Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gentlemen (& Ladies) Prefer Blondes

I have a love/hate (love may be stretching it a bit; let's call it like/hate) relationship with Gordon Ramsay. Sure, he's probably an exceptional chef (I assume he must be in order to have made it this far) but, if you ask me, food aside, I think the guy has two versions of himself and the contrast between them is bewildering.

There is the Gordon Ramsay that we all know too well. The Gordon Ramsay that we instantly think of when we hear his name: the loud, somewhat obnoxious, scary man who seems to be seeping unearthly levels of anger. We often see him on our screens yelling and liberally throwing the F-word around at people who are fluttering about under scrutiny with fear, desperation and frustration in their eyes. His rough, vulgar and aggressive approach makes for good television... I guess.

Then there is the version of Gordon Ramsay that emerges when he's describing food. I call this version the Food Romancer. Have any of you realized that the way Gordon talks about food is almost too sensual? He speaks delicately, with a soft voice and by adding a few sighs here and there. He can describe a piece of raw chicken with the same adjectives and in the same way he could describe a lady. Buddy, it's food. We understand that you love food; we all love food! But maybe your relationship with it has gone too far. He may call it passion, but I just call it weird. 

If I have control of the remote at home, Mr. A and I often watch reruns of FRIENDS; if Mr. A has control of the remote, "we" watch sports; and when we're both looking for a happy medium, the Food Network wins the prize.  

A few weeks ago, we were watching Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery (also known as the ultimate television show for him to wear his ''romancing'' hat). As we were watching, I heard an ''Oooohhh'' from Mr. A followed by a sound that I can only describe as ''taking his breath away''. It is not often that Mr. A and I watch a cooking show to which Mr. A's jaw literally drops and stays open throughout the recipe. Gordon was making blondies: a fun twist on brownies. Based mainly on Mr. A's reaction (and not by the way Gordon was romancing the ingredients), I knew I had to make it. 

We were having a little family get-together a few days after seeing this episode so, very conveniently (because I love to share calories as much as I love to share food), I knew it was my opportunity to try this recipe.

All I can say is, vulgar or romancer, Gordon Ramsay can cook! 

So here it is. Gordon Ramsay's recipe for Blondies. The recipe that will make you wonder how you have lived thus far without these amazing sweet bites. Similar to my relationship with Gordon Ramsay, you may have a love(or like)/hate relationship with these blondies: you will hate that you love them so much. 

Ladies & gentlemen, you will soon realize that you just may prefer blonds.

Blondies in the making

Gordon Ramsay's Blondies


- 230g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 340g dark brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 280g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 240g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
- 4 tbsp dried cranberries


1- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 23cm square cake tin and line with parchment paper.

2- Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the sugar and salt. (A good whisk now will make the mixture slightly lighter and fluffier.

3- Add the vanilla extract and whisk again. Remove from the heat.

4- Add the eggs to the butter mixture and stir well. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl, then whisk in the egg and butter mixture a little at a time. (It’s important to do this in stages so that you don’t get any lumps.)

5- Leave the mixture to cool slightly, then fold in the chocolate chunks and the cranberries. (If the mixture is too hot, the chocolate will melt.)

6- Spoon into the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the outer edges are firm and the middle still a little soft.

7- Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, then cut into squares before serving. Once cooled, the blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week (but trust me, they won't last that long).

The infamous blondies. The picture does not do it justice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love is a Potato

Mr. A has said that one of the first times he realized that I truly loved him was when we were a few months within our relationship. We had been dating for about three months. We hadn't said our "I love you"s (that's a story for another day); we were still a little giddy, a little nervous, a little unsure of where everything was going... basically we were still very ''fresh''.  

One evening, we had ordered food from our usual Lebanese takeout place. We always order the same thing: a mix plate, half shish taouk, half shawarma, half rice and half potatoes. And we must never forget to mention "hummus and garlic on the side in separate containers, please." 

One of the best parts of the dish (one of the best parts of ANY dish if you ask me) are the potatoes. Of course, you get what you pay for and a 10$ plate from a fast food place is nowhere near fine dining. Oftentimes, it's like a coin flip; you never really know what kind of potatoes you will get. You'll either get hot garlic and herb potatoes that are so crispy on the outside and so smooth on the inside OR you'll get mushy potatoes that were once the hot and crispy ones you oh-so-desire. Nevertheless, potatoes are potatoes; even if they are bad, they are still good.

As we sat down to devour our dishes, I snuck a potato from his plate (because sharing is caring) and noticed that his not-so-crispy potatoes left a lot to desire. I then took a potato from my own dish and realized that mine came from a fresh batch of deliciousness. Instinctively, I pushed his mushy potatoes away and gave him some of mine. I didn't think much of it but he paused and said something along the lines of "You really like me, huh?"

And, my friends, that is why love is a potato.

Mr. A and I have (already!) been married for about 9 months now and have been together for a little over 7 years. We have seen and helped each other through the best and through the worst of times. It is so common for two people to get so accustomed to one another after being in eachother's lives for so long. Unfortunately, little words and little acts may go unnoticed or may lose their essence.

A close friend of ours recently lost his mother very suddenly. I had had the blessing of meeting her once; full of life and full of kindness. Tragic situations like these put a lot of things in perspective. You instantly realize what and who are truly important to you. Instantly, the words "Life is short" weigh so deeply on your mind and in your heart.

Make sure you tell the ones you love how you feel about them and make sure to show them your love as well (via potatoes if you wish!)  And, everybody, remember to keep your eyes open to see the love that is given to you and see that love is actually all around us.

If you do decide to show your love through potatoes (or if you simply love potatoes and want to show yourself some love), here is a recipe for T.H.E. ultimate, perfectly crispy yet perfectly tender potatoes. I'm not joking, this recipe beats any potatoes you have eaten... even McDonald's fries! (Yes, I dare say it!)

Hot Potato!


- Small round potatoes (about 15 or more)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Preparation Instructions

1- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
2- On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
3- With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
4- Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
5- Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe & picture courtesy of The Pioneer Woman: