One of the wonderful Christmas presents I received this year was the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook from my dear friend Hanna. For those of you that are Harry Potter fans (it’s gotta be, what, 80% of the fortunate literate population?), you know what kind of a gift this is. And this delicious jam cake is just one of many magical recipes!
If I may quote the overly quoted quote of Ron Weasley: “Wicked”.
It’s Tet Time! Tet is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Every year, my entire extended family gathers at my grandparents house for food and distribution of the red envelopes with money. Instant. Cash. It’s one of my favorite family holidays because the food we have is extra special compared to the other holidays. There are boxes of candied ginger, coconut, and dried fruits, sticky rice filled with mung bean and pork, and sometimes moon cakes. For the party, my mom made a Vietnamese cake called bánh bò nướng. The literal translation is cow cake. I don’t really know why that is. According to Wikipedia, it’s because the texture resembles beef liver. I hope that doesn’t deter you guys from making it. Because it sure doesn’t taste like beef liver.
I grew up with the notion that homemade is bettermade (which is sort of ironic since my mom has never been a “from-scratch” kind of cook; Kraft macaroni & cheese with hot dogs 4 lyf). In living the cliché lifestyle of Poor College Student, however, I am surrounded by boxed items, especially baked ones. Even cookies…from a box! Eh.
One boxed baked good that I have to praise, though, is Ghiradelli Fudge Brownies. Oh man. They straddle the lines of food and sex. So chewy, so chocolatey, so moist! Yes, moist. And I am just one member of the huge fan club. A brilliant magazine called Cook’s Illustrated took notice of this popularity and investigated the decadent situation. What did they uncover? Genius science, of course, and how to remaster it into a homemade recipe. Who jumped at this greatness? Well, my mom, actually, but me too! Now I’m here to extend the invitation to you folks: perfect brownies, RSVP immediately.