[The Art of Eating Comfortably] In defense of TV dinners

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The unsaid rule about comfort eating is not widely discussed — it has to involve comfort cooking. Let’s get our cards on the table — I love TV dinners. After a day of being shoved around in the tube and rattled around in the bus and drenched on the walk home, there’s nothing more that I like than to put on some good TV (entirely subjective), wear some fuzzy socks (compulsory) and eat warm dinner (also compulsory). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them (the alternate title for this post was almost ‘Why You Gotta Hate on TV Dinners Man?’ That’s how passionate I am about promoting the cause of TV dinners — I almost did away with grammar). But let me clarify, by no means do I want you to buy boxed meals that are overpriced, devoid of nutrition and tasteless. I simply mean meals that come together quickly, easily and are best enjoyed with some good TV. I eat TV dinners nearly every night of the week and now they are down to an exact science. The TV dinners in su casa must always comply with the following conditions:

  1. The shopping, if any, must always be done in the fast lane.
    This means 5 items or less! Provided the cabinets are stocked with the basics, my TV dinners involve very few ingredients. But here’s the caveat — if the ingredients are few, they have to be fresh. It continues to amaze me how far some fresh chicken and pantry ingredients take you.
  2. Minimal pots, minimal pans.
    There’s nothing more that I like than a bowl of good food. Actually, what I do like more is minimal washing up. The high of eating a good meal is lost entirely if you walk up to the sink and see a pile of dishes. Wholesome meals can come together in one pan. It’s magic us muggles do!
  3. Chocolate is always the answer.
    Although my flavor profile has branched out to include fruit instead of fries on most days, my childish obsession with chocolate remains put. I’m afraid there’s just no way to grow up without chocolate. There’s no better feeling than sitting in front of the TV sipping or eating something chocolatey.

And so I bring today’s recipe, hot off the press and my oven — Chocolate Olive Oil cake.

I know there is an alarming amount of olive oil that is to be included in the cake and I was a little taken aback too but good olive oil is after all, really good for you. I purchased mine this summer in Tuscany but an inexpensive local option tastes just as good. The original recipe contains no gluten but I added some coconut flour along with plain flour. If you wish, you can swap out the quantities entirely for almond flour for the squidgiest cake you’ll ever eat. An additional bonus to the chocolate scent that it gives out as it bakes is that it requires two bowls at best while preparing. As for eating, I’m not sure anyone will wait around for plates or spoons.

 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Serves: 4 – 6
Source: Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson

125ml extra virgin olive oil (and a little bit more for greasing)
50gm cocoa powder, sifted
125ml boiling water
200gm caster sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
150gm almond flour (or 50gm coconut flour and 100gm plain flour)
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 deg C. Line a spring-form tin with parchment paper at the base and grease sides with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, add cocoa powder and boiling water and whisk to form a smooth paste. Add vanilla extract and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, add 3 eggs and whisk well. Add sugar in small increments whisking constantly with a large whisk. Add olive oil and whisk again for 2 to 3 minutes till the mixture is significantly pale and voluminous. Add chocolate mixture and whisk again till smooth. Add dry ingredients (flours, salt and soda) and mix well. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until cake tests done (my favorite tip — poke the cake with an uncooked strand of spaghetti and wait for 2 seconds — the cake should come out with crumbs attached). You can dust it with icing sugar, if you wish or eat warm with berries and a large helping of cream.
bubbobar tv dinners chocolate olive oil cake
Voilà — chocolate olive oil cake! (Photo by Roshni Vatnani for Bubbobar)

(Cover illustration: Tyler Feder)

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