Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunset Granita

We've been baking in three-digit temperatures the last few days and the heat is not going to let up anytime soon. So, before I start melting, I decided to make my first Granita.

Granita is a dessert consisting of sugar, water, and flavoring. It is then frozen in a shallow pan, then scraped to create its coarse texture. Granita originated in Sicily but can be found all over Italy so "Italian Ice" is another common name for it.

Granita is very versatile. You can make it with syrup, fruit puree (i.e. apple, watermelon), coffee, cocktail mixers (i.e. margarita or mojito), and even add alcohol. I decided to make two versions. The first one was made with orange, lime, and Triple Sec, and the second with Coco Pandan syrup and Vodka. The two colors combined gives it a sunset hue so I'm calling this my "Sunset Granita" :)

Orange-Lime Granita

Juice from 1 large orange
Juice from 1 lime
2 T. sugar
1/2 C. water
Triple Sec (optional)

Coco Pandan Granita

3 T. Coco Pandan syrup
1/2 C. water
Vodka (optional)

Pour each mixture in a shallow baking pan and place in the freezer. It should freeze in about 1 hour. If it doesn't check every 15-20 minutes. After it's frozen, take them out and start scraping the ice using a spoon or fork.
Serve a spoonful of each flavor in a cup. Ahhhh....refreshing! It's the perfect 'grown-up' treat to beat the HEAT! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Huzarensla (Dutch Potato Salad)

My oma passed away six years ago this month so this recipe is a special tribute to her. She grew up during the Dutch occupation in Indonesia so she spoke fluent Dutch. She was also famous for two particular Dutch recipes...Huzarensla and Split Pea Soup.

Growing up, my sisters and I would spend the night at our grandparents' house before special occasions like my grandpa's birthday or their anniversary. Huzarensla and Split Pea Soup were guaranteed to be on the menu. But we didn't mind at all because hers were the best...they're lekker, as they would say in Dutch. :)

Huzarensla is potato salad combined with beets, tart apple, and pineapple. It's served over a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with sliced boiled eggs. You can add cubed meat to it also but oma always made them vegetarian.

Makes 8-10 servings

4 large potatoes (boiled)

1 beet (boiled or in a can)
1 C. pineapple
3 granny smith apples
1 C. Kraft Miracle Whip
8 boiled eggs
6 C. shredded romaine lettuce

Cooking instruction:

1. Cut potatoes, beet, pineapple, and apples into 1/4" cubes. To prevent the salad from becoming watery, wrap the fruits in paper towel and gently press to absorb the excess water.

2. Place the potatoes, beets, and fruits in a large bowl.

3. Add Miracle Whip and gently mix until even. You'll notice the salad will turn into a pretty pink color. Add more Miracle Whip if needed. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to chill.

*Note: You have to use Miracle Whip, not plain mayonnaise. This is the secret to her recipe! :)

4. To serve, place handful of romaine lettuce on a salad plate then add a generous scoop of the huzarensla. Top with sliced boiled egg.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Black Fungus Meatball Soup (Bakso Jamur Kuping)

This meatball soup has a nice, crunchy texture and consists of ground pork (or chicken), fish paste, shrimp, diced carrots, glass noodles, and black fungus. Black fungus is also known as cloud ear, wood ear, or mouse ear because its shape resembles an ear...of course! :)

Makes 40-50 meatballs

1 lb. ground pork (or chicken)
1 lb. fish paste
1/2 C. chopped shrimp
1 carrot (finely diced)
2.5 oz. package dried black mushrooms
1 bunch dry glass noodles

2 eggs
2 T. corn starch
1 t. minced garlic
1 T. fried shallots
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

Soup Broth

12 C. water
1 t. minced garlic
2 diced shallots
2 T. margarine (Blueband or Wijsman)
1 chicken bouillon cube
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste
4 large carrots (cut diagonally)

Cooking instruction:
1. Soak the dried black fungus in warm water for about 10-15 minutes to reconstitute them into their fresh form. Drain and squeeze as much water as possible out of the mushrooms. Cut into thin strips.

2. Immerse the dry glass noodles in hot water for a few minutes then cut them into
2" strands.

3. In a large bowl, mix ground pork, fish paste, diced carrots, mushrooms, glass noodles, eggs, corn starch, garlic, and fried shallots. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Bring water to a boil in a large stock pot. Take a spoonful of meatball mixture, roll it into a ball, and drop it into the boiling water. This gives a nice base flavor to the soup broth.
Continue until you use up all of them. When the meatballs float to the top of the pot, it's a sign they're done.

5. In a small pan, melt margarine then add garlic, shallots, and chicken bouillon. Sautee for a couple of minutes then add the mixture to the the soup broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add carrots.

6. Let the soup come to a boil for about 10 minutes until carrots are cooked.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Garlic Sweet Potato Fries

I'm in love with sweet potato fries and they're popping up all over the place. The first time I had them was at TGIFriday's and I've also had them at the Elephant Bar Restaurant. They were so crispy and flavorful I couldn't stop eating them. I've attempted to make "baked" sweet potato fries at home and sadly I usually end up with a sweet potato "massacre." They never came out crispy, instead they would turn into mush and stick to the baking pan or foil. So after spending hours google-ing on how to make the perfect, crispy sweet potato fries, I decided to give it another try,this time, actually deep frying them. At last...success!

The secret to making crispy sweet potato fries is to soak them first in water for 20-30 minutes then dredge with cornstarch and a dash of baking powder. I added garlic powder to give it some added flavor.
Heat oil in a frying pan or deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Make sure you don't over crowd the pan when frying. I fried them for about 8-10 minutes until they start turning golden brown. Lay them out on paper towel to absorb the excess oil then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Hmmm...I'm in love all over again! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beet Konnyaku Jelly with Lychee

After making Pickled Beets I ended up with a few cups of beet water left and I just couldn't find the heart to throw them down the drain. They're full of nutrients and the color is just amazing. So I decided to experiment and made Konnyaku fruit Jelly out of them by adding a packet of Konnyaku jelly powder, sugar, lime juice, and Lychee juice. I placed Lychee fruit around a mold then poured the mixture. I also used my adorable fruit shaped ice cube trays to make some bite-size ones. Who knew beet can make a wonderful dessert? And I was so pleased with how sweet and pretty they came out.

Pickled Beets

My mother-in-law bought some fresh, organic beets from the market. Beet is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and iron. I just love their vibrant ruby color although I'd advise you not to wear anything white while working with them. I decided to make pickled beets. They're sweet, tangy, and crunchy. A perfect refreshing snack for Summer!

Pickled beets are so simple to make. Peel the beets and slice them about 1/2 inch thick. Immerse the slices in boiling water for about 5 minutes to soften them up a bit. You don't want to leave them in for too long and end up cooking them through. Transfer them into a jar and add about 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of sugar. Fill up the jar with the water you boiled the beets in and stir well. Let it cool then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. For me, the longer you let them marinate in the vinegar/sugar concoction...the better they taste!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mixed Veggies Fritter (Bala-Bala)

Bala-Bala is another street food found mainly in Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta. It consists of shredded cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and onions mixed together in a batter and then deep fried. What you end up with is a savory and delicious snack!

I'm not quite sure exactly where the name bala-bala comes from. I always imagined it could be because of its shape -- after it's been deep fried it somewhat resembles spider legs and a spider is called "laba-laba" in Indonesian...perhaps the name was tweaked into Bala-Bala? I don't know...this is completely my own theory! :) Some people also call it "bakwan," although if you're from Surabaya (East Java), bakwan is a completely different type of food...which reminds me of a funny story. I am originally from Jakarta and my husband was born and raised in Surabaya. The first time we talked about our love for bakwan, we were confused about what the other was talking about because our description of "bakwan" were completely different! Then we started arguing about which 'bakwan' was the original version. :)

Makes about 20

4-5 C. shredded cabbage (about 1/2 small cabbage)
8 oz. bag of bean sprouts
1/4 C. shredded carrots
3 green onion stalks (cut into thin strips)
1 t. minced garlic
1 egg
1-1/2 C. flour
3 T. tapioca starch
1 t. baking powder
2 T. chicken bouillons
3 T. sugar
black pepper to taste
2-3 T. water
vegetable/olive oil for frying

Cooking instruction:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. At the beginning, the batter will seem dry and needs more water. Don't worry, as you mix, the vegetables will release its water. But if you feel it's still too dry you can add another tablespoon of water.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan. Place 4 generous spoonfuls of the veggie batter around the pan. Turn over after 3-4 minutes or when it starts turning light brown. Continue until all batter is used up.
3. Serve hot with Thai chili.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Siomay Bandung (Indonesian steamed dumplings)

Siomay Bandung is an Indonesian dish you can easily find at many street food vendors in West Java. This dish originated from the city of Bandung, thus the name "Siomay Bandung." Siomay are steamed dumplings made from a fish paste base mixed with ground shrimp and/or chicken or pork. The mixture becomes the filling for wonton skins, cabbage, bittermelon, potatoes, and tofu. It is served with peanut sauce, sweet soy sauce, fried shallots, and a splash of key lime.

This dish does take a bit of coordination and patience to make due to its many elements. But it's all worth it once you put the first bite into your mouth!

Makes 8-10 servings


1 lb. fish paste

1 lb. ground chicken or pork

1/4 lb. ground shrimp

2 eggs

2 t. minced garlic

1 T. minced shallots

1/4 C. fish sauce

2 t. white pepper

2 C. tapioca starch

1-2 C. cold water


1 small cabbage (carefully tear each layer)

2 large tofu (cut into 8 triangle pieces)

4 small potatoes (cut in half)

2 bittermelon (cut into 2" pieces, then cut lengthwise and remove seeds - making them into little boats)

16 wonton skins

8 boiled eggs

Peanut Sauce

2 C. deep fried peanuts

4 cloves garlic

4 shallots

5 red chili

4 T. sugar

2 t. salt

2-3 C. water

1 T. sweet soy sauce

Sweet soy sauce
Fried shallots
Key lime wedges

Cooking Instruction:

1. In a large bowl, mix all the filling ingredients except for water. Once the mixture is even, start adding the water a little bit at a time until the consistency of the mixture is soft, but still sticky (like thick porridge). I find it easier to mix using my hand instead of a wooden spoon or potato masher.

2. Immerse the separated cabbage leaves in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until they're soft and flexible. Place a spoonful of mixture at the hard end of the cabbage leaf and fold in just like you would wrap an egg roll. Place a spoonful of mixture inside the bittermelon boats, on top of the flat half of the potatoes, and the slanted side of the tofu triangles. For the wonton skin, place a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of the skin then pull the skin to cover the sides. Make meatballs out of the leftover mixture.

3. Arrange all the pieces inside a steamer and steam until meat and vegetables are done, usually about 20-30 minutes.

4. To make peanut sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and cook on med-high heat until hot and sauce thickens.

5. Place one of each kind of siomay and a boiled egg on a plate. Pour some peanut sauce, drizzle some sweet soy sauce, top with fried shallots, squeeze a wedge of fresh key lime...and ENJOY!

TIP: If you're pressed for time or just don't have the patience to wrap each siomay, just steam the cabbage, potatoes, and tofu by themselves. You can also buy pre-made peanut sauce that can be dissolved in hot water. They can be found at most Asian grocery stores.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Clay pot "Hot Pot" Variety

Clay pot cooking is popular in Chinese cuisine and is often labeled as "hot pot" in restaurant menus. It is also a healthier way of cooking since adding oil is not necessary. Hot pots are one of the quickest and easiest dishes to make. Here, I used baby bok choy, carrots, fried bean curd, shitake mushrooms, and fish cake -- all items I happened to have in the refrigerator. You can pretty much use any variety of vegetables and meat. Whatever combination you come up with, I guarantee it will turn out flavorful and delicious!

Makes 4 Servings

8 Baby bok choy
12 Fried bean curd
1 C. Shitake mushroom (Sliced)
1 large Carrot (sliced diagonally)
1 C. Fish cake (sliced) or any meat/seafood
2 T. Rice cooking wine
1 T. Oyster sauce
2 t. Soy sauce
1 t. Minced garlic
1 t. Minced ginger
1 T. Flour
2 C. Water (divided)

Cooking instruction:

1. Arrange the vegetables and meat in a clay pot. If you're using seafood like fish, shrimp, squid, and/or scallops, don't add until "Step 4" so they don't overcook.

2. Pour 1 cup of water and close lid to steam vegetables on med-high heat for about 5-6 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients then add the remaining 1 cup of water.

4. Pour mixture over the vegetables and meat. Close lid and simmer on low heat for another 3-4 minutes until vegetables and meat are tender and sauce thickens.

5. Serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Related Posts with Thumbnails