Friday, June 25, 2010

Choco-Belly Cookies

I saw these little cookies yesterday and instantly fell in love with them. Never seen such adorable looking little cookies before and not only they look so cute they taste divine. Hence it was decided instantly that this is going to be my next post and I will make them tonight only. It was quite late when I reached home last night and was bit tired as well but I was determined that I would make them, no matter how late it is. 

These cookies won't need lots of hard-work, but they need some cool down time, so I made them last night and left them to cool down and because I was tired, I left the filling of the cookie pockets with chocolate for this morning.

Ingredients :

For the cookies
300 gms plain flour 
100 gms sugar 
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence 
200 ml melted butter 

For the chocolate belly
50 gm dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa or more)
2 tsp honey
2 tsp melted butter


Pre heat the oven in 180 degree Celsius. Mix all the ingredients for biscuit together and make a dough. No water is required to make the dough.  Now make small balls with roughly about one teaspoon of dough each. Place a greaseproof sheet on the baking tray and place these dough balls on them leaving some space between them.

Now bake the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes. Bring them out and using the back of a rolling pin make impressions on them. There will be some cracks on the cookies when you make the impressions but that's fine, as long as they don't break.  Place the baking tray back in the oven for another 10 minutes. When you see the cookies are turning light brown in colour that means they are done. Leave them to cool down.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bain-marie until it forms a thick pool of chocolate and no lumps remaining. Now add the butter and the honey to the melted chocolate and mix well. Once the cookies are cooled pour the melted chocolate mixture on the centre of the cookie and let it set. Your cookies are ready to serve. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strawberry Milkshake

This is something I make almost every morning for breakfast. Great way to kick-start your day. It's ready within minutes. Fast, easy, delicious, healthy, filling what else do you need? For a change you can mix different fruits in your milkshake like banana, peach, mango etc. anything you fancy.

Strawberries 4-5 (or any other fruit you like)
300ml Milk
1 tsp sugar (optional)


Remove the stalks of the strawberries then place all the ingredients in to a blending container and blend them together. You can also mix different fruits if you like. Serve with few cubes of ice.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


~The Bull Ring~

This was our last day in Spain so we thought we will take it easy. Just go around the Valencia city and to the beach and relax. It was Monday so our friend had taken the day off for us. We woke up a bit late and then went out to do a tour of the city of Valencia.
~The Train Station - Valencia~

We went to see the famous monuments and places of the city including the old station, the famous bull ring, the post office, the famous square, the cathedral, the remaining two doors of the 12 original doors of the ancient city-wall which were built in the Muslim period.  
~The Cathedral~

It was a very different feeling as I stood at one of the door which is called "the door of the mountains" as most people who walked through this door to the Valencia city in ancient times were from the mountains. 
~The Ancient City Doors ~

Around midday, we reached the city market known for its fresh local produce (not the boring supermarket stuff). That night it was my turn to cook dinner. I had planned the menu the previous night only, so with the list in hand I bought whatever I needed from this market. We also bought lots of chorizos to bring back to the UK.

~The Seal of Valencia - The Post Office~

It was a really huge market with a wide selection of meat, fish and fresh veg. The vendors were very friendly asked a lot questions to our friend which she translated back to us later on. 
~The River Turia (He Represents the river)~

It was already 2 pm by then and we were quite hungry so we took the underground train back home to keep the food stuff. Our friend bought a flower plant from the market and promised us that she will water it regularly. I also have a very poor reputation in this matter. So far whatever plants I have been presented or bought, have all died due to lack of attention. I admit I am not a keen gardener but I was inspired by her and after coming back from Spain the very next weekend I went and bought a plant for my living room. I hope I will be able to keep this one alive. 

~The Cured Meat - Valencia Market~

Anyway, I digress, back to Valencia. We decided to go to the beach and have lunch there. So, around 3 we reached there. The beach is quite close to our friend's apartment, so initially we though of walking there, but it was very hot and we were quite tired and hungry so we drove to the beach. 

~Valencia Beach~

We had Fideuà (Seafood paella). It's made with shellfish and very similar to paella, the main difference is its cooked using Spanish noodles, instead of rice. We also had Ice-cream for dessert (loved it - ideal for hot afternoon). The restaurant was covered in glass from floor to ceiling so we can enjoy our food with the sea in front of us. As soon as the food arrived we dived in straight away and were so busy in eating that we didn't speak for a while. 

We had a long walk after the meal (it was very much required!!) along the beach. The sand was quite hot but it wasn't long when sea water kissed our bear feet. We walked quite a bit and then realized we need to go home and start cooking for the night, it was 6 pm already and we still had a one more stop to make (for some coffee really!!) so we came back to our car. 
~Cold Coffee with Crushed Ice~

We went to a cafe called Horchata Daniel which is very famous for a regional drink called "Horchata". It's an ancient drink originated in Valencia at the time of Muslim period, made of tigernuts. The drink was served with crushed ice, a perfect drink one would wish on a warm evening to cool down. Amazing.  
~Horchata - Speciality of Valencia~

We reached  home around 7-7.30 pm, freshen up and went into the kitchen to cook Indian dinner for that night. The menu was Pakoda, Aubergine fry, Fried rice and Chicken Curry. 
~Fried Rice - Dinner~

My friend is very enthusiastic about Indian cooking as I found almost all the spices I needed for my cooking, in her kitchen. She was writing down each and every step as I was cooking. 
~The Dinner~

For that night's dinner our friend's room-mate was also joining and our friend opened a Crianza 2005 which she saved for this dinner specially. For dessert we had those stolen cherries (see my earlier blog entry).
~The Dessert - Cherries~

We were chatting over dinner for quite long time until we realized it was quite late and we had a flight to catch in the morning. So we wrapped up every thing and went to bed. That was the end of day 3 in Spain and our vacation as well. Next morning we left home quite early, reached UK by the afternoon. We had a wonderful trip and we were missing the fun we had in Spain on the way back home. 
~¡Buen viaje!~

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


~ The City of Morella~

After a good night sleep we woke up at 9am in the morning and kick started the day with home made brownie (which our friend made specially for us), strawberry milkshake and freshly brewed coffee. We left home by 9.30 am for our first destination, an ancient Spanish city called Morella. It took us 2 hours to reach there, on the way we had a good laugh about Bollywood music industry and how they shamelessly copy from world music and hardly pay any copyright to them. The landscape changed quite quickly as we left Valencia, from a seaside town to rocky mountains. There were lots of cherry trees we could see on the way, I felt like stopping the car and get some but controlled my emotions for the time being. 
~The High walls and the Entrance gate to the City~

Around mid-day we reached Morella. The entire city is surrounded by a high wall to protect it from the outsiders who came from time to time to take over the city. The castell (castle) was built during the Islamic period around 13th century. As we enter through the huge gates of the city I felt as if we have gone back in time. The city has since been very well kept. It is an old historic city and it certainly it feels like it. 
~ The Narrow Steps to the Castell~

We walked through the narrow lanes of the city towards the castell. The castell is described as a three layer cake. 
~Castell de Morella~

Layer one is actually the upper part of the town which was integrated into the castell during the "carlista wars" making it stronger.
~The main entrance to the Castell~

~View of the valley from the Castell ~

Layer two is the original castell where most of the services existed. The most exciting part of this layer were the dungeons. The entrance to the dungeons was quite high and didn't have a floor. It was rough, cold and damp. I could imagine how difficult it would have been for the poor prisoners who were put there. 
~The Guard of the Castell~

~The Cannon~
~The Dungeons~

Layer three, which was the most protected part of the castell, had the royal rooms, which were now ruins. The cherry of this three layer cake was a well. 
~The Royal Rooms~

~The Well~

From the top of the castell we could see a bull ring in the village centre, which may be still in use during festival time. 
~The Bull Ring~

The slope of the stairs are quite steep, so we were quite tired by the time we reached the top layer but it was sunny, warm and windy so we relaxed a bit and started going down. 
~The Window~

It wasn't so tiring going down but we were quite tired already so started to feel hungry very soon. We had lunch in one of the restaurants in the historical village. The fascinating part of the lunch was that I found an old and very well preserved well in the basement of the restaurant next to the cellar where they kept their precious wine.    
~Way back to the City~

Our lunch was delicious. We did some shopping after lunch, bought some real truffle which is the speciality of that region and some spicy chorizos. We still have some left and don't want it to finish. Wish we had got some more.
~The Lunch~

We started from Morella around 4pm heading back to Valencia. On the way we stopped near a church which was engraved in the mountain. Unfortunately we couldn't enter as it was under restoration. The most unfortunate thing was that we were running low in our DSLR camera's battery and it died over there before we could take any photos of this amazing work of architecture. So I tried to take some with my phone camera. I managed to take just one photo before it died as well (confession: I forgot to pack my phone charger for the trip). 
~The Dessert~

Because I was in the back seat and was quite tired (so as everyone) soon I fell asleep but not for long as I woke up to realize that we were lost in the valley. Apparently we took a wrong exit to the motorway and went to north instead of east while I was having my siesta in the back seat. After some time we managed to find our way back which delayed our journey by an hour but we were happy that we were on right track now.
~Olive Oil~

We stopped at a gas station to fill up. There was a cherry tree full of ripe juicy cherries. This time I couldn't resist myself as I saw my friend was doing the same, so I joined them in plucking cherries from tree. We had to stop when our bag was full and didn't have any space left for more cherries. We really had lots of fun, it reminded me of my childhood summer holidays when we used to visit our village. When the elders were having their afternoon nap, me and my naughty cousins would steal raw mangos from the trees in our back garden and run to the terrace to hide. The guilty pleasure of eating those delicious green mangoes (with some stolen salt and red chillies from the kitchen) is hard to describe. Nicking cherries in Morella petrol station came pretty close to that childhood pleasureMy hands were full with cherries and so were the bags when we went back to the car.
~ Starter #1- Battered red chillies stuffed with potato and eggs~

We reached home at around 7pm. That night my friend was cooking dinner for us (only the dessert is something I made for her). We freshened up quickly and entered the kitchen. The menu was as below. Let me tell you, the food was as delicious as it looks.
~Starter #2 - Mushrooms and asparagus cooked with eggs~

~The Mains- Pork rolls served with onion and carrot gravy~
~The Dessert- Semolina cubes~

We enjoyed our dinner with sparkling rosé wine. Our friend told us funny tales of her weird ex house-mate and we were hysterical. We went to bed quite late again. That was the end of day two.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


~ Valencia Coastline ~

We had been planning for our Spain trip for a long time but something or other will always come up and we would think "OK! May be later." This time we were determined that we will make it and we did!! We planned it on a weekend plus 2 weekdays!! I had butterflies in my tummy because not only I was about to have a long weekend also the next working week was only a 3 day week for me but above all, we were going to see one of our close friends in Spain.
 ~ City of Valencia ~

On an average I wake up quite late on weekends but because our flight was scheduled at morning 6.30 am on a Saturday and as usual I did my packing on Friday night, I hardly had only 2 hours to get some sleep. We planned to leave home by 3.45am but not always things go according to plan, we woke up at 4 am and could leave home by 4.30am thankfully at that early hour there was no traffic so we could reach airport on time.

 ~ Mountains of Spain ~

I thought of having a nap in the flight but that didn't happen, instead I took some photos when we were flying over Spain and before landing in Valencia. It was only 2 hours flight, so we reached Valencia at local time 10 am and our friend was at airport to pick us up.
~ The Lake ~

It was sunny 28 degrees in Valencia, we went to our friend's home first, just to drop our luggage and then we went out to explore Valencia and it's neighboring places. Our first stop was a lagoon off the Mediterranean sea. It was a large lagoon as you can see below and it was a unique experience to go through a narrow canal and then opening up to the huge water body. It was amazing. So calm and relaxing, one can actually spend whole day just by the lake and do nothing.  
~ The Way To The Open Waters ~

Life in this part of the city was quite relaxed, no one was in a hurry, and people are in general quite friendly and have a good sense of humour. We asked for a ride on a boat in the lake, before getting in to the boat we went to pay for the tickets to the boat owner, he smiled and said "Its ok! Pay me when I bring you back to the pier, if the boat sinks then you don't need to pay!!" 
 ~ The Boat ~

It was 1 pm but in Spain its too early to have lunch, usually people have lunch around 2.30 pm so we had some time in hand so we thought of going to a nearby beach. Not enough time to get into water so we decided to walk along the beach where we won't fully get into the water but no harm in getting your feet wet! The beach was outside the city so we didn't see many people at the beginning but as we continued walking we soon realized why the beach wasn't so crowded. We had come to a nudist beach!!! This was my first experience in a nudist beach Most people around me are completely naked either sunbathing or were in the water.There was a family in the beach, where parents were playing badminton and the little kid was playing in the sand..all stark naked! Among all these people we were there fully dressed walking along the beach.
~ The Fish ~

So we concentrated on the sea water, the sand, the stones, there was a fish which was trying to swim back to the sea but for some reason it wasn't able to. Anyway I was quite hungry and so was everyone else, so we went to a small village to have traditional paella. It was a small village called El Palmar which is famous for its paella. We had the traditional paella made up with chicken and rabbit meat with snails served on top. It was amazing. The dish is served on the plate they use to cook paella. Lovely!
 ~ Paella  ~

We finished lunch around 3 pm and then headed home to have a siesta. It was very much needed for me as I had slept only for 2 hours last night and Spanish weather and food forces you to have a nap anyway.
~ L'Hemisfèric ~
   ~ L'Oceanogràfic ~
  ~ The Opera House ~

In the evening we walked to the opera house and the aquarium designed by the famous valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. Its called "Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències" which means City of Arts and Sciences. Below you can see some of the photos of that area and the park surrounding. As you can see the architecture is amazingly very modern and quite obviously Santiago likes white. The colour of the water goes extremely well with the background white colour. It was a very pleasant and relaxing evening walk.

~ Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències ~

In the evening we went to the city centre to catch up with some old friends. We had dinner in palace famous for Tapas. It was mouthwatering. One of our friends' English wasn't so good but our other friend said, "Don't worry!! After few beers he will speak in fluent English." We really had a great time as I started talking in Spanish after few glasses of wine. We came home around 1 am in the morning and that was the end of day one.