October 29, 2007

Time to Celebrate Love

I have three beloved women in my life whom I'd loved to spend time in the kitchen: my late grandmother, my own mother, and my mum-in-law. My grandmother was the first woman who introduced me the fun in the kitchen in my early years. I lived with her for quite a long time. I always loved her Indonesian traditional sweets. She was a Javanese which means she brought her cultures and traditions in the family and it becomes the values I still hold dear until today. I have made a range of traditional Indonesian sweets (Putri Mandi, Bubur Sumsum, Bubur Candil, Bubur Injit) I've ever tried with her. My mother is the woman of two cultures as she was raised as the mixture of Sundanese father and Javanese mother. She focuses mostly on the Indonesian traditional meals, either come from West Java or Central Java kitchens. She likes compiling recipes from any sources and often asks me to try one out with her. My mum-in-law is the produce of Western traditions and she enriches my world with her traditional values of English-New Zealand cooking. She is the best supporter of my cake decorating, baking, and cooking experiences. I guess, I'm just lucky to have these ladies in my life.

My mother had had a stroke 5 years ago and until today she's still way too weak to be involved so much in the kitchen. I am writing this as to celebrate the times I've spent so much with her, in her kitchen. Vanielje has Apples and Thyme event for us to celebrate the love with our beloved one(s) in the kitchen.

My mother and I used to be a team, especially when it's the time to celebrate Eid el Fitr. Every year I would come home (I took my full degree and masters at different universities in Java Island, while my parents live in Sumatra Island) and be the princess of the kitchen while she was the queen. I would make the cookies, my specialty task, and my mother would cook the traditional meals. My father usually helped with making the ketupat (Indonesian traditional rice cakes cooked in woven coconut leaves which are diamond-shapes) cases. Sometimes my mother makes lontong (Indonesian traditional rice cakes cooked in banana leaves wraps) if we can't get any coconut leaves from my grandmother's orchard.

This tradition is still kept in my own family until today. Although it is hard to find any banana leaves in the rural area where I live, I use foil to replace it. To cut the cooking time, I steam the rice first, and then fold them in foil and boil them. It takes time to boil them to the very packed and round shape, but it worths it. Eid el Fitr in October a few weeks ago was only celebrated a simple way while I was still ill with sinusitis in the mourning week after Dad's funeral. I cooked lontong, home-raised free-range chicken curry, eggs with sweet chili sauce, a bowl of steamed greens, and a jug of lemonade. That's it. Yes, we missed the essential ingredients of traditional Indonesian meals: shrimp crackers or melinjo nuts crackers. But, that's alright, as long as we've got the essential meaning of Eid el Fitr itself, I suppose.

As the princess of the kitchen, I often make cookies. The funny thing is that almost every household will make this range of cookies and funnily, nothing tastes the same! Well, like I said about baking is one recipe can produce various results, nothing would exactly be the same as original, depending on how one is doing the process and the choices of freshest and finest ingredients used and the imagination one's kept. It is the beauty of baking I love.

I made Casablanca Pudding last year as to remember my mother because we used to make this pudding together when we tried the recipe for the first time. This pudding became the popular pudding in the family. Another snack I would like to team up with my mother is flaky cheese straw. This snack is also popular amongst my brothers (I don't have sisters). Although this recipe I adapted from Lois Daish book, it is similar to those we tried in my mother's kitchen.

Flaky Cheese Straws

Source: Lois Daish. A Good Year. Listener. A Random House Book, NZ. 2005.

1 cup (all-purposed) flour,
½ tsp baking powder,
¼ tsp salt,
¼ tsp cayenne pepper,
2 Tbs soft butter,
100g (1 cup) grated tasty or vintage cheddar,
¼ cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 190C. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Mix in the grated cheese. Sprinkle the water over the mixture and use the back of a knife to mix, forming a crumbly moist mass. You may need another trickle of water, but don't make the dough wet.

Press the dough together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured bench. Roll out thinly and cut into straws of whatever dimension pleases you. Transfer the straws to a baking tray lined with baking paper or baking cloth and bake for about 12 minutes until crisp and golden, but not brown.

Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes, and transfer to a rack until cold. Store in an airtight tin.

In Bahasa Indonesia

Cemilan ini enak untuk dimakan bareng teh tapi kalo bareng kopi kok ga sepadan ya. Menurut buku sih enak dimakan bareng bir, barangkali tradisi di sini. Silakan deh kalo temen-temen bisa minum bir, cobain cemil bareng ini, kasih tahu ya enak apa enggak-nya!

Cemilan ini memang seperti cheese-sticks, ya emang nama lainnya begitu. Tapi yang ini ga digoreng, melainkan dipanggang. Menurutku sih lebih enak dipanggang ya, jadi ga berlipat-lipat lemaknya, soalnya udah pake keju. Hanya memang perlu ketelitian dan kecermatan waktu untuk memanggang cemilan ini, sedikit lengah gosong deh!

Flaky Cheese Straws

Sumber: Lois Daish. A Good Year. Listener. A Random House Book, NZ. 2005.

1 cup tepung terigu,
½ sdt baking powder,
¼ sdt garam,
¼ sdt cayenne pepper,
2 sdM mentega lunak (yang sudah di dalam suhu ruangan),
100g (1 cup) keju cheddar yang udah tua dan mantap rasanya,
¼ cup air dingin (pake yang dari kulkas)

Panasi ovennya suhu 190C. Ayak tepung, baking powder, garam dan cayenned. Remas-remas mentega ke dalam campuran terigu tadi pakai ujung jari (sampai jadi remah-remah). Masukkan keju parut (ini pake parutan yang paling halus). Kucurin (dikit-dikit aja) air dinginnya dan pake punggung pisau mencampur adonan sampai rata, sehingga adonan membentuk gumpalan-gumpalan adonan yang lembab (tapi ga basah). Boleh tambahin sedikit air dingin (kalo masih kelihatan butiran-butiran yang belum menyatu), cuma jangan sampai adonan basah atau lembek.

Satukan adonan pakai jari atau kedua tangan (tapi jangan diremas apalagi diuleni, a big no-no!) lalu letakkan ke atas meja yang udah ditawuri tepung. Giling setipis selera masing-masing dan potong-potong tipis sesuai dengan dimensi yang disukai. Pindahkan batang keju ke atas loyang yang sudah dialasi kertas roti atau baking cloth (barangkali sejenis muslin-ga pernah pake) lalu panggang selama kurleb 12 menit (lihat-lihatin nih, tergantung panasnya oven masing-masing deh!) sampai garing dan kekuningan, tapi ga jadi kecoklatan (atau gosong!). Angkat dari oven, dinginkan sebentar di loyang, lalu pindahkan ke atas rak hingga betul-betul dingin. Simpan dalam toples kedap udara.

October 24, 2007

A Slice of Cake and A Cup of Coffee

a slice of cake and a cup of coffee

One of these days, I've slumbered so much I can't even bother about sitting in front of the computer at night. This, of course, gives me a consequence not to know what's been happening on some friends' posts and foodie events taken place all over the world. Until two days ago, I made to look up at IMBB and found some interesting events I'd love to participate, alas, I am still disorganized. I am hoping when I feel much better, I can participate more.

Andrew has sent us an invitation to make a layered cake for Waiter event and I thought I shall be occupied myself in the kitchen and be enjoying putting things together, so I decided to make one.
The cake is chocolate sponge which sandwiched with the mixture of cream cheese, thickened cream, grated chocolate, and apricots. I am not pretty good at cutting sponge cakes into even layers and I tend to use three identical tins. I weigh each batter in the tin as I believe this way I can make even layers. I enjoyed the slice of cake with a cup of black coffee. A simple way to enjoy pure labour.
chocolate layered cake

Chocolate Layered Cake
Chocolate Sponge Cake
I use Mbak (Sister) Fatmah Bahalwan's recipe for sponge cake as the base of the cake. I omitted some of the ingredients as I don't store them in my pantry. People in Indonesia love rich and high-construction cakes which are usually helped to strongly rise by emulsifiers. They also contain of a huge number of eggs than flour, especially for celebration cakes, such as the famous Lapis Surabaya (Surabaya Layered Cake) which uses 30 eggs altogether! Blimey.
I don't find emulsifiers are quite important in any cake-making of Western recipes as most cakes use less eggs than those in Indonesia. I made experiments to try these emulsifiers and one of close friends back home sent me a parcel of each emulsifier by order. I found the emulsifiers work really well and make the cake rising to the perfect size to my very own eyes, but the use of emulsifiers can be a fatal act for the performance of serving: guilty, because it must have been made from chemical-something and it feels like 'cheating'. Since then, I decided not to use any emulsifiers whatsoever anymore though I haven't finished them, and I prefer to make, serve, and eat cakes emulsifier-free.
The oven temperature and the time for baking in the recipe are not mentioned, so feel free to consult your own oven's manual instructions. I use 180C and baked cakes on the three tins for 25 minutes and I used three 19cm round identical cake tins.
Source: Fatmah Bahalwan, NCC
8 eggs,
200g caster sugar (I used 150g),
200g plain flour,
10g cornflour,
15g cocoa powder,
1 Tbs emulsifier (omitted),
100g butter, melted,
1 Tbs Black Forest chocolate paste (omitted)

Beat the eggs, sugar and emulsifier until thick and fluffy. Sift the flour, cornflour, and cocoa powder together, and gradually fold into the egg mixture. Mix well. Add in the melted butter, mix well. Add in the chocolate paste, mix well. Pour into a 20cm chiffon tin or two 22x22x4cm cake tins. Bake until cooked.
250g cream cheese,
150g thickened cream,
50g caster sugar,
410g canned apricot in juice, drained, (reserved 1 Tbs of the syrup), chopped,
50g grated dark chocolate,
1 tsp lime juice,
25g dark chocolate, extra, melted

Beat cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth. Beat in thickened cream until creamy. Add in chopped apricots, reserved syrup, grated chocolate, and lime juice. Spread on the cake to sandwich each layer and on top of the cake. Drizzle with melted extra dark chocolate. Serves 8.

October 21, 2007

Chicken and Leek Pie

After the loss of my father-in-law, I still am feeling the sadness atmosphere in the family, including my kids. They don't know how to express their loss, so they sort of acting their own way (which sometimes is disagreeable. Sigh.).

And I am still getting the sinusitis, and hopefully it is over soon. The augmentin tablets I got are really upset my stomach, and unfortunately, taking them is the only way to help get rid of sinusitis. I don't have a good appetite during this taking-tablets-periode. Whatever I ate will only upset my stomach. Everything is tasteless. I thought that soup is the only remedy for this uncomfortable disease, so I made a good batch of vegetable soup and bakso for a couple of days, re-fridged and reheated. I found out that adding sambal oelek or hot chili sauce in the soup is a help for me to eat all up (I finally can taste the heat! That's a good sign, isn't it?)

However, I am still doing the cooking and baking, although I only do regular ones and not all my best, pretty much every day. A task which I can't avoid. I love serving hot food for the family. As we're still having miserable weather down here, hot food is somehow a comfort meal for everybody, I suppose.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Pille of Nami Nami. You can check out Kalyn's Blog for more information about Weekend Herb Blogging.

Chicken and Leek Pie

I have some leftover chicken breasts, about a cup. I thought making pie is an easy way to keep survive, don't you think? We like eating pie like this with lettuce salad and home-made tamarillo chutney.

1 quantity shortcrust pastry,
1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded,
2 leeks, sliced,
4 button mushrooms, chopped,
1 onion, chopped,
3 cloves garlic, minced,
5 eggs,
1 Tbs cream,
freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper,
oil for cooking,
grated cheese to sprinkle

Heat the oil. Brown the onion, add in the minced garlic. Add in the chopped mushrooms, then the sliced leeks. Sautee until leeks are becoming soft but still crunchy. Remove from the stove and set aside. Whisk the eggs with the cream. Fold in the vegetables and chicken, season. Mix until combined. Pour into the prepared and cooked pastry pie case. Sprinkle with cheese (If you can eat enormous number of cheese, you can mix the grated cheese in the egg mixture and/or sprinkle on the batter). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked.

October 11, 2007

Inexperience Butcher

One day, the day we have to be the butcher, we pay the consequences of being self-sufficient. Yes, we grow our own vegetables and yes we raise our own sheep, cows and chickens for meat supplies, yet we still have to learn the basic skill of butchering.

I'm pretty much familiar with doing the chickens, but sheep or cows? I can't even stand to see blood. My husband is much more of a learner himself, and observer by nature, I suppose. He is still practicing with trial and error, but that's just a good start. The working hours have started and we have finished with the messy parts, and yet we're still staring at the table. How are we going to do it? Which part are we going to start cutting first?

Anyway, to answer all of those questions, we finally download illustrations of parts of the body. Oh, that is sirloin, right, so that's the flaps, and that's the other parts. And those ones are the chops (do you know which parts of lamb/sheep which are called chops? I didn't care before, but now I do). Frankly, we could not imagine how hard it was to cut in between the ribs, just to make a lovely shape of mutton-racks. Must be a tough job being a butcher, I wonder. This then would make us appreciate the work of butchers.

However, we were getting on and on with a bit of trial and error and limited skill of butchering... using the improper knives.

Well, that was not too bad. At least, we got most of the fat off. Although the shapes are not as neat as those in the proper butcher shop, we eventually made it! Although the portions were cut up not as neatly as the butchers' best works, we were glad we finally did all the parts, wash them clean, put them in separate bags, mark the date, and threw them all into the deep freezer. Until the next time we've got to do it all over again, it must not be as hard as we've started. Well, at least that's the theory.

One of the bags I took out and recognized they were the shanks. Right. We're likely going to have shanks stew. It is just good eaten with herbed mashed potatoes and greens. You can add or replace some amount of stock and water with red wine, some say it's more delicious that way. I stick with stock and water. I used plenty of herbs, though. I love the lovely fragrance of bouquet garni in the flavour.

Mutton Shanks Stew

2 mutton shanks,
300g meat from mutton flaps, cubed,
1 onion, finely chopped,
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
2 carrots, sliced,
2 leeks, chopped,
3 courgettes, sliced,
make a bouquet garni of two sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 sprig of rosemary,
2 tomatoes, chopped,
1 can tomatoes in natural juice,
beef stock and water,
freshly cracked salt and black pepper,
olive oil for cooking

Heat the oil. Brown the meat and meat cubes. Set aside. Wipe out the grease and heat another fresh olive oil. Cook the chopped onion and garlic until fragrant and soft but not brown. Add in sliced leeks and then carrots. Add in the chopped tomatoes and then tomatoes in juice. Pour in the stock and water. Add in the bouquet garni. Simmer for 1 hour. Add in the sliced courgettes. Cook until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper in the end of cooking.

October 06, 2007

Farewell, Dear Dad

It had been a very upsetting moment in my life to watch Dad was going down the hill each day. Although I understand that he had to take the end of his course, it's just sad to actually think I won't see him anymore. We have to say goodbye. We have to say goodbye.

Tears dropped, for the memorable happiness and joy I'd ever shared with him. He was a very loving and gentle father-in-law. He always had been a very caring person. 5 years was only a very short time having known him but I enjoyed every moment of it.

He just passed away today at Middlemore Hospital, Otahuhu. He's gone to the restful place where he would no longer feel the pain. Farewell, Dear Dad. I loved you and always do.

Rest in Peace.