Sunday, 28 June 2015

CHOCOLATE CHUNK BROWNIE RECIPE





This is my ultimate brownie recipe, it makes fudgy, gooey intense squares of chocolate, and it's the one I've used for years.  In fact when we were funding our first album through Pledge I sold batches of these and sent them out.  I don't *think* anyone had any complaints or cases of food poisoning (oh god) and they're still my go-to bake when I want a lot of chocolate.

Most of getting brownies right - well if you consider brownies that are soft in the middle and crip on the outside "right" - is about the temperature of the oven and how long you cook them for.  You have to be brave because when you take them out of the oven they should seem pretty undercooked in the middle. And then you have to be strong and leave them for a very long time to set, no cutting them, nothing.  I always put mine in the fridge so they set quicker, but even then I don't touch them for at least four hours.  When you take them out of the oven a great way to test if they're done in the middle is to use a wooden toothpick.  A knife or fork is too big and will definitely come away with mixture on it even if they're cooked enough.  But for some reasons a toothpick is the ultimate brownie checking implement.  If you stick one in the midde and it comes away clean, then get them out of the oven immediately.  Also make sure you use a tin that isn't too small.  I use a square tin that's about 20cm x 20cm for mine.  

Seriously, it's all about the details.  

INGREDIENTS
185g unsalted butter
185g high quality dark chocolate
85g plain flour (gluten free flour also works great with this recipe)
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
275g brown sugar

METHOD
Heat up the oven to fan 160C/conventional oven 180/gas mark 4, grease and line that perfect brownie tin I was talking about earlier.  

Use the bain marie method/microwave to melt the chocolate and the butter together.  (I usually buy 200g of dark chocolate and use the remaining 15g later to add to the brownies as extra chocolate chunks).  When it's melted take the pan off the heat and put to one side to cool.  Chop up the milk, white and remaining dark chocolate into chunks, about 1cm x 1cm, and put it aside till later.   In a seperate bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture looks very frothy and creamy.  Pour in the chocolatey buttery liquid from earlier and stir it in very gently, using a figure of eight motion and a metal spoon.  Take your time, you want to keep in all the air from the eggs and sugar.  When it's properly mixed it should be a muddy brown colour.  Sieve in the cocoa powder and flour, and pour in the chocolate chunks.  Stir it all together using the figure of eight method again, and don't worry about having it all perfectly mixed in.  You want to err on the side of it being only just combined, brownies should never be over-stirred.  Pour it into the tin and cook for about 25-30 minutes, with my oven they take exactly 27 minutes (!) so you're going to have to trust your guts.  But if you take them out at 25 minutes and then later freak out they're not cooked enough, fear not! Just keep them in the fridge overnight and they'll set.  If you take them out at 25 minutes and they don't have a papery flakey top like my ones below then they definitely need longer.  

GODSPEED BROWNIE LOVERS.  


Thursday, 25 June 2015

LAZY OAF SPACE CADET











I'm a bit of an obsessive Lazy Oaf fan.  Although I don't think you can actually be "a bit" obsessive.  That's probably an oxymoron?  Whatever, I'm a creeper on their website.  Sneaking peeks at their new collections.  Their latest, with it's gingham print co-ords and mesh tees, didn't disappoint.  And I lusted very heartily after this metallic skirt (with 3-D pizza zip, drool) and their pineapple boobs (!) top.  I feel like "pineapple boobs" could become a really great playground diss.  Urgh, yeah, well you have PINEAPPLE BOOBS.  But I've always liked pineapples so I'd just shrug it off.  While wearing this I bumped into some cows, they were pretty chill, but I'm not sure they thought this was an appropriate farm outfit.  Cows, man, so judgey.

Monday, 22 June 2015

CLARKS X ORLA KIELY







I think this is the second time Orla Kiely AKA The Queen Of Prints has teamed up with Clarks for a shoe collection to rival all other shoe collections.  I have a lot of happy memories of trying on my new school shoes in our local branch of Clarks, they had that odd foot measuring contraption.  You'd stand in it, then slowly the four sides of it would close in on your tootsies until the cold metal was hugging your socks.  I loved that machine.  Also loved the reassuring thumb the shop assistant would swipe over the shoes when you'd tried them on, "Stand up, how do they feel?  OK now go for a walk around the shop".  One shoe would always, always be slipping slightly, and my mum would look really concerned.  So the great thing about this collection is that with Clarks you get cushioned soles and that new car leather smell, and with Orla you get badass designs that would make Penny Lane weak at her flare-covered knees.  Keeping with the Almost Famous theme, I'm wearing them with my ASOS suede skirt, this lace off the shoulder top from Glamorous, and a vintage box purse I creeped on the other day then made my own.  Look at that nuts green lining!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA

LOVE the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics reboot.  Riverdale is getting really dark.  Pigs blood dark.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

GOLD LIGHTNING SRETSIS















There are the clothes you wear because they're comfortable, the clothes you wear because they make you feel more confident or suit your shape, and the clothes you wear because of the event or the occasion.  But then, for me, there are the clothes I wear purely because they make me feel like someone else.  When I try to dress like Penny Lane from Almost Famous or search endlessly online for a bomber jacket similar to the one Andie Walsh wears in Pretty In Pink, it's for shallow aesthetical reasons, sure.  But it's also because I want to be like them.  I want to be as confident, funny and adventurous as Penny.  I want to be as creative and serious as Andie.  I want to dress like my favourite women (real as well as fictional) because of who they are, what they represent and what they've taught me, as much as that I think they look nice in corduroy.  For me the story of the outfit is as important as the clothes themselves.

Sretsis, who designed everything I'm wearing here (except the shoes) is the business baby of Pim Sukhahtua. But no woman is an island, and her sister Matina designs the accessories for Sretsis, while their older sister Kly oversees the brand.  We were lucky enough to meet Matina and Pim when we played a show with Supersweet in Bangkok a couple of years ago.  I loved these ladies, they were so funny, cool and smart.  They were dressed immaculately in their own designs, and they told us about how they were interested in creating a fictional world around their clothes (oh hello shared interests), so that the context is as important as the fabrics.  For their latest collection 'Runaway Rum' they were majorly inspired by Blondie, Bowie (e.g. the lightning bolt ring I'm wearing) and '80s era Madonna, Jem and The Holograms (and The Misfits) and Lum Invader, the protagonist from the manga and anime series Urusei Yatsura.  Also, roller discos.  I freaked out when I saw photos from their runway show and they were kind enough to send me some pieces.  These clothes are spectacular, I will cherish them forever.  The creativity and attention to detail is remarkable, I love the cut of the skirt, the studs on the jacket, and the fact my t-shirt came already beaten up.  And that bag.  With the lace up front and the chain straps.  This, for me, is what clothes and accessories should be.

This is an outfit that made me feel like I was ready to walk onto a film set in Santa Monica and start shooting a '70s B movie about the underground glam rock roller disco scene.  In short, I'm in heaven.

Monday, 15 June 2015

STYLE DISSECTION: 'MERMAIDS'




The first time I saw this film I was nearly at the point when Winona Ryder's character does something with Michael Schoeffling's (AKA Jake Ryan's) character and my mum walked in.

"What is this?  What are you watching?"
"Mermaids"
"I think you're a bit too young for this darling".

And the TV was switched off.  What was I too young for?  I wondered.  I didn't feel like I'd seen anything I wasn't supposed to.  The next time I saw it my mum said that Cher's character in the film - Rachel the matriarch of the Flax family - was a bad mother.  I imagined this was because she gave her kids party/finger food for dinner.  I didn't think that made her a bad mum.  The romantic entaglements of Charlotte (Ryder) and her mother were completely uninteresting for me at that time, so I had no idea what it was that was so unsuitable for my young eyes.  One thing I thought was very suitable was the style of Rachel.  Her polished black beehive and flawless cats eye makeup.  Her polka dot dresses and high heels.  I loved it all.

I think one of my favourite things is when period films become meta period films because you're watching them decades after they were made.  This is the '60s seen through the eyes of the '90s.  So there are two layers of style and aesthetic here.  The choices of the costume designers and set designers were probably made while they were wearing tartan shirts and high waisted stone washed jeans.  They probably had big scrunched hair.  When they went home after a long day at work it was probably MTV they flicked through before watching Seinfeld.   Whether they wanted it to or not, that will have in some way influenced their creative choices.  And I love that.  (Another film I want to dissect that did '50s in the '80s is Grease 2).

Bad mother or not, Rachel Flax is the epitome of '60s elegance and feminine confidence.  She is also really into pink.






She moves from place to place with her two daughters.  As soon as one relationship ends she gets in the car, closes her eyes and points to a spot on a map of America.  This is how she ends up in the small town of Eastport Massachusets, living by the water in this sweet white house. 


 Look at her pale pink car.  Oh my goodness.

Rachel is a law unto herself.  She's selfish, but she's also raising two kids on her own, which is never an easy task.  Especially not in a small town in the '60s.  She tries her best, and cuts sandwiches like this.


Oh and sometimes she wears blue. 




And sometimes she wears trousers. 





She always looks really, really cool.


And as you can see, she likes to entertain her kids by dressing as a blonde sea-shell-bra-ed mermaid for a fancy dress party.  Amazing.



Unfortuately, as is often the case with mothers and daughters, her eldest Charlotte rebels in the only way she can with a mother like Rachel.  By being seriously, intensely, defiantly religious. 






Rachel isn't the best at dealing with a daughter who gets star struck in the presence of nuns.  Especially because Charlotte also insists on wearing her absent father's boots with her dresses and buttoned-up cardigans.  




She's very serious.  She's also very naive, at one point she panics that she's pregnant from kissing. 


All of her piety disappears when she meets Joe, her school bus driver.  She's really into this guy. 




And her mother is no help whatsoever.


(I love Charlotte's pale blue varisty jacket).  In general the two just don't understand each other.  Charlotte doesn't understand her mother's need to date, or why she serves her kids dinner on cocktail sticks. 



But one thing they both agree on is how wonderful the youngest member of the Flax family is, Kate. Played by a tiny Christina Ricci. 





 She's so cute in this film.  Kate is obsessed with swimming, and likes to hold her breath under water in the bath, using a stopwatch to time herself.  Lou, Rachel's Eastport boyfriend (played by Bob Hoskins), paints Kate's bedroom so it looks as though it's under the sea.  I coveted this room so much as a kid, and I still do.


But then Charlotte finally realises the best way to rebel is to actually be more like Rachel.  And that's when the trouble really starts. Out go the white blouses and hair bands.  In comes the lipstick and high heels.




Eventually they find equilibrium, and it all works out.  Charlotte lets go of her dad's boots, and discovers trousers and dresses with straps.  And Rachel is a bit less into running away all the time.  It's a classic!  




P.S. I love that kitchen.