Archive for the ‘Indonesian’ Category

My 2 sons were bored with the same holiday destination year after year each Summer. “It has become too predictable“, they said.

My younger son whinged, “Why are we always spending our summer hols in the Provence? We’re becoming the real experts of South France and Van Gogh!” *chuckle*

Hmmm… true!

So, early this year, while planning our annual family summer getaway, hubby and I rethought our summer destination.

Hubby prefers to drive and rents a holiday cottage rather than flying and staying in hotels if the stay is a week or more. By excluding France in the picture, we went for the elimination theory. Germany is too near and the summer weather sucks! Just like Belgium and the UK! Luxembourg is too small. We have been to the Netherlands and they speak pretty much the same language (as Flemish), hence nothing new.

The weather played an important role in the choice of our holiday destination, too. It’s got to be warmer than Belgium!

Oh-kay! Got it!

Spain!

Si Señor(a)! España, por favor!

Mind you, it’s almost 1.5k km away! I told hubby to split our summer hols by staying a night or two half way through the journey somewhere in mid or South France and then to resume with the rest of the journey to Spain. Instead, hubby opted to rent La Maison Blanche at St-Rémy-de-Provence for the entire week and 2 weeks in Spain! So yes, we were back in the Provence … again! 🙂

Well, anyway we were super excited and my younger son was especially thrilled to learn about our NEW summer destination… finally! 🙂

We’re headed to Caldes de Malavella in the province of Girona, North East Spain. Very little is known of Caldes de Malavella. It’s a sleepy town, by the way. However, we found out that the place was formerly renowned for its thermal baths or spas!

The remains of the Ancient Roman Bath in Caldes, for instance. Photo credit to Josep Renalias (Wikipedia).

We have never got any closer to the city because the summer residence we’re headed for was self-contained, and very well connected to other cities in Spain. That’s a plus point for us.

By the way, our knowledge of Spain as a holiday destination was nil. Zero! Being first timers to Catalonia, our summer hols this year became more challenging. We have only heard and read about the popular coastal region of Costa Brava and of course Barcelona, so Barca’s definitely on our itinerary! Other than that, we knew the eccentric Spanish artist and surrealist icon, Salvador Dali came from that region.

From La Maison Blanche to Can Fonzo

After one nostalgic week in South France, we left La Maison Blanche en route to Girona. The GPS flashed a distance of ca 370 km, and ETA at around 2 pm.

It was late morning on a Saturday and with a heavy traffic from Béziers all the way to Costa Brava, our ETA stretched to almost 6 pm when we arrived at Villa Can Fonzo in Caldes de Malavella.

OMG! The house was huge! I did not expect that at all. It’s located on a hill slope.

According to Barcelona Life, “Caldes became a prosperous place and today around the outskirts of the town you’ll find plenty of attractive private mansions and summer residences, built in the Modernista – ie. Catalan art nouveau – style.”

So true!

When I entered the house, I exclaimed, “oh oh, I will have to remember where I place my handphone or cable or the charger or just about anything… ” Lol!

South East Asian Connections

The house is owned by a Dutch couple. It’s interesting to see their connections with Asia within the house.

I was looking for coffee mugs in the kitchen cabinet, and found these mugs. Singaporeans may know this pottery factory 😉

And of course several memorabilia of Indonesia, being once a Dutch colony.

There’re many books of Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on the many book shelves in the house, too.

We have never met the owners, but they left a strong message behind 😉

First Meal in Spain

After exploring the house, I decided to cook us a simple meal of Fusilli all’Arrabbiata, with the fresh chillies, garlic and fusilli I brought from Belgium and red peppers, dried herbs, smoked bacon and tomatoes from the Provence in the kitchen at Can Fonzo.

A simple yet satisfying meal 😉

While enjoying my plate of Fusilli and a glass of rosé on the patio, I gazed ahead of me a vision of a new and exciting tomorrow 😉

Ah …. what Peace and Serenity …. until I heard the buzzing sound of mosquitoes flapping their wings!

Arghhhh!!!!

Have a Blessed week!

Cheers!

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1st November this year fell on a Tuesday. I could have made a bridge for a longer “weekend”, but could not due to my workload at work 😦

I was glad to break off work for that one day that week for a yearly family reunion, hosted by one of my SIL’s. While driving to my SIL’s, we stopped at a friend’s house. I received a text message from F that she was giving away some of her ‘harvests’ in her garden. 

Guess what? I hand-picked the chillies in her garden. They were so, very, very fresh! She wanted only the red ones, so I helped myself to the green chillies. I didn’t mind the ‘raw version’ at all, because I knew if I left the chillies wrapped in absorbent paper in the lower drawer of the fridge, the chillies would ripen. 

And I was right!

10 days later, some of the birds’ eye chillies had turned to a lovely bright orange-crimson colour. And I knew exactly where some of the chillies would end up into 😉

Thai Chef vs Me

There was one Wednesday that I took a day off and brought my 2 sons out for lunch (Note, both boys had half-day school / Univ on a Wednesday). We went to a Thai resto near our place. 

For starter, I ordered Tom Yum Goong (TYG) for us. It was a good TYG, but I missed that Oomph in their soup. It was a wee bit too lame. 

Saturday came, and TYG was in the pipeline for our lunch menu.

So here it was, my version vs the Thai Chef’s. 


And not only that, I made my TYG in my thermomix! 


To be honest, I could eat my TYG all day without anything else that day, because it had been a while since I last made the soup! I looked back at a post I wrote; it was in March this year when I had friends over. You can read it all … Here 🙂

Because I love bold-tasting soups, I thought of a way to totally infuse the aromatics in the soup first before proceeding further. Be warned! It’s a highly seasoned soup that hits the palate and warms the heart without burning, if you know what I meant 😉

(Note: This is my own recipe using my preferred method – tried and tested – after a few trials and errors).  

Please be aware that some measurements are not given as only you will know how much or how little you want to put in the dish. Remember, “Ut quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum” or what is food for one man may be bitter poison to others. 

Ingredients A

  • 2 cm piece galangal
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemongrass
  • 2 coriander roots

Ingredient B

  • 5 g cooking oil / coconut oil

Ingredient C

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredients D

  • Lemongrass, bruised and halved
  • Shallots, halved 
  • Galangal, sliced
  • Bird’s eye chillies, lightly bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised with the fingers

Ingredients E

  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Homemade chilli paste, eyeball for colour, taste and flavour
  • Salt, to taste 

Ingredients F

  • Prawns, shelled 
  • Mushrooms, sliced 

Ingredient G

  • Lime juice, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole

Ingredient H

  • Fresh coriander 

Steps –

  • Place A in the TM bowl. Grind 5 sec/ sp 10  * 2

  • Add B. Sauté for 3 mins/100C/ sp 2 
  • Place D in SB and add C. Cook for 15 mins/ 120C/ sp1


  • Remove the SB and tip the aromatics in a bowl. Set aside for garnish later.

  • Transfer F in the SB. Cook for 4 mins/120C/ sp 1 or until the prawns are cooked. 

  • Remove the SB and set aside the cooked prawns, mushrooms, etc
  • Add E. Cook further for 5 mins/ 120C/ sp 2


  • Add G. Stir for 1 min/ R/ spoon
  • Assemble a serving bowl with prawns, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, some slices of galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with H.
  • Done!


Happy 1st Anniversary!

I made the TYG to go with my Nasi Ulam and baked spiced chicken. Our Saturday lunch was the bomb, by the way, with full-blown explosion of flavours. Yup, my kind of food 🙂


There’s no better way to celebrate my first year anniversary of owning the thermomix than sharing with you some of the dishes I have conjured the past 12 months using my most used kitchen gadget today!

And as they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘ …


IMPORTANT NOTICE : Please be aware that I’m neither a Consultant/ Advisor nor an employee of Thermomix.  I am NOT paid anything from any parties. I just happened to own a thermomix and love doing what I’m doing and will continue doing so. 

Happy Mid-Week ya’ll!

Cheers!

Last Summer my family made a trip to Kuching; a very much delayed trip of 7 years’ overdue. While I was in 7th heaven binging foods I grew up eating, my Belgian hubs and Belsian boys were craving for their Belgian fries. Erm… I guess I could totally understand their cravings, because that’s what happened to me this Summer!

We were in the South of France for 2 weeks, consuming local Provençal’s 3-course meals almost daily. And guess what? My palate was screaming for SPICES!!! 

When we headed home, I was longing for that one dish that’s packed with spices and fresh herbs. Because I had been “pampered” with served meals while in the Provence, it was hard getting back to cooking mode. By the way, I have not been using my thermomix for almost a month! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

Therefore, one weekend, I moved my thermie and placed it under the extractor hood. My mission? To appease my craving. Yup, I was craving for the Indonesian inspired dish, “soto ayam” because that’s one tantalising dish that’s packed with all the goodness of spices and fresh herbs. No ready-made or instant boemboes! Everything was fresh and cooked from scratch… in my thermie!

If you are wondering what “Soto” means, I was as blur as most of you, so I asked the right people, my Indonesian colleagues. They said it’s a soup dish. Yes, I knew it’s a soup dish, but what is soto? I did not get an answer right away but they went on to explain that usually chicken meat is submerged in water with specific spices and herbs to obtain the broth.

Okay, in my humble opinion, soto is not just a simple soup dish, it’s the method how the broth is made. My Indonesian colleagues agreed to my curious conclusion. 

And by the way, I used fresh turmeric to give the broth that vibrant yellow look, while poaching and simmering the chicken in the broth. It’s such a healthy dish, with lots of flavour and very, very aromatic.


Two years ago, I posted the soto ayam recipe done the conventional way, so in this post, I’m going the opposite direction. 

The Revival

Since our Summer hols in August, my thermomix had been left idle for about a month! When I started cooking the soto ayam, my thermie went bonkers. The sound of the blades spinning was not normal. It sounded rusty. I was hoping the squeaky sound would go away. It did not, until I started to boil the chicken. Guess what?!!! My thermie stopped cooking completely in the first 4 to 5 minutes. And I still had so many more minutes to go before the raw chicken meat was cooked!! Oh no!!!! Not now. So I did what I had to do, i.e. removed the plug and then re-plugged. At the same time, I had to re-start the menu. I felt like a surgeon reviving a comatose. Thank goodness, the ‘flatline’ re-acted and my thermie came back to life! It was a HUGE relief! Phew!!!

And here’s how I cooked my Soto Ayam, which I have personally translated as Fragrant Herbed Chicken Soup, because that’s what it actually is!

Ingredients A


  • 5g Sarawak white peppercorns 
  • 5g coriander seeds


Ingredients B


  • 70g garlic
  • 230g shallots
  • 50g galangal
  • 10g (1 stalk) lemongrass 
  • 25g turmeric 
  • 65g ginger
  • 20g candle nuts
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves



Ingredients C

  • 60g coconut oil

Ingredients D


  • 8 pcs (ca 1 kg) chicken drumsticks 
  • 800g water
  • 4 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
  • A palmful kaffir lime leaves (bruised)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste


Ingredients E


  • 8 – 9 medium-sized eggs placed in Varoma dish 


Ingredients F

  • 500g hot water

Garnishing 

  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Fried shallots (not in photo)
  • Spring onion 
  • Fresh coriander
  • Mint leaves 

Method


  1. Place A in TM bowl. Dry roast for 10 mins/ V/ sp 1. Mill the toasted spices when temp drops below 60C. Mill for 1 min/ sp 6->10/ MC
  2. Tip the ground spices onto a clean plate/ bowl. Set aside
  3. Meanwhile add B and blend for 15 sec/sp 10. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and under the lid. Again, blend for 15 sec/ sp 10.  
  4. Add C and ground spices A and sauté for 15 mins/ V/ sp 1
  5. Add D. Cook for 15 mins/V/R/ spoon
  6. Place E on top of TM bowl and cook / boil further for 17 mins/ V/ R/ spoon (or until the eggs are boiled according to your liking or better still, use the TM5 recipe chip and boil the eggs separately. I like mine with firm white and runny yolk. Heaven!  )
  7. Remove Varoma dish and cool eggs under cold running water. Set aside.
  8. Remove cooked chicken. Set aside 
  9. Meanwhile add F and check the seasoning of the broth. Boil further for 5 mins/ 100 C/ R/ spoon
  10. Before drizzling the hot spiced broth, plate the sliced cooked chicken in a (deep) bowl and garnish with thinly stripped cucumber, coriander leaves, spring onions and mint leaves. Place a hard or medium or soft boiled egg on top and sprinkle with fried shallots/ onions.
  11. Pour the hot broth slowly over the chicken.
  12. Serve with steamed white basmati rice (which I also cooked in my thermie)

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!


Sinfully yummy. One of the best comfort foods 🙂


Mmmmm….Simply gorgeous!

I served my soto ayam with steamed basmati rice.

My Verdict?

When my thermie stopped cooking in the first 5 minutes, I felt my whole world came crashing down around me! It was that bad. I was thinking that I had prepared everything for nothing. That’s just not me. I wanted to see, or better still, taste the end result. It appears that the thermie must not be left idle for a long time. It needs attention and wearing, therefore, TM owners, keep your thermie busy! 

Now, the verdict for the dish. Usually I would serve the soto ayam with vermicelli or noodles. This was the first time I had the fragrant herbed chicken broth with steamed rice. It was a complete meal which we all liked, but personally, I would serve the broth with rice noodles. As you can see, the egg was supposed to be hard-boiled, but it turned out soft, which we all liked, too 😀

With the summer temperatures behind us, this dish will be made quite frequently now. This dish is pure comfort food for cold weather. 

So I made this dish again with rice vermicelli, and making sure to boil the eggs separately as per the recipe chip. 

Et voilà!

Yummy !!!!


Stay warm! 


Cheers!


Last Friday evening I left work for home earlier than normal as I did not feel well at all.  I felt nauseous and sweaty and could actually hear my stomach churning.

Oh no… not now, I whispered. 

There were a million and one stars spinning in my head.  I felt really lousy and lightheaded while the abdominal cramps were acting up. I was definitely not prepared for all that!

Nine Times and a Centenary!

When I got home, I was so relieved because I knew where to head for instantly nine times (!) in less than 5 hours… 

It was one of my worst bouts of diarrhoea in a long time 😦

I felt extremely weak and dehydrated from losing so much fluid. I downed 3 bottles (on separate intervals) of the po chai pills (equivalent to the better-known-to-Malaysians chi kit teck aun pills) with plenty of lukewarm water.  My stomach churned more aggressively.  It must be the pills battling with the bacteria.  I could not do anything else that evening than lay on the sofa with 2 blankets over me, like a 100-year old woman.

Speaking of 100-year old, that’s the main reason I wanted to get well speedily before the end of the week. My husband and I were invited for the 100th birthday anniversary of a friend’s Father In-law.  Now, that’s a special event that I would not miss.  Anyway, how many of us have actually seen or crossed paths with a century old human being in the flesh? That was a chance in a lifetime, really! I was looking forward to it.

Oh by the way, I did not live on the po chai pills and lukewarm water only.  I had one banana, a few dry crackers, plain yoghurt and lots of mint tea – worked a charm for me!

Hungry Saturday

I felt a lot better the next morning, sipping my hot mint tea and some crackers for breakfast.

Usually, I do not spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Saturdays, but I was yearning for Soto Ayam – an Indonesian spicy (yellow) chicken soup, which I made from scratch for our Saturday lunch.

The key and main ingredient of this chicken soup is turmeric, which turned the broth to a blazing saffron orangey-yellowy colour

1. Soto Ayam_turmeric1a. Soto Ayam_ yellow chix broth

If I had to describe Soto Ayam, I would say – simply – that the dish is a distant cousin of the Sarawak laksa 😀

Here’s a picture collage of my homemade Sarawak laksa I made not so long ago (yes, I made my own paste!). Instead of the conventional omelette, I used hardboiled eggs, and believe you me; it’s a lot healthier if you made your own paste 😉

2. Soto Ayam vs Sarawak Laksa

Fresh is THE word… not Grease!

After the horrendous bout of diarrhoea on Friday, I wanted my Saturday free from pre-packed and greasy foods.  Soto Ayam was the perfect choice as a tummy soother 😀

As this was an impromptu dish, I had to make do with what I could rummage in my kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. I had most of the ingredients to incorporate the mildly spiced yet tasty chicken broth.

Perhaps the only item I lacked was shallots.  The recipe which I got from an Indonesian friend requires plenty of shallots. I had only two shallots left and luckily they were big ones. On the other hand, I had a few onions to spare.  I was surprised with the alternative result.  It was an absolute winner!

So folks, think out of the box. You’ll be amazed by being unconventional 😉

 Ingredients

(Serves 4-5)

1 packet rice vermicelli

For the broth –

Chicken (I used one whole frozen chicken, thawed overnight. Personally, 4 chicken legs would be better)
Ginger slices
Kaffir lime leaves (plenty)
Lemon grass (I used 3 because I had only 3 left in the fridge. 4 or 5 should be great)
Enough water to cover the chicken
 

For the paste –

1 onion
2 large shallots
1 knob garlic
4 cm piece ginger
5 cm piece turmeric (I used 3 x 5cm)
5 cm piece galangal (I used 3 x 5cm)
8 candlenuts
4 Thai chillies
Olive Oil

For the garnish ( I used my imagination) –

Cucumber strips
Green beans – cooked any way you like. I stir fried mine with garlic, soy sauce and chilli flakes
Hardboiled eggs
Lemon wedge
Chicken shreds (from the boiled whole chicken)
Fish balls (optional)
Prawns (optional)
Crispy fried shallots (unfortunately this was not in the picture L )
Prawn crackers (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method –

1)      Boil the chicken in a deep soup pot. I discarded the first round of boiled broth as there were too much scum floating on the surface of the pot. I then changed the water several times until the water was clearer. Boil the chicken a second time over medium heat. Throw in fresh ginger slices and torn kaffir lime leaves

2)      Meanwhile blend all the wet ingredients and candlenuts to form a paste

3)      Sauté the paste together with the slightly bruised lemon grass until fragrant and transfer the paste to the chicken broth. Season with salt (and/ or chicken stock cube) and pepper

4)      Stir the broth to combine the paste into the liquid and continue to boil the chicken soup covered

5)      When the chicken is tender and starts to fall apart, remove from the broth and start shredding the meat off the bones

6)      Boil some water and pour onto the rice vermicelli. Let stand until the rice noodles become limp but not lumpy.  Drain under cold running water. Set aside.

7)      Prepare the garnish of your choice 😀

8)      That’s IT!

3. Soto Ayam_whole chix4. Soto Ayam_major ingredients

4a. Soto Ayam_major ingredients blended4c. Soto Ayam_major ingredients sauteed

5. Soto Ayam_mixed5b. Soto Ayam_mixed2

6. Soto Ayam_shredded chix7. Soto Ayam_garnish

8a. Soto Ayam_without lemon8. Soto Ayam_with lemonIt was a simple dish, but one that fought the battle of the runs.  The thrill of Victory!! Yay! 😀

Oh yes, my husband and I made it to the 100th birthday of opa (grandpa) Harry as he is fondly called by his circle of friends on Sunday.  We had great moments meeting up friends whom we have not met in years.

A Blessed Centenary to you, opa Harry! You looked the same one year ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago.  I wonder what his secret ingredient to a youthful look is…. 

9. Opa Harry

10. Opa Harry

11. Cake111a. Cake2

And by the way, the centenary birthday cake was specially made and decorated by my friend.  Good job, F!

I am linking this post to the following events –

Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads – Thinking, Reading, Photographing

Weekend Cooking

Cooking With Herbs Challenge for February 2014 hosted by Karen Burns-Booth of  Lavender and Lovage

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Cheers!