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!

Roasted Grape Tomatoes Salad in Balsamic

Appetizer, Salad

“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.

Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted grape tomatoes

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)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (add more if you want)

Steps:

  • 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

Roasted Portobello with Breadcrumbs

Appetizer, Vegetable Recipes

Roasted Portobello with breadcrumbs

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.

Roasted Portobello with breadcrumbs

Spaghetti ala Puttanesca

Roasted grape tomatoes

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

Steps:

  • 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!

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!

Nutella Butter Cookies Covered in Powdered Sugar

Baking, Dessert

Nutella Cookies by Tiny Chili Pepper

A conversation with a friend about Christmas season and baking:

Me: “So Lindsay, we always have good conversations about history, tradition, and culture. Question for you. Do you think there’s a traditional connection between Christmas season and baking, cookies especially? Seems like many people get into this intensified baking mode this time of year.”

Lindsay: “I have no idea if the two are traditionally linked, but they were in my family. My mother would often make sugar cookies and almond sugar cookies. Plus, I’ve always lived in a cold climate, so baking gives an excuse to turn on the oven! It’s also a cheerful, indoor activity that can lift your spirits when it gets dark so early. So those are my reasons.”

Fresh from the oven drop cookies

Hmm, makes sense to me. Linked or not linked, holiday or any day, baked treats sound good. But like Lindsay said, these short, cold, winter days do create a perfect and inviting atmosphere for fresh-from-the-oven cookies, or pastries, along with steaming hot coffee or hot chocolate, don’t they? That and for bundling up!

Nutella Cookies

All these talks about baking cookies with Lindsay made me want to do it too! Jeff nodded enthusiastically when I asked if he’d helped last night. I leafed through a cookbook and found a truly very easy cookie recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies. The recipe called for: butter, flour, powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract, and Nutella. That’s it! All we had to do: beat butter and some sugar with a mixer, added the flour and vanilla extract, formed the dough into tiny balls, dropped them on baking sheets, baked for 12 minutes, and rolled the cookies (after cooling down for a few minutes) in the rest of the powdered sugar. Not too sweet or chocolaty and perfect with coffee! 

Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies

Click here to see the full recipe

Happy baking and have a nice weekend to all!

Warm thoughts to all of us in winter wonderland.

Sauteed Napa Cabbage

Vegetable Recipes

Sauteed Napa Cabbage

Looking for an easy way to cook vegetables and make them more flavorful? Sauteing is my answer. My mom does it a lot with a variety of veggies like bean sprouts, bitter melon, Napa cabbage, etc. She taught me to cook them with garlic, chili peppers, salt, and a little bit of water. Quick, easy, and tasty.

sliced Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage has been one of my faves to saute. This crunchy and mild cabbage absorbs flavors nicely. It makes a wonderful side to beef, chicken, or fish dishes. (Optional: we could also make the dish more colorful by adding red bell peppers and/or mushrooms.)

Sauteed Napa cabbage with mushrooms

Here’s my recipe to serve two:

  • 1 Napa cabbage, cleaned and sliced (I usually pick a small one, just enough for two)
  • 4 garlic, chopped
  • 4 Thai peppers, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and chopped (optional)
  • 1–2 cups of Shiitake mushroom, stemmed and chopped (optional)

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium pan, add oil (over medium heat)
  • Cook garlic and peppers for two minutes
  • Add slices of Napa cabbage and mix with the garlic and chili peppers (add bell peppers and mushroom here too, if using)
  • Add salt, mix. Then add water and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Let it cook for five minutes until the it simmers. (The cabbage will release its moisture and wilt. But, it will still be a bit crunchy even after cooking.) Taste and add salt if necessary.
  • Serve while it’s still hot

Thanks for reading!

Stuffing Bell Peppers with Leftover Chicken Cutlets and Stir-Fry Tofu and Vegetables

Baking, Poultry Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

I wonder if more people cook at home these days. With a plethora of cooking blogs, books, and TV channel and programs that we have, do you think they attract more people to cooking? Convert cooking non-believers into aficionados? Raise an interest in trying different recipes, maybe?

Chicken, Tofu, Vegetable Stuffed Bell Peppers by Tiny Chili Pepper

I won’t lie, cooking takes a lot of time and energy. We all know that it starts WAY before the actual cooking itself, right? Planning a meal, coming up with an idea for a menu, (in my case, it just means asking myself, “What should I cook tonight?”) is the hard part for me. Once I figure it out though, things just seem to happen— almost like moving on an automated-pilot mode. So in my situation, inspiration matters. Hence the collection of cook books, the email subscription to cooking blogs, the food talks with friends and family, and the occasional tune in to cooking programs on TV. I am thankful for the existence of this recipe universe that I have.

Stuffed Bell Pepper with Chicken, Tofu, Vegetables, Breadcrumbs by TCP

Speaking of recipe idea, I came across a good one the other day: Stuffed Bell Pepper by Giada De Laurentiis. In this recipe, she stuffed the peppers with eggplants, olives, capers, and tofu. Tofu! Ha! An idea appeared. I happened to have made stir-fry tofu with broccoli and green peas the previous day. Got some baked chicken cutlets too. (At this point, the tofu and vegetables have absorbed all of the flavors: garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil). So I decided to combine the two leftovers, pulse slightly in a food processor, add a little bit of a good salsa sauce, stuff it into roasted bell peppers, and add some breadcrumbs on top. Yum! Such a nice way to use up all of my leftovers.

Here’s how I did my Chicken, Tofu, and Vegetables Stuffed Bell Pepper:

For the Stir-Fry Tofu and Vegetables:

  • 1 extra firm tofu (pressed to drain and then cut into squares with ½ inch thickness). I found out later that the tofu bound the stuffing together nicely. It’s pretty great!
  • 2 cups of broccoli (cut into bite size)
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (optional)
  • 4 garlic (chopped)
  • 4 Thai peppers (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I cooked the garlic and peppers in sesame oil for two minutes. Then I added soy sauce, fish sauce, peas, broccoli, water, salt, and pepper. Covered the pan with a lid for three to five minutes. Once the sauce started to simmer, I arranged my tofu slices in the pan to make sure that they could absorb the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Covered the pan again and let it cook for another five minutes.

For the chicken cutlet: see Mark Bittman’s recipe here. (I used chicken breast, olive oil, a little bit of dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, and baked for 15 minutes.)

Stuffing the Bell Peppers:

  • 3 red bell peppers (halved and cored)
  • Drizzled with olive oil
  • Roasted for 30 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Combined chicken cutlets and tofu with vegetables, pulsed very slightly in a food processor, added a good salsa sauce (optional, I wanted to add a little bit of spicy tomato and pepper taste in the stuffing), scooped into the bell peppers, sprinkled breadcrumbs, and broil for 2 minutes. (Might want to move the oven rack down, further from the broiler before starting. My topping was a bit burnt there, oops…Still very good though!).

Hope you like it and thanks for stopping by!

Chicken in Sesame, Ginger, and Garlic Soup

Poultry Recipes, Soup

Chicken in Sesame, Ginger, and Garlic Soup by Tiny Chili Pepper

IMG_5609

The temperature keeps dropping in this part of the world. Looks like the cold days are really here to stay, at least for a while. Tis the perfect time for…warm soup!

Many years ago, back in college days, a good friend taught me how to do Hainan chicken rice. I remembered the fantastic fragrance that came from the dish. Sesame oil, ginger slices, and garlic infused the soup and the chicken. My friend also tossed the rice grains with a little bit of sesame oil and oyster sauce in a pan before cooking it. Ah, so wonderful!

Inspired by that memory, I recently made something similar: chicken in sesame, ginger, and garlic soup. I served it with jasmine rice, scallions, and a little bit of chili flakes on a bitter cold night. The heat from the soup, the ginger, and the spicy chili flakes warmed me right up. I think I might make it again real soon.

Here’s my easy version:

Serve 2:

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts and 2 thighs with bones and skin (change it up according to your preference)
  • 1—1 ½ inches of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped). Fresh ginger, not powder, is one of the keys here, folks.
  • 2—3 Thai peppers (chopped), if using
  • 4 garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Sesame oil is the other key ingredient in this recipe. Trust me 😉
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch of scallions (minus the root part, chopped)
  • Water

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium pot over medium heat
  • Add oil, ginger, peppers, and garlic. Let them cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the chicken and water. Make sure that the chicken is submerged.
  • Add salt and a little bit of pepper.
  • Cook for 30 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through. Taste the soup and adjust.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Take the chicken out and shred them using two forks. Discard the bones.
  • Return the meat into the soup and let it sit for about 10 minutes to absorb more flavors.
  • Serve hot with chopped scallions and rice.

Hope you like it!

Have a great weekend, all.

For Maria

Beets and Avocado Chocolate Cake

Dessert

Beet Avocado Chocolate Cake

I know that a recipe is a good one when I get the approval of my friend’s 10 year-old little girl with selective food preferences. (I am a former picky eater myself, by the way.) This dessert, dear readers, got hers (and her mom’s and other tasters’ too). She didn’t notice the presence of beets and avocado in the cake until I told her. All she tasted was this chocolaty and soft cake with just the right level of sweetness, which I did too. Once I revealed the ingredients, this little girl told me that she wanted to make it and asked me for the recipe. Ha! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you, fellow blogger Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen!

Here’s my slightly adapted recipe (I didn’t do the chocolate glaze or almond toppings. Maybe next time. I thought that the cake was great by itself.)

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of ground pecan (I think almonds, walnuts, or cashews would work nicely too.)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 4 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of mashed cooked beetroot (I used three small beets that I boiled for about 30—40 minutes, peeled, and ran in a food processor)
  • 1 cup of honey (The original recipe asked for half agave and half date syrups. I went with honey instead.)
  • 1 cup of mashed avocado
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup of dark chocolate chips, melted

Steps (I pretty much follow the original recipe):

  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, pecan, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients (mashed beetroot, honey, mashed avocado, canola oil, vanilla extract, melted dark chocolate) in a separate bowl
  • Combine the dry and the wet ingredients. Whisk, beat, mix it really well.
  • Pour the batter into a 9-inch round baking pan and bake it for an hour to an hour and a half. Make sure a cake tester (I use a skewer) comes out clean once inserted into the cake.

Hope you like it!

Have a good day

For Nana Banana

Original recipe: Possibly the Worlds Healthiest Chocolate Cake: Beetroot and Avocado Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Toasted Almond Gold Dust by Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots

Vegetable Recipes

I like cooking vegetables. Their wide variety gives out many different taste and menu possibilities. That, and most of the time I find a lot of the veggie recipes to be easy to make. Here’s one to prove my point: sautéed cabbage and carrots, another childhood dish I grew up with in Indonesia. Originally called, orak-arik, this recipe has to be one of the easiest things to make. With shredded cabbage, carrots, a little bit of vegetable oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic, I get a delicious plate in no time. Do you notice how sweet carrots become after being sautéed? That sweetness goes real nice with the black pepper and crunchy cabbage. In its traditional form, the recipe includes scrambled eggs in the mix. But I am making that optional here.

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots by Tiny Chili Pepper

Cooking the cabbage and carrots

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots by Tiny Chili Pepper

Things that we’ll need:

(Serve 2)

  • 1 small (or half of a large) cabbage head (cut into thin shreds)
  • 3–4 carrots (cleaned and chopped in a food processor)
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium size pan (over medium heat)
  • Add oil and then garlic. Let it sizzle for two minutes
  • Add carrots, cabbage, salt, and black pepper. Stir to mix everything together (I use two cooking spoons to mix them up).
  • Cover the pan and let the veggies cook for five minutes or until everything wilts
  • Move it away from the heat

Ideal to serve as a side to a beef or chicken dish. Don’t forget the rice :D.

Hope you like it and happy cooking!

Orak arik by Tiny Chili Pepper