, so I've frozen the other half for undoubtedly smug future use.

Processor Danish Pastry

From Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess - and if you don't have a food processor then cube the butter and roughly rub it into the dry ingredients at the start with your thumb and fingertips, making sure there's still visible bits of butter, and then proceed as per the recipe. I'm sure that would work out fine.

350g bread flour
250g butter, cold and sliced thinly synapse
Pinch salt
25g sugar
1 sachet instant dried yeast
1 egg
125ml (1/2 cup) room temperature milk
60ml lukewarm water

Blend together the butter, flour, salt, sugar and yeast briefly till the butter is fairly well dispersed through in small pieces. Mix together the egg, water and milk in a bowl and tip in the floury buttery mixture. Stir together quickly, then cover and refrigerate overnight. This recipe takes time. 

The next day, let it come to room temperature and roll it out to 50cm x 50cm, or the best you can manage. I undershot the mark ridiculously, but also my arms nearly fell off from the exertion and in the end I was proud of my wobbly 35cm shape. If it's sticky - and mine was, immensely so - just continue to sprinkle over flour. Fold it in three, like a business letter or something, then roll it out again as best you can to the same shape. This got a bit painful but it's necessary - all these folds are creating air pockets which will make the pastry deliciously puffy and layered as it bakes. Based on the results, I'd say attempt to roll it out as far as you can, but if you can only manage a weird shape like me, you'll probably still be fine. Repeat this once more and just as you're about to collapse, divide the pastry in half and either refrigerate for another hour before using once it's returned back to room temperature, or wrap and freeze for another time. Just like that!

Not that quinces are a burden, as far as burdens - or anything - goes, it's just that every year I get all "Hooray! Quinces! So fragrant! Sniff them! Seasonal eating, it's quite the thing to do! Have YOU ever sniffed a quince?" and then realise I don't have all that many recipes for them and I'm not entirely sure how to get the most out of their short autumnal tenure. I was lucky this year that Tim's grandmother on his dad's side gave us a bunch of quinces from Taihape, and also that in a comment on my previous blog post, Sophie recommended quince tarte tatin for using up quinces. 

Quinces are rock-hard, can't be eaten raw, take forever to cook and generally reward you by turning an odd pinkish brown colour. Maybe if they weren't so irreverently rare we wouldn't be so excited by them? I don't know. But I love them, with their rich flavour of rose petals and lemon and pears and apples. Cooking them in the oven for a long time under a low heat slowly busts through their solidity and makes them as soft as canned peaches. Which would be a fine substitute, if you want a faster pie. I adapted this recipe from one in my Morning Noon and Night cookbook from the beautiful Floriditas cafe, basically by making it really lazy. The original recipe isn't even that difficult or anything, I'm just a corner-cutter from way back. 

Oven-poached Quinces

Adapted from Morning, Noon and Night, the Floriditas cookbook.

Quinces (about 2kg)
2 cups sugar
1 litre water
1 cinnamon stick
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

Tip everything except the quinces into a large roasting dish and mix to combine. Then, rub away any fluff clinging to the surface of the quinces then chop them up, leaving the skin on. In half is fine although mine were in all sorts of irregular shapes because they were a bit blemished. I cut off the knobby bit at the top, but leave the seeds in. Sit the quince pieces in the roasting dish, and then cover with a sheet of baking paper under a sheet of tinfoil. You can scrunch the tinfoil over the edges of the roasting dish to hold the paper in place. Place in the oven and leave for about 2 hours. They won't look overly promising but should be extremely tender and smelling wondrous. They're done when a fork or skewer plunges easily into the fruit's flesh.

Finally, to bring the two separate elements together in pie unity:

First catch your pie dish. Lots of people end up with those straight-sided fluted ceramic pie dishes, it's not quite as good but it'll do the trick. There is actually such thing as a tarte tatin dish, but I don't even know what they look like so I'll just give you instructions for what I used which was this metal plate with sloped sides which I got for a dollar at a garage sale in Paraparaumu.

Quince Tarte Tatin

1/2 measure pastry from above recipe
Poached quinces from above recipe

Set your oven to 200 C/400 F and put a baking tray to heat up at the same time. Place the fruit snugly in the dish and dot with about 25g chopped up butter and scatter with a tablespoon of sugar. Place in the oven to heat up a little while you roll out half of the pastry (freeze or refrigerate the rest of the pastry for another use). Remove the pie dish from the oven, drape the pastry on top of the fruit, tucking it in carefully round the sides, then bake on top of the baking tray for 20-30 minutes. It'll be puffy golden brown on top. Remove from the oven, slide a knife round the sides and place a large plate over the pie dish. Carefully flip it over so that the pie drops onto the plate, revealing a crown of fruit. If some sticks to the pie dish, just pick it up and push it back into place.

Also: feel free to use a different fruit to quinces here. Something like apples or pears might require a little softening in a pan with some butter and sugar first, but anything from a can should be good to go.

The sheer deliciousness of this pie is augmented by relief that all that effort didn't go to waste. I think so, anyway: honeyed, soft fruit and palpably excellent pastry, buttery and puffy and echoing all the good things about croissants. 

You can serve it with syrup from poaching the quinces or just photograph it in a pretty bottle you bought then save it for mixing with vodka and lemonade. Up to you! We took it round to our dear friend Jo's to eat while watching Veronica Mars (so important) with another dear Laura, who had brought some blue cheese. Someone suggested a slice of the blue cheese on the slice of the pie. It was pretty incredible.

You might think I throw round terms like 'dear friend' flippantly but seriously,  look at the beauteous cake Jo, Kate and Kim made for me on my two-weeks-after-the-fact birthday party! Tim and I took the rest of the pie round to their place and that's where it got finished. Which is really all good...because we've still got a significant volume of four-layer surprise birthday cake to get through.
Title via: Superboy and the Invisible Girl from the Broadway Musical Next to Normal, with the gorgeous and gorgeously talented Jennifer Damiano and Aaron Tveit. The actual line is 'a lover a prince', and even though I know that's what it is I can never stop myself from saying 'a lover of Prince' whenever I'm singing along. 
Music lately: 

Am listening to the excellent new Homebrew album while I type. You can't go wrong by listening to Listen to Us again, or ever.

212, Azealia Banks. Took a while, but: obsessed.
Next time: I have a lot of tofu in the fridge. And if there's one thing I know about tofu, it's that it doesn't get better with age...