26 November 2015

let's propose a toast to the thing that hurts the most

I'd already idly bitten into it when I thought I'd better photograph it because who knows when I'd next be making actual food. If you're wondering about the bite mark. 

In late June 2012, twitter user Horse_ebooks tweeted the following: "Everything happens so much". Well. Currently everything is indeed happening so much - so so much! - and as such one's thoughts turn to this tweet. By which I mean, there's a lot going on right now in my life that needs to be processed and taken stock of and other administrative-like task words. During this time I've been far too busy to cook for myself, which is not something I'm particularly happy about, but such is life. I mean, I'm eating, I'm just not cooking. Till I get my act together, what else can I do but blog about what I've actually made myself lately? So...here's some cinnamon and sugar on toast.

This is such a stupidly simple non-recipe that it seems almost embarrassing when written down, except I'm not embarrassed at all because it tastes so wondrous. Also I am she who ebulliently blogged about marmite and crisp sandwiches, so whatever.

cinnamon sugar toast

lots of the following: 
white sugar

Toast the bread. Mix a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon together in a small bowl. Butter the toast wayyyy thoroughly. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top. Also thoroughly. Eat in bed. 

food in bed: excellent life choice

To me, cinnamon is the flavour that most evokes the feeling of a warm hug. I used to eat cinnamon sugar on toast all the time as a child (and I turned out okay?) but I was recently reminded of its existence and suddenly it was the only foodstuff upon this earth that I wanted to consume. My nostalgic taste-memories did not exaggerate at me - this is such a wonderful thing to eat. The softly crunchy bread full of calming carbohydrates, the lashings of salty butter, the doughnut vibes and comforting scent of the cinnamon sugar. It's simple, it's perfect, it costs roughly nothing.

Well. If you were outraged at me blogging about sugar on toast, wait till you finish this sentence and get onto the next paragraph.

Because I'm about to talk about McDonalds. But, you cannot even make try to me feel bad or selling out-y about mentioning them on this blog, because frankly I don't care, I find McDonalds food to be delightful and if you're above eating it for no other reason than you're above eating it then that's super boring. I mean, truth be told, I prefer Burger King (the words "ride or die" are usually used by me in relation to it.) However, I was sent some vouchers by a lovely PR company so I could try the new Create Your Taste range at McDonalds and if there's one thing I love, it's being sent things by PR companies. It's ludicrously good for the ego and it gets me stuff. Recently, not hungover but definitely physically cognisant of the previous nights' events; I found myself in the McDonalds by the basin in Newtown. How Create Your Taste works is very simple - there are screens available and you just pick from what feels like thousands of different options to create the hamburger of your dreams.

It's completely simple and it's weirdly fun scrolling through the options and being like "that one!" "that one" and feeling maniacally powerful. Once you've submitted the final burger you want and decided whether you want to turn it into a combo with fries and a drink (the answer to that: obviously you do) they then make it for you on the spot and there you have it, your own customised burger. Which is all very well and good, but like, why should I go to this trouble? I could just get a cheeseburger and some chicken nuggets at 3am and stuff the former with the latter and be on my merry way.

delicious, juicy capitalism 

Except these burgers are SO amazingly good. I got way too overexcited at the options and combined a brioche bun and angus burger with fried mushrooms, swiss cheese, aioli, guacamole, lettuce, and grilled onion. It still tasted incredible. All the ingredients taste aggressively good quality and the sweetness of the brioche was charming. I got it to take away and ate it in bed while emotionally rewatching the final episode of The OC, and all was well.

And so that's what I've made for myself recently. Sorry-not-sorry that it's just toast and McDonalds. Because from all of this, we can conclude that whatever it is you have going on in life, carbohydrates eaten in bed are really helpful and excellent and good. And you probably are, too.
title via: Faith No More's Last Cup of Sorrow, a song worth wrenching myself away from listening to Epic on repeat for. 
music lately: 

I'm really into choreography tutorial videos on youtube right now and there's this one incredible routine to Beyonce's incredible song 7/11 that is soooo great. So I've heard this song a ton lately, and yet: still sounds fresh. 

That Girl, by Maxi Priest and Shaggy - I made a spotify playlist of songs I was listening to around the year 1996 and maaaaan they hold up well. This one is smooth like a freshly shaven leg. 

Imogen Heap, Hide and Seek. It's just...such a song.   
next time: I promise I'll literally cook. Promise! 

18 November 2015

i want blood, guts and chocolate cake

It's really something huh, how you can simultaneously absorb constantly unfurling news of how monumentally disastrous and rubbish the world is right now, and yet have your own relatively small, inconsequential issues selfishly jostle for position at the forefront of things you have to try and process...yeah? Author Roxane Gay said "I have never considered compassion a finite resource" and important singer Lana Del Rey once tweeted "um, I like it tha best when you're nice to me" and I think they're both good thoughts to keep in mind. No one needs my hot take on world events, especially not on a damn food blog, but man, stuff is happening so hard, right? And it's just going to keep happening and keep happening and keep happening and all we can do is try to be human beings and be compassionate. And nice. In our own small ways and to our own capacities. That's all I've got.

In what I'd like to emphasise is unrelated news, It feels like utterly forever since I've updated this blog. I also suspect I'm the only one exuding major stress over it, so I'll just get to talking about what it is I've finally got around to cooking and deeming blog-worthy. And that thing is: avocado brownies. I'm not usually prone to faffing around with replacing the butter content of anything (indeed, I usually replace the existing butter specified in a recipe with even more butter) but I'm also easily seduced by a novelty ingredient. Moreover, I wanted to make something nice to take to work for a very lovely manager's final shift, and this requires accommodating some gluten and dairy-related issues. A bit of excavation online brought this recipe for avocado-based chocolate brownies to the surface, and as I've had an abundance of said fruits lately anyway, all signs pointed to yes.

These whole process is reassuringly normal; the avocado is mixed in with the sugar and eggs at the start and it all looks and tastes very much like regular brownie batter (not as good, but on the other hand it does stop me eating my usual half to three quarters of the uncooked batter followed by some sustained writhing on the floor in sugar-related agony.) They get better and better the longer they're left in the fridge, becoming more dense and richly fudge-ish with almost swampy levels of dark chocolatey depth. Like, believe me, these brownies are real and stand their ground and are delicious at a level bordering on magical. Make 'em out of curiosity, whether or not the gluten/dairy-free thing applies to you, because they're just that good.

avocado chocolate brownies

recipe pretty well unchanged from this recipe on Sprouted Fig

two large, perfectly ripe avocados
one cup of brown sugar
two eggs
one cup of cocoa
150g dark chocolate
half a teaspoon baking soda
one tablespoon water

Set your oven to 170 C/350 F. Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl, and use a whisk to whip it till it's all smooth. Add the eggs and the sugar and continue to whisk briskly, then carefully whisk in the cocoa - cocoa tends to fly everywhere in clouds at the slightest agitation, hence why you need to slow down for this bit. Chop the chocolate roughly but finely, so that it's all rubbly and in shards, and fold it into the batter. Finally, mix the baking soda and water together in a small measuring cup or similar, and vigorously stir it into the chocolate mixture. Spatula the lot into a paper-lined brownie pan, and bake for about 25 minutes - as soon as it's firm on top it's ready to be taken out. Refrigerate the brownie for at least an hour but really the longer the better - it just gets more dense and fudgy the longer it sits. Slice it into smallish squares and fling at your face. 

I liked these so much that I immediately made another batch for my flatmates, although I concede that this was partly if not mostly motivated by the fact that I never actually got any photos of the original brownies that I took to work. And this blog's needs are important!

Honestly not much else exciting has happened to me lately; I dyed my hair a darker shade of red, I hooned through the excellent TV series Master of None (and I recommend it so hard), I finally tidied my room up after being a stressfully messy slattern for, well, my entire life, and during so I inexplicably found my notecards from a speech I gave in primary school in 1997 about the Spice Girls.

"practically every girl's fantasy" 

That's...all I've got. Stay nice if you can.
title from: that magical woman Marina and the Diamonds and her song Teen Idle. 
music lately: 

Uffie, Hot Chick so bratty! So 2006! 

Robbie Williams, Freedom so good! So 1996! I don't even care!

Misterwives, Hurricane. Perfect pop perfection.
next time: I promise I will neither take this damn long to update! I will make a thing more than once a week! 

4 November 2015

no more flipping burgers putting on my silly hat you know I don't want that no more

Sunday morning saw a hitherto unprecedented event: I willingly went to watch the rugby world cup finals*. I have spent my whole life hating rugby as some kind of praxis and indeed pretty much all sports except rhythmic gymnastics (so many cool flips! My brief childhood obsession with Nadia Comaneci!) This stemmed from two things: being forced to do sport all the time throughout my school years, and also it's boring to me and I suck at it and don't want anything to do with it. As my school days grew further into the distance behind me I softened my righteous stance and basically settled upon the attitude of, well, sports is fine for other people and I'm happy for them to do it, I just don't want to have it rubbed in my face. Anyway, all of this is to say that I ended up willingly watching the rugby with a billion people from work and it was SO FUN and we WON and I don't really fancy being in front of sports again for a good long time but I'm glad I went. My smart girlfriend explained it to me in a way that made me finally care: that people feel about sports teams the way I feel about will-they-won't-they couples on TV. Will they achieve the thing? Oh my god the delicious tension! Oh no here comes an interloper to ruin everything! Wait, last minute scramble, victory just out of reach! And then it's either all, oh my gosh they finally kissed I'm so elated; or oh my gosh we lost the game and now we are the noble underdogs until the next episode. 

It was fun because I was surrounded by lots of people whom I love and bouncing off their energy; because there was lots of running and leaping and getting-of-tries during the game as opposed to those ones where they just constantly regroup and blow the whistle and stand around looking agitated; because it was fun to objectify all these burly men lifting each other towards the sun and leaping on top of each other; because it was 5am and I was slightly delirious; and because it was just so nice that we won. The opposing team was Australia, and I feel as a nation Australia is so breezily good at so many things whereas we really only have rugby in terms of things deemed important, so they can totally take this on the chin. So yes, I freely admit that I've gone from Rugby: Not Even Once, to Rugby: Once, Even. 

All of which is to bury the lede; because obviously the most important thing here is that I made myself an avocado-stuffed burger today. I found the recipe on some website for paleo or something and was like, this seems outlandish and unnecessary, and therefore I must make it. Having ordered and received a bountiful influx of avocados from theavotree.co.nz I found myself in the unusual situation of having more than I know what to do with - normally a ripe avocado is a precious jewel to be hyperventilated over before finally opening it up and realising that you've left it too long and it's now overripe and you are destined for misery, only misery. 

I miraculously had more or less enough ingredients to cobble together a respectable burger (aside from the fact that I had to use a bagel instead of an actual bun, but I welcome any opportunity to remind myself of Sandy Cohen's greatness.) It was all marvelously easy and fast to throw together, although in the spirit of rigorous honesty: I feel like putting the remaining avocado mix on top of the burger kind of defeated the purpose of hiding it inside the burger as well, I mean, it was delicious, but it was also just layers of meat and avocado everywhere. Also, I'd throw some more stuff in: I'm thinking a smattering of cinnamon and salt in the meat, and maybe a spoonful of pesto or something in the avocado mix - it can certainly handle a lot of flavours and textures being thrown at it. But as is, it was very wonderful, with juicy, craggily seared meat giving way to soft, creamy avocado. 

avocado stuffed burgers

a recipe adapted from this recipe

one charmingly ripe avocado
about one teaspoon of lemon juice
a little hot sauce of some persuasion
any other condiments that you fancy
around 250g - 300g minced beef
liquid smoke (optional)
butter for frying
burger buns and other fillings - mayo, lettuce, cheese, etc

Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl and mash it with a fork, adding the salt, lemon juice, and a dash of hot sauce. Add a little liquid smoke to the mince if you like, and then divide the mince into four equal balls. Using your hands, shape two of them into circles, a little flatter than you normally would for burgers, as you're going to be clamping them together as one soon. Spoon some avocado mixture into the centre of one, and lay the second circle over the top. Gently pinch the edges together - it should all sort of wodge into itself easily enough. Repeat with the remaining mince.

Heat some butter - 20g or so - in a small pan. I like to put the burger in the pan as it's warming up, just to let it gently cook through a bit, and then flip it over once it's sizzling so it gets a seared, browned crust, and then finally flip it over again to further brown the first side. But like, just fry them till they look done, okay. 

Layer them up on your burger buns with lettuce, cheese, mayo, more avocado, and whatever other sauces and spreads and bits and pieces you fancy. 

I uh, also feel like I've said the word avocado so many times now that it has lost all meaning and substance. Especially because I can't help but pronounce them like Kristin Wiig does in The Californians sketch from SNL (it's like..."ava-kya-duhs".) But it's worth taking a minute to collect yourself and then make this recipe because it is, like all recipes I put forth to you, so so super good.

*I uh, also acknowledge that in 2003 I was infatuated with Doug Howlett (first of all, it was 2003, what else was there to do? Also, he was beautiful) however the All Blacks really didn't do very well and didn't end up making it to the finals, which I subsequently did not watch.
title from: Reel Big Fish, Sell Out. Oh what, like you didn't have a ska phase? 
music lately: 

Kate Nash, We Get On. The whole Made of Bricks album is bonkers and spectacular and this song always makes me the very, very flailiest.

Justin Bieber, Sorry. Okay first of all this song is amazing, and if you refuse to listen to it simply because it's by Bieber then you're so boring. But also he released a dance video choreographed and directed by Parris Goebel from New Zealand and while the team of girls dancing all carefree and happy would be cool enough on its own, it adds a certain piquancy - maybe even patriotism - knowing that they're all from here. And honestly the song is so good.

Drake, Hotline Bling. I mean, obviously the video is incredibly special. But I've heard this easily seven thousand times since it was released and still it calls to me. Oh, Drake!
next time: I mean, I still have a zillion avocados. Ava-kya-duh. Oh no.