Vegetable Stuffed Fried Tofu

Appetizer, Snack

 

Vegetable Stuffed Fried Tofu by Tiny Chili Pepper

(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

  • Canola oil

  • 1 cup of water

  • 2 tablespoon of flour

  • Cayenne pepper powder

  • Thai chili peppers (sold at Asian groceries)

Veggies as the stuffing

Fried tofu in a bag

Stuffing the tofu

Dipped in batter

Browning the stuffed tofu

Steps:

  • 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

Vegetable Stuffed Tofu ala Tiny Chili Pepper

 

Seafood Dumplings in Peanut Sauce

Appetizer, Seafood Recipes, Snack

 (My version of the Indonesian street food Siomay Bandung)

Siomay Bandung ala Tiny Chili PepperFood 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

the sauces

 Steaming the good stuff

Steps:

  • 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.

seafood dumplings, tofu, green beans in peanut sauce

Selamat Makan! (Enjoy your meal!)

Have a great weekend!

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies (a la Jeff)

Baking, Dessert, Snack

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

The snow-covered streets looked beautiful this morning. Snow clump plopped down quietly from the tall evergreen right in front of my apartment window. Peaceful, calm, bright, and sunny. (“Just like on the cover of Christmas cards I saw when I was little,” my mother would always say whenever she’d visit.) Such a different scene from the past two gloomy, windy, and snowy days. When I wrote this post, the AM temperature still read three degrees Fahrenheit tough… It sure has been a cold December in Michigan.

blue sky

Distractions to take the mind off the bitter cold and to stay cheerful are necessary. Mine include: Netflix, good books, movies. Jeff and I also take up my friend Lindsay’s suggestion: baking! Jeff likes the idea very much that this blog post is actually about these delicious and savory cookies he made last night.

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

Gouda Cheese Cookies

Gouda Butter Cookies

Here’s Jeff’s creation, inspired by the Dutch-influenced Indonesian holidays cookie: Kaastengels and Nutella butter cookies that we made last week:

Yield: about 100 mini cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 egg yolks (2 for the cookie batter and 1 for the wash to brush on top of the cookies)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of Gouda cheese (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Steps:

  • Beat butter and two egg yolks with a mixer. Add vanilla extract.
  • Slowly, add flour, beat
  • Add cheese and salt, fold. Use both hands to mix.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pick up a handful of dough and, on a clean cutting board, roll and shape into a super long and a rather skinny finger (as long as the cutting board). Then cut the long finger dough into one-inch pieces. Repeat and use up all of the dough.
  • Transfer the mini pieces to two large baking sheets (layered with parchment paper)
  • Brush the top of each mini finger with egg yolk wash
  • Bake for 20—25 minutes
Have a great day, folks!

Have a great day, folks!

Giada’s Blueberry Banana Bread

Baking, Dessert, Snack


 

Banana Blueberry Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

Ah, the good old banana bread: rustic, classic, and reliable. A fantastic company for coffee over breakfast or snack time. I simply love it. Not to mention the aroma it creates in the apartment when I bake it.

When I started learning how to bake, I picked beginner-friendly recipes. One of them was this wonderful Dark Chocolate Banana Bread  recipe by Baker Bettie. It became a favorite. This summer, I found another hit: Banana Blueberry Bread by Giada De Laurentiis. It has made a few appearances since then. I love how the spicy nutmeg and cinnamon reveal their wonderful presence in every bite.

A favorite: banana-blueberry bread

I follow the recipe with a couple of minor adjustments:

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper to line my oven loaf pan
  • Bake the bread for 55 minutes instead of 60 minutes (my apartment’s oven tends to get really hot I think)

To see the highly recommended recipe, please click here: Banana-Blueberry Bread

Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Peace

Strawberry Raspberry Jam

Appetizer, Condiment, Dessert, Snack

Strawberry and Raspberry Jam 2 by Tiny Chili Pepper

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.

Strawberry Raspberry Jam by Tiny Chili Pepper

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

My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam

Grilled Plum on Warm Bread with Cheese

Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack

Grilled plum on bread with ricotta cheese by Tiny Chili PepperWhen people find out that I cook, some would ask, “Wow, you don’t mind the effort that cooking involves?” or say, “Good for you. I am way too lazy to cook.” or “Oh, you’re such a good wife.” (I usually roll my eyes, in my mind, for the latter comment :D.) Feels like there’s this impression that a person who cooks is industrious, taking on such an onerous task, or domestic. Well, contrary to that assumption, I cook because I get bored with food a lot. I seek wonderful colors, a burst of great flavors, and pleasing tastes in food. They bring me joy, while bland food just makes me feel sad.

Plum on Bread Tiny Chili Pepper

My curiosity of tastes and appreciation for creativity takes me on an ongoing search for things to try. Just like this recipe I adapted and simplified from a genius food blogger at Dash and Bella: Grilled Plum and Lemon Ricotta Toast. Grilled sweet plum over warm bread with mild cheese spread. Delicious. I’d like to try using apples, nectarine, or peach next time. What a great way to enjoy more fruits! Thanks, Dash and Bella.

In my version, I used:

  • 4 black plums (each sliced into four cuts)
  • Bread
  • Ricotta cheese

Steps:

  • I grilled the slices of plums and bread for about 1-2 minutes each side over medium heat (I didn’t mix the plums with olive oil, balsamic, and herbs as the original recipe suggested and still they tasted wonderful).
  • Spread ricotta cheese on the warm bread and place the juicy plum on top (I used the ricotta plain without the lemon juice)
  • Enjoy! Great for breakfast and snack

by Tiny Chili Pepper

Have a great day!

Red Hot Cooked Salsa

Appetizer, Condiment, Snack, Vegetable Recipes

red hot salsa by tiny chili pepper

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
  • Salt
  • Lime juice from 1/2 of lime

Steps:

  • 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

red hot salsa on corn chips by tiny chili pepper

Thanks for reading!

To my friend G and our book club

 

Parsley and Feta on Pita Bread

Baking, Sandwiches, Snack, Vegetable Recipes

Feta and Parsley on Pita Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

I love the scent of parsley, especially right after picking. One of the things I like to do with the herb is to mix it with feta cheese, fold it in filo dough sheets, and bake them—just like in the Turkish baked borek. This time, I wanted to try something different with the mixture. So, I spread it on a few pita bread, topped the bread with cherry tomatoes, and baked them. Oh, what a fantastic aroma they created as they cooked in the oven! They tasted delicious too. The fresh herb and tomato definitely added more complexity to the salty white cheese melted on the warm bread.

Feta Parsley by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s how I did mine:

(serve 2)

I used:

  • A handful of parsley (just the leaves)
  • About 4 oz. of feta cheese (I bought one of those 8 oz. plain regular chunk)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 pita bread
  • Cherry tomatoes

Then I heated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, mixed/chopped the parsley and feta in a food processor, brushed the pita bread with olive oil, spread the cheese mixture on it, topped with cherry tomatoes, and baked for 6-7 minutes.

Thank you for visiting!

Parsley Feta Pita by Tiny Chili Pepper

Grilled Nutella Sandwich Dusted with Powdered Sugar

Dessert, Snack
Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar by Harini

Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar (by Harini)

Years ago, my friends and I frequented Quartino in Chicago. We would go to this Italian tapas restaurant, usually, right after work. Most of us worked, some lived, in downtown Chicago at that time. So Quartino was a good place in a central location  for a bunch of friends to regroup and replenish. We’d sit at the lively bar section, crowded our small table with wine, pizza, cheese, various small plates, and some desserts. Conversations about work, bosses, coworkers, relationships, dating, would swim together with other topics like cultures, politics, and whatever world affairs happening at the time. Time has flown by, people have moved away, but Quartino remains to be a memorable hang out spot for me.

grilled nutella sandwich by Harini

Recently, I had the chance to return to the restaurant with a couple of old friends. One of them had mentioned Quartino earlier that day and our afternoon saunter just happened to take us close to the place. So we took it as a sign to pay a visit.

Far from feeling hungry, we just ordered drinks. But then my friend Farah asked the server, “Do you guys still have Nutella Panino?” The server said yes and took the order. I had forgotten about this simple/cannot-go-wrong dessert. Then I remembered how most of my sweet tooth friends loved this grilled Nutella sandwich. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a sandwich filled with Nutella spread, grilled, cut up, and dusted with powdered sugar!

Back in my apartment, I made my version of the panino for Jeff. I think it may have made him fell in love all over again—either with me or with Nutella 😀

So here’s how I do my version of Nutella Panino.

(Eater discretion is advised)

To serve two, we will need:

  • 4 slices of bread (I am loving these Wholesome Oatmeal bread at the moment)
  • Nutella spread
  • A little bit of butter
  • A little bit of powdered sugar

oatmeal bread

Grill the sandwich and gently press down with a small pan lid

Steps:

  • Heat up a small non-stick pan. Stay on medium heat. (I don’t have a panini press so I grill the sandwich manually)
  • Spread Nutella on one side of a bread and cover with another bread
  • Add a little bit of butter on the hot pan until it is melted
  • Place the sandwich on the pan, grill, and press very gently with a small pan lid until the bread gets that nice golden color
  • Turn and grill the other side
  • Remove and let it cool down
  • Repeat the steps for the other sandwich
  • Cut up the sandwiches
  • Dust with powdered sugar

Great snack to serve with dark, robust coffee.

Hope you like it and thanks for visiting!

Buon Appetito!

cut up Nutella sandwich by Harini

Nutella sandwich by Harini

To my old Chicago pals

Fried Banana

Appetizer, Dessert, Snack

Fried banana by HR

Fried banana by HR

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

Steps:

  • 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

Banana batter HR

  • 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.

Frying bananas HR

  • 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!