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Pantry Parkin

This is a use-up-all-the-things parkin recipe. Useful if you want something sweet and super spiced when you’re about to move. Or, say, in the middle of a pandemic. Now is perfect. It takes an hour and a half to bake, so it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday self isolation.

For proper authenticity, use a beat-up Tala Originals Cook’s Dry Measure for most ingredients. Judge the butter amount by gauging it based on a whole block, then hope for the best.

Don’t hesitate to substitute ingredients, that’s the whole point. The only things you probably can’t get away with substituting are the black treacle / molasses and the ground ginger. If you substitute the flour, use Traditional Ovens’ converter to make sure you’ve got the right volume.


Based on a parkin recipe from The Spruce Eats.

Preheat the oven to 140C (275F) and line a 8×8″ (20×20cm) tray or two 1lb loaf tins.

In a large saucepan, melt 220 g butter, ½ c dark brown sugar, packed, ¼ c black treacle or molasses, and 1 c golden syrup or corn syrup

In a bowl, mix ½ c muesli with raisins removed, 1¼ c dark rye flour, 2 t baking powder, ¼ t salt, 4 t ground ginger, 2 t ground nutmeg, and 1 t random spices that are something similar to mixed spice. A blend of ground coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (heavy on the cinnamon) seems to work well.

Blend the wet and dry together thoroughly, then use a wooden spoon to beat in 2 eggs. The consistency should be like cake batter. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water / oat milk / normal milk.

Pour the mixture in to your prepared tin(s) and bake for an hour and a half. It may need to bake 15-20 minutes longer if using loaf tins. When done, allow to cool in the tin.

When cool, store the parkin in an air tight container. Try to let it sit at least a few days first, it will get better and better. Keeps for about two weeks, and it freezes well.

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Oatmeal streusel muffins

Makes a dozen muffins.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, combine 45 g (½ c) rolled oats, 40 g (⅓ c) plain flour*, 40 g (⅓ c) chopped pecans or walnuts, 66 g (⅓ c packed) light brown sugar, 1 heaped t of ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.), and a pinch of salt. Pour 4 T melted butter over the mixture and mix thoroughly to combine in to a crumb-like mixture.

Make the batter. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine 240 ml (1 c) milk*, 113 g (½ c) cooled melted butter, 1 large egg, 100 g (½ packed c) light or dark brown sugar, and 1 T white vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine 125 g (1 c) plain flour, 90 g (1 c) rolled oats, 1 t ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt, 1 t baking powder, and ½ t baking soda. Stir the dry in to the wet just until combined.

Immediately after making the batter, ladle it in to the prepared muffin tin. The batter should fill the cups about ¾ of the way. Next, add a generous tablespoon of topping to each muffin.

Bake in a 200C (400F) oven for 18–25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then remove the muffins to a rack to continue cooling.

* This seems like a substitution-friendly recipe. I made these with a combination of dark rye flour and gluten free flour when I didn’t have normal flour in for whatever reason and they came out really well. Wouldn’t hesitate to try all GF flour or similar substitutes. Oat milk works really well too.


This recipe is a tweaked combo of a Cooks Illustrated recipe (paywall) and another oatmeal muffin recipe.

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Flourless peanut butter cookies

Makes about 10 cookies. Can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and line a tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, combine 66 g (⅓ c) brown sugar, 66 g (⅓ c) granulated sugar, and 1 t baking soda. Add and blend in a pinch of salt if using unsalted peanut butter. Next, add 1 large egg and 250 g peanut butter, and then mix thoroughly to combine.

Use two spoons to maneuver walnut-sized balls of dough on to the tray, leaving ample space between each cookie since they will rise and spread. Flatten the balls slightly with a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake in a 175C (350F) oven for 8–10 minutes. Allow them to cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool further. They will be very soft to the touch fresh from the oven and firm up as they cool.

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Chocolate crackle cookies recipe

The ingredients in this recipe are very similar to Prof. Bruce Maxwell’s Churchill Brownies recipe, so similar that I may consider trying the exact combo below as a brownie tray bake some time. Dust the top with powdered sugar and cut it in to squares. Could work!

There are a few factors at play in getting the crackle right including the fully preheated oven, the position of the oven rack, the liquid-to-dry ratio, the *sifted* powdered sugar, and the temperature of the dough before it goes in the oven. You could attempt to bake two sheets of cookies at once, but baking the cookies in separate batches helps them crackle more uniformly. Follow the instructions carefully, and use weights if you can. Weigh your eggs if you’re not sure about the chicken egg sizes in your country.


Makes about 18 cookies, on two baking sheets.

In a large bowl, combine 60 g (½ c) unsweetened cocoa powder, 205 g (1 c) granulated sugar, and 60 g (¼ c) vegetable oil until very homogenous and absolutely no lumps of cocoa are left. Beat in 2 large (~60 g each w/ shell on) eggs and ½ t vanilla extract or the zest of an orange.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 130 g (1 c) plain flour, 1 t baking powder, and ¼ t salt. Next, stir this dry mixture in to the wet mixture just until combined. Cover and place in your freezer for 45 minutes if you want them quickly or 4–8 hours in the fridge if baking the next day.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 175C (350F) and position an oven rack in the upper third of your oven. I use the second rung from the top. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then sift about 35 g (¼ c) powdered sugar in to a bowl.

When the oven is fully preheated, remove half of the dough from the fridge / freezer and use a spoon to scoop out about 1–2 T for each cookie, quickly rolling them in to balls. The dough will be very sticky. When all of the dough balls are ready, quickly roll them in the powdered sugar and place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving decent space for the cookies to spread. Place them straight in the preheated oven and bake for 10–12 minutes until crackly and just a tiny bit soft. Let cool no longer than 5 minutes, then transfer them off of the paper and on to a cooling rack.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, using a separate cool tray or allowing the original tray to cool sufficiently.

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Kołaczki recipe

This is my mom’s kołaczki [kɔˈwat͡ʂki] recipe, from her mom. I would guess that my grandma found it in the Chicago Tribune at some point. It was my absolute favourite as a kid, and my mom’s. The cookies are super light and the perfect size.


Makes about a dozen cookies if rolled to ¼” (6 mm) thick, closer to two dozen if rolled ⅛” (4 mm) thick

Let ½ c (110 g) butter and a smidge less than 3 oz (⅔ c, 80 g) cream cheese* sit at room temperature until semi-soft, then beat them together in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter. Blend in 1 c (130 g) flour until just combined. Lay out some parchment paper, drop the dough in the middle, and then press it in to a rough rectangle. Wrap it up and refrigerate it for at least an hour. If you can, stick your rolling pin in the fridge as well.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay some parchment paper out on a surface and then generously dust it with powdered sugar to prevent the dough from sticking. Remove your dough and rolling pin from the fridge. Working quickly to prevent the dough from getting too warm and sticky, roll out the dough to ⅛–¼” (4–6 mm) thick. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough if it seems to stick to the pin.

Once it is rolled out, cut out the dough with a 2″ (50 mm) diameter circle cookie cutter or cut in to 2″ (50 mm) squares and place the shapes on to the lined baking sheet. The cookies can be spaced relatively close, they rise a bit and spread only very slightly. Dab a small amount of apricot preserve on the centre of each cookie. If using the square cookie technique, fold two opposite corners in so that they slightly overlap over the preserve.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 10–12 minutes until very lightly browned. While warm, sift powdered sugar over the cookies and then let them cool on a rack.


* I have lactose issues so I tried making this with vegan cream cheese. It worked really well! The vegan cream cheese was a little less sweet than I would want for this recipe, so I replaced a tablespoon (10 g) of flour with powdered sugar. It also seems to be a bit softer than regular cream cheese, so next time I would probably add 1–3 more tablespoons of flour.

If you double or triple this recipe, separate the dough in to thirds before you refrigerate it. You can then roll it out in stages to prevent the dough from getting too warm.

Apparently you could put all sorts of fillings in this. Apricot preserve is what we always had when I was little, but this time I ended up using the gooseberry and blackcurrant jams we had on hand. More traditional fillings are poppy seed (masa makowa) and plum butter (powidla sliwkowe). The website In Ania’s Kitchen has some good recipes for these fillings.

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Lemon-glazed Pierniczki recipe

I went to Wrocław recently with some good friends and we picked up a bag of minty Uszatki (“eared”) pierniczki from Kopernik at the airport with our few remaining złoty. Pierniczki, or pierniki, are Polish gingerbread biscuits, slightly soft and heavily spiced. They come in a lot of shapes and sizes and are sometimes filled. Traditionally the dough is allowed to rest for a long time, possibly a year. This is a quicker recipe, though it does still call for at least a few hours’ rest.

Read recipe

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Everything we had for Thanksgiving

This is everything we had for Thanksgiving last night, a spread of things that worked for our range of dietary requirements. I really loved everything we made and would happily have any of it again. See the menu below with recipes and ingredient lists.

V = Vegetarian
Ve = Vegan
LF = Lactose Free
GF = Gluten Free
LowF = Low-FODMAP

An asterisk means that the dish isn’t 100% appropriate for that particular diet but could be suitable with an easy substitute.


Rosemary pecan pie – V, LF*, GF

Gluten free flour, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, milk / mylk, dark brown sugar, golden syrup, butter, vanilla extract, rosemary, eggs, pecans

Most pecan pie recipes call for corn syrup. That’s a bummer in and of itself, but it also makes it super difficult to make in the UK since it is really hard to find. Enter Ruby Tandoh’s rosemary pecan pie recipe which calls for golden syrup, an easy-to-find ingredient on British grocery store shelves. I really like the rosemary flavour in this, but I wouldn’t recommend steeping it too long and wouldn’t add the fresh rosemary needles on top. The flavour is just too strong.

I’ve noticed this before but always forget: this pie gets very dark on top, verging on burnt-looking. I think this may have to do with both the dark brown sugar and the cooking temperature / time. Next time, I may try BBC Good Food’s New England pecan pie recipe (also without corn syrup) or perhaps a combination of the two.

To make this gluten free, I used my grandma’s press-in pie crust recipe with gluten free flour. It worked well, but something about it could have been a bit better… I think that there could have been a little bit less fat, and maybe melted butter would have a better flavour. It’s also useful to mix this up in a bowl first, doing it in the plate is just a bit messy. I think that the brushed beaten egg actually does a lot to help the crust to stay together.

Spiced roasted carrots – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Carrots, brown sugar, olive oil, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fresh thyme

This is always one of my favourites. See the honey roasted carrots recipe from this Guardian article, adapted from a recipe by Ottolenghi. I always use brown sugar instead of honey, usually add a bit more cumin than it calls for, and sometimes add cayenne. It’s best to put the roasting tray towards the top of the oven and give the carrots a lot of space, otherwise they steam instead of roast.

You can cook this a lot earlier in the day and then just warm it through later on, or serve it room temperature.

Miso-glazed spicy brussels sprouts – V, Ve*, LF, GF

Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, olive oil, honey, miso paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil

Loosely based on this Bon Appetit recipe. The sprouts were pretty small so I roasted them whole. This worked great, less prep. The “bottom of the oven” technique worked well to get them cooked all the way through, and then I brought them to the top of the oven to get a slightly better roasted texture. It’s also helpful because they can just sit down there under other things that need the more direct upper-oven heat.

I roasted them earlier in the day when I had more oven space for a big sheet tray (they need space so that they don’t steam). After that, I transferred them to a much smaller tray. When we got close to eating, I prepared the glaze by combining the ingredients to taste and heating it in a little pan, then poured it over the sprouts and popped them back in the oven to warm through.

Warm kale and wild rice salad – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Wild rice, vegetable stock, kale, persimmons, squash, seeds, oranges, maple syrup, coriander seed, cumin seed

This was very loosely based on a Roasted Squash and Kale Salad recipe from Serious Eats. Our version had massaged kale, red and wild rice cooked in vegetable stock, sliced persimmons, roasted squash, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and a spiced maple and orange vinaigrette. Next time, I think I would roast the kale with the squash as suggested in the Serious Eats recipe, would possibly add some orange segments, and would probably go heavier with the spices in the dressing.

This is easy to prepare ahead or earlier in the day.

Old fashioned cornbread – V, LowF, LF*, GF

Coarse cornmeal / polenta, baking soda, baking powder, egg, butter, vinegar, milk / mylk, honey

I like a less cake-y cornbread, something that is just barely sweet. This recipe worked perfectly. I used the coarsest polenta I could find and used a faux milk-free “buttermilk” (1.5 T vinegar + Oatly Barista). It was some of the best cornbread I’ve had in a long time with a pleasant, slightly gritty texture. Not at all like the brick I made last year! My cast iron skillet was slightly too big though so the result was a little thin. Next time, it’d be better to increase the quantity or find a smaller skillet. I’d probably preheat the skillet in the oven as well to get a firmer crust on the bottom. The 20 minute cook time was perfect.

Cranberry relish – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Frozen cranberries, orange, sugar

Was able to find frozen cranberries this year so we made my favourite cold cranberry relish, see mom’s notes for recipe.

This can be made way ahead and is very quick.

Roasted potatoes – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Good roasting potatoes, rapeseed oil, salt, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and position a rack towards the top third of your oven. Pour a good amount of rapeseed oil in to one or more roasting tins that are large enough to handle all of your potatoes with a bit of wiggle room, and then put this in the oven to preheat. Cut a bunch of good roasting potatoes in to very large chunks, then parboil in heavily salted water. Keep an eye on them; they’ll go to mush in the next step if they’re too soft! When they’re ready drain the water, then bash them around in the pot a little bit so that they get roughed up. When the oven has come to temperature, pull the tray(s) out of the oven and carefully dump in the potatoes. Coat with the hot oil, and season well with salt. Place in the upper third of your oven and roast for approximately 25-30 minutes. At this point, pull out the potatoes, shuffle them around, top them with chopped rosemary and thyme, and then put them back in the oven to roast for a further 10–15 minutes.

I did these at 180C since that’s the temperature that the nut roast called for. They maybe weren’t quite as all-over crispy as they would have been at a higher heat and they took a little longer, but they were still great.

Onion gravy – V, Ve*, LF*, GF

Onions, vegetable stock, gluten free flour, butter, chopped herbs, wine, salt, pepper

Slice 1-2 onions and cook gently over medium-low heat in a heavy pot until very soft and brown, approximately 30-45 minutes. Add a glug of white or red wine and simmer for a bit until the alcohol has burned off. Scrape any brown bits stuck to the pan in to the mixture. Add some vegetable stock, then bring the whole thing to a simmer. In a small bowl, make a beurre manié by mixing some flour and butter together. Add this to the gravy gradually to thicken it. Add the chopped herbs and cook until they have softened somewhat, then taste and balance out the flavours with salt, pepper, or additional wine.

Normally I make gravy from the chicken / turkey pan drippings but honestly… I might just stick to this in the future. It was *really* good, it’s veggie-friendly, and it means you don’t have to worry about making gravy right when everything is ready to go on the table. The pan drippings can go in to the stock later on instead.

Nut roast – V, GF*

Parsnips, savoy cabbage, hazelnuts, butter, onion, chestnut mushrooms, cooked chestnuts, stilton, brown breadcrumbs, fresh sage, egg, salt, pepper

We used Felicity Cloake’s perfect nut roast recipe. This is a very nutty, mushroom-y mixture wrapped in cabbage leaves, very presentable. It tastes a lot like stuffing, which is excellent in my book.

To make this gluten free, we used GF oat cakes for the “breadcrumbs”. We accidentally forgot the egg. The mixture didn’t slice *quite* as well because of this, but honestly it still held together pretty decently! We also maybe didn’t put quite enough salt and pepper in. This is a substantial mixture, so it’s worth remembering that it can take a lot of seasoning.

You might be able to make this vegan and/or lactose free. You could swap the butter for olive oil and could get away with omitting the egg. I’m not quite sure what you would do to replace the stilton though… It adds a creamy funkiness. Maybe some finely-chopped capers or green olives would be welcome, for the tanginess? Some chunks of tofu for the creaminess, marinated in a bit of Worcester sauce and / or dijon mustard? Not sure!

Spatchcock roasted chicken – LowF, LF*, GF

Whole chicken, butter or olive oil, fresh herbs on their stalks, salt, pepper

To spatchcock the chicken, cut the backbone out and score the breastbone on the inside, then place it skin-up on to a rimmed baking sheet and press to break through the breastbone, making it nice and flat. Reserve the backbone for stock.

If possible, dry brine the chicken 24 hours ahead of time. Rub approximately 2.5 t salt and any other herbs / spices you want (lemon zest, pepper, sage, etc.) all over the chicken and then let sit in your fridge *uncovered*. This will draw the seasoning in to the meat and will allow the outside to dry out thoroughly, meaning crispier skin. The skin will start to look mottled and a little weird, and that’s ok!

About an hour before you’re planning to roast the chicken, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to approximately 180C (350F). Rub a good amount of butter or olive oil over the chicken and season it with just a little bit more flaky sea salt. Place your whole herbs underneath the chicken. Stick the probe of a digital oven thermometer deep in to the breast meat, being careful not to touch the bone. Place in the middle of the oven and roast until the thermometer temperature reaches 75C (170F). In my experience, this usually takes about an hour. Throw the backbone on the tray about halfway through if you’re going to use it for stock. If the skin doesn’t look crispy enough when the meat is done, move it towards the top of the oven and crank up the grill / broiler for a bit. Remove the thermometer before you do this, the direct heat can be a bit too much for it.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting in to it. The resting time is a good time to make a gravy or to finish off part-roasted potatoes in the oven.

Today (the day after), all of the chicken bones went in to a big pot with a whole bunch of peppercorns, bay leaves, onions with their skin, scrubbed and unpeeled carrots, and a lot of water. That has simmered for 4–5 hours and is now cooling. I’ll let it set in the fridge overnight and then will remove the fat from the top, reserving it to fry onions and spices for a curry later this week.

Everything above technique should work well for a turkey too, but it will take longer in the oven and should rest longer as well.


Edit 7 December 2019 — I would definitely consider this squash, winter herb, and butterbean pie recipe (V, Ve*, GF*) by Anna Jones or this Chinese turnip cake recipe (V, Ve, LF, GF*) from Ottolenghi as well.

This year, I celebrated with some close girlfriends. It was my ninth Thanksgiving in the UK. Our kitchen isn’t the biggest, so we had a little candle-lit picnic in the front room on a stripy blanket my mom gave me years ago, the one on the bed in this pic.

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Chocolate nut muffins

Double chocolate and nut muffins recipe

Calling these muffins instead of cupcakes is reallllyyyy pushing it IMO, but we’ll let that slide. I made these w/o the chocolate chips, with a dash of orange flower water instead of vanilla, and with pecans instead of walnuts + almonds. They were great, would definitely make again. They look super presentable with a single whole pecan on top of each muffin.

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Nan-nan’s cupcakes

Looking through Nan-nan’s recipe books, the first thing that caught my eye was a recipe for cupcakes from her sister June, see below. I’ve preserved her notes and phrasing as much as possible but have adjusted certain elements to be more usable.

I’m an OK baker but more of a pies-and-cookies person. Every cake I’ve ever made seems a little meh. These were not meh, 10/10.


Cup Cakes

From June, Merle’s favorite. Good with baked icing or white fudge icing. Makes 12.

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

In a large bowl, cream together ½ c (113 g) softened unsalted butter, 1 c (200 g) sugar, ½ t salt, and 1 t vanilla extract until very fluffy and light. Next, beat in 4 egg yolks until thick and light in color. In another bowl, sift together 2 c (230 g) all purpose flour and 2 t baking powder. In small, alternating amounts, add the flour mixture and ⅔ c (158 ml) milk to the butter mixture. Beat after each addition, until smooth.

Pour the batter in to a lined cupcake tin, filling each cup ⅔ of the way. Bake in a moderate oven, about 350F (175C), 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the tin once halfway through if you find one side is browning more than the other.

Additional notes

Note that the cupcake recipe originally calls for Spry, a vegetable shortening. I’ve substituted butter here since that’s what I’ve got.

The original recipe also specified 2 c of sifted flour, with an additional note that specified Gold Medal or Swans Down flour. Gold Medal is usually plain / all purpose flour, and Swans Down only produces cake flour AFAIK. This made determining the metric measurement kind of ambiguous, 2 c sifted all purpose flour is significantly different than cake flour. The measurement below worked well ultimately, but I’d like to try cake flour eventually so will need to keep this in mind.

She originally said it makes 18, but I found that it is much closer to 12 in a 12-cup cupcake tin with cups that measured 2″ (4.25 cm) in diameter across the base. The flour debacle might have caused the difference.

The cupcakes supposedly go well with “baked icing”, something I had never come across before. I tried it with baked frosting and failed *spectacularly*. I can see that it could be great though, kind of like a molasses-y meringue on top, so I’ll try again and note here if successful.