“An Insanely Good Blondie” from “Stirring Slowly”

DSC03886BLONDIES!

Sorry, but I can’t even think– let alone write– about this food item without getting excited. We love them over here. In fact, we love them so much that in the spring, when I went on a Blondie kick (and kept making this recipe from Mark Bittman), I finally had to say, “I’m sorry but I need to stop making these Blondies. They are as addictive as crack cocaine.”

But after having made a fair few salads from “Happy Salads”– many of which were big hits– the boys were hankering for some good baked goods. So in a break from binge-watching “Stranger Things” (Have you seen it yet? It’s EXCELLENT, if nothing else for the memories it evoked for me of the 1980s), I made these Blondies.

To give credit where credit is due, the photo above was taking by the lovely Kirstin, because she, too, was hankering for some Blondies. What’s not to love? They’re basically dense chocolate chip cookies in cube form. Yum.

This recipe is very similar to the Mark Bittman recipe that we love so much over here. However, she recommends you use coconut oil or butter or a mixture of both, rather than the all-butter approach that Bittman uses. As it was an adventurous day– watching an 80s throwback series with your teenagers will do that to you– I decided to go with using all coconut oil.

This proved to be a controversial decision, as the Blondie traditionalists who aren’t coconut fans (the teenagers and I) did not like the overwhelming taste of coconut that this created. Tim, on the other hand, liked it, but as he’s a coconut fan that makes sense.

Would I make this again? I already have. Twice. However, I went with the all-butter option. Consequently, these blondies lived up to their name.

“An Insanely Good Blondie” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Nectarine, Chamomile and Honey granita” from “Stirring Slowly”

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Kirstin: It was a dark and stormy night. Well, not really, but the weather was just about to break after a long period of heat. And I thought this nectarine granita might just take down the sultry feeling of the evening down a notch. I was right. This granita is wonderfully refreshing; the chamomile tea adds a little something extra to the honey and nectarine. Also, I should mention the colour of this granita; such a beautiful shade of pink and perfect in a grey bowl. Yes, we loved this. And after we had finished eating it, it started to rain and we all dashed inside.

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“Nectarine, Chamomile and Honey granita” from “Stirring Slowly”

“My Favourite Citrus Cake” from “Stirring Slowly”

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Tom: Well, this is epic! It’s moist, but it’s sort of crystalline and crunchy, too. Yum.

Kirstin: That’ll be the golden caster sugar. Let’s not talk about the amount of sugar in this recipe though.

Tom: Is that you not talking about it?

Kirstin: …

Tom: Ah, yes. It is. Well, this is great. Would anyone like to split another slice with me?

Kirstin: …

Tom: Damn.

Kirstin: So should I take the rest of this into work then?

Tom: NO!

“My Favourite Citrus Cake” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Slow-cooked Chicken Rendang with Gently Spiced Rice” from “Stirring Slowly”

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Back in the day, when I first started cooking food from other countries, I started with Indonesian and Thai food. We visited Thailand in the early 90s and I was totally inspired by all the flavours from that part of the world. Strangely, I don’t think I have ever made a rendang curry for the kids. Also, I liked the idea of making something that I would have to stir slowly from a book called Stirring Slowly. Delightfully simple to make once you have sourced the ingredients such as galangal and lime leaves (and they are so much easier to source now than in the early 90s, I can tell you!) this made a wonderful aroma as it cooked. Miles immediately wanted to know when I was going to make it again, but Ella struggled with the textures. Tom and I devoured our portions and then had cheeky seconds. I don’t often have much time during the week to make a curry like this, but maybe I should find the time. It was a lovely therapeutic exercise, as I stirred slowly and was finally rewarded with the delicious results. Yes, this may take a little longer, but it’s worth it. Every second.

“Slow-cooked Chicken Rendang with Gently Spiced Rice” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Malted Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Tart” from “Stirring Slowly”

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I have cooked a great many things over the years, but never a tart. So I don’t know what came over me when I decided to make this although I do have a thing for raspberry and chocolate, it has to be said. When yesterday’s plans were cancelled it felt like the time had come to open the cookbook and start making this tart. Until making it, I had no idea how many ways a tart could go wrong. But I persevered, despite the crack in the pastry and when I overfilled the case with filling and when the two kinds of filling mixed together in the case. And I am so glad I did. It is a showstopper of a tart. Literally taking our breath away with the combination of flavours. Will I make it again? Now that’s a good question…I might. You never know! The flavours are quite something. And it’s always good to try new things. Who knows, maybe I will become a maker of tarts, especially if they all taste as wonderful as this! Watch this space.

“Malted Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Tart” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Sausage and wild garlic Linguine” from “Stirring Slowly”

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Kirstin: Oh this is so very yum!

Ella: I like this too. Even the bits with visible bits of broccoli.

Kirstin: That’s not broccoli! Really?!? That’s pesto with spinach, you noodle! Tom, you’re doing that thing again where you just eat!

Tom: It’s delicious! Is it from the new book.

Kirstin: It is! Would you like some more pecorino?

Miles: Can I finish off the pecorino?

Ella: Miles, you have parmesan to finish it all!

Kirstin: REALLY?!? That joke’s a bit cheesey.

Tom: I hope you’re making this again.

Kirstin: Totally. I’ll get Italian sausages next time. For sure. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

“Sausage and wild garlic Linguine” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Lemon Sole with preserved lemon, coriander and capers” from “Stirring Slowly”

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Kirstin: It’s a rainy monday in August. And it’s fish for dinner!

Miles: I love fish!

Kirstin: Tom is doing that thing where he just eats because he doesn’t want to stop and talk.

Tom: That’s because it’s so yum!

Kirstin: This recipe is supposed to take only 15 minutes to cook and it probably would have if I hadn’t kept messing up. My favourite part was when I managed to spray myself with all the defrosted fish water.

Tom: Ah. That’s what you were doing in the bathroom!

Kirstin: Yes, I was washing all my clothes as they smelled of fish! Also I couldn’t make this recipe look as pretty as it does in the book.

Tom: I think that’s because their fish had more skin on!

Kirstin: I might not chop it into strips next time and just fry the fish whole. We also kept the salad separate from the couscous, but that was just for Miles.

Miles: I am hoping you make this again!

Kirstin: Oh good! So am I!

“Lemon Sole with preserved lemon, coriander and capers” from “Stirring Slowly”