More bribes for my brother: mac and cheese

I know it sounds like whenever I cook for my brother it is a bribe, this is really not true. No it isn’t. This time it was only part-bribe to let us play videogames when we visited his apartment, and part-thank you for letting us stay in said apartment.

A thank you that I hope lasted at least 4 days, as it was in danger of being finished within one sitting. Please don’t eat 500g of pasta in one sitting, it somehow seems a little scary. Imagine a pasta-monster, and by that I mean a human-sized macaroni with arms and legs. Scary, right? Don’t do it. Even though the mac and cheese is tasty enough to.

Anyway this was a pretty easy recipe which I later passed on to my bro (I was expecting it to be much harder!)

Pasta monster's lair

Easy Mac & Cheese

Adapted from the Kitchn

  • Note the basic ratio of milk to cheese is around 1:1.5 to 1:2, with a couple of tablespoons of flour (any type – corn or normal). 

A 500g bag of pasta – small shapes are better because they hold the sauce
1.5 cups milk
2 – 3 cups cheese – cubed is fine, or grated, it just needs to melt.
2 tablesp flour – corn or all purpose
0.5 – 1 teasp black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste
A dash of chilli flakes
Mix-ins:  see below. I used leeks and lamb sausage.

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Warm 1 cup milk over medium heat in a pot.
    Mix flour into the remaining ½ cup of milk
    When steam starts to rise from the hot milk in the pot, pour in the rest of the flour-milk mixture.
    Whisk / stir until it thickens to the consistency of cream / custard.
  3. Drop the heat to low.
    Stir in the cheese, pepper, salt, and chilli flakes. Mix until all the cheese is melted.
    Taste and season as needed.
  4. Turn off the heat and dump all the pasta + additional mix-ins into the pot.
    Stir well until the sauce coats the pasta.
    (Eating can start here J )
  5. Optional: Put into an oven proof dish and top with more cheese – parmesan works nicely.
    Put it in a toaster oven / oven at around 200 deg C for 20 minutes or so until the cheese topping crusts and browns.

Mix-ins:

In terms of mix-ins, I added the following:

  • Leeks
    • Wash leeks. Slice and fry in a little oil until soft and a little charred at the edges.
  • Lamb sausages
    • Fry lamb sausages and slice. Set aside.

You can really add anything you like though.

Advertisements

Cheesy Muffins with Balsamic Onions

Looks good yes? Nice pictures for once? I cleverly lost the recipe for these. Very well done, Lea.

Finally figured out how they do those paper wrappers

Ready to bake
Can you smell the cheesiness

I do this a lot, and recipe loss is probably the primary reason why I blog. This is the reason why I can write so much rubbish online – since I’m technically blogging to prevent recipe loss and don’t expect readers, any readers that do read are a bonus. Hence, I can write whatever garble I choose.

But, I had these pretty pictures and thought perhaps it might serve to remind myself to finally go look for the recipe again one of these days.

Will update when I find it.


A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled. 

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

Carrots in a Blender

So, to make this you need a blender large enough to hold a whole tub of cake mix. This isn’t a serious problem for me and Mr Chopper, who has a rather large belly. If your blender isn’t big enough then you can remove everything after a bit and continue with a hand mixer. or you can grate the carrots and chop up the pineapple and crush the walnuts separately, like in a normal recipe. Or you can do your chopping in shifts, and mix everything up in a big bowl with a spoon at the end. I think that’d be how I would do it without my faithful friend.

Obligatory prep photo

I just really liked how everything was originally done in a single bowl. You know that one bowl recipes are my favourite.

Icing prep

Also, this cake is so vege-packed that it’s almost a salad. Coleslaw, to be exact, what with all the shredded carrots. Healthy cake.

My dog likes (to play with) carrots

You would eat a salad as a meal. Hence, if this cake = salad, and salad potentially = lunch or dinner, therefore cake = lunch or dinner.

I haven’t included breakfast because I feel absolutely no guilt about eating cake for breakfast.

Here is my pretty, in her lumpy glory

I do dread the day when the thunderthighs come to claim me. In the mean time, let us, with this cake, toast to the strength of the gates of Tartarus.

Sorry bad photo, will upload a nicer one next time

Healthy-as-Coleslaw Carrot Cake

Adapted, barely, from Quirky Cooking. Awesome idea, I love cakes that you can just mix and pour.

200g carrots – peeled and quartered
300g pineapple chunks – if canned, drain well
2 large eggs
40g oil
1 teasp vanilla essence
90g honey
190g flour
1 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp baking soda
¾ teasp salt
75g walnuts, whole OR equivalent weight shredded coconut
40g raisins

Oven temperature: 165 degrees C, for an hour to an hour and a half. Cupcakes only take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Yield: 1 bundt cake, or 12 cupcakes.  Or a large loaf. Don’t use a regular cake tin, or the middle of the cake won’t cook properly. Instead, flour a small glass or ramkin and place it in the middle of the tin.

  1. Grease / flour bundt tin.
  2. Dump the following in a blender for about 5 seconds, and chop until it reaches the texture of grated carrot – carrot, pineapple (if using fresh), eggs, oil, honey, vanilla. Remove and set aside if your blender has a small capacity, otherwise just leave it in the blender.
  3. Blend the following on high for about 5 seconds – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, walnuts / coconut, pineapple (if using canned).
  4. If you have set aside your carrot mixture, now is the time to mix in the flour et al, pretty thoroughly. Then mix in the raisins.
  5. Bake! Then set aside until it cools / chill it.

Eating suggestion: wait for the cake to cool fully before eating, or put it in the fridge for a bit. This is a super moist cake, so if you don’t do this it will be a little wobbly on the inside.

Orange Cream Cheese Honey Icing 

Adapted from Janie Turner and Sam Joffe in “Fast and Easy Cooking”.

1 tablesp granulated sugar
Rind of 1 large unwaxed orange, thin peelings of skin only – or any other citrus fruit
300g cream cheese, softened
15 – 30g runny honey

Yield: the top of one 8” cake.

  1. Blend granulated sugar with  the orange peelings to get them to squish together.
  2. Add cream cheese and honey, keep blending for about 20 seconds.
  3. If you like, after this you can whisk at medium speed for about 30 seconds to get a fluffier icing. The blender has taken most of the work out of this so you don’t need to do it for long.

Yet Another Lazy Pasta

Lazy pasta needs no introduction, it’s the staple of quick weeknight meals. Using only one pot and requiring only one ingredient to be chopped. If you eat it out of the pan, you don’t even need to wash a plate (I definitely don’t eat out of the pan *cough*). What more can you ask for on a busy day?

Well, I’d also ask for a single serving sized tub of chocolate mousse. Oh but yes.

This pasta is like the comforting old house slippers of the pasta world – easy, quick, warm, and makes you feel happy. I don’t think I’d want stilettos for dinner every night, but that’s another story.

Not so appealing, but beautiful all the same.

No shoes were harmed in the making of this dish.

Spinach and Cheese Pasta

A riff on this pasta, but slightly less sophisticated and more spicy. And based on what I had in the cupboard/freezer. Takes all of about 15 minutes to come together.

5 cloves garlic
A generous handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup grated cheese – I used cheddar is fine, if you use something stronger you can use a less. It’s really up to you.
2 teasp chilli powder – I probably used more than this
1/2 teasp basil
A pinch of salt

Pasta for one – I used macaroni

  1. Cook the pasta, set aside. Drain but let the pasta stay a bit wet – this helps the sauce come together later.
  2. Chop the garlic, and cook over medium heat in a little oil with a pinch of salt. After the garlic starts to brown, add the chilli powder and basil, and stir.
  3. Dump in the spinach (mine was still frozen and it defrosted in the pan). Stir until it warms up and wilts.
  4. Pour in the pasta and the grated cheese, stir until the cheese is melted and everything is nicely mixed together.

Dirty Old Google, and Cake

Google, you have a problem.

Why? WHY?

Why would you do this to me, google? In the middle of the supermarket where people might see? They will think I’m some really dodgy person who looks up lots of dirty words on my phone in broad daylight, in public.

Before you start calling me a perv or any other slightly more colourful names, note that the reason why I was trying to find out how many inches were in 16 cm was because I was buying new baking tins. Cute, small, cheap Japanese baking tins, just the right size to split one cake recipe into two tiny cakes, one of which can be frozen for a rainy day (like today). They even have little detachable bottoms so they are a bit like mini spring-forms, isn’t that nice?

Cute lil cake tins

No, I do not search for weird stuff on my phone. You try googling “16 cm”, see if you get all these funny links too. I swear it isn’t just me, I tried it on a couple of different computers with similar results.

Anyway. Words don’t do justice to this cake, it tastes awesome. Even people other than me admitted as much. So that means I’m not just tooting my own horn. Snigger. Okay, inappropriate, enough.

All that's missing is a little squirrel Brown butter does not look appealing Hazelnut powder Dry like the desert

But seriously, don’t you think blogging is a little self indulgent sometimes? Who wants to read whatever random drivel I decided to spout, standing on my little soap box in this corner of the web?

I like the spotty batter See the little bit that flaked off? Line your baking tins! I will figure out how to get the hazelnut spread to set soon. I think the oil content was too high Rustically artistic, or messy? Who am I kidding?

It’s okay, don’t feel sad. Eat some cake, you’ll feel better. About yourself and about the world and about everything else, all of which will turn into sunshine and unicorns, after you eat this cake. Seriously. Do iiittttt. And stop thinking about google and dirty words, you’re kinda disgusting.

Sunshine and ponies and butterflies

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with Cream Cheese White Chocolate Faux French Buttercream

Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? The cake is adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who originally got it from Sunday Suppers at Lucques). The faux French buttercream is adapted from Bravetart’s recipe, edited slightly because I ran out of butter and reduced to reflect the number of egg yolks I had left.

Cake

140g hazelnuts – I didn’t bother removing the skins FYI, no big deal
225g butter
135g icing sugar
40g flour
5 extra-large egg whites – I used 6 because my eggs were smallish, save the yolks for the buttercream
3 tablesp caster sugar
1 teasp vanilla essence

Oven temperature: 175 degrees C. I used 2x 6 inch pans, it’s probably a good idea to line them if you use anything larger.

  1. Toast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes, until they turn chocolate brown and smell like nutella. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the butter over medium heat until it turns brown and smells like toast. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t burn or bubble over, and cooks evenly. Once you’re done, leave the butter to cool. Let it cool to close to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter!
  3. In a food processor grind the hazelnuts with the icing sugar until fine like breadcrumbs. Add the flour and pulse a couple of times to sift and mix. If you’re so lucky as to have hazelnut powder, just sift everything together instead.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites with the caster sugar until they are stiff and dry. Stiff and proud like a captured knight in armour, who has lost the battle but never his dignity. Yes, I’ve been reading too many fantasy novels, leave me alone. Turn egg whites out into a big mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the hazelnut flour and (cooled!) brown butter into the egg whites in thirds, alternating between the two. Be gentle! The egg whites look like they deflate a lot, but that’s alright as long as you’ve whipped them good earlier.
  6. Pour out into a the cake tins, and bake for about 40 minutes, checking afterwards.

Buttercream

6 egg yolks – you saved these from the cake batter earlier, about 100g
100g sugar
200g butter – softened
100g philly cheese – softened
150g white chocolate – melted, whisked, and cooled
1 teasp vanilla essence

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they go pale.
  2. Put everything over a water bath, and heat until about 65 degrees C, stirring all the while. You need to see some steam coming off the top. Once you see the steam, take the eggs off the water bath.
  3. So now you have two choices. You can either whip the eggs until they cool (takes forever!) or you can bung it in the fridge for a bit, have a cup of tea, then come back when they have cooled down. Then whip them on high until the mixture thickens and approximately doubles in volume.
  4. Drop in the chunks of butter and cheese, and keep mixing on high. It should come together and get shiny after a while. If the buttercream gets too runny, put it in the fridge for a bit and then try again once it cools down.
  5. Add the chocolate and vanilla essence and keep mixing. See how it holds its shape much better? I think (not sure) that that’s because of the chocolate.
  6. You’re ready to go ice cakes now. If the icing is a little soft just stick it in the fridge for a bit, it’ll firm up.

Notes: the buttercream recipe makes enough icing to ice both cakes “sandwich fashion” like I did. But, I only torted + iced one cake, and froze the rest of the icing along with the second cake – the icing keeps for a couple of months in the freezer pretty well apparently. I also had a nutella sauce that I put in the centre of the cake, but that was a bit runny so I’d advise just spreading some nutella on the underside of the top tier if you want to match that effect. If I figure out how to get the nutella sauce to set nicely, I’ll add the recipe for that too.

Oddities involving Orange, Cheese, and Raisins

So some people have already told me that this sounds like quite a strange cake. They even went as far as to say something to the effect of: “so if your cake sounds weird, can I always assume in future that the weird bits are things that you added?”

Why yes, you can in fact assume that it was me who created the odd flavour combination. This was originally a plain orange cake, with a chocolate sauce. The recipe’s original creator intended to be one of those wedding cake types that stacks 3 tiers high with white chocolate cigarillos stuck to the outside of it. I just threw whatever was in my fridge into it. Totally not expecting it to taste so good. This is the first cake I’ve ever made that was eaten in its entirety almost immediately. It has a nice crunchy crust and does absolutely not need any icing, being very satisfying all on its own. My favourite kind of cake.

I feel calm just looking at this

Be warned that it’s not mega-sweet, probably because of the orange rind in it. So you feel fresh and happy after eating, rather than sick from overindulgence. This means you can eat more. Again, I like it that way, so there.

It’s the sort of cake you eat in the afternoon, when it’s cold and raining outside, with a mug of steaming tea. You can look out the window in a state of contemplation while watching raindrops falling if you choose, but I think that’s boring and would rather read a book. If you like you can toast a slice and have it with a little butter, but you really don’t need to do that (in fact, I never do that with cake. I feel like it’s a waste of cake. But you could, if you wanted to). I realise that you can eat most cakes in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but you will feel the calmest after eating this one. It’s a soothing, peaceful, unpretentious kind of cake.

Moist crumb and a crunchy crust. What more could you want in cake and life?

It’s also a one bowl recipe, which I made pretty much entirely in a food processor / blender-type creature. Which meant that it took a grand total of about 15 minutes prep time (hence lack of process photos). Serious bonus points awarded.

Whole Orange Cake with Raisins and a Cheese Crust

Yeah so I’m not exactly sure where the original recipe was from, because I only have a photo of the single page in the cookbook showing the original recipe. It’s not my cookbook, and I have no idea who the author is. But….from what I understand, if you change more than 3 major ingredients, the recipe is basically yours. I changed 4 major ingredients and a bunch of proportions, and the method – I suppose that makes it my recipe?

115g butter – softened
115g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
165g flour
1.5 teasp baking powder
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan – grated using the small holes on the grater. You can use a bit less if you like, but I enjoy the burnt cheese crust
1 orange
2 cups water
2-3 tablesp milk (if needed)
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. Zest the orange. Take the naked orange and it it in the blender with about 2 cups of water. Whiz it a food processor until it is thick and pulpy, then strain the big bits out with a pasta colander (big holes!). Keep 1 cup of liquid aside for the cake. You can drink the other cup if you want, but I wouldn’t, it’s rather bitter.
  2. Chuck the butter in the food processor and whip it a little until it’s a bit creamy.
  3. Dump in the sugar, keep whipping until the mixture goes pale.
  4. Throw in the eggs and about a tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Keep on mixing. Yes, still in the food processor.
  5. Pour everything into a bowl, and fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, raisins, zest, and the cup of “juice” you kept aside earlier into the batter.
  6. Check: is the batter loose enough that it plops off the side of a spoon easily when you pick it up and turn it upside down? If not, add some milk. Keep adding until you get to a slightly looser consistency. You need the batter to plop off the spoon easily back into the bowl. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.
  7. Put everything into a baking tin, smooth out the batter and sprinkle the cheese on top. I baked for about 45 minutes, but used a shallow baking tin. If you use a loaf tin it might take a little longer because the cake would be thicker. I actually think it’d be even nicer in a loaf tin, because you get a better crust:slice ratio 🙂

In Sickness and in Mild-Lactose Intolerance

Despite the fact that I’m more than often (read: every day if possible) willing to eat hugely indulgent cakes/ice cream, that cheese and chocolate are some of the ingredients I use most frequently according to the tag cloud (after chilli and garlic), and that I would do a great many things to spend an afternoon eating a large bowl of clotted cream garnished with raspberries, I do have a slight problem with milk products.

Clearly, I am of the opinion that a slice of really good cake is worth any slight potential inconvenience it causes. But what it does mean is that I get rather grouchy when I eat bad cake, or bad ice cream, or those weird plastic cheeses. Wasting the lactose quota for the day, you know?

Pre-creamy cashews. I wouldn't have believed it worked until I tried See it looks a little like cream..ish

I never used to be this way. If not for this little issue, I’d probably balloon up to the size of a small walrus in a few weeks. Because I do love my cheese and chocolate.

I blame my university in the Netherlands for feeding me cheese sandwiches at breakfast and lunch almost every single day for 3 years. Perhaps my body went on strike after that? I’m still not especially keen on sandwiches. My feelings towards cheese have, however, not been affected in the slightest.

The consequence of all this is that you probably shouldn’t expect to find me extolling the virtues of the “best carbonara sauce I ever made”.

Didn't chop carefully, was tired Getting a little hot and steamy Mushrooms and cashew sand

I understand that prior to providing pictures of a nice, creamy, brown mushroom soup may not be the best moment in time to discuss lactose intolerance.

Mushroom slurry

So, why cream of mushroom soup? Um, I like it. And sometimes I miss Soup Spoon. No, this isn’t even similar to the Soup Spoon recipe at all, I just felt like having cream of mushroom.

And then, the opportune moment arrived – I was staying with BigFoot in Melbourne for the week, and both of us were sick. I was slightly healthier than he was by soup day, having had the worst of my flu a few days prior. Hence, I got to decide what we ate while he spent time accidentally taking very drowsy medication that knocks you out. He was up and about after a few hours, though I don’t think anyone else would have wanted to share the dinner we made. *cough hack sneeze*

Egg salad! Ugh The other side is burnt...that I didn't show you

Is it sad that I need the excuse that both of us were sick before having soup for dinner? I think it is. I don’t know why I have such an attachment to square meals at dinnertime.  It must be the auntie lurking within.

I also think it’s kinda bad that I was excited about being sick because of the excuse to have soup and garlic bread for dinner.

Don't float the bread like this, we burnt our fingers. So much for attempts at fancy plating.

Anyway, vegan soup – because I didn’t need more problems in addition to flu. But I do think I will continue making cashew soup instead of using cream. I always end up with leftover cream in the fridge, and I never know what to do with it because it isn’t advisable for me to whip up the entire packet in one go and spend the afternoon eating whipped cream with a spoon.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Cheesy Garlicky Bread

Inspired by the recipes of Vegan Sparkles and Joy the Baker, though I’m not sure how close their method is to ours – I pretty much just glanced at their recipes for seasoning, before we went off and did our own thing in a congested stupor.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup

2/3 rice cup unsalted cashews – yea, sorry I couldn’t find my usual measuring cup
2/3 rice cup hot water – as above… I don’t think it’s an exact science though
200g pre-sliced white mushrooms – I was sick, don’t judge. I usually don’t buy pre-sliced
200g large brown mushrooms – 3/4 roughly chopped smaller, 1/4 chunked large
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablesp soya sauce
A few shakes of italian herb mixture
1 cube of vegetable stock
Black pepper to taste
2-3 more serving size bowls of water – like a cereal bowl size

  1. Dump the cashews in the hot water and leave them to sit for a bit.
  2. Throw the peeled garlic and onion in the chopper, and roughly chop.
  3. Heat up a big pot with a little oil. Add the garlic and onion and let them sizzle until they smell great (if you can smell). If you can’t smell, keep going until they are soft and a little charred on some edges. Heat should be on medium.
  4. Chuck in the white mushrooms and the browm mushrooms that you roughly chopped smaller. Keep the large chunks back.
  5. Pour in the soya sauce and a few shakes of herbs. Don’t worry, you can always add more later. Stir stir until all is cooked. Use medium heat, don’t burn the bottom of the pot.
  6. The cashews should have softened a bit by now. Put everything in the chopper and chop it well. I only chopped until the texture of large sand grains (note that I have a chopper not a blender).
  7. Once the mushrooms are cooked, dump in the cashew water mix. Combine everything in the pot.
  8. Then take everything out of the pot and chop it in the chopper until it goes smooth.  Pour it back in the pot over medium heat.
  9. Now you can add in the extra water. I added 3 cereal bowls full, and it was a little too much. I think 2.5 bowls would have been enough.
  10. Once the water is mixed in with the mushroom paste, crumble in the stock cube and make sure it dissolves. This is when you throw in the large mushroom chunks too.
  11. Add some black pepper. It should be done soonish, as soon as the large mushroom chunks are done. Just keep seasoning until you like it, and you can boil down to make it thicker if you want.

Cheesy Garlicky Bread

6 cloves garlic
4 tablesp butter, softened
Some cheese – it’s up to you what you use, we used the equivalent of about 4 tablesp of maarsdam (that was what was on sale in the supermarket)
2  short, slightly crusty bread rolls

Oven temperature: set it to grill

  1. Chop the garlic roughly in the chopper.
  2. Add the butter to the chopper and then pulse the chopper again.
  3. Dump in the cheese in the chopper and pulse a couple more times. The final mixture looks like egg salad, kinda gross in my opinion but whatever.
  4. Cut the bread rolls into slices.
  5. Spread the buttery, garlicky, cheesy spread on to the slices and reassemble into a  bread-roll shape.
  6. Wrap the rolls in silver foil and stick them in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, or when you can smell tasty roasting garlic. After that, check and see if they’re done. Ours were slightly burnt because we didn’t check until 20 minutes (we couldn’t smell the garlic…)

The Egg Series: Cheese on Toast

I know what you’re thinking, cheese on toast. Where’s the egg?

Let me tell you something. I don’t like egg.

Before you run for your torch and pitchfork, I’d like to clarify – I don’t like egg that looks like egg.

See, that made it clearer didn’t it?

What that means is that I don’t like boiled, fried, and poached eggs. They look like egg! White on the outside, yolk on the inside. It isn’t psychological, I swear. It’s something to do with the smell. And taste. That’s basically everything I suppose. I’ve never liked eggs that look like eggs.

I like the idea of eggs, if that makes sense. Farm fresh eggs from a corn-fed hen. With a beautiful sunny yolk and a speckled brown shell. See, I’m hungry already. But put a boiled egg in front of me and there will be consequences.

Eggs that I do enjoy: eggs in cake, meringue, omelette, chawanmushi, eggs in french toast, eggs in fried rice, eggs in clear soup…and so on.

What happened to me was a classic case of egg-envy, after which I thought about it and realised I didn’t like egg, and then made something tangentially egg-related. I found out that Bel was starting an Egg Series, and of course I wanted in on the action.

Her response: You don’t like eggs though…???

Well that’s true. I don’t like eggs. But I like cheese, and I like onions, and I like toast. And I like the gooey, cheesy mess that spills out when you cut into a slice of this. A gooey, cheesy, pungent mess that would not be possible without adding an egg or two.

And now I’ve made myself hungry again.

Cheese on Toast (You can call it eggy-cheese or cheesy-egg so that it fits into the Egg Series)

Taught to me by…. my Mum. Hello Mum! *waves*

2 slices of bread – I had small slices so I used 3, whole grain
2 eggs
1/2 to 2/3 cup of sharp cheddar, grated – if you’re greedy like me you can use more. If you prefer a more eggy flavour, stick closer to the half cup. Any other cheese should work too, it’ll just change the flavour a bit
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
Butter
Black pepper

Cherry tomatoes – these are just for you to eat so you can pretend that you’re having a healthy lunch. Though I guess in the grand scheme of things, cheese on toast isn’t too bad.
Branston Pickle – I like pickle with my cheddar, you should try it, it’s nice.

You can spice it up by adding any number of ingredients. I sometimes add a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard when I’m feeling posh, or chilli powder if I want something spicy. Mushrooms would probably be nice too.

  1.  Butter the bread. Put it in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes. I butter my bread before toasting it in the oven, because I like to think it makes the bread crispier.
  2. In the meantime, mix together the egg, cheese, onion, and black pepper. Insert any extra fillings here.
  3. Eat some cherry tomatoes and think about how balanced your meal is now that you’ve done so.
  4. Remove the toast from the oven, and spoon the cheese-egg mixture on top of it.
  5. Put the cheese on toast back in the oven. It’s good to go when the shine just leaves the top of the cheese-egg mixture. This took me 8 minutes.

A note on oven settings: I have an oven with a convection + grill setting, so I used that at 200 degrees C. Anything with a heating element will work though! (oven, grill, barbeque….)

On hindsight, maybe I should retire from the egg series. This recipe doesn’t seem very egg-related at all, or rather, it is as egg-related as a slice of cake is to egg, or as ice cream (which has egg yolks in it) is to egg. Ah, well.