nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Feb. 15th, 2017 05:19 pm)
Today is Very Important Day. Today is Bloke's Birthday. And hence, there has been BAKING. Behold!

Star cookies (from the dough reserved at the weekend)
IMG_8757

That most American of treats, pecan pie (with toasted almonds, because I didn't have enough pecans, ho hum)
Pies, we made PIES!

And choccy biccies. Huzzah!
Choccy biccies
On Saturday I went back to an old favourite: Nigella’s Gold Dust Cookies. Which, I have to admit, I never make with the edible gold dust. It’s a great dough for cutting into shapes. And they taste great, as long as you halve the amount of vanilla in them. I find this is a rule of thumb with Nigella’s recipes from this era of her cookbooks.

Anyway, I made up the dough quickly on Saturday and wrapped it in clingfilm to chill. After the discomfiting events of Sunday, we baked them. I put both children on the our kitchen peninsula. We floured the work surface, rolled out the dough and they plied the cutters. Humuhumu made very nice hearts and ghosts. Keiki made wonky pumpkins and circles.

I’ve reserved half the dough so we can make more cookies on Wednesday for a Special Occasion.
I did a lot more baking than I'd intended this weekend. Saturday morning we did Parkrun, then came home and made pancakes & French toast for brunch for some friends. In the afternoon, the pre-schooler and I set to work making cupcakes. I have this delightful cupcake recipe book, Lily Vanilli: A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, which was given to me a few Christmases ago by sister-out-law. We've only once made one of the recipes in full - the meringue ghost cupcakes for Humuhumu's birthday, and that's when we learnt that the base recipes for the cupcakes and the icing are really good just on their own. The fancy ghoulish decorations are fun, but unnecessary.

We decided to make the pecan, cinnamon & nutmeg cupcakes and the vanilla icing. Humuhumu helped with the measuring and the pouring but lost interest while they baked in the oven. When we finally got to the icing stage, I didn't bother calling her back and started doing the icing and the sprinkles. My parents rang after I'd completed decorating three of the 18 cupcakes and I stepped away from the kitchen to take their call. I walked back in to find Humuhumu expertly applying both icing and sprinkles to the remaining cupcakes.

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[Photo: Humuhumu puts sprinkles on a freshly iced cupcake. There is cauliflower cheese baking in the oven behind her.]

I should note that today there are eight cupcakes left so I'm not expecting them to last more than 72 hours.

One thing I knew about Lily Vanilli's recipes but had somehow managed to forget was that her icing recipes make about double the amount of icing one can reasonably put on a single batch of her cupcakes. Either I should have halved the recipe or made 36 cupcakes. There was a lot of extra icing, which I was determined not to waste.

On Sunday morning, the bloke took the children to gymnastics and I scanned through my Nigella Christmas cookbook for a cake recipe. I settled on the sticky gingerbread, which is fancier than the ginger cake I normally make though still pretty easy, and is listed as "icing optional". The recipe is vague on length of time required in the oven - 45 to 60 minutes seems a rather wide temperature range. I took a punt on it and left it in for 52 minutes at 150 degrees C (fan on) and that turned out perfectly. After it cooled, I poured the remaining vanilla icing over it and we had slices of it at tea time. It was hoovered up by everyone and we have agreed that it is one we will definitely make again.
Poll #17959 Potatoes (Scottish style)
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 35


What is the best Scottish name for a potato-based dish?

View Answers

Tatties
16 (45.7%)

Clapshot
0 (0.0%)

Rumbledethumps
19 (54.3%)

Here is another good name for a potato-based dish:

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I only had a chance to try one new recipe from Nadiya’s Kitchen this weekend, and it was the one for “Ovaltine Bedtime Biccies”, which Humuhumu and Keiki helped with. I’m not a huge fan of Ovaltine so I substituted my favourite hot chocolate (Twinings Swiss Chocolate Drink) instead. I have no regrets. They have a smooth texture, are not excessively sweet and are terribly morish.

Humuhumu and Keiki were varying degrees of helpful. She’s very good at cracking eggs, and pretty good at measuring out ingredients and stirring. Keiki is very good at tasting things to make sure that they’re okay. After each addition, he says, “More taste…?” They are both good at flouring work surfaces (and themselves), and of course the greatest pleasure is rolling out and cutting up the dough with the cookie cutters. Keiki particularly likes the part where bits of dough cling to the cutters and have to be removed. Half of those go back into the dough for re-rolling and the other half go into Keiki.
I've used baking as a form of stress relief - and to keep myself away from back-lit screens - off and on for years.

I received Nadiya’s Kitchen, the cookbook by 2015’s Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussein, as a birthday present last year. Apart from admiring the photos of her, her food and her adorable children making and eating the food, I hadn’t really done much with it. So I’ve decided to, you know, spend some time making the recipes. Since she won GBBO for cooking fancy desserts, I’m starting with the easiest baked goods recipes. Here’s what I’ve attempted thus far.

Biscotti: Oh man, these turned out really well. Better than Paul Hollywood's. (His “Bread” book is typically the one we turn to when making, er, bread.) I didn’t have everything in her recipe, so instead of cranberries there were sultanas and instead of currants there were chopped dried apricots. It didn’t matter in the slightest. They are delicious and are being yummed up by the family at an alarming rate.

Grapefruit cat’s tongues: These are a sort of madeleine-like biscuit, except thinner. Butter, icing sugar, egg whites, flour and a bit of salt. No bicarb - all the fluff comes from the egg whites. The biscuits are supposed to be piped onto the baking paper, which I couldn’t be bothered with, so I just treated the dough like I would for a drop-cookie and made little blobs that spread out into circles. Delicious, melt-in the mouth circles. Again, I didn’t have a grapefruit handy so I zested a lemon instead. I suspect any citrus flavouring, or vanilla, could be substituted into this recipe.

Honeycomb: This was my first failure. Honeycomb should be ridiculously easy to make. It is, after all, simply sugar, honey and bicarb. Somehow mine fell flat. I heated the sugar and honey and stirred until it all went golden, but my two teaspoons of bicarb produced only dispirited fizzing and not the vigorous bubbling it ought to have done. The bloke and I puzzled over this and tested the bicarb in some lemon juice, whereupon it behaved as normal. We concluded that perhaps our local Worcestershire honey was simply not acidic enough, and that next time I should add a splash of balsamic or lemon juice to produce the desired air bubbles. What I made is more like very chewy toffee. It still tastes good though.
Picspam! Me. Children. Ice cream. Good.


I got a new shirt: “I care about this Alot”. Hyperbole & a Half fandom.

”+10” )
Poll #17605 Beetroot
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 59


How much beetroot is too much beetroot to eat in one go?

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Any beetroot
20 (33.9%)

Three beetroots
8 (13.6%)

Five beetroots
7 (11.9%)

EAT ALL THE BEETROOT
24 (40.7%)



Nanila eats beetroot? )
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I recently scored tickets to a recording of the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme "Just a Minute". For those who are unfamiliar with it, four panelists are given, in turn, a random topic by the host and must speak for one minute on it without repetition, hesitation or deviation. The other three panelists try to catch them out, and if they score a correct challenge, they take over the topic and continue speaking. A single round can take quite a lot longer than one minute whilst the panelists and host argue over whether or not the challenges are in fact correct. Or end up chatting about something else entirely.

This was the first recording I'd attended that wasn't at Broadcasting House. It was in the Shaw Theatre, between Euston and Kings Cross stations, and it has greater capacity than Broadcasting House. Unfortunately, it isn't air-conditioned. It was also packed full, because "Just a Minute" is a cultural institution and is still very popular. Nicholas Parsons has been hosting the show for almost fifty years, and the adulation he received at the start and end of the recording made it practically impossible to hear his greetings and farewell.

We had a little unintentional pre-show entertainment. The ticketing system works thus: You turn up an hour before the doors open, present your ticket and are given a sticker with a number on it. When the doors open, the production guests (wearing wristbands) file in first, and then the ticket holders are allowed entry in groups of fifty. It all works in quite a civilised fashion despite the crush in the lobby, because British people love queuing.

However, once we'd (nearly) all sat down, it became evident that there'd been some sort of cock-up involving the seating of the production guests. Four people wearing viridescent wristbands were stood at the front, looking up at the full rows of seats with evident displeasure. One was a blonde woman in a white jacket with a formidable aspect. I should not like to have been the young production assistant attempting to mollify her and receiving the pointy end of said displeasure. Hands were waved about. The small number of solitary seats scattered about the theatre were indicated and obviously rejected. Eventually, some audience members were convinced to shift around slightly to permit the foursome to sit in pairs on opposite sides of the theatre.

This had all taken a good ten minutes, by which point the ostensible start time of the recording had passed. The drama had now attracted the attention of literally every person in the audience. When the formidable woman sat down, the entire theatre broke into a cheer. She stood up a few seconds later to hand her empty drink cup (two will get you seven that it was a large gin and tonic) to a frazzled usher. The audience booed. Unfased, she turned around, smiled beautifully and resumed her seat gracefully. I was impressed, as I suspect most of the rest of the audience would have died of embarrassment right then.

It was not until the very end of the show when Nicholas Parsons was bidding us farewell that we had the measure of what had transpired. "If," he said, with a twinkle in his eye "you happen to run across the fellow who tore the sign reading 'Reserved for Nicholas Parson's wife' off the seats in the front..." He made a small, meaningful gesture with his cane.

The four panelists were Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Zoë Lyons and Julian Clary. I shall say no more of the two very funny shows that were recorded, but I think I can safely share another pre-recording anecdote. Nicholas Parsons asked each panelist to speak into their microphone for the sake of the sound engineer at the back. Not one to pass up an opportunity for innuendo, Julian Clary put on his most deliberately camp voice and said, "Hello, David, are you receiving me in the rear?" Nicholas Parsons: "Yes, I think so. Poor David. He can't hear anything now."

After departing the Shaw, I arrived at my place of sleep around 22:30. I walked in the door and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked apple & rhubarb crumble and vanilla custard heating on the hob. A whisky glass was placed in my hand and unopened bottles of Lagavulin and Scapa presented upon the kitchen island for my perusal and selection.

Sometimes, I am a very lucky Nanila indeed.
Poll #17548 Raw onions
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 61


When presented with raw onions in a dish, I

View Answers

think, "Yum!" and eat them with pleasure.
20 (32.8%)

am indifferent.
18 (29.5%)

think, "Oh no!" and pick them out.
23 (37.7%)



This poll brought to you by the aggravating experience of being ambushed by a small pocket of raw onion hidden in a burger I was otherwise enjoying, right at the very end. Further opinions on raw onion. )
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