Sunday, March 25, 2007

SeaMaster

Last week on a wimp, I asked my family if they would like to eat out. Richard, my dad, and my son went along with me, but my baby and my mom stayed home. Originally we were planning to eat Taiwanese food that was being showcased at Jamoo in Shangri-La Hotel but I was wrong, the last day of the Taiwanese cuisine show was yesterday ( lucky we went there once the week before ) so now we have to find different restaurant for our dinner. My father proposed for us to eat at SeaMaster, a seafood market and restaurant. They carry a lot of live seafood that you can't find in grocery stores, the price you pay is already include the cost to cook them for you, but if you insist on just buying them and cook them at home you can also do that. Maybe next time I will, but for now, we just want to eat them in the restaurant. This is not my first time to be there but I still like it because sometime they carries different seafood. I definitely plan to find out more places like Seamaster. To see the map, you can click here. For the address:
Sea Master
(Food Garden).
Jl. Mayjen Sungkono , Bundaran Tol. Surabaya
60189
Telp: (031) 7321721
11AM-10PM , Open everyday

Now, let me show you the dishes and the video clips that I took from this restaurant.
















Thursday, March 22, 2007

Baking With Store Bought White Bread

This is a pretty easy to make snack and dessert. What special about them are that they both using ordinary store bought white bread that usually comes thinly slices. I think the correct way to call this type of bread is Pullman bread. The square plain white bread that you always can find in your grocery store. One thing for sure about this recipes, they are relatively cheap to make!

The story goes like this. Today is Wednesday and that's mean today we will have our weekly company meeting and like usual, I forgot what day is today.... ( sigh....)

Until around 11 AM when Nur asked me if I already ordered some food for the meeting and if not she will find a way to make something today. She is truly a God's gift for me! Then I asked what does she have in mind and she suggested me to give her money to buy few loaves of plain white bread. Just to inform you that I happen to live in a street where there are several large bakeries that sell regular to cheap breads. Can't find artisant breads around my neighborhood for sure!

If I am not wrong one loaf of bread coast about Rp 6.000 or about US $ 0.60. Maybe they can even cost around US $ 0.40 ! She bought several loaves today.

At first she only plan to make one type of fried snack but later we found out that we still have a lot of leftovers so she made a dessert with them.

Okay, so for the first dish, which is a snack here is the approximate recipe, here I use the word approximate because Nur never cook or bake with exact recipe. They are all in her head! She is the total opposite from me! I have to be honest here, in term of taste, I won, but in term of hand skill, she beats me hands down! What can I say, she help her ex-boss sell food for 5 years in Saudi Arabia while I cook when I want to only. That's why I video tape her when she cook so that I can always remember how to reproduce the food on my own if I need to ( in case she quit!!!! Arrrggg!!! ). If you like to try her recipe at home, I will encourage you to improve her recipe by using better product, for example, I notice that when she make bread dough like the previous entry, she tend to use oil. If it is me, I will always use butter off course. You see what I am saying here now? That's why for the dessert on this entry I told her to use my secret home-made vanilla essence that I made with organic Tahitian and Mexican Vanilla Beans that I imported myself!

So yes, feel free to change Nur's recipe to fit your taste better ...

Maybe the reason why she tend to use cheap ingredients is because her ex-boss sell those food for income so she needs to cut down the cost to make them while I make food for my own enjoyment and that's why I like the best quality of ingredients that I can get my hands on. And that's why I mostly spent my money on grocery!!!

Let's go back to the recipe on this entry...

Deep-Fried Bread With Chicken Filling

Ingredients:

Plain white bread
Mayonaise
Chopped garlic
Chopped shallots
Thin slices of red chilies ( optional )
Minced/ground chicken
Chopped parsley/Chinese celery
Shredded carrot
Thinly slices cucumber, deseeded first.
Chicken powder
Salt and Pepper
Egg for egg wash
Oil/butter for stir frying the filling
A lot of oil for deep frying the snack later

Method:

  1. Trim the crust off the bread and put them into food processor and turn them into fresh bread crumb.
  2. Flatten the white bread slices.
  3. To make the filling: Heat 2 Tbs of oil/butter on a pan then add chopped garlic, shallots, chilies and stir fry them until you can smell them. Then add the chicken and stir-fry it until they are separated. Now you can add the carrots and after you stir fry them until they are a bit softened, add the Chinese celery and the cucumber in. Season it with salt, ground pepper, and chicken powder to taste.
  4. To assemble: Spread a bit of mayo at one end of the bread, this will act as the glue to close the bread later. Then put a bit of filling on the other end and first you fold in the edges to slighty enclose the filling then you can start rolling the bread until they resemble a log or sausage or roll cake! Then roll them on egg wash, drain the excess egg wash and coat them in the fresh bread crumb that you already made. Place them on a baking sheet and put them in the fridge first for about an hour or even later.
  5. Heat the oil and deep-fry them in a batch until they are dark golden brown. Eat while still warm.



Video: How to make the filling. I made one mistake when I say " Ground pork ", it was suppose to be " ground chicken".


Video: Assembling the Deep-fried bread with chicken filling.


Video: Deep-frying

Since she found out that she still have 2 loaves of bread, she asked me if she can make dessert with them and I readily said yes.

This is the recipe ...

Baked Fresh Bread Crumb With Creamy Milk Filling And Vanilla Syrup



Ingredients:
2 loaves of bread
half a pound of butter ( 2 sticks )

For Filling:
4 Tbs of milk powder ( I suggest to change this to light cream to make it taste creamier )
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups of water ( omit the water if you use light cream )

For Syrup:
1 cup of sugar
2 cup of water
1 Tbs of vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Process the bread in a food processor until they become bread crumbs. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and then drizzle it on the bread crumbs. Mix it well.
  3. Use half of the bread crumbs, pour them into a 9"x13" pan, or a 3-quarts pan. Pressed the crumbs on the bottom of the pan. This will be the bottom crust of this dessert.
  4. How to make the filling: Place all the ingredients on a saucepan then cook it on medium-low heat until it is thickened. Pour it on top of the bottom crust. Shake the filling to make it spread evenly on top of the bottom crust.
  5. Then use the other half of the bread crumbs to make the top crust by spread them evenly on top of the filling and gently press them all around to make a smooth even top.
  6. Bake it on 375F / 180 C / gas 4 for about 30 minutes.
  7. While waiting for the dessert to bake, you can start making the simple syrup by just bring the water and the sugar into a boil and turn off the heat, when the dessert comes out from the oven, you can add the vanilla essence to the syrup first then drizzle the syrup on top of the top of the dessert as even as possible. Now you just have to wait for the dessert to absorb the syrup for about an hour or less.




Video: Mixing the butter with the bread crumbs and then press half of it into the bottom of the pan.


Video: Making the filling and pour it on top of the bottom crust and sprinkle the rest of the bread crumbs on the top.


Video: Making the simple vanilla syrup and drizzle it on top of the already baked dessert.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another Baking Bread Without Recipe

Here we go again ... for our company's Wednesday meeting, Nur surprise me again by making 3 different type of bread from the same dough and she did all this without using any recipe! From my interview with her I found out that her ex-employer back in Saudi Arabia used to sell food, and Nur's job was to help her make the food. So she has done this for 5 years! And I benefited from her 5 years experience now!!!

Even more blessing is, when I, ehm...fired the company's cook ( not our personal cook which is Juli ) because she stole stuff, and other things ( the list is very long ). We become short of cook, and Nur asked if she can bring her cousin to work for us as the new cook for the company and we let her do just that. Ana was ( I said was, not is ) shy at first and we thought she couldn't cook as well as the last cook ( she was bad but she can cook, when she wanted to ) but at least as long as she is honest, we will keep her here. But now after few months has past, to our surprise, she can cook! Now we found out also that she used to work for 4 years in Malaysia, so she understand about Malaysian cuisine and Singaporean cuisine. Not too much unfortunately since her ex-employer there is also an Indonesian.

So now, we have 3 cooks. Ana is great ( so far that we know about her ) at cooking Indonesian food, she made a killer satay too that can chalenge any restaurant. Then Nur is very good at baking and she is very comfortable at adapting a lot of recipe from frying into roasting so they can be healthier. It doesn't mean she can fry, she is good at frying too! And Juli, the most senior one in here , she is an excellent cook too, but what makes her different is her drive to experiment with recipe books just like me. Because of that, I kept buying her new recipe books and I even suscribe a cooking magazine for her. I also updated a lot of their cooking tools because I think since my mom is not a cook and the last cook kept stealing our tools, the tools that they have are all need to be replace badly! That's where I am good at....shopping ....

So now we have those 3 cooks, plus me off course, and all we need now is a bartender that I think my husband can be the one and I think we are ready to open a restaurant! Haha! Just kidding ... just kidding ....

So here is another baking show done by Nur ...

Enjoy!







Since Nur started to make the bread without my knowledge I can't give the exact measurement. But from her answers when I asked her this is all I can say about the recipe.

For the dough, she is just using warm water, a little sugar and salt then oil, sprinkle the yeast let it bubble up first. Then add milk powder and flour. She let it rest first before she deflate it and shape the bread.


For the first bread she make that looks like a croissant, this is the filling recipe ( sort of ) :

Melt butter in a pan, then add chopped garlic, chilies, and onions. Sauted them first. Then Add shredded carrot and chopped green onion. Then add chopped raw chicken ( or you can use ground chicken ). Season it with salt and pepper. Last, add cream cheese too.



I love this bread the most because it's so spicy!

For the cinnamon bread, she just flattened the dough into a large rectangle, then she brush the dough with butter but not until the edges. Then she mix sugar with ground cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle them on top of the dough before she rolled the dough and pinch it closed. Then she cut them and open it a little so that you can see the cinnamon filling. Later after she baked them, she mixed confectioner sugar with milk and drizzle the bread with the glaze.





For the third bread, the cream cheese bread, she just flattend the dough first then spread the cream cheese on it and shape it into a knot.







For all of the bread, she brush their top with egg wash and baked them on 200C oven. As long as the bread look puff up and the top turn to golden brown, that's mean the bread is ready.

What can I say about my 3 cooks? All I know is that their ex-employers lost is my gain. I think next time I need a cook, I will try to get someone who has worked overseas for at least 4 years. I think they are more interesting when they already have that much experience. But off course, honesty and a good character still the most important requirement ...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Barefoot Contessa's Mac & Cheese

This is the hard part about feeding a family that has their own different taste. My husband, R loves spicy Chinese food , his taste ran around Taiwanese local food and Shezchuan food but because he lived in the US and Canada long enough he likes to eat American food too. While my son prefer Italians or at the very least American food. And off course, I have to cook for my baby too who just start to like eating rough porridge kind of food. Since my grandma now live with us, her brother and sister takes turn to keep her company so she won't be lonely and I felt obligated to prepare food for these nice people who never fail to come here to cheer up my grandma. So now you understand my situation right? For these people, because they were brought up with Dutch education and culture, they loves to eat cheese. My mom and dad are pretty easy to please too since they travelled a lot and has sample so many international dishes.

So now what can I cook to please all of these people? From 1 to 87 year old? Why? Mac and Cheese off course!

Since I happen to stock up on cheese, pasta, milk and tomatoes, I don't even have to go to grocery store to buy the ingredients first. I already have everything that I need in my fridge now.

After further research, I decide to try Barefoot Contessa's Mac & Cheese recipe from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Family Style book. I made one change on the recipe though, I substitute the cheese with different type of cheese but I still come out with the total of 6 cups of cheese as the recipe asked for.




MAC & CHEESE


Ingredients:

Kosher salt
vegetable oil
1 lb elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 Tbs ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated ( 2 cups )
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 lb. fresh tomatoes ( 4 small )
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs ( 5 slices, crusts removed )

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 Tbs of butter in a large ( 4 -quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 Tbs salt , pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 Tbs of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
NOTE:
To make ahead, put the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish, cover , and refrigerate until ready to bake. Put the tomatoes and bread crumbs on top and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Arabian Style Fried Dough Snack

One day as I was sitting on my dining table chair and admiring all those pretty photos from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. I found an interestingly easy recipe for dessert or snack. The recipe called Loukoumades ( Deep-fried Honey and Cinnamon Syrup Puffs ). I showed the picture of this dish to Nur, my maid who used to work in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. I told her that I am in the mood for something very unhealhty like fried dough just like the one in the book. I wasn't asking her to make it for me since she can't read English but then she said that when she was working in Saudi Arabia, one of her ex-employer used to sell food and she taught Nur how to make something similar, a deep-fried dough that later they usually eat them drizzled with honey or dusted in sugar. I was intrigue by her description on how easy it is to make this snack so I asked her if she can make it for me. She did that day and my family loves to gobble them up! Since the next day we will have our weekly company meeting, R asked Nur if she can make it again in larger amount to serve to the employees. Our employees loves them as well! Since they are pretty easy to make, Nur make 2 big piles of these fluffy fried dough on 2 large cookie pan. I kept them on my oven with the lowest heat possible to keep their ouside stay crisp.

This dough has a crispy outer layer and if you do it right, the inside should have large holes or even completely hollow on the inside. The key at making them light like this is to whipped/fold the batter every 15 minutes until they raise up in about 1 hour or more.

Since Nur did not gave me the exact recipe for this dish I use my camera to show you how she measure all of the ingredients using just a normal tall glass.

From what I can summaries from her teaching I will try to give you more exact recipe for this dish.



Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of water
1 whole egg
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs oil
3 Tbs milk powder
1 tsp yeast
2 1/4 Cup of all-purpose flour

Oil for deep-frying the dough

Method:

Mixed all of the ingredients until they are well mixed and smooth. Cover the thick batter with plastic or damp towel in a warm area. Stir or fold the batter several times every 15 minutes until at least 1 hour.


Put a lot of oil in a pan or a wok and heat it up with medium-low heat. When they are hot enough, then you can start drooping the batter a spoonful at a time into the hot oil. Turn them around non stop so that they will be golden brown all around. Drain them well on a paper towel.

Before serving, you can either dust them in sugar with maybe cinnamon powder or just plain sugar. Or you can drizzle your favorite honey on them like I do.
It is best to serve them while they are still hot. If you need to make a lot, place the already fried dough on a cookie pan and place them in the oven on 200F or the lowest heat setting your oven have.

NOTE: Someone send me a message saying that this dish name is called Lugemat, but I also find it with slightly different spelling, Lgaimat that means Death Dumpling. Don't ask me why ...


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cooking With Banana Flowers

Pic: banana flowers that still on the tree.

Few days ago I went shopping at a grocery store. I LOVE grocery stores! Instead of spending my money on fashion, I would rather spend my money at grocery stores. If grocery stores have the first place, bookstores have the second place. For the third place maybe held by restaurants.

To me, going to grocery stores are like going for a treasure hunt. You never know what new products they might have in store! Even if they don't have anything new, you can still try something that you have never tried before.

So today when I saw those banana flowers wrapped in plastic I just have to try them. This is not my first time to eat banana flowers, but this is my first time to buy them because I want to see how to cook them.

At my home, there are 2 cooks that close to me. One is Juli, she works for my family the longest, around 15 years or more. Then there is Nur, she only started to work here few months ago. Juli is a talented cook, her food is always tasty and to encourage her to cook even more different dishes, I suscribe her cooking newspaper that comes twice a month. Right now I am still getting to know Nur but she shows me that she has potential to be a good cook too. What makes her special is because she used to works in Saudi Arabia for 10 years and her ex-employer's job there is selling food! So she knows a lot about middle eastern food and even greek because she can describe it to me how to make some greek food. Someday I will make a video of her making fried dough drizzled with honey. Yum!!! Crispy on the outside and empty inside!

Anyway....

Let's go back to banana flowers again.

So when I came home, all I have to do is just to hand them to Juli and she will somehow process them into a delicious meal.

This is how she did it:

1. She peeled the outer layer first, threw away the flowers that are too old to eat and she also trimmed the tip of the flower.

2. Then she boiled them in already boiling water for about 15 minutes.

3. Then she drained them and chopped them into rough pieces. I had a misconception that I can only eat the flowers but it turn out that I can eat everything of that banana flowers.

4. Then she mixed it with the sauce. This time because I give her such a short notice to cook it, she just used store bought peanut sauce called "Bumbu Pecel".

Pic: How the banana flowers look at first.

Pic: How the banana flowers look after she finished cutting out the outer skin and the matured flowers.

Pic: Now she will cut the banana flowers in half before she dropped them into the boiling water.

Pic: These are how they look inside.

Pic: What she throw away are these, the hard outer skin and the matured flowers.

Pic: The old flowers that she threw away look like these.



Pic: She mixed the peanut sauce with water to thin it out into a more sauce consistency.



Pic: She chopped the banana flowers roughly.



Pic: She mixed the banana heart with the peanut sauce.



Pic: A well-mixed banana heart with peanut sauce.

Pic: This is how my lunch looked, a simple fare but I love it. Just the banana heart in peanut sauce on the top right corner and milkfish cooked with lots of seasonings using pressure cooker for 2 hours so I can eat everything, even the bones. Milkfish is notorious for their millions of bone!

NOTE: The flower of the banana plant (also known as banana blossom or banana heart)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gumbo

Once upon a time there was a boy-genie read a book and on that book the hero's favorite food is gumbo. The boy-genie wonder what is gumbo? So he went to asked his mommy-genie about it and then she explained it to him that Gumbo is a food of love because people only cook Gumbo for their family that they really love because making Gumbo takes a lot of time and patience. Innocently he asked mommy-genie if she can grant him his wishes to eat Gumbo. And she said " Your wish is my command my dear .... " Then she proceed to do some crystal ball reading to find the perfect recipe for the boy-genie and in a few hours later, the boy-genie was busy enjoying his first Gumbo while his mommy-genie watched him eat.


Gumbo
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons margarine
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
4 cups hot water
5 beef bouillon cubes
1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen sliced okra
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.

NOTE: I chose this recipe because the ingredients are available at that time and it looks simple enough to try compare to other recipes that I researched.