So, another new cookbook! It’s called Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi of Bettina’s Kitchen. This book makes me happy because I am always looking for new ideas for combinations of ingredients that I haven’t thought of yet! And this book delivers. Maybe that is why it is called Happy Food!
Bettina Campolucci Bordi lives in London but her food is influenced by her childhood in Tanzania, her Bulgarian grandmother and her time in Spain. She says food her canvas and I can see why. She is super creative with recipes for dishes that are not the usual fare from American vegan authors.
The book itself is happy. It is colorful – the intro pages are orange and yellow and the section headers are different colors of the rainbow. I love the feeling of the paper the book is printed on and the photos are easy on the eye and not too over the top.
After Bettina tells her story, she offers pantry basics and menu plans and sections for what she calls a Happy Start, then Home Alone (for small meals, great idea!), Quick & Simple, Feasts & Sharing, Dips & Sides, Favourite Basics, and Sweet Treats.
The first recipe I made was the Sweet Potato Cakes with Dill & Cashew Yogurt literally because I had every ingredient on hand (including cashew yogurt, strangely enough) but I had never put them together quite in this way. Coincidentally, Bettina had posted a video of this recipe on Instagram the same day which made me feel like it was a good first pick. And it was a good first pick – sweet and tangy and super, duper easy. Lucky for you, I got permission to reprint the recipe below. Here is my version. Scroll down to see the Happy Food version.
There are so many recipes I want to try including One Pot Curry in a Hurry and the Korean Pancake from the Home Alone section. From Quick & Simple, I am excited for Polenta with Oven-roasted Tomatoes & Sweet, Sticky Garlic. From Feasts & Sharing I am going to have a party just to make the Moussaka.
I made a variation of the Zucchini Rostis with Chipotle Mayo, Avocado & Caramelized Onions. I used my own recipe for zucchini pancakes because I freaking love them but never would I have thought to top them with chipotle which is one of my favorite flavors. I left off the caramelized onions because I didn’t feel like making them but with the avocado and fresh lime, it is totally delicious. Check it out!
Of course, there are fun recipes for roasting cauliflower with turmeric, tacos, smoothies, plant milks, cheeses and of course Sweet Treats like Chocolate Chip Cookies (with salted date caramel!) and a groovy Banana Split made with instant banana nice cream!
Overall I would say, if you are looking for some new inspiration and flavors, this book is for you. I will definitely be cooking from it for a long time so follow me on Instagram to see my future creations. In the meantime, make those Sweet Potato Cakes and let me know what you think!
Sweet Potato Cakes with Dill & Cashew Yogurt
What can I say? This is one of my favourite recipes. It reminds me of the many fishcakes I used to have in Scandinavia growing up, and it includes a creamy, tangy dill dressing. Comforting on a whole other level!
For the dill cashew yoghurt:
- 125 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) Cashew Yoghurt (see recipe below) or any plant yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- pink Himalayan salt and black pepper, to taste
For the sweet potato cakes:
- 2 sweet potatoes (500 g / 1 lb 2 oz), peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ (70 g / 2 ½ oz) apple, finely chopped (note: I grated the apple on my box grater)
- 40 g (1 ½ oz / 1/3 cup) cornflour (cornstarch) (note: I used equal measure arrowroot powder)
- coconut oil or grapeseed oil (both are good for high temperature cooking), for frying
- watercress or spinach
- rocket (arugula)
- mixed greens
To make the dill cashew yoghurt – add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well, then set aside in the fridge until later.
Boil the sweet potatoes in a pan of water until soft, then tip into a colander and leave to drain for 10 minutes until really dry.
In a bowl, mash the drained potatoes with a fork or masher, but don’t overmash them or they will become glutinous and too sticky.
Add the shallot, chilli, apple, salt and pepper to taste and finally the cornflour. Portion the mixture into 4 big cakes or 6 smaller ones and shape into round, flat-faced burgers.
In a medium pan, add some oil and get it very hot, then fry the cakes for 5–10 minutes on each side until golden brown. You will be tempted to keep flipping them, but don’t. Let one side cook first before flipping and cooking the other side.
Drain on greaseproof paper (wax paper) or kitchen towel (paper towel) and serve with a good dollop of the dill yoghurt and some fresh greens.
Tip: If you do not want to fry the potato cakes, you can easily cook them in the oven at 200ºC (400ºF/Gas 6) for 20 minutes or until golden brown. The sweet potato cakes and yoghurt are both freezable.
Photograph credit: Nassima Rothacker
This is one of the most important basics in this book, and the most versatile. The neutral taste of cashews makes this yoghurt ideal as a base in many of the recipes throughout the book. It is super easy to make, and lasts for a long time, too.
- 280 g (10 oz / 1 ¾ cups) cashews
- 250 ml (8 ½ fl oz / 1 cup) water
- 1/2 probiotic capsule
Start by soaking the cashew nuts for 2 hours. All you need to do is add them into a bowl and cover with water. Drain the soaked nuts and tip them into a blender. Discard the soaking water, add the fresh water and the probiotic capsule into a blender and blitz until you get a smooth texture.
If you are doing this in a high-speed blender, make sure not to overheat the mixture as this will kill off the probiotics.
Once blended, transfer to a glass or plastic container. Do not use a metal one as the mixture won’t ferment. Leave the container outside the fridge for 24 hours with a tea towel or muslin cloth on top so that the mixture can breathe, and to keep out any insects flies.
After 24 hours the mixture will be slightly fizzy and bubbly, which means it has fermented, so give it a good mix. Place a proper top on the glass container and leave it in the fridge for later use.
The yoghurt will last for up to 7 days in the fridge ready to use.
Tip: If you’re in a hurry, soften the cashews by pouring hot water on them and soak them for 15 minutes. Make sure you cool them off in cold water before blending. I would recommend soaking them for 2 hours, but I understand that we are all busy bees!
If you are allergic to nuts, the cashews can be substituted with sunflower seeds. Just follow the same measurements and method.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi published by Hardie Grant Books July 2018, RRP $29.99 hardcover.