April 30, 2007

A Pot of Treasure: Sourdough Starter

I first made English muffins using Lois Daish's recipe when she still wrote her food column on the NZ Listener. She made the simplest English muffins using commercial yeast and they tasted really good. This time, I've discovered my own sourdough starter, adapted a recipe at Irma's blog here.

It's like Tamagochi this sourdough starter, that I have to keep 'feeding' it the same amount I take out of the jar in order to keep it alive. I feel amazed really that it didn't take very long for the starter to get itself some wild yeast in the air to sour the dough. One of the thing written on the book that if someone often bakes bread, the wild yeast may already be in the kichen. probably is because I often bake bread, then the wild yeast itself has invisibly happened to be in my kitchen all along. This is the very treasure I'd love to keep.

The sourdough starter smells pleasantly sour, not like the sour smell of curried or rice rotten in a pot. It has 'clean' sour smell. The smell you probably love to breath in when the loaves of bread is baking in the oven. It's really homey. The good thing about sourdough starter is that it will keep alive as long as we keep feeding it (means: you take out 1 cup of the starter, you have to return 1 cup of flour mixed with 1 cup of water back to the jar) and the yeast won't 'die' although it's kept in the fridge. The starter can also be frozen or dried and then crumbled for further use.

sourdough english muffins

It needs so much patience at first, but when you get there, it won't matter anymore. It's the ongoing pleasure you may be able to enjoy whenever the impulse takes you to bake your own bread and the starter is always ready to use.


steaming muffins


I am adapting the sourdough English muffins from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I have to convert the measurement to NZ's (use Bron's converter table to help you with conversion).

Sourdough English Muffins

Source: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, p.538

This recipe makes very good English muffins which tend to rise more and have pleasant taste. I eat it with lemon curd and my hubby eats it with marmalade. You can toast it if you like. We just love them eaten fresh from the griddle pan and hot while the texture is still soft and spongey. I made the sponge before going to bed to let it rise overnight.

sourdough english muffins


1 cup sourdough starter,
1 ½ cups milk,
5 ½ to 6 cups King Arthur Unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Standard flour),
1 Tbs sugar,
1 Tbs salt,
1 tsp baking soda,
cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet (I use rice flour)

Sponge: Mix together the starter, milk and 3 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it overnight.

Dough: Mix together the rest of the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda in another bowl. Combine thoroughly. Set aside for 2 hours or so. In the meantime, sprinkle the baking tray with cornmeal (or rice flour).

When the dough has risen, knead it on the lightly floured board for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is smooth. The dough will feel soft and pliable, lovely elastic feeling your palm can recognize. Roll the dough about ¼ and ½ inch thick (or do it your own way). Cut out 3-4 inches circles, put them on the floured baking tray. Give them a rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the griddle pan until hot then cook the muffins with very gently heat until rise, about 10 minutes. Flip on the other side, then cook again for 10 minutes. Wrap them in a clean tea towel or you can split them and toast. Spread with your favorite breakfast jam. Enjoy!!

Thank you Irma to bring this treasure to my knowledge and to my baking world.



April 29, 2007

When You're Craving for Chocolate...


What would you do? Buy a cake of chocolate, make a batch of fudge brownies, bake a luscious chocolate cake, indulge yourself with scoops of rich chocolate mousse, or melt your fingers in the chocolate fondue? You may run down a long list until you think you've got rid of this little temptation bug in your brain. Or else, you're going to ignore it. Can you? But how?

I will go crazy if I don't do anything about it, though I may go for a long trip to reach the end. For the end will be Heaven, then the search shall be no more. You have to start climbing, otherwise you won't arrive to the pinnacle of the craving to be satisfied, don't you? And that means you are trying to explore and understand what the true meaning of satisfaction is.

During exploration, you will do some trials and errors until eventually you hit the right button of the pleasure and excitement. By that time, perhaps you've tried any chocolate dish or sweets ever invented in order to not being madly craved anymore. Maybe not for another span of time.

Anyway, I've been craving for chocolate for some weeks! Believe it or not, I can't always tell you when it comes and goes. But this time is way different. As I'm suffering from iron deficiency and been trying to increasing the iron level until this very day, I am only taking caffeine-free meals or drinks. I have to eat more red meat than I really want it (I'd rather eat fish or tofu than red meat!). I haven't eaten chocolate for three weeks! Can you imagine how I am long for it now? For such a chocolate-lover like me, that is. Sigh.

I have to be careful though if I want this craving to be satisfied at one go, then I should make something the way I really want. I've done a long list. I don't want a chocolate cake for it's already mixed with many other ingredients. The taste won't be the one that I want from chocolate I would enjoy. And I don't want chocolate mousse. Again, with the mixture of eggs and cream, I am still feeling guilty and can't enjoy the entire portion.

I can't think of anything else than the simple mixture of chocolate and cream. Without sugar. Like ganache. Like the Bailey's chocolate truffles filling I make every X-mas. Yes, that's what I want! Chocolate and cream.

I still have a jar of sour Morello cherries, that'll do to match with the rich dark chocolate and cream. And here I am, craving no more, with a pot of chocolate cream.

A Sinful Chocolate Cream Pot

This is only for one chocophile serving. If you can consume alcohol, you may want to add a dash of Bailey's Irish Cream, Cointreau, or Brandy. I am quite happy with chocolate, cream and vanilla. I use half of vanilla pod for a strong vanilla flavor. I love it! Be happy to add your favorite flavor as long as it suits your taste. To accompany the cream, I whipped the fresh cream and garnish it with Morello cherries. Use your favorite berries or other fruit you may think add you a pleasure. After all it's only for you.

125g dark chocolate (I used 72% Whittaker's Dark Ghana), chopped,
125g cream (fresh or thick, your choice),
half of vanilla pod, scrap out the seeds

Scald the cream with vanilla seeds and pod until very hot. Remove the pod and add in the chopped dark chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Pour into one large glass or tumbler or ramekin. Garnish with your favorite chocolate decoration or simply scoop it immediately to enjoy the full flavor of chocolate. Enjoy hot or cold.

April 25, 2007

One of NZ Famous Fours: Anzac Biscuits


My first bite of the biscuits was at my Mum-in-law's servery where we were all gathering for an afternoon tea. The biscuits were soft and were less sweet. Later then I found that there are many recipes to make Anzac biscuits and none of them has the very original formula. I mean who invented this biscuits which is named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and what's the exact measurement of ingredients, I would never know. At the past, they are made and sent to the Anzac troops in Europe during WW I by grandmothers, mother, sisters, or sweethearts which then could be dunked in tea or coffee—a habit my Dad-in-law still keeps doing until this very day.

I have tried many recipes and come to experience the different results coming from different resources. There are some version with softer texture, some were sweeter and chewy, and others are in between. The biscuits sold in the supermarket tend to be hard. Perhaps that's why the soldiers need (or like) to dunk it into their drink.

There are some recipes I have tried using same ingredients: flour, rolled-oats, coconut, a pinch of salt, sugar, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water. Some people may add chopped dried fruits or dip the baked biscuits in cooking chocolate are just more personal taste.

I think when you use less sugar and increase the golden syrup instead, then your texture will become softer than those which use both at more or less equivalent measurement. And when you use more white sugar than golden syrup, you may end up liking the finished product of hard and crispy biscuits. Sometimes adding more water will cause different texture which can be softer and will spread larger. I once substitute the golden syrup with treacle which probably responsible to the darker finished. I like to come to my own version though: crumbly, lots of coconut, not too sweet, not too soft, and up to now, to my surprise, I haven't come to the same results, slightly similar with the previous ones. So, you play the texture by simply playing with the ingredients. Another thought: perhaps it's the mood which can take you to another level of satisfaction, but hey like I said there's no original formula as it's only the matter of one's taste (and mood).


To this very day: let's make peace and no more war.





Arfi's Anzac Biscuits

1 cup plain flour,
1 cup rolled-oats,
1 ½ cups desiccated coconut,
½ cup white sugar,
a pinch of salt,
3 Tbs golden syrup,
120g unsalted butter,
1 tsp baking soda,
2 ½ Tbs boiling water

Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the flour, oat, coconut, sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan. Mix the baking soda with boiling water, then add it quickly into the mixture of butter and golden syrup, and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined and roll into balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on the baking tray, then remove to cool completely on the wire rack. Store in an airtight container.



April 22, 2007

Going Mellow Yellow



I am homesick. I miss my Mum, the brother-sisterhood with helping hands, the hot weather in Bali, the humble daily routines we used to have from dawn to dawn, the fragrant offerings our maid always makes on her little statue to pray at the bungalow, and I long to taste Indonesian authentic cuisine again.

And I'm getting mellow.

Anyway, the pineapple I bought for this very occasion, being mellow, is my contribution for A Taste of Yellow which is hosted by Barbara of Winos and Foodies. Then, what should I do with it? My being homesick, the pineapple at hand, I certainly want something to remind me of special things I have eaten at home. I love to think being in my aunt's kitchen, eating warm fragrant jasmine rice with a bowl of cassava leaves' curry, fried tempeh, or probably a fried drumstick which is marinated with the mixed of corianders, garlic, and tamarind paste, and, this is what I would have been thinking a lot, a good drop of sambal nenas (diced pineapple with hot chilli sauce). Oh yum!

Now that I can't eat sambal (chilli sauce or paste) that hot anymore, I am thinking about something delightful, a combination of pineapple and coconut, perhaps. This is then I arrived to this very cake. My own upside-down pineapple and coconut cake, drizzled with caramel sauce.

In Subang, West Java, when I was waiting for a transportation to take me back to Bandung (the capital city of West Java, Indonesia), I went on the side of the road where there were some locals selling their products. There was a huge pile of pineapples which was appeared green with a hint of yellowish color along the stream of the eyes and they were just picked from the village down below the hill. We were allowed to try some of the fresh ones, and they tasted heaven! So sweet, juicy, and crunchy.

The appearance of the eyes are larger and the fruits themselves are fatter than those I'd seen in Prabumulih, South Sumatra but the tastes are the same. Prabumulih is a small town, about an hour and a half drive from Palembang (acting as the capital city of South Sumatra) where a lifestyle is maintained to be oil-oriented. When you come to Prabumulih, there will be a big statue of pineapple at the border which is said to be the town of pineapples.

Pineapples in New Zealand are imported from the Philippines. I don't know if there are any locals grown?

Anyway, here's my upside-down cake. I don't know if I measured them exactly as I just tend to throw things in the bowl, but what I've got here is rather high sponge and moist. I stew the pineapple first. You can use canned pineapple rings if you want, but they won't give you a good yellowish color as they tend to be paler after being stored in the can for so long, and goodness knows what they do with them before they put them in there. To support the LiveStrong as to suport the healthy lifestyle, I suppose using the fresh pineapple is much better. But anyway, it's up to you.

Pineapple and Coconut Upside-Down Cake with Caramel Sauce

Pineapple stew:

1 pineapple, slice 5 reasonable thickness.

Boil a cup of water, put the slices in, simmer for 20-30 minutes. Set aside the rings and reserve the syrup. (You can add a few throw of sugar when you stew the pineapple if you like).

Cake:

6 eggs,
150g sugar (add more if you prefer sweeter version),
½ tsp vanilla essence,
170-200g flour (sifted),
100-120g unsalted butter, melted,
1 cup coconut,
2 tsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Arrange the pineapple rings on the base of 20cm baking tin which is lined with baking paper. Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl of an electric mixer, then beat until thick and pale. Fold in the flour alternatively with the melted butter until well mixed, then add in the coconut and milk. Pour the batter in the tin. Smooth on top with spatula and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with caramel sauce. A dollop of cream is also good.

Caramel Sauce:

I made the sauce from the reserved syrup from the stewed pineapple and throw in a good cup of sugar, a good cup of brown sugar, a drizzle of golden syrup, a drop of butter and a drop of vanilla essence. Just heat until golden brown, drizzle immediately on to the cake.

Live Strong!



April 16, 2007

Gluten-Free Puffy Bread



Pity about the weather. You can just feel that Winter is coming sooner than it should be. One day the temperature dropped to 9C, which is not suppose to happen in Autumn (not even in the middle of it yet!). Then the other day was gone with rain, taking turns with sun, a whole day long. You can figure it out now there's a saying that New Zealand is a 4-season-in-a-day kind of country. Does that make you confused what to cook?

Well, in a miserable day like that, I can still smile. That does mean I take a chance to put my dough around the fire or somewhere in the kitchen because the rooms will be all warm that makes yeast and dough rise quickly. Somebody should just stay happy, shouldn't she?


This gluten-free white bread is happily risen and gives a spongey texture which is also moist. I adapted this recipe from Healtheries Simple Baking Mix package. It's a safe way for my children to eat gluten-free bread. This is my entry for Waiter, There's Something in My...Bread, hosted by from Spittoon Extra.

One White Loaf-Oven

The original recipe uses a loaf pan. I converted it into a 20cm baking pan, greased. This bread is best eaten on the day it's made.

450ml warm water (body temperature),
3 tsp (10g) Edmonds active yeast,
500g (3 ½ cups) Healtheries Simple Bread Mix,
50ml vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

Add water and yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer and allow a few minutes for the yeast to soften.

Add the Simple Bread Mix and oil and using paddle attachment mix for 4 minutes or until a smooth consistency is achieved. (This can also be done by hand if required). Transfer the mixture into a greased loaf pan (24 x 13 x 7cm deep) and smooth down the top with a wet rubber spatula.

Place pan inside a loose, sealed plastic bag and allow to rise in a warm draft free place (hot water cupboard is ideal) for 30-40 minutes (will vary depending on the temperature of the water used and the proofing conditions) until the dough is about 0.5-1cm below the top of the loaf pan. The bread is ready to bake when a touch on the surface leaves an indentation and reveals a sponge like texture.

Place a small metal bowl containing 1 cup of water on a rack on th ebotton of the oven. This prevents the surface from drying out excessively. The water should be replenished during baking. Place pan in the middle of the oven. Bake in a pre heated oven for 55-60 minutes at 200C. Once baked, remove from loaf pan and allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting.



April 13, 2007

HHDH#11: Mousse All the Way

I am not really a fan of mousse and I have never made any mousse before, except that the one I once made orange mousse as the filling of layered chocolate cake for my friend. However, I am a big fan of dark chocolate and quite happy to try it this time. I have this recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine, of course.

The use of 70% dark chocolate really helps me to like this mixture, though I still prefer chocolate vanilla crème.

This is my entry for Hay Hay It's Donna Hay #11, themed Mousse, hosted by Helen of Tartellete.




Chocolate Mousse

Source: Donna Hay Magazine, Winter, Issue 28

4 eggs, separated,
2 Tbs caster (superfine) sugar,
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, chopped,
1 ¼ (10 fl oz) cups (single or pouring) cream

Place the eggwhites in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Add ¼ cup (2 fl oz) of the cream and the egg yolks and whisk well to combine. Place the remaining cream in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the chocolate and eggwhite mixture and fold through to combine. Spoon the chocolate mixture into 1-cup (8 fl oz) capacity bowls and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set. Serves 6.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Raising Monarch Butterflies: The Journals

This Journal I dedicate to Monarch Butterflies NZ Trust and to thousands of people who have been devoting their time in their garden to help to raise Monarch butterflies.

I reported the sighting of Monarch butterflies in my home garden to the Monarch Butterflies NZ Trust as early as I noticed caterpillars on my Swan Plants, and had good responses from the people who run the Trust (Jacqui and Gilly, you rock, guys!). I was very glad indeed to find lovely people who have common interests as mine which usually hardly can be found around the neighborhood.




I've been developing this nurturing relationship with these beautiful creatures. I was watching closely the butterflies fluttering around my 9 swan plants at the front porch and they didn't mind me sneaking around to capture the very moment with my little camera. I did my best not to disturb them. My children were sneaking around the plants quietly as I was motionless giving them the message to let these butterflies have their own moment.

I have observed about how she lays eggs is to put the end of her abdomen near the desired leave which is always on the back side of the leaves within a few seconds, then off she will fly again to find another chosen leave. She repeats the process several times, and she will fly off. Then she will come again or perhaps another one, how should I know? These butterflies are not tagged.


yum! yum! by ab 07-09


Then within a few days, I see baby caterpillars start to nibble the leaves, then I realize I have around 20-30 caterpillars on my plants. I started to get worried if they will have enough surplus of food for them to help them develop into pupa and then butterflies. The adult butterflies came each day to lay more eggs, so I didn't really know what to do. I thought when the nature believes to be survived, then let them be the survivors. I will help them.

So, each day, I checked them up, perhaps a few times in a couple of hours. Until one day I found one of the earliest caterpillars had developed to be a pupa, I was so thrilled. I thought well, that was alright. The next day I looked at it again, and I was very shocked that I couldn't find it. The thing left on the bottom leave was its skin. At that very moment, I just knew what to do as I saw some wasps were flying above the caterpillars compound.


I started to look for some old sheets which I thought would be good to cover them. I was thinking about windbreak sheets, but I thought my husband had done the roll around the vegetable garden. I then found similar things: a greenhouse Summer cover, a mozzie sheet my husband bought from Bali a few years ago and was unused until we have a similar balai we have in Ubud, and I also found a sheet of trapauline. I thought they would do and I started to cover them the way I thought they would work. And since that day, me and kids were busy to take the caterpillars which got lost outside to the swan plants inside the netted area.

We still see more Monarchs come over to lay more eggs, but I can't take a risk to open the cover as wasps are always lurking. I would love to have them lay more eggs, but we have very limited food for the whole caterpillars. I also think that the whole plants won't be enough to cover the needs of 20-30 caterpillars at times. I'm just hoping they'll find a good home for their next caterpillars and butterflies-to-be.

My caterpillars then became really quiet and tended to motionless on the back of a leave or on the ceiling of nets. They begin to curl up with a silk pad which emerged from its end of abdomen and followed by a very fragile string (cremaster), hanging upside down, like a bat. I realized that they'll soon split their exoskeleton while spinding the wax around until it's all covered and all green with a gold ring and little dots just below the abdominal segments and above the wings-to-be.

hatched


One thing I noticed that the latest caterpillars which I think didn't get enough swan plants failed to pupate entirely. So it's like half-caterpillar and half-pupa. I can't describe how disappointed I am. I think I've lost 5-10 caterpillars at the most. Another problem is that the strong wind we've been receiving makes more possibility to lose more the caterpillars which are just developing into crhysallies (pupa). I found 5 half-done crhysallies laying on the ground and 2 more harder ones which were blown by the wind. I put these two back on a safe place inside the net. I've done what I can to save them. I'm just hoping their hard wax will protect them from any disturbance they may encounter to develop their organs. Otherwise, I will lose two more butterflies-to-be crhysallies.

Yesterday, I found out that 4 of earliest crhysallies had become blackened, which means in a couple of hours the butterflies had finished their cycles inside and are ready to come out.


newborn Monarch butterfly by ab 07-09

This is the result! A beautiful Monarch Butterfly! A newborn! Yay!!!



April 11, 2007

Fish and Quips: English Food is No Joke!



This photo is courtesy of Sam Breach at becksposhnosh.blogspot.com

Yes, that is a statement. There's no such joke about food, anyway for I think that there's always characteristic and uniqueness of any kind of food originated from any countries. Perhaps it's just the personal taste which doesn't agree to some kind of food. Then, you can't say it's a joke, can you?

I have fond moments I can recall when I first made an acquaintance with English food. As both of my parents-in-law's descendants came from Scotland and Ireland, there is always English food on the table. I particularly love English afternoon tea. A batch of scones or ginger gems, still warm and fragrant which are served with butter, butter and jam or jam and clotted cream, how good is that? Now do you say that an afternoon tea ritual a joke? How those people who think it's a joke do their afternoon tea, I wonder.

Anyway, Sam of Becks & Posh is hosting the Fish and Quips to prove that English food is no joke. If you'd like to enter the event and you love English food, it is not too late to send your entry until 20th April the latest.


My entry is a classic Toffee Apple Cup Cakes which are baked in tea cups (feel the slow time ages ago when there was no fancy cake tins like today by using your own tea cups—It's sensational!). The cakes are reasonably springy, moist, and have this burst sensation from the chopped apples with every bite. The cakes are then coated with caramel.




Toffee Apple Cup Cakes

Source: Julie Le Clerc, Cuisine 111, July 2005.

For the cake mixture

100g butter, softened (plus extra for buttering),
flour for dusting,
¾ cup (75g) caster sugar,
2 Tbs golden syrup,
finely grated zest of 1 lemon,
2 eggs,
½ cup (125ml) buttermilk,
1 ¼ cups (185g) self-raising flour,
½ tsp baking soda,
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (Julie uses Golden Delicious because they hold their shape when cooked)

Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter and dust lightly with flour 8 small (180ml capacity) ceramic teacups. Place butter, sugar, golden syrup and zest in a mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the buttermilk. Stir in the sifted flour and baking soda, then the chopped apples.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cups. Place the cups on a baking tray and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely (you will need to run a knife around the edge of the cups to release the cakes cleanly).

Make the hot toffee mixture then swirl the pan until the bubbles subside. Tilt the pan and dip the cup cakes into the caramel one at a time, to coat no more than halfway up the sides. Take care not to touch the burning hot toffee.

Shake off any excess toffee and return the cakes to the wire rack until the toffee is hardened and the cakes ae ready to serve.


For the caramel toffee topping

500g caster sugar,
60g butter,
2 tsps white wine vinegar (I used white vinegar),
1 Tbs golden syrup,
150ml cold water

Heat the ingredients gently in a large saucepan, swirling it until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil without stirring. Boil steadily until the mixture caramelises, from time to time brushing the sides of the pan with cold water to prevent any sugar crystals forming.

When the mixture reaches 150C on a sugar thermometer (just below crack stage or when the mixture produces large bubbles and turns a light golden caramel color), remove the pan from the heat (remembering that the caramel will continue to darken with the residual heat of the pan). Dip the cup cakes straight away.

Certainly no joke!

April 08, 2007

Monthly Mingle-Arabian Nights



I did love reading tales when I was a kid. They often took me to a place of magic lamps, camels, gold coins, veils, urns, beautiful palaces, desert, dates, silks, flying carpets, and handsome princes with pretty princesses. There were also lights, rains, and oasis. Which tale do you like the best? Aladdin with the magic lamp, or Ali Baba with the forty thieves? Perhaps Sinbad's journeys is your choice. And I am sure you'll be taken to those elements I mentioned earlier. And when you are sitting on a carpet, you might wish it will take you fly above and explore the world. Oh, what an imagination!

Yet, in real life I'm confused which countries are actually in the inclusion of Middle East. Perhaps there was no such term when there's no foreigners whoever ruled or invaded those countries which then gave them the title 'Middle East'.

If this Arabian Nights is meant for us to cook foods from Middle East countries, then it should be many options one will choose to explore with, including foods from Turkey (this map says that Turkey is in the inclusion of Middle East countries).

I do love this type of bread and this is the entry for Monthly Mingle-Arabian Nights which is hosted by Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? Thank you, Meeta. The even this time brings me back to the childhood fond memory of books and libraries. (Anyway, if some people think Turkey is not included in Arabian Nights, let us just think about One Big Universe, shall we?)

The dough which is rolled thinly with tasty topping makes it very special for a change on the dinner table. Serve it with fresh green salads, it's a simple meal for the whole family. Bring the belly dancers, please!



Lahmacun with Lamb, Red Capsicum & Eggplant

Source: Fiona Smith. Cuisine, Issue 112, September 2005

This is a flatbread often called Pide and is alike Italian pizza, unless the dough is rolled thinly with minimal topping. Fiona writes that you can use either eggs, beef, or lamb to make the topping mixed together with other ingredients. I used leftover meat I had on weekend, and I just chopped them finely.

Dough

450g strong bread flour,
1 tsp salt,
2 tsps (7g) dried active yeast,
300ml warm water,
2 Tbs olive oil

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt and yeast. Using your hands, start incorporating the water (mixed with oil) until it is all mixed in and you have a ball of dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. This process can be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or a heavy-duty food processor with a palstic blade and processing the dough for 1 ½ minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl and roll the dough around it until coated. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Divide into 4 and roll and stretch out to 30cm x 18cm canoe-shaped flatbreads. Roll over the edges a little to form a lip. Spread the filling over each dough base. Bake on an oven tray covered with baking paper for 10 minutes or until golden but still soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little parsley and lemon juice or sumac and oil. Makes 4 to serve 4-8.

Topping

2 red capsicums,
1 medium eggplant,
2 Tbs olive oil,
1 red onion, finely chopped,
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
400g minced lamb,
1-2 tsp puree de piment or minced chilli,
1 tsp sugar,
1 tsp salt,
1 Tbs lemon juice,
¼ cup chopped flat-leafed parsley, plus extra to garnish

Place the red capsicums and eggplant directly over the flame of a gas burner or barbecue, or under a grill, turning often until completely blackened and soft. Place in a large bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let them sweat for 10 minutes. Remove, peel off all the blackened skin and discard. Remove the stalk and seeds from the capsicum and chop the flesh finely.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sautee the onion and garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Transfer to a large bowl with the red capsicum, eggplant, minced lamb, piment or chilli, sugar, salt, lemon juice and parsley. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until well combined.

April 06, 2007

Cooking to Combat Cancer-Cooking for Staying Healthy

I was only 20, or perhaps 21, when I first felt a sharp pain in my breast and I was about to take the final exams at the college. I remember that when I had to go to the doctor, she gave me a jar of tablets to take for a month. She said I had to take it to make sure if it was actually a tumor. When it was not growing bigger, then it's just a lump, so I could just forget about it.

Unfortunately, the lump became bigger and sharper and more painful than when the first time I felt it. It grew from one small mung-bean size into a meatball size. My hair was fallen out furiously and I wasn't feeling much better. So I dropped the tablets and went to see the doctor again. This time, my father was with me.

And, I didn't come home. I was scheduled to be on the surgery table in another few days. I was thinking about my exams, my friends, my bulletins I organized, my basketball team, and my activities in the organizations at the college. My father told me that he would go tell the director of the college that I wouldn't be able to attend the classes for the rest of the weeks, before the exams began. He brought my books for me, but not my friends. I knew if ever he told my friends, they would have come to support me, but at that time, a disease like breast tumor was not to be announced. It was shameful, I guess, but I never pitied myself. It just happened.

My grandmother from my mother's side had died of lungs cancer which grew everywhere in her body. It was stuck on my mind for years and I was terrified. My mother had had breast cancer removed twice in her life. And I had once. No one wants to inherit this, not even me. I don't want to be sick. I hate it. But this kind of thing can happen to anybody, so I have nothing to do but to stay as healthy as possible. I don't want it to grow in me anymore. I was lucky though that I discovered it earlier. I think everyone of us should be aware of this and will be wise to do a regular check for it.

Since that very day, I have promised me that I have to look after myself. My father is very understanding and supporting my needs of a healthy diet. He was the one who introduced me to green tea which the memory I've written last time. You can read it here.

I do believe that eating healthy means eating more fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, cooking with the freshest ingredients as possible, and drinking plenty of water. Exercise regularly is important. I always avoid using any sachets or jars of seasoning powder or sauces. I'd rather cook from scratch, that will minimize the intake of MSG, preservatives, or additives which your body may not want or causes hard to digest. I love my body, so I have to treat it well.

Eating junk food isn't the best way to look after my body, so we never buy them. What helps us is that we're far from the nearest town, so we're not tempted to go to any takeaways or drive-thru outlets. We grow our own vegetables, fruits and herbs, so that we will have plenty of fresh supplies whenever we need them. We don't use pesticides or insecticides and by that we can eat our fruits or vegetables freshly picked.


I always start my day with a glass of water, then a bowl of fresh fruit salad with organic yogurt. The thing about fresh fruit is that they will taste much better and crunchy when freshly picked. A bowl of fruit salad will always give me a fresh start of the day, which means neither too full nor too empty. I can always follow it by making toasts or pancakes afterwards to give me more energy, but for a half of the day a bowl of fruit salad will be enough for me.

I believe that cooking and taking plenty of vegetables will balance our needs. As an Indonesian, I was taught and conditioned to eat more vegetables than meat. I was a vegetarian for almost 5 years before I moved to New Zealand which then I happened to get iron deficiency everytime I was pregnant. Therefore, I had to eat meat to help me lifting up my iron level. Still, I will choose plenty of peas rather than a big chop of meat.

I have recipes of tofu balls, fried tempeh, fried tempeh with sweet soy sauce, most of my Indonesian Style cooking (are made from scratch), and other gluten-free produce which may give you some ideas what to cook when you don't feel like cooking meat. And most of my Indonesian Style cooking are made from scratch.

Sometimes when it's in season, I am quite happy to nibble a plate of this ong choy salad rather than a plate of biscuits. Would you like to try it? Here's the recipe. This is my entry for Cooking to Combat Cancer, hosted by Chris of Mele Cotte.

Ong Choy Salad

When you buy ong choy, you should cook them as soon as possible, otherwise they will become wilted quickly. If you like a hotter version, simply add chillies. My mother told me that when cooking for a hotter version, I should include other root herbs like fresh galangal, ginger, and bay leaf. She also sometimes adds a teaspoon of shrimp paste, dried anchovies, dried shrimps, or fried tempeh cubes.

1 packet of fresh ong choy, 4 tomato cherries, halves, ½ cup mung bean sprouts, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, salt, sugar, 1 Tbs rice bran oil

Trim the ong choy, remove the base stalks. If you can't snap the stalks, then the stalks will be hard to chew, so take the three stems of leaves from the tip. Blanched the trimmed ong choy for a minute then drained. Heat the oil, cook the onions until soft. Add in the chopped garlic, cook until fragrant. Add in the blanched ong choy, cook for 1 minute, then add in the mung bean sprouts. Cook another 2 minutes. Add in the tomato cherries, cook another 1 minute or until the tomatoes are cooked but still firm. Remove from the stove. Serve warm.

Stay healthy everyone!

April 05, 2007

NZBBP-Happy Easter Parcel



Home-made Easter Buns from Emma

YAY! It's from Emma in Wellington! I and kids gathered up at the table on the deck as soon as I declared that I received the parcel.


The kids were excited and so was I. They got even more excited to see the little chicks Emma attached on the parcel and immediately wanted to take a picture with them on their hands.



Ben couldn't wait for me to heat the buns up and so I let him nibble one of them while he's watching me opening other items in the parcel. It's just like a birthday present!

Here's the items I received!



  • Home-made Easter buns: I love the taste of raisins, yeast, and spice blend together. And, the buns didn't get too dense when they arrived.

  • A jar of celery salt: also home-made. Emma wrote that it's good to sprinkle on boiled eggs! I certainly will try that.

  • A pack of mini crème Eggs and a pack of Marshmallow Eggs, both from Cadbury: It happens to be Emma's favorite and Easter without them wouldn't be the same, indeed!

  • Two packs of NZ Wild Herbs from Kaituna Farm: Horopito (Bush Pepper) and Kawakawa (Bush Basil). Looking at the picture of kawakawa reminds me of one of Indonesian herbs which called cabe Jawa (Javanese pepper), only that we used the peppery fruits instead of leaves as one of ingredients to make jamu (Javanese herbal drink or medicine). These herbs I might have not been able to find on the shelves of supermarkets, I suppose, and I know I'm curious to find out the flavours.

  • A pack of saffron which contains of 40 strands, grown in Greytown. I'm glad that I can use this for some cuisine I've been eyeing to try out.

  • A jar of sweet smoked paprika. I'll find out what to do with them, and I'm sure nothing to be wasted.

  • A cookbook called Cordon Bleu: Party Cooking, issued in 1972 (imagine that, I was only 1 year old!). This is the kind of book I will treasure.

Thank you, Emma for organizing NZBBP and especially for sending me the lovely parcel. John's enjoying the chocolate eggs now while I'm writing this (no worries!).

Have a Good Easter Break and Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it.

April 02, 2007

Green Blog-Winter/Spring 2007


I do think that it's handy to have a garden which can supply kitchen's daily needs of either fresh herbs or vegetables. When you are living in the countryside like I am, one thing you would like to do is to make a list for a whole week. Unfortunately, vegetables and herbs can't stay as fresh as when they have left the stores. I don't really like consuming wilted vegetables or herbs for cooking which have been kept for days in the fridge. Therefore, growing our herbs and vegetables are a must.

Mandira of Ahaar is hosting this event for those who are interested in growing their own herbs or vegetables for their own needs. Even when you are a beginner of gardening, there is always worth getting your hands mingling with earth. Get dirty and look at the results.

I am posting from New Zealand, so this should explain why I have Summer harvests (which we've officially entered Autumn/Fall this month) to those who are puzzled.

I don't really believe on someone being a green thumb or not being a green thumb, but I do believe that plants need care and love as much as we care what to cook and how we love preparing it. Plants need water, good soil, compost, and sunlight. It's all that. That's the care they would mainly need, besides plucking off some weeds when they seem growing alongside your plants. I suggest to pull them off rather than spray them with weeds killer, unless you have huge gorse bushes to kill forever, as they are really nuisance.

We're mostly treating our vegetables and herbs organically, that means pulling off weeds by hand, and forking in sheep or fowl manure taken from the farm (not using commercial fertiliser, so forth). We're just taking the safe side for the family, especially for the children as they are playing a lot of their time in the garden.

I have posted my rustic garlic on Weekend Herbs Blogging hosted by Ed of Tomatom in January and have also written some information about coriander (and parsley) in Bahasa Indonesia on my other Indonesian blog and photo albums FoodnGarden. If you are able read (and either speak) in Bahasa Indonesia, simply read this page.

Coriander [coriandrum sativum] and garlic [allium sativum] play an important role in my kitchen as they are used on daily basis. My family is familiar with Indonesian cooking and is enjoying each introduction I have made for them, except the heat of chillies my hubby and children can't really take it as much as I can. Coriander and garlic are often used in Indonesian cuisine and usually are very much used together in one recipe. I find it really different when I am using fresh ingredients to those I buy from the stores, especially when I grow them myself and I know how I grow them. It's the satisfaction-guaranteed kind of feeling that cannot be compared with already-bought ones.

I bought coriander seeds from a garden centre and preparing seeding mix on a tray. I always dampen my soil before planting the seeds. And here's the seeds growing.

After they opened their third or fourth leaves, then I transplanted them in the open garden. We used mushroom compost when we first cultivated the kitchen garden (it was a large bed of sand and was used for horses by the previous owners), so I reckon it was a good start. Everything is planted will grow well. I don't even worry if they are not survived because at some stage, they will thrive however.

At this time, I won't do anything to them but to give them some liquid manure every three weeks. We use the liquid taken from our little worms farm or alternatively, we soak sheep manure for weeks in a barrel then dripping it into a watering can. When it's too rich we'll dilute it with water, according to the plants' needs. I would pick some coriander leaves for garnish or whenever a recipe calls for it, but mostly I would wait until they are seeding.

When they're flowering, there's the excitement comes. They're attracting bees and also going to bear some little seeds which will then be used to flavor any food I'm cooking. I would pull the whole plants when they are seeding and hang them in the garage (we have an earthen-floor garage) to dry out. When they're dry, I put them in a plastic bag and begin to loosen the seeds off the plants, that way the seeds won't go to the ground. Then, the seeds are ready to use and I transfer them in a container. This year, I've managed to harvest 552g of coriander seeds!

Here's a recipe I first use my coriander seeds I grew myself last Summer.

Tempe Goreng (Fried Tempeh)

Tempe is originated high-protein food from my home country, Indonesia, which is made from soy beans. Tempehs are very cheap in Indonesia, unlike in New Zealand it becomes a luxury to us. We consume organic tempeh from Tonzu.

1 block tempeh, cut into triangles or squares,1 tsp coriander seeds, 3 garlic cloves, peeled, sea salt, 1 tsp tamarind paste, 2 Tbs warm water, oil for frying

Mix coriander seeds, garlic, and sea salt using mortar and pestle (or a blender if you like) until smooth. Squash the tamarind paste in the warm water and mix them with the paste, and add in tempeh. Marinade for 15 minutes. Then fry.

Tempe goreng is usually eaten with sambal kecap (a condiment made from kecap manis, shallots, chillies, and a drizzle of lime juice) or sambal oelek (chillies, shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, sour cherry tomatoes, salt and sugar), or other versions of sambal which are various from any regions in the archipelago. Fried tempeh can also be cooked in sweet chilli sauce together with prawns, tofu, peanuts or dried anchovies. Other version, you can see it on my previous post of fried tempeh in sweet soy sauce last time I made for our little celebration.

Thank you Mandira to host this event. I'm looking forward to seeing what other folks are growing in their garden. It's always fun to me to talk about plants, garden, and gardening. I'm happy to have more acquaintances from such events. I always find some things more to learn from other bloggers.

Stay green!!