July 30, 2007

Comfort Food: Bubur Candil

This pudding is similar to Putri Mandi except the dumplings are cooked in the pudding and are no stuffing. The richness of palm sugar and coconut milk gives exotic taste with pandanus leaves add the fragrance in it. My grandmother used to grind her rice so the dumplings tasted as fresh as they should be and also she would grate fresh coconut and then squeeze the milk out. My mother still buys and uses fresh coconut instead of canned ones these days. The sauce tastes nothing else than the heavenly fresh coconut milk. Very natural and very homey.

This pudding is also gluten-free.

Bubur Candil [Plain Sticky Rice Dumplings in Thin Palm Sugar Pudding]

Source: Kue-Kue Indonesia by Yasaboga. PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama. 2007. Jakarta, Indonesia.

200g sticky rice flour (glutinuous flour),
1 tsp limestone water (I don't have it),
175cc water

Mix the flour and limestone water, then pour in the water, knead until smooth. Roll into small balls, about 1cm in diameter, set aside. Sprinkle with flour to avoid sticking.

750cc palm sugar (I used brown sugar),
3 pandanus leaves (I used frozen ones),
2 Tbs rice flour mixed with 1 Tbs sticky rice flour and a little bit of water

Coconut Milk Sauce:
250cc coconut cream boiled with ¼ tsp salt (I add 1 pandanus leave)

Put the water, sugar, and pandanus leaves in a saucepan and boil, strain and put back in the saucepan. Boil again. Add in the dumplings until they are all floating. Stir in the rice flours mixture, and continue cooking until the dumplings are cooked and the pudding is thicken. Serve with coconut milk sauce.

In Bahasa Indonesia

Satu lagi nih makanan yang suka saya kangeni. Untungnya saya dikirimi Mbak Esti buku Kue-Kue Indonesia tempo hari, jadi bisa bikin sendiri kalau kangen. Meskipun bahannya tidak bisa didapat sesegar bahan-bahan di pasar-pasar tradisional Indonesia, toh tetap enak juga di lidah, cuma beberapa kali pakai tepung yang baru beli sama tepung yang sudah lama beda sekali rasanya. Pakai tepung yang lama berasa starchy banget. Untungnya pake daun pandan jadi agak tersamar juga. Thanks to Mbak Esti! Saya menghidangkan bubur ini hangat dengan saus hangat juga. Menurut saya lebih enak, apa mungkin karena lagi Musim Dingin ya.

Bubur Candil

Sumber: Kue-Kue Indonesia oleh Yasaboga. PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama. 2007. Jakarta, Indonesia

200g tepung ketan,
1 sdt air kapur sirih,
175cc air,
750cc air,
200g gula merah,
3lbr daun pandan,
2 sdM tepung beras dan 1 sdM tepung ketan, cairkan dengan sedikit air

250cc santan kental direbus dengan ¼ sdt garam

Campur tepung ketan, air kapur sirih, tuangi 175cc air sedikit-sedikit sambil diuleni sehingga bisa dibentuk, buat bulatan-bulatan garis tengah 1cm, sisihkan. Taburi tepung kering sedikit supaya tidak melekat satu dengan yang lain.

Jerangkan 750cc air, gula merah dan daun pandan sampai larut, saring, jerangkan lagi hingga mendidih.

Masukkan bulatan adonan, masak sampai matang dan terapung. Kentalkan dengan tepung yang sudah dicairkan. Aduk sampai seluruhnya matang.

Hidangkan di dalam mangkuk, siram di atasnya dengan santan.

July 28, 2007

4 x 4

I have no idea if this meme has been going on for quite sometime. I am so bad at 'blogwalking'. With very limited time, I hardly know what's going on out there on the blogosphere and what events are happening at the moment. I would not have had a clue if I am not 'asked' to do this or not visiting IMBB site or have a notice by emails.

Being and living in the rural area means that we can't get any broadband which offers fastest access, instead we have to using dial-up with screeching sounds of the modem. You can't imagine how much time I have spent to even load the Google page, and I often feel frustrated as it's ages to upload one picture! I hate to say I'm struggling, and I don't really think it is that bad, really. I am still here, writing this and that, only I am very slow at visiting other bloggers' sites (please, forgive me). I am so grateful to have such good readers who visit my blog each day eventhough I am not writing anything. Thank you so much! Your attention is much more appreciated than you would know! I still exist because of you.

We have been having upsetting moments lately with the lambing season is at hand. Our pet sheep, the one and only Lucey is died of a disease we did not what. The worst part is that she was pregnant. I was very upset and I just could not help myself from tears, recalling she had had a quite life because the other flock of sheep didn't want her, her mother rejected her when she was just born, and she was dying quietly there. Poor old Lucey. Another upsetting moment that there was another ewe who was carrying babies and she could not deliver, but she dropped out her uterus and bladder, so we had to end her pain. We tried to save the lambs but they were already dead inside her. That was enough for me, especially, to be upset for some time. I have to think that those sheep and lambs were much happier now that they are not in pain anymore.

And this morning, I picked up a little ram lamb from Mum and Dad's paddock who's very weak and whose mother is only feeding his twin. He cries and I think he's starving. We brought him home and fed him. He was very happy to taste milk in his mouth again. We're having yet another pet lamb after losing pet sheep. The children are quite happy with him and watching him closely, though I have to remind them to be gentle as they always want to carry him around and put him on their lap, taking turns. I think it'll be a bit much, probably a bit shock for the little lamb at this moment. I am just glad the children are showing affection on animals.

Apart from the busy-ness of doing the wifey and motherly tasks, I am enjoying myself to another hobby I have been developing. I love taking pictures and I am a self-taught learner-photographer. Not the food ones, but more about nature, human interests, animals or pets, and landscape. I received a great camera from my hubby as the birthday present and I LOVE it! I love exploring everything and every corner of my house, garden and farm, just to capture some things interesting with my new camera. Therefore, I am setting up a photo blog to share with you, too. Some of you might have discovered the blog through my sidebar which I've named Through My Lens, some of you might not. I was inspired by Ilva of Lucullian Delights and love her views on photography. I am hoping that we will be able to exchange this passion more often than before.

Do you have a photography site as well? If you do, please feel free to add my photo blog, I'd love to hear and learn from you! And don't forget to tell me yours.

Anyway, Gilli from So So Simple Food had tagged me with this 4 x 4 meme.

4 Favourite Foods

Indonesian Mangoes (there are many varieties of mangoes in Indonesia, and I love them all!),
Rice cooked with coconut milk and eaten with steamed vegetables sprinkled with spiced coconut threads and floured-fried tempeh,
Coriander and Garlic Roast Chicken with Creamy Peanut Sauce,
crème Brulee (any sort)

4 Foods I Will Never Eat

Pork Belly,
Any Animal Guts (except if someone can cook me flavoursome chicken liver) and any animal blood,

4 Jobs I've Had

Freelance Translator,
Sales Executive,
Assistant Manager,

4 Films I Could Watch More than 4 Times

Motorcycle Diaries,
The Lord of The Rings,
Bulan Tertusuk Ilalang (Indonesian movie)

4 Places I'd Like to be at This Moment


I am passing this meme on to Anh of Food Lover's Journey. I love her recipes and had tried her slow cook stew for Cook and Eat Meat event last time.

July 25, 2007

Carrot Cake: The Gluten-Free Experiments

I believe carrot cake is one of old favourites we, especially children, mostly enjoy. My first attempt of baking carrot cakes was a gluten-free one around in the end of 2003 when Ben was having his 1st birthday party. I made two layers of carrot cake and sandwiched and topped them with cream cheese icing, which then sprinkled with chopped walnuts. I was a bit surprised to see the reaction of the guests at that time, especially those who could not consume gluten, that the cake was incredibly moist for a gluten-free version they've ever made or tasted somewhere else. I couldn't think that their compliment indicated a politeness over the hostess of the party, but then I encouraged myself to continuously trying to improve the recipe that I used. I will find it useful in the future because some of my guests might as well be suffering food intolerance, eczema, or suffering from Coeliac disease.

As for gluten-free flours, they don't contain any gluten whatsoever. The finished products often are not satisfaction-guaranteed as you might like to compare with the regular floured products. I have been experimenting to produce gluten-free products which taste and look as delicious as the goodies made from regular flours and up to now, I am not really convinced that they would taste as good.

I have been trying to reduce the amount of the flour, but that often makes the cake soggy and really thin and hard. That probably because with the other ingredients not being reduced, it means a disaster to the balance of the ingredients. So I thought I'd better keep the amount of flour and have to increase the number of eggs. I believe that eggs can give sponginess in a cake, the texture that can hold the shape and also moisten it at the same time. And I definitely can't add more grated carrots or crushed pineapple in the mixture as these will give the flour and eggs a hard work to rise.

Another thing that I often do is to use ground nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, or pecan) to add more flavour and to help give good construction to the cake. Although the finished product is often fragile, within cooling down it will be harden.

So, with all devoted hours and how many failures I had had to improve the recipe, I baked another carrot cake for my daughter, Sarah Jane's 3rd birthday. The result was the compliments from the teachers and children. Some of the parents were also asking for the recipes. So, I thought oh that works well. And here I am writing down the recipes for you to jot down.

I am just hoping for all readers who are suffered from food allergy or food intolerance to find it is not impossible for you to enjoy cakes or other goodies although they are not made from regular flours and with this you will also be encouraged to bake your own cake.

Here are the recipes of carrot cakes I've been working on. They may be not perfect, but at least it's been proved that it tastes as good as moist by the school teachers and children.

Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free Version)

This cake can be made for individual servings as well by using medium muffin pans, only you have to reduce the baking time for 30-45 minutes according to how hot is your oven.

2 cups Healtheries Simple Baking Mix mixed with 1 tsp baking soda,
¾ brown sugar,
¼ cup white sugar,
2 cups grated carrots,
115g crushed pineapple,
100g walnut pieces,
4 eggs,
1 cup vegetable oil,
1 heap tsp ground cinnamon,
1 heap tsp ground mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Break the eggs in the bowl and whisk lightly until well mixed. Add in the remaining ingredients. Beat for 1 minute until well combined. Scrap down and side of the bowl, then beat again for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Pour into the prepred cake tin and bake for about 50-60 minutes until cooked or when a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Carrot Cake (Regular Version)

It needs slow baking as this cake tends to be heavy. Using very hot oven will burn the cake before it is thoroughly cooked.

2 cups plain flour mixed with ¼ cup Self-Raising flour and 1 tsp baking soda,
¾ cup brown sugar,
¼ cup white sugar,
2 cups grated carrots,
125g crushed pineapple,
120g walnut pieces,
5 eggs,
1 cup vegetable oil,
1 heap tsp ground cinnamon,
1 heap tsp ground mixed spice,
½ tsp ground ginger,
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Break the eggs in the bowl and whisk lightly until well mixed. Add in the remaining ingredients. Beat for 1 minute until well combined. Scrap down and side of the bowl, then beat again for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 50-60 minutes until cooked or when a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

July 23, 2007

About Lovely Blogs NZ

Introducing another blogger who's blogging NZ blogs nationwide! Charlotte wrote to me last week as she was interested in my blog, so we had a little 'e-interview' as she said, and then there she wrote it not long after. Thank you, Charlotte! And as I said earlier, there are many lovely blog and bloggers in NZ, you can find them on my sidebar.

The Blog about Charlotte NZ Blogging: Lovely Blogs NZ
The Blog about HomeMadeS: Foodie: HomeMadeS


Baby Pecan Pies

I don't know if someone would notice that I made these pies myself when they were served on Sarah's birthday lunch last Sunday. I don't even remember if anyone ate them. Ben and Sarah did, but the adults just adored the fruit cheese. Did I make too much goodies, do you think?

I often guess what people might like and what other people might not enjoy. It is a game of taste and personal preferences, so who would know? Making various things what I THINK will be enjoyed by everyone is one thing I do. On one occasion, I can end up making batches of any possible things people will like to nibble, but I always make sure there are varieties playing on the table.

Goodies that I made for desserts was gluten-free chocolate almond torte as to serve my sis-in-law for she is a Coeliac, and for after-lunch coffee was ginger slice, baby pecan pies, and meringue (this my sis-in-law can also eat). Barbara made macha green-tea cookies as the addition, so there are various of goodies. In the end, when we were having coffee, everyone was so full there's no more room for other goodies.

Anyway, these pies are great to be packed in lunch box. Sarah always thinks they are mini muffins, so be it.

Source: All Things Nice with Jo Seagar. Random House New Zealand Ltd. 2002.

125g butter,
1 cup flour,
½ cup Chelsea icing sugar,
1 cup pecans,
60g butter, melted,
1 egg,
1 cup Chelsea soft brown sugar,
1 tsp vanilla essence

Place the first measurement of butter with the flour and icing sugar in a food processor and mix until the pastry forms a ball. Divide into 16 pieces and press each into the base and up the sides of a non-stick (or well-greased) mini muffin tin. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the pecans between the chilled pastry cases, breaking the nuts as required.

Mix the melted butter, egg, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth and 'gluey' and spoon or pour carefully over the nuts. Do not overfill.

Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes. Lift the pies from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

In Bahasa Indonesia

Kami merayakan ultah Sarah yang ke-3 hari Minggu kemaren. Sebetulnya hari ultahnya sendiri tanggal 25 Juli nanti, tapi ya dirayakan sebelumnya karena pada hari Rabu itu Sarah dan Ben akan merayakannya di sekolah. Ini salah satu after-lunch nibble yang saya sajikan di hari Minggu kemaren.

Baby Pecan Pies

Sumber: All Things Nice with Jo Seagar. Random House New Zealand Ltd. 2002.

125 mentega,
1 cup tepung terigu,
½ cup icing sugar,
1 cup pecans,
60g mentega, lelehkan,
1 btr telur,
1 cup soft brown sugar,
1 sdt esens vanila

Masukkan 125g mentega, tepung dan icing sugar ke dalam food processor dan campur hingga rata dan membentuk bulatan adonan. Bagi menjadi 16 bagian lalu tekan-tekan di dasar dan sisi-sisi loyang muffin mini yang non-stick atau sudah diolesi mentega. Sisihkan ke dalam kulkas selama kurleb 30 menit.

Bagi-bagi dan masukkan pecans ke dalam pastry case, hancurkan pecans jika perlu.

Campur mentega leleh, telur, brown sugar, dan vanila sampai rata, lembut dan kental, lalu sendokkan ke atas pecans. Jangan isi terlalu banyak (bisa tumpah keluar dari pastry case-nya jika terlalu penuh).

Panggang dengan suhu 180C selama 20-25 menit. Angkat pies dari loyang dan dinginkan di atas rak.

July 19, 2007

Tamarillo Chutney

I was first introduced with tamarillo chutney when Mum brought jars of them for my hubby. He was enjoying them and I said to myself that I should try to make it. First attempt was three years ago and it was only a small batch, but then since it's very popular to the family, including to my children, the batch is growing larger, around 11 to 20 jars a year, especially when Mum still is having tams in her garden in the end of the season. I have tried to make jam out of tams, but I prefer to enjoy them as chutney.

Yesterday, I made another 11 jars and soon will make more, just in case we're running out of them when the season's finished. Furthermore, it is always great to give away some jars to some friends.

This is the family's recipe handed over for years, and I am quite happy to share it with you. There's some of the ingredients I have improvised, such as using a few cloves of garlic and cayenne pepper.

Mum's Tamarillo Chutney [modified]

30-50 tamarillos, cleaned and trimmed,
1kg brown sugar,
1 cup malt vinegar,
4 cloves garlic (my modified recipe),
4 Granny Smiths,
3 brown onions,
cayenne pepper,
salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Soak tams in a boiling water, then peel (when the water is quite safe for your hands). Put them in the food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Chopped the brown onions and apples in large chunks and process them in the food processor until smooth. Pour into the saucepan. Mix all the rest of ingredients, stir well and cook in a medium heat until bubbly and thicken. Correct the seasoning. Pour into hot sterilized jars and sealed. Makes 11-13 various jars.

Surprise: I'm Nominated!

I have been struggling with miserable weather (although today is rarely beautiful!), having cold and the business of the children going back to school. I also have difficulties to go online as the line was unsurprisingly gone really bad that I could not even load the page, let alone write a post! Then today, luckily, I could sign in and received a notice from Barbara that I am nominated for Bloggers for Positive Global Change for Cook and Eat Meat event I organized to raise awareness of iron deficiency together with Kalyn, Chris, as well as Ilva and Joanna.

This event was initially created by Climate of Our Future and Amanda of Figs Olive Wine. Thank you for the nominations and congratulations for Barbara!

Stay healthy everyone!

July 13, 2007

Here's My Apron

I just realized that it is July 13 already and I had promised myself to contribute to Ilva's recent event Show Us Your Apron which the deadline is in two days time. So, here's my apron. Why I like it? Well, I often wash my hands and knife after moulding or slicing something, and I've found that a waist apron is quite handy to dry them off. Sounds gross? [I have to put this LOL icon here now hehehehe...].

Apple Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

We love apples. The kids eat apples like mad. They love the idea of picking the fruits right from the trees and eat them straight away. We don't use any pesticide so we don't worry about eating them fresh from the trees.

Now it's Winter, there's no more apples growing on the trees, except stripped branches and twigs. Still, we can eat apples, locally grown. And they taste as good.

Here's now the time to make hot pudding that we can enjoy straight from the cups or ramekins. Donna Hay has that kind of recipe, that's where I adapted this recipe from. This pudding is light, nutty, and sweet at the same time. You need apples only to line the cups. I use tea cups to bake the pudding and they went out of the oven fine. No cracks, whatsoever.

The thing about slicing the apples, I only use my little knife which I sharpen it at times during slicing. The sharper it is, the thinnest slices I would get. However, there are not really at the same thickness like I expect them to be. As I discovered later, to line the cups, you have to be able to slice the apples as thin as a paper, then you can get great liners, crisp and neat.

Anyway, I'm quite happy with the first attempt and will try that again obviously.

Apple Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Source: Donna Hay Magazine. Autumn. p.95

2 red apples, thinly sliced,
1 ½ Tbs caster (superfine) sugar,
20g (¾ oz) unsalted butter, melted

Place the sliced apples, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl, and toss to coat.

125g (4 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened,
1 cup (175g / 6 ¼ oz) brown sugar,
2 eggs,
1 cup (150g / 5 ¼ oz) self-raising flour, sifted,
½ cup (55g / 2 oz) almond meal (ground almonds),
¼ cup (2 fl oz) milk,
(single or pouring) cream to serve

Preheated the oven to 170C—was not mentioned on the recipes). Line 6 x 1 cup (8 fl oz) capacity ovenproof cups with apple. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy for 8-10 minutes. Gradually add in egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, almond meal, and milk. Spoon the mixture into the cups and place on a baking tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Turn out onto plates and serve with the butterscotch sauce and cream. Makes 6.

Butterscotch Sauce

1 ½ cups (12 fl oz) (single or pouring) cream,
50g (1 ¾ oz) unsalted butter,
1 cup (175g / 6 ¼ oz) brown sugar.

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.

Bahasa Indonesia

Yang suka apel yang suka apeeelll. Puding ini bisa dibuat dengan menggunakan apel merah, meskipun kudu diperhatikan tekstur kepadatan apel itu sendiri. Harus dipilih apel yang benar-benar segar supaya kalau diiris tipis, irisannya tetap bagus. Selamat mencoba ya!

Apple Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Sumber: Donna Hay Magazine. Autumn. p.95

2 apel merah, iris tipis,
1 ½ sdM gula halus,
20g (¾ oz) mentega tawar, lelehkan

Masukkan irisan apel, gula dan mentega leleh dalam mangkuk, lalu aduk sampai tercampur rata.

125g (4 ½ oz) mentega tawar, diamkan dalam suhu ruangan,
1 cup (175g / 6 ¼ oz) brown sugar,
2 btr telur,
1 cup (150g / 5 ¼ oz) self-raising flour, ayak,
½ cup (55g / 2 oz) almond meal (almond bubuk),
¼ cup (2 fl oz) susu,
krim cair untuk sajian

Panaskan oven suhu 170C-suhunya ga ditetapkan di majalah, tapi aku inisiatifkan sebesar itu, temen-temen bisa adaptasikan dengan oven masing-masing). Alasi 6 x 1 cup cangkir tahan panas dengan irisan apel. Kocok mentega dengan gula hingga ringan dan krimi selama 8-10 menit. Masukkan telur satu persatu sambil terus dikocok rata. Masukkan tepung, almond meal, dan susu. Sendokkan ke dalam cangkir yang diletakkan di atas loyang tipis. Panggang selama 30-35 menit atau sampai matang saat dites dengan tusuk gigi. Keluarkan dari cangkir dan letakkan ke atas piring saji lalu sajikan bersama saus butterscotch dan krim. Untuk 6 porsi.

Saus Butterscotch

1 ½ cups (12 fl oz) krim cair,
50g (1 ¾ oz) mentega tawar,
1 cup (175g / 6 ¼ oz) brown sugar.

Masukkan semua bahan ke dalam panci dan masak dengan api sedang, aduk hingga gula larut. Biarkan mendidih dan terus masak hingga 5-7 menit atau sampai saus mengental.

July 07, 2007

Enjoying Traditional Roast Chicken

Every Christmas we usually sit around the table and are enjoying every feast made for the special day. It's the thin stream of homey steam vapouring from the kitchen which makes every one of us treasure every spoonful of meals and desserts. Mum usually makes roast chicken, roast lamb, roast and steamed vegetables with a bowlful of salad which then finished with Christmas pudding, cassata, fruit salad, sherry trifle or pavlova.

At home, I usually make roast chicken or roast lamb to be served with green salad or roast vegetables, just for a change when there's been similar menu of either Indonesians or New Zealand dish on the plates. I love to tuck in sprigs of rosemary and cloves of garlic in the cavity of the chicken as I do love the fragrant of two combinations.

On my birthday lunch with Mum, Dad, and our good friends Ralph and Sue, I made this traditional roast chicken, specially cooked to contribute to Mid-Winter Christmas event hosted by fellow New Zealand bloggers Bron and Emma who are building a great teamwork to devote their time for Nihowera.

Arfi's Traditional Roast Chicken

1-2kg whole chicken, washed and trimmed, 1 lemon, 6 cloves garlic (whole and skin on) with 2 x 10cm sprigs of rosemary for the cavity, 3 cloves garlic, bruised, 1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped, freshly grind of sea salt and freshly cracked of black peppercorns, 1 tsp ground paprika, 1 cup chicken stock, olive oil

Wash and trim the chicken. Brushed the chicken with lemon juice. Put the garlic and sprigs of rosemary in the cavity and throw in a good grind of sea salt and black peppercorns. Secure the cavity with a toothpick. Combine the bruised garlic, chopped rosemary, paprika, sea salt and black peppercorns with olive oil, then rubbed the mixture on the chicken. Cover with foil for an hour, breast side-up. Then pour in the chicken stock. Marinade for an overnight and turning the chicken for every 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roast the chicken, breast side-down, covered for the first hour, then uncovered, breast side-up for the rest of the cooking time. It is depending on how hot is your oven to actually cook the chicken, but make sure you're basting the chicken every 15 minutes in the first hours to help moisten the top-side of the chicken and prevents to dry and burn it too quickly. The chicken stock will help the chicken to stay succulent by providing a lot of moisture to steam the flavour into the pores of the chicken.

When the chicken begins to brown, test if it's cooked by inserting a skewer in the thickest part. If the juice is running clear, then it's cooked. If the juice is running with a streak of blood, then expand the cooking time longer. Remove from the oven 15 minutes before the serving time and carve. Serve warm with lots of roast vegetables or a bowlful of salad. Serves 6-8.

Together with this roast chicken, Pumpkin couscous salad can be another option as a side dish to the main meal.

Couscous is the simplest staple I have ever discovered and it just often saves me the cooking time. I like to combine couscous with cubes of roast pumpkin and a great handful of basil which goes well with cumin-and-garlic-flavoured meat or fish.

I first tasted couscous at a Middle Eastern cafe which in 2001 was situated near Casa Luna in Ubud, Bali, and is now sadly replaced by a shop which sells musical CDs and others. What I can recall of that nice little cafe is that they served a huge plate of various dips with oh-so-Middle Eastern taste, like full flavoured hummus, tabouleh salad, buttered couscous, falaffel, and a large pita bread eaten with lovely and moist chicken pieces or cumin-flavoured lamb kebabs. They also had a delivery service which really helped us stay honeymooneing in the bungalow without getting uncomfortable to go out while we were enjoying being isolated ourselves from the busy roads and world outside. With a short ring for an order, then we would hear a beep of a motorbike horn in front of the gate, and with a flash, their tandoori chicken wraps could be eaten as hot as they're freshly made and they were absolutely gorgeous!

As this dish is pretty quick and simple to make, this can cut down the stress time preparing all the Christmas feast for the family and friends.

Roast Pumpkin and Couscous Salad

2 cups 'cooked' (follow the instructions in the package, I would say or you can do this: 1 cup couscous is covered with 1 ¼ cup water or chicken/vegetable stock and 2 tsp butter, stand and covered until it's puffed, then fork to separate) and buttered couscous, 1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped, 1 clove garlic, crushed, a good handful of fresh basil leaves, olive oil, 1 cup roast pumpkin cubes

Mix all the ingredients together well and give a dash of olive oil. Combine well. It's easy, isn't it?

Happy Mid-Winter/Mid-Summer Christmas 2007!

Love to you All.

July 02, 2007

July Special Birthday Cake

This month last year, I made a birthday cake which was two layers of sponge and iced with buttercream. The flowers were made from white chocolate. The technique was simple: used an ice cream scoop to roll the chocolate to resemble flowers.

July this year, after the basket I made last time, once again I dared myself to try to make this decorated cake using the combination of royal icing and sugarpaste. I am using a fruit cake for what I know that it keeps well which gives strong structure to work with. I covered the cake with almond paste (marzipan) and sugarpaste (white icing), for the start.

The design I wanted to use last time was a decoupage girl, and I wasn't succeeded. I think more practice will take me to that stage, but right now, I am quite happy what I have achieved. I said to myself at least I will enjoy making it, apart from being frustrated to see some unaccomplished-as-expected-to designs which apparently is something I have to deal with. However, the cake comes up nice although is still far from perfect. Like my fellow cake decorators in the club said many times 'practice makes perfect'.

And why July? Well, I was born on 4th of July. Yes, I know, it is the same day as the American's Independence Day, it is easy to remember, isn't it? Fancy that, my birthday is celebrated by the Americans, nationwide! What a bliss! Well, folks, everytime you see fireworks on the 4th of July night sky, would you please throw your hands up for me, say my name and whisper or even shout out 'happy birthday, Arfi', please?

I am sharing the birth month with my daughter, my two cousins, my uncle, and my brother. And I discovered that my dear friend Barbara (and husband Bryan), and also her friend Mary are the people I am sharing the birth month with. Not to mention many of my fellow Multipliers are sharing birthdays in the same month as well. That what makes July is a special month.

So, happy birthday, July people. Wish you all the best. Enjoy the cake!

Buat temen-temen MP yang sedang atau akan berulang tahun di bulan Juli, saya ucapkan Selamat Ulang Tahun ya! Bahagia selalu! Silakan, kuenya dipotong. Buat my dear friend Irma, ini trellis work-nya, Ir meskipun kurang rapih. Semoga karyaku ini bisa lebih menyemangati kamu ya, Ir! Karyamu bakal jauh lebih rapi! Enjoy!