Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Pumpkin Seed Butter Shortbread

Oh yea, they're good. Shamelessly arrogant, I know, but if they're good, they're good. 
I just got a bad grade back and am now just munching on these in the quiet section of the library.  They're obnoxiously loud and crunchy - but I.Don't.Care. I'm graduating in 3 weeks and I got a bad grade on this essay and it's raining and it's gray and at this moment these shortbread cookies are the only things good in my life, so you can give me dirty looks if you want, I'm going to go ahead and eat my feelings, however loud and deliciously smelling they are.

Rye and Spelt Bread

This morning I had bread with poached eggs and prosciutto.  Almost made myself a hollondaise, but that would've been a bit too much hassle even for me on a weekday morning.  It was with this rye and spelt bread that I just took out of the freezer.  That's the best thing about bread - you can make a large quantity, which you can simply slice and freeze, and having frozen bread in the freezer makes life so much easier.  Bread, peas and nuts - that's what I have in my freezer.  Oh yes, by the way, if you didn't know, it's good to keep your hazelnuts and whatnot in the freezer to preserve the flavors.
I love rye bread as it has a particular wholesome and acidic flavor.  It was interesting with poached eggs and prosciutto, but I can see how perhaps a white sourdough may be better with that.  For me rye bread makes the best snack on its own or with some hard cheese, but Nigel Slater may be the best person to refer to when it comes to suggestions with rye bread:

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

South East Asian Shaved Fennel Salad

It's nice when someone takes an interest in your life.  I think I've only ever been asked once on why I have such a passion for food.  It's funny, isn't it, people's interests are often just taken as a given, but it's deeply personal to everyone.  I remember when I was asked, I was taken by such surprise as I hadn't thought about it in a long time.  I hadn't thought about how emotional and..yea, just personal it was.  Hah and it was asked by this girl I barely knew.  Well, that's a story for another time.  The other day I was asked what I enjoyed other than cooking - again, few people ask that.  So this post is dedicated to my love for art.  

Why? Okay, it is related to this fennel salad.  See, this salad I had on its own but it would be lovely in a burger.  That's what I thought as I ate it, it belongs in a burger with a rich juicy patty and soft toasted buns with some mayo.  And it reminded me of this:

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Indian-Spiced Chicken, Butternut Squash Purée & Lentils

Ok, new resolution:  I'm going to have something uplifting in each of my blog posts.  This may be a joke, a happy fact or a cute image/video.  It will make Happy Belly "happier".  Especially since I feel like I'm just whining most of the time here.

So.  It's a rough time as I am approaching the end of my four-year degree.  After almost four years of studying something that I have absolutely no interest in, I have one more month left, this one last hurdle, one last push is all I need and I just don't give a sh*t anymore.  It's counter intuitive but the closer I am to finishing this degree the less I want to finish it. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Date & Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Oops the post is a bit late isn't it! But it's never too late for hot cross buns.  It's never not a time for hot cross buns.
It's a beautiful day in Scotland today.  It honestly cannot get better than this.  I wish I could take a good enough photo to give it credit, but I cannot.  I kid you not, the view I'm getting looks photoshopped.  Everything is just so..high-definition and the colors so saturated. 

What a great way to celebrate the Easter weekend, guys. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Indian-Spiced Potato Pie

I'm not very good with spices.  We didn't spice a lot in our household - being Italian and Northern Chinese.  However, I've been watching Masterchef and there have been these challenges where John Torode (the presenter) makes some complex dish - like last time some Indian potato cakes and chickpeas - and then asks the contestants to recreate it. That made me nervous and sad, because I wouldn't be able to do it.  So then I looked up a bunch of Indian recipes and eventually tried making this filo Indian-spiced pie.
I can't believe I'm updating Happy Belly so often.  I have four essays and two exams left this semester and it's just not happening.  It's just one more month.  I don't even know, I feel kind of guilty for not doing work but at the same time strangely enough I don't really care.  Maybe I'm just exhausted.  Three and a half years of studying something I have no interest in and I can't get over the last hurdle.  This is when I give up. Hah. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Most Glorious Plum Cake

I used to detest the sound of my alarm - you know, the standard iPhone "marimba" tune before the iOS7.  And I never bothered changing the settings on my iPhone so it was the same as my ringtone.  For four years I had kept it like that, and so it meant that now I have the horrible habit of always keeping my phone on silent, but also that I've developed this extraordinary ability to wake up just minutes before my alarm everyday.  And thank god now everyone with an iPhone has updated their systems and don't have that marimba tune anymore.  Yea, you can imagine how tense I got every time someone with an iPhone (ie everyone) got a call. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Hazelnut Financiers

I was at a food blogging workshop last night and so I thought I'd write about Happy Belly in this post.  First of all, hello if this is your first time here, and well, if it's not, then you might know that Happy Belly is an incredibly personal blog.  I usually have a story with each post, and I try my best to relate it to the recipe.  It can be a memory associated with the dish, it can be how I personal feel towards the dish,  or a story related to the setting and the context in which I made the dish.  These hazelnut financiers were, for instance, made for this workshop, and that workshop made me reflect a lot on this blog, and therefore this will be the story attached to these little petit fours.  If you're not interested, just scroll down to the recipe.  It's from Lottie and Doof and they're just *kisses finger tips* mwah.  Sweet and nutty little gems that are crunchy and caramelized on the outside, spongy and moist on the inside, just *mwah*.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tahini Shortbread Cookies

I was in the library last night attempting to write my essay on autism and male and female brains but my mind was on Masterchef and these cookies.  It was late, and it was all so depressing, and that dead silence was suddenly broken by a flock of screeching seagulls.

I f*ckng hate seagulls.  I love animals, I really do love animals, but I f*cking hate seagulls.  In this seaside town they're just everywhere, breaking up bin bags on the road, roaming around like they're better than everyone.  I mean just look at them, there's that air of arrogant indifference, with their hooked beaks and their small eyes. They're not as pleasant as Little Mermaid paints them to be.
So I took a library break to go back home and make these cookies.  Very simple straightforward shortbread cookies: you cream the butter, tahini and sugar together, then you mix in the flour.  Form the dough into a log, roll in sesame seeds and let it chill.  Then I went back to the library and read up on the differences in mathematical abilities between men and women.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Chicken Ballotine with Onion and Olives, Ras-el-hanout Sweet Potato Mash, Coriander & Pine Nuts

I once made a chicken ballotine stuffed with a mixture of nuts, honey and thyme for an ex- boyfriend, however, it was a bit on the pink side and it was not well received.  I had thought about recreating that dish, perhaps with a blue cheese sauce and some sauteed apples but then I had a craving for sweet potatoes.
This reminds me, some men are only attracted to my cooking abilities.  I was once on a date with a guy who in the middle of dinner said, "oh it's my last year of university, I really just want to settle down with a nice a girl who cooks".  Yup.  And then apparently he told our mutual friend that he was quite upset that I had not yet cooked for him like three days after our first date.  Don't worry, I didn't keep seeing him.  Maybe that's why I serve raw chicken to guys, as it forces them to explore my other lovely qualities  #singleforever

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Pear and Saffron Jam

There was a box of sad, bruised pears on the ground at my local green grocer's.  They were about to be chucked out and so I decided to bring them back to life by turning them into jam.
 I've always found cooking to be therapeutic, but sometimes it's hard to push myself to cook on a bad day.  It's all such an effort: so much chopping, so much washing, so many ingredients, so many steps, and then I just end up sulking in bed as I think about how my one and only passion is a chore. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Pear and Gorgonzola Risotto

Being in university and studying "serious" subjects like Economics and Finance and Management and International Relations, we're all expected to go  into the standard 9-5 office job with a fairly good pay that handles rent and all the rest.  I study Economics and Psychology.  My peers from the former are mostly going into the banking or consulting or all those things that I don't understand despite the last 4 years.  My peers from the latter are mostly going into further education and research and I really wish the best for them in terms of discovering things for the good of humanity.  They'll be truly important. 

I, on the other hand, want to be a chef.  And it's nice to hear other students also deciding to go down the risky route of following their dreams.  I know of someone studying French who's actively involved in the drama society here and is moving down to London to pursue her acting career.  I know of someone else studying Classics who's going into drama school for play directing.  I know of someone studying International Relations who's going to be an opera singer, and also another friend studying International Relations who's going into holistic nutrition.  We'll all be broke but hopefully happy and not addicts.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Black Sesame Puff Pastries (黑芝麻酥饼)

You've probably never had anything like this, or at least have never made anything like this before.  They're like the Chinese version of puff pastry, where instead of having a dough and folding in a layer of butter and you keep folding and folding so you have alternate layers of butter and dough, here you make two doughs, a "water" dough and an "oil" dough.   The oil dough is 1:1 flour to fat, and you wrap that in the "water" dough, which consists of flour, water and just a bit of fat.  You then press it flat, roll it up and you press and roll once more.  The result is a bit different in that it's not as light, it's dense but still flaky and crumbly.  It's interesting and unlike anything you've had before.  It's a lot less cumbersome than the normal puff pastry dough though.  This just takes an hour, max. 
 Sorry for the late post, I know, it's been ages, busy, busy, busy.  It's hard to believe that I have a life outside this blog, but unfortunately I do.  Six essays, two presentations and two exams all by the 20th of May.  Fun times. 
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