Cocoa Brownies and Happy Easter

Chocolate Brownies

The only advantage of current weather is that I can enjoy a piece of brownies with a cup of hot tea without feeling guilty. This freezing cold weather simply calls for a comfort dessert and these chocolate brownies really hit the spot.

Spring is nowhere in sight. This winter has been too long but it just won't let go. Weather forecast predicts freezing temperatures and more snow all over Europe. So instead of cleaning and decluttering houses or preparing gardens for the return of warm spring days, most people spend time shovelling snow, defrosting cars and snuggling up on a sofa with a cup of hot beverage in hands. 
I spotted some beautiful yellow daffodils emerging in parks and gardens, bringing a little bit of colour into grey and gloomy days. But it's still not enough and I'm longing for warm days filled with sunshine. 

GIR spatula

If I can't have sunshine, I can have chocolate! I found this brownie recipe at honey & jam blog when I was looking for a fast and simple, moist and gooey brownie recipe which I could bring to a friend's house. It was still slightly warm when we ate it the first time. Everyone loved it and these brownies disappeared in minutes. I made them a few more times and it was always a great success.

Making these brownies was a great opportunity to use my new favourite GIR (Get It Right) spatula for yet another task. I got this lovely spatula about a month ago and I completely fell in love. It became one of my favourite kitchen tools. It's beautiful and functional which are, for me, two main properties of any good product. And here's why I love it so much. I already mentioned they are beautiful, right? They come in eleven colours (wish I had a teal or lavender one) and have a perfect shape. But most importantly I use it for shallow frying, sautéing or stirring hot food which is something I had never imagined using a rubber spatula for (because they normally melt). This spatula can be used at any temperature! I always used rubber spatulas only for stirring and mixing ingredients or scraping bowls. I think all my wooden spatulas have been a bit jealous and feeling abandoned since I got this one. It did a great job even with my brownies.

You might have noticed that I try, after a long break, get back to regular blogging. However, I'm might not be able to update my blog for a while, since we are currently packing for a month holiday in New Zealand starting on Tuesday. I'll definitely post many photos from out trip on my instagram and try to post some here as well when I get a chance. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a happy Easter!

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

PS: I don't normally do product reviews and nobody asked me to write about GIR spatula, but I love the product so much that I thought I would mention what a great job folks over at GIR did designing it.

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Cocoa brownies
Adapted from Alice Mendrich's Bittersweet via honey & jam


Note: I like my brownies a bit thicker so I used a smaller pan and increased baking time. If you prefer a standard thickness, use a bigger pan about 20 x 20 cm and bake only for 25 to 30 minutes.

Ingredients

140 grams unsalted butter
280 grams light brown sugar
90 grams unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
2 large eggs
65 grams plain flour

Method

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 170 ℃.

Line a 16x19 cm baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium heatproof bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Alternatively, set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't  touch the water), stir occasionally, until butter is almost melted.
Remove from the microwave / saucepan and stir until butter is completely melted and all ingredients are incorporated. It will look fairly gritty at this point.

Stir in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add in flour and stir until fully incorporated. Then stir vigorously for a few seconds.

Pour the batter into a lined baking tray, spread evenly with a spatula. Bake until a wooden screwer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out slightly moist with batter, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove brownies from pan using the parchment overhang and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool before cutting. 

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The Jewelled Kitchen Cookbook



It's me again. I can't believe I managed to write two blog posts in one week! There's a very good reason for it though. In my last post, I mentioned my friend Bethany's cookbook, which I photographed last year before Christmas and promised an update.  I'm thrilled and proud to announce that the book is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

It feels almost unreal that this time has finally arrived. I'm looking at the cover (which I also photographed) and thinking of this time last year when I moved in with Bethany to the West Country for a few months; helping her with recipe testing, cooking, baking, tasting and taking photos for my pitch all while dreaming of photographing this book. My dream came true and fast forward a few months, Bethany moved into my house to help during her book photo shoot.


Photo courtesy © Sukruti Staneley

Ten days of cooking, styling, shooting and eating leftovers passed very quickly and I can honestly say that I can't wait to hold the book in my hands. It was an amazing experience working on this book and bringing many months of Bethany's work to life with my photos. We had fun, we laughed but it was also hard work and we took it seriously. Needles to say, it was a team effort of talented folks which made the photo shoot such great experience. Big thanks to my two wonderful assistants Joslin and Sukruti without whom I couldn't do it!


From left: art director Gabriella Le Grazie, book author Bethany Kehdy, assistant food stylist Natalie Thomson, prop stylist Lucy Harvey, me, food stylist Emily Jonzen, photo by my amazing assistant Sukruti Staneley.

I leave you with a couple of photos from the book as a little teaser of what you can expect.

 Images by Sarka Babicka for The Jewelled Kitchen © Duncan Baird Publishers 2013. 

Trust me, I'm not biased, these recipes taste as fantastic as they look. ;) Hurry and pre-order now!

UK edition: The Jewelled Kitchen
US edition: Pomegranates & Pine Nuts


Honey Roasted Salmon and Poached Egg Salad

Salmon Salad

Here I am again. Wait, it is 2013 already, March? This must have been the longest time I have not been blogging.  I must confess, I was even contemplating whether I should post again after such a long break. But I could not stop thinking of my blog. I have been missing it a lot.

One of the reasons for my absence was that I have been quite busy with my work. I am incredibly grateful for that. I really love and enjoy my job and the more I work, the more I love it.
This week I finished shooting a second cookbook so I finally have time I can devote to my blog. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have caught some behind the scenes photos from the first cookbook shoot I did before Christmas. My dear friend Bethany from Dirty Kitchen Secrets will have her debut cookbook The Jewelled Kitchen out this summer. I was very honoured to photograph the book. I obviously tasted many of her recipes and can honestly say it's a book you don't want to miss if you are interested in Middle Eastern cuisine. The book will be available for preorder very soon, so stay tuned for more info.

If you read this blog you know I never post complicated recipes. I like simple recipes bursting with flavours. Nothing has changed in 2013 and my next recipe is also fast and simple. Fresh flavourful salad was exactly what I needed after my Saturday Pilates class. I was home alone and didn't feel like cooking a proper lunch. On my way home from the class, I stopped at our local fishmonger's and bought a piece of my favourite honey roasted salmon and some fresh eggs. I just added fresh mixed leaf salad and lunch was ready.

Honey Roasted Salmon

Salmon and Poached Egg Salad

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Honey Roasted Salmon and Poached Egg Salad
Serves: 1

Ingredients

For the dressing:

4 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crashed
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp golden cane sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the salad:

2 handfuls mixed salad leaves (spinach, lettuce, watercress)
1 spring onion, sliced
20g feta or goat cheese, crumbled
150g honey roasted salmon, flaked (or smoked salmon)

For the poached egg:

1 egg
1tbsp vinegar

Method

Put all ingredients for the dressing in a small jar with lid and shake well until mixed. You can keep any leftover dressing in the fridge.

Add a little water into a medium saucepan  (fill the saucepan about 1/3 or so), pour in the vinegar and bring to the boil. Break an egg into a small bowl. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to minimum. You want to see only tiny bubbles on the bottom of the pan. Create a whirlpool with a spoon and carefully slide the egg in the middle of the pan. Cook for 3 minutes (if you like runny yolk). Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen paper towel.

In a bowl, mix 2tbsp of dressing with the mixed salad leaves and spring onion. Arrange the salad on plate, scatter the feta/goat cheese and salmon over and top with the poached egg.

Note: You can substitute the honey roasted salmon with a regular smoked salmon.
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