Bad muffin, good muffin

I’d been craving banana bread for weeks. Banana bread with chocolate and pecans. It’s a comforting everyday sort of cake for me. Thinking about it, banana anything seems to have a comforting effect, banana and porridge, banana, ice cream and toffee sauce, banana mashed with honey on toast…I guess it’s a nostalgia thing. But instead of cake, I thought I would make muffins on the basis that they’re quicker to cook and better warm from the oven than cake, which, when warm, tends to fall apart. I, rather erroneously as it turned out, messed around with a few different recipes to come up with a new one, including a ginger muffin recipe,  interested to see how well ginger would work with banana. As I had feared, the end result wasn’t great. The muffins weren’t even close to being sweet enough, and I can only assume I used too much banana as the texture was completely removed from that of a muffin, resembling more of a sort of slime. Yes, my muffins were unpleasant, painfully so. And they definitely cured me of my banana cake craving, just not in the way I had hoped. Continue reading

The ‘how to make people think you’re amazing’ brownies

I feel like the weather has been trying to tell us that summer is over since about the middle of August. Now I’m back at uni, summer is officially over for me, and I am mildly dreading an autumn and winter spent hibernating inside reading books on literary criticism and writing essays until my mind goes numb and permanent exhaustion sets in. On a more positive note, I feel this is the perfect excuse to make plenty of stews, soups and all sorts of comfort food in an attempt to offset uni-work induced depression, time and energy permitting.

It was my boyfriend who got lumbered with the task of driving all my stuff back to uni this year, which clearly required baking him something special to say thank you. I’d recently made carrot cake, very high up on his favourite cakes list, and a millionaire’s shortbread with pecans in the caramel, bringing a little bit of his much loved pecan pie into his equally loved millionaire’s shortbread (although it wasn’t until very recently that he learnt that name for chocolate caramel shortbread). I first made marbled brownies in the autumn of last year, bringing the batch along to rehearsals when I was directing a play. They were incredibly well received, with lots of wide eyes, exclamations of deliciousness and excessive praise. It’s a great feeling, mixing a few ingredients together, putting them in the oven and getting results that leave people thinking you’re a little bit amazing. Ever since, a discussion of brownies always led to my boyfriend bringing up the marbled brownies in order to reflect on how good they were. So I figured a second batch might make a suitable thank you present. ‘I definitely hope so’, I thought, as I melted down four bars of high quality chocolate.  Continue reading

Mackerel, Daddy’s way

When I was small my uncle owned a little fishing boat and in the summer he would take my brother and I mackerel fishing in the bay. In my memory it was always incredibly warm and sunny when we went out fishing, the sky a pale and empty blue, the vast expanse of sea around the little bobbing fishing boat sparkling. I remember thinking the mackerel were pretty with their patterned silver scales, sometimes a little rainbow coloured. Continue reading

Wagamama? I’m just not sure…

Until the other day I’d only heard the following about Wagamama: ‘amazing’,  ‘soooo good’, ‘love it so much’, ‘really want to go to Wagamama’ and the like. With so much enthusiastic praise behind it, I eagerly anticipated my first visit. On glancing at the menu I remained considerably excited, thinking ‘oooo…this looks interesting’. Such thoughts, however, quite quickly morphed into more of an ‘ohhh…this feels a little overwhelming’ as I scanned the rather extensive list of meals. I’m an English student, I like to read, but for me there felt like far too much reading required for this menu. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It meant there was plenty of choice, the food was exotic, ‘pan-Asian’ to be precise, and after making the effort to read through the explanations as to what all the dishes were, many did sound pretty appealing. Continue reading

A beautiful thing

My frangipane tart is a beautiful thing. This is not in an aesthetic sense, as my not so great photo demonstrates, but in an eating sense. It is the sort of tart I feel compelled to devote my full attention to eating, so much so that if you were to try and talk to me whilst in the process of consuming my frangipane tart, you would be unlikely to receive a decent response. Crumbly pastry with a moist frangipane sponge, almondy and just sweet enough, cut through with some tangy, juicy greengages. It is a food substance of perfection. Continue reading

Comfort food

Occasionally I become what some might consider excessively excited over meals I’ve particularly enjoyed. Last night’s dinner was one such example, leaving me as excitable and animated as a small child. Initially the plan had been to cook some mackerel (because it’s cheap not to forget full of all those omega threes we’re supposed to eat so many of each week.) But the supermarket was sold out of mackerel, so we picked up some haddock fillets that were on offer instead. By the time the evening came around, the idea of what was initially intended to be a healthy fish dinner was fairly well abandoned. Continue reading

Seafood linguine

Wow, just wow. This is simply, positively, absolutely the best pasta dish I have ever had (although there will always be a special place in my heart for macaroni cheese). I’m not sure I can quite capture in words my happiness and excitement over how amazing this pasta dish tasted. I’m a seafood fan, and pasta also tends to go down quite well with me. In fact, I’m starting to think I may have a pasta version of the ‘dessert stomach’, you know, that space where you somehow manage to find room for a dessert when really you are already completely full? Continue reading