Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Better than Guacamole

 So I had kept this little notebook filled with recipe ideas for some time back many summers ago.  Ok I think it may have been just last summer.  But anyway, I had forgotten about it so it feels like it was many summers ago that I had jotted down all these ideas that I just found in places.  It all became a bit disorganized with veggie burger ideas on one page and doodles of ice cream on the next.  But I found it and looked through it and found a list of "sandwich ideas" that were accompanied by various sketches of sandwiches.  The sandwich list, like many other lists in the notebook, is a compilation of recipes I've seen all around, but mainly in magazines.   I believe this avocado recipe was in one of the Jamie Oliver magazines. 

Oh at one point I subscribed to Jamie Oliver's magazine and seeing them in my mailbox was the highlight of my month for the entire academic year.  Jamie warmed up my winter blues.

And now I'm now subscribed to Bon Appetit!  But it's only on my iPad, which isn't the same.  I like mail.  I wish people would send me more things by post.  If you would like to send me a post card expressing how much you just love Happy Belly, which I know you are dying to do, please feel free to email me and I'll give you my address. 

This was a delicious mixture, which I suppose just resembles guacamole, but it's got mint and oregano and a generous amount of olive oil.   I know it's a bold claim, but in my very humble opinion, this tastes better than guacamole.  Very, very humble opinion.  Oh I <3 Jamie.    

Aaaand these were wrapped in homemade wholewheat tortilla, hence the..rusticness.  

Take the measurements in this recipe with a pinch of salt as I just kept adjusting as I went along.  

Serves 3
1 avocado
1 big garlic clove
a bunch mint, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp oregano
olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together and adjust the amount.  Wrap in tortillas or put in sandwiches. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Millet, Kale, and Veggie Sausage Salad

Have you ever had Quorn products?  Urgh.  The tofu's alright, but everything else, your mock meats, please.  Westerners do not know how to make mock meats.  Chinese Buddhists have got the mock meats covered.  So many things actually taste like meat.  I don't know how they do it.  I've had mock fish that honestly tasted of the sea, and mock pork that would make the Jews and Muslims cringe.  Blows my mind. 

The Quorn products on the other hand are beyond disappointing.  They're just... tasteless. Flavorless. Bland. Blah.

So I was at a supermarket and it was 3 for £5 -- of course, I should've known, that was a clear sign that they're not selling because they're bad.  Anyway, I bought "steak", "chicken pieces", and "sausages".  The steak was not good.  The chicken pieces were abysmal.  But thankfully, maybe because I tried them last, the sausages weren't too bad.  Still not good enough on their own though -- I had to put them in a stew or in a salad like this one.

You are encouraged to replace the sausages with smoked tofu or real meat or something.

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Hugs.  These cookies are called "hugs".
I've talked of my love for Mulino Bianco before.  It's an Italian cookie/breakfast/snack food brand.  It's owned by Barilla, which you may know better -- pasta and sauces? 

So Mulino Bianco's a charitable organization as they put a bunch of their cookie recipes online for people to make at home.  For less fortunate people like me, who cannot gain access to these cookies in my small little town in Scotland,

Okay, to be fair, we have an Italian deli here that does stock Mulino Bianco cookies but they only store like 3 kinds. 
It was time to make cookies again, for procrastination, and to gain the affection of my friends, so I decided to make these.

Here are my two different doughs -- very similar in terms of ingredients, the cream dough, though, contains honey and cream, and less butter, whereas the chocolate dough contains cocoa, milk, and an egg.

Here's them before the oven.  Don't the little chocolate dough pieces look like dog poop? :P 

They reminded me of my dog, Gigi.  Gigi and her poop.

On a more appetizing note, they're very delicious on their own, but please dunk them into your milk/coffee/tea in the morning for even better results.

Recipe from here
for the cream dough
250g plain flour
8g baking powder
100g sugar
50g butter
45g margarine
3 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp honey
a pinch of salt

for the chocolate dough
250g plain flour
8g baking powder
120g sugar
60g butter
40g margarine
30g cocoa powder
40g milk
1 egg
a pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 180C.  Line and grease a large baking tray. 

For the cream dough
Beat the butter, sugar, and margarine together until fluffy.  Add the cream, honey and salt and beat until smooth.  Stir in the flour and baking powder until a dough forms.

For the chocolate dough
Beat the butter, sugar, and margarine together until fluffy.  Add the milk, cocoa powder, egg, and salt and mix until well combined.  Stir in the flour and baking powder until a dough forms

Roll the doughs into little balls, about the size of your pupils I suppose.  Then shape them into 5cm-long sticks.  Shape the cookies by bending the sticks so that they're C-shaped, and then pressing the cream one lightly over the chocolate one.  Make sure the hole in the middle isn't too small, because the dough will expand in the oven.

Place them 3cm apart from each other on the baking tray, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. You may need to do a couple of batches because it's quite a lot. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Almond Butter

So according to the world wide web, almond butter is healthier than peanut butter.  Upon discovering this piece of news, my friend, Liza, had asked about where to find almond butter.  And I said no, no, no.  No point in wasting £2-4 on almond butter at a health shop, when you can spend £1 for a bag of almonds.  Just make your own. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Breakfast Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

No, this is not the same as my baked banana and peanut butter oatmeal.  This is more breakfasty.

Hah one side got a bit puffy so it looked funny. 
I'd missed eating with people.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Raw Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bites

Another old recipe.  And by old I mean I made it like a couple of months ago.  Thank goodness I have these as reserves.  I haven't been making anything interesting lately.  I'm currently trying to cook on a budget -- only £30 this week.  It's surprisingly difficult..... I know lots of people that do it for even less, but if you're cooking for ONE it's hard.  And I like to try different things so I can update Happy Belly with interesting things.. I can't just buy a whole lot of meat and use it for the week... I can't just buy a whole chicken and....or can I...?  Actually. I might.  Maybe next week, but that's a great idea.  That's an excellent idea. I'm going to get a chicken, cut it up and use it up in a week.  My Chicken Challenge.  Watch out, guys. 

Like I said, I'm currently on my £30-week challenge.  I started it yesterday and by today I've spent £9 but that includes onions and eggs and milk that will last me for the whole week.  Hopefully. 

I'm a student -- I can do this, I should do this, I will do this. 

So about this recipe, actually.  Remember my other raw recipes like my brownies and my carrot bites?  This is very similar, you just put everything in a food processor.  Though my favorite I think are still my carrot bites.  Mmmmm. 

Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
salt to taste
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Roll into balls, flatten, press with fork, and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Limoncello Custard Tarts

This solved all my problems.  I had made these months ago but this post had remained in the "drafts" folder until now.  This has solved all my problems because I was supposed to update a post about my lunch today but lunch was disappointing. 
First, let me take you back to yesterday when I was in Whole Foods.  I love Whole Foods.  I want to live next door to a Whole Foods in the future, that's my ultimate dream when it comes to location.  A big wonderful Whole Foods market with beautifully fresh produce, audibly crunchy breads, and most importantly, all the fun DIYs.  DIY nut butters, flours, muesli, ground coffee etc etc.  Even just putting things in little bags, like they do with the spices, is fun. So I had bought some ras-el-hanout, zaatar, and rose masala, and felt the need to use them right away.  Today for lunch I tried making some greens with zaatar.  Eh.  Meh.  Probably should've added more spice. 

So I don't write about things I'm unsatisfied with... Which is bad apparently on one hand because apparently people like to read about mistakes.  But good on the other hand because now you know that I like all the things I post about.

Gingerbread Cookies

I'm back, I'm back, I'm back. I'm back in Scotland, I'm back to my regular lifestyle, I'm back to cooking for myself, so Happy Belly's back on track.
 I can't wait until lunch today. I have not yet decided what to make, but I haven't cooked a proper meal for myself in a month.  This is what happens when I'm with my parents. 

It's 6 o'clock in the morning and I awoke with a sense of anxiety.  "Happy Belly needs to be updated, Happy Belly needs to be updated" -- my inner life coach repeated in my head like a guilt-tripping charity worker.  She's also telling me to clean up my room.  It's -- as my father would often say -- a pigsty.  And unpack.  I never cease to amaze myself with my packing abilities -- how so many things can fit into one suitcase.  And figure out what to do for lunch today so I can have a full shopping list when grocery shopping.  I hate my nagging inner life coach. 

I'm sleep-deprived, so excuse me for my temporary insanity with talking about my inner voices.  Anyway, gingerbread cookies.  I love spiced cookies.  Mmm.  Remember my Gingerbread Linzertorte?  Same recipe, same deliciousness.  It's so good that my dad liked them with his coffee in the morning, so you know it's good.  Thanks, Martha. 

Recipe from Martha Stewart
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large egg yolks, plus 1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 160C.
Sift flour, baking powder, spices, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar; mix on medium-low speed until combined. Add butter; mix until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and egg yolks; mix until dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to 1/4 inch and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. 
Lightly beat egg white; brush over cookies and lay them on a lined baking tray.  
Bake for about 10-20 minutes or until golden. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Black Rice Flour Porridge

I realize how similar this is to my black rice porridge post. Bear with me.

I was  in a supermarket in China and saw a huge range of whole grain flours.  I was so excited and bought a bag of black rice flour.  I wanted to eat it for breakfast but I didn't want to bake, so I started looking for flour porridge recipes.  You can replace black rice flour with any other flour.  You can also make this less viscous. 
Also, on a side note --- "Pollution in China's capital Beijing has reached levels well beyond those considered hazardous to human health."  I'm going to die of lung cancer by the time I'm 35. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Breakfast Pine Nut Bread Pudding

Hi, remember my breakfast sesame bread pudding?  Here's a similar one.  This one stars pine nuts, raisins, and olive oil -- a Mediterranean grouping.  I always see pine nuts and raisins together, especially in Sicilian cuisine -- pastas with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, raisins, and anchovies; rolled eggplants with ricotta cheese, pine nuts, and raisins; sauteed spinach with pine nuts and raisins; or cakes with the two.   Genial compatibility.  And then pine nuts and olive oil  -- pesto, anyone?  Oh this is making me miss Sicily.  Sicilian cuisine's got to be my favorite of all the Italian..wait. No, that's a horrible thing to say.  It's like saying which of your children is your favorite.  I take that back.  One of my favorite Italian cuisines.  Rome, Puglia, Tuscany - apologies.  It's just all the pairing of simple ingredients, and I love that they add raisins to so many savory dishes, I love that sharp sweetness that contrasts against the salty flavors.  Savory and sweet has always been a love of mine, like salty goat cheeses jams, roasts with fruits.  Mmmm.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Veggie Eggs Benedict

Without the hollandaise sauce.  So I don't know if I could still call it a form of eggs benedict but it was either that or..well, I couldn't name this "Bread, spinach, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and poached eggs" 

This was for my sister and her husband.  Today's actually her birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINAN!  :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

How to: Poached Eggs

How do you like your eggs?  I normally like my eggs perfectly scrambled or hard boiled for breakfast, but a perfectly poached egg is something truly magnificent.  Watching its  golden yolk split and mingle with the hollandaise sauce is such a treat. It's just so pretty.  It's much more aesthetically pleasing than eggs in any other form.
  I made this for my sister and her husband for breakfast tofay.  Recipe of that will come up soon but I thought I had better first start with a poached egg tutorial because it took me awhile to get right.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Pan di Stelle's Relatives (Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies)

Pan di Stelle are my childhood cookies.  You may know Mulino Bianco, it's the Italian version of Pepperidge Farm or McVities, but much better, because it's Italian of course.  You may have heard of it, or you're more likely to have heard of Barilla, which makes pastas and sauces.  Barilla owns Mulino Bianco.  Mulino Bianco makes a range of cookies, but my favorite are these Pan di Stelle.

I remember for my birthday last year, my friend Jess bought a pack of these for me.  She's the best gift-giver, really.  She gave these cookies to me along with a really cool color coded chopping board.  And this year she gave me a Yotam Ottolenghi book :D

These are fantastic dunked in milk.  These were made to be dunked in milk.  This is a typical Italian breakfast -- cookies and milk or coffee.  Not much but this is what they eat.  I prefer having a big bowl of porridge, some fruits, and then having two of these with my espresso. 

So I wanted to make these and I saw the recipe but then.. messed around with it so they no longer tasted like pan di stelle, but they're still good!  So I decided to call them Pan di Stelle's Relatives.  They have more hazelnuts in them, I was surprised at the recipe of Pan di Stelle, really.  With 500g of flour and only 20g of hazelnuts.  I thought it must be better with more hazelnuts, then I also put in golden syrup instead of honey, which was in the original recipe, and cut down on the sugar.  Now, I'm not competing against Pan di Stelle, but they were good.  You know how good they are?  Even my father liked them.  If you've been following my other posts you'd know that that means something. 

Unfortunately my oven was acting weird again.  I'm here at my parents' place in Beijing and I'm not used to the oven.  The heat is stronger at the bottom I think, so as you can see, the bottom was a bit burnt.  Ovens are like snowflakes, every one is different and you've really got to know yours.  Ok maybe they're not as individually unique as snowflakes are.  Ovens are like... children?  They pull tantrums, they can be annoying?  Ok I can't think of a good comparison.

Adapted from here
50g hazelnuts
2 tbsp icing sugar + 200g
90g butter
70g vegetable oil
3 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
40g milk
450g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

- Preheat the oven to 180C

- Put the hazelnuts and 2 tbsp of sugar in a food processor and whiz until it becomes a paste.

- In a large bowl, cream the butter and the 200g of sugar with an electric beater.

- Beat in the hazelnut paste and all the other ingredients except for the egg white, flour and the baking powder.

- Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder. You may need to use your hands at the end to then form it into a ball

- Roll it out and cut out desired shapes.  Brush with egg white and bake for 10-15 minutes.  It will still feel soft when it comes out of the oven but as it cools and dries it will crisp up. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Black Rice Breakfast Porridge

Happy New Year!

Everyone undoubtedly has many new year resolutions revolving around gym sessions and healthier diets.  May they last.  In any case, this is something to help kick start your new lifestyle and assist you in achieving your ambitious goals -- black rice simmered in water with cashews and dates, and then put into a blender.
 I actually learned this from my flatmate Leah.  She has the most unusual kitchen experiments from scrambled pancakes to jumbo stir-fries.  One thing I witnessed her make a black rice porridge which was blended in a food processor.  The problem is that if you merely cook black rice in water it would still have a bite to it, or perhaps you would need to cook it for a long time.  So if you're in the mood of a comforting thick soup-like porridge, then put it in a blender.  I’ve taken it a bit further by simmering black rice with chopped up dates and cashews in water.  Thanks, Leah.
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