Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Steak and Chips

Food trends come and go but Steak and Chips still reigns supreme.  According to a recent poll, this is Britain's favourite dish this year; leaving other contenders such as spaghetti bolognese, pizza, lasagne and chilli con carne.  I cannot believe fish and chips or any pies and stews did not make it to the top ten list.

I do like steak and chips, and there's just something so honest about the dish: grilled meat and fried potatoes, simple as.  I like it so much, my essay on 'Decoding Popular Culture' during my undergraduate study was based on Steak and Chips.  I wrote about its significance, what the dish represents and its philosophical consequences, particularly for the French during the war.

But anyway, I don't want to bore you.  The meat and potatoes were lovely.  I had them with grilled asparagus and peppercorn sauce.  I'm afraid this is the last home-cooked meal this year as tomorrow morning I am leaving for Bath and will be spending the New Years in London. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year in advance; may next year be a joyful one.  Thank you for all the support this year and I'll see you in 2011...

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Dear Alex, Thank You for the Christmas Cake

Several weeks ago, I received an email from one of my favourite food bloggers, Alex from Dear Love Blog offering an edible gift for Christmas and continuous support for her blog.  Being an openly greedy person, of course, I couldn't say no.  Alex presented a list of delicious goodies and the task to choose was not an easy one.  Satsuma & Clementine Marmalade? Honey & Ginger Fudge? Winter-spiced Vodka? But at the end I settled for a Christmas Cake.

I have two contrary views on Christmas Cake. One, it's this dreadful dried-fruit cake, covered in jaw-achingly sweet royal icing or marzipan so hard, I'm afraid my teeth will break; and two, it's just not Christmas without a Christmas Cake.

I received the cake a couple days before Christmas and the cake is the highlight of my holiday.  I cannot stop bragging about it to my friends.  I must tell you, the cake smells absolutely incredible and I know it'll taste delicious.  I haven't actually cut the cake yet because I want to "feed it with brandy like an alcoholic pet" as Alex wrote, for another week or two.   

If you would like to see better pictures of the cake and would like to see the recipe and how to make it, please visit Alex's blog, by simply clicking here.

I think this is the wonderful thing about the food blogging community, it's not just about sharing recipes, pictures and stories, it's also about making friends.

Alex, thank you so much for this wonderful present.  It was so generous of you.  You really made my Christmas.  Thank you again for thinking of me.   Have a great holiday season.  Here's to a long lasting friendship.  Cheers!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Eve, Day and Panettone French Toast

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had a great one with some friends, eleven of them and the Christmas Eve feast was a success.  I cooked a fairly traditional Christmas meal with some delicious twists a la Nigella.  There was hardly any leftovers. My friends managed to gulp all the dishes including, yes including, the brussels sprouts!  Here are some of them:

Dressing or stuffing is possibly my favourite part of the meal.  This year I made Panettone and Italian Sausage Stuffing and it was utterly delicious.  I used hot Italian sausage here and it worked really well, giving a nice savoury contrast against the sweetness of the dried fruit in the panettone.

Every year, I'll be eating the sprouts alone as none of my friends would eat them.  This year however was a different story.  Pancetta Sprouts with Chestnuts was so delicious, this was the first dish gone that evening. 

Despite of its dark appearance, this was one very juicy turkey. Brining the turkey really made a difference.  You don't suddenly get a turkey that's flavoured with onions, orange, peppercorns, maple syrup or caraway seeds, etc.  Brining the turkey somehow gives an extra roundness and moisture needed by the lean turkey. So good! One thing didn't change however, the turkey was then shredded rather than cut into slices as I cannot carve.

For something sweet to finish the meal, I made Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake because you cannot go wrong with a chocolate cake.  This flour-less chocolate cake is flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, zest of satsuma/clementine and espresso powder; and topped with sticky caramelised flaked almonds. Yum. 

A party is not a party without a drink or two.  I am happy with just wine, but tis is the season to over-indulge, so cocktails were in order.  The thing is, after cooking all day, I don't want to be a bartender all night.  I want to be part of the party and have few drinks myself .  So I chose easy cocktails to make and my friends can help themselves.  I like Snowball which is advokaat, a creamy, custard-like liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy, mixed with fizzy lemonade and lime. It tastes like ice cream... Another favourites are Amaretto and Coke and Peach Schnapps and Lemonade (or Prosecco).

And for those who might not want alcohol, but still want to indulge, I made two pitchers of Seasonal Breeze which is an equal part of chilled cranberry juice, clear apple juice and orange juice; and also Xmas Xinger which is two parts of chilled pomegranate juice with one part of ginger ale.

The rest of the evening was spent by playing few rounds of charades and we opened our secret santa presents.  I got a lovely LSA handmade glass jug from my dear friend, Juliana. Thank you.

Christmas Day started by going to Church and then a whole day of more food, drinks and presents at home with friends, this time only five of them.  For a nice pick-me-up in the morning, I made Espresso Martini made with chilled espresso, toffee vodka, coffee liquor and served over ice.

We watched No Reservations and Home Alone whilst munching two different kinds of cocktail sausages, one flavoured with wholegrain mustard and ginger and another one with cranberry and soy.  I also made baked Camembert with garlic and thyme and topped with sweet chilli jam served with crusty white bread. 

Santa was very nice this year.  I must had been a good boy.  I got a nice jelly mould, wine bottle holder and Jamie's 30 Minute Meals cookbook amongst other goodies.

And then it was dinner time again, we had slow-roasted pork belly with braised onions, a recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver during my Cook with Jamie project.  This recipe seemed to be better and better every time. In a pestle and mortar I bashed some fennel seeds with salt and massaging this fragrant mixture to the scored skin before cooking and this will make a fantastic super-crunchy crackling after three hours of cooking.

My favourite accompaniment to the pork belly is must try red cabbage braised with apple, bacon and balsamic vinegar, also a recipe from Mr. Oliver.  The red cabbage is cooked with bacon, fennel seeds, onions, apples and balsamic vinegar until the vinegar becomes syrupy and the cabbage is gorgeously sweet. Before serving, stir in a knob of butter and sprinkle with some parsley.

After dinner we played a round of drinking game with shots of sambuca and never made it to dessert as we were all hammered!

On Boxing Day after a day of shopping we finally had the dessert: Hazelnut Latte Tiramisu served with chocolate shavings and satsuma zests.  My favourite!

So, it's all done now and back to normality.  I plan to spend the day at home, relaxing, watching movies, reading blogs and cooking for one.  I had some leftover panettone bread and so I made French toast, served with cinnamon sugar, zest and warm maple syrup. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms

The first time I tried this recipe, I thought that I wouldn't like it, but I was clearly wrong.  Raw (chestnut) mushrooms is surprisingly delicious.  And this makes an incredibly speedy supper: slice the mushrooms, steep them in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon and thyme and then toss them into hot cooked pasta. Slurp!

I am finally almost done with my Christmas shopping, just one more present...
My friends, 12 of them are coming over for Christmas Eve Meal and for me it is always the big dinner day.  I've done as much as I can with the preparation.  This year I am going all Nigella.  I'll post about the day later. For now, the turkey is happily swimming in its fragrant brine of onions, orange, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon, bouquet garni, maple syrup, cloves, star anise, honey, ginger and parsley. This is my very first experience of brining and I've heard some great reviews and a promise of juicy, succulent turkey. I cannot wait for the bird to go to the oven!

I've also cooked some onions, celery and Italian sausages for the panettone stuffing. Yum.
The Christmas-spiced chocolate cake is out of the oven and ready to be adorned. I'm gonna stay strong and try my best not to have a slice now.  The smell is just gorgeous.

I have new friends staying over this holiday season.  I am taking care of my friend, Adam's gold fish whilst he's on holiday. Adam made me swear not to cook them and don't worry I won't! I don't remember any of their names, so I call them A (the gold one), B (the black one) and C (the silver one)...

Tomorrow is the last day at work, and so I praise Hallelujah!

Linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 4 - 6

225g chestnut mushrooms
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 x 15ml tbsp Maldon salt, or 1½ tsp table salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped to give 1 tsp leaves
500g linguine
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper

Slice the mushrooms finely and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, and marvellously scented thyme leaves.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the drained pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Jamie's ultimate gingerbread

If you have the chance to visit Lake District in Cumbria, it is a beautiful region in the North West of England.  Apart from enjoying the natural beauty and the scenery, you can also visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery or the Cumberland Pencil Museum among many other attractions.  One place you do not want to miss is The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.  You cannot miss it really, as the aroma of freshly baked gingerbread will definitely lead you to this little charming shop. I have tasted Grasmere Gingerbread and they are out of this world...

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver's book Cook with Jamie and it is his attempt to uncover the secret recipe of the Grasmere Gingerbread; a recipe that has been a secret for over 150 years old.  I made this a few months ago during my Cook with Jamie - Project and it's one of my favourite recipes.

The base and the topping of this ultimate gingerbread is made with shortbread, which you can make yourself from Jamie's recipe, or your own favourite shortbread recipe or simply buy from the shop.  I like to make my shortbread from Jamie's recipe which is so-buttery, and modestly named the best shortbread in the world.

Making the gingerbread was an easy task.  Waiting for them to cool was the hardest part, but good things come to those who wait, right? The gingerbread does live up to its name. It has just the right amount of ginger and packed with flavours from the mixed peel, crystallised ginger, golden syrup and treacle which also give a nice chewy texture to the gingerbread. 

This makes a wonderful holiday treats and edible presents. Give it a try.

Ultimate Gingerbread
Recipe by Jamie Oliver
Makes 12 generous slices

400 g store-bought shortbread or home-made
170 g coarse demerara sugar
3 tsp ground ginger
40 g mixed peel, chopped
40 g crystallised ginger, chopped
70 g plain flour
a pinch of baking powder
40 g golden syrup
40 g treacle
70 g unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 170ÂșC and find a baking tray about 20x35cm. Put the shortbread, sugar and 2 teaspoons of the ground ginger in a food processor and whiz until you have crumbs. Remove 100g of the mix and keep this to one side. Add the remaining teaspoon of ginger to the processor, along with the mixed peel, crystallized ginger, flour and baking powder, and pulse until well mixed.

Melt the syrup, treacle and butter together in a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients. When melted, add the mixture from the food processor and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Tip into the baking tray and spread out evenly. Press the mixture down into the tray, using your fingers or something flat and clean like a potato masher or a spatula. When the mix is a flat, dense and even layer, pop the tray in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and sprinkle the hot gingerbread with the reserved crumbs, pressing them down really well with a potato masher or spatula. Carefully cut into good-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and leave to cool in the tray before eating.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fully loaded potato skins

I started my Christmas shopping today and it was not fun.  Town was absolutely busy.  It could had been easy if I knew what to get for my friends, but the thing is I am terrible at buying presents.  I bought few things but I need to go back to the shops tomorrow to get more stuff.  *sigh...

Anyway, let's talk about food... there is nothing like a plate full of crispy potato skins, filled with spring onions, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and melting cheese.  Obviously they are delicious just like that, but to make these treats fully loaded, they are topped with crispy bacon. Yum!  I could eat these with wild abandon and preferably with some cider alongside to drink and be none the worse. *sigh...

I submitted my essay on Thursday and it felt great! The next one is not due until mid-January. I'll worry about that after the New Year.  In the meantime, I want to enjoy the whole festivities. I'll be having friends over for meals on Christmas Eve and Day and it'll be fun.  I planned the menu I wanna cook and made my shopping list.  Food shopping, that's shopping I can cope and actually enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Fully Loaded Potato Skins
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
Makes 20 stuffed potato skins

10 baking potatoes
225g strong cheddar or red leicester
250ml sour cream
4 spring onions
1 teaspoon Maldon salt or  
½ teaspoon table salt or to taste 
good grinding of black pepper 
1 x 15ml tablespoon worcestershire sauce
10 rashers American-style or thin-cut streaky bacon
oil for frying
The day (or up to 2 days) before you load them, preheat your oven to 200C/400F and bake the potatoes (pricking them first) for about 1½ hours, or until the skins are crisp and the insides fluffy. As soon as you can bear to tackle the hot potatoes, cut them in half lengthways and scoop the insides into a bowl.
Put the husk-like skins of the potatoes on a tray and, when cool, cover until you are ready to fill them. Let the potato cool in the bowl, and then cover until needed.
When you are ready to fill the potatoes, preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Grate the cheese, and add 200g of it to the cold potato along with the sour cream. Chop the spring onions and add to the potato, with the salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce.
Spoon the potato filling into the potato skins, and lay each half on a baking tray so they fit snugly together. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese, giving each potato skin a light covering, and cook for 20-30 minutes until golden.
Fry (or grill) the bacon rashers in oil until crispy, then crumble them and sprinkle half a rasher’s worth over each potato skin to make them fully loaded.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Chorizo and chickpea stew

So, I am taking a little break from my essay.  This is my last piece of work before Christmas break! Whoo-hoo!
If you don't already know, I am currently doing my postgraduate study in media and cultural studies.  In my current essay, I am writing about how TV cookery programmes change our kitchen, our consumption and lifestyle; and as a case study, you may already guessed it, I chose Nigella.  She has such beautiful TV kitchen, with all that fairy lights, matching le creuset pots for every dish,.... I am obsessed, aren't I?!

Anyway, for dinner tonight, I made chorizo and chickpea stew, which is a good company especially when it's chilly outside.  Oh, and yes, it is a Nigella recipe.

This stew is pretty much instant.  It takes so little time and effort to cook, and yet, delicious.  The chorizo gives such wonderful spicy flavour and a nice kick to the stew.  The heat is balanced with sweet and sour from dried apricots and tinned cherry tomatoes.  The stew is then served on a bed of cooked bulgar wheat.  I never had bulgar wheat before and I wonder why, because it's delicious. It's like couscous, but better.

Chorizo and chickpea stew
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 4

2 tbsp regular olive oil
50g spaghettini or vermicelli, torn into 3cm/1in lengths
500g bulgur wheat
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt flakes or 1 tsp pouring salt
1 litre water
2 bay leaves
350g chorizo, cut into coins and then halved
4 tbsp amontillado sherry
100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, snipped into pieces with scissors (optional)
2 x 400g cans chickpeas drained and rinsed in a sieve
2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes, drained, plus 1½ cans tap water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh coriander, to serve (optional)

Warm the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan on a medium heat. Fry the pasta bits in the oil for a minute, stirring, until they look like slightly scorched straws, then add the bulgur wheat and stir for another minute or two.

Stir in the cinnamon and the salt, then pour the water into the pan. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil, then turn down to the lowest heat, add a lid, and leave for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Put another thick-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat, add the chorizo pieces and fry until the orange oil runs out of them. Then add the sherry and let it bubble away.

Add the apricots (if using) along with the chickpeas and canned tomatoes. Half-fill each empty tomato can with water and swill it out into the pan. Put on a high heat to bubble for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the bulgar wheat and, if there’s any to hand, some chopped coriander.

OK, back to more writing about Nigella now...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Sweet potato cottage pie

I am feeling much better now... Thank you for all the kind words on the previous post.  Much appreciated.

Last night, I was craving for a pie and I searched in my kitchen for some ingredients and with what I found in the fridge and cupboard, I made a sweet potato cottage pie.  The pie looks a lot bigger in the picture, it's actually just a small ramekin for one serving (well, maybe 2... but I am greedy).

Although for me most food is comfort food, there is something so soothing and extra comforting about a freshly baked pie.  This may comes in the ray of spices, like thyme, rosemary and bay; the sweetness of slowly cooked onions, carrots and mushrooms; the tender meat inside, and the rich savoury gravy underneath... And I prefer my pie to be topped with mash, not pastry.  White potato mash is great, but sweet potato is so much better... yum...

Elisabeth from Food and Thrift Finds kindly tagged me on a series of questions.  So, here are my answers:

1. Are you a vegetarian, or have you thought of being one?
No, I am not a vegetarian and I haven't thought of becoming one.  It'll be such a challenge.  I must say though, twice or three times a week, I always have meals that are meat-free.  But I don't think I can give up meat entirely.

2. Who inspired you to cook or bake?
That's easy: my mom.  She is a fantastic cook and an excellent baker.  My mom used to be a pastry chef and a private caterer.  One of my fondest childhood memories is following her and watching her 'perform' from one kitchen to another.  I sat quietly in the corner, watching the excitement whilst waiting if there's any extra food... and guess what? there's always extra food.

3. How do you celebrate Christmas? or a favourite holiday of your choice?
Christmas is definitely my favourite holiday.  Sadly, I have not been home for the past eight years to celebrate the holiday with my family.  My family is in Indonesia and my break from work and studying is not long enough for me to visit them.  I'll be visiting them soon though, so I'm really looking forward to that.  If I were home, we'll go to church in the morning and then later, we'll have the elaborate Christmas lunch and open our presents afterwards. 

4. Do you prefer to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends and/or family, or prefer to ring in the New Year quietly, and privately, at home?
I am always out on New Year's Eve either with friends or family.  The past three years and again this year, I'll be in London, outside the London Eye to watch the fireworks.  I think it's more exciting outside and I like to be part of the countdown with thousands of other people.  

5. If someone were to ask you to bring a dessert to a party, what would you bring? Store bought, or home-made, and if you were to make home-made, what would you make?
My friends always give me a hard time every time I bought something pre-made from the store.  They think I'm being lazy.  If I had the time, it's got to be home-made, maybe something like cream cheese pound cake, chocolate cheesecake or chocolate cola cake.  Everybody can go to the store and buy something, but it's definitely more special when you make all the effort and it shows that you care about them.  

6. How will you celebrate your next birthday?
I don't want to think about my next birthday... Maybe in an island where time stands still and I don't have to get older.

7. Do you have a New Year's resolution-and will you be sticking to it?
I don't have one yet for 2011.  My resolution for 2010 was to eat more avocado and I think I've done pretty well this year.  If it's food related, maybe I'll stick to it.  

Thank you Elisabeth.  So, now it's my turn to tag other bloggers, my chance to get to know you better, and since I still have 23 awards to share, I'd like to give you an award as well.  Aren't I nice?

Tubuko DX - Da Washoku Kitchen
Alexandria - Dreams of Sugarplums
Kristen - Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
Katrina - Goodbye, Butter
Lucy - The Kitchen Maid
Jenn - Jenn's Food Journey
Jennifer - Indigo's Sugar Spectrum
Bella - Mangiabella Tasting the Beauty of Life
Joan - The Artist Chef
Joy - Joy and the Yamdaisy

And here are my questions to you:
1. When did you learn to cook?
2. Name three things that are always in your fridge.
3. Do you have any food guilty pleasures?
4. Tell us about your most memorable meal...
5. What is your drink of choice?

When you received this, you can set up your own questions and pass it on to other bloggers of your choice.  I look forward to reading your answers.

This weekend I'm gonna try to finish my essay as I really want to get it out of the way before the holiday.  My friends are coming over tomorrow for X-Factor finale which will be fun.  Enjoy your weekend everyone...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My mom's chicken soup

I am having one of those days.  I woke up this morning with blocked nose, sore throat, watery eyes, feeling horrible basically.  I don't get sick often, but at least once a year, I'll catch a cold that zaps all my energy and I don't like it.  I just realised the last time I was feeling like this was exactly this time last year.  Strange. 

I called my mom and she told me to make chicken soup.  Somehow around midday, I managed to pull myself together, went to the market and bought some chicken.  Like many chicken soup recipes, my mom's chicken soup is simple and comforting.  In a pot, place the chickens, I use six drumsticks, a couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic, one peeled medium onion, sea salt, a cube of chicken bouillon and cover with water.  Let it come to the boil and then add a handful of goji berries.  If you never seen goji berries before, they look almost like dried cranberries, maybe a savoury version of it.  These berries add a lovely sweetness to the soup and they're very good for you as they contain vitamin c, beta-carotene and iron.  Many supermarkets have them these days, or you can always look at your local health food stores.

As the chicken cooks, I like to skim the white foamy frothy stuff that rises to the surface of the soup.  There's no need to do this, but I like to have clear broth not cloudy.  Let the soup simmers for 20-30 minutes and adjust the seasoning with more salt and white pepper if you wish.  Serve with rice.

This chicken soup, a marathon of Scrubs, and a good nap... And I feel much better now.  I don't know why and how but chicken soup just have the medicinal qualities that actually help to cure the common cold.

Thank you Mom.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Weekend of Food

My friends and I went for a long weekend in London to attend the Taste of Christmas food festival at ExCel House.  There were hundreds of food stalls and restaurants in the arena and I imagine this is what heaven would be. We ate and drank our way through one stall to another, sampling all kinds of wines, spirits, beers, cocktails, chocolates, pastries, ice-creams, fudges, chutneys, bread, cheeses, etc... I over ate but I guess that's not really a surprise.  Like any other holidays, I must get some souvenirs, and so I did.  For souvenirs, and trying not to sound as if I am an alcoholic, I bought a bottle of toffee vodka which will be delicious for Christmas cocktails; margarita and pina colada mixers; and a jar of Nigella seeds (My friends think that I am obsessed).

After about 5 hours of eating and drinking, we went around Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street for a little sightseeing and to stretch our legs and stomachs a bit before dinner time (yes, you read it right... more food).  For dinner we went to Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italian at Westfield shopping complex.  To start, I had the wild truffle tagliatelle which was just heavenly; freshly made pasta tossed in butter, nutmeg and parmesan cheese and then top with shaved black truffle. 

Next, I had the humongous Burger Italiano made with British beef pattie, with melting fontina cheese, crispy salami, lettuce, tomato salsa, dill pickles and crispy fried onions. Yum.

To end the meal, I had my all time favourite dessert, tiramisu.  This classic Italian coffee flavoured trifle was served with orange mascarpone cream and dusting of cocoa powder...

I still to be honest not sure how I managed to eat that much in one day...

Every year at work we raise money for a charity and this year we are supporting Movember for the prostate cancer charity.  Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache.... Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.  Some of the guys at work are doing it but unfortunately, I cannot grow a moustache.  To raise money, my team and I held a bake sale and some raffles earlier and I contributed a couple batches of Nigella's sweet and salty crunchy nut bars which went down like hotcakes! We're gonna have another bake sale and I have to make more of them among other things.

Anyway, enough about me. How was your weekend? It's 19 days to Christmas. How exciting!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

Warning: the following post contains a lot of sugar...

Well, you have been warned.

When I first came across this recipe, my heart stops for a split second and when it beats again, I know that I just have to make it.  Yes, there's butter, sugar, peanut butter and more sugar.... I know I've mentioned this before, Mae West once said, too much of a good thing can be wonderful, and I live by this saying and this fudge is one great example of that.

When it's cold and snowing outside, it's so comforting to be next to the stove making sweets.  And the nice thing about this recipe is, there is no need for a sugar thermometer and all of that fandango.  There are already so much to do especially at this time of the year, and if I can find peace, quiet and joy, let it be in the kitchen...

The fudge can be made in the matter of minutes.  The only thing to make sure is to beat the icing sugar thoroughly to the sugary, buttery, peanuty mixture, making sure there isn't any lumps.  This takes a bit of muscle, but I don't mind burning a few calories before replacing it with a piece or two of fudge.

The soft fudge is treacle-y sweet and salty at the same time from the chunky peanut butter.  In the words of Sophie Dahl, "it's like when you're little, you went to the beach, and you've been swimming, and so your fingers were salty and then you ate something sweet, like ice cream... and you got that mix of salt and sweetness... and that is this... and this is heaven".

Eat at your own discretion.

Peanut Butter Fudge
by Sophie Dahl
Makes 36 - 42 pieces

125 gr butter
500 gr dark brown sugar
120 ml milk
250 gr crunchy peanut butter
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
300 gr icing sugar
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and milk, and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes without stirring.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in peanut butter and vanilla seeds.
  4. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl, and pour the hot butter and sugar mixture on top.  Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until smooth.
  5. Pour into a 20cm baking tray, and set aside to cool slightly, then place in the fridge to chill completely.
  6. Cut the fudge into squares with a sharp knife, turn out of the tin and store in an airtight container.
Sometime ago, I was given not one but two Lovely Blog Awards from Maya at Foodiva's Kitchen and Elisabeth at Food and Thrift Finds.  Two wonderful ladies who are so passionate about flavours, eating and cooking.  I am so grateful for this award, so Thank You.

And I just found out that when you received an award, you're supposed to pass it on to another bloggers (see, I learn something new everyday).  So, I'd like to share this award with some of my favourite food bloggers. You may already know some of them, but if you haven't please take a moment to stop by. They are (in alphabetical order):

AJ's Cooking Secrets - AJ is a talented young baker who lives in Seattle and he aspires to be on the Food Network one day. 

The Ardent Epicure - Alisha and her family cook all sorts of joyous and delicious food. They know the pleasures of food.

Bittersweet - Rick loves his sweet things and I know he likes peanut butter.  His blog posts often surpass my daily calorie intake but it's worth it.

Dear Love Blog - Delicious food and stunning pictures by Alex. Alex is currently on the quest for an amazing vegetarian sausage recipe. Anyone?

La Bella Cook - Bridgett puts her heart into her dishes. And we both love Nigella.

More Than A Mount Full - Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, THE-Wonderful-Chef-Dennis, need I say more? I don't think so.

One Perfect Bite - Reading Mary's delicious blog is part of my morning ritual and then I ask myself, WHY?!?