Warming to cool brownies

I wasn’t best pleased with the brownies I made last night. I ended up with a box full of broken bits, scraping goo off my baking tins. Having eaten up too much of the mess left, I went to bed in a hot flush. I have a disappointingly low tolerance for cacao anyway, and spent a couple of uncomfortable hours unable to sleep.

However, I revised my opinion over breakfast. Straight from the fridge on an empty stomach with a dollop of cream (and, importantly, in moderation), they tasted much better. The more I cool down these vegan brownies, the more I’m warming to them.

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Poppadoms: bought or homemade?

Is it worth making poppadoms from scratch?

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At first glance, my homemade poppadoms look amazing. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it goes.  Mine came out of hot oil more like brittle biscuits than little fluffy clouds. They’d have to be pretty good to beat the dry ones you deep fry from Indian grocers’. To assuage my disappointment, I fried a store-bought one to cheer myself up.

Taste just like they’re samosa’d to

Punning doesn’t get tougher than this! Anyway, about homemade samosas… Luckily my meal tonight also included some spicy parcels of deliciousness that I’d made earlier. Freshly fried, they taste sensational and have a crisp, then melt-in-the-mouth texture. Best cooked straight from the freezer though – once defrosted, they are extremely fragile and the dough is so sticky they’re likely to come apart in your hands before you can coax them off your fingers and into the fryer. Yes, like poppadoms, they are a bit of a faff to make, but definitely worth it.

 

 

 

Rock cakes rock

Moreish mint, cucumber and tomato yoghurt sauce with lentils, rice and caramelised onions and some quick griddled fruit flatbreads in a Greek stylee for dinner. Then my tapeworm insisted I knock up some quick and easy rock cakes for pud. 30 mins all-in to make and bake with one eye on the Germany – Italy match. To misquote Greg Wallace, “cooking doesn’t get easier than this.”

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225g plain flour
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
110g butter or margarine
110g brown sugar
85g currants or mixed fruit
30g chopped candied peel
grated nutmeg, to taste
1 egg
a little milk

Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Grease a baking tray.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, currants or mixed fruit, peel and grated nutmeg.

Beat the egg with a little milk and mix into the dry ingredients with a fork to form a stiff mixture. Spoon onto the prepared baking tray in rough heaps.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven until firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Just add salt, oil, sugar… and love

A journey into food. Sol food.

There weren’t many things about the UK that excited me when I returned from Peru in May 2016 after five mind-expanding, heart-opening, life-changing months working with plant medicines in the Amazon. But one thing I was looking forward to was having my own kitchen to cook in.

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After many weeks eating without salt, oil, sugar or any of the other things that make food taste good, my palate was acutely sensitised and a new appreciation for good, honest food – made with love, from ingredients that had been messed with as little as possible and with the most respect possible for Pachamama and the people who had produced it – was born.

No more processed food – or at least, the bare minimum. Organic and fairtrade as far as sensibly and financially possible. And you know what? Everything cooked from scratch tastes a zillion times better! (Except perhaps pasta, but I think we can safely blame the workman, not the tools for my first efforts there. I will try again when I have recovered from the trauma.) Homemade pesto, mayonnaise, salsa, houmous, naans, puris, samosas, even vegetable stock, are awesome and have none of the preservatives of their mass-produced in-bred supermarket cousins.

Equipped with a new name ripe for culinary puns, here begins the record of my journey with food – ‘Sol food’ (here all week…) – and a handy online repository for my recipes, trials, errors and experiments.