June 27, 2008

Salad for Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets

I like salad. It is a non-guilty food I can eat and enjoy at any time, even as a snack in between meals. Nibbling a leaf or two in the making process is kind of a 'good' habit, I suppose, rather than nibbling on salty chips, don't you think? As I said on the mixed green leaves salad post that I like to add fruits in the salad for I do believe that they give more texture, flavour, and freshness to the whole package. I usually use New Zealand fruits, ranged from kiwifruit, grapes, nashi (the brown skinned pear which has round shape with juicy flesh), apples, and other pears. Sometimes I would include avocado, but not everyone can consume this lovely fruit, in that consent, I often serve slices of them separately with the mixture of fresh orange segments, sliced of Spanish onions, and tossed with whole-grain mustard dressings.

This is my entry for Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets hosted by duo Ivy and Ben.

mixed leaves with caramelized pears #2

Mixed Leaves with Caramelized Pears Salad

mixed salad leaves, your choice
red radish, sliced or keep the tiny ones whole, washed
alfafa sprouts

Caramelized Pears

3 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
aged balsamic vinegar
brown sugar
salted butter

Prepare the mixed salad leaves in a bowl. Meanwhile, make the caramelized pears. Heat the butter until hot. Add in quartered pears. Shake your pan to coat them with butter. Splash with vinegar and sprinkle with brown sugar. Shake again to coat until the mixture is thick and enveloped the pears beautifully. Remove from the pan, cool for a while and then mix them with the salad. It is just good with drizzled of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Makes 4.

June 23, 2008

Taste & Create: German Chocolate Cake

I have been becoming a fan of Taste and Create event which is created and hosted by Nicole of For the Love of Food. This is a fun event where all bloggers can test and true a recipe taken from the paired mate randomly picked by the host. T & C last time I was paired with Hanne of Supper in Stereo and tried her Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream which was superb! The pumpkin ice cream was just new to my taste but it was a pleasant trial. I love it with sweet ginger cubes.

T & C this time I am paired with Nicole and I was browsing through her wonderful recipes. Like I said, I am big on desserts, so first time browsing, you bet, is the items under Desserts category. There I was flipping over one page to the others, trying to escalate myself into something new, something I haven't made or something I don't dare to try. This is the fun of the event, as you're browsing through a blog you don't read a lot or perhaps one of the bloggers you've just been acquaintance with, the choice of recipe is another fun task. I usually can discover recipes I've been dreaming to try out but have no excuse to do it. This event gives me a lot more opportunities to actually get kicking, and furthermore, get to know more bloggers.

I chose Nicole's German Chocolate Cake because I am interested in the mixture of coconut and pecans in the filling to taste with chocolate cake. I've never tried those two items in one before, so I gave a try. Nicole made two layers with thicker cakes while I use slightly smaller tins and come up with these triple layers. I have no trouble in making the cakes although with three layers, I have to weigh the batter as for resulting even division for each tin. This is similar layers with the chocolate cake I made for Waiter in December last year, with different recipe and different filling, of course.

German Chocolate Cake

For the sugar, I used 2 Tbs of Sugaryl only and as for the filling, I added a tsp of instant coffee. I just love it with a cup of black coffee. The top of the cake you can see from the photos are shaved coconut or coconut flakes I came across at a healthy store. As a chocolate lover, I don't forget to have a taste of grated chocolate as well. YUM!

German Chocolate Cake

Would you like to have a slice?

June 19, 2008

Roti with Lentils and Spinach Curry


Srivalli is hosting Roti Mela and it is a chance for me to try out making Indian roti. I was so obsessed with naan bread and was not happy because they turned out as hard as rocks and did not have any black blotches. So I seek advice from Peter how he made his naan bread, and I will surely try it again (thanks, mate!).

On the chilly weather like ours these days, it feels really warm eating a bowl of lentils curry or soup with home-made bread. Roti is an Indian flat bread which is eaten with dhal. I choose to make curry with a little bit thicker mixture and mop up the juice with roti.

mild version of Indian lentils curry

I don't find it difficult to make this roti, but I am curious how to flatten it to make a coin-thickness bread, as flat as it should be. In the recipe Srivalli did not mention how to flatten the bread, so I browsed my own cookbook and found one recipe to make roti. It is said I have to pull the bread balls on the edge, rotating along it until all flattened. I still can find some thick corners on some rotis though, but hey I am learning!


roti

To use up the heat of the fireplace, I cook the bread on the iron griddle pan on the iron cast-roof fireplace. It did not take so long to get the black blotches. And I am happy!

The thing that I need to take a note is I really need to leave the dough for 2 hours or more otherwise when it is going to be cooked, the dough will be too soft and the finished roti won't be making a thin layer like shown on the photo above. I noticed that soft dough will also wet the roti. I realized that my curiosity to cook the dough as soon as it was kneaded will give me a failure, so I left them and went outside, prune the rest of the roses I left in the garden, did some weeding, let the chooks out, and then came back again to cook the bread.

covered

I also received music meme from a friend of mime, Barbara of Winos and Foodies last month. I grew up in a musical talents in my family. My mother used to be an art teacher, a band arranger, and a choreographer. My father is not as musical as my mother but he can play Javanese puppet as well as my grandfather was. My brothers are all into music and they play guitar, bass and drum. My youngest brother is a drummer and has a band and runs music studio as well as a talented photographer.

And I? What have I achieved in music? Well, I've been in a vocal group, a dancer, and a member of a school band. I did dance a lot when I was young and stopped as soon as I joined Karate and Tae Kwon Do clubs. I felt like my body was more 'muscular' to be a dancer, and I wasn't really confidence on stage. Looking back, I must have been very skinny that was chosen to dance the delicate Srimpi Dance (a Javanese fine dance--if you follow the link, you can imagine me in that costume) on one occasion the school held. Until today, I still dance with my children, doing the Hi-5 grooves, very different from the fine delicate dance, but it keeps me going!

Here's the list of music I love to listen:

  1. Degung: I do like traditional music and I grew up with gamelan, angklung, and other Indonesian traditional musics. To me, it is special and playing it requires special skill.
  2. The Four Seasons by Vivaldi: this is how you appreciate each season.
  3. Wishing You Were Here by Alison Moyet: Sentimental, lyrical, and great voice!
  4. Frisco Blues by John Lee Hooker: I can immerse myself in every note of this blues. My favourite music when I am a bit moody.
  5. Beachcombing by Mark Knoffler and Emmy Lou Harris: Sweet coffee baby!
Now, I am tagging:

Happy Cook
Deeba
Bron
Mindy
Zita

June 16, 2008

Mixing the Greens to Crunchy!


While I am warming up updating my blog, I am so thrilled to find an email from Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? that I won Bulbul's cookbook on Bollywood Cooking event which I submitted Bombay Lamb Curry and Rice Kheer. I am surprised to be the winner because I am new to Indian cooking and was daring myself to cook Indian food and photographed it. There were a lot of good photos on the occasion as well, I've never thought I would win. So, thank you Meeta, thank you, Bulbul! Look forward to be using the book soon.

We've just finished painting for the school project and here I am, listening to the rain and updating this blog. I've been enjoying photography so much and am too lazy to write a recipe. My back is still sore after digging that many vegetable beds in the garden, pruning the roses, pulling the weeds out, chasing the peacocks away, and all the house chores, to be an excuse away from the computer for a while.

naughty peacock

Furthermore, I have been missing my mother and am heavily am homesick that is disturbing my well-being. It is not fun, really, being away from the family you love so much, but I have to kick myself off and stop being melancholic. Talking to my mother over the phone is quite therapeutics that is kicking away the pain on my back and the ache in my heart. I am ready for working again!

I am sending this plate of salad for Ilva on the occasion of HotM this month.

greens and apple2

Mixed Green Leaves with Shaved Beetroots, Apples, Walnut and Blue Cheese

This is the kind of salad we love to eat. All the crunchiness of mixed greens, the vibrant colour of beetroot, the nutty of walnut and earthy taste of blue cheese makes a great side dish for traditional roast chicken. I use dijon mustard for the dressing, however, you can always match it with your favourite dressing. I like adding apples, nashi, or other crunchy fruits to the salad. My youngest daughter eats the whole content of salad but my oldest son just tends to love nibbling on fruits, and I do find adding fruits in salad will make everyone happy.

3 cups mixed green leaves (raddichio, mizuna, rocket, baby spinach, all your favourite mix)
2 apples, thinly sliced
1 beetroot, shaved
1/2 cup walnut halves, crumbled
100g blue cheese, crumbled, optional

Mix all ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing. Makes 4.

greens white bg2

Dressing:

I am not really good at measuring. It's just the matter of the balance. I'd like to taste the whole lot first before I add salt and pepper. Sometimes I just don't use salt at all, especially when using blue cheese, I tend to use more pepper.

hazelnut oil
olive oil
lemon juice (use wine vinegar or cider if you'd like)
dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Put them in a screwed jar and shake well before drizzling on to your salad.

SnackShots#4: Salad!

Oh, my! It is pretty challenging to shoot a pile of salad I've never ever thought before. I only usually snapshot it without even thinking that this salad has characteristics as well as tones, texture, and appetizing complex. If you don't consider your salad is beautiful, then look again!

I have been taking hundreds of the same salad with different angles and I only came up with 1, 2, 3, 4 options which one of them I am submitting for SnackShots #4: Salad, hosted by Michelle of Greedy Gourmet. I'll submit the recipe of the salad with other photos for The Heart of the Matter hosted by Ilva of Lucullian Delights.

This is my entry for SnackShot #4: Salad, at last. I am choosing this photo for a reason: I like it!

greens and apple3

June 08, 2008

YES!! I Dit It!!

For almost a week now, some of the members in Indonesian Baking Club have been making experiments on French Macarons. We share the same enthusiast and curiosity how to make, if not perfect, better macarons. I've done my second try and I did it!

Desserts Magazine has Helen's article about making macarons and as soon as I downloaded it, I meant to try it, until Dita mentioned that she challenged everyone in the club to make macarons as to fill in the gap in between the next baking task of the club, then I just knew I have a good excuse to try my hand the second time. And this time, without doubt I follow every tip Helen writes.

I use French method which is described on the article. I use ground almond and pulse it a little while in the food processor with icing sugar until well combined. I think this part is another key point that when the almond is ground and then mixed with the icing sugar to become much smoother in texture, this will give smoother mixture of the meringue. Last time, I did not pulse this ground almond with the icing sugar but to sift it through a sieve and I think it was a mistake as the coarser bits of ground almond can still be passed through. That made the mixture heavier.

Using Helen's recipe I can feel lighter handling of the mixture. It's just like when you make a royal icing to make run outs, but this version, you fold in the mixture of ground almonds and icing sugar. The handling of the meringue is light, you can't almost feel it in your hand. When I pipe the mixture on the baking trays, I smiled to myself, broadly and said "YES! This is just right!".

plain with dark ganache

In the end of piping the plain ones, I decided to give a touch using pandan paste. I was a bit worried because the mixture is runnier than before. They did not give plump dots like the ones which are not coloured. I know I should have added the colour separately after thoroughly folding the ground almond and icing sugar mixture, but I thought it would not make any difference.

green pandan macarons


Then the waiting game is just going to start for the piped meringues should be left for an hour to let the skin 'hardened'. This when it is baked will give great glossy surface. I could finish my work down at the chicken barns before continuing battling with the macarons.

I preheated the oven to 150C and I was just tempted to try out my green ones. They burned quite easily, so I had to turn down the temperature to 130C. The green colour is not what I expected, a bit faded colour-wise. The little feet are so short I almost can't expect the feet will finally be happening to the plain ones. But then, when the first batch of plain macarons removed from the oven, I believe it now that I actually did it! The little feet were formed nicely and the surface of the macarons is glossy and smooth. I wrote to Helen short afterwards, thanking her for her great recipe.

I definitely will make more macarons in the future with more adventurous colour and flavour, to entertain my guests in July. This is my second entry for Mad for Macarons in May hosted by Minko of Couture Cupcakes.

June 06, 2008

Plum Chocolate Slice

I am still using up the last batch of plum stew which are tucked in the freezer besides bags of peaches and cobs of corn. We still love enjoying plums, especially J who loves eating it with scoops of ice cream. ICE CREAM? Yes, ice cream. I know, in the chilly weather like this, he still is able to enjoy ice cream in front of the fireplace, while I'd rather had a bowl of hot spiced pudding.

We've had frosts several times which are quite shocking. I recalled in Winter last year, the farmers in Pukekohe had to lost their crops as are burned by frost, resulting on sky-rocketing prices of broccoli. I wonder how cold Winter this year will be.

autumn in the orchard

I also am hoping that the tadpoles in the water troughs will make through to Spring. A bit worrying if they'll be becoming frozen in the troughs while we're trying to save their lives and their habitats. I haven's heard any frogs croaking at my place, while in Bali you can always hear them everywhere. Moreover, when it's in rainy season.

tadpole2 tadpole3

News from home, we've been collecting books and we're still hoping there will be more people who are interested in donating their books for Books for Love event. Please, kindly help these cancer kids to get better treatments by donating your books and let your readers bid on your books to raise funds for them.

plum chocolate slice


Plum Chocolate Slice

250g 72% dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup caster sugar (add more if you want this sweeter)
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream cheese
8 black dorris plum stew

plum chocolate slice


Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a simmering water in a saucepan. Remove from the pan and cool. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, then pour in the slightly cooled chocolate-butter mixture. Scatter the plums (either halved or quartered them) over the surface and drop dots of cream cheese. Bake in the preheated oven at 170C until cooked. The centre should still be soft. Great with vanilla ice cream, a dollop of fresh cream or with creme fraiche. Makes 12 slices.

June 03, 2008

Savoury Mini Bites


It's officially Winter and we have started warming up the night with soup, casserole or hot roasts. I still serve nasi goreng from time to time while we're tucking ourselves, two and two, in the couch for a TV-dinner time.

autumn in the orchard


End of Autumn will always give us more work as leaves are piling at the feet of the trees in the orchard, which means there will be heaps of compost for the garden next year. I have been also spending much work at the gardens because I really want to get rid of all the weeds before applying more compost. We usually keep the beds fully covered with mounted leaves on them to keep the moisture and give them a warmth during winter.

Ben's planting project Sarah's planting project

My children are also getting their own project done: planting garlic cloves. I wonder how excitement there would be in six months time for them when the garlic are fully grown and ready to harvest. They have become really curious what's going to happen with their plants. Each day, there's always something to see, view and record. They are eager to cover their little gardens with leaves they raked up from under the magnolia tree. They know how to make compost.

At this time of the year, there's almost no celebration to hold and yet I intend to send my entry for Monthly Mingle, themed Appetizer and Hors'Doeuvres, hosted by Meeta and Mansi.


mm2

When making little things like these, I tend to do very little in preparation and ingredients. Here's the recipe for you.

Mini Savoury Bites

mm1


Slices of bread, either sourdough or white bread, they are just fine. Cut these slices with round pastry cutter to whatever dimension you'd prefer to, then line greased mini muffin tins with these rounds. Press a little bit around the sides, and then bake at a hot oven for 3-5 minutes or until just crispy. Cool and then store in an airtight container until serving.

I just filled the midget cups with eggs filling which is chopped boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise, ground paprika, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped basil and Italian parsley, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. If you like parmesan, you can mix it in the mixture. Spoon into the little cups and then garnish with single leaf of parsley or sprinkle with ground paprika as an extra colour and appearance.

Have a great party!