Monday, 30 January 2012

Soft Oat Bran Cookies

Cookies, mini deflated muffins, i don't know what I should call them.  These are hugely popular in the Dukan diet world.  In the Dukan diet you're allowed about 2 tbsp of oat bran a day, and that's about all the carbs you get.  

It's terrible because I was just on holiday.  I had a two week Christmas break, then two weeks of exams, and now I'm on holiday again.  Too much holiday weight gain.  I've been going to buffets and restaurants way too much.  I keep telling myself it's ok, I'm on holiday.  I really need to go back to school.  

Anyway, back to these cookies.  I added some spices and some dried fruits in it,  it may not be approved by dear Dr.Dukan, but still incredibly healthy.  Make them a part of your breakfast.   

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Curried Soba Noodles with Mushrooms, Cabbage and Eggs

I've been on holiday for more than a week now and I hate this stress-free lifestyle.  Yes, I'm one of those women that will never be happy.  During term time I'm too stressed out but right now I'm too relaxed.  I thought I'd enjoy staying home and cooking and reading and watching movies and going out, but somebody give me an essay to write, please.  I can't enjoy not having anything to do.  I can't even not set an alarm on weekends or holidays.  The idea of sleeping without an alarm frightens me.  I like waking up early and being productive.  I do enjoy holidays when I've got things to do though.  When I've got a full program planned ahead, it's all good.

My exam results come out next Thursday. That's something to stress about.  I think I'll go back to solving my rubik's cube again.  

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Barley, Persimmon and Squash Salad with Greens and Feta

Yes, another one of those big bowls of healthiness and deliciousness.  Squash, persimmon, cheese, greens.  Sweet, sour,  savory.  Crunchy, soft, crisp, fresh, warm, cold.  What's not to love.  It's an ideal salad with the perfect combination of all the elements.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Homemade Nutella/Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Well, yea, I made home made peanut butter, so the only logical next step is nutella.
I was a bit hesitant in calling this nutella, because..well, it doesn't really taste like nutella because I put more hazelnuts and I used dark chocolate instead. So please adjust this recipe to your liking.  I like mine very hazelnuty.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Torta Caprese

Everyone says that their grandmother or their mother is the best cook in the world.  Now. Both my grandmother and mother are amazing cooks.  My grandmother is everything you would expect from an Italian grandmother.  There's nothing she can't make.  Tiramisu, cannoli, chocolate puddings, lasagna, stuffed eggplants, pizza, pasta.  Anything.  My mother, Chinese, but strangely enough cooks Italian food better. And she makes the most amazing breads.

However, in my life, the best cook I know, is my aunt.  Oh bless her, she's got that magic touch that just makes every dish she cooks blow my mind away.

Torta Caprese is a chocolate and almond cake from Capri, and you know what, it is the chocolate cake.  There are so many chocolate cake recipes - German chocolate cake, chocolate angel's food cake, chocolate devil's food cake... But this is the chocolate cake.  When done right, it's rich and moist and you just get these big burst of bold flavors coming from the dark chocolate and the almonds.  Oh it's beyond sensational, it's the best chocolate cake ever.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Vegetable Tagine

If I had to rank my favorite cuisines in the world, Moroccan would definitely be in the top 5.
It's always so difficult to rank food.  My friend once said, "food is like children, you can't have a favorite."  And that's true.  I like everything, there really isn't anything I don't like.  Ok, I'm not the biggest fan of Eastern European food, but they have a couple of nice dishes that I really like.

Moroccan, Italian, Thai, Malaysian and Chinese would probably be my top five.  They're in no particular order.  I also love Indian and Lebanese...And French, and Japanese, and Korean...

Anyway.  I don't have Moroccan food enough.  There just aren't any around.  Back home in Beijing there used to be a really good one, the owner was half Moroccan, half Spanish.  Oh their lamb and prune tagine was just sensational.  I wish I knew more about Moroccan food.

I got the following recipe from BBC Good Food.  I'm not going to call this Moroccan in any way, I'll call it Moroccan-inspired, as i have absolutely no confidence in the authenticity of the dish.  But it's pretty tasty.  And it's pretty healthy, which just makes it tastier.

Adapted from here
4 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 turnips, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 red onions, cut into wedges
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
100g canned chickpeas
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili
1/2 tsp coriander
400g canned tomatoes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp honey

Heat oven to 200C.  Spread the vegetables on an even layer on a baking tray.  Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for about twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the garlic in a large pot for about a minute, before adding the bay leaves and all the other spices.  Add the tomatoes, raisins, apricots, honey, and 1 1/2 cup of water.  Add the roasted vegetables and turn the heat down.  Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

100% Whole Wheat Bagels

I love bagels.  There are no good bagels here, I have to go all the way to Edinburgh to Elephants and Bagels to find satisfactory bagels.  Now, I'm not a bagel expert, I'm Italian and Chinese, I don't really know what I'm talking about.  But I do know that Tesco bagels just don't make me as happy.  I love different flavored bagels: cinnamon and raisin, spinach, blueberry.  I don't even need it to be topped with cream cheese or peanut butter, if it's good, it's good on its own.

I'm always amazed by 100% whole wheat stuff.  Most of the whole wheat stuff you get is half and half, half whole wheat, half normal flour, because usually with whole wheat stuff it's quite difficult to rise.  This one, however, was quite nice.  This is Peter Reinheart's recipe, which I got from here.

This takes a bit more time, it involves rising two doughs overnight, one with yeast (the biga) one without (the soaker), and then they're combined with more flour and yeast the next day.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Easy Chocolate Amaretti

You can tell how stressed I am by how much I bake.  Three days ago I managed to make two different types of cookies and bagels.

Amaretti recipes are usually a lot more complicated than this, while I'll try to make real amaretti with all the complicated bits soon, these were quite satisfactory for the lazy cook.  As you can see, they're a bit flat, I don't want to blame the recipe, it was probably me, but hopefully with other recipes with more complicated procedures they'll rise a bit more.  They were still very tasty.  I looove almonds.

Dan Lepard's Recipe
75g ground almonds
125g caster sugar
1tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 egg whites

Mix all the ingredients together and make little dollops on a grease proofed baking tray.  Dust generously with icing sugar and leave it, uncovered, overnight.  The next day put them in a preheated oven of 230C and let them bake for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cauliflower and Saffron Soup

There are different soups for different occasions.  If you're feeling down on a cold winter's night then you should probably curl up on your couch and eat a bowl of heavy soup enriched with double cream or creme fraiche.   I found several recipes for cream of cauliflower and saffron soup, but since I'm still on my new year diet, I had decided to go for a more delicate soup, suitable for the summer or..just when you're feeling like eating something light.

I love saffron, I realize that it's a ridiculous ingredient.  Is it really worth the money, you ask.  Well.  To be fair, it lasts forever and you only use the tiniest little bit each time.  So technically, I feel like I've used only about 50p worth of saffron in here, not too expensive compared to other ingredients in the soup.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Roasted Spicy Cauliflower and Courgettes with Yoghurt

Ah another one of those exciting healthy dishes. This makes a great side dish or a light dinner.  Spices are a great way to turn your everyday vegetables into something exciting and tasty and edible for the carnivores in the family.

Anyway, my posts lately will be quite healthy as I'm trying to shed the holiday weight.  Obviously you can adjust it slightly to make it richer, like adding double cream instead of low fat yoghurt, or creme fraiche.  But it's January, I think everyone's trying to be healthy.

Prep time: 10 min  Cook time: 15 min  Serves: 2-4  depending if you're eating it as a main or a side  Suitable for: starting the new year the right way 

1/2 cauliflower
1 courgette
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup low fat yoghurt
lemon juice


Preheat oven to 200C

Cut the cauliflower into florets and slice them to about 1/2cm each.  Slice the courgette to the same width.  Toss that together with all the spices, garlic, salt, pepper and oil.  Spread on a baking tray and bake them until tender, about 15 minutes.

Make the dressing by mixing the yoghurt with just a bit of lemon juice, depends on how much you want really, I like it sour so I like putting a lot of lemon juice in it.  Mix that with the veggies and you're done.  Delish.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

This was just ridiculously easy to make.  You really shouldn't ever want to buy peanut butter again.

So you could make it even more "home made" by roasting your own peanuts etc.  What a bother.  I bought ready roasted honey peanuts.  You can try making these with salted peanuts as well but I find that it's too salty.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Spiced Yoghurt and Dried Fruits Cookies

My exam's in a couple of hours.  Last night, at one point I just couldn't do it anymore.  After 4 hours of unproductivity I'd decided to make cookies.

These are kind of cake/bread-like actually, that's why this recipe is also under "Breads".  So feel free to put this into a loaf tin and bake it for maybe 25-30 minutes.

Monday, 9 January 2012

How to: Steak

Oh God.  It's been more than a week.  I really haven't been cooking.  I have an exam tomorrow.  And yes, I decided to post something today.  

So, steak.

It's one of those things that costs a fortune in fancy restaurants but you can easily make at home at a fraction of the price.  It's easy, but a lot of people get it wrong.  There is so much debate though.  Oil in pan or on meat, turning it once or a couple of times etc etc.  But after a multitude of research, here's how I believe you panfry the perfect steak.  Well, ok, here's my perfect steak.

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