Saturday, September 28, 2013

Did I ever mention that my husband love carrot cake? Hmm.. I think I did. That's why I make carrot cake pretty often for him. It is easy to make and delicious. But the problem is, I can make more than 48 mini carrot cup cake from half recipe only. It is too much for me. There are only 5 people who are staying in my house and 48 cup cake are definitely too much. Well... my daughter and my husband like that cake. But they won't eat more than 10- 15 cup cakes. That's mean I have to store it on my refrigerator. Sometimes I even have to keep it for days because they get bored of it easily. We like cake, but we are not cake eaters. So, I was thinking maybe I can make microwave version of it. I think it will be great, isn't it? Easy to make, fast, and small portion only. So I don't need to keep it in the refrigerator for days. The texture might be different with baked carrot cake. But the taste is not bad. I add some raisins and chopped walnuts as well which make the cake even better.

Some butter cream cheese frosting could be a great companion for it. But powdered sugar or maple syrup will work as well. It is perfect for afternoon snack or morning breakfast.

Ingredients :

  • 5 tbs + 1/2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs buttermilk
  • 2 tbs grated carrot
  • 1 tsp raisins (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped walnuts (optional)
Tip : You can substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour. Mix 3 tbs AP flour with 2 tbs + 1/2 tsp whole wheat flour will work just fine. 

Tip :  You can substitute buttermilk by mixing 1 cup (240 ml) milk with 1 tbs lemon juice or lime juice. Stir it lightly and let sit in a room temperature for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can see that the milk is become thickened and a bit curdled.

Preparation :

  1. In a bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon powder, and salt.
  2. Add oil, egg, and buttermilk into the mixed dry ingredients. Mix them well.
  3. Add grated carrot, raisins, and chopped walnuts and mix again until all the carrots, raisins, and walnuts are well incorporated. 
  4. Transfer the batter into a microwave proof mug.
  5. Set the microwave on high and microwave it for 2 minutes.
  6. Take it out from microwave and let it cool for a bit. Serve it with cream cheese frosting or powdered sugar or maple syrup if you want. 
Tip : This cake batter is only enough for 1 mug. But it is possible to divide the batter into 2 small ramekins for 2 small portion. But microwave it for 90 seconds instead of 2 minutes. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sometime, being a mom and a housewife needs some creativities to make something good for the family using limited resources. The best example is when you need to cook something good for dinner using leftover or limited ingredients because you were too busy to do some shopping. It happens to me almost all the time especially because I have a very active little baby who loves to play (and make a lot of mesh) and an adorable daughter who is still needed to be picked up from school everyday. Beside, I usually cook or make something based on special price on the week in nearby grocery store. When they give special price for ground beef, paprika, and tomatoes, I will make Mexican chilli or stuffed paprika. When they have discount for potatoes, I will make roasted potatoes or hutspot for dinner.

This time, I still have some (about 150 grams) ground beef on my fridge, macaroni, 2 tomatoes, and half a jar of instant bolognese sauce. Well... we have been eating rice for 4 days in a row anyway. I think pasta will be great for dinner then. But I want to make some variation out of it. Hmm... let's see. I sill have a lot of cheese as well. So, I will make some pasta casserole. It's easy to make. Even actually, it can be made from leftover pasta from the day before. It is fast, easy, and delicious. I can pretend it was made fresh from scratch even actually it was made from leftover pasta. Just make sure that the leftover pasta is still edible and taste good. I only need a ovenproof dish or bowl to make this casserole. Transfer the pasta into the dish or bowl and level the surface, drizzle it with some olive oil, cover it with grated cheese, and bake it for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melted and become golden brown. It's so easy, isn't it? And it is a good variation to eat pasta.

Serve it hot with sweet spicy sauce as condiment and salad as a side dish. Perfect. :-)

Ingredients :
  • Any leftover pasta that you have
  • A lot of grated cheese
  • Olive oil
Preparation : 
  1. Preheat oven for 180 C (356 F)
  2. Prepare an ovenproof dish. Make sure the dish is not too big or too small for the pasta that you have.
  3. Drizzle it with some olive oil
  4. Transfer the pasta into the dish and level the surface.
  5. Drizzle the pasta with some olive oil.
  6. Cover it with grated cheese.
  7. Put it into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melted and become golden brown. 
Tip : If you want your casserole more cheesy and creamy, feel free to add some more grated cheese and few tablespoon of heavy cream on your pasta. Mix well them together before covering those pasta with more grated cheese. You can make this into one portion serving as well by using small ramekin bowl instead of big ovenproof dish.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This is one of my  family's favorite quick bread. Apple Bread. First time I made this bread was last January. I was trying to make something good for my daughter's teachers on her birthday. Many other parents will give them chocolate, cupcakes, or ice cream. Well... It was January. It was cold and snowy. Who wants to eat ice cream on winter? Chocolate? hmm... errr... No. Cupcakes? I've already made mini carrot cupcakes for her friends. Then I read on the internet that quick bread could be a proper gift for adults. Good idea. But which quick bread? Banana? Chocolate? Pumpkin? Apple? Yeah. I think Apple bread will be great.

I tried few recipes of apple bread. And I didn't satisfied with the result. One was too tough, the other was too soft, another recipe was too crumbly. After many trial and error, I made my own recipe apple bread using all those failed recipe. Add and reduce the ingredients. It turned out great. The softness of the bread, the taste of combination of apple, cinnamon, walnut and raisins. Orange zest and juice that were unintentionally added to the batter, surprisingly could make the taste of the bread even better. I love it. My daughter and my husband love it. So, it's decided. I made 2 loaves of apple breads, wrap them nicely complete with the ribbon, and let my daughter gave them to her teachers. And they like it !! I was sooooo relieved and happy.

Until now, I've made many of them for my friends and I received none negative response. Today I make another batch of apple bread. I was planning to give it to my friend tomorrow. But too bad there's change of plan. We have to reschedule our appointment. Well.... then my apple bread will become my daughter's afternoon snack. I know she will love it. ^^

Ingredients :
  • 195 grams (1.5 cups) AP flour
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup ) white granulated sugar
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup ) brown sugar 
  • 120 ml (1/4 cup ) vegetables oil 
  • 110 ml (1/4 cup ) milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 - 2 apples, peeled, roughly grated.
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnut (optional)
  • orange zest from 1 orange (optional)
  • 1 tsp orange juice (optional)
Preparation :
  1. Preheat the oven for 180 C (356 F)
  2. Grease the quick bread pan / loaf pan with butter (I was using 21 x 8 x 7 cm loaf pan). Set aside. 
  3. In a big bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon powder.
  4. In another bowl, mix together milk, egg, vegetable oil, and orange juice.
  5. Pour the all mixed wet ingredients into mixed dry ingredients. Mix them well but do not over mix the batter.
  6. Add grated apple, orange zest, raisins, and chopped walnut. Mix again. 
  7. Pour the batter into greased pan
  8. Put it into preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
  9. Take the pan out from the oven and let it cool before removing the bread from the pan.
Tip : Do not over mix the batter otherwise the bread will become too tough. That's why for making quick bread, I only using wire whisk and spatula instead of hand mixer. Only to mix the batter until all the ingredients are well mixed. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Last week, my friend came home and brought an eggplant. It is a really nice, beautiful, big, firm, purple eggplant. Well, to be honest, I'm not really a big fan of eggplant. My mother used to make a fried eggplant when I was a child. But she was using different type of eggplants. The skin was not as tough as eggplants that I find in Netherlands. I don't know. It was just different.

Hmm... what should I do? what kind of dish that i could make out of it?Just make a stir fry eggplant with sesame oil or olive oil? No. I want something else. The eggplant was sitting quietly in my refrigerator for few days. Until I remember one of recipe that I found on youtube few months ago. Chef John's baked eggplant sandwiches. I'm a fan of his dishes and I wanted to remake this eggplant dish for weeks but I never got a chance. I almost forget about it. Until now :)

So, I made it few days ago. Baked eggplant sandwiches. Sliced eggplant filled with cheese and salami, covered with breadcrumbs, and baked for about 20 minutes.

15 minutes after I pulled them out of the oven, I tried one bite. It was delicious. The eggplant was soft and chewy. But at the same time, the breadcrumbs made it crunchy. The salami and melting cheese are great. I never thought that eggplant goes well with salami. Thank you chef John. You're awesome. I serve it on the plate with some green salad. Sweet chili sauce or honey mustard sauce will be great as the condiment.

Ingredients :
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 14 Small sliced cheese
  • 7 Thinly sliced salami
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 100 grams flour
  • 200 grams bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Some grated cheese
Tip :  The amount of the sliced cheese and sliced salami are depend on the amount of eggplant sandwiches. It is depend on the eggplant that you have. The longer eggplant that you have, the more pair of eggplant spices that you'll get. From my eggplant, I could get 7 eggplant sandwiches and 1 small slice of eggplant. 

Preparation :
  1. Preheat oven for 210 C (about 425 F).
  2. Prepare a baking sheet, line it with aluminium foil, and drizzle some olive oil on the top. Set aside.
  3. Cut the eggplant into about 1 cm thick slices. Make a pair one to another out of it.
  4. Put 1 sliced of cheese, 1 slice of salami, and another slice of cheese between on each pair of eggplant.
  5. Coat the eggplant sandwich with the flour.
  6. Dip the coated eggplant sandwich into beaten egg.
  7. Coat it again with the breadcrumbs. Make sure all the surfaces are coated well with the breadcrumbs.
  8. Put the eggplants sandwiches on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. On the top of each of them, drizzle some olive oil and add some grated cheese.
  10. Put the baking sheet into preheated oven and bake them for about 10 minutes.
  11. Take the baking sheet out and flip all the sandwiches.
  12. Add some more olive oil and grated cheese on the top of them.
  13. Put them back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  14. Take them out from the oven and let them cool for a while.
  15. Ready to serve.
Tip : For meatless version, you can just skip the salami. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Few weeks ago, someone asked me what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Why does people need it to bake a cake and cookies? Why do some recipes need baking powder only, but the others need both of them? How does actually this thing work? Hmm... good question. Yeast, baking powder and baking soda, all of them are leavening agent which are needed to make the cake, bread, and the cookies rise up in volume during baking process.

Leavening agent is a substance which is causing expansion of dough and batters by the release of gasses within such mixtures, producing baked products with porous structures (Encyclopedia Britanica, 2013). Yeast is the most popular leavening agent, especially for making breads products. Based on fermentation process, yeast will use fructose, glucose, and other simple sugar that are present in the dough ingredients as its food. Yeast's enzymes will break down the sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-product. The alcohol will evaporate during the baking process. Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide will trapped inside the dough and cause the bread to rise. Yeast fermentation need time to leaven the bread. Meanwhile, cake and cookies need something fast. That's why, we have chemical leavening agents which are baking powder and baking soda.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of chemical leavening agent which is actually chemically named bicarbonate (HCO3). 
This bicarbonate is usually bound with another molecule such as sodium or pottasium and ammonium. In the market, it usually present as Sodium bicarbonate (Mostly Natrium bicarbonate or NaHCO3). With the presence of water, Sodium bicarbonate will react with any acidic material and release Carbon dioxide gas (CO2). The heat from the baking process will be the catalyst to speed up the reaction process.

NaHCO3 + HCl ----> NaCl + H2CO3
( H2COis called Carbonic acid and this acid is unstable so it will automatically separate into water and carbon dioxide)

  H2CO3 ----> H2O + CO2

Because it is an acid-base reaction, in order to be able to produce gases, baking soda definitely needs acid. With the presence of acid, baking soda can react  and produce gas during the baking process. That's why, most of the cake recipes that use acidic ingredients will need baking soda as the leavening agent. Acidic ingredients that can induce the reaction of baking soda include : Cream of Tartar (COT), lemon juice (or other fruit juice), yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, molasses, etc. The more acidic the ingredients, the more baking soda that are needed. and This is a diagram of the acidic level of some common ingredients of baking product. But be careful. Too much baking soda can cause the product has a soapy and bitter taste.
Source : Potter, J. 2010

Baking Powder

Nowadays, in modern baking process, baking powder is more famous than baking soda. Baking powder is actually a chemical leavening agent which is contained baking soda, dry acid, and starch. By adding some water, baking powder become wet  and will produce carbon dioxide gas. Baking powder doesn't need additional acidic ingredients on the batter because it has dry acid on baking powder itself.
Baking powder contain starch as well to increase the shelf life by absorbing moisture and preventing sodium bicarbonate and dry acid inside baking powder react prematurely. That's why, baking powder can always be substitute by mixing 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar + 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp corn starch for each tsp baking powder that are needed on the recipe.

In the market, there are 2 different type of baking powder which are single acting and double acting baking powder. Single acting baking powder contain only 1 acid and 1 base and will cause only 1 reaction. This single acting baking powder will react and cause a bubble soon after all the dry and wet ingredients are mixed. So, if the food is not baked as soon as possible after all the ingredients are mixed, we will lose all the bubbles and the food becomes flat. Single acting baking powder is not common on the market. Commercial baking powder mostly are double acting baking powder. Double acting baking powder contain 2 acid and will cause 2 step of acid-base reaction during the whole process. Fist acid is fast-acting acid which will react with presence of liquid. That's why, the first step will happen during the mixing process. The example for this kind of acid are : cream of tartar and calcium acid phosphate. Meanwhile, the second step will happen during the baking process because the second acid is slow-react acid or heated-activated acid. The example of this kind of acid are : sodium aluminium phosphate, sodium aluminium sulfate, and sodium acid pyrophosphate. This double acting baking powder are commonly available on the market and more reliable than single acting baking powder.

I found this interesting video on youtube about baking soda and baking powder.

Why do some recipes need both baking soda and baking powder?
Hmm.... It's a good question. For example : buttermilk muffin would need both baking soda and baking powder. Why? There are many explanation that i found on the internet. Most of them said that is because of the acid. If the recipe is a bit acid or contain a lot of acid ingredients but you don't want your muffin has sour taste because it contains too much acid, than baking soda is needed to neutralize the acid ingredients. Meanwhile, baking powder will be functioned as leavening agent. That's the theory. Now, let's play with them. :)

My small experiment
Yesterday, I tried to make buttermilk muffin. This is the original recipe from Allrecipes. From one recipe, I divided the batter into 12 portion. Each portion is enough for 1 normal muffin or 2-3 mini muffins. I took 4 portion out of it, and gave a different treatment for each of them. First treatment : no leavening agent at all. Second treatment : only baking soda. Third treatment : only baking powder. Fourth treatment : baking soda and baking powder. I just want to see the difference between all of them. (I made bacon muffin from the rest of the batter) Of course I divide the amount of leavening agent into 12 as well. It was not easy tough. After mixing well all those different the batter, I poured them into small muffin tin and bake them. Same temperature, same time. And this is the result.

1 : No baking soda and baking powder
2 : Baking  powder only
3 : Baking soda only
4 : Both baking soda and baking powder.

Like I was expected, buttermilk muffin without baking soda and baking powder will come out flat and sour. Same thing with buttermilk muffin with baking powder only. It will rise and leaven but still sour because the acid from buttermilk was not neutralized with baking powder. The buttermilk muffin number 4 rise well and doesn't have sour taste like buttermilk muffin number 1 and 2. But, buttermilk number 3 was not like I was expected. I was expecting that muffin with baking soda will a little bit flat and not sour because I was hoping the acid from buttermilk will react fast with baking soda and the the muffin will lose the gas during baking process because of the fast reaction of baking soda. But my muffin leavened pretty well. The taste of the muffin turned out not like i was expected as well. It is bitter and soapy. I think I gave too much baking soda for my batter.

One more thing that make me curious. The color of the muffin. Why does muffin with baking soda has darker color than muffin without baking soda? As we can see on the pictures above, the muffins number 3 and 4 are are darker and more brown than muffins number 1 and 2. What did baking soda do during the baking process? After hours looking for the answer, It turned out that baking soda increase alkalinity on the batter and enhance the maillard reaction during the baking process.

Maillard reaction is one of non-enzymatic browning reaction that happened  when amino acid from protein and simple sugar break down and recombine into another components which will give brown color and unique intense flavor and aroma. This reaction is usually triggered by heat. Simple example for this reaction is browning process on cookies, cake, bread, roasted chicken, etc. There are a lot of factors that can affect maillard process, including pH or the acidity of the ingredient. Maillard reaction will accelerate in alkaline environment (pH >7) and acidic environment (pH <7) can inhibit the reaction. Baking soda is alkaline and I know my muffin is alkaline as well. (I was adding too much baking soda as well. It was proved with the soapy and nasty taste). That's why the color of the muffin number 3 (only using baking soda) is very brown. Meanwhile, muffins number 1 and 2 (without baking soda) are very pale because the acid from buttermilk inhibit the browning reaction. 

Well, there are many fun facts about baking soda and baking powder. I personally would like to have both of them on my kitchen. They're quite handy for a lot of thing, not only for baking cake. Even baking soda can be used for a small science adventure with the children. For making volcano eruption for example. But make sure to store and keep them in a dry place to prevent premature reaction in the storage. There is an easy way to test the effectiveness of baking powder. Just mix 1 tsp baking powder with 120 ml warm water. If there're any bubbles  then the baking powder is still good. For baking soda, just mix 1/4 tsp baking soda with 2 tsp vinegar and see if there's any bubbles appear immediately.  Have fun in the kitchen. :-)

References :

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Today, I want to eat potato instead of rice for dinner. It is not because I get bored with rice, but because I still have plenty of potatoes from potatoes sale last week and i need to make something out of it before they grow their sprout. I'm not in mood to make french fries or baked potato or casserole dish. So, mashed potato it is. It's easy to make and goes well with almost all kind of vegetables and meat dish. It is good for baby as well because it is soft and easy to swallow. What I'm going to make is just a basic mashed potato. There are many version of mashed potato such as mashed potato with cream cheese, mashed potato with carrot and onion, mashed potato with chives, with brussel sprouts and so on.

Ingredients (serving 4-5 portion) :

  • 800 grams potatoes, peeled.
  • 20 grams unsalted butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • Salt and pepper
Preparation :
  1. Bring a water in a big pot to boil. 
  2. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes roughly into the same size. 
  3. Put all the potatoes into the boiling water, and boil them for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes become tender. (Poke one slice of potato with a fork or knife to test it. The potato should be still firm and not fall apart but the fork or knife can go through the potato without any difficulties.)
  4. Using a strainer, drain well all the water and put the potato back into the pot
  5. While they're still hot, roughly mash the potato with potato masher.
  6. Add butter and  milk.
  7. Continue to mash the potato until soft and creamy.
  8. Add salt and pepper for taste. 
Tip : It is better to cut the potatoes into 1.5 cm slices than big chunks because it will help to cook the potatoes faster.

Tip : If you do not have potato masher, a wire whisk or hand mixer will do just fine as well. Just be careful not to break the wire of your whisk. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

There was a big discount of red bell peppers in grocery store nearby. I didn't need it or had a plan to make a dish out of it either. I don't even really like it. But I bought 2 of them anyway. I just couldn't resist the  price. 2 Bells peppers are definitely too many for me. I usually only buy 1 small bell pepper, cut it into small pieces and mix it with any kind of dish such as Mexican chili, or stir fry vegetables. Now, I have 2 big bell peppers. So, I decided to make a dish using bell peppers as the main ingredients. After spending 30 minutes in front of my computer, I decided to make stuffed bell peppers. It is easy to make and I think I have all the ingredients on my kitchen anyway. So, why not? :-)

I only need ground beef, cooked rice (i was using leftover white rice), egg, cheese, and a lot of spices. Mix all the ingredients, and stuff them well into the bell peppers. Drizzle it with olive oil, add grated cheese on the top of it, and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. When the pepper is almost done, I was a bit terrified. The smell of the pepper was very strong. I was not sure if i will like it because i was never eat 1 big bell peppers by myself without mixing it with another vegetables. I made a slice it and try it. Hey! It was good. The sweetness of bell pepper came out, blended with the meat, and increased the taste of the meat. The flavor of the bell pepper it self was not as strong as I expected before. It sweet, soft, and no unpleasant flavor at all. I like it and definitely going to make it again next time. And maybe I will try different spices.

Ingredients :
  • 2 Bell peppers
  • 200 grams ground beef
  • 150 grams cooked rice.
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbs tomato sauce
  • 2 tbs worchester sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (about 100 grams) grated cheese 
  • 3 tbs chopped basil and parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
Preparation :
  1. Preheat oven at 180 C (356 F).
  2. Cut the top of bell peppers (Use it for garnish later), clean the seeds and the inside membranes of the bell pepper. Place it on a ovenproof dish (Including the top part). 
  3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Add about 4 tbs of olive oil and mix again.  (leave about 1/4 cup of grated cheese for next step)
  4. Season it well with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff well the empty bell pepper with meat mixture.
  6. Add grated cheese on the top of it.  
  7. Drizzle the stuffed peppers with generous amount of olive oil
  8. Put the stuffed peppers into the oven and bake them for about 25-30 minutes. 
  9. Remove the bell peppers from the oven and they are ready to be served.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I've been curious about red velvet cake for a long time. But I'm also ignoring it because from what I've heard, it is just a chocolate cake with red food coloring agent so the cake become dark red and not chocolate. Even few recipes require a lot of red dye for this cake. Nothing special for me.

Until one day, my curiosity tickled me again. I decided to read further about red velvet cake. Aha!! It turned out that red velvet cake is actually supposed to have a reddish color because the chemical reaction between cocoa powder and another acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk (which is usually used in red velvet cake recipe). The acidic ingredients will help to reveal the reddish pigment (anthocyanin) which is naturally present in cocoa powder. But sometimes, it is not easy to make the reddish color appear on the cake. So, people are start using red dye to improve the color. My feeling was right! It is not all about red coloring agent. I know there's something wrong when the recipe said i need to add a lot of red dye to the batter. Now, it's time to do some red velvet cake experiment.

Few days later, i found a unique red velvet cake from how to cook that channel in Youtube. She's using Morello cherry juice instead of buttermilk to make her red velvet cake. I think it is a good idea because that fruit juice can give more flavor to the cake instead of buttermilk. I decided to follow her recipe (half recipe only). But because i don't really like cherry, i was using preserved raspberry juice instead. I took about 150 ml juice from the raspberries, boiled it until i get about 62 ml raspberry juice concentrate. I reduce the amount of the red coloring agent as well. It is not because I'm against food coloring agent or something like that, but just simply because I want my cake become just slightly reddish and not too bright.

I was really satisfied with the result. Like as usual, i made mini cupcakes and 2 normal cupcake out of it. After 3 days I even made another batch using the rest of raspberry juice. Everybody like it.

Ingredients (for 48 mini cupcake and 2 normal cupcake) :
  • 80 grams All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tbs Cocoa powder
  • 82 grams Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Gelatin
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 30 ml Vegetable oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 62 ml Concentrate raspberry juice (from 1/2 liquid or about 150 ml of preserved raspberry in jar, boiled down until about 62 ml left)
  • 1/4 tsp red food coloring agent
This is what left on the jar after i used all the juice. (I forgot to take the picture before i used the juice.)

Preparation :
  1. Separate the juice from the raspberry and take about 150 ml of it.
  2. Boil and concentrate the juice until 62 ml juice left. Set aside and let it cool completely.
  3. Prepare and layer muffin tin using muffin paper. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 C (about 350 F).
  5. In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking powder together. Sift and set it aside. 
  6. Separate egg white and egg yolk into different bowl.
  7. Whip the egg white until soft peak formed, set it aside.
  8. Add oil, raspberry concentrate, and egg yolk into the flour mixture. 
  9. Mix them well.
  10. Add 1/3 part of egg white foam into the batter. Fold it carefully (do not stir or mix it too hard). Scrap the bottom of the bowl and fold it over the top. Do it until the egg white is mixed well and the batter is a little bit lightened.
  11. Add another 1/3 part of egg white foam and fold it again
  12. Add the rest of the foam and fold it again until all the foam is incorporated and the batter is lightened.
  13. Pour the batter into muffin tin (about 1 1/2 tsp for each cup or about 3/4 full)
  14. Put it into preheated oven and bake the cake for about 15 minutes (Until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean). For mini muffins : bake for about 12 minutes.
  15. Let the cakes cool completely and decorate them with cream frosting. 

Cream cheese frosting is a perfect partner for this cake. Enjoy :)

Remember my carrot cake recipe from previous post? Or my red velvet cake? Carrot cake and red velvet cake go really well with butter cream cheese frosting. I like the sweetness and cheesy taste from the cream. Beside, the taste of the cream cheese can increase the taste of the cake itself and make it even better.

It is easy to make. The ingredients that needed are only butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.  But remember that all ingredients have to be in room temperature. Otherwise the butter and the cream cheese will be too hard to beat. Let's get started.

Ingredients :
  • 150 grams butter, softened, room temperature
  • 250 grams cream cheese, softened, room temperature
  • 2-2,5 cups (256 - 310 grams) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbs milk 
Tip : The amount of confectioners or powdered sugar that needed is adjustable depend on the sweetness that you want. But add not less than 2 cups of sugar.

Preparation :
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with medium speed until creamy and smooth.
  2. Add confectioners sugar slowly into the creamy butter.
  3. Add vanilla extract. Beat again until smooth. 
  4. Add milk into the mixture 1 tbs at the time and keep mixing until you get a smooth and creamy frosting consistency. 
Tip : You may add less than 3 tbs of milk into the frosting depend on the texture of the frosting. The milk will help to make the frosting become smooth and easy too spread. But too much milk will make the frosting become watery and too soft. Add 1 tbs at the time while mixing and stop adding the milk just until the texture of the frosting is soft but still firm and can be spread easily.

This cream cheese frosting can be stored in the refrigerator. The texture will be hardened during that time. So, take it out from the refrigerator about 15-30 minutes  before use it to decorate some cake. Some people said that it can be store in the freezer as well. But personally i do not suggest it because the last time I tried to keep it in the freezer it became a little bit watery after the thawing process and I don't really like that. I usually put the frosting inside a pipping bag before store it in the refrigerator, twist and seal the end of the bag, and cover the tip of the bag with plastic bag to prevent the frosting on the tip become dry.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Finally! I'm able to finish this chicken steak recipe. I've been pretty busy lately with a lot of thing. About 2 weeks ago, I made crispy chicken steak for dinner. Actually, my first plan was to make chicken katsu. But i saw that i still have some buttermilk and a lot of potatoes that needed to be used as soon as possible. One of the potato started to grow a sprout. So I was thinking maybe i should change the menu. Maybe western menu is not a bad idea. I think chicken steak served with potatoes and vegetables would be good. Hmm... I still had few packs of salty crackers as well. It could be used to make crispy steak. So, crispy chicken steak it is. 

It is easy to make. The buttermilk increased the taste of the chicken and make the color of the chicken more brown that fried chicken without buttermilk. Even soaking the chicken overnight in spiced buttermilk can help to tenderize the meat (hmm... this can be a good topic for my writing). I'm using crackers crumb for the final coating instead of bread crumbs or flavored flour. Crackers crumbs can increase the crispiness and the taste of the chicken steak and make it so good. Just get 1 pack of salty crackers (not chips or cookies or biscuit), put it in a sealed plastic wrap, and smash it with rolling pin or pestle until it become into coarse crumbs.

This crispy chicken is good to be served with black pepper sauce, or onion sauce, or barbecue sauce. But now, i choose onion sauce for the gravy. Just simply because i like saute onion.

Ingredients :
  • 500 grams boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 125 grams (1 cup) flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 1 tbs tabasco
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or enough to fry about 1/2 of the height of chicken slices.)
  • 1 pack (40 grams) salty crackers, such as graham crackers, put it in plastic bag and crush it until you get the crumbs.
  • parchment paper or plastic wrap
Tip : If you do not have or can not find buttermilk, you can always make your own buttermilk. Well... actually this is a substitution of buttermilk. But it will work well. Mix 1 cup (240 ml) milk with 1 tbs lemon juice or lime juice. Stir it lightly and let sit in a room temperature for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can see that the milk is become thickened and a bit curdled.

For the gravy :
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cube chicken bouillon
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soysauce
  • salt and pepper

Preparation :
First, let's make the steak :
  1. Cut the chicken into 4 wide slices with about 1.5 - 2 cm thickness for each slice.

  2. Put the chicken slices on the parchment paper/plastic wrap.
  3. Rub the surface of the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder generously.
  4. Cover it with another parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound them gently using a rolling pin or meat mallet. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside
  6. In another bowl, mix buttermilk and tabasco. Set aside.
  7. In another shallow bowl, pour crumbs from the crackers. Take about 3 tbs flour mixture and mix it with crackers crumbs. 
  8. In a pan/skillet, heat the vegetable oil.
  9. Take 1 slice of chicken, dip it into flour mixture and make sure to cover all the surface with the flour.
  10. Dip the same chicken slice in buttermilk mixture.
  11. Dip it again into crackers crumbs mixture and coat it well. 
  12. Put the chicken into the preheated oil, and fry it until the bottom side become golden brown. Be careful not to burn the chicken during the process. Buttermilk make the outer surface of the chicken become brown faster than fried chicken without buttermilk. So make sure the chicken is cooked well and evenly.
  13. Flip it over and fry the other side. 
  14. Drain the chicken from the oil, and remove the excess oil using kitchen paper.
  15. Serve it with the sauce.
While frying the chicken,  let's make the onion sauce :
  1. In the sauce pan, add 2 tbs butter.
  2. Add sliced onion. Saute the onion until brown and translucent.
  3. Add flour. Stir them well.
  4. Add water and bouillon cube. Stir well until the sauce start to boiled.
  5. Add sugar, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
  6. Continue to stir on medium-low heat until the sauce is thickened. 
  7. Turn off the heat and ready to serve

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sambal lado mudo or Sambal hijau or green sambal  is a very famous type of sambal originated from Minangkabau. It is usually used as a condiment for Minang dish and always available in all Padang or Minang restaurant. Hmm... its color is green. Is it spicy? Oh yeah. Of course. Do not get fooled by its color. It is as spicy as red sambal. 

I made this sambal last week as a condiment for my beef rendang dish. I  think I told you previously that i really want to eat beef rendang complete with green sambal like i usually ate in Indonesia. I could buy this dish in Indonesian Restaurant in Netherlands but they a little bit pricey. That's why I made them by myself using my mother in law's recipe. 

I always thought that it has a complicated process. But it turns out not that hard to make. I only need a lot of green chili peppers, shallot, garlic, green tomatoes, dried tiny anchovies (we call it ikan teri), and some sugar and salt for taste. I can always buy green peppers in Asian or Turkish grocery store. But it is not easy to find green tomatoes in here. That's why i use orange tomatoes. For the dried anchovies, I use canned anchovies instead. It is easier to find and the result is as good as my mother in law's sambal. 

Ingredients :
  • 10 green chili pepper, remove the stems
  • 12 small green chili pepper, remove the stems
  • 5 medium shallots, peeled (about 8-10 Indonesian shallots)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 unripe tomatoes, remove the core.
  • 2 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can anchovies, drain the oil (about 30 grams net)
  • 6 tbs vegetable oil
Tip : If you want to make an extra spicy version, feel free to increase the amount of small green chili pepper.

Preparation :
  1. Prepare a steamer, fill it with water, and let the water boiled.
  2. Roughly cut all chili peppers (about 1.5 cm each) and shallots.
  3. Put all chili peppers, shallots, garlic, and tomatoes into the steamer. Cover the steamer, and steam them for about 20-25 minutes or until all the ingredients become soft and tender.
  4. Turn off the heat, and remove the tomatoes' skin. 
  5. Transfer all those ingredients into a mortar and grind them roughly with the pestle. 
  6. In a pan, heat the oil. 
  7. Transfer those roughly ground chili peppers mixture into the pan.
  8. Add sugar, salt, and anchovies into the pan
  9. Stir and cook it for about 15 minutes or until the sambal  is cooked, become aromatic, and all the ingredients are really soft.
  10. Turn off the heat and it is ready to serve.
Tip : If you do not have steamer, you can always make your own steamer using a pot and a strainer. Put the strainer on the top of the pot filled with water, put the ingredients on the strainer, cover the pan with the lid or aluminium foil, put it on medium heat, and let them steamed.
Just make sure your strainer is not too small for the pot. Otherwise the strainer can easily fall down to the water and all the ingredients will be ruined.

Tip : If you don't have mortar and pestle, you can always grind the ingredients with food processor or chopper or blender. Just be careful to not overchop the ingredients. We would want the texture rough and have a big chunk of chili pepper. If you do not have all of them, the back of the spoon and a bowl will work as well. But you need to cut the chili peppers, shallot, and garlic in smaller pieces. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rendang is one of the most popular Indonesian dish. It a spicy meat dish which is originated from Minangkabau, Sumatra. It is very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, even in here in Netherlands. In 2011, based on a poll by 35.000 people, CNN established that  Rendang is the number one dish of "World's 50 most delicious foods". 

Rendang is cooked using meat as the mean ingredients, with a lot of spices and coconut milk. Cooking rendang is really really time consuming because it needs hours to finish the whole process. Basically, the meat is slowly cooked with coconut milk and all the spices in low heat for hours until the meat is tender, the coconut milk start become oily, and almost all the liquid is gone. It needs a lot of patience and effort. But trust me it's worth it. I think that's why the price of this dish is never cheap. :-)

Last week, out of nowhere, I really wanted to eat rendang. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Beef rendang with hot steamed rice complete with  cassava leaves, gulai, and green sambal.  I used to eat it in Padang Restaurant in Indonesia. It is so spicy but irresistible. My husband loves it as well. We used to buy those menu on our favorite Padang restaurant. Yum !! I really miss that restaurant. I really want to eat rendang but it is so pricey and not as spicy as rendang that i ate in Indonesia. Beside, there are only a few Indonesian restaurants which sell a good rendang and the price is much more expensive.

But hey! My mother in law can make a good rendang as well. She learned it from her mother in law who is originated from Aceh. So, i called her, ask the recipe, buy the ingredients, and start to do the magic. Yippie!! 

Actually, her recipe require some ground toasted shredded coconut and turmeric leaves. But i skip that part because it is not easy to find turmeric leaves in Netherlands and she said it is fine to skip the toasted shredded coconut as well. Next time when I have my own turmeric plant, I will definitely use it. I added fried potato into the rendang as well due to the economic reason.

Ingredients :
  • 1 kg beef, cut into 3 x 3 cm cubes. (I'm using biefstuk/ round steak meat because it's easy to find in nearby buthcer. My mother in law said I can use daging gandik. I think it is beef chuck or beef tenderloin)
  • 150 grams (about 13) chili pepper, remove the seeds
  • 5 medium shallots
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves 
  • 2 cans (800 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 400 ml) water
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp galangal powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 5-6 tbs vegetable oil
  • 300 grams potato, peeled and cut into big chunk
  • 2 cup vegetable oil
Preparation : 
  1. In a big pan, preheat the oil.
  2. Fry the potato until golden brown. Set aside. 
  3. Using a blender, blend together chili pepper, shallots, garlic, and candlenuts until become a paste. Add some oil if needed to make the process easier. 
  4. Remove the leftover oil from the pan and reserve about 5 tbs oil.
  5. Add the spice paste into the pan and saute the paste until fragrance.
  6. Add about 3/4 can of coconut milk, lemongrass, bayleaves, kaffir lime  leaves, tamarind paste, galangal, turmeric, and ginger powder into the paste.
  7. Stir them well and simmer in medium-low heat until the oil start to separate from the spice mixture.
  8. Add all beef chunks into the pan, and stir them well
  9. Add the rest of coconut milk and water into the pan
  10. Stir them well for about 10 minutes
  11. Simmer the beef and let it cooked in medium low heat for at least 2 hours or until the beef is tender, almost all the water is evaporated, and the oil start to separate from the mixture. Stir it carefully during the process. 
  12. 30 minutes before it's done or when the liquid is reduced about a half, add the fried potato into the pan. Stir again, and let it cooked for another 30 minutes. 
  13. Serve it hot with hot steamed rice and sambal.

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is one of popular dish in Indonesia with Chinese influence. I and my friends used to order this this at the restaurant back then when We were still in University. Until one day, my mother taught me how to make it by myself. It turned out to be so simple to make. The ingredients are not hard to find as well. I only need soft tofu, and many vegetables. My mother suggest me to use seafood or chicken or pork for this dish. But I can use egg instead of seafood and chicken for less meat version. Well... to be honest, I do not know if this is Szechuan style or Cantonese style or any other style. I only know this is my mother's style and it is as delicious as restaurant style.

Few weeks ago, i made sapo tofu at home for dinner. I was using frozen mixed seafood (It is a mix of small shrimp, calamari, surimi, ark shell, and mussels), fish ball, and chikuwa (roasted fish roll). I bought them all in Asian grocery store. For the vegetables, i was using broccoli and carrot because that were what i had in hand. Another vegetables such as baby carrots, pak choy, or even paprika will work as well. You can add shitake or champignon mushroom as well if you like.

Ingredients (Serving for 4-5 portion):
  • 2 pack of egg tofu
  • 3 tbs corn starch
  • 2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut stripes
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 200 grams (about 2 cups) of frozen mixed seafood, defrosted.
  • 150 grams broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 200 grams carrot or 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 6 fish balls, cut into half
  • 6 chikuwa, cut into half
  • 250-350 ml (about 1-1 1/2 cup water)
  • 3 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs cooking wine/angciu (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • in a small bowl : mix 1 tbs tapioca starch with 2 tbs water. Set aside
First, let's make fried tofu. 
  1. Take out the tofu from its package by cutting the package and the tofu into 2 part. (You will see the cutting like on back of the package)

  2. Cut the tofu into small cylinder with about 1.5 -2 cm thickness for each slice. You will get about 6-7 sliced tofu out of 1 package.
  3. In a pan, preheat vegetable oil.
  4. Meanwhile, dust the sliced tofu using corn starch until all the surface is covered well.
  5. Put the tofu into preheated oil, and fry them until golden brown.
  6. Remove the tofu from the pan and remove the excess oil.
  7. Set aside.
Tip : when frying tofu, do not flip it over too often otherwise you will break the tofu. Let it sit on the hot oil until the bottom become golden brown before flip it and fry the other side. This kind of tofu is very soft and fragile. 

Now let's make sapo tofu.
  1. In a big pan / wok pan, preheat about 4 tbs vegetable oil
  2. Add sliced onion and minced garlic into the pan and saute until the onion become translucent.
  3. Add mixed seafood. Stir it well.
  4. Add all vegetables. Stir them all until the vegetables are half cooked.
  5. Add fish ball and chikuwa and stir it again
  6. Add water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and ginger powder
  7. Stir them well and let it cooked for a while until the vegetables become tender and the water is started to boil.
  8. Add salt, pepper, and cooking wine
  9. Stir mixture of tapioca starch and water in the bowl, and pour it slowly to thickened the liquid of sapo tofu. Stir it slowly.
  10. Add fried tofu, and stir it carefully. Be careful not to break the tofu. 
  11. Serve it warm.
Tip : If you do not like seafood, you can always substitute it with chicken or pork (about 100 grams sliced chicken/pork will do the work) and skip the fish ball and chikuwa . If you want to make meatless version, use scrambled egg instead. Before sauteing the onion and garlic, beat 2 eggs and make scrambled egg in the pan.  Remove the scrambled egg, and set it aside. Start to cook the onion and other vegetables and add the scrambled egg back before adding mixture of tapioca starch.