I read "Ladies of Missalonghi" (Octavia, Drusilla and Missy) by Colleen McCullough
last week. It was recommended by my sister when we went shopping at Bookworm in Bangalore
. I spent a bomb there and this was one of the 'crackers'.
The story is set in old fashioned Australia in the early period of the twentieth century. For me it was a window to peep into the lives of people then which the author describes very well. The story revolves around Missy, a poor relative to the rich 'Hurlingford' family who virtually own the tiny town of Byron rather 'unrightfully'. Unlike the her mother and aunt, Missy has unconventional looks, outlook and ambitions which blossom when she meets Una. The story is all about how she goes about achieving it through strange means, and though one, rather I would not endorse her ways but in the end one does feel good for Missy. You gotta read the book to know more:). The author has a brilliant narrative style, the novel is a short one and makes a good travel companion.
There are quite a few food scenes in the book starting with the poor man's 'bulk oats', 'potatoes and beans' which has served as breakfast and meal every single day for the three ladies. There is a part where the ladies make your mouth water with 'pikelets with jam and cream, a sponge, some little butterfly cakes, and a sour-apple tart cooked with cloves' made for a special guest who however does not have them because she is watching her figure and happily gobbled by the ladies who would never have treated themselves to such delicacies otherwise.
Now, after reading all those wonderful things which I am sure even the most stringent dieter would find irresistible what am I, a mere mortal who does not 'watch her figure' to do? Well, I decided to just drown my dripping tongue into that long bookmarked yummy brownies from Diana's Desserts
. If you haven't been there yet please click on the link and check out her simple yet tasty desserts. Earlier I made vegan scones
which were also adapted from the same site and turned out great.
When I chose this recipe 'P' said, "its no point saying 'this is the best' because you won't make it again, so I am not going to say anything when I eat them."
He is right in a way as I just go looking for something that tastes 'better than the best' in my hunt for the best but will not look further anymore as Diana does not disappoint - this one is a gem, in my brownie crown, and I set with the other gem
I made some time back. As I read through the recipe I was surprised by the method because I have never cooked my flour
before baking, and to say the truth I am afraid I was a little skeptical! Shame! I should not have doubted her skills!! This one is yet another winner.
The only difference in my approach was to measure in weights rather than cups and teaspoons. We bought a kitchen weighing machine during one of my impulsive compulsive shopping sprees about which I am very happy. I am hoping to conquer my fear of macarons soon...sighhhhh.....!
Going back to the book - while the tarts reminded me of brownies, it suddenly dawned on me that brownies never existed in books till mid twentieth century! Before that all we knew were the brownies that were fictional and said to slip into peoples' houses before they awaken, and help out with the work - !! Even these sound more like 'MUMMIES' rather than kind brownies:(!!
A little bit of googling tells me that brownies are rather recent entries into the food world. The first one, it appears, was 'Born in the USA
' and the earliest recorded brownie recipe credited to one Ms.Meritt Farmer
(Could she be any relation to the 'Sewing' Meritt?).
Sometimes we should never tell others when we try out a tried and tested recipe and it goes wrong - maybe we all would have some new item credited to ourselves - how about tandoori pesto potatoes? That is patented by me - so BEWARE!! I have my own doubts - maybe the brownie was an accident? Who cares - its a beautiful one:), as you will see below:
Fudgy, gooey, dense and just so mmmm......, and did I say its vegan - I know it doesn't look or taste, but IT IS
!!Adapted from Diana's Desserts - 'Non-Dairy Eggless Brownies'
(Please do check the original site as it has some really tasty desserts you might like to make)Ingredients:
22og + 40g - APF
236ml - Water
113.4g - Margarine
75g - Cocoa powder
350g - Sugar (The recipe recommends 450g but this was sweet enough for us)
1/2 tsp. - Salt
1tsp. Vanilla Essence - I used one vanilla pod slit lengthwise
2 + 1/2 tsp - Baking powderIcing sugar for dusting the tops.Method
Preheat oven to 180 deg. Cel. Prepare a 9" x 13" baking tin.
In a saucepan dissolve 40g APF in the water and cook till thick as custard. Set aside to completely cool
Melt margarine and stir in the cocoa powder till smooth.
Sift 220g APF with baking powder.
Beat sugar, salt and vanilla into the flour custard, and add the margarine-cocoa mixture to it. Mix well.
To this add the dry ingredients. You will find it easier to use a wooden spoon rather than a beater as the mixture turns very thick. This is normal. If you are adding nuts add it at this point.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. (The recipe says 20 to 25minutes, but my oven always takes longer - please check when half done)
Let the brownies cool for about 15miutes before cutting into pieces. They will be slightly moist and set well in sometime.
I was able to make about 20 brownies but then that depends on your individual size.
Verdict - Lip smacking. My son ate it while devouring the charms of Harry Potter:)