November 13, 2009

A Reflection and Chocolate Truffles

First time blogging, it was in 2005. The food blogging space was really quiet, especially in the part of the world I am living in. I thought I was alone, until one day I read an article about blogging food in New Zealand on a culinary magazine. That was the first time I knew and went to Barbara's blog. I wrote to her and reflected how happy I was to find another fellow food blogger in New Zealand. Then, I came to know Emma, Bron, Nigel, and Tim. We were like one group of foodies who 'visits' one another in a regular basis. Until then, who starts to giving up, I am not sure. It seems that we were lost somewhere in different paths.

We had New Zealand Blogging By Post (NZBPP) back in 2006, organized by Emma of Laughing Gastronome. I sent my Rich Fruit Cake and other stuffs over to Tim (from Take3Eggs--blog is no longer I could trace) and I got a parcel from Bron. First time to taste homemade macarons, Bron's home-mades.  Perfect for our Morning Tea as it was arrived in the morning. I had read other fellow bloggers who sent away their goodies and received theirs from others. It was the surprise like a Christmas day that brought the NZBPP so special, moreover everyone got to taste homemade goodies specially made for this case. I wonder if we can do that again?

I reflect back because I have seen some positive sides on blogging. That we can taste other blogger's homemade goodies, as well as weaving friendship through writing and passion for food. And if you enjoy my photographs and food styling (given that I am self-taught and never been trained), it is a bonus.

Now, food blogging in New Zealand seems taking on a spotlight where many food-lovers are highlighting various lifestyles, food passion, interests, cultures, and culinary professionalism, it should be offering more positive knowledges and widening our culinary horizon to be brought to the next level, if you dare. We should understand where our food is coming from. Once, perhaps you have never cooked artichoke in your life before, and not even know what it is. With an instant type on a search engine, voila, you would find many recipes and what's more is that you will even know the Latin name of it and how to grow it.


Back then, I and Barbara had met for several occasions: at the Halal Bihalal (Muslim Gatherings) in Auckland (you can tell that we're foodie bloggers as we took photos of food rather than people or others); then Barbara and husband Bryant drove down to our small farm to have lunch with us on a Lovely Sunday. As an Indonesian-born Kiwi, I still keep my Indonesian traditional flavour in many of my cookings. Barbara and Bryant did not mind at all. They were just lovely.

Then, we met down to whitebait at our good friends' river house in the Te Kohanga. Sue Dwen made whitebait fritters, freshly caught from the river. How wonderful was that? I was quite feeling a lost that someone so close like Barb when she decided to move back to Australia with her family. Although we are still keeping in touch with each other from any devices (we GTalk too, you see), it is never the same as having her and Bryant here with us.

When Gilli of So Simple came one day to see us and sampled my plum cheese, I know exactly that I can always make more friends through blogging. Mary Longmore from the Sunday-Star Times phoned me on this blogging thing few weeks back for she was going to write an article about the rapid growth of food blogs in New Zealand. When I heard this, I was like 'Wow, we're a big family now!'.

I got a surprise one day when the lovely food writer and author of Sweet As, Alessandra Zecchini, left a comment on my artichoke post that now she encourages me to keep writing and blogging (Thanks, Alessandra). I also have a help from Christelle Le Rue, when I organized books for love to raise funds for cancer kids in Indonesia. She donated her books which was a very generous thing she does for Indonesia. I told you why I love High-Profile culinary gurus in New Zealand: they are so down to earth and generous!

Well, to celebrate the growth of food blogs in New Zealand, here's some chocolate truffles you may want to gobble down with your favourite wine or champagne or even espresso? I used to use my own Bailey's Chocolate Truffles recipe for many occasions for after-lunch/dinner sweet meat, but this time I use Nigel Slater's chocolate truffles recipe to make these imperfect balls, taken from his book Real Food. I like it that way, though. For Nigel's style is so homey and generous that you cannot find that kind of cooking, shapes, soul or imperfectness in restaurants. All that kind of imperfectness that creates the atmosphere itself perfect.

Chocolate Truffles-1 by Arfi Binsted 2009

Chocolate Truffles
by Nigel Slater. Real Food.

Nigel wrote: "How horrible it would be to live in a world without chocolate", and "I am convinced the best truffles are those made from nothing more than chocolate and cream", and so I agree. Totally.

450g fine chocolate
275ml whipping cream
cocoa powder for dusting

Chop the chocolate finely; the pieces should be about the same size as gravel. They will melt more successfully if they are all of roughly equal size. A large, heavy cook¹s knife will make the chopping easier than using a small one.

Put the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. If the bowl is warm it will help the chocolate to melt. Bring the cream to the boil in a small pan. Just as it reaches boiling point, remove from the heat and pour slowly into the chocolate, beating gently with a wooden spoon. The chocolate should all melt into a thick, glossy, dark-brown cream. If there are lumps left, then you will have to put the bowl over a pan of hot, almost simmering, water until they melt. But take care not to overheat it, which will result in the mixture separating and curdling.

Place the basin of chocolate in the fridge to stiffen. Depending on the temperature inside your fridge, the mixture will need about an hour to thicken. (It should not set solid, although if it does, just melt it over hot water and refrigerate again.) Now you have a choice: thick, solid, luxurious truffles or softer, lighter ones. If you prefer, as I do, an unwhipped truffle with a rich texture, then leave the mix as it is. If you like a soft, airy truffle, beat the mixture with an electric whisk for a minute or so until it starts to change colour. It will become paler and fill with air. Overwhipping will curdle the truffle mixture.

Chocolate Truffles-2 by Arfi Binsted 2009

Using two teaspoons, scoop out balls of truffle and drop them into the cocoa powder. The size is a matter of choice. I like a large truffle; others may prefer to make a smaller one that can be eaten in one go. Roll them lightly into rounds if you wish, though I prefer them as rough-textured lumps. Roll the truffles in the cocoa, then leave them in a cool place for an hour to set. Makes about 500g.

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Penny said...

oh yum. yum yum yum yum.

I have never met a truffle that I didn't like. ;)

A world without chocolate just doesn't bear thinking about! LOL!

Alessandra said...

....So I am happy that you are still blogging....
and thank you for the lovely comment.

Yes possibly there are more bloggers than we can imagine, which is great because you are sure that you can always meet someone new every time you go on the net, which is fun, i think!

I also agree about chocolate, possibly my favourite food and ingredient after cheese!

and finally..what a lovely new pic on your profile!


Arwen said...

I've never tried beating a truffle - it would be interesting to beat half the mix and see the difference. The blogging by post sounds like fun!

Nigel said...

Arfi, I have an old truffle recipe I got out of a Delia Smith cookbook - chocolate blitzed until granular in a food processor, to which you add cream, butter & a slug of rum which have been simmered on the stove. To temper that richness, add a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt too. Blitz again, pour into a container & refrigerate until firm. Roll into balls & then devour!

Kitchen Flavours said...

Really dear...blogging has given so much....above all a quite satisfaction that we can also do something....I too made many virtual friends in a span of a year or half....I am loving to live in this virtual those truffles....well said who can live without chocolates...

amerrierworld said...

... and my children still talk about your beautiful monarch butterfly photos that you sent us :-)

Arfi Binsted said...

@ Penny: careful, these are addictive hehehe...

@ Alessandra: you can feel there's a connection when you meet someone new, and I think it's just life. Blogging gives us an opportunity to know other personalities :)

@ Arwen: yeah. Normally, I just heat the cream and chocolate, give some essence and then leave it to cool before rolling into balls. This is special hehehe...

@ Nigel: sounds intriguing with that yogurt addition, Nigel! Thanks!

@ Lubna: thank you. I have become to know you through blogging too :)

@ Kate: oh, really? That is just wonderful. I contribute those photos to the local school too. I am so happy that your children love them.

WizzyTheStick said...

Oh my lord I have just about died and gone to heaven looking at your photos of these delicious truffles

Barbara said...

Arfi I like the new look. A lovely post and I enjoyed revisiting the posts. I can't believe how grey my hair WASN'T back then :) I was honoured to be invited to share the Muslim feast.The white baiting day was one of my top all time food memories. And your truffles always were brilliant.

You are a very special person in my life and I thank you for being my friend.

Claudia said...

You are a real pioneer Arfi. I've only been blogging about a year and a half. Before that I had no clue as to this whole online world. Out in the middle of the ocean here, I haven't met any other bloggers in person yet.

I occasionally make truffles with cacao from my tree - after the whole fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding process. More usually, the ground beans go in a French Press with hot water for my morning cocoa.

Happy cook said...

Love anything with chocolate and the truffels looks so so good.
Congragulations I am so happy for you. You must be thrilled....

Ivy said...

These truffles sound divine. Congrats for all these years of blogging and congrats for the lovely news I read on FB!!

Aparna said...

I totally agree with Nigel Slater's staements about chocolate and truffles too. :)
And these look gorgeous. I think I shall make some next month!

Yes, it is really nice to meet fellow foodies and make new friends. I certainly have. :)

I just realised your blog has a really cool new look. Congratulations.