It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.
Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.
Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.
Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:
- 2 cups of mung beans
- 1 cup of palm sugar
- 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 or 2 inches of ginger
- 6 cups of water
- In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
- Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
- Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
- Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
- After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
- Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
- While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
- Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
- Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next day
Zucchini and Bread Lasagna
Summer is here! Time for me to make things a lot simpler in the kitchen and be outdoor as much as possible. Found a recipe that represents simplicity and deliciousness: layers of zucchini, tomato sauce, cheese, and rustic bread. I mean, who doesn’t like bread and cheese together? Add some summer produce like tomatoes and zucchini and develop a fantastic lasagna. Here’s my adapted version:
- 3 medium zucchini (place in boiling water until they are tender and then slice thinly lengthwise)
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 4 small tomatoes (sliced)
- 3 garlic (chopped)
- A teaspoon of olive oil
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 loaf of rustic bread (sliced)
- In a small saucepan, cook the slices of tomatoes and garlic together until they dissolve into watery sauce. Add a can of tomato sauce (add herbs that you like here: oregano, basil, etc.) and a little bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Start layering the lasagna in a medium deep pan: spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, cover with slices of bread, more tomato sauce, top with slices of zucchini, more tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat until everything is used up.
- Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Original recipe: Lydia’s Italy Zucchini and Country Bread Lasagna
(My version of Tahu Isi)
Here’s another Indonesia’s favorite snack: stuffed tofu! The idea is quite simple: fill up tofu (cubed fried tofu, light and airy inside. Sold at Asian groceries.) with cooked vegetables, dip them in thin batter of flour and spices, brown in a little bit of oil, and eat them with chili peppers! One of Jeff’s aunts made these scrumptious snack for us when we visited the family in Indonesia a while back. Oh la la…so delicious. If only delivery across the ocean weren’t an issue, we’d shamelessly request these stuffed tofu from her all the time.
Driven by this taste memory, Jeff and I made the snack ourselves the other day. As always, my guy made his neatly. He does a better job in food presentation than I do. I have yet to master the skill of not rushing in the kitchen.
Here are the things that we will need:
A bag of cubed fried tofu (sold at Asian groceries)
Crunchy vegetable medley, do a combo of two from these options: carrots/ bean sprouts/ broccoli stalk/cabbage (thinly cut)
4 garlic (chopped)
Salt and pepper
1 cup of water
2 tablespoon of flour
Cayenne pepper powder
Thai chili peppers (sold at Asian groceries)
Heat up a small pan, add a tablespoon of canola oil, and garlic. Let it cook for two minutes and then add vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3—5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the dip in a medium bowl: whisk water and flour, add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper powder. Mix well until it thickens a bit.
Make a small cut on one side of each tofu and stuff it with a little bit of vegetables. Dip it lightly in the batter and set aside. Repeat until all tofu and vegetables are used up.
Heat up a large pan and add a bit of canola oil (enough to brown).
Brown the stuffed tofu. (Since they are already cooked, all we want to do is just to cook them until they look golden.)
Let them cool down on a cooling rack. Place a plate underneath to catch excess oil.
Serve with chili peppers
(My version of the Indonesian street food Siomay Bandung)
Food cravings drove me to be extra creative lately. Especially since the latest strong desire and taste I had were for authentic Indonesian dishes! Example number one, Siomay Bandung: steamed seafood dumplings drizzled with peanut sauce (Bandung is the city of origin of the dish) .
Back when I was little in Surabaya, the seller of siomay would pedal his bike, that had a small wooden box attached to the back to carry a steamer full of siomay and the sauces, all over the neighborhood in late afternoon. Street food hawkers, in my family’s neighborhood, seemed to have their own particular schedule: bakery and bread in the morning, fruit salad (rujak) in the afternoon, siomay and meatballs later in the afternoon, while satay, fried rice, fried noodle, would come at night. The siomay man would call out, “May, Siomay…” while sounding his bicycle horn over and over. I’d recognize that sound immediately and ran toward the terrace to call and stop him in front of our house. A big chunk of my childhood memories is filled with lots of good eats!
There are tons of recipes out there to create this dish from scratch. But I was far too hungry for it and couldn’t, wouldn’t, be patient enough to do so. Entered an idea, a simpler way to prepare Siomay Bandung with pleasing result.
Here’s how I do my version. We’ll need:
- A dozen fish meat balls (frozen section, Asian grocery store)
- A packet of shrimp dumplings (frozen section, Asian grocery store)
- A dozen of fried tofu balls (vegetable section, Asian grocery store)
- Three tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (Indonesian food product section, Asian grocery store)
- Two tablespoon of chili sauce (Indonesian food product section, Asian grocery store)
- ½ cup of peanut sauce with garlic, ginger, and lemongrass (Brand: House of Tsang , Bangkok Peanut Sauce, Dipping Sauce. Found at Kroger).
- Juice from ½ of lime
- 1 tablespoon of canola oil
- A handful of frozen green beans
- Set steaming pan above the pot filled halfway with water. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
- Place fish meat balls, shrimp dumplings, tofu balls, green beans on the steamer and drizzle them with canola oil.
- Cover the pan and steam for about 8-10 minutes to thaw and warm up (they are precooked)
- Cut them up to smaller pieces.
- Mix all of the sauces and lime juice in a bowl.
- Serve the pieces on a plate and drizzle with the sauce.
Selamat Makan! (Enjoy your meal!)
Have a great weekend!
“Make me sweet again, fragrant, fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture.” -Rumi-
Speaking of sweet, fragrant, fresh and wild, here’s another easy side dish recipe. Thought I’d share before 2013 ends. Happy 2014 to all, may our new year be sweet and filled with gratitude.
The fresh, cute, and candy-like grape tomatoes always make wonderful salad and snack. A recent eat-out at, an oldie but goody, Italian restaurant gave me a delicious alternative on how to enjoy them: roast and drizzle them with balsamic! Oh, how they became even sweeter!
Here’s how I did it:
- 10 oz. of grape tomatoes (halved)
- 4 garlic (whole or minced doesn’t matter)
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (add more if you want)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place the halved tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle a little bit of salt, and mix with both hands
- Roast for 15 minutes
- Let them cool down for a five minutes
- Place them in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar
- Optional: Make it peppery by adding arugula!
- Great to serve together with Spaghetti ala Puttanesca and Roasted Portobello with Breadcrumbs
Thanks for stopping by…
Other source of recipe idea: Roasted Grape Tomatoes Recipe by Claire Robinson
Simplicity in cooking is key this week. The days between Christmas and New Year can get tricky for me. With the holiday mode running high, I feel like eating out everyday and enjoy the festivities. That may have been due to a family tradition. Growing up, my family used the holidays to break daily routines and go on family trips. Many Indonesians do that. My friend puts it best, “We always thirst for vacations.” That’s why tourist destinations like Bali, Jogjakarta, Bandung, etc. get jam-packed during national holidays.
Jeff and I decided to stay put for the holidays this year. We went out for Christmas eve dinner, for the weekend, and will repeat for tomorrow’s New Year’s eve. Not much cooking this week. But I did make these crispy Portobello and thought I’d share. Wonderful to serve alongside Spaghetti Puttanesca and a bowl of roasted grape tomatoes in balsamic. Simple but delightful.
We will need:
- 10 slices of large Portobello mushrooms
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Mix egg with a little bit of salt and pepper, beat
- Dip each slice of Portobello into the egg mixture
- Coat each mushroom with breadcrumbs
- Brush a baking sheet with olive oil, place the mushrooms on it, and roast for 8–10 minutes
Thank you for reading. Have a happy and healthy 2014!
Two weekends ago, I went on a a backpacking trip on the northwest side of Michigan with my husband and a couple of friends. On our drive home, we stopped by a local eatery/store called 13th St. Market. The quaint country cafe served good traditional American breakfast that immediately fulfilled our hunger. What I really liked though were the homemade strawberry and raspberry jam. Folks, they were amazing: fresh, fruity, a little sweet and a little tart. I was intrigued. I love jam, especially the ones with chunky fruits.
At home, I searched for fruit jam recipes and found a good one: Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. I had frozen some strawberries and raspberries that I bought from the market a few weeks ago. So I used them instead of blueberries.
Here’s my adapted version:
- One cup of halved strawberries
- One cup of raspberries
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- A dash of salt
- Lemon juice from 1/4 lemon
I cooked the berries and sugar in a small pot until they started to simmer and then added the salt and lemon as the original recipe suggested. I let it boiled for 40 minutes on medium heat and stirred occasionally until it thickened. Once I was done, I let the jam cooled down to room temperature and stored it (covered) in the refrigerator. From the recipes I’ve read, refrigerating fresh jam will allow it to last for two weeks. But oh, that jam was so good that we polished it off so quickly :D.
More recipes and article on fresh jam:
Make Room in the Fridge for Jam—Making Jam, Without the Can, NYTimes
Easy Strawberry Jam Recipe, Ina Garten
My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam
The other day, I had tons of cherry and beef steak tomatoes. Using a technique that a friend taught me, I turned them into a fantastic red-hot cooked salsa. Easy and delicious!
My friend G, whose family came from Oaxaca, Mexico, shared her homemade cooked salsa verde (green salsa) with me a while back. It was so garlicky, spicy, fresh, and good, I could just drink it. I slightly modified her recipe in a blog entry titled: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Tomatillo Mango Salsa. Cooking the tomatoes (or tomatillos for the green salsa) definitely made this condiment so great.
Here’s what we’ll need for the red hot salsa:
- Two cups of cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 2 beef steak tomatoes (cut into four pieces)
- A handful of cilantro (just use the leaves and chop in a food processor along with the garlic and jalapeno peppers)
- 2-3 garlic
- 5 jalapeno peppers
- Lime juice from 1/2 of lime
- Heat up a cooking pot over medium heat
- Add the tomatoes into the pot, cover with a lid, and let them cook for 5–10 minutes until they fall apart and become juicy. Turn of the heat.
- Add the chopped jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice into the pot. Stir well to mix with the tomato. Let it cool down for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve with corn chips
Thanks for reading!
To my friend G and our book club
Fried banana (in Bahasa Indonesia: pisang goreng), a classic Indonesian snack, comes in many versions. From the very gourmet at trendy restaurants, to the ones sold in bakeries, to the everyday version sold on the streets stacked up against food vendors cart’s glass window, the snack could easily be everyone’s favorite. It is sweet, simple, and straightforward. Pure comfort. With plenty of banana varieties (sweet ones, not so sweet ones, small ones, big ones, green, yellow, reddish-brown and names like pisang raja, pisang tanduk, etc) in this country, it only makes sense to turn them into delightful little bites.
One of my first trials in making fried banana was back in college days with a couple of friends. The three of us stood in my friend’s kitchen following my other friend’s mom’s recipe. He actually called his mom in Jakarta to get the recipe. We were serious about making this snack that night :).
Years have gone by since that day. The way I do fried banana might have evolved too. But the basic method I learned with my buddies more than a decade ago stuck with me.
Here’s the ingredient list for my version:
- 5-6 bananas (I get the yellow ones with a little hint of green on the skin and on the crown part. They need to be on the firm side so they won’t get mushy when fried.)
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- ½ cup of water
- 3 tablespoon of fine sugar
- 3 tablespoon of honey
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- Vegetable oil
- Heat up a large pan (over medium heat). Fill it with 1 or 1 ½ cup of vegetable oil (depending on how big the pan is.)
- In a big bowl, mix flour, sugar, honey, egg, and salt. Add water to the mixture until it turns into nice and thick liquid batter.
- Peel the bananas and cut them up into round pieces
- Add bananas into the batter and make sure that they are all nicely coated
- Spoon three to four pieces of bananas together (making them into clusters) into the hot oil. You could probably fry three or four clusters at the same time in the pan. Make sure that ¾ of the banana clusters are submerged in the oil. Fry each side for about 2 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Flip and fry the other side. Reduce the heat if the bananas brown too quickly.
- Remove banana clusters from hot oil using food strainer to drain excess oil
- Let the bananas cool down for 5 minutes on a serving plate layered with paper towel
- Watch them disappear quickly 🙂
Thanks for stopping by.
Have a great week ahead!
Inspired by the Indonesian perkedel daging (potato ground beef patties) and Puerto Rican pastelón, I created these baked potato patties with ground turkey, bell pepper, chili pepper, cilantro and onion. Ha! Yes, I got a little creative 🙂 The result? Savory little goodness that made a wonderful appetizer!
Hope you like it!
- 3 Russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 1/2 pound of ground turkey meat
- 1 bell pepper (chopped)
- 3-4 garlic
- 3 hot finger peppers
- 1/2 of sweet onion
- 1/2 cup of cilantro (chopped). If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you could substitute with either parsley or green onions.
- One tablespoon of vegetable oil
- One egg
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with water, add a little salt, and boil until fork tender (for me it took about 30-40 minutes)
- Mix and chop the bell pepper, garlic, hot fingers, and sweet onion in a food processor
- Heat up a medium pan and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Cook the peppers-garlic-onion mixture for a little bit until the moisture evaporates
- Add the ground turkey and cook until it is well done. Set aside.
- After the potatoes are done cooking, remove from water, and mash them well
- Add the egg into the mashed potatoes and mix them together
- Mix the mashed potatoes with the meat, chopped cilantro, and using both hands create 15-18 patties
- Spray a baking tray with either olive oil or vegetable oil
- Place the patties on the tray, brush the top of the patties with a little bit of vegetable or olive oil, and bake for 15-20 minutes until they turn golden light brown in color