Cooking with a little thing i call ‘Magic’.

oriental, chinese, japanese, soup, noodle, spring onions, garlic, ginger, oyster, fish, sauce, dinner, lunch, rice

I wish I was a magician. Or a witch. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Harry Potter and because I have a kitten now, feel it impossible to not pretend I’m going to Hogwarts with my own Crookshanks in this icy weather.

The country has gone mad it seems, for fairy tales and magic. BBC has their Magicians programme, ITV with their Penn and Teller- Fool Us, and the two new films that show very different versions of Snow White coming out soon (Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror). Maybe I have been watching too much HP but I’m thinking the world’s gone mad crazy wanting to be magic. Like me. Insert smiley childish face.

These television programmes and films show that it’s not just a particular audience that magic inspires, it truly is because ‘magic’ appeals to everyone. Everyone loves a good secret or in terms of cooking, ‘concoction’. When I was young I remember being amazed that my mum could produce all these types of foods and ingredients, and you can’t help thinking we’ve kind of developed a ‘witch nature’ with all our casserole dishes and the means to keep all our different aromatics in our pantries. Like most magicians and practicing witch’s, I like to experiment in the kitchen, and although things don’t usually seem like they would work from the outset sometimes, you have to always stick to the game plan and hope for a miracle, or indeed ‘wait for the magic to happen’.

So there I was, armed with nothing in my bank and hardly anything in the fridge either; apart from the staples and an abundance of oriental sauces, (We got them a few weeks ago in our ‘we WILL make Chinese from stratch phase’) So I got out my cauldron- sorry SAUCEPAN. Yes- saucepan, and started making a oriental soup with some Italian pancetta.

Half way through I was beyond doubting this would come out well, but alas here I am with a recipe entitled with arguably the best magician in all the land- Houdini.

It works, firstly because I made it work but secondly because actually the aromatics that infuse pancetta such as fennel, peppercorns and nutmeg really do already exist in oriental cooking. So, go figure.

Magic in reality (and in food) really is a good bit of lovely faith and sometimes-good coincidence eh?

So if you’re feeling frugal and in good faith, why not be Houdini for a day?

oriental, soup, noodle, spring, onions, pancetta, garlic, ginger, soy, sauce, fish, sauce, rice, noodles, soups,

Houdini’s Kind o’ Oriental Soup

Groundnut or flavourless Oil

1 or 2 spring onions

100g of cubed pancetta or any form of Lardons

2 Cloves of chopped garlic

A diced small cube of ginger

100g of Green Beans chopped (or darling, whatever greens you have in your cupboard!)

1 vegetable stock cube (To make 1 ½ litres of stock)

2 tablespoons of Japanese gluten free soy sauce (I actually use Clearspring’s Tamari soya sauce)

2 Tablespoons of Fish sauce

1 dollop of Gluten free Oyster sauce.

1 packet of fine Rice Vermicelli noodles (or which ever you fancy!)

Black pepper

Squeeze of lemon or Lime

Directions:

Before you start cooking on the heat, make sure you get all your ingredients out ready and prepared- it’s so much easier when making oriental food. So chop up your ginger, pancetta, garlic, and greens. Get your sauces and stock cube at the ready.

Put a glug of olive oil in a deep pan on a low – medium heat. Add in your pancetta, ginger and garlic until it all sizzles wonderfully.

Prepare your stock with boiling water in a jug, add in the fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Give it a good stir.

Pop your stock in the deep pan with the pancetta, ginger and garlic, followed by the greens.

Season with a bit of black pepper and lemon/lime

Let all the ingredients come together for a good 20 minutes on the hob, stirring and tasting occasionally.

Add in your packet of Vermicelli noodles and leave to cook for 5 minutes.

Season, once more to your taste.

Serve your noodle soup in a big bowl and eat in cold weather for true magical comfort.

noodle, soup, noodles, rice, ginger, garlic, fish, sauce, oriental, chinese, japanese, fusion, italian, pancetta, soups

Brownie stands for comfort.

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. Don’t worry it won’t be one of those blog posts, I promise.

My IBS has been giving me a lot of stomach trouble, terrible pains and the worse digestion skills in the world. This is all alongside a lot of stress and worries of finding a job, and fast before I consider myself worthless to the world. Naturally stress and worry makes all forms of IBS worse; it just comes hand in hand.

I sat down today rethinking my whole mental strategy and how I could make this week go any better and although I can only eat them in moderation, I can always feel reassured from a brownie.

Brownie,peppermint, chocolate,chunks,chip,dark,rich,intense,ibs,gluten,free

There are several reasons why making brownies is good for you.

Lots of mixing involved. I won’t get all scientific on ya’ but all the energy released is good for the ole stress. Plus any aggressions you have at the world you can determine on the strength needed for what your mixing; for example mine tends to go in a rather, Simon Cowell, Unemployment, David Cameron, kind of way. THUS, If I’m mixing together the butter and sugar by hand this is the perfect opportunity to pretend it’s a politician’s brain.

They are adaptable in every kind of way.

From the ingredients you add into them and to the frosting or flavours you put in them. For me this is where my creative energies are released and if the recipe succeeds, even better.

 For this brownie recipe I chose to use Macadamia’s, and a peppermint frosting. I just find that when you bite into a macadamia it’s got such a smooth texture, which isn’t at all grainy like a walnut or pecan. The peppermint was a decision I chose to somewhat aid my stomach, as I normally drink peppermint tea after meals which often settles my pains I thought that somehow psychologically it would work in this way too.

For me, one is a good amount.

To satisfy, a good brownie should be very dense and very sugary. One is perfect with a cuppa, firstly for my IBS and secondly for my weight.

So yes, brownies do stand for comfort. You must always abide by this rule however…

Never eliminate chocolate

brownie,brownies, dark,chocolate,gluten,free,macadamia,nuts,peppermint,ibs,dessert,cake

Dark chocolate and macadamia nut brownies with a peppermint frost.

[Substitution and additional notes: One word of warning, the larger you chop your macadamia nuts the more likely the brownie mixture will break (I found out the hard way, but managed to salvage a good few squares), so although in my pictures they are quite large-give them a chop once more. Flour I would substitute the almond for more all purpose gluten free blend, as it’s a dark chocolate recipe flours such as millet are slightly worthless really as you can’t taste it’s flavour; but by all means if you have nothing else!]

Ingredients

            100g unsalted butter

            150g coarsely chopped good-quality dark chocolate

            40g  unsweetened cocoa powder

            45g  gluten free all-purpose flour

         45g of almond flour

            1/4 teaspoon baking powder

½ a teaspoon of Xanthan gum

100g of finely chopped macadamia nuts (use 20g for the topping)

            1 teaspoon salt

            100g dark brown muscuvado sugar

            2 large eggs

            2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting

Cream cheese 100g

40g of soft butter

1tsp of peppermint extract

300g icing sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Butter a loaf tin thoroughly and set aside.

Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.

Mix together flour,, xantham gum, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl and mix.

Add in the chocolate mixture, beat until combined.

Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated.

Add nuts.

Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for about 25 minutes but check at 20mins with a toothpick.

Leave it to cool and prepare the frosting!

Peppermint Frosting

Beat the icing sugar and , peppermint essence and butter together until the mixture comes together. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat quickly. Don’t overmix otherwise it will become wet.

Serve whenever you need to feel better again.