Archive for cooking

Menu Juara: Soto Tangkar Betawi

Also known as Indonesian Beef Ribs Soup. A specialty from Jakarta, the city where I was born and grew up in.  But what does “soto” means?  Have a look ~ here ~ from my previous posting.  Soto Betawi has become a regular menu that keeps popping up every two weeks or so.  The reason is because I like it better than the chicken version and Michael would never say no this this.

I ran out of some ingredients & spices a few weeks ago. Little things like lemon grass, fresh galangal and frozen kaffir lime leaves. Of course you can substitute them with powdered ones if that’s the only option, but you know already, nothing beats the real thing. Even from the moment I started mixing the ingredients, I can tell whether the soto is going to have the correct taste or not from the scent of the cooked ingredients.  Powdered or packaged ingredients usually have a slightly “off’ chemically taste to it – well, only a few very good brands like Munik, tastes almost like the real thing.

This weekend, a friend brought me a new supply of these ingredients from Shanghai. Whoa my gosh! That gift equals with a pouch of gold nuggets to me. No kidding, where can you get these stuff in the middle of a grassland? So here I am, cooking away my favorite recipes once again….


Recipe for Soto Tangkar Betawi
(or Batavian Beef Ribs Soup)  you can have a look  HERE



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My coffee affair: Macademia Brownies


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As featured in  TastespottingFoodgawker


I’m going to stick to the recipe I know works, the one I got from Bakerzin’s Dessert Book by Daniel Tay, founder of Bakerzin. Those brownies are so heavenly moist, chocolatey, perfect sweetness and keeps well in the fridge. I still have a bag of fresh macademia nuts bought from the market a few days ago, sprinkles of chopped macademia creates a whole new flavours with touch of nuttiness to this perfect chocolatey bites.

Perfect for my morning coffee and afternoon tea!


Reposting recipe

MACADEMIA BROWNIES
Ingredients:
* 325 gr all purpose flour
* 5 gr baking powder
* 150 gr cocoa powder (I use Droste & Van Houten)
* 225 gr cream cheese
* 860 gr sugar (a bit too sweet for me, I use 660 gr only)
* 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
* 10 gr salt
* 450 gr unsalted butter (softened)
* 400 gr eggs
* 300 gr chopped macademia
* butter for greasing


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Cooking Direction:
1.) Preheat oven 180C or 350F
2.) Sift flour, baking powder, cocoa powder into a bowl
3.) Separately mix sugar & butter till fluffy, then add
vanilla essence, salt & cream cheese till well blended
4.) Fold eggs into cream cheese mixture, then gradually
fold in flour mixture. Add chopped macademia nuts
5.) Lightly grease the pan you’re going to use
Level the batter and bake for 20-25 mnts
(for shallow square pan I use baking sheets)
6.) Unmould & cool brownie. Top with warm chocolate melt
and sprinkles of chopped macademia


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** Recipe Source: Just Desserts by Daniel Tay


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Winter Comfort: Red Beans & Green Chilies Soup

 

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The weather is getting chillier now in IM. Although I stay indoors most of the time and have the grocery shopping delivered to the room, I went outside yesterday for a quick stroll to a bakery next door. They have great pastry selections that are just perfect for morning coffee and afternoon tea.  Well, I got the pastries, but came back feeling horrible. Sniffles, heavy head and chest. I think I’m getting a bad flu. Can’t believe it, over a 20 minute stroll?

Good thing that I made the soup right before the flu hit hard. It was quite easy and quick to prepare, unlike the Indonesian “soto” or soup that would usually mess up my kitchen.  A nice change in the menu. I love the flavours of green chilies blend in nicely with red beans. A few pieces of pork ribs also brings out a nice rich flavour to the soup. Oh, I oven-roasted the rest of the pork ribs with minimum barbecue seasonings.  Some slices of corn bread on the side.

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CORNBREAD RECIPE
**Recipe from Mark Bittman – NYTimes

Ingredients:
* 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
* 1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 eggs1
* 1/4 cups milk, more if needed

Cooking Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Put fat in an 8-inch square baking pan.
     Place pan in oven.
2. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Mix eggs into milk, stir this mixture into dry ingredients, 
     If mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of milk.
4. When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan
      from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top.
5. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes,
     until top is lightly browned
6. Serve warm

 

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RED BEANS & GREEN CHILIES SOUP

Ingredients:
* 2 cups of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
* 1/2 cup chopped green chili peppers
* 3 cloves minced garlic
* 1 pcs large onions, chopped
* 2 pcs bay leaves
* 3 pcs of pork ribs
* 1/2 cup diced carrots
*  3 tbs tomato pasta
*  1 stalk leeks – sliced
* some diced bacons
* 2 tbs Sherry
* salt, pepper & sugar to taste

Additional Seasoning:
* 3 tbs paprika  powder
* 2 tbs cayenne pepper powder
* dried leaf oregano
* dried thyme

Cooking Directions:

1.)  Cook chopped onions & garlic until transparent
2.)  Add chopped green chilies, bayleaves, bacon/pork, stir for 2 mnts
3.)  Add beans, water & additional seasonings.  Add tomato pasta
4.)  Let it cook until beans are tender. Add carrots
5.)  Remove about 1 cup of  beans & pureed. Add leeks
6.)  Add sherry & pureed beans. Simmer for about 5 mnts
7.)  Serve hot with corn bread

 

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Experimenting with Sweet Potato

Closing in to winter, root vegetables are becoming abundant in the local market. Potatoes, daikon, regular and purple carrots, and sweet potatoes. Heavy coal smelling air is also a sign that winter is in the air. The locals still use coals as their main heating. In this part of the world, even heating is still controlled by the government who decides that heater will only be allowed to be turned on at certain times of the day. Thank God we live in a hotel with certain privileges and so much better heating. Winter here can be quite harsh when the temperature drops down to minus 25ish degree celcius.

On the streets, baked sweet potato vendors are everywhere. With RMB1 or about 1 cent USD, you can get a nice big beautiful smelling baked sweet potato with skin charred from being slowly cooked for hours in the big smoky barrel.

I have a couple of fresh sweet potatoes in the kitchen and was thinking to make a dessert. Yups, the cravings for sweets is still there. Bubur Candil  had crossed my mind actually, but not sure if he likes it. Maybe it should be a cake with some nice frosting. I found a recipe that looks yummy and settled with that one.

 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Sweet Potato Cake with palm sugar drizzles

 

In short, the cake does not taste as what I had in mind. I guess I’m a bit of an old fashioned when it comes to flavours. Sweet potato should taste like sweet potato. Not white chocolate or cream cheese or anything minty. Honestly, how can I swallow something that tastes like a mouthwash in my cake?

Fine, I guess I will stick with “bubur candil” then. I know how it should taste like. Bubur candil brings me back to my late afternoon snacks – that is after shower in front of TV watching cartoons, buka puasa with relatives or treats mom usually brings back after her grocery shopping in the market. Bubur Candil means “home”.

 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBubur Candil ~ Sweet Potato Balls in Palm Sugar syrup
drizzled with coconut milk

 Let me know if you want to know the recipe 😀

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Strawberry Cupcakes

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I love cooking. But baking is still a pretty new thing for me. Although I used to watch and help mom baked when I was a kid – she’s quite an expert in that field and does it as her side business, none of her baking skills seem to stick with me. My baking experience so far hasn’t been exactly a smooth ride; lots of hiccups that ends up in baking disasters. You name it, I’ve been through all of them: burnt cakes, underbaked bread, flat head muffins, dough that won’t rise and budge, etc. But not today

I wasn’t really planning on baking anything when I saw these beautifully ripe strawberries from Beijing stacked up on a display in the supermarket. They smell soooo sweet. I have to get them. Will decide later what to do with them.

Flipping through some cook books, I think I found a recipe from 500 Cupcakes Recipe Book. So simple to make and so wonderfully creamy with quite a distinct strawberry scent in it. Beautiful!!!

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STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES
Simple yet sophisticated!

Ingredients:
* 225 gram unsalted butter – softened
* 225 caster sugar
* 225 self-raising flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 4 eggs – room temp
* 1 tsp strawberry essence
* 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

For ICING:
* 200 gr cream cheese
* 375 gr icing sugar, sieved
* 225 gr unsalted butter, softened
* pink food coloring
* silver balls/sliced fresh strawberries
~ Whisk all with electric whisk until smooth

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Directions:
1.) Preheat oven 175C/350F – prepare baking cases in muffin tins
2.) Combine butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs & essence
     Beat with electric whisk until light and creamy
3.) Stir in chopped fresh strawberries
4.) Spoon batter into cases. Bake for 20 mnts
5.) Remove cupcakes and cool on a rack
6.) Spread icing on top of cupcakes

Recipe from 500 Cupcakes

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Screamin’ Hot Vindaloo Curry

 

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Vindaloo Chicken Curry –  as featured on Tastespotting

 

A couple of days ago I did quite a bit of reading and surfing about the curry of the world, to help David, our hotel’s F&B Manager for his “Curry Cooking Class” on Friday. He’s teaching a group of staff who’re interested in the origin of cuisine – and this week’s topic was about curry. I was invited to be the guest speaker actually, which I reclined as I wasn’t really on my top condition to stand up a long time…. being pregnant 😀

However it was an interesting subject and had attention & positive feedback from the staff. Most of them didn’t have the slightest idea of the differences between Thai curry, Indonesian curry, Malay/Sing curry, Japanese curry, Indian curry or Caribbean curry – Thai curry is the most aromatic of all and not as heavy as the Indian ones, while Malaysian/Singaporean usually use belacan/shrimp paste in their curry, while the usage of lemon grass + kaffir lime leaves + galangal + tamarind is  a must in Indonesian curry.

I’m a true curry addict. The one curry dish I can’t make perfectly but I miss so much is Rendang, originally from West Sumatra Indonesia but so often wrongly claimed as Malaysian origin. It requires the freshest ingredients to cook it to perfection. Would be impossible using only dessicated coconut or packaged “Kara” instant coconut milk.

Friends of ours from NZ gave us a can of Vindaloo curry paste from Patak’s. Okay, I may not familiar with the differences of Indian curries but am very familiar with the flavours. I love them. Vindaloo is supposed to be one of the spiciest curry. Next to Phall.

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Patak’s curry paste tastes a bit too mild for me, so I added extra vindaloo paste made from scratch:

 

TRADITIONAL VINDALOO CURRY PASTE

* 15 pcs dried red chilies
* 5 pcs large garlic cloves
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 3 cm fresh ginger, bruised
* 2 tsp pan-roasted cumin seeds
* 1 tsp pan-roasted coriander seeds
* 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
* 10 pcs whole cloves
* 1 tsp cardamom seeds
* 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
* dried tamarind
* 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Directions:
1.) Soak dried chilies in hot water overnight. Pureed.
2.) Stir fry onion, garlic & ginger until caramelized
3.) Ground all cumin seeds, coriander, fenugreek & cloves
4.) Add to the cooked onion, add chicken/beef/lamb chunks
5.) Add pureed chilies, cinnamon stick & cardamom seeds
6.) Add 2 cups of water, cover and cook until tender
7.) Add 1 cup of heavy coconut milk

Verdict: this dish is so yummy, moreish but prepare a huge glass of water next to you to douse the fire. Hehehehe

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“Martabak” – meat pancake asian style

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Martabak or murtabak is a popular street food which is probably originated from the arab culture – which is also popular in Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei.  Although I swear I’ve seen a different variety of “martabak” sold on the street corners in China.  The chinese version of martabak is using solely chopped spring onions as fillings, slightly smaller in size, using soft pancake instead of crispy outer layers.

So martabak is more like a late afternoon/evening snacks. Mind you, we Indonesians, love snacking so much that there’re so many varities of snack food for different times of day. If you’re lucky enough to see the martabak seller “in action” when he’s carefully stretching a lump of dough into a huge thin skin to cover the entire wok. I always love a good show before my meal anyway 😀

While the dough is frying in oil, he will whip up the fillings – eggs, cooked minced meat/lamb, chopped leeks/spring onions, pinch of this and that. He will then spread the fillings into the dough, fold the dough into a square, flip it. Before you know it, you have a plate of warm martabak cut into bite size squares with divinely crispy layers.

A few weeks ago, David mentioned about his new discovering of this “absolutely yummy” mongolian pancake. When he described it in detail, I thought it sounds so familiar with Indonesian martabak. Hey, maybe I should try making one, didn’t look too difficult….

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Verdict:  this is such a hard work! least for me. The dough can’t be stretched thin enough, although the pancake turned out to be quite crispy. I don’t think I’d want to make it too often.  Pls excuse the photo too, tough to get the perfect angle….  I hate it!

** Recipe source: Sexy Chef – makasih mbak Rieke!

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