Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Fork This

HELLO! I should have said this sooner but Happy Belly has moved! Well, moved, rebranded, re-everythinged.  Head over to Fork This for more recipes!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Miso-Glazed Tofu

In China, there are entire aisles in the chilled sections of supermarkets dedicated to tofu.  The variety must be fascinating to a foreigner where they are used to just tofus categorized into soft and firm.  Some specialist shops have overpriced fusion tofus studded with olives and sun dried tomatoes, which are surprisingly good actually, but the choice is still limiting.  Tofu comes in different textures, formats and flavors - they come in sheets, they come in tubes, they come dried and they come marinated.  Maybe tofu would not be so off-putting to so many people if they were exposed to it in all its forms.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The hard-to-mess-up apple cake

I was heartbroken.  I shouldn't have made this cake.  My baby sourdough was quietly proofing in the bowl and I got a bit bored. My friend was visiting in a few hours so I thought I might as well bake something else whilst I wait for my bread and then just pop my baby in the oven when it  It was my 4th try with my sourdough, I was determined to

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Homemade Ricotta

Ricotta is disappointingly underrated outside of Italy.  People think of it as a filler ingredient, an extra in a dish filled with big stars.  You mix it up with big flavors assuming it is only useful for its texture.  Poor ricotta, why don't more people swoon over ricotta?
My grandmother used to mix up freshly made ricotta with sugar and give it to me and my sister as a sweet afternoon snack.  Still warm, wonderfully creamy and rich, it was eaten up in just a few mouthfuls.  It honestly is incredibly flavorsome and lovely on its own -- as long as it's good ricotta.  So give it another chance, and hey, the good news is you can easily make good ricotta at home.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Ginger Cookies

They're classic American cookies, the crispy kind, like those simple, welcoming chocolate chip cookies.  This is a version with my favorite flavors.  They remind me of my high school friend's mother.  American cookies in general.  She was Malaysian, and what a cook, with a repertoire that stretched from curried chicken to fried noodles and chocolate cakes.  And my generous friend, YC, always brought boxes of her mom's baked goods to share with us ravenous teenagers.  I recalled her brownies in particular: decadent, rich fudgy brownies with that crisp top.  When I asked YC for her mom's magical brownie recipe, she said it was from Betty Crocker - a ready mix - all this time her mother was just mixing some egg and water into a bowl along with the contents of a commercialized box - and I had never felt so cheated before.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Scallops with Herbed Peas & Citrus Crumbs

Oh as much as I love eating scallops I just hate preparing them.  They're stubborn little things when you try to pry them open -- fair enough, you're killing them, but it's a task I face with utter dread.  I always fear my knife snapping in half.  Or, since once I stabbed my palm really badly, I'm worried about cutting myself or stabbing myself or have the knife snap in half and the blade pierce through my body #paranoidmindset

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Benedict Bar

It's always a bit concerning when you make something and it doesn't quite look like the photo in the cookbook.  See, in the photo it looks to be a 1:1 ratio of that nutty topping and the shortbread.  Anyway, it may not be what the cookbook authors had intended it to be, but these bars are still pretty damn good - the more sweet buttery nut topping the better I say.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Raisin Buns (Rosinbolle)

I've purchased a stand mixer and it's been life-changing.  Was he - I've named him Heston - necessary?  Well, yes.  I feel like he's opened up a whole new world of Italian meringues and breads for me. And he's just so pretty.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

 I'd often associate foods with feelings.  My boyfriend's petname for me is "Potato" - supposedly, back in his country, calling someone a potato is a good thing, it means that they are... Versatile.  You know, a potato can be turned into a mash, rosti, latkes, chips, crisps, it can be anything.  And if I could associate the different forms they take with the different feelings I have, well, I unfortunately don't feel like these glorious salt and vinegar potatoes right now - these are new potatoes that are boiled in vinegar and water so they have that lovely sharp tang, and they are then cut in half and fried in plenty of oil so that they're crispy and rich. Topped with plenty of maldon salt and chopped herbs and it's a side that stands proud in any meal.  I don't feel like that now.  I feel like a bland pile of lumpy mash.  Like a school dinner mash.  Yes, my current emotional state is school dinner mash.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Little Viet Kitchen (Angel, London)

I had a dirty napkin down my collar as I nibbled away the remnants of the lamb chops, sucking them dry, licking my fingers.  I slurped in the noodles and the broth all too quickly that I was half in tears because of the heat but I kept going and by now my napkin had fallen and my dress was dirty --- let me backtrack.
Saturday night I went to The Little Viet Kitchen -- the Vietnamese restaurant owned by the infamous ex-supper club host Thuy Pham-Kelly.  We go in and we are greeted by Chris - your East London man with suspenders, checkered shirt, bow tie, mustache and an iPad mini.  He shook our hands, introduced himself and led us to a table by the window.  The restaurant is of white, pastel green and washed wood, with beautiful chandeliers and plants and flower pots -- Scandinavian minimalism if you may, a restaurant you'd imagine East London Chris to work in.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Chocolate and Ginger Toast

 Something easy today.  I feel deflated - like one of those sad limp balloons on the floor.  I miss the air, the energy, the excitement. I have an app I use to track my period, and it's times like this when I check my app and have a sigh of relief - it's okay, I'm allowed to feel like this.  And eat chocolate. 

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Haddock, Spinach, and Saffron Sauce

When I think haddock I think fish and chips. It peaks in winter/early spring, when greasy fried fish are probably most desired. Or a creamy fish pie, some humble fishcakes or a fragrant kedgeree.   It feels very quintessentially British, and almost... boring, sorry.  It's because in my mind I'd ever only associated it with those dishes. Haddock has always sounded perfectly nice, but it's not like the popular boy in school.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Wholewheat Scones

I hadn't made scones in awhile.  There was a point where I was making scones constantly -- it was the best discovery I had made in this country.  See, prior to coming to the UK, my exposure to scones were limited to those Beijing Starbucks triangular scones with a cloyingly sweet drizzle on top.  They were so flat and stodgy and just too sweet. I didn't think I liked scones.

Cacio e Pepe

I like white plates as they just match everything.  With dark colored plates, especially in the evening when the lighting isn't good, and the food is of a warmer color - I mean I'm very unhappy with this photo, my photoshop skills aren't good enough for this.  I shouldn't complain, these are my boyfriend's plates, he kindly lets me cook in his kitchen whenever I want, so I shouldn't complain over his plate choices.  I know.  Okay, so despite the photo, I still wanted to share with you one of my favorite pastas - cacio e pepe.

So, as with all simple dishes - make sure the few ingredients you get are of good quality.  Get a good aged pecorino. The thing is, as simple as it sounds, it can bit a bit tricky to get this sauce right.  It's all about love and patience with this dish.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Raspberry and Star Anise Friands

The recipe said 10 egg whites. Ten egg whites - what was I supposed to do with the remaining 10 yolks? Make a high cholesterol omelet?  Three jars of lemon curd? A sh*tload of mayo? I was already making a dessert so I can't save the yolks for another dessert and just the idea of these 10 egg yolks sitting in my fridge waiting to be used because they could go bad any day stressed me out too much.  I couldn't deal with 10 yolks, I've never had to deal with that many yolks.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Lamb with Sumac, Green Tahini Sauce and Aubergine

In the past few years many of the cookbooks I've purchased have been brought back to my parents' home or have been donated to charity, and now at this moment in my current home in London, I have over 30.  I read these when I have breakfast, I read these on a chilled Saturday afternoon and I read these before I go to bed.  I never read them when I actually want to cook from them because I just end up googling when I need a recipe from inspiration.  The most ridiculous is this: I googled Ottolenghi's recipes when I own four of his books.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

How to: Homemade Pressed Cottage Cheese

It was a Monday where I was at lunch with some colleagues, with whom I shared the same gender, age and status in the company.  They talked about their booze-filled weekend and the bars they went and the people they met and the drinks they drank.  They then turned to me and asked what I did over the weekend - I said I made cheese, and I killed the conversation right there.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Chocolate Almond Spice Cookies (Basler Brunsli)

You know what, every experienced cook or chef will tell you the golden rule in cooking, or following a recipe to be more precise, is to read the recipe first.  And I still forget to sometimes. 

The problem is I've got the attention span of a fruit fly.  I'll find a recipe and I'll glance at it and I'll get so excited about it that I just start cooking and halfway through it's like oh I need to soak this overnight. Oh I need a kitchenaid. Or oh I need to leave these cookies to dry for 3 hours before I can bake them.  And so yea, I wanted to bring these cookies to a dinner but halfway through I realized I didn't have enough time....And there was also a moment of "oh this recipe makes enough cookies to feed a village".

Lesson is, again and again, I never learn - read the recipe first.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Anna Jones' Seeded Banana Bread with Lemon Tahini Drizzle

There's something really sad about those overripe bananas.  There are always bananas present in the fruit bowls at work - they come sturdy, bright yellow with a green tinge.  But then they're forgotten.  The sweet grapes, nectarines and clementines are all devoured but the bananas are just there.  And days later they're that dull mustard, marked with black spots and they seem to almost shrivel.  They're like diseased the poor things.  Overripe bananas make me sad.  And so I had to take them back home to make banana bread.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

How to: Homemade Soy Milk

Ok I'm going to tell you straight out that it's too much effort.

This involves soaking the soy beans overnight, removing the skins, blitzing them, boiling them for thirty minutes and then straining them.  In China we have these soy milk makers where all you have to do is put the soaked soy beans in and then it does all of that otherwise superfluous manual labor and in half an hour you've got your soy milk.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Rendang Chicken

This is my first proper curry from scratch.  I spent my Saturday evening making the curry paste, frying it in the pan, watching it reduce with the coconut milk and then leaving it to stew for two hours, stirring every now and then. And that was one of the best Saturday evenings I've had in a while.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Panettone French Toast with Bitter Marmalade Sauce

Now, a panettone should last for over a week - maybe weeks, so you should be fine with your current panettones leftover from Christmas just as they are.  However, if you were given a very mediocre Chinese-made panettone like us, don't throw it away but make something beautiful out of it instead.

This illustrates simplicity.  Except for the plate.  I should've looked through my mother's kitchen cabinets a bit more for something a bit more monotonous. But the recipe is delightfully simple as this luxurious breakfast will altogether take you about ten minutes to make.

Monday, 4 January 2016

BA's Best Banana Bread

This is a banana bread I made awhile back.  We have a fruit bowl and work and at the end of the week there are always a couple of sad brown bananas, abandoned and left for the bin.  One Friday I had decided to rescue them and bring them back to life in the form of a delicious banana bread.

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