Sunday, 4 November 2007


You know when you're feeling miserable and can't be bothered? When the thought of throwing a party is the furthest thing from your mind? But then you get a call and somehow this particular call pulls at your party strings. Our village knows how to put on a fireworks display and about 20,000 people descend on the village because they agree. We drank, we ate, we had SPARKLERS!

I took my eye off the ball last night and this soup wasn't as good as it has been. That will teach me...

Spciy Lentil and Bacon Soup (not a recipe, more a thought, hopefully you'll get the idea.)
Packet of lardons or smoked bacon of any sort cut into pieces, garlic, onions, potatoes, packet of red lentils, big glug of concentrated chicken stock (I used Knorr touch of taste), ground cumin, ground coriander, harissa paste, water, salt and pepper and a glug of oil.

Peel and chop the veg. Gently fry all of it, then add spices, stock and water. Boil hard for 10 minutes then gently simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Blitz with a stick blender. Serve with a little cream if your arteries can take it. I forgot to add stock last night, and added garam masala instead of just cumin and coriander. It wasn't the best soup, but most people were too inebriated to care.

How to be a Domestic Goddess is a great book, full of tempting recipes. Why I haven't cooked from it more I can't tell you. Especially after trying these brownies. If you google Nigella brownie recipe there are plenty out there. On the plus side if this article from the Guardian back in 2004 is right and depending on your take on things, they're not actually that bad for you either. Click here at Channel 4 for a snowflecked version (it states less sugar in that one though).

Nigella's Brownies (from How to be a Domestic Goddess pg 193)
375g unsalted butter (soft)
375g dark chocolate (book states best quality, we had Bourneville in the house)
6 large eggs
tablespoon vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
300g chopped walnuts (I put them in a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin as I don't like too many pieces of walnut in my brownies).

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line the pan you're using (you will need two or a big one as there's a lot of mixture). Melt the butter and chocolate. In a large bowl beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl weigh the flour and add the salt. When the melted chocolate and butter has cooled a little you need to beat it together with the egg and sugar mix. Then beat in the flour and chopped walnuts. Pour and scrape into your lined pan(s) and then bake for ?? I really don't know, the book suggested 25 minutes.

This makes a seriously good brownie and I'd make it again but I'd ignore the cooking time. I thought the brownie was ready, this was after a good 15 minutes more cooking time than suggested. Nigella does say in the book that you need to keep alert, keep checking: the difference between being gungy and dry is only a few minutes. I don't have the first clue how you're supposed to test this as they're supposed to be slightly gooey and therefore the normal testing of putting a skewer in to see if it comes out clean wouldn't work - any ideas?? It looked beautiful, even more so with the sparkling candles. However when I cut into it, the middle bit wasn't cooked, it was runny and although very tasty I decided to cut off the outside bits. Scraped the inside bits back into the pan and threw it back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

I also came across this adaptation on Jasmine's Confessions of a Cardamon Addict blog. They look more than worthy of a try.
What are these?

These little beauties are for Charlotte and family at the Great Big Vegetable Challenge.
Celebrate veggies and make vegetable faces, what a great idea. So, it only took us a few months Charlotte, but we finally got round to making some for you.
Squashy had collagen in her lips, especially for the occassion and Pumpy had lip surgery that went wrong. Least said soonest mended! Sorry to hear your Mr Pumpernickel was stolen!


Pig in the Kitchen said...

I LOVE bonfire night! Glad you had a good time. I also like Nigella's brownie recipe, I also don't have the first clue as to when they're cooked, I think it depends on the size of tin you use. I've only once managed to get them to go all pale and flaky on the top like a true yankee brownie. I have tried in vain to adapt her recipe and make it gluten day I'll manage it!
I'm the first to comment!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh, just realised that you 'vet' your comments, I may not have been the first to comment, so now I will look like an idiot!

Great Big veg Challenge said...

They look gorgeous. Can I add them to our slide show. You can never ever have enough collagen in your lips!
Thank you for joining in the game!
Charlotte and Freddie

PS Pumpkin update. Flesh from his cheek was found on the pavement of a nearby street... we fear the worst.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Oh Pig, you do make one giggle somewhat! We had an excellent time! Still suffering now. I wish you well on the gluten free adaptation.

Charlotte and Freddie, please do add them to your slide show, we'd love that. We look at it sometimes when we have after school guests who say they don't like vegetables. Re: Mr Pumpernickel, it doesn't sound good! It's the yoof of today! Must move to the Outer Hebrides!

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

Marie said...

Lovely post Amanda! I have never been able to celebrate bonfire night yet! I always have to work! Your brownies look delish!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Lucky you! Sounds like a fabulous night.

And Nigella's book...I got it as a gift while living in England...and I swear by it!

Cottage Smallholder said...

I love bonfire night and fireworks. Didn't celebrate this year though.

Just wanted to say that I love Squashy and Pumpy, they are brilliant!

Kelly-Jane said...

Pig - gluten free flour works really well in brownies (you really wouldn't be able to tell the difference!).

Amanda, lovely sparkly star =)

I stick in a wooden cocktail stick and it should come out with bits of very moist cake crumbs sticking to it. If it's thick batter as opposed to sticky crumbs - it's not ready! If your outsides are too dry and the inside not cooked, then cook the whole thing 10 or 20 o lower and just cook for longer. I hope you can follow that - I know what I mean anyway!!


Asha said...

Love the pumpkins!! Glad you had a great time at Bonfire!:))
Brownie sounds yum!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Marie, that's such a shame as it's such a big thing here. Sometimes different villages/towns celebrate the week before or after so you could try and get to one.

Hi CC, I absolutely love bonfire night and that's me set for the run up to Christmas then. Like an over excited child!

Hi Fiona, oh no! You should have come here!

Hi Kelly-Jane, Thanks for that, I'll try that next time.

Hi Asha, Thank you, they were yummy!

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

Kate / Kajal said...

A brownie cake ...yumm !
nice starry shape instead of he regular squares.

Nora B. said...

Hi Amanda, love the pumpkins!

As for Nigella's brownies, I made them before and recall leaving them in the oven for much longer than 25 minutes. I just realized that I've never used the same brownie recipe twice!

Angel said...

I adore pumpy and squashy they looks so fun and definitely bring a smile to the face. I've never heard of bonfire night, but it sounds like lots of fun.

Also let your boys know that one of their fans misses seeing posts on their blog too.

Truffle said...

What a fabulous evening! I have been meaning to buy this book for ages and you've convinced me!

I am planning another trip over your way and am so excited that I will get to try out the recommendations I didn't have time for on the last trip.

tash said...

It sounds (and looks!) like all four of you had a wonderful time! We watched our neighbours' display which was stunning. The soup sounds delicious, there is something about the sweetness and oaky flavours of bacon and lentils that is just so right.

Cynthia said...

Guy Fawkes night right?

Love the idea of lentil and bacon soup, yum!

Gemma said...

I love bonfire night, much more than Halloween, and this looks like a great meal to celebrate with. I've never made Nigella's brownie recipes but have heard that they take way longer than the 25 minutes.

Gemma x

Anonymous said...

Hi! you certainly have been having lots of fun. I can remember when you were 6 we made a lantern, you have always loved to make a mess. Bonfire night was always fun when we would buy a box of fireworks and go over to the field where there was a large bonfire which you and your friends had collected, a guy on top, often clothes disappeared, trousers, jumper, a coat and hat with a shirt or something similar tied into a ball and stuffed for the head, everything was stuffed with newspapers and tied with string.
different families would bring their boxes of fireworks, potatoes were put into the fire as it died down and left to cook in the embers
health and safety regularions would never allow this now. Mxxxx

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Kate, I love star and heart shaped things.

Hi Nora, I would make this one again. We're still eating them it yielded so many.

Hi Angel, thank you. I'll tell the boys. They like to be in the tree house or on the swings more than anything at the moment. I expect when it gets a lot colder they'll want to be inside and then the computer will seem more appealing.

Hi Truffle, excellent news!

Hi Tash, we had a great evening. It's one of my favourite nights of the year. The bonfire is still smouldering away on the village green which gives you some idea to it's size.

Hi Cynthia, it was indeed! bacon and lentils are a really good combination.

Hi Gemma, I prefer bonfire night too. Re: the cooking time for Nigella's brownies. Everyone I have spoken to says that they take a lot longer so don't know why the book only says 25 minutes.

Hi Mum, I remember! I think that's where my love of real fires comes from. I also remember pinching clothes for the guy too! xx

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love the veggie faces Amanda! Lintels are one of my very favorites all winter long. Probably once a week minimum. You're doing them lots like mine.

farmingfriends said...

The vegetable faces are fabulous. What fun. Sara from farmingfriends

michelle said...

Very cute vegetables - I love all the cool things you do with your kids! I'm sort of stuck on Regan Daley's really, really fudgy brownies (from In the Sweet Kitchen - you can google it for the recipe), so I haven't made the ones from Nigella. I do love that book too though! With Regan's, they're done once they reach the stage where they just barely give under a gently touch and get all crackly on top.

Annemarie said...

I love your bonfire night cake - I hope you've started a tradition!

Kelly Mahoney said...

How cute! Love the idea.

Elle said...

Know it's a week late, but congrats on pulling it together for the bonfire night. It sounds like a lot of fun and that star shaped brownie (even if raw in the middle) looks so pretty with the candles.

joey said...

I have that book by Nigella but have never tried the I really gotta! :) And that bean soup sounds like something I would love...great combination of flavors :)

Glad you had a fun bonfire! :)


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