Things I have been cooking #95: Triple chocolate/Rocky Road Brownies

I have posted several brownie recipes over the past few years… gluten free ones, Oreo ones, cheesecake ones… but these super decadent, uber chocolately brownies are the real deal. The recipe is easily adaptable to be triple chocolate flavoured or Rocky Road flavoured depending on what you stir in at the end. You could also just as easily add pecan or walnuts.

Triple chocolate/Rocky Road brownies

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

200g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) chopped up
175g butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
For triple chocolate brownies: 100g mixed chopped white, milk and dark chocolate or chips
For Rocky Road brownies: 100g mixed white chocolate, fudge bits, plain biscuits and mini marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Line a 23cm x 33cm x 5cm baking dish with greaseproof paper.

Place the chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl. Rest this over a pot of boiling water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt together, stirring occasionally. Once the butter and chocolate have melted, stir in the sugar using a wooden spoon. Add the flour and mix well. Now add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. You should end up with a glossy, dark batter. Stir in either your chocolate or Rocky Road mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared tray and place in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. The brownies should be set on the sides and flaky but soft in the centre. Do not over bake.

Put the baking tray on a cooling rack and leave to cool for about half an hour before removing the whole “brownie” onto the rack to cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.

Makes 16 brownies

wpid-img_20141005_191442.jpg

My top 10 horror movie targets

In many horror movies the targets of the villain/monster are often no more than cannon fodder, destined to be slaughtered without the audience even really getting to know their names. But sometimes the person being targeted is just as interesting or iconic as what or who is after them. These are the ones that stand out just for me.

Birds

Melanie Daniels
Played by: Tippi Hedren
The film: The Birds (1963)
Who/what is after her?: Birds… all of them.
Badassability: 4/10
“Melanie Daniels: Close that door, quickly.
Annie Hayworth: What?
Melanie Daniels: Please.”

carolanne

Carol Anne Freeling
Played by: Heather O’Rourke
The films: Poltergeist (1982), Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), Poltergeist III (1988)
Who/what is after her?: Lots of ghosts
Badassability: 3/10
“Diane: Sweetheart, last night, when you said “They’re here’…
Carol Anne: Can I take my goldfish to school?
Diane: Sweetheart, do you remember last night when you woke up, and you said “They’re here’?
Carol Anne: Uh huh.
Diane: Well, who did you mean?
Carol Anne: The TV People.
Robbie: She’s stoned.
Dana: Oh yeah? What do you know about it?
Robbie: More than you. Ask Dad.”

claricestarling

Clarice Starling
Played by: Jodie Foster
The film: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Who/what is after her: Hannibal Lecter
Badassability: 5/10
“Clarice Starling: You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don’t you – why don’t you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you’re afraid to.”

Halloween

Laurie Strode
Played by: Jamie Lee Curtis
The films: Halloween (1978), Halloween II  (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Who/what is after her?: Michael Myers
Badassability: 6/10
“Annie Brackett: Still spooked?
Laurie: I wasn’t spooked.
Annie Brackett: LIES!
Laurie: I wasn’t! I saw someone standing in Mr. Riddle’s back yard.
Annie Brackett: Probably Mr. Riddle!
Laurie: He was watching me.
Annie Brackett: Mr. Riddle was watching you? Laurie, Mr. Riddle is eighty-seven!
Laurie: He can still watch.
Annie Brackett: That’s probably all he can do!”

regan

Regan McNeill
Played by: Linda Blair
Film: The Exorcist (1973)
Who/what us after her?: A demon
Badassability: 1/10
“Psychiatrist: Is there someone inside you?
Regan MacNeil: Sometimes.
Psychiatrist: Who is it?
Regan MacNeil: I don’t know.
Psychiatrist: Is it Captain Howdy?
Regan MacNeil: I don’t know.
Psychiatrist: If I ask him to tell me, will you let him answer?
Regan MacNeil: No.
Psychiatrist: Why not?
Regan MacNeil: I’m afraid.”

Ripley

Ripley
Played by: Sigourney Weaver
The Films: Alien (1979), Aliens (1986)
Who/what is after her?: Big, bad aliens
Badassability: 10/10
“Newt: My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.
Ripley: Yes, there are, aren’t there?
Newt: Why do they tell little kids that?
Ripley: Most of the time it’s true.”

ShaunShaun
Played by: Simon Pegg
Film: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Who/what is after him: Zombies
Badassability: 7/10
“Shaun: Look, I don’t care what the telly says, all right? We *have* to get out of here. If we don’t they’ll tear us to pieces, and that is really going to exacerbate things for all of us.”

SidneySidney Prescott
Played by: Neve Campbell
Films: Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000), Scream 4 (2011)
Who/what is after her?: Various people all acting as Ghostface
Badassability: 8/10
“Phone Voice: Do you like scary movies?
Sidney Prescott: What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.”

Yourenext

Erin
Played by: Sharni Vinson
Film: You’re Next (2011)
Who/what is after her?: Masked intruders
Badassability: 9/10
“Erin: Grab anything that might make a good weapon.”

Ofelia

Ofelia
Played by: Ivana Baquero
Film: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Who/what is after her?: The creatures in a dark labyrinth
Badassability: 8/10
“Ofelia: Many, many years ago in a sad, faraway land, there was an enormous mountain made of rough, black stone. At sunset, on top of that mountain, a magic rose blossomed every night that made whoever plucked it immortal. But no one dared go near it because its thorns were full of poison. Men talked amongst themselves about their fear of death, and pain, but never about the promise of eternal life. And every day, the rose wilted, unable to bequeath its gift to anyone… forgotten and lost at the top of that cold, dark mountain, forever alone, until the end of time.”

Film Friday #203

Coyote Ugly (2000)

Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) wants to be a songwriter so she moves to New York full of dreams. Unfortunately no one wants to listen to her stupid songs because it’s New York  and everyone thinks they’re the next big thing. So she finds herself working in bar called Coyote Ugly where girls dance on the bar, spray patrons with water, refuse to serve them the drinks they want and set fire to shit… which seems to me to be a ludicrous way to run a business. She also meets an Australian guy called, Kevin (Adam Garcia  – still cute before he botoxed his face to hell) and they hook up. He wants Violet to follow her songwriting dream but she has stage fright… except when she is dancing on the bar and singing songs that she didn’t write (?) After she bails on a gig that Kevin set up for her he slut shames her. And then her dad (John Goodman) catches her dancing on the bar and he slut shames her. But then she makes up with everyone and writes a song for LeeAnn Rhimes. This is basically Flashdance with songwriting and even less clothes. Not even worth it to see Tyra Banks gurning and shimmying in a cameo she probably wishes was buried at the bottom of a volcano. All the predictable lame. 1/5

We're EMPOWERED!

We’re EMPOWERED!

The Addams Family (1991)

Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) live a happy but strange existence with their  bizarre family in a crumbling Victorian mansion. The only thing that is missing is Gomez’s brother, Fester, who disappeared twenty-five years ago.The family’s opportunistic lawyer, Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya) decides to take advantage of this when he realises one of his existing clients, Abigail Craven’s (Elizabeth Wilson) son, Gordon (Christopher Lloyd) bears a strong resemblance to Fester. He convinces Gordon to pose as a newly returned Fester in order to figure out how to get into the family’s vault and take hold of their vast wealth. At first the Addams’ are somewhat suspicious and Gordon thinks they are demented however it’s not long before they start to bond both sides wonder if he they really have found their long lost relative.  Tully and Abigail aren’t going to give up their chance at untold riches without a fight and hi-jinks ensue. There are things to love about The Addams Family. All the characters are wonderfully bonkers and Julia and Huston have amazing chemistry as the hopelessly in love Gomez and Morticia. A then unknown Christina Ricci provides a scene stealing performance as morbid little Wednesday and the mansion looks spectacular. However in its adaptation to screen The Addams Family loses a lot of its darkness and becomes a little too kid-friendly and simplistic to really be memorable. I would have loved to seen Tim Burton’s take on this because I think he could have injected a little more of the macabre into it. Fun but flat. 2.5/5

Fester wasn't letting anyone get their hands on his vintage sideshow porn collection

Fester wasn’t letting anyone get their hands on his vintage sideshow porn collection

Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 (2013)

When Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsborough/Stacy Martin) beaten up on the side of the road he wants to call an ambulance and the police but Joe is adamant that all she wants is a cup of tea so he invites her into his home. As Seligman takes care of her Joe, attempts to convince him that she is a terrible person due to her lifetime of sexual exploits. He is fascinated and suggests that she tells him her life story as he makes connections with his own love of fly fishing. Sounds weird… and it kind of is but at the same time it’s also kind of awesome. As Joe’s tale of attempting to satisfy her seemingly endless erotic appetite unfolds it’s hard not to get sucked in, especially when she reencounters and unexpectedly falls in love with Jerome (Shia La Boeuf), the man who took her virginity. Although there is a lot of very graphic sex in this film, I can’t say that I would call it titillating since most of the depictions are very pedestrian, demonstrating that Joe’s addiction is as damaging and unromantic as any. This is particularly evident in a scene where she and her friend, B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) compete as teenagers to clock up the most number of partners during a train journey for a bag of sweets. They could just as easily have been shoplifting or taking drugs. Not to say that all of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 is grim. There are some brilliant moments of black humour. I loved the scenes where the wife (Uma Thurman) of one of Joe’s lovers arrives at her home complete with children in tow just after her husband has left her for Joe. It was the perfect combination of hilarious and cringeworthy. When we got to the end of this half of the story I was definitely left desperate to know what happened next so stay tuned for the next installment. 4/5

B's Latin club was not quite what her mother was expecting

B’s Latin club was not quite what her mother was expecting

RocknRolla (2008)

Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) is the top gang boss in London, unstoppable with his endlessly loyal right hand man, Archy (Mark Strong) at his side and a crooked counselor in his pocket. When Russian mobster/property developer, Uri Omovich (Karel Roden) wants to build a stadium that does not have planning permission, Lenny ensures him that he can make it happen… for a fee of £7m. Uri is so happy he decides to lend Lenny his lucky painting and arranges to get the funds through his accountant, Stella (Thandi Newton). What Lenny doesn’t know is that Stella likes a bit of rough and she has a particular taste for One Two (Gerard Butler), who along with his mate, Mumbles (Idris Elba) owe Lenny quite a lot of money. And Stella tips One Two and Mumbles off to the unguarded money transfer. At the same time Uri’s lucky painting goes missing and trust between him and Lenny is at an all time low. Now both sides will wheel and deal to get on top, while trying to get to the bottom of what has happened to both the money and the painting. Once again Guy Ritchie puts together a rollicking London gangster epic full of colourful characters and more twists than a weasel in a blender… and it’s as fun as ever, especially with such a strong cast, which also includes Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob (one concurs). Unfortunately Ritchie doesn’t bring anything new or innovative and if you’ve seen Lock, Stock or Snatch, you might feel a bit like you’ve already seen RocknRolla. What Ritchie does have on his side though is that he does this kind of thing better than anyone else. 3.5/5

One Two hoped the train was actually going to turn up on time for a change

One Two hoped the train was actually going to turn up on time for a change

Things I have been cooking lately #94: Instant frozen yoghurt

Fancy a really quick, healthy dessert? I adapted this recipe into two versions from a Jamie Oliver recipe but I’m sure there are loads of other possible flavour combinations you could dream up! You’ll find a selection of frozen fruit in the frozen dessert section of most supermarkets but you can easily freeze and use fresh fruit, especially if you’re worried about not eating it before it spoils.

Instant frozen yoghurt

For berry yoghurt
400g frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)
500ml natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons of honey
The leaves from a sprig of mint

For mango and coconut yoghurt
400g frozen mango
500ml coconut yoghurt
2 tablespoons of honey
The leaves from a sprig of mint
Zest and juice of half a lime

Put the yoghurt, honey, mint and lime juice and zest (if using) into your food processor with the bowl blade in. Process until smooth.

Add the frozen fruit and process again until well combined.

Serves 4 – 6

Just a note that although the yoghurt can be kept in the freezer the texture is best when eaten immediately.

image

Berry frozen yoghurt

image

Mango and coconut frozen yoghurt

My top 10 US comedy series

After last week’s Top 10 British comedy series last week I thought I should feature my top 10 US comedy series. Generally I prefer British comedy to American, mostly because British comedy is just that much more risque. However there are a few US comedy series that really crack me up. Here they are.

70sShow

That 70s Show
Years on: 1998 – 2006
Starring: Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon
The premise: Eric Forman and his group of friends grow up in Wisconsin in the 70s
Best character: Kitty
Best episode: Garage Sale
“[Kelso just told Jackie a list of embarrassing things he's done in his life, in an effort to be honest]
Michael Kelso: Oh, and that time we were about to fool around, and you asked me if I washed my hands, I had just actually finished playing with six dogs. Oh, but that’s not nearly as bad as the time…
Jackie Burkhardt: OK, Michael. Enough. You know when I talked to you about honesty? Let’s talk about SELECTIVE honesty.
Fez: And basic hygiene.”

BBT

The Big Bang Theory
Years on: 2007 -
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
The premise: Aspiring actress, Penny, moves in over the road from two physicists and gets sucked into their nerdy world.
Best character: Sheldon
Best episode: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
“Sheldon: I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”

Friends

Friends
Years on: 1994 – 2004
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Premise: Six friends experience love, life and more in New York
Best character: I’ve always said Phoebe but I am realising that all my favourite moments feature Joey
Best episode: The One Where Ross Got High
“Phoebe: So let’s say I’m the interviewer and I’m meeting you for the first time. Okay. Hi. Come on in, I’m uh, Regina Philange.
Chandler: Chandler Bing.
Phoebe: Bing, what an unusual name.
Chandler: Well you should meet my uncle, Bada.
[pause]
Chandler: I’ll let myself out.”

MF

Modern Family
Years on: 2009 -
Starring: Ed O’Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen
The premise: The three very different branches of the Prichett family may not always agree but they’re always there for each other
Best character: Phil… but I love Gloria… and Mitchell, who I am just like.
Best episode: Open House of Horrors
“Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: There is the mark of the devil in our family. My great-great grandfather found an emerald mine, and sold his soul for it.
Jay Pritchett: Is there any paperwork to prove this?
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: On my great grandmother’s wedding day, a large bird picked him put and carried him off.
Jay Pritchett: Did you realize that a remarkable number of your stories end with a family member being carried off by a giant bird?
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: I only say what I am told.
Jay Pritchett: I’m just saying, by the third time we might think about moving the party inside.”

Office

The Office (US)
Years on: 2005 – 2013
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, John Krasinski
The premise: The weird and wonderful happenings at the Scranton Office of the Dunder Mifflin paper supply company
Best character: Dwight Schrute
Best episode: Dinner Party
“Dwight: I wish I could menstruate. If I could menstruate, I wouldn’t have to deal with idiotic calendars anymore. I’d just be able to count down from my previous cycle. Plus I’d be more in tune with the moon and the tides.”

PR

Parks and Recreation
Years on: 2009 -
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman
The Premise: The trials and tribulations of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department
Best character: Ron Swanson
Best episode: Pawnee Zoo
“Ron Swanson: I call this turf ‘n’ turf. It’s a 16 oz T-bone and a 24 oz porterhouse. Also, whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.”

W&G

Will & Grace
Years on: 1998 – 2006
Starring:  Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally
The Premise: Interior designer, Grace shares an apartment her gay best friend, Will.
Best character: Karen
Best episode: Lows in the Mid Eighties
“Karen: [on hiring Jack to play a straight man in a commercial] No one in the world would believe you’re straight. You’re as gay as a clutchpurse on Tony night. You fell outta the gay tree, hitting every gay branch on the way down. And ya landed on a gay guy… and ya did ‘em. No, no, honey, your gayness can be seen from space.”

tumblr_lgqns2n8Jb1qzi80do1_500

Beavis and Butt-Head
Years on: 1993 – 2011
Starring (voices): Mike Judge, Dale Revo, Tracy Grandstaff
The premise: The adventures of white trash best friends, Beavis and Butthead as well as their commentary on music videos and later reality TV
Best character: Beavis
Best episode: Steamroller
“Beavis: Hey Butt-head, is it normal for the inside of your bunghole to itch?
Butt-head: Beavis, it’s not even normal to ask.”

tumblr_m434o45PkL1r0iluco1_r1_500

South Park
Years on: 1997 -
The premise: The celebrity studded very politically incorrect adventures of the inhabitants of South Park
Starring (voices): Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Best character: Cartman
Best episode: Pandemic & Pandemic 2
“Kanye: There are a lot of people out there making up rumors about me that are malicious and untrue. But I’m going to prove once and for all: I’m not a fish. Because I am a genius, I’ve ascertained that fish have gills. [a doctor steps up next to him] Doctor, do I have gills?
Doctor: He does not have gills.
Kanye: You hear that? No gills! So I can’t be a fish. And I’m a genius voice of a generation so I’m not gay! So that is that! Alright?! It’s over! Now are there any questions?
Reporter 1: Do you like fishsticks?
Kanye: Love ‘em!
Reporter 2: You’re a gay fish. [a third reporter laughs and soon the rest of the room is laughing]
Kanye: No I’m not- AAAARGH! [grabs the sides of the podium and shakes with anger]“

tumblr_me9udqQrcd1r442t2

2 Broke Girls
Years on: 2011 -
The premise: Flung together by bad fortune two very different waitresses try to get enough money together to start a business
Starring: Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, Garrett Morris
Best character: Max
Best episode: And the Broken Hip
“Caroline: Invade your privacy? You shave your junk with the door open.
Max: So?
Caroline: To the apartment.”

Film Friday #202

’71 (2014)

After completing his basic training, Private Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is stationed in Belfast to assist the Unionist paramilitary in their attempts to stamp out the IRA, working alongside a crack team of undercover agents. His first assignment sees him holding off an angry Catholic mob as paramilitary soldiers conduct a brutal search through their homes. As the situation starts to turn ugly Gary is sent to retrieve a gun from a small child who has run off with it, he is accidentally left behind by his unit. Now trapped in the labyrinth of Belfast streets in the wrong uniform with the wrong accent, he must try to make his way back to the barracks before the IRA finds him. This dark and tense story takes an even more disturbing turn when Gary bears witness to an event that casts negative aspersions on the British Military and leaves him unable to know whom to trust. With an outstanding performance from rising star O’Connell (once again making use of his intense native Derbyshire accent) as well as impressive supporting performances from Sam Reid as Hook’s commanding officer and Sean Harris, as the particularly shady Captain Sandy Browning. ’71 is a an edge of your seat thriller with an impactful message about the futility of war and how expendable the average solider is. Unlike “Hollywoodised” depictions of similar scenarios O’Connell plays Gary as terrified and very, very vulnerable, which along with significant glimpses into his past make him that much easier to root for. 4/5

Fuck this! I'm out of here!

Fuck this! I’m out of here!

The Maze Runner (2014)

The Maze Runner starts with a bang as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself underground in a box hurtling to the surface, unable to remember anything from his past. On arriving at the surface he finds himself in a place called “The Glade”, which is run by a group of teen and pre-teen boys in a society which they have set up. The Glade is surrounded by a maze, which closes at nightfall and is inhabited by giant spider-like monsters called Grievers… and there are only thee rules – don’t hurt another Glader, do your part and stay out of the maze, unless you’re one of the specially elected Runners who traverse the maze daily looking for a way out. Thomas is immediately more curious than the existing Gladers and despite the warnings of dorky, Chuck (Blake Cooper), who has been set the task of looking after him, asks endless questions that no one can really answer. When their leader, Alby (Ami Ameen) is injured and at risk of being trapped in the maze Thomas feels compelled to help and enters the maze where he and runner, Minho (Ki Hong Lee) will be lucky if they survive the night. But who put them in the maze in the first place? Why can’t anyone remember anything? And who is the mysterious girl who has suddenly arrived in the Glade. I can’t say I expected much from The Maze Runner. I have read the first novel in the series and it was okay but really didn’t wow me due to its relatively simplistic nature and regular fails in logic – something which is carried over and intensified in the film. However, O’Brien gives a surprisingly good performance along with Will Poulter who plays the brutish Gally. If you can forgive the relatively flat dialogue and the lack of development of some of the supporting characters and go with it there’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s one of the better YA adaptations I have seen recently. I am left with one big question that was also left unanswered in the book… if you leave upwards of twenty pubescent boys to live together for three years with no  females are you seriously telling me there’s not going to be any homoerotic activity whatsoever? And that no one is going to attempt to get it on with the first female to appear in that time? I have my doubts. 3/5

No, I do not want tomeet "LIttle Thomas"... now back off

No, I do not want to meet “LIttle Thomas”… now back off

Short Term 12 (2013)

Grace (Brie Larson), a care worker at a residential facility for at-risk teenagers discovers she is pregnant at the same time that a new staff member (Rami Malek) joins her team, one of the longest standing residents turns eighteen and a troubled new girl arrives. Although Grace has been involved with her colleague, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) for a long time, she finds it hard to trust him and her feelings about her pregnancy are at best mixed – which is exacerbated by the fact that new girl, Jayden’s (Kaitlyn Dever) problems are far too reminiscent of her past. As Grace becomes overwhelmed by everything happening around her it will take everything she has not to fall apart. I found Short Term 12 touching and very engrossing. It was easy to care not only about Grace but also Mason and the residents of the facility, particularly Marcus (Keith Stanfield), whose fear of being left to his own devices leads to drastic measures. I suppose there is an argument to be made that the story all wraps up a little bit too tidily considering the level of emotional damage and hopelessness the characters are facing . However with Grace specifically it feels like she goes through a journey that ultimately should end with some kind of reward for her and where I’d usually be disappointed by an overly happy ending I found myself glad that things had worked out. Great performances from the whole cast. 3.5/5

I am going to the Justin Bieber show and you can't stop me!

I am going to the Justin Bieber show and you can’t stop me!

What Maisie Knew (2012)

Maisie (Onata Aprile) is the seven year old daughter of Susanna (Julianne Moore), an aging rock star and Beale (Steve Coogan), who is some kind of art dealer. When her parents split up after a series of angry arguments a bitter custody battle ensues with Maisie set to split her life between them. Beale almost immediately marries Maisie’s nanny, Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and Susanna retaliates by marrying a much younger bartender called Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgård). Although both Susanna and Beale appear adamant that they want Maisie completely to themselves they are so self-centred that they treat her more like a plaything than a person and she is cared for almost exclusively by Margo and Lincoln, who are just as neglected by their respective spouses. Told through Maisie’s eyes, this tale of a child who wants for nothing material but is also hopelessly neglected by her parents was both upsetting and uplifting. Some of Susanna and Beale’s behaviour is so irresponsible and damaging that it’s hard not to want to slap them. There is one particular example where Susanna drops Maisie off unannounced  outside the bar where Lincoln works without even checking if he is on duty and she is cared for by random strangers, which really stands out. Watching the simply lovely Maisie interact with both Margo and Lincoln is wonderful but it is her scenes with Lincoln, who doesn’t immediately seem parental, which are truly special. (As if enough women didn’t already want to breed with Alexander Skarsgård. *Cough* Zoë *Cough*.) Although this film ends on a positive note I was left with a sinking feeling, wondering just what would actually happen to Maisie in the future when one of her obviously petty parents decided to exercise their parental rights… and I can’t stop thinking about it… which is clearly the sign of a good film. The four lead adult performances are all excellent but it is Aprile who steals every scene she is in. A star in the making. 4/5

Look.., you might be a princess but I was the vampire Sheriff of Bontemps!

Look.., you might be a princess but I was the vampire Sheriff of Bontemps!

Things I have been cooking lately #93: Traditional British scones

When I was a child and my mum used to make scones I was always a little bit disappointed because they lacked the chocolate, sprinkles or mountain of icing I normally enjoyed with my baked goods… and my mum made a lot of amazing baked goods. However as an adult have learned to appreciate their simple magic. Although they seem to be easy to make from a method perspective, ensuring that your scones are light, fluffy and rise right up takes a couple of little tricks, which I will share throughout.

Traditional British scones

350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons caster sugar
125ml buttermilk or 125ml milk and a squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beaten egg to glaze

Preheat your oven to 200C. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter  and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Place your milk or buttermilk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Heating it helps to activate your raising agents and make the scones pop right up. If you are using milk add the squeeze of lemon juice and set aside for a moment. Add the vanilla extract. Again the acid in the lemon juice mimics the acid in the buttermilk which also works on the raising agent. Pop a baking sheet the oven.

Make a well in middle of the flour mixture and add the milk or buttermilk mixture. Mix together quickly using an eating knife. If your dough needs some help to come together you can use your hands but work the dough as little as possible or your scones will be tough.

Spread some flour over a work surface and place your dough on it. Dust the flour with dough as well as your rolling pin and roll the dough out to about 4cm deep. Again, work the dough as little as possible. You can now cut the scones to whatever size you prefer. I like my scones about 5cm across but you can make smaller or bigger ones. If you can, use a pastry or scone cutter to cut the dough and cut straight down without twisting. If you don’t use a proper cutter or if you twist the cutter you will seal the side of the scone and it won’t rise properly. Keep pressing the dough together to cut more scones.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the scones on it. Brush the top of each scone with a little beaten egg. If your scones are smaller than 5cm, bake for 10 minutes, if 5cm 15 minutes and if larger about 17. They should be golden brown and well risen.

The best time to eat scones is when they’re still warm and definitely on the day they were made. Serve with thick cream and the jam of your choice. Whether the jam goes on the bottom or the cream is a subject of great British debate. As you can see from my picture below, I think the cream belongs at the bottom!

Makes 6 – 12 scones

wpid-img_20141011_123623.jpg