Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sunday Cook Off: Sticky Chocolate Brownies

This week I made some brownies on a whim, I had a craving for some sort of cake and wanted something easy so I went to my recipe bookshelf and got cooking. This recipe is from The Chocolate Box, I haven’t got a photo because there are none left – but hey, everyone knows what a brownie looks like, right?

100g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
75g dark brown sugar
125g dark chocolate
1 tbsp syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp either chocolate or vanilla essence (I used lots of vanilla, as always)
100g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

1. Lightly grease and line the base of a 20cm square tin. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

2. Place butter, sugars, dark chocolate and syrup in a large heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until mixture is smooth and blended. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

3. Beat together eggs and essence in a jug. Whisk it into the cooling mixture.

4. Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold gently into the chocolate mixture using a metal spoon.

5. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 25 -30 mins. Remove from the oven when the edges are becoming crisp and coming away from the tin, and when the middle looks just set.

Leave to cool in the tin. When completely cool, cut into squares.

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Saturday Pot Luck: Music says “Take that Alzheimers!”

If I ever get Alzheimers, I’m going to make sure to list all of my favourite songs so that I can be brought back by the Alive Inside people (for website see below). Watching this near-vegetative old man come to life talking about Cab Calloway was heartbreaking and uplifiting at the same time. You’re so happy that he is so full of joy, but you dread to think of how long his renewed vigour lasted after the cameras were turned off. It’s a tragic disease, so it’s nice to see something positive being done for those who suffer so greatly from its effects, both the patient and their family.

http://www.musicandmemory.org/

 

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Fame On A Friday: Brad Pitt liked it so he put a ring on it

Almost married, always smug

It seems that the tabloids’ favourite couple have finally decided to add some truth to the many millions of marriage stories that have been surrounded them ever since they got together in 2005. Brangelina have been parading their low-key-yet-so-high-profile love for quite some time, and I don’t imagine that it’s about to go away now. I imagine that Jennifer Aniston is dreading the barrage of questions coming her way despite the fact that she is obviously over Pitt (and has been for some time, if only the press would stop bringing it up). While reps for the couple have yet to confirm that the two most beautiful people in the world have decided to make it official, this is the first time that the legitimate press (i.e. not The Sun) has reported on such a rumour, so one can’t help but think that it might be slightly true. However, the twosome didn’t even confirm that they were an item until Jolie was pregnant with The Chosen One Shiloh a full year after they got together.

It does make you wonder what their life (and that of their many children) must be like, to be at centre of a maelstrom of fascination 24/7. Their personas aren’t particularly likeable, not in the same way as Kate Winslet, nor are they easy to dislike, a la Katherine Heigl – they are superstars, plain and simple. Maybe it is that they’ve transcended the more human status of other stars and become godlike beings, permanently enigmatic and a source of wonder.

Who knows? I have no idea why we are all so interested in the engagement of two people in a long term relationship who share six children and are obviously very committed to each other. But none of us are about to rock the boat because we can’t wait to see what Angelina will wear on her special day, and whether her much-discussed leg will make a reappearance.

 

[Image via nydailynews.com]

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Thursday Me Time: It’s All About Caine

Caine Monroy is 9 year old boy from East LA, who has built a selection of well-known arcade games out of cardboard boxes. He operates out of his father’s autoparts business and remains optimistic despite never having a single customer, until filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened upon the store and decided to fulfil the little boy’s dream by raising awareness of his venture and organising a surprise flash mob for him. The joy in Caine’s face when he realises that a large group of people in the street are waiting to play at his arcade is pretty much the definition of heartwarming.

The thought that has gone into his creations, which includes a security system and prizes, would be impressive for an adult, but the fact all this has been achieved by a 9 year old makes it all the more extraordinary.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Wheelchairs can bungee too

 

It’s not exactly a big issue, watching Christine Rougoor bungee jump in her wheelchair, but it is fucking awesome. And it does help to raise awareness of the 9Lives Adventures project, which helps disabled people to engage in unique experiences that may not otherwise have been possible for them to do.

If you want to find out more about them go to http://www.9livesadventures.com/

 

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Nike are bastards, but they make good adverts

While I’m sceptical about how truthful this advert is, it’s still a good example of why people NEED to travel outside their comfort zone. This guy didn’t just go to places close to his home country, he went all over the world.

Yes, it is completely unbelievable that anything mentioned about the premise of the film can be relied upon as fact, but if anyone watching it decides that they’ll go somewhere new for their next holiday then it was worth it.

Who cares about Nike shoes when there’s a whole world to see?

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Monday Pick Me Up: Dogs Can Be Republican Too

Although I’m not entirely sure how the owners trained their dog to reject any Obama offerings, it’s pretty funny to watch the little mutt express his political views. Maybe there should be a follow up video so that we can see whether he endorses Romney or Santorum. Who knew that carrots could convey such a strong political message?

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Sunday Cook Off: Ferrero Rocher Torte

This week’s Sunday Cook Off is slightly different, as I haven’t actually made the recipe below yet. But it is the closest approximation that I can find to a heavenly dessert that I tried this week, it’s a bit complicated but hopefully delicious in the end. This slice of amazingness is a Waitrose own brand concoction that I happened upon when faced with an array of unappealing fruity desserts. In my book, if it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert.

The inspiration for this week can be found here (and wait until it’s on offer like I did, because no supermarket should charge £10 for a mass-produced cake, no matter how good it is): http://www.waitrose.com/shop/ProductView-10317-10001-154693-Waitrose+S%2Fchoc+chocolate+%26+hazelnut+tort

If you fancy making your own, and I will be once I’ve finished chomping my way through the one above, then look below for the recipe, or go here: http://www.fabulousfoods.com/articles/952429/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-recipe

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon bicarb

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup boiling water

Nutty syrup:

  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nut extract or flavoring

Hazelnut Praline:

  • 1/4 pound shelled and skinned hazelnuts
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups icing sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180*C and prepare a 9 inch cake tin

2. To make the cake portion, mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla and beat until well combined.
3. Stir in the boiling water and pour the batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 30-35 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Allow to cool in tin for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack. Once cooled completely, put it into the freezer until stiff, then slice it in half horizontally.
6. To make the syrup, combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bringing it to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.
7. Simmer for 5 mins, remove from heat, and add extract. Stir, then allow to cool.

8. To make the praline, liberally coat a baking pan with vegetable oil, place the hazelnuts on it in a single layer, and set it aside.
9. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and cook until the mixture turns amber.
10. Immediately pour the syrup over the hazelnuts, let it cool completely, and break it into small pieces. Then put them into ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Transfer them to a food processor and mix until finely ground.

11. To make the frosting, in a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer and then pour it over the chocolate chips and let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk the mixture until smooth.
12. Place the pan in a bowl of ice water, stirring constantly until cooled. Then gradually beat in the powdered sugar and whip until smooth, thick and fluffy.

13. To assemble everything, brush half of the syrup evenly over one half of the cake. Then spread about a third of the frosting onto the top of that half and sprinkle it with half of the praline.
14. Place the other half of the cake layer on top, brush it with the rest of the syrup, and spread the remaining frosting along the top and sides. Press the remaining praline into the frosting on the sides and sprinkle some on top if you’re feeling fanciful. Chill for a bit before serving.

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Saturday Pot Luck: Family Guy and teddy bears collide, hilarity ensues

The latest upcoming film that has peaked my interest is Ted, a Seth MacFarlane production that finds Mark Wahlberg dealing with his bad mouthed teddy bear friend, who came to life many years previously. From what I can tell, Marky Mark has to choose between growing up and starting a new life with Mila Kunis or staying young with his furry stoner friend – not exactly groundbreaking stuff. But hey I might be wrong, and the trailer made me laugh so I’ll be heading to my local cineplex when it comes out.

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Fame On A Friday: Lindsay Lohan is a walking anti-drug PSA

The video below should be shown to classes in every school, no one who watches the once sweet little LiLo morph into the haggard mess that she has become could ever believe that drugs were good or cool. I watched it with a mixture of sadness at her lost potential, and disgust at what she has done to herself. It is fitting that this video has come to prominence in the week that Lohan came off of her probation for the first time in 4 years. Maybe in 10 years the video’s maker can produce a sequel, showing how she got her life – and face – back.

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