January 31, 2007

Rice Salad Stack and Tofu Balls

I probably am crazy about rice and tofu despite the fact that I grew up mainly to get used to eat rice as the staple food, and tofu as a humble companion of the kind. Tempeh is the other popular choice at home and I'm trying to sound over the top when sepaking about tempeh. Unfortunately, not many Westerns know or like either tofu or tempeh, and sadly saying, they are hard to find.

Well, I'm not going to be a complaint or something. I'm just missing them, but however, I'm not letting myself being homesick again. Not good for my well-being, really.

Anyway, this rice salad stack just came out of the blue, when I just didn't know what to cook for lunch. The deep-fried tofu balls are just good enough to accompany the salad. We're not a sandwhich-club type of family for I always cook hot food for lunch. Crackers or bread are just some kind of treats. Perhaps you want to cook hot food for a change, here's the recipes.

Rice Salad Stack

2 cups cooked rice,
1 medium red onion, chopped,
5 cloves garlic, chopped,
1 long runner bean, chopped,
1 red capsicum, diced,
2 sprigs parsley, chopped,
3/4 cup cooked shrimps,
1 Tbs olive oil,
1 tsp fish sauce,
salt and pepper

Heat the oil on a frying pan. Cook the chopped onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add in chopped vegetables and shrimps. Sautee well. Add in shrimps, mix again. Add in the cooked rice, mix well. Drizzle the fish sauce, sprinkle salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Cook until all vegetables and rice are combined. A minute before removing from the stove, sprinkle the chopped parsley, mix well. Put the rice salad into a teacup or a measuring cup for a good look. Serve warm.

Tofu Balls [gluten-free]

You can serve these balls with a bowl of cucumber raita for a snack or an appetizer. Add more cheese or stuff diced Edam or Mozarella into the balls for melt effect while served warm. I haven't tried to use breadcrumbs due to my daughter's eczema, but you can try that. Just feel free to modify for your personal taste.

2 blocks silk tofu,
2 big shallots, finely chopped,
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
1 sprig parsley, finely chopped,
½ cup grated carrot,
1 tsp curry powder,
½ tsp ground whitepepper,
½ tsp ground coriander,
a dash of fish sauce,
1 Tbs gluten-free flour,
¼ cup grated Edam,
3 egg whites,
oil for deep frying

Mix together tofu, chopped shallots, chopped garlic, chopped parsley, grated carrot, curry powder, whiteppeper, coriander, fish sauce, flour, and Edam until all ingredients are well combined. Roll into small balls. Whisk egg whites lightly. Deep the tofu balls into the egg whites, then deep fry until golden brown. Serve warm.

January 30, 2007

Chilled Triple Cheesecake

I have tempted to make this cheesecake since I found the recipe from Femmy Jaco's blog. It looks easy to make (it does!) and doesn't need to bake. The original recipe uses white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate, but since my hubby isn't really a dark-chocolate man, I had to omit it. This cheesecake is served chilled. Couldn't go wrong to drizzle fudge chocolate sauce for a richer version. I just stick not to use dark chocolate. Cream and chocolate are a rich combination already.

Chilled Triple Cheesecake

Source: Femmy Jaco with original source of 35 Variasi Resep-resep Cheesecake, Yasaboga.

Base: the original recipe is using genoise sponge, but I use 200g of my homemade chocolate chip cookies + 75g melted butter, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp fresh milk—mix them in the food processor until resembles fine crumbs. Press on the base of 20cm cake tin.

375g cream cheese (I used 500g Tararua Lite Cheesecake Fillinga bit cheating, pardon me),
250ml pouring cream—whipped (I used 300ml crème fraiche),
125ml fresh milk,
125g caster sugar (I used only 100g),
60g white chocolate (I used 100g white chocolate),
60g milk chocolate (I used 100g milk chocolate),
60g dark chocolate (didn't use) [all chocolates are melted in the separate bowls],
1 ½ Tbs gelatine,
60ml water

Chill the prepared base in the fridge for 1 hour. Heat the gelatine and water, stir well. Set aside. Mix cream cheese until smooth (I mixed it together with crème fraiche), then mix in milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add in gelatin, stir well. Divide the mixture in 3 bowls, add in each chocolate in each different bowl. Pour the white chocolate mixture on the biscuit base, chill in the freezer until it's firm. Then repeat the process with the rest of the chocolates (dark chocolate will be on the top layer—but to me, it's just another imagination to create something you like). Covered, chill in the fridge. Serve chilled.

BPW-Valentine's Day

love can be mysterious,
love can be hilarious,
can't be too serious,
can't be too notorious

Yet it often is struck the mind of a genius, how can it build the weak-minded strong, how it can be played like a pingpong games, but truly speaking it's something we are searching for.

What's life without lofe? One can still live, but must be lonely. As love can make a stupid thing looks briliant, vice versa, depending on how deep you measure your love.

Probably not something to be measured, but something to be valued.

Whatever your reason to love, there's a love for friendship. A love for sharing. A love beyond intimacy relationships, but intimacy beyond the world.

That's the reason I'm sending this card to whom may receive it. It's far more fun to have someone far and appreciate your existence even through a piece of paper. It's what to appreciate the most is the attention, the presence, the sharing.

Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey has been organizing this event. Everyone who enters will send postcard for Valentine's Day occasion to another foodie blogger as the recipient and will then receive her/his postcard by another foodie blogger via snail mail.

I chose this card because I believe love of friendship is always a joy. I find this card is sending that message, apart from kissy lips.

I have to send it today, as I thought post office might have been close yesterday for the Auckland Anniversary Day. I'm sorry for the delay, but it's on the way now. I'm just hoping it will give the joy to the person who receives it.

Cheers from the Happy Heart!

January 28, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

I still could hear that rhytmn in my head, drumming. Ice ice baby...dung dung dung... Was it in 80's when that first White hip hop boy popped up and grabbed so much attention worldwide? I thought I was at my school year. It was played at department stores, shops, music outlets, simply everywhere.

I think ice cream (Bahasa Indonesia = es krim) is just the same, it's universal. It's enjoyed everywhere by anyone.

It is hot here in New Zealand (yay!!! finally, we get our Summer) and it's the time of the year to enjoy ice cream. I made vanilla ice cream when Barbara was here to lunch with us, but then I was thinking of something else. Green tea ice cream was my first choice. I used David Herbert's vanilla bean ice-cream from his book The Perfect Cookbook, but I infused the green tea in the milk.

I used to drink green tea since I was a teenager. My Papa (Dad) was good at stuffing us stuffs like that. He's aware of the goodness of it. He probably doesn't want me or any of his children gets cancer as we have a cancer history from my Mum's side.

I had a breast tumor when I was just 21 [my Mum had had it twice on both breast before] and was removed immediately. It was my miserable moment. I was just going to take an exam at the university, but then I had to take those pills which made my hair fell into a hair-ball in a couple of days, then later, I had to end up on the surgery table. The doctor gave me a remark 'it's alright, it's only a small surgery.' It was a big deal for me. I never forget, but I discarded the lump. Scary thing.

And my Papa was with me, all day, all night. He was by my side where my Mum had to be at somewhere else I couldn't remember now. He watched me and probably was thinking a lot about what was going on. I knew he didn't want me to suffer as we both were watching my grandmother dying and later died of cancer. I knew he didn't want me to end up like that. So he eventually searched green tea since that day and had me drink it each day. My good old Papa.

I couldn't remember if it was Sencha or any other Japanese tea, as Indonesia itself has large tea plantations across the archipelago. One of them I ever know is Subang tea plantation. I always hiked up on a steep hill along the road to Subang every Sunday. The plantation is located on the feet of Tangkubang Perahu Mauntain and is stretched from Lembang to Ciater, Subang, which is around 1-2 hours away from Bandung, depending on what vehicle you are driving.

I love Bandung. I just love the climate, the people, the culture (enjoy the traditional music of angklung or instrumental music like sabilulungan, it's just so peaceful!) especially the food! There are endless tastebud journey one can enjoy once s/he arrives there. I was so glad I had ever lived there for 8 years, though not so much culinary trip I had [for I was only a student and a part-time translator].

Without further ado, here's the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream
[green tea infused]

Source: The Perfect Cookbook [David Herbert. Viking. 2003]

2 cups milk, 1 vanilla bean, ¾ cup sencha, 6 egg yolks, 125g castor (superfine) sugar, 1 cup cream, lightly whipped

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthways, scrap out the seeds. Put both seeds and pod into the milk, together with green tea. Cook slowly until the simmering point. Set aside for 10 minutes. Sieved. Discard the green tea, but reserve the vanilla pod.

Whisk the egg yolks with sugar for 4-5 minutes or until thick and pale. Trickle the milk into the egg mixture and whisk gently. Bring this mixture over a low heat (I put the bowl on top of a saucepan with hot water), and cook until custard-like—test the back of your metal spoon, if the mixture doesn't drip, then it's done. Remove from the heat, and discard the bean pod. Set aside to cool.

Whisk in the whipped cream. If you have an ice-cream machine, then you can jus follow the instruction. If you don't have an ice-cream machine, like me, you have to freeze the mixture on a metal tray until half frozen, then put it into a chilled bowl of food processor, pulse until smooth. Return to the metal tray, and do this step one more time. Put the ice cream into an ice-cream container, covered and freeze until ready to use.

Now, let's sing that song again, shall we?

ice ice baby...
dung dung dung...

January 26, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging-Garlic

Ed of Tomatom is the host of Weekend Herb Blogging this week. Since I love herbs and love growing herbs myself, I think this will be fun.

My favourite herb is allium family, which is both considered as vegetables and herbs. In The Ultimate New Zealand Gardening Book composed by Geoff Bryant divided this allium family into those two categories: vegetables are shallot [allium ascalonicum], onion/spring onion/scallion [allium cepa], tree onion [allium cepa var. aggregatum], and leek [allium porrum], where garlic [allium sativum] and chives [allium schoenoprasum] are considered herbs.

It's known that this genus consists of over 700 species which can be grown all over the world in temperate climates, which have similar appearance and smell.

I grew these herbs by seeds sold in garden centres. I tend to either use seeding trays or only sprinkle the seeds in the prepared garden. As I posted about New Seasons from my garden, that I grew them for kitchen supplies, though they're growing more than enough.

Anyway, garlic is the most herb I adore and use on daily basis. And I grew them from bulbs I purchased from the market or shops. I tend to choose those cloves which still have roots. I'm not sure why, but once I read in one issue on Donna Hay magazine that garlic with roots are NZ grown. So, I want to grow local products, because I know they are good.

It was a very simple task, really, to just bury each clove in the ground around each rose I have and other space I could find in my garden. So to say, they were there, growing their bulbs for me. It was just amazing.

Of what is written by Geoff Bryant garlic is stated to have two main variety: Giant Russian [allium giganteum] and common garlic [allium sativum]. The giant must be massive, it's so called 'Jumbo' and happens to be much larger than the common one. I'm not sure if I'm growing this.

I read a book about natural therapies written by the editors of Time-Life Books "The Alternative Advisor: The Complete Guide to Natural Therapies & Alternative Treatments" and there's written some information about garlic that it's been cultivated for a medicinal remedy in both Chinese and Western cultures.

'Garlic's active ingredient is allicin, which is also responsible for the herb's pungent smell. In China this herb is prescribed for colds and coughs and for intestinal and digestive disorders. Chinese herbalists believe garlic can be used externally as an antibiotic and antifungal treatment for skin infections. Western herbalists prescribe it for many of the same ailments as their Chinese counterparts. It is also used to reduce cholesterol and to lower blood pressure.' p.83.

Another fact that I read about garlic is written by G.J. Binding of "Vegetables and Herbs with A Difference":

'Garlic has allayed the symptoms of ageing, reduced blood pressure, has been used in the treatment of intestinal diseases and all infections of the respiratory tract, cured skin complaints and has countless other wonderful achievements to its credit. It is in fact the finest cure that terrible complaint bronchitis, often known as 'The Englishman Disease'.' p.17

So, a garlic a day will take your cholesterol away.

January 25, 2007

New Seasons from My Garden [when I'm not attending the kitchen]

Once upon a time, a cook was shocked to find her basket where she put all of her garlic cloves empty. Tragically, she forgot to put it on the shopping list, and there's no way to go shopping on Sunday! She felt like dying, but at the same time wondered by the fact that she's depending so much on garlic to flavour her dishes on daily basis use.

Yes, that was me. Therefore, when I read in a book that garlic is a companion plant for roses and can be acting like a safeguard to prevent diseases, I certainly took it for granted. I've got to grow my own garlic for my 30 rose bushes. Imagine that I can plant 6-10 cloves around each rose, how many will I harvest in the end of Summer? I did the math. Surely, I then planted garlic everywhere I can. No space could be found without a garlic or two. I even crammed them in amongst my annuals and perennials. That worked!

This year, I harvested more garlic than I ever bought in a store. And the flavour is much stronger than I've ever tasted before. I am still learning to dry them properly, though. The earth-floored and no-door garage we have provides plenty of sunlight to help it drying. At least, that's the place I think the best. Well, that's what I have.

Frankly, our vegetable garden is not really well-looked after like we used to do last year or the year before, yet I could maintain colors in the garden with a row of roses, wildflowers, as well as annuals and perennials. John has been too busy with his handy-jobs around the house and farm. He just seemed got no time to do some weeding. But, fortunately he doesn't forget to grow potatoes, and plant an abundance supplies of green beans and butterbeans, as well as peas. Maori potatoes (I forgot which sort) are always a treat to dig out from the garden. I just love the flavour of the purple flesh, it's my favourite spud! This year, we haven't got much crop of them. Is Kay Baxter still running Koanga Garden?

Our perennial runner beans are still growing well and are giving us more bunches of its plentiful crops each day. And there's also patches of broccoli, to mention a few, which I've done frozen them for Winter supplies, just in case, Onewhero is snowy and icey that will be blocking our way to do groceries—which is impossible. The fact that frost we had last Winter slowed down the crops in Pukekohe, so I read. We had to stop buying the florets as the price was knocking on the rooftop.

This year, I also grow corianders, a bit further than trial and error I did last year. I successfully grew them from seeds I bought from a garden centre and germinating them myself. I didn't only plant them on a patch in the garden, but also did cram them in front of my sweet peas patch. Looking good, mingling with sweet peas with various colors. Perhaps, this way my garden is called informal garden or cottage style garden? I don't know. But to me, I feel good about it.

One thing I am feeling absolutely puzzled is that my red spring onions turning into red onions! How could it be? I was surely reading the packet correctly: red spring onions which will produce red stems instead of white stems. I thought that will be good! And it's new to the garden, new to the cook! So, I germinated, transplanted, watered, and then was surprised to see the result of what came out now. Probably, it's just one thing to be grateful of. It makes me pondered, though, whether red spring onions are actually red onions? But

And I don't forget my own herbs garden. I just used one part of our backyard, used to be Angel Trumpet's bushes which made the backyard be dark and dangerous. I don't want to provide any toxic plants in and around my garden, for my children safety reason, so I had John to chain-saw down the bushes which was apparently trying to grow more through the roots. It seemed that we just pruned them. So, the final battle was to brush diesel and oil on to the wounded roots. And they surrendered. Then, I had to cut all the rest of the bushes which are shooting out from the roots of the big tree on the left side of the house. I can't help that. I just need to cut them back each year, before they're developing trunks! Ouch, no more trees! Short version is that I managed to grow my own herbs there, which I crammed parsley (flat and curly), onion, spring onion, shallots, garlic, oregano, marjoram, spearmint, rosemary, thyme, chives, and coriander. Not bad for me who's a newbie learner as well as grower to Western herbs and culinary world.

I think I've made the most of my time attending the garden and kitchen. And, they're both playing an important role to produce better flavour, especially vegetables. It's just very simple and humble as well as handy at the same time to have kitchen garden to supply what I need for the kitchen. It's not happened to be the best garden in the world, but to me it's just something to be grateful for the opportunity to have such a beautiful land and a willingness for a hard work. I'm not only thinking about myself, but I'm thinking about the people around me. It's such a very good feeling to be able to share the fruit of my labour to the people who care and who I care about.

Apart from that, it's the nature who grows them. I'm just the planter.

[Alright, I'm off to soak in with my kids. It's pretty hot in here.]

January 22, 2007

SHF#27-Chocolate By Brand

David Lebovitz is the host of Sugar High Friday #27. This event was initiated by Jennifer of Domestic Goddess which attracts many participates all over the world. I'm quite happy to enter this year round.

SHF #27 is themed Chocolate By Brand. Talking about chocolate brand is taking me back to several journeys I made until I've got this far. I was used to enjoy my home country's cashew nuts covered with milky chocolate. I think it was called Silver or some sort, I can't remember now. It was very sweet with crunchy nuts in every bite. I used to eat bars and bars of it. And then, there was candy-like bars--tasted like Mars bars--which were called beng beng chocolate. I loved it's caramel chewy inside which fully covered by chocolate, either dark or milk.

And then there was ranges of Delfi and Nestle which then came to front of first pick on the confectionery items. I always love the Black Forest theme. Luscious and dangerous!

Living in New Zealand, and then be introduced to different flavour of chocolates, massive brands, such as Whittaker's, Pam's, then again, Nestle and all of those dark chocolate versionof paradise... oh..I got lost! But truly, I do love DARK chocolate. My very favourite, EVER! Love the bitter edge of it, linger in my tastebud for further joy, intimate, and ... thousands words of praise... of something larger than luscious... I don't doubt it. Wonderful!

Whittaker's is my first choice to use when I am craving of chocolate or am wanting to create something marvelous. It's not really taking deep in my pocket to buy bars of it, and there's another reason: I do love the bitter edge of every tiny square of it. I think a homecook like I am would much appreciate to get an affordable ingredients as well as to create briliant flavours.

Well, then I've got write this recipe. I got it from Donna Hay's Winter issue. Lovely.

Baked Chocolate Fudge

Source: Donna Hay Magazine, Winter Edition, Issue 28.

400g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Whittaker's 72% dark chocolate), 120g unsalted butter, 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup fresh (single or pouring) cream, 2 Tbs instant coffee, 5 eggs, 2 Tbs plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Place the chocolate, butter, sugar, cream, and coffee in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the mixture melted and smooth. Place the eggs and the flour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and pour into a lightly greased 7 ½ x 32 ½ cm (3 x 13 in) rectangular tin line with baking paper. Place the tin in a deep baking tray and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the tin. Bake for 2 ¼ hours or until the chocolate fudge loaf is cooked when tested with a skewer. Place the tin in the fridge and allow to cool completely. Remove the fudge loaf from the tin and slice to serve. Serves 10.

Leftover Tuesdays-Baked Frittatta

David of Cooking Chat had initiated this idea. Frankly saying, I do re-cook my leftovers and it's often after we'd had a festive or a roast, either chicken, lamb, or beef. Each leftover is special and will turn to another special dish. Well, it's much rather be on the plate than dumped into the chooks' bucket.

Anyway, last time I had a roast chicken and vegetables. What was left was the debris of chicken wings with other parts which I suppose could be turned into something else to be enjoyed by the rest of the family. And also I still have three roast potatoes, and one slice of kumara (sweet poatato), 5 cloves roast garlic, and some small slices of onions.

What came to my mind was something really simple that I could just then relax without further journeying another long cooking time, and that will be a frittatta. Baked one would be good. So, here's what I did.

Baked Leftover Vegetables Frittatta

5 large eggs
1 cup leftover chicken, shredded
3 cooked potatoes, chopped
1 slice kumara, chopped
2 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
5 cloves roast garlic
slices of onions
freshly cracked blackpepper
1 Tbs cream
1/2 cup grated Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a shallow dish and grease well. Whisk together the eggs and cream until fluffy. Add in all the ingredients, season well. Baked until cooked. Serve warm with chutney and greens.

January 20, 2007

One Day in January

The day started with rolling gray clouds in the sky. And, I had been attending my kitchen since I woke up this morning. First, I had to make breakfast, then made the bed, watered the garden before the sun was finally shining (apparently there was no sun but humid!), and went back in my kitchen to stay there until our guests arrived.

I supposed to have Tim and Celine as well for this occasion, but I then learned that they both couldn't come for some reasons. Though this was not the event that I would expect to have, I just thought it went quite well.

First thing when Barbara and Bryan arrived, we took a walk to the orchard. I showed Barbara where our greengages were growing, and she took a bite. I could see at that moment the appreciation of the flavour you couldn't exactly find in shops or supermarkets. Then my appreciation was growing bigger to really have such a big opportunity to enjoy what we have now. It's a wonderful life.

I cooked a bowl of jasmine rice, a nice plump roast chicken, a bowl of gado-gado (Indonesian salads with peanut sauce), and a bowl of sambal telur manis (eggs in chunky sweet chilli sauce). I also made tiny fruit salad served with my homemade vanilla ice cream for the dessert (which apparently people were quite stuffy afterwards so we had to have a little break in between), and a batch of chocolate truffles to enjoy with the coffee. And there was a jug of lemon and pineapple juice, freshy squeezed from fresh fruits.

Here are the recipes.

Ayam Panggang Ketumbar (Coriander Chicken Roast)

1.8kg whole chicken, 1 lemon

Marinate Sauce: 5 cloves garlic, ½ tsp sea salt, 2 lemons, 2 Tbs coriander seeds, 4 cloves garlic, 1 Tbs rice bran oil

Basting sauce: 2 Tbs salted butter, 2 Tbs sweet soy sauce, 1 Tbs sweet chilli sauce
Wash the chicken, pat dry with paper towel, add 1 lemon inside the cavity together with 4 cloves garlic. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken. Set aside.

Meanwhile, grind together the remaining garlic, salt, coriander seeds to a paste, spoon one teaspoon inside the cavity. Spread the remaining paste all over the chicken. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

Basting sauce: Mix all ingredients together.

Preheat the oven to 180C, put the chicken in the roasting dish, brush the chicken and roast slow for about 1-2 hours until cooked. Keep basting with the basting sauce and watch for it can burn easily because of the use of sweet soy sauce. Stand for 10 minutes. Remove to the serving plate. Serve warm.

Lemon and Pineapple Juice

1 pineapple (peeled, juiced), 4 lemons, 1 cup caster sugar, 2 cups water.

Dissolve the sugar with the water, then add lemon and pineapple juice. Cook until boiling and slightly thicken. Cool. Pour into a jug with water, 2 lemons (sliced) and sprigs of mint.

Sambal Telur Manis
(Eggs in Chunky Sweet Chilli Sauce)

I often make this dish on several occassions with different degrees of spicy in each flavour. Once I tried without chillies and of course, they went good. Then I tried again in a different occasion with 1 red chillies and 1 Tbs of Sambal Oelek, the result was no complain from each guest. I was the one who was surprised, how this dish could be welcomed on a foreign tastebuds—or are there the genes? Then, on this occasion, I omitted the chilli, instead I used 1 Tbs Sambal Oelek. And it went alright. None of my guests complained. Sue Dwen even asked me if I added more chillies, because last time she had had it, she enjoyed it so much. She was wondering if I would add it up to a higher degree. But I wasn't sure if Barbara of Bryan would be able to eat hot food, especially hot hot chilly food. Traditionally, some home-cooks regard chillies like hot pleasures. My aunty, for example, would use heaps of both red chillies and bird chillies for one bowl of sambal. I was like living in a hot oven.

10 hard-boiled eggs, peeled,
3 big shallots, peeled and diced,
5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced,
2 tomatoes, diced, 1 Tbs Sambal Oelek,
1 block dark palm sugar,
1 tsp shrimp paste (or 2 tsps fish sauce),
sea salt,
1 bay leaf,
1 tsp ground ginger (or 2cm fresh ginger),
1 tsp ground galangal (or 2cm fresh galangal),
1 Tbs rice bran oil,
1 tsp tamarind paste,
3 Tbs warm water.

Heat the oil and put diced shallots, garlic, tomatoes and sea salt in the pan on a low heat, covered. Let them become soft and wilt, then squash with a fork. Add in sambal oelek, palm sugar, shrimp paste, bay leaf, ginger, and galangal. Dilute tamarind paste with warm water, then add into the mixture. Let it boil. Correct the seasoning. Add in the eggs. Cook further 15 minutes until the mixture is thicken. Serve 6.

My Vanilla Ice Cream
I served the ice cream with tiny fruit salad. I got this idea from one of the Cuisine issues. It was Ray McVinnie's recipe. He used rhubarb gelato on his tiny fruit salad but I used vanilla ice cream. His tiny fruit salad contains of vegetables including capsicums and courgettes, but mine is pure fruits. I thought they're quite gorgeous in tiny forms.

500mls fresh milk,
500mls fresh cream,
2-3 cups sugar,
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed,
6 egg yolks

Put milk in a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod and scrap out the seeds, put them in the milk together with the pod. Heat the milk until simmering point. Meanwhile, cream the sugar and egg yolks in another bowl until pale. Trickle the milk into the egg yolk and stir well. Bring them to the stove on a low heat, stir well. Cook until the mixture is thicken and covered the back of the spoon. Strain and remove the vanilla pod. Let cool. Whisk the cream until soft. Take one tablespoon of the cream to the egg mixture, mix well. Then, mix in the rest. Pour into a freezer-suitable container, freeze for 2 hours. Remove from the container into a food processor, process until smooth. Return it to the container and freeze again. It's pretty much easier if I have an ice-cream maker, but I don't, unfortunately.

January 19, 2007

Hay Hay It's Donna Hay-Souffle

Tami of Running with Tweezers is the host of HHDH 2007-Souffle theme. I've been missing this kind of events last year and the year before, so I thought I'll be ready this year. I'll start with this one.

Actually, this is my first attempt baking souffle. For the sake of curiosity, I was tempted to bake both savoury and sweet versions, however I will only post the savoury one for this challenge.

I thought I made it well. The mixture was rising as soon as were put in the hot oven. I just loved watching it.

And here's the result.

The recipe I took was from Tami's page, but I didn't put spinach in it. I had some leftover vegetables we had from last night, so I just chopped them and sautee them with onions and garlics, seasoned with blackpepper and salt, layered them on the bottom of the dish, then pour over the cheese mixture. I think I couldn't go wrong. Hearty on the base and airy, cheesy sponge on top. It was delicious!

January 17, 2007

Gluten-Free Treats

I was struck by the fact that my daughter now has to deal with eczema. The fact which hardly made me thinking about doing any baking whatsoever.

I was very disappointed and angry: why now? After 2 years she didn't give us any symptom that she would carry the same disease as her older brother. We almost thought that she would never get eczema. Now she just has to deal with disturbed sleeps and has to get rid of the itchy sensation by scratching hard. I am so sad to look at her skin now, what a shame. Though we've cut her sugar, dairy, and wheat products, it seems it's not enough. I know this can't be cured over fortnight efforts, yet this is truly frustrating.

She loves cookies and she always enjoys every goodies I bake. Her head will nod following the rhytmn of her chewing every bit of it while humming 'mm...good, mum..niiiiiice!'. And I've missed it and I know she misses it, too. Furthermore, I'm frustrating as she often asks for it, but I don't have such goodies to make anymore. I don't want her to get sick more than she's been dealing with at present.

I always know that Healtheries has a range of gluten-free ingredients to help parents like us to be able to give children a special treat without being sick. I have been using them since my son had had eczema as soon as he was born 4 years ago, and now I had to keep them in my pantry.

Last Christmas, I had to bake her own cookies as a treat while everyone else was enjoying goodies from wheat. I was happy to see her enjoying what she couldn't be having too much these very days. I'm just hoping she'll understand. And I'm just hoping this recipe will be useful for those Mums who's having the same matters to matter like I am.

GF Peanut Butter Cookies

Actually, I didn't really measure when I baked these little goodies. I made them in a hurry. I'm writing this to be as close as to the approximate measurement. I didn't make them too sweet, but if you fancy sweetest things, feel free to add more sugar. I'd like to drizzle these cookies with dark chocolate cake, but it seems cocoa is still too rich for her as it'll intrigue more scratching at night. If your children are well -praise them- you may well be able to create something more attractive than plain biscuits.

100g unsalted butter,
100g peanut butter,
½ cup sugar,
2 cups Healtheries gluten-free baking mix,
½ cup rice flour,
1 tsp vanilla flavouring.

Cream the unsalted butter with sugar until pale and fluffy, mix in peanut butter, mix again until light. Add in vanilla flavouring. Mix well. Fold in the flours. The mixture should be heavy and thick. If you can't roll them into balls, give a little bit more flour. Roll them into balls, flatten slightly either with your fingers or with fork. Bake slowly at 140C until pale brown. Let them set on the baking tray for 10 minutes, then let cool on the wire rack. Makes 20-25.

I hadn't done any more baking since last Christmas as our orchard has been giving us plentiful of fruits. Morning and afternoon teas are forgotten to be enjoyed with batches of cookies and slices of cakes, yet this can be satisfied journey for little tummies. Moreover, they are safer for them to eat, I suppose.

But then again, I'd love to treat them something I can bake. I've been browsing old magazines that I've been subscribing for years. I came up with this recipe.

I like to use gluten-free baking mix to make biscuits as they can produce melt-in-the-mouth texture, though light handling has to be applied carefully, otherwise I would end up with working on crumbs. Using it for cakes, it different matters.

I've used the recipe of chocolate cake from the back of the Healtheries gluten-free baking mix everytime I entertain families and friends that one of them is suffered Coeliacs disease. It was a good alternative and a safe way to provide healthy choice for the sufferers, including my children. But then, satisfaction is not guaranteed. I'm used to high-risen and thick spongey cakes and can't hope too much from gluten-free baking mix. I can't probably compare them at the frist place.

However, for the sake of well-beings, I should set aside what's bothering me. It bothers me more to see them sick. This recipe is good, yet be prepared for crumbly result. I reduced the sugar, as usual.

Gluten-free Birthday Cake
Source: Pip Duncan, Foodtown Magazine
[Congratulations to Pip Duncan who had just won the New Zealand Dietetics Association's category award for Excellence of Achievement in Dietetics]

250g butter,
1 cup sugar (I reduced to ½ cup),
1 Tbs each: finely grated orange rind, orange juice,
2 eggs,
2 cups each: wheat and gluten-free baking mix, rice flour, dried fruit (I mixed raisins, sultanas, and apricots),
¼ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the orange rind and juice and the eggs. Mix well. Fold in the baking mix and flour alternatively with dried fruit (and milk). Pour into a depp, 23cm ring pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

January 14, 2007

Beetroot & Plum Chutney

I was very amazed to see how this year's-grown beetroots have been growing. Their leaves are massive, yet the bulbs are apparently getting plumper. Soon enough they'll be much rounder and fuller than today. Emma had had a post about beetroot chutney a few weeks ago and I was inspired since ever then. I made my beetroot chutney just like I did my Tamarillos, except I used plums and 2 Granny Smiths only. It was both made clever red color and wonderful taste as well.

The plums that I used were half-ripen Burbank plums which the branches were snapped off by a light storm a few days ago. I can't waste them as they'll quite nice (I let them ripen at room temperature for a couple of days and they turned really sweet with dark red flesh) when they're ripen. John had to cut the snapped branches and I gathered the fallen fruits which I thought they'd be wonderful to substitute the apples.

Beetroot & Plum Chutney

4 beetroots (I used the size of 4 beetroots as figured in the photo),
300g brown sugar (I added a couple of more spoonfuls as to reach the desired sweetness),
2 Granny Smiths, cored and chopped,
17 half-ripen Burbank plums, stoned and chopped,
3 big red onions, chopped,
1 brown onion, chopped,
4 cloves garlic, peeled,
2 cups malt vinegar (actually, I just pour the vinegar into the mixture when I saw it was too thick, and you can add more vinegar when yours is still too thick and too heavy—oh, vinegar is important as it's acting as the preservative if you don't like the sour taste of it—that's what I read in a book),
freshly crack black pepper,
1 tsp ginger,
1 tsp cayenned pepper,
1 tsp paprika,
1 tsp allspice.

Clean the beetroots and put them in a big saucepan with about a quarter of water, covered, bring to boil, simmer for about 15 minutes or until the skin can be slid off easily. I used a fork to hold the beetroots and a small teaspoon to peel off the skin. Chop beetroots and put them together with chopped apples, plums, onions, and garlic in the food processor. Process until smooth (I just like them stay slightly chunky). Put the mixture into a big pot, add in the vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and spices. Cook until thick. Put them into the sterilising jars. Label and store in a dark cool place. Makes 8 various jars.

January 09, 2007

Another Auckland Foodie Blogger

I just came across another foodie blogger lives in Auckland. And she's an Indonesian. Check out her blog titled Lolita's Kitchen. I am glad to find another foodie blogger in Auckland. Cheers!

January 08, 2007


It's officially Summer though the weather doesn't support the-so-called. Yet, the fruits are getting ripen and we are enjoying plums, peaches, and nectarines from some trees at present. Those we are only enjoying freshly picked from the tree in Summer, really. They taste so sweet, so fresh, so juicy, and so no wax, for sure.

First to enjoy was these little red flesh plums, so called Elephant Heart. Their shape resemble a heart which has red skin and red flesh. They taste as sweet as juicy. They look like Black Dorris in appearance, and taste like them as well. We just ate them when we wanted them. We just simply stood by the tree, and ate them like a bird. Children just love them.

This one is Greengage. This is our favourite at the moment. I just found one ripe fruit when I saw a clump of small green skinned plums were getting yellow. I gave a gentle squeeze, and it felt so soft. I picked it and tried it. First sensation was the spurt of juice as I bit it. Very sweet. Very juicy. I fell in love at the very moment and went to come to taste it again and again. The children were stuck with the purplish skinned Sulten. Lucky me.

I haven't come across any Greengage plum neither in the supermarket nor at the farmers market I went on Saturday. I am curious if this is a rare variety. I would think growing them particularly easy, and I am sure there's a market for it. They would meet any criteria a buyer needs or wants.

If you are interested, you probably could contact Farrel's Nurseries. John bought many fruit trees from the same nursery.

January 06, 2007

Pukekohe Farmers' Market

I had been to this Farmers' Market once when I was still pregnant with Sarah on one Saturday morning. And this is the second time I came. The differences are I'm no longer pregnant and no kids with me. Just me and Mum. Wonderful.

First, we went to the square, where a smaller markets were more like food stalls stood in the middle of the Pukekohe square. I was delighted to see many homemade products were all available. The stall that I was interested in going to see was the Franklin-grown macadamia nuts. The lady (happened to be a Virginia Warren who's honored as the 1997 Business Woman of the Year) was giving us a little demonstration to crack the nuts with a unique-yet-most-working-nut cracker. Slap! The hard shell was open. That easy. The nut I had was really deliciously fresh and crunchy! I couldn't resist myself to buy two little bags of Macadamia nuts in different flavours. They are also available in hot chilli flavour! They also have a website that you can go for more information. It was a nice chat with you, Virginia, if you read this post.

After walking around for a while, we then decided to go cross the parking lot, where the bigger market was. I was amazed to see how this market grew this big since the last time I shopped at the same place a few years back! The first thing I saw was this van which is owned by a Malaysian lady. She sells many Asian goodies in there. I bought a bag of mini spring rolls. They were fantastic!

Then we moved to one stall to another and more stalls. I also bought used books on New Zealand verse, and an old novel by Emily Perkins, to name a few. And those souvenirs: koru, silver ferns, all these NZ famous icons. There were also clothes everywhere, hanging and piles on the earth. One thing caught my eye was a pile of kinas. Gosh, this is the very first time for me to see the 'real' kina!!! They even opened one of them to show the eggs inside. I didn't dare to try, but I surely took a picture of them. And oh, I also bought a bag of flounders--gutted!

There were also fruit and vegetable farmers, of course. I loved to see the colors of ripe and fresh fruits. They brought some vibrant tones for that cloudy and cool morning. Then I bumped into a lady who sold Rowena Bread. Oh, how lucky I was to find her there. We had to chat for a while about making Maori bread. She said it takes about 10 days to make the yeast to rise. But she remained the family secret safe on the starter part. Never mind. I am just hoping that Nigel's mum would love to share her recipe for me. Ey, Nigel? Makes me thinking, though.

Went back home, I could just praised the diversity of New Zealand, and Franklin especially. I just love being in there, immersed with the cultures.

It was a lovely morning.