Spring Flowers and Bees

Monday, December 26, 2005

So Sorry I was Away...

Last Tuesday my family from back home arrived, and that's when I stopped posting anything. Especially the very next day we packed up our stuff and head for BlueMountain in Collingwood. There we stayed in a two-bedroom cottage which was incredibly nice! It was even far better than my own dwelling! The important thing for me was that I get to prepare the foods for six people during our stay since the cottage has a fully-equipped kitchen and not equipped with food service. This is my first time preparing foods for a crowd.

So my mission is to share the pictures of our dinner table! Anyways, it wasn't only me cooking. My brother and my boyfriend also helped a lot! Isn't it weird that the helping hand that I got are from guys?

Here's the dinner of our first night in the cozy BlueMountain cottage:
  • Indonesian beef and potato patties called perkedel
  • Creamy Chickpea and Chicken Soup (courtesy of The Domestic Goddess)
  • White mushrooms in butter
  • Basmati Rice
The kitchen was exactly like my dream kitchen. It has a gas stove and microvawe all in elegant black. Every utensils were already there. I love the simple plate set which goes perfectly on the big wood table, fit for 8 people. On one side of the table, there was a big bench for three people. I can tell you we had a pleasant dinner!

The brown round thing on the side of the plates are perkedel" and I guess you can tell what the rest are. The "perkedel" might not look that appetizing because of my lack of presentation skills. However, they taste so good and very filling since they have been well spiced with nutmeg, white peppers, and sauteed shallots and garlic. I would post the recipe sometime if someone requested for it.

The very next thing that I prepared was a Japanese style lunch of:
  • Salmon Teriyaki
  • Enoki mushroom in butter
  • Nishiki Rice
  • and... bacon! (the guys wanted to eat more meat!!)

Whaddya guys think?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fun Weekend Project: Cranberry Swirl Loaf phase II

Thank you for tuning in =)

This morning, I began my experiment of making a cranberry loaf from 500 Best Muffin Recipes (author: Esther Brody). I know, the recipe was supposed to be for muffins, however there was one recipe that inspired me to turn it into a loaf. So here I am. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite as marvelous as I had expected! It almost didn't rise and I think I used too much cranberry sauce. I was expecting nice swirls as the loaf is being sliced What I found were splotches of wet cranberry sauce.. Boo.. I think I have to say that I failed this project. The end result was still edible though.

One thing I really need right now is an advice on how to make my loaf better next time. FYI, I substituted shortening with vegetable oil, the egg white was cold from the fridge, the lemon juice was additional (not from the original recipe) and perhaps I did overmix. You can analyse further by seeing the recipe below:

Cranberry Swirl Muffin (Loaf)
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1/2 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (350 degrees for loaf)
1) In a bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg whites, beat until fairly smooth.
Add flour, baking powder, salt, lemon juice and milk; stir just until blended.
Add cranberry sauce, swirl with your spatula.
2) Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin (or pour into a loaf pan).
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown (1 hour for loaf)

There you are!
Where did I go wrong?
Does the egg white have to be at room temperature? Why is that?
It won't be enough if I don't show you the pictures of my loaf. Although I think I failed this, they still look yummy and edible =P

~ Before Baking ~

~ After Baking ~

Notice that the end result is very dense with small air holes. Not soft and spongey as I expected =(
Help. Anyone?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Fun Weekend Project: Cranberry Swirl Loaf phase I

I'm planning to make Cranberry Marble Cake tomorrow morning, so I decided to make the cranberry sauce, which is going to be the swirl, tonight.
It's my first time making and I found out how quick and fun it can be.

Here's how:
1) Pour one cup of fresh cranberries (rinsed), 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of water into a saucepan.

2) Bring to a boil, watch how the cranberries start to pop, trying to break free from their skins. Don't forget to stir them. This, I think, is the fun part to watch! As they're getting swollen, the middle part is just filled with air.

3) Turn the heat to low to simmer. Keep stirring, try to crush those popped cranberries.

4) Add in grated lemon zest while stirring. The liquid is already evaporated by now, and you'll have a nice thick jelly-like cranberry sauce!

Have a follow-up with me tomorrow!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Random pictures collage I

Random Pictures Posted by Picasa

From left to right starting from the top:
sugar snap peas, mochi with sweet adzuki (YUm!), tonkatsu, PuNk!, mochi with roasted soybean paste, Korean curry rice, Korean Hodo (pronounce: hot-dog), Taiwanese steamed sticky rice, たぃやき (taiyaki)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My New Pet

You guys won't believe this, but my chinese lo bok (daikon/radish) is GROWING!

I have never successfully grown any plants until now. I bought a pot of small green plant last autumn. It didn't actually died after a few weeks, rather it stayed alive in my small apartment. However, it almost didn't budge at all. I mean, in terms of they are not growing any bigger. Since I'm an impatient person, I eventually lost attention to this seemingly un-alive plant.

This is NEW! The chinese radish I bought in oriental mart a few weeks ago started to grow on its own. How did this happen? The reason why I bought this giant radish is to do some experiment in Japanese cooking. So, I cut out 10 centimeters of it and used it as a part of a condiment. A few days later, I noticed how the leaves on top of the radish seemed to be thriving. They looked greener and healthy. I was guessing that they were eating nutrients from their own body since I wrapped this radish in their original plastic bag. It must be damp and humid in there.

It's fun to see the leaves growing. You can see the progress here...

Radish's Green Leaves - Early Stage

Radish's Green Leaves - Growing Energetically!

I'm wondering, if radish's leaves are actually edible...
Probably I should try some now and let you know later n_n

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Going Natural!

I'm having so much time exploring many different food and dessert recipes that I've just realized how it absorbed my time.

Lately, I've been going to my naturalistic side. Each dish that I made has certain naturalistic element, at least one. For instance, today I made Citrus Cranberry Muffins and Japanese Chestnut Onigiri. I've been preparing the hard-shelled chestnuts since two days ago. Unshelling the hard skin using a sharp knife after an overnight soaking. Then peeling off the obnoxious inner skin (bc they are just so hard to get rid off). Finally another session of soaking. So this afternoon I was able to cook my chestnut rice. I was in doubt at first, but when I tasted the result, I changed my mind. The chesnuts are perfectly cooked causing them to taste perfectly sweet and very filling too! My bf said it tastes rather like ubi (sweet potatoes).

I also loved the result of my Cranberry Muffins bc I thought I failed the batter. Nonetheless, they rose! And the entire room was filled with the baked cranberry muffins. However, they were a bit too tart, I think I put in too much cranberries!

Another creation which I am so proud of is Nastar! You must be wondering, what the heck are they?

They are plain butter cookies with pineapple jam filling! Anyone who is Dutch or Indonesian must be familiar with this. What's so special about these little cookies is the pineapple jam. The jam that I made tastes so much better than the one I used to have. It's much smoother and lighter in color. I am so happy that people loved my pineapple centre! I'll make sure to write a special entry on them. Ha..

No more words from me, just enjoy the pictures...

My Citrus Cranberry Muffins

Nastar Cookies

Chestnut Rice
ready to be wrapped in seaweed