September 21, 2006

a humble story of cassava

I love cassava. As an Indonesian, I used to enjoy various treats made from cassava. It's truly and ultimate accompanies are coconut threads and palm sugar.

My late grandmother used to serve any kind of sweets made from cassava she could cook for us, along with the humble fragrant of jasmine tea, brewed in a clay pot, in the afternoon. Then we would take a stroll in her fruit garden which in season would be filled with rambutans of all sorts and colors (she got red and yellow hairy skin types), durians which were hanging (often at night when we were sleeping over, we were coken up by them falling down the trees, and early morning we found it was all ripen and was ready to be eaten--oh-so-fresh-from-the-tree), bananas (she also had red-skin bananas, I think she named it pisang udang which literally is translated to shrimp banana as the skin resembles red shrimp skin when it's boiled or cooked--well, not that red, but it was almost maroonish color), guavas, jackfruits, and mangoes of all sorts. Often our car was stuffed with the mixed of aromas in the air when we went back home. My late and beloved grandmother was a very good gardener and a classic cook.

In special occasions, like Ramadhan or Ied el Fitr, my grandmother always sent us her homemade fermented cassava or black rice, wrapped in banana leaves. I always love the smell of fermentation enclosed the cassava pieces and just couldn't help myself to unwrap the parcels and gobble down one by one.

I was still too little and way too ignorant--pity me-- to understand about fermentation at that time, but what I do remember that my grandmother used to use banana leaves to wrap the pieces and she often just ripped off the leaves straight from her gaden. I don't use banana leaves to cover the fermented cassavas as they are not available fresh from the garden. I often ask my friend who lives in Auckland to buy a package of frozen banana leaves for some occasions or when I'm missing my grandmother's homecooking and sweets, but they are not the same.

However, this is the second time I fermented cassava myself, in remembering how I miss my grandmother. The steps are very easy. Thaw the cassava (if you buy them frozen, like I do), then steam the until they are cooked. Leave them cold. Then scatter the ground starter (available at Asian groceries and market), cover, leave for more or less 5 days, then you'll see the nature takes over fermentation around the cassava pieces.

There are many recipes posted anywhere in the world using fermented cassava, but this time I'm making my own way. I am fond of desserts, and if I can make it myself, it's just like making the Eden comes down on Earth. Impossible? Well, at least it's worth trying.

So, yesterday, I tried to make creme brulee, made from fermented cassava but I'll leave it on to you to taste it.

Fermented Cassava Creme Brulee
by Arfi Binsted

150g fermented cassava, mashed
300ml coconut cream
200ml thickened cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
caster or brown sugar to sprinkle

Gently heat coconut cream and thickened cream together in a saucepan until they are well mixed and bring to boil. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and sugar until pale, then mix in the mashed fermented cassava. Strain. Pour the coconut and cream mixture gradually and keep stirring. Put back to the heat, on top of a saucepan. Cook until the mixture thickens (the mixture will coat the back of the spoon). Remove from the heat and pour them into 6 small ramekins. Water bath for 20 minutes. Cool, then chill. Sprinkle with caster or brown sugar just before serving and caramelise them under a hot grill or use a blow torch. Serve warm.

September 18, 2006

5 Things to Eat Before Dining Up in The Sky

This is the second time I got tagged. And I haven't either shared my 5 things or tagged anyone else. Is it fair to just mention 5 things?? I've got more than 5, you see.

Oh, well... here they are:

1. My Mum's fried rice which smells and tastes heavenly delicious. It's a humble ordinary mixture of rice, dried anchovies and fried peanuts, accompanied by Palembangese fish crackers.

2. Creme brulee at French Cafe. They say it's heavenly creamy. Oh, God help me!

3. Anything what Gordon Ramsay cooks for dessert (I love desserts). He said that he takes care of desserts as much as meals.

4. Jasmine tea (well, we don't eat it, but I'd love to have a sip) which my late grandmother uses to brew it in a clay teapot for us when we came down to see her. I love the way she made it.

5. Chocolate truffles from every chocolate factory in the world with every flavour to taste.

Now, it seems I have to turn the wheels. Who's next?

Here they are:
Kevin of WannabeTVchef
budi of budiboga
Suburban Hippy

lovely sunday

I must admit that having Barbara and Bryan for lunch at home is an enjoyable moment in my life. A bit confused of what I should cook, but then after a few emails I could make a decision. Gladly, they were all enjoyed. Here are the recipes.

Coriander Chicken Roast with Peanut Sauce

I didn't take a picture of the version I served on Sunday, so I use an old one as I regularly cook it. The best thing to do is to use coriander seeds instead of the powder one as they'll give more flavour. I served this chicken with peanut sauce and coconut rice (rice steamed in coconut milk, adding ground coriander and a bay leaf), and sauteed vegies (sweet peas, carrots, spring onions, cabbages, and mung bean sprouts--just bring them together into a frying pan, dot a bit of butter, and a good sprinkle of garlic salt--don't cook them too long otherwise you won't get the crunchy bite).


1.5kg whole chicken (free-range is the best!)
2 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp sea salt
3-5 (depends on how strong the flavour you want) cloves garlic
1 tsp tamarind paste, diluted in 2 Tbs warm water

Basting sauce:
2 Tbs salted butter,
2 Tbs sweet soy sauce
(Mix the ingredients)

Clean the chicken, trim any excess. You can butterfly them as figured in the picture, or cut them up into 4 portions (each wing with half of breast that'll make 2 pieces, then legs). This will cut the roasting time. Pat the chicken with paper towel. Put them in a big bowl. Pour the tamarind water onto the chicken pieces, let it rest for a while. Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, sea salt, and garlic with your mortar and pestle, then message this mixture all over the chicken pieces. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160C, put the chicken in a roasting dish, cover with foil, and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 180C, keep basting the chicken with the basting sauce. Bake for further 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Peanut Sauce
I just wanted to be quick, so I used peanut butter instead of blended the roasted peanuts into the food processor. You can use 300g to 500g roasted peanuts and 5 roasted garlic cloves for full flavour of the sauce (traditionally, peanut sauce is ground together with other ingredients until thick, then will be diluted into a certain consistency for serving).

2 cups peanut butter
1 cup sweet chilli sauce (for hotter version, use fresh chilli birds or red chillies)
3 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 block palm sugar (1 Tbs brown sugar to substitute)
1 tsp tamarind paste diluted with 1/2 cup of warm water, strained, reserve the water
1 Tbs sweet soy sauce
3 Tbs coconut milk

Put the peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce, mashed garlic, coriander, cumin into a saucepan, mix well on a medium heat, then pour in the tamarind mixture, sweet soy sauce, and coconut milk. You can add more water if it's too thick, cook until you can see any oil from the peanut on the surface of the sauce.

As for the dessert, I came up with individual serving of yogurt-fruit pudding. I thought it might be good after enjoying spiced meals. I didn't take a picture of it, but as I often make it for special occasions, I posted another picture of it. To serve on Sunday, I simply put them into small bowls for individual serving, but in this picture I used a fancy pudding mould my friend gave me as a present last time.

Fruit Salad Yogurt Pudding
Indonesian version click here

This is a newer version of the recipe I wrote in FoodnGarden, as I didn't have rambutan in juice. Instead, I used lycees as we bought them fresh (in their own skins!!)one day, so I left these lycess in their own juice in the fridge (after peeled them, of course!). I also reduced the amount of orange juice and I used honey instead of sugar. About the yogurt, he creamy Greek yogurt is fairly creamier than the peach and vanilla flavour, for sure!!

1 litre plain yogurt (on Sunday I used peach and vanilla mixture of yogurt)
1/2 cup honey
6 tsps gelatine
2 Tbs orange juice
1 can of fruit salad, drained well
100g fresh lycees (peeled and stoned)

Mix the yogurt and honey together. Stir gelatine into the orange juice, heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds, stir well. Set aside to cool a bit, then pour it into the yogurt mixture, followed by fruit salad and lycees. Pour into the mould or moulds. Serve.

I promised Barbara that I would make chocolate truffles for her when she came down, and I did. I was glad she enjoyed that. I made two different truffles: plain chocolate truffles with Bailey's cream, and the other was mixed with chopped roasted almond and rum essence.

Bailey's Chocolate Truffles

250g dark chocolate (I used 72% cocoa solids), chopped
4 Tbs cream
2 Tbs Bailey's cream

Heat the cream until almost boiling, remove from the heat, then add chopped chocolate. Stir until mixed well, then add Bailey's cream. Put into the fridge until it's hardened. Roll into balls, put them back into the fridge, then coat them with dark cooking chocolate or you can just roll them into cocoa powder.

I also made lemon cake for the same occasion, a mildest of all. Taken from David Herbert's cookbook "The Perfect Cookbook", this recipe is clever. You'll see.

Lemon Cake
by: David Herbert

185g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a 23 x 12 cm loaf tin and line the base with baking paper. In an electric mixer, beat the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest for 2-3 minutes, or until soft and well mixed. Gradually add the beaten eggs, alternating with a spoonful of the flour, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the remaining flour and mix gently until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 50-60 minutes (my oven only took 45 minutes), or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack.
Mix together the sugar and lemon juice until just combined, without letting the sugar dissolve. Quickly spoon the sugar mixture over the top of the warm cake. The juice will sink into the cake and the sugar will form a crunchy topping (this is CLEVER).

The End.

September 05, 2006

way to use up bananas

my children love banana and banana smoothies. and we stock up bags and bags of bananas until the next our groceries day comes. sometimes, i'm the creator of the banana smoothie feels like hey, i've got enough with these smoothies thing. do something else. and i did.

this cake is certainly moist and easy to make. i use cocoa powder because i don't like to see bananas go black on the plain cake. and to finish it, i coat the cake with thin ganache and just drizzle some white chocolate on top. kids love it!

Banana Chocolate Cake

3 large bananas, chopped
130 unsalted butter
160g caster sugar
6 eggs
200g standard flour sifted with 25g cocoa powder, 2g baking soda, 2g baking powder,
and 1g salt
100g dark cooking chocolate + 100g cream, melted to make ganache
50g white cooking chocolate, melted

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add eggs one at a time. Add in the chopped bananas, combined well. Sift the mixture of flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt over the mixing bowl, mix well. Pour into the prepared 22cm ring cake tin in the preheated moderate oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to the wire rack to cool completely. Then ice with ganache and drizzle with the white chocolate. Serves 8.