23 August 2013

unlimited, my future is unlimited

This is a strange and pretty wonderful day, but it's also just another day.

I mean: my cookbook is released today! I spent all of last night in a flux (not a flux capacitator, I wish, 80s Michael J Fox on whom I still crush, call me!) of feelings, from the obvious excited to the also obvious terribly nervous, but generally settling on a strange blank overwhelmed kind of place. I'm very hard on myself, and I've wanted this so much, for so long, with every bit of energy I have, and it's finally happening. But then it's also just another day and I have to go to work and deal with invoices and stuff and so does everyone else. 

Okay, I just deleted an enormously introspective paragraph which included phrases like "running so hard" and "knowing myself" and which not only would've put off anyone from reading any further, it also got dangerously close to inadvertently quoting word for word the theme song from Party of Five. So. I will try this again. Forgive me, it's just...I've never had a cookbook before, I'm still working out what it's like and what you do and so on.

I've never had a cookbook before. Until today. Huh. It is a big deal. So, I raise a glass to myself.

A nervous toast, but still.

When I wasn't taking self-deprecating Instagram selfies last night, I was also making chocolate mousse. Not the powdered mousse from a packet, foodstuff of my childhood, which you whip up with milk to produce a small quantity of dusty-textured, faintly chocolate-flavoured slurry. The mousse here requires some effort and logistics, which I enjoy - much as emphatically basic recipes are wonderful, I also like to make things that involve lots of steps, on account of I really enjoy cooking and tinkering round in the kitchen. So I don't apologise for this recipe being slightly fiddly, as that's what chocolate mousse requires. 

I do apologise for the fact that a lightbulb blew and so the only place with any decent light at all was this table, and even then the photos are a bit hopeless. If this insults your eyes so, you could always, um, buy my cookbook which is full of incredibly beautiful photos shot by my friends Kim Laurenson and Jason Aldous, styled by my friend Kate McLeod. That's right I'm high-fiving myself for that smoothly unclunky segue into self-promotion. And that's right I'm shaking my head baffledly at self-promotion of self-promotion within a blog all about myself in the first place. What a world we live in! Especially now that the world contains my cookbook. Gotcha again.


I kinda made this mousse recipe up, but it doesn't deviate from any classic interpretation of this French confection. There's whisked up egg yolks, there's melted chocolate, there's cream. I didn't add the egg whites, as I don't like the presence of tooooo much raw egg, and I prefer the flavour of cream. I added brown sugar to give a little caramelly darkness to the chocolate, but it honestly didn't change the flavour outrageously, so you could just use plain white sugar. But whatever you do, it's important to keep the following in mind:
  • Have all your ingredients ready, so that none of them are sitting around for too long.
  • If you can access free range eggs, they are a lot better here than the other kind - the yolks tend to whip up thickly and easily incorporate the other ingredients, and that spooky raw egg flavour disappears quickly.
  • There will be one point - before you add the cream - where it will all look very unlikely and you might find yourself thinking things like "omg this mousse has failed and no-one will buy my cookbook and here is a slide-show of everything I have ever done wrong in my life". BUT. Once you add the cream, a little at first and then the whole lot of it, the mixture will mousse-ify and thicken and turn into something completely, soothingly recognisable.

Most important of all, is that it tastes incredibly wonderful. The cocoa bitterness of the dark chocolate is dispersed through all that cream, each making the other more delicious.

Silky, satiny, velvety, it is in fact like every cool fabric there is available. Fortunately not one part of it is wooly, though. There is a slight hint of sugar-grit in it, which I don't mind, as this simply reminds me that this is very homemade - also there's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well attempt to embrace it. If you leave it overnight in the fridge however, the sugar dissolves entirely and it all gets even more traditionally mousse-ish and puffy in texture (I just scooted to the fridge to verify this by eating some.) Either way, it's chocolate delivered to you in a glossy, aerated mass. It's so good.

chocolate mousse

a recipe by myself. Makes enough for two generous serves, plus some leftover for breakfast the next day. Or: three generous serves. Or: etc.

2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
150g dark chocolate
250ml cream

It's very useful to have more than one person working on this. You don't want tooooo much time to pass between each step. That said, I mean, mine was delicious, and I had such time passing.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks for a minute, then add the sugar and continue to whisk until it thickens and aerates into a thick, moussy, pale caramel-coloured substance. Melt the chocolate gently, and stir a little at a time into the egg yolk mix. Make sure you stir it thoroughly, so that any residual heat from the chocolate doesn't cook the eggs. It will likely thicken into a scarily stiff paste at this point, but the cream will sort it out. Finally, whisk the cream till thickened but not whipped - sort of your 'good quality thickshake' type texture - and stir it thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. Add a little cream at first to slacken the chocolate mixture, then add the rest and whisk hard. Divide between your receptacles and allow to sit in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes before eating. 

The thing is, I saw these cups on sale at Supreme Coffee and my first thought was "oh wow I love pink and grey they would look adorable filled with chocolate mousse." Usually whenever I make something with aesthetics first in mind - that is, will it look cool on the blog? - the recipe obstinately never works out, and I learn a lesson about the importance of friendship or something. But this time the mousse did work out, I suppose partially because wanting chocolate mousse is not simply an aesthetic thing. Chocolate mousse is seriously amazing and delicious. Phew, though.

So now what?

I sit and wait and see what happens, I guess. My cookbook, Hungry and Frozen, is in shops from today and all I can say is that I hope people like it as much as I do. Also that people don't go on an introspective mental trip through the journey it took them to get there like I do every time I look at the book. You...don't want that.

One more thing: oh wow, last week was ridiculous. Specifically the time when I dropped my precious, precious cellphone down an eighth-storey lift shaft to its doom, and also on Friday when (with a new and devastatingly expensive cellphone in hand) I experienced a very large earthquake at work. Almost worse than the quake itself was walking down the seventeen flights of stairs at work to get to the ground to try and meet Tim, who'd been evacuated from his work. From the tenth floor down, it was pitch black. Had to use every particle of my body to try and stop myself having a panic attack. Luckily, while the quake was really big, no-one was hurt, and I managed to find Tim fairly quickly. Our solution was to go meet friends at the pub. My body's solution is to insist it's feeling earthquakes every five minutes. Sigh. At least I had my phone on me. Am I a bad person for hoping there's no earthquakes this week to distract from my cookbook? For what it's worth, I never want any earthquakes to happen ever, so there's that.

While my book is released today, on Tuesday night is the LAUNCH PARTY. Because I'm a real author! If you happen to be in Wellington that day consider yourself super welcome to come along. (Click the link to see the invite.) (Click here to see it too, just in case.)

Cookbook day! I have a cookbook! Remember when I got the call to say that Penguin were definitely going to publish it? How far I've come. I am so, so tired. Hope you like the book. Time for me to eat some chocolate mousse and get ready for work. Because it's just another day. But it's also THE day.
title via: Idina Menzel singing The Wizard and I in the musical Wicked. Sigh, swoon, all the exhalations and faints.
music lately:

Cat Power, Satisfaction. A foxy, laconic cover of the Rolling Stones song.

The Last Goodbye, The Kills. I keep telling Tim this will be our first dance at our wedding. He's not quite convinced. 

Marvin Gaye, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Isn't it, though? Isn't it?
Next time: I'll probably still be talking about this cookbook. Wouldn't you?

19 August 2013

fancy plans and pants to match: degustation at hippopotamus

Welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants To Match, where I acknowledge that I occasionally get invited to really cool things, but try to be self-deprecating enough that you won't hate me for it, with the overall aim of sharing some fun stuff I've done that you yourself might like to try. I named this segment for a quote from the perspicacious and cool Jimmy James from the excellent but largely overlooked 90s sitcom NewsRadio.

So, here's the thing: I was invited to Hippopotamus's Visa Wellington on a Plate event, France vs Wellington in a Glass.

The pitch: A six-course degustation, each course matched with a French and a New Zealand wine. Not a competition as such, but more a good opportunity to compare and contrast two proud wine regions within the context of super excellent food from Hippopotamus' resident chef Laurent Loudeac.

 What happened: The menu went like so:

I know. There's not enough self-deprecation in the world to make up for how amazing that all sounds. Each course and its wines was introduced by the respective representatives of each side of the world - Rick Lindsay from Eurovintage for New Zealand, and Jean Christophe Poizat of Maison Vauron for France.

Scampi! The fancy crustacean! 

Beef on beef on beef. So much bovine excellence.

The best bits: I attended this same dinner last year and while it was amazing, this year's menu felt like it had stepped up even more. The first course was wonderful - the lightest, cleanest salmon, both slivered and cubed to maximise on its excellent texture. Attention to texture was a huge part of the evening - crunchy buttery pastry around soft, shredded pork with a tender scallop; meltingly fibrous steak with gelatinous, soft beef shin; firmly seared fish with cloud-like mash and floaty foam. Everything was just wondrously good. I know hardly anything about wine, but I do trust my tastebuds enough to confidently say that everything I drank was exquisite (and got more and more so as the night went on, funny that.) The fun thing about tasting wine in this manner - or in fact any situation where you're tasting a range of something - is going with your instincts and working out exactly what it is you are tasting and what you prefer and so on and so forth. And you're drinking wine, so that's fun. I loved the two that were served with the third course - a 2008 Seresin Marama Sauvignon Blanc from the Wairau Valley, and a 2010 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Cuvee d'Antan, from the Loire Valley. Both had a distinct touch of passionfruit about them, but the French was sweeter, while the New Zealand one was a little spicier and muskier. Both were brilliant with the course itself, especially working with the sweet mildness of the scampi and the mustard creaminess of the wasabi mash. Meanwhile, the wine I drank with the fourth course (2008 Ata Rangi McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir from Martinborough, and a 2007 Bertrand Maume Gevrey Chambertin from Burgundy) was more savoury, clean, a little spicy and quite richly liquor-y on the French side, with the New Zealand wine giving hints of fruitcake and berries. Fun! I got to sit at the table with Lindsay and Poizat, both charming, and it was very enjoyable hearing their insider knowledge (hot tip: wine is delicious) up close and personal.

Beauteous pudding.

On a scale of 1 to Is This A Dream: This is edging towards a 9. Six courses, twelve wines, it's very much pinch-one's-self territory. Hippopotamus is a completely stunning restaurant, and every last detail was very near-perfect. In fact, as I have very little experience of perfection, maybe it just was perfect? Either way: wow. 

Would I do this for not-free? If I was feeling flush and it was a special occasion. I would also be hastily trying to invent a special occasion to have an excuse to do it. Look, Hippopotamus is not a cheap place to have a night out, but it's also pretty incredible and if you're going to spend your hard-earned dollars on a swanky time, it's most definitely worth your consideration. (Although for all I know you are reading this and saying "but I'm really rich! I don't like, get this way of thinking." While lighting the candles on a birthday cake with hundred dollar bills. And it's not even your birthday, you just bought yourself a huge cake for fun.)

Earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: Hippopotamus restaurant, Museum Hotel, L3 90 Cable Street, 04 802 0935.

18 August 2013

everybody loves a winner, so nobody loved me

Thanks heaps to everyone who took part in my cookbook giveaways. I wish I could give cookbooks to all of you, but that probably wouldn't be very good business practice (have also been known to say "Tim is so lovely it's a pity EVERYONE can't marry him" so make of this what you will.) If nothing else, all the super-nice comments on my Instagram and on this blog have been endlessly good for my soul and ego and smile occurrence. Especially in this very strange week where I dropped my precious cellphone down an eighth storey lift shaft, and also got sent home from work after a very big, scary earthquake.

And the winners are: Alice and Georgia Rose! Please send your details to laura@hungryandfrozen.com and I'll send you a copy of the book right away.

For the rest of you, it's less than a week till my cookbook is out! Fathom THAT!

Also for the rest of you, here are some guinea pigs I saw in a pet shop a couple of weeks ago. Couldn't leave you with nothing.

title via: The achingly perfect Maybe This Time. By Liza. 

next time: Fancy plans and pants to match at a Hippopotamus degustation!

12 August 2013

take my hand, we're off to never never land

Okay, let's all check ourselves before we wreck ourselves: my cookbook is officially out next week, for real, in the flesh, etc. On 23 August. And at the end of this blog post there is a giveaway competition thing you can enter to win one of two copies for yourself! But if you don't read this entire blog post first - and it's as long and self-indulgent as ever! - I will know and my ghost will hang around you and sigh heavily and say "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed". And yeah, in this scenario I have a ghost while still being alive, it's not entirely improbable, right? At the least, I'd read the heck out of a young adult lit book which had that plot.

The 'after' photo - above - of the plum hand pie is so much better than the 'before' photo of said hand pie and its little pie pals below, taken the previous evening. On account of I will possibly never work out how to take decent photos at night-time, illuminated only by an environmentally friendly lightbulb, which casts a gloomy yellow haze over everything within a metre of it and makes you squint like you've never squinted before, but does save ten percent power or something. Now that I'm done both damning myself and faintly praising myself, the important thing is: these hand pies are delicious and very easy and cute, and probably about to be really 'in', too. For what that's worth. (Now that I've said it, hand pies will probably be widely denounced as embarrassingly tacky, which to be honest will probably make me love them even more.) 

I made these to be eaten at a spontaneous-ish gathering of friends to watch a movie on our projector on Saturday night (Wet Hot American Summer, if you're wondering, because as I always say, nothing bad can happen when Wet Hot American Summer is on.) It was a very fun evening, just really relaxed and lovely and silly and hilarious and low-key, the sort of fun you wish you could schedule in on a bi-daily basis, while knowing it's best to just wait and let it happen accidentally.

Above: the morning after. Tim went to swoop in on the lone, remaining pie for a pre-breakfast snack, till I squawked "stop! The light is really great right now and I can salvage the terrible photos I took last night!" Oh, and that's right, individual bowls for every snack and a commemorative teaspoon for the candy. Sure, we're really messy, but we also have bizarrely specific high standards, you know? 

So when I say hand pies I simply refer to what we might normally call pastries or turnovers or mini-pies. But 'hand pies' are deeply intertwined in the the cuisine of the American south, and I cannot resist a little culinary Americana. Or any Americana. As befits a kid who grew up in New Zealand but was obsessed with the Baby-sitters Club books and ensemble movies like Now and Then. Not that hand pies are mentioned in either of those, but let's not get lost in semantics. My version is not strictly traditional, but what it is, is really very easy and fast and non-stressful. And delicious. I appreciate that there's a bit of a cost at the outset in buying ready-rolled sheets of pastry, but sometimes it's just as much looking after yourself to buy something pre-made as it is to make it from scratch.

Seriously, very little actual work gets you these fantastically good, gently spiced pockets of plummy sweetness. The the lemony warmth of the cardamom, the tear-jerkingly comforting scent of cinnamon and the toffee flavour of the brown sugar lends the tart juiciness of the plums some welcome richness. The fruit softens up but doesn't collapse, and any juice is absorbed into the cornflour to give the filling a little heft. And they're hand-sized! Who cares if they're on-trend, as long as they're on your hand and fast approaching your mouth.

plum, cinnamon and cardamom hand pies

a recipe by myself

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry (all-butter if possible, but I know only three supermarkets in the fanciest bits of New Zealand actually sell that, so just deal with the weird fake margarine stuff this time round - you can't even taste it if you don't think about it.)
2 plums

Set your oven to 200 C/ 400F and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Mix the brown sugar, cornflour, cinnamon and cardamom together in a small bowl.

Finely dice the two plums, discarding the stones, obviously.

Slice the pastry sheets into nine equal-ish squares, by making three slices downwards and three across. Maths! Finally useful. Spoon half a teaspoon - at most - of the sugar-spice mix into the middle of each square. Spoon a small teaspoon of diced plum over the top of that, then fold the pastry in half, pinching at the edges to form a snugly-filled triangle. Repeat with the remaining squares. You might have some plum or spice-dust leftover. Arrange the triangles on the baking tray (it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out how the triangles could all fit on there evenly, I guess maths is useful, sort of) and bake for about 20 minutes. They'll be piping hot at first, so let them cool a tiny bit.

Hand pies! Get some.

So, now you want to know how to win a copy of my cookbook, yes? I was going to interweave references to The Monster at the End of This Book throughout the blog post, but am too tired and so will cut straight to the point: I have two copies to give away. This competition is open to people in New Zealand only. Sorry, international admirers! However, I'm also giving away a copy on Instagram which anyone in the world can enter, so if you're international and want in, follow me on there. (username: hungryandfrozen.) For everyone else...

here's what you have to do. 

1: Leave a comment on this post telling me a recipe from this blog that you like the look of. It can be from like, last week, I'm not going to give extra points for people who go deep into my archives, but who knows, you might like what you see once you start looking.
2: Be a person from New Zealand.
3: Wait till 10am Sunday morning (sorry for those with short attention spans, myself included) which is when I'll do a post on here letting people know who won. 
4: See if you're one of the two people who got drawn at random! And either console yourself by baking hand pies, or rejoice in your winning by baking hand pies. And emailing me your address.

May the odds be ever in your favour!
title via: my guitar heroes Metallica with their joyfully sinister song Enter Sandman.
Music lately:

Joan Osborne, Right Hand Man. This song is so excellent and saucy and great. And, um, also has the word 'hand' in it, but this is entirely coincidental.

Lillias White, Don't Rain On My Parade. Brilliant song, oh-damn-that's-so-true lyrics, and Lillias White's smashing voice. There are a million different renditions of this song from Funny Girl, and at least a hundred of them, this included, are my favourite.
 Next time: I don't even know, especially as I'm going to be out of the house most nights this week, but we'll see, we'll see. Maybe even one of the recipes from my own book. If nothing else the words "my cookbook" will probably appear a lot, accompanied by a palpable air of smugness.

8 August 2013

where troubles melt like lemon drops

The laptop that I've written this blog on for several years now is continuing to suffer from a very specific condition that occurs when someone kicks a bottle of beer on top of it. At first I was so happy and baffled that it wasn't me that did it for once, clumsy hoyden that I am, that it didn't occur to me how long I might be without this precious technology, and how wince-makingly expensive fixing it would be, and how many files were on it. (But: Tim and I just discussed for the eighteenth time how, even with all his contrition, it is a miracle it wasn't me that kicked over the beer first.)

So: take a good look, because this instagram, grainy and overcast with the Rise filter, is the only record I have left of the lemon cake with white chocolate buttercream that I made last week. All the nice photos I snapped from various angles are stuck somewhere in a no-person's-land on my stupid beer-sodden laptop.

Which is excellent timing, since my cookbook is out on the 23rd of this month and I'm just starting to do publicity and it's like "hey everyone, come check out my blog with this one badly-lit photo that I took on my phone". But also, this is essentially a lovely problem, since I wouldn't be worrying about it if I didn't have a cookbook to promote in the first place, and the whole situation is still somehow rosily tinted with relief that it wasn't me for once doing the stupidly clumsy, ruinous thing.

Tim is terribly apologetic though, of course. It wasn't even nice beer.

Without twee photos to pad this out, I might as well cut straight to the chase. This cake is delicious. Lemon and white chocolate are rather wonderful together, both delicate flavours in cake form, but with the airy tang of the former lifting the richness of the latter, and vice versa. Both the cake and the icing are very easy, and the cake itself is dairy-free if that's of use. Make sure you zest the lemon before juicing it for the cake - the feathery strands of zest look so pretty on top of the cake and add pure lemon-oil zing to the buttercream. Pistachios are less necessary, but they look really lovely with their muted dusty green against the swelling white icing, for what it's worth.

lemon cake with white chocolate buttercream

A recipe by myself, with thanks to a loaf recipe from the Best of Cooking for New Zealanders book.

1/2 cup plain oil (rice bran is nice and doesn't taste heavily oily)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 eggs
200g sugar
pinch salt
250g flour
2 tsp baking powder

Set your oven to 180 C and line the base of a 22cm caketin with baking paper. You could probably make this easily in a 20cm tin as well, which would likely result in a smaller-but-taller cake.

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, eggs and sugar till thick, then sift in the flour and baking powder and continue to stir briskly for another couple of minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth and your upper arms are burning. Tip into the caketin and bake for about an hour, but check it around 45 minutes. It probably won't rise very high. Allow to cool before icing.

75g soft butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted if stupidly lumpy
100g white chocolate, decent stuff if you can

Beat the butter and icing sugar together- it will likely end up very thick and crumbly. This is okay. Melt the white chocolate and stir it in to the butter mixture, adding a little hot water if you need to, if it's far too thick. Carefully spread across the top of the cooked cake once it's cooled. Top with lemon zest and pistachios if you like.

Seriously, what can I do? Copy-paste that instagram photo again here? In the absence of photos, use your imagination to perceive that light, densely fluffy lemon-tinted cake spread thickly with buttery white chocolate icing is really excellent stuff, and worth your while for sure.

Other things you could look at instead of the photos of this cake, trapped in a stickily beer-tainted laptop:

Remember how I'm trying to read more books written by women? This wonderful story is another addition to that list, as is Orlando by Virginia Woolf, Don't Tell Arthur by Nancy Mitford, and The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton.


 I finished my knitting project! I am very proud of myself. I tend to have lots of grandiose ideas that I throw myself into and then never finish, so there was some danger that this blanket would end up much the same. But look! I made a thing! (Don't look too closely, or you will see a lot of dropped stitches and uneven knitting tension. This blanket is a bit of a Monet. )

And...introducing my cookbook, by way of this little ten second video!

Just to sensibly reiterate, my cookbook will be on the shelves of all nice bookstores on August 23, and I will be doing some giveaways in the leadup. I had my first interview for it today, which was partly thrilling, because I like talking about myself - in a way, every interview is like a therapy session - and partly terrifying, because what if I come across as a dick, or if I made no sense, or I got nervous and rose in upwards inflections at the end of every sentence? But overall, looking back, the person I was talking to was very nice and I felt like I represented myself well enough. There's a lot of new land to navigate - I've been wanting this book to exist for so long, with so much of myself, that it's strange to be right on the edge of it all. Trying to organise my schedule and a book launch that's vaguely credible and pay all my bills and still work full time and also make sure that I'm not defined by this book entirely, that I don't live or die by its success (considering I'm the kind of person who lives or dies by the most relatively trivial things, like are there rice bubbles left for my breakfast this morning, this is a bit of a challenge.) Hopefully you can bear with me through all of this...especially as it's very exciting...

Till then, here's a small, fun interview I did for mac+mae's 100 days project.
title via the song that always guarantees tears in my eyes, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland. I am totally a friend of Dorothy.
music lately

Irene Cara, Fame. Gosh, my obsession with this soundtrack knows no bounds, and it might sound completely pride-goeth-before-a-fall but it felt like a good time to play the title track.

The Carter Family, Can the Circle Be Unbroken. Ye olde country to get you right in the ye olde heart.
next time: Real photos! From my camera!  

5 August 2013

pour some sugar on me

Depending on what angle I look at it from, I have either had a terrible or a lovely week. Yes, I did faint at the gym, acquire a bellicose case of bad brains (you know, feeling down), get carsick, have very broken sleep every night, bite my nails too much, and have my laptop break down at lavish expense one week after our car did the same. And we're still not allowed a pet cat, which hurts my heart so (this isn't news, but I still feel injuriously inclined to bring it up occasionally.) But I also went to a restaurant opening and mingled with nice people and had cool cocktails, drank lots of coffee with Tim, had a swell Saturday night drinking beers with friends, read two novels (Scoop by Evelyn Waugh and Orlando by Virginia Woolf and yes I would like to talk about them), went to book group, saw a tragic French film with a friend and went out for yakitori afterwards with her husband and Tim, saw two further tragic foreign films with Tim, and made this sugar-cured salmon very successfully for Sunday's dinner. I was resigned to the salmon perhaps inevitably failing, at least, it wouldn't have surprised me after the week I'd had. But it worked, just how it should! I did, however, screw up the risotto that I'd hoped would accompany it. Like the universe was saying "you're still you". But then I decided that the risotto would've been too rich anyway, and the bulghur wheat that I hastily cooked up instead was a much better accompaniment, and we had the risotto for lunch the next day, like I was saying to the universe "how you like me NOW (please don't drop an anvil on my head)"

So yes, the sugar-cured salmon: it worked. And it can work for you, too! It sounds really fancy but there's really nothing to it, which is something I rather like in a recipe. I found this recipe in Kinfolk magazine, which is this beautiful publication full of beautiful people living beautiful, instagrammable lives. The juxtaposition of intimidating-sounding title and very straightforward method rather appealed, and also I just don't cook fish as much as I ought, considering how it's so fast and can handle so many different flavours and makes your hair shiny.

I was a little concerned that the sugar would seep too far into the fibre of the salmon and I would end up with dinner that thinks it's pudding, and tastes like neither. Luckily it simply tasted...wondrous. You sit it in some salt and sugar (and I added a pinch of mustard powder, which I couldn't taste in the slightest by the end so you do what you like) for a couple of hours, shunt it under a hot grill for single digit minutes, and then suddenly you have tender, satin-rich salmon, which has the barest hint of sweetness to it and a kind of rounded mellow juiciness, and that's all. A little more sugar got caught in the butter that I added before I grilled the salmon, but bizarrely it tasted kind of amazing once it had caramelised and didn't overpower it with sweetness at all.

sugar-cured grilled salmon

adapted from a recipe from Kinfolk magazine by Tara O'Brady and Nikole Herriott. Thanks for the inspiration, Tara and Nikole! Salmon is so rich and oily that I can't eat too much of it, so this amount was perfect for two of us. But adjust quantities to suit.

250g salmon fillet, skin on. Boned or not, it's up to you. We went for bone in, as it was about ten dollars cheaper per kilo, and only came close to choking us about seven times. 
A handful of sugar
two big pinches of sea salt (you only need the plainest sugar for this, so try to get hold of some fancy sea salt if you can, but if you can't, just use a reasonable shake of salt for each side.)
1 teaspoon mustard powder (as I said, you can't really taste it at the end. So leave it out if you like.)

Place half the sugar and salt in a bowl that will fit the piece of salmon, and lay said salmon skin down on it. Sprinkle over the rest, evenly. And the mustard powder, if you're using it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Turn your oven to grill and let it heat up well. Take the salmon and carefully, briefly rinse it under a cold tap, patting dry with a paper towel. Place it skin side down in a roasting dish, dot with a little butter (maybe 25g?) and grill for about four minutes. Carefully flip it over, and grill for another two or three minutes. Serve, with or without ruined risotto as you please.

The salmon goes from brightly luminous orange to pastel pink as it cures then cooks. Like eating a sunset, you sybaritic creature you.

 Lemon wedges and salmon: friendly.

My life is instagrammable too? Also note the taco pickles, proving their worth as an ideal side for salmon. Also, the salmon's skin goes crunchy and crispy under the grill and tastes excellent. Steal it all for yourself, if you can. 

I'm not focussing too much on the laptop situation, which is possibly my brain going into a protective exoskeleton mode. Because if I really thought long and hard about every photo that's on its hard drive and all the information scattered recklessly on the desktop that I stand to lose, and have to pay a lot of money to find out either way, I might cry. During the day, for hours. What I am focussing on is the other thing in my life right now: my cookbook is out on shelves on the 23rd of this month. It's literally happening this month. It's a real thing. Oh my. It's so exciting, in a physical, heart-racingly, spine-pricklingly thrilling kind of way. It's also very overwhelming. There's so much to do! So much to organise! So many things to try and make appear out of nowhere! So much to just...take in. Most of it very cool. And so you know, because it is pretty interesting - I hope - I will be talking a bit more about the book over the next couple of weeks and how you can find it and perhaps how it can find you (I'm talking competitions, yo) and what you can expect from it and probably just lots more run-on sentences like this, really.

Whatever happens with this book, I truly love it. I was scared I wouldn't, but I do, and I'm very sure you will too.
title via: Pour Some Sugar On Me, by Def Leppard. The lyrics are bananas, the tune is so deliciously catchy. And um, Tom Cruise's rendition in Rock of Ages is so super hot (um, sorry Hannah for mentioning him again.)
Music lately:

Gil Scott-Heron, Lady Day and John Coltrane. So beautiful.

Sleigh Bells, Crown on the Ground. I saw The Bling Ring tonight and it reminded me how much I like this song and its big bratty beat.
Next time: Whether or not the photos of it are recovered on the laptop (shudder) I will blog about lemon cake with white chocolate buttercream!