Saturday, 30 March 2013

Mangú (Dominican Plantain Mash)

Some cultures have really heavy breakfasts.   This was okay back in the day when you spent the rest of your day in the fields working on your feet.  But now after breakfast you just sit in front of the computer all day, which can lead to some problems if you're eating such heavy stuff. 

This would last you for a while.

Mangu' is a Dominican plantain mash that's served at breakfast.  You usually eat this with sauteed onions, fried egg, salami, or cheese. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Asparagus Mimosa

Eggs are usually found with asparagus in the form of a frittata or softly poached with a runny yolk that's meant to be broken up and lightly draped over the asparagus. 

Hard-boiled was interesting.  This is Ottolenghi's recipe, and it is essentially grated hard boiled eggs with capers and olive oil scattered on top of asparagus.  I trusted Ottolenghi and I just went for it. 

It was...well, each to their own, and it didn't quite work for me.  It was good, it just wasn't my favorite.  I much prefer it with a runny egg yolk, though I have to say the capers do add a nice touch.  So maybe next time for a weekend brunch I'll make sauteed asparagus with poached egg and capers.
Please do try it, because you may like it.
Recipe from Plenty -  taken from Weird Combinations
3 lbs asparagus spears, woody parts at bottom discarded
3 organic eggs
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp capers with some of the brine
Sea salt
Black pepper

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, reduce temperature to medium low and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn temperature off. Let eggs sit in hot water for 4 minutes. Drain water and let eggs cool down to room temperature. Grate or chop fine.
Add ½ of the capers, some of the brine and olive oil to a bowl. Crush capers a bit with the help of a spoon. Set aside.
Add asparagus to a large pot of boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Arrange asparagus on a serving platter and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to coat. Add crushed caper sauce, capers and grated eggs. For cuteness leave tips of asparagus clear of dressing.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

NYC Bagel and Coffee House

Going to a restaurant is 70% food, 30% service and environment.  Frankly, if it's astonishing food, I can tolerate a waiter being rude and inefficient.  Obviously up to a certain point - if the owner's an a**hole he doesn't deserve any business.

Going to a cafe is 50% food, 50% service and environment. 

I expect good, simple food - but it's got to have things on the menu that distinguishes it from other cafes.  It has to be unique.  Equally important are the service and environment.  Friendly and comfortable, that's what you're trying to achieve. 

So let's put New York City Bagel and Coffee House to the test.  

In a nutshell
Address: 29-08 23rd Avenue, Astoria, NY
Opening times: 6-10pm everyday
Wifi: Yes 

Food: bagels, sandwiches, sweet and savory baked goods.  10/10
Drinks: coffees, juices, smoothies.  8/10
Service and Environment: 10/10

One of the best cafes I've ever been to.  

Newly opened and already it's showing a lot of promise. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dans le Noir - An Unhappy Belly Review

An unhappy belly indeed.

It's been 5 days, and I'm still complaining about the place.

Dans le noir has an incredibly good concept - eating in the dark so you can heighten your other senses when appreciating your food.  Eating without sight, if done right, should incorporate different textures, temperatures and flavors.  Contrast is the key.  You're relying solely on your nose and taste buds.  No. If done right you should be able to hear the crunch and the crackling and the pop.  The concept has such great potentials. Yet this place failed miserably.

Dans le Noir can be found in Barcelona, New York, Paris, St.Petersburgh, and London.

I went to the NY one. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Linguini with Zucchini, Pine Nuts & Goat Cheese

I love cooking for other people.  I'm currently staying with my sister and her husband in New York and sometimes she's lazy and asks me to cook for them, and I happily oblige. 

Maybe I should just be a house cook.  A private cook for some rich family.  I don't like cooking for myself, it's lonely.  And I'm too much of a health freak to cook for myself and other people all the time.  I want to make cracking pork belly and desserts with a ridiculous amount of butter and sugar, but I'm happy with just a bite, I want other people to enjoy the entire dish. 

Job offers anyone? 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Blood Orange and Chestnut Upside Down Bundt Cake

It's not that chestnut-y.  I merely added some chestnut flour, so it does add a hint of nuttiness, but I should have probably added some chestnut puree.  Next project.

Now. The other night I had a rather..disappointing dinner at a restaurant, and I've been debating as to whether or not I should do an unhappy belly review of it (thank you, Jess).  I feel mean, I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that it was just an off night, and so it may be unfair for me to discourage others to go.  But after much research (that should have been done before visiting the restaurant), I realized I'm not the only one that had such a bad experience there.  So stay tuned for an unhappy belly review of Dans le noir.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Co.

Excuse me for the lack of posts - when I'm in a new place I like to eat out and experiment with new local ingredients in recipes.  The latter should provide more posts, but I've mainly been eating out here in NYC.  Although, I love the huge array of Central and South American ingredients, like cassava and different chiles and thus will cook with them soon! 
photo from

Monday, 18 March 2013

Vegan Coconut and Lime Cookies

Coconut and lime make a good couple.  The two always present themselves together in Thai curries with the accompaniment of chilli, ginger, lemongrass, and other lovely herbs and spices that work together to make the most divine sauce.

Coconut's the quiet mellow one in the relationship, and lime's the sassy one with the attitude. They're together because they balance each other out.  Lime provides a sharp counterpoint to the coconut.  Coconut on its own can be boring, and lime on its own may be too much to handle, but balance the together and you've got a relationship that can flourish in many dishes.  They're the perfect splash of paint on a blank canvas.  Add them to your cake batters, stir-fries, cookies, custards etc etc.

 So I made these coconut and lime cookies and brought them to the airport in hopes of getting an upgrade.  This was the first time I had ever shamelessly asked for an upgrade at an airport.  The woman was actually very kind and said she'll do all that she can, but it is not up to her as she was only in charge of my layover to London first.  Unfortunately I didn't get upgraded for my flight from London to NY, but I still had a lovely journey sitting next to two lovely women.  And you know what?  Cookies are the way to make friends and make people happy. 

I used an array of cookie cutters..Well, okay, not an array, but three different ones.  I could only find Christmas cookie cutters... These are really light and crisp, so enjoy :)

Makes..a lot of cookies.  
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup coconut butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup almond milk/other milk of your choice
zest and juice of 1 lime


Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. 

Melt the coconut butter over a double boiler until softened.

In a separate bowl, beat together the coconut butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the juice and zest of a lime, the milk, and then stir in the flour mixture.

Gather the dough together and wrap in cling film.  Leave in fridge to chill for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 180C.  Grease and line a baking tray.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about 5mm thick. 

Use cookie cutters or shot glasses to cut out cookies.  Place them on the baking tray, they can be quite close together since they won't really spread.  Bake until just brown the edges, about 10-15 minutes.  Bake in several batches if necessary.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Spring Rice Salad

Think Spring.  What time of the year are you thinking of?  I'm thinking March. It's still acceptable to be cold in February, but as we're approaching Easter, I feel like it should be spring.

Now the Scottish weather doesn't agree with me here, but it's okay.  It's Spring Break (and not Easter break as we're all being political correct here), and I'm off to New York tomorrow.
I'd actually much prefer to go back to Italy or somewhere else closer to the equator and beach to get a couple of shades darker - but my sister lives in New York, and you know what, I'm not complaining.  It's still New York.  Though I do prefer London I think. New York, London... ok yea to be fair the last time I was in New York was 5 years ago.  Oh and as I just started doing Happy Belly Reviews, expect some reviews of small local eateries!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

It's beautiful today.  The sun is shining, the wind is at its minimal, the temperature is bearable - most importantly, again, the sun is shining.

Good weather can really make everything better.  Over the summer in Italy, in the roasting Mediterranean heat with clear skies and sunshine, everything was okay.  It's hard to be upset when the sun's making an effort to cheer you up. 

I was out today and at point wished I smoked just so I could sit on one of the benches outside.  It's just weird to sit on a bench by yourself and not doing anything - you've got to either have a friend or a cigarette in your hand.  But it's okay, just as that idea developed in my mind, the sun, in the span of seconds, went hiding behind a swarm of clouds.  Thank you, Sun.  So no smoking for me. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Tupiniquim (Edinburgh)

Happy Belly Review

Location: Edinburgh
Overall: 5/5

Fernando serves Brazilian crepes out of a green police box right by Quartermile in Edinburgh. 

He has sweet and savory gluten-free crepes, and on Saturdays he has feijoada.  In addition to all this, He also serves good coffee.

The portions are big with generous fillings, and the filling choices are fantastic.  I got a vegan one with butternut squash, walnuts, sauteed greens, jalapenos, chili sauce and sun-dried tomatoes.  You can also add goat cheese or cheddar at no extra cost!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Vegan Carrot Pancakes

Sometimes, life is like flipping a pancake.
I make pancakes for breakfast on a regular basis. Not rich fluffy American pancakes, those wouldn't be good to have every morning... hah try to make healthy pancakes. 

Rarely do I follow a recipe, I just mix the dry ingredients along with wet ingredients until it looks to be the right consistency and I start them off in the pan.

And every morning, as I flip my pancakes, I think of this analogy.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

How to: Coconut Butter

Let me give you the ins and outs of coconut butter

Monday, 4 March 2013

Cream Cheese Cornmeal Cookies

Dear Reader,

It's a stressful time for most students now, so let's try to cheer you up.
Have you seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?  You should if you haven't.  From the movie, I've learned that apparently there's an Indian saying, which says that everything will be alright in the end.  And if it's not alright, then it's not yet the end. 

Isn't that the most uplifting thing?  That and these cookies.

Crisp and light - I think it's the cream cheese and the sheer amount of butter, and also the cornmeal.  The cornmeal adds a nice touch :D

© Design by Neat Design Corner