Warm Stomach Hugs and Dessert for Breakfast

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this

A rather healthy recipe for this blog. Let’s discuss how this came to be.

  1. Christmas + trip to Thailand + Chinese New Year in quick succession = constant, consistant overeating since mid December. Yeah right, I’m not the type to diet. But I am the type to eat lots and lots of heavy tasty healthy things to prevent myself from eating cookies / cake.
  2. I have been working from home for the last month and working at home means that I take a trip to the fridge every hour. At least. Last week I restless-ate a whole box of cereal in 3 days. Granted, it was Special K (with berries!) so supposedly “healthy” but seriously, have you ever looked at the sugar content in that stuff? Also, polishing off 2 boxes of cereal per week is a rather expensive habit. That’s by calculation, FYI. I didn’t actually eat 2 boxes of cereal.

This necessitated the creation of a heavy and hearty (yet still tasty) breakfast to keep me super duper full, that doesn’t cost loads. I also need to be able to munch on it throughout the day without getting bored and switching to cereal / gingerbread / chocolate chip cookies.

On a side note, how is anyone able to keep such a large stash of biscuits in the house uneaten for so long??? Bigfoot will soon learn of my biscuit-munching ways, to his peril.

I never knew the difference a good peeler made

Enter baked oatmeal.

My house smelled amazing for the one hour this was in the toaster oven. Yes, I just moved house, and haven’t figured out how to work the proper oven yet. No cakes from me for a bit.

*hugs*

It's what's on the inside that counts

No beauty queen, I’ll admit. I should have covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

But, it tastes like an apple pie and feels like a big warm hug to the stomach.

Dessert for breakfast and warm stomach hugs, what more do you need to ease yourself into the cruel early light of each morning?

Update: I’ve already eaten 1/8 of this over the course of the evening… suffice to say it is super filling, I’m truly stuffed.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Inspired by the recipes of Brown Eyed Baker, Eat-Yourself-Skinny, and Chocolate Covered Katie. I didn’t follow any of their recipes, mine is a much-streamlined version of theirs. But they gave me the right idea. 

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2.5 tablesp brown sugar
1 egg
3 red apples, diced – can be substituted for pretty much any fruit, except super watery ones
1/2 cup raisins – or nuts, or other types of dried fruit, or chocolate chips….endless possibilities
1/2 teasp baking soda

  1. Mix everything up in a big bowl.
  2. I baked mine in the toaster oven: 200 degrees C for around an hour (mine took an hour + 5 minutes). Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so once the desired charred-ness is achieved.

Reheat for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven at 200 degrees C to crisp up before eating.

A note on toaster ovens: apparently, toaster ovens lose heat faster than normal ovens so when making this in a regular oven, try 190 degrees C for 45 minutes to start with. Will test and update when I get the oven working!

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Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled. 

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

Yeti Nutella Pie Cheesecake

At the time of baking, it was the Yeti’s birthday. I made him a cake though he’s precisely 9395 miles away and locked in a time zone 13 hours behind.

I thought it was only appropriate to celebrate his birthday by making Mrs Yeti and I a no bake cheesecake. In any case, Mrs Yeti typically makes a dessert on her son’s birthday regardless of his location. This seems fair to commiserate the oceans that have sundered us all apart.

What essentially started off as a thoughtful exercise in no bake cheesecake morphed more into a no bake cream pie. Not that I’m complaining. It still tastes pretty delicious to me, and is almost childishly simple to execute. There is no reason why anyone cannot have this as a simple after work treat, or for friends coming over to a dinner party.

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Nutella Pie Cheesecake, inspired by Nigella Lawson

Note: I used half the portions stated here, because I only wanted a small pie. This recipe would serve 8.

  • 250 gram(s) digestive biscuits
  • 75 gram(s) unsalted butter (soft)
  • 400 gram(s) nutella (at room temperature)
  • 100 gram(s) almonds (toasted and chopped)
  • 500 gram(s) Philly cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 60 gram(s) icing sugar

Method:

  1. Crumble the biscuits into a food processor, add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g of the almonds and continue to blitz until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
  2. Pour the sandy mixture into a pie tin and press it out with your fingers, slowly pressing at the sides to form a pie crust. Leave in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
  4. Take the pie tin out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining 75g of chopped almonds on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge.

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Triumphant Return, Green Chilli Powered

Can we all agree that green curry from a packet, while nice in isolation, does not by any stretch of imagination taste as good as green curry as eaten in Chiangmai, in a restaurant where no one speaks any English?

Green curry paste part 1 Green curry paste part 2And this is how we determine what went into the paste...because the instructions don't match what the chef did!!

Yes, I thought we could agree on this. If you don’t agree, may I ask if you have actually been to Thailand?

I always find it hard to choose my favourite type of food.  But when I’m in Thailand, Thai food is my favourite food. Don’t ever let them serve you the tempered down (pansy) versions of dishes – you must say “I like it spicy! Like Thai!”

Green curry paste!!! Get ready to stir The first bubbling The second bubbling

Of course, you must not forget to bring a bottle of charcoal tablets. Because as much as you may like it spicy like Thai, your stomach will probably begin to complain after your 5th straight meal of curry / tom yam / yum woon seng / spicy mango salad. Do not let that stop you. Bland meals are for the weak. Do not under any circumstances sell out and request the less-spicy-cos-I’m-a-useless-lame-foreigner version. 2 charcoal tablets after an extra spicy meal allows you to continue eating excessive amounts of chilli and coconut milk at every meal for at least 2 weeks straight.

The bubbling after meat

I’m not obsessed. Not at all.

This not obsessed nature led me to take a cooking class, and bother the chef by requesting that he teach me special dishes that were not on the class list. Well, he seemed more amused than irritated. He was definitely amused when I started taking pictures of the food every 5 seconds. Don’t forget, I’m not very good at remembering / following instructions.

Tadaa!

I also think cooking classes are an excuse for real chefs to dress up amateurs in silly looking clothes and laugh at them. Seriously, even he didn’t wear a chef’s hat – but he wouldn’t let me take it off!! Sighs.

Thai Green Curry

Learnt at a cooking class in Phuket. First rule: STIR ALWAYS!!

Green Curry Paste

3-4 green chilli padi (the small spicy ones!) – use more or less if you like
2 smallish cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 shallots, sliced
1 teasp galangal, sliced thinly
1/2 – 1 teasp ginger, sliced into matchsticks
1 teasp lemon grass, sliced
1.5 teasp kaffir lime zest – can be substituted with lime apparently
1 teasp fresh green peppercorns
1 teasp Thai shrimp paste, otherwise known as kapi / kapee

  1. Basically you just mash all these together with a pestle and mortar until you get a nice green paste which sticks to itself, and looks like pesto (see above pic). Or if you’re lazy you can probably give it a whirl in the chopper.
    The paste keeps for around a month in the fridge, probably longer if you freeze it. 

Green Curry

150 – 200g meat – mine was chicken, but I suspect any meat (beef, lamb, seafood) should be okay. Or you can make it vegetarian! 🙂
80g tiny thai eggplant – the tiny, round ones that look like beads
100g small round eggplant, cut into quarters – these are the size of a golfball
1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk – depends how you like it, I prefer 1/2 cup. Fresh would be the nicest
1-2 tablesp fish sauce – I like it with 1.5 tablesp, but it depends on your fish sauce
1-2 teasp white sugar – again, I used 1.5 teasp
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 tablesp thai/sweet basil leaves
1/2 red chilli, sliced into strips – for garnishing

  1. Stir continuously over medium-low heat, in a high sided saucepan:
    • 6 tablespoons of coconut milk
    • 1-3 tablespoons of green curry paste
  2. Wait until the mixture comes to a boil. Then add the rest of the coconut milk. Keep stirring!
  3. Put the heat up to medium-high. Keep stirring! Wait for the coconut to boil and bubble up.
  4. Add the meat to the bubbly coconut milk. Don’t forget to stir.
  5. Wait for the coconut milk to boil and bubble up again. Then, add the different types of eggplant.
  6. After a while, the coconut milk will boil and bubble up again – then season with the fish sauce and white sugar, as you like it.
  7. Let everything boil up again (are you seeing a trend here?), then add the kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves. You haven’t forgotten to stir, have you?
  8. Pour out into a bowl, garnish with the red chilli strips if you feel fancy.

Surprisingly easier than you thought, wasn’t it? 🙂

P.S. I do apologise for abandoning Happy Bellea for so long. But well, Christmas + wedding + Chinese New Year + moving house in quick succession = far too busy me. But, hello Melbourne!

If you expect more domesticity, prepare to be disappointed. It looks boxes started breeding rapidly then killing each other in my house. Box entrails everywhere.