February 28, 2007

Indonesian Exotic Spiced Roast Chicken

This dish I currently fell in love with, when Yanna of Kuenya O Yan, one of my online buddies who sent me a black rice sponge cake when I went back to Indonesia last time posted this recipe on her site. Looking at the recipe I thought I can do most of the spices and should omit the rest of them. It's not every Indonesian spice can be found in the countryside as people can easily find beer or sheep. But then I was surprised that once my sister-in-law who lives in Auckland gave me a jar of whole nutmegs. And yet she said it was really hard to find them. I don't blame her.

Some ingredients like turmeric leaves and asam kandis are not familiar ingredients an Indonesian like me can find at local supermarkets in the countryside. I can deliberately substitute the asam kandis with tamarind paste, as it's similar to tamarind, only that it's not made from the same tree as tamarind paste.

Tamarind is called asam jawa in Indonesian. It is the paste made from tamarind fruit pulps. I can find tamarind paste in the Fruit World which is situated in Pukekohe, the heart of Franklin district. It's a good market, furthermore, they stock Asian groceries (You can find dried shrimps, rice vinegar, as well as canned straw mushrooms, baby corns, shiitake and other ingredients which can hardly find somewhere else) in their little shelves which are less expensive than the leading supermarkets. Pity, I always miss spring rolls wrappers whenever I reached the store.

Perhaps they should consider that there are more Asians living in Pukekohe now (there were 18 Asians, and only 7 Europeans celebrated our Citizenship Ceremony on 10 July 2006—yes, we were granted! And how many more Asians have been granted every couple of months?) who can't always travel 1-2 hours away to the Tofu shop in the North Shore or Lim's Supermarket in Mount Albert for a bag of melinjo crackers or dried shrimp paste. Or perhaps, not everyone cooks like mad as I do?

Anyway, Odilia Winneke and Rinto Habsari wrote in their book about Indonesian Spices says that asam kandis:

Berasal dari buah yang bentuknya seperti jeruk limau, dengan kulit buah yang tipis. Kulit buah inilah yang kemudian dikeringkan hingga berwarna kehitaman. Cita rasanya asam pahit. Bisa dibeli di pasar tradisional...” [Odilia Winneke dan Rinto Habsari. Kamus Lengkap Bumbu Indonesia. PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama. Jakarta. 2001. p.13]

It is made from a lime-like fruit with thin skin. This skin then dried to blackish finish. It has bitter-sour flavour. Can be bought in traditional markets...”

Well, then. I just did what I could and still enjoyed the result.

I just love thick mixed-spices on top of the chicken. The roasted and ground coconut makes this dish special and it adds richer flavour.

Just look at this yummy wing!!

We enjoyed it with warm jasmine rice and steamed vegetables. That what makes the flavour of the chicken can be enjoyed at its best. A bowl of sambal oelek as the condiment will be good.

Ayam Panggang (I call it Indonesian Exotic Spiced Roast Chicken)

The ingredients may run into a long list, but the finish product is simply well-worthed, delicious, and exotic!

Source: Yanna's Site, taken from Primarasa-Bingkisan Istimewa.

1 whole chicken (Yanna uses thighs, I used 1.5kg whole chicken),
4 Tbs oil (I used rice bran oil),
12 shallots (I used 1 large brown onion, finely chopped),
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced (I do them finely chopped),
1 Tbs chilli paste (I used 2 tsps sweet chilli sauce + ½ tsp ground chilli—and it doesn't make your mouth burned!),
3 lemon grass, use the white parts, bruised,
4 kaffir lime leaves,
1 turmeric leave, tie into a knot (omitted),
2 asam kandis (I used 1 tsp tamarind paste),
5cm whole cinnamon stick,
2 whole cloves,
750ml coconut milk (Usually, we buy one whole coconut, grate the whole coconut flesh then squeeze through a fine sieve to make fresh coconut milk),
grated coconut flesh from ¼ of whole coconut (I used 2 cups dried coconut), roast until golden brown and crisp then grind to make a paste

Make a spice paste:

3cm fresh ginger roots,
3cm galangal roots (I used 1 ½ tsp ground galangal),
1 Tbs coriander seeds,
½ tsp white peppercorns (I used mixed whole peppercorns),
¼ tsp cumin seeds,
¼ of whole nutmeg,
5cm fresh turmeric (I used 2 tsps ground turmeric)

Heat the oil in a frying pan (I used the one with a lid—skillet), add in the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until fragrant and soft, add in chilli paste, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, asam kandis, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt, and spice paste. Cook until fragrant. Put the chicken in, then add in coconut milk, coconut paste, mix well. (At this stage, I roast transferred the chicken into a roasting dish, then roast them until cooked). Cook further until cooked through and the sauce thicken, on a low heat. Char-grill the chicken, braised with the spices. (or Oven-baked the chicken at 180C until golden brown).

Selamat Makan!

February 26, 2007

East Meets West in One Pan-from Mas Barens

I have come across so many acquaintances and later become friends or online buddies eversince I set up my account at Multiply. We have some common ground: loves cooking and enjoys eating. Take a look at fabulous cakes Irma Rode has made and created. There are Mbak Litha with her skills and experiences in culinary journeys, Mbak Ine with her mostly traditional cooking and bakeries skills, Yami who's enjoying Italian dish, Lia who's learning to make cakes and bread but mostly is good at Indian cuisine, Yanna who's taking cake orders and also a mother of one lovely daughter, and there are more and more of Multipliers who are involved in creating the most beautiful dishes that take into big considerations of Indonesian culinary world, that I can't cover one by one.

I love to try their recipes, especially those traditional recipes which I can apply to Western tastes to be enjoyed with friends and families. Indonesia is a rich country and it's impossible to learn every culture in a fortnight. It's taking time, but leisurely is enjoyable and fun.

There's not much of the real ingredients I can find in New Zealand, but there are always substitution and imagination which can be found and created for a simple dish.

I just came across this recipe when Mas (Bahasa Indonesia derived from Javanese = brother) Barens posted this favorite dish everyone enjoyed at his house last time they got together. I didn't really look what he used, but I simply knew what would come next. I thank Mas Barens for sharing this recipe. I do love it!

Indonesian version, click here.

Prawns in Shrimp Paste and Peanut Sauce
Source: Barens Hidayat

2kg Prawns (I used Kingfisher cooked prawns, 500g only)<-- Mas Barens used raw prawns, cleans, and trims 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 small brown onion (finely chopped)
5 small sheets shrimp paste (I used 2 tsps shrimp paste)
1 oz raw peanuts, roasted
5 Tbs tomato sauce (I didn't use)
2 Tbs hot chilli sauce (I didn't use)
1 Tbs dried shrimps, crushed
400ml water (I just pour a little hot water into the sauteed prawns)
3 Tbs cornflour, diluted in a bowl of water (I didn't use)
4 Tbs butter (I used 1 Tbs only)
Oil for frying the prawns (I didn't fry the prawns as I used frozen cooked prawns)
1cm ginger, sliced

Other ingredients I used:
1 tsp fish sauce,
1 tsp onion flakes,
2cm ginger, grated,
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 tsp capers
2 chives to sprinkle

Melt the butter. Add in the chopped onions and garlic. Cook until soft. On a low heat, add in the shrimp paste, cook until fragrant. Add in the roasted peanuts, mix well. Add in the sliced (grated) ginger and dried shrimps. Continue cooking for a little while. On a high heat, pour in the water, mix well and boil. Add in tomato sauce and hot chilli sauce. Mix well. Correct the seasoning with adding salt and pepper (I used freshly cracked blackpepper).

Meanwhile, fry the prawns (I just add the prawns in the last minute serving) until soft pink and cooked, then add into the hot sauce, mix well on a low heat. Pour in the diluted cornflour into the mixture, mix well. Remove from the heat and serve. (I add fish sauce, onion flakes, ginger, lime leaves, and capers just before I add in the prawns into the sauce. To serve them, I sprinkled with chopped chives).

Mas Barens suggests to eat them with mantou, either fried or steamed, or enjoy them with loaf bread.

Like he said: Selamat Menimati (Bon Apetite)!!

February 24, 2007


Bakso (Bahasa Indonesia=meatballs) is the Indonesian most populer soup everyone can buy anywhere at anytime. I am quite sure that almost every Indonesian likes or loves bakso.

Though I can't remember my first hooked-on-bakso moment, I just recall the soupy, peppery, and garlicy bowl of hearty meal. Flavoursome. And there's always different ways to enjoy a bowl of mie bakso. My personal way is enjoying them with rice noodles and lots of fried shallots and finely chopped spring onions with a dash of hot chilli sauce together with sweet soy sauce. Oh, divine!!

Some bakso is also enjoyed with chicken feet stewed in the broth, fried wontons, and even beef fat. Personally, I think it's the way to express one's culinary adventure to something really more than just like, best way to enjoy and will come back again for more. That's what I call 'love'.

Someone who's keen on eating hot chilly sauce will end up puffing and sweating (especially in hot weather!), raced with burning mouth and the satisfaction that comes within. It's what's so called exotic, I suppose. Or is exotic always understood to be whatsoever elegant serving on beautifully crafted vegetables only? Well, perhaps, I'm missing something.

Through my experience, almost every student who's living far away from home claims it to be a favorite. A meal which is hearty, watery, easy-to-get, and not-have-to-DIY (mind you, most of dorms don't usually supply the kitchen-if there's any-with a full pantry together with proper kitchen utensils for students) should not make a student reaches her/his pocket deeper than if they suppose to go to a cafe.

Everyone has her/his own favorite place or vendor that s/he thinks makes the best flavour of all. Nothing personal. Though, every place and every vendor has its/her/his own price, students yet not to think twice. Hey, it's sedaaaaaaaap (Bahasa Indonesia=delicious) kind of messages coming from one bowl of bakso to another making one place or one vendor to be the subject of being liked or disliked. But then, for sure there's many recipes to be found. Just google the word 'bakso', how many posts can you read?

However, there's an advantage. You can make your own bakso!! YAY! One trial and error, ick. Way too soggy. I don't want soggy balls. They'll become meat porridge when I pour hot broth on them! Perhaps, this recipe will do. Aaaahhhh... enaaaaaaaaak (Bahasa Indonesia=delicious, tasty). I think this is the one. But wait, this one looks like much easier than that one. I should try that too. And then, adventures can't reach the end.

Sticking on one recipe can't be worst. It's the measurement which should be correct. I've been in trial and errors whenever I crave for bakso and the balls just don't turn out to be the ones which were twinkling on top of my head. Not THAT one. And, then I followed this recipe. It surely worked, believe it or not. Mine was not as smooth as hers (well, practice makes perfect, you see), but it's close to those which were twinkling on top of my head (they are now popped, meatballs come out of it). The texture is surely close to those I used to taste. There's the description beyond description, I'm sorry to tell you I just can't find the right word of kenyal (Bahasa Indonesia=?) in English. I just enjoyed every one of them. EVERY one of them. Thank you, Mbak Litha!

I never make bakso for a large crowd and I have to do the math to half or quarter the recipe Mbak Litha shared with us. Indonesian and Malaysian friends can go this way to read and perhaps try her recipe. Enak tenaaaaaaaaaannn!!


Source: Estherlita's Site - Baso Sapi

2kg beef mince, 50g fried shallots, 40 garlic cloves, 40g fried garlic, 50g salt, 40g sugar, 15g pepper, 20g vitsin (a kind of MSG. I used beef stock powder), optional, 200g tapioca flour, 4 eggs, 2 Tbs baking powder

2000cc + 2 sachets of instant beef powder or fresh beef stock (bones inserted to get a good flavour) plus a pinch of salt

Process (or grind with mortar and pestle) fried shallots, garlic cloves, and fried garlic together with salt, sugar and vitsin until smooth (that'll make a paste). Mix this paste to another bowl together with eggs and cold mince (if it's frozen, thaw them in the fridge until soft). Mix well.

Divide the mince mixture into several portions and pulse each portion until smooth (Mbak Litha: don't process too long, otherwise it won't give smooth texture). Tip this mixture into a bowl and add in tapioca and baking powder. Mix well.

Divide the mixture into several portions again, then pulse each portion until smooth. Set aside and keep in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Roll the mixture with your pointer and your thumb, scoop it out with a spoon, then put it into a pan of hot water which is almost boiling, on a medium heat. Wait until the meatballs are floating on the surface of the water, then with slotted spoon, remove and set aside. (I freeze them until further used).

Worth reading sites of Bakso:




February 18, 2007

Rolls Nice

I still recall that a lady at our neighbourhood one day made a lot of money by making swiss rolls. She took orders from anyone who whatever reason could not bake them themselves. I just knew from my Mum that she made more than 5 rolls each day (increased amounts often are getting higher in Ramadhan up to the coming celebration of Ied el Fitr). I saw she had a very big standing oven down by her hallway near her garage, perhaps that's why she could produce 5 or more rolls a day.

I think my Mum was once ordered some chocolate swiss roll from her, unfortunately I was way too ignorant to notice if it was good or ordinary. I was just a kid and not interested in baking whatsoever. I was not even interested in cakes, either. Though I made my own cookies for Ied el Fitr, I often just ignored the baking time and went off to the field to play with kites or just riding my bike around the neighborhood. Hey, what you can expect from a 7 year old girl? Lucky enough I could settle down for hours to make cookies or help Mum beating the eggs.

One of these days, it's the time for taking notice that this kind of cake needs extra attention. It's treated like a sponge cake, for it IS a sponge cake, only it's baked in a Swiss roll tin. The ingredients are mainly eggs and sugar, with adding very little amount of flour or other ingredients.

I do like this kind of cake as it has very soft texture (if you can get it right, though). I do believe that mixing the eggs and sugar well is one of the thing to take care of besides incorporating the melted butter carefully and thoroughly can be a little bit tricky and should need extra care. Other than that, it's fun and worth trying. Don't worry if you fail, you still can use it for the base of a trifle. Never be panic in the kitchen, otherwise you will think you're getting a little apprehension towards kitchen and you think you've had enough, while ingredients in the pantry are piled up, waiting for some action. Now, that's something to be panicky!

I made my first Swiss roll to mark the day I join the cooking group. I have been journeying into different recipes at different times since then. I also have tried the Swiss roll of Taste magazine which doesn't mind cracked rolls appearance for the unforgotten flavour of all is the fudgy sponge and creamy filling themselves. Fancy that there should not be a rule about this smooth rolls for there's something to be enjoyed more than cracked surface. So, I don't mind cracked swiss rolls. When it tastes good, why not take a slice?

For these two recipes, I have no idea where these are coming from. I found them in my Mum's recipe book which she compiled from many resources. She subscribed Femina and Kartini, so perhaps either one of them had issued these recipes. I apologize to the actual sources, therefore I won't mention until I'm informed which is which.

Gateau Africane Roll

For this recipe I reduce the amount of eggs to 2 yolks and 4 eggs, and 100g caster sugar only. I use fresh cream and 1 Tbs icing sugar for the filling.

Photo Updated on 25 November 2007, on the occasion of Mum's birthday. I coat the roll with 70% dark chocolate.

6 egg yolks,
4 eggs,
130g caster sugar,
5g Ovalet/TBM (it's emulsifier brands. I don't use it),
45g plain flour,
10g cornflour,
10g cocoa powder,
½ tsp baking powder,
80g melted butter,
1 Tbs chocolate paste (I don't use it)

Beat the eggs, sugar and emulsifier (if using) until thick and pale. Meanwhile, sift together flour, cornflour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl. Add into the thick mixture, one spoon at a time. Mix well with a low speed, then increase the speed for a few seconds. Turn it off, then add in the melted butter and chocolate paste (if using). Mix well (make sure there's no melted butter on the bottom of the bowl. This will cause swiss roll turns into a brick). Pour into a 30x30x4cm swiss roll tin which has lightly greased baking paper on the base. Bake in the preheated oven to 190C for 15 minutes or until cooked. Let it cool. Spread with your favorite filling, then roll.

Updated note 25/11/07: Because I don't use chocolate paste, I add 1 Tbs cocoa powder in the melted butter. It works!

Filling: 100g rap/krema, ½ tsp salt, 170g icey water, 2 Tbs rhum

Beat all ingredients together until smooth, then spread on to the sponge.

Green Cheese Roll

Now this one is really special. Everytime I make it, I remember the smell of Balinese offerings at our bungalow in Ubud. The fragrant of Pandan leaves is very intriguing to the very deepest sense in my brain. Though it's impossible to find fresh pandan leaves here, I manage to use the frozen ones. To make a teaspoon of pandan extract, I used 15g of frozen pandan leaves, process them in the food processor, then squeeze hard. It can't be much easier than that, I suppose. I don't use eggs more than 8 eggs at once, and I stick on it. In this recipe, I only used 3 eggs and 5 egg yolks. It turned out just fine.

Photo is updated on 25 November 2007: I made this green cheese roll for a picnic lunch down the Waikato River.

9 egg yolks,
3 eggs,
120g caster sugar (I use 100g only),
5g Ovalet/TBM/Quick (I don't use it),
20g milk powder,
60g plain flour,
½ tsp baking powder,
1 tsp pandan extract,
green food coloring (I used two drops of pandan paste, instead),
90g melted butter

Beat the eggs, sugar and emulsifier (if using) until thick and pale. Meanwhile, sift together flour, milk powder, and baking powder in a bowl. Add into the thick mixture, one spoon at a time. Mix well with a low speed, then increase the speed for a few seconds. Turn it off, then add in the pandan extract, food coloring, and melted butter. Mix well. Pour into a 32x32x4cm swiss roll tin which has lightly greased baking paper on the base. Bake in the preheated oven to 190C for 18 minutes or until cooked. Let it cool. Spread with your favorite filling, then roll.

Note updated on 25/11/07: Instead of using pandan extract, I used pandan paste. I received it as a gift from a friend. If you live in Auckland, you can find it at Tofu Shop, North Shore.

Cheese Filling: 45g butter, 75g margarine, ½ tsp salt, 40g grated cheese

Beat butter, margarine and salt together for 15 minutes, then add in the grated cheese. Beat again well, then spread on to the sponge.

February 16, 2007

Thursday Night Fever of Teddy Bear Cuties

There's always something to look for when I attend the club every third Thursdays of the month. Creative, talented ladies are always ready to share their knowledge to a newbie like me. Pretty amazing background and experience they've got throughout the year that most of them are wonderfully packed with skills often brings enthusiastic spirit to me.

Given their maturity of cake decorating skills is something valuable to worth attending, I have learned much from each of them, especially from those who've traveled overseas to gain more knowledge from other cake decorators around the world. There've been to seminars, conferences, or demonstrations at some clubs they would attend and then come back with abundance of new inputs to share with the rest of us at the club. There's no one is the best, but we know we are enjoying sharing what we know best for the sake of the club and friendship.

This time, Michale showed us how to make these little Teddy Bears, which can be applied on cakes as either the centrepiece for Wedding Cake, or for novelty cakes. Maisi Parrish brought this skill on the conference in Gisborne and transferred to us by Michale last night. It should be easy when you look at the model. And surely, it'll be easy for a beginner. Roll and paste, that's the basic rules. And all of us came out with our own creation, I think it's reflected to our own personal taste. That what makes it rich.

If you'd like to try to make, don't buy specific tools, because all you mainly need is just toothpicks (or spaghetti) and a cutter. The circles to measure the right amount of sugarpaste for limbs can be cut from cardboard or any media you can think of. Other than that, feel free to color your teddy bear. After all, it's your personal touch.

Teddy Bear

Original idea by Maisi Parrish, demonstrated by Michale Gleeson

Note: Make two cutouts from a cardboard or an ice-cream box lid, measured in diameter 5cm (cutter No.3) and 4cm (cutter No.2).

Roll paste out and cut out four circles using cutter no 3 and cut one of cutter no 2. Form one of the larger circles into a cone of the body and insert a length of spaghetti into the top.

To make the legs, roll a sausage from a no 3 circle, turn up the ends and cut in half.

Secure the legs to the body, add a tummy button and stitch marks down the centre.

Roll the no 2 circle into a sausage and make a diagonal cut in the centre for the arms.

Secure the arms to the top of the body and bend into position.

Take the last no 3 circle and cut off a section at the top.

Roll the larger portion into a smooth ball for the head and make the ears snout and nose from the smaller piece.

Push the head over the spaghetti at the neck. Use a modelling tool to mark the eyes, nose and paws.

Add the nose and ears. Push the ears in place with a modeling tool.

Happy Decorating!

February 12, 2007

Fruit Cheese

Nashi Pear Trees on our orchard. Taken in Winter 2006

As soon as we moved to the new place, the thing we did at first thing was planting fruit trees. At that time, we were inherited 50 or more mature Nashi pears from the previous owners which then they were trimmed to 20. Years pass on, and our orchard is fruitful with any addition of other fruit trees growing and are grown on the side of the driveway. It's time to harvest, time to enjoy our labour. Definitely it's more work in the kitchen. I just hate to waste so much fruit while I can produce things out of them. Yet, how is often unanswered, until I browsed recipe books and old recipes files I've compiled from The Listener.

I've read this recipe on one of food colums Lois Daish ever written for The Listener, and then I decided to buy her book titled A Good Year, produced in 2005 later on. I was tempted to make those cheeses eversince, but I always had lack of time, due to having young babies and the trips we had had back to Indonesia.

Now, the time is right, and the orchard is plentiful of supplies. I definitely have tried both black plums and apple cider cheese. It took longer than I thought, but the joy stored in the future is worthwhile.

Our Damson and Black Dorris plums are very fruitful this year. Back in Spring, they produced a mass of blooms and then abundance of fruit in Summer. I picked around 2 kg of Damson and 1 kg of Black Dorris to make plum cheeses in different batches. Yes, I was busy in the kitchen for several days, but it was really fun.

To understand how to serve these cheeses, I have to agree with what Lois wrote:

I do like the old English idea of pouring port over a whole damson cheese studded with freshly blanched almonds and serving it as an after-dinner sweetmeat. Another delightful combination is quince paste served with freshly cracked walnuts and squares of dark chocolate. Although fruit cheeses are often served along with dairy cheeses and crackers on a cheese board, the match has to be carefully considered. Plum cheese and brie go together well, as do quince paste and mature cheddar, and apple cheese with Italian parmesan, but some other combinations are cloying.” [A Good Year. p.49]

Then, there is well-worth reading at Cuisine website a recipe written by Natalia Schamroth suggests that plum cheese can be served with Pont l'Eveque cheese and Falwasser crackers.

Lois used Sunrise apples to make her cheese, but we have fully grown apples (unfortunately, we didn't record its name at planting time) on our orchard. They have strong flavour, fragrant, and slightly tart. I picked around 1 kg firm fruits.

Apple Cider Cheese

The proportion of sugar to fruit pulp in fruit cheese recipes varies between half the weight of sugar to pulp, to equal weights. I usually use the smaller proportion of sugar, and have been satisfied with the results. [Lois Daish. A Good Year. NZ Listener. Random House New Zealand. 2005. p.50]

Source: Lois Daish Food Column: Sweet As. The Listener [February 22, 2003]; A Good Year [Lois Daish. NZ Listener. Random House New Zealand. 2005]

500g tart apples,
1 cup dry cider,
5 cloves,
approximately 250g sugar

Wash the apples and roughly cut them up (all of them, including skins and seeds). Add in the cider and cloves. Bring to boil and simmer gently, until the fruit is tender, around 20 minutes. Push the soft pulp through a mouli or coarse sieve, and discard the skins, seeds, and cloves. Weigh it, then put it back into the pan and add in sugar. Bring to the boil and stir well during cooking, then simmer gently until the mixture is very thick and resembles very thick paste (believe me, I'm new to this kind of preserve stuffs, and time to cook this was really killing me as it was hot in my kitchen that afternoon low sun heated up through my naked window glasses! I had to grab a glass of chilled sparkling grape juice to freshen me up, so be ready with something chilled when you're working on it on a very hot day). If you draw a line on the base of the pan, it won't meet up again, then it's done. [Lois gives a guideline for cooking until this stage is 30 minutes, but for some reason, I had to cook it a lot longer than that]. Spoon the paste on to lightly oiled ramekins or any moulds you can think of, and leave to cool. Once they're cool, wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate, or unmould them and put them on the tray for drying out. [I put my cheeses in the oven overnight]. Once they're dry, wrap them in the greaseproof paper and store them in an airtight container in a cool place.

Damson or Black Plum Cheese

The recipe is the same as apple cider cheese, but you can substitute the cider with water. For dark plums, Lois suggests in her book to use red wine or cassis diluted with water, but I just used water.

Have a Plum Day!

All the pictures above are my private collections. Please, contact me at first if you want to re-produce it.

February 08, 2007

Tide In at Port Waikato!

We visited Port Waikato beach again. It doesn't take us long to come back, though we have to drive for 20-25 minutes from home.

I just love the view of another countryside. I love the pastures filled with cattles, sheep or horses. And there are hills, some are rocky, stretching from where we come through to the beach with assorted native trees. When we finally could see the river from on top of the hill on our way to the beach, the children will immediately cry 'Waikato Rivaaaaaa...'.

The first thing to do when going to the beach with toddlers is preparing snacks. At that time I just didn't know what to cook, as the decision was made instantly when we realized it was a good day to go. What came into my mind that day was just bake something hearty but simple. I thought those little tummies will make a funny noise as when they just came out of the water, providing that they would be very active with all sort of activities they might develop at the beach. And I don't want to ruin their energy for some fatty fish and chips. It was just lovely to go to any good cafe with great food at the beach, but I don't think we ever saw one.

As they both love potatoes, I decided to make hasselback potatoes with different toppings, and made some bread sticks for another option. At the very limited time, I also cooked some rice and chicken in sweet soy sauce for our dinner. It was late afternoon, so when we got back home, I could just do the greens.

Hasselback Potatoes

Source: Quick, Light & Delicious Recipes Cards

Serves 6

6 medium baking potatoes (I baked 10),
8 tsp melted margarine (I used rice bran oil),
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Onion Topping: 1 clove garlic, crushed, 6 tsp diced onion

Herb Topping: 1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley, 2 tsps each of chopped fresh or ½ tsp of dried basil and oregano

Spice Topping: 1 tsp paprika, ½ tsp ground cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

[for the toppings, I just sprinkled ground parmesan cheese, and ground black pepper; garlic salt and ground black pepper; dried basil, garlic salt, and ground black pepper]

Preheat the oven to 220C. Spray a shallow baking dish with vegetable cooking oul. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each potatoe. Place cut side down on a work surface, Lay a wooden spoon parallel to potato. With base of knife resting on spoon handle, thinly slice each potato crosswise without cutting all the way through.

Place potatoes in prepared dish. Fan slices. Brush with 1 Tbs of margarine. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 1 hour.

To prepare desired topping, combine ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle over potatoes. Drizzle with the remaining margarine. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

[I just sprinkle the toppings on the potatoes after brushing them with oil and bake].

February 05, 2007

Blackberries Slice

Sunday was a lovely day. A bit windy, but was hot at the same time. My kids had been asking us when to go down the hill to pick the blackberries since we got up. It took more preparation that I thought, really. I should cover them up with long sleeves and long pants, in order to prevent them from scratches. It would work if they don't try to get too close to the bush.

The blackberries themselves are going to be slashed off and killed after they've finished fruiting this Summer, as John's been planting native plants. We want the hill is going to be a safe place for the kids to adventure. Putting a tree house would be great for them to enjoy and explore. That's the plan. At the meantime, I have to pick the blackberries and save them as many a

So, off we went down. A bit trouble with a slasher and a bush trimmer on John's one hand, while the other was taking Ben's. I was taking Sarah and had to carry her on my back on our way down. It was a steep hill. Some of the soil was very crumbly and would be too slippery for little feet. I was puffed when we arrived on the safe spot.

I just couldn't believe myself that those bushes which John had slashed off last year are growing tall, bushy, and scary with those spikey thorns poking around. Those which are having ripe fruits are very deep in the middle and I just couldn't risk my own hands to be poked thousands of thorns. Otherwise, it would become a painful job I ever recalled in my life. So, I had just to pick those which were poking out of the bush. The children loved them. My youngest daughter just couldn't help herself keep munching everytime I loaded the fruits in the basket.

Going back home, I just knew what to do with them. I read one of Barbara's entry on blueberry's breakfast, originally posted by Farmgirl Fare, and I followed the recipe, but I substitute the flour with gluten-free baking mix and rice flour. It turned out alright.

BPW-Iowa Greeting

Helloooooooo, Iowa!!!

Yes, it's from Sally of Tip of the Iceberg. How I was very delighted to receive it this morning. The cows looks cute plus the kissy lips in between.

Thank you, Sally! Happy Valentine's Day to you, too! And, one day you're traveling down here, make sure you have plenty of time to visit me at the farm, ey?

Thank you to Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey who's organizing this event for all of us.


February 02, 2007

Monthly Mingle #7 - Sweet Love

My, love, there's only you in my life, the only thing that's right... [Endless Love, Lionel Richie]

Those lyrics pasted on our wedding day, someone from the band sang it for us. And I know, this love is endless.

I know, I know, he's not a cake type of man, and I know he doesn't like dark chocolate. But I am baking this hot chocolate fondant to change his thought about dark chocolate, that it can turn to be a fantastic dessert for two. And I know I am right, as he's enjoying every bit of it!

This is my entry for Valentine's Mingle which is organized by Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey. I took the recipe from Gordon Ramsay's recipe book (I do love his book(s) as it doesn't contain coarse language) and this recipe works really well.

Hot Chocolate Fondant
Source: Gordon Ramsay: Makes It Easy. Gordon Ramsay. 2006.

Whenever I'm asked for my favourite recipe, this is the one. It has a divine melting texture and the liquid centre is sublime

Serves 2

50g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease,
2 tsp cocoa powder, to dust,
50g good-quality bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), in pieces [I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana 72%],
1 free-range egg,
1 free-range egg yolk,
60g caster sugar,
50g plain flour

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Butter two large ramekins, about 7.5cm in diameter, then dust liberally with cocoa. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl set over a pan of hot water, then take off the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Using an electric whisk, whisk the whole egg, egg yolk, and sugar together until pale and thick, then incorporate the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon. Divide between the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes. Turn the chocolate fondants out on to warmed plates and serve immediately. [I just served them in the ramekins]

Light the candles at 9:00pm, hold hands or even snuggle up in the sofa, enjoying every spoon of your love.

Happy Valentine's everyone!