Hold on folks, it’s about to get real. You know how people sometimes ask if I ever get sick of writing? Yes, yes I do. And today is one of those days.
I am not in the mood to write.
The only thing I’m in the mood for is curling up in my bed and watching Downton Abbey (thanks again Richmond Public Library!), and the main reason is that I don’t have a very inspiring meal to write about. Early this morning, I lay in bed thinking ‘how on earth will I make this interesting?’
So, as soon as I got up, I put on a sweater, walked to the shop around the corner, and purchased a pound of butter. When I’m uninspired or just generally unsure of what to do, I bake. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with the butter yet, but while it softens up, I’ll tell you about my meal. And that’s how we’re going to deal with today.
It’s funny how you can walk past a place time and time again and not even notice it’s there. Even with my x-ray laser vision for restaurants in Richmond, I somehow managed to miss The One Cafe on No. 3 Road, right near Brighouse Station. I’m in that area all the time, and yet I didn’t see it until a few days ago.
I must admit, I’m prone to judging books by their cover, and The One Cafe’s cover isn’t very pretty; there’s a green awning, flashing OPEN sign, old Christmas decorations, and pictures of food in the window, which all make it look rather….casual? Fast food-y? I assumed it would be bare bones, like Happy Date or Lido, so I was surprised to walk in and find an HK-style cafe with a more refined (if not slightly worn) interior.
As is classic with HK cafes, their menu was enormous, and had all the Asian and Western dishes I’ve come across before. I resisted the urge to get another rice-baked-in-cream-sauce dish, and decided on curry instead. When it’s raining, I’m cold, and my stomach yearns for something on the more basic side, I order vegetarian, so I went with the vegetarian curry with rice and a half-sweet milk tea.
It arrived quickly, and while the meal was warming, it was just ok.
I liked the large pieces of crisp broccoli, sliced carrot, and sauteed greens because, well, they felt healthy. The sauce was kind of bland, however. I can’t even remember the last time I had to sprinkle salt on my food in Richmond, but I had to with this dish. With the extra salt, the curry sauce + rice combo was alright, but not something I’d order again.
It was relatively inexpensive (around $10 with tax), and The One Cafe is conveniently located, so if you’re in the area and need a quick bite, you could grab it here. It’s not really a destination restaurant, but they also have Cattle Cafe-style soup combinations, which are always good for a rainy day.
Uninspiring meal aside, I decided what to put the butter into: brownies. A good chocolate brownie brings joy to my life, and while I have yet to come across a recipe that’s my one-and-only, today I decided to give Ottolenghi‘s version a try. Their cookbook is from the UK, so you’ll need a scale to weigh out your ingredients. They’re a worthwhile investment if you don’t already have one.
They’re out of the oven, and they’re wunderbar. The dark chocolate gave them an incredibly rich, intense, not-too-sweet flavour. They have a crackly crust on top and fudgy interior, which I’m curious to see the texture of once it’s cooled. Whatever you do, DO NOT OVERBAKE THEM!
I scooped out a warm, messy wedge for breakfast, and I’m feeling pretty happy right now. I may not always want to write, but I almost always want to bake, so now we know I should just more regularly combine the two.
We’ll call this technique “Butter Therapy.” Happy Sunday, everyone.
Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Brownies
200 grams toasted macadamia nuts (or toasted walnuts)
200 grams unsalted butter, but melted or softened butter for greasing
280 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
300 grams dark chocolate (I used 70%) broken into pieces
2 eggs, preferably free-range
230 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons instant coffee (I used a dash of fresh espresso)
200 grams white or dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or chocolate chips)
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C, or 340 degrees F. Brush a 22cm square baking tin with melted butter and line with baking parchment. Sift together flour and salt.
2. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Leave to melt, stirring from time to time. As soon as the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the bowl from above the water. This is important! You need to avoid getting the mix very hot.
3. In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Work them just until combined, a few seconds only, as there is no need to incorporate any air into the eggs. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture and then the sifted flour.
4. Fold in the nuts and chocolate, and pour the mix into the lined tin. Bake for roughly 25 minutes.
*Ottolenghi’s advice for brownie baking times:
“When you stick a skewer inside your cooked brownie, it must come out covered with lots of gooey crumbs, not with dry crumbs, but it musn’t be the type of wet mix you started off with. It should be thicker and sticky to the touch, with a tendency to set once it has cooled down a bit. The brownie should also have risen slightly (10-20 percent) in the oven and its surface should be totally dry…….we strongly recommend that you check the brownie well before the indicated baking time as elapsed. It turns out to be underbaked, chilling it will make it set hard and you will still be able to able to slice it and enjoy it.”
Oh yes, enjoy it I will. Happy Sunday!
Vegetarian options available