All about Food. B:9 Most of the blog will be about my various cooking experiments with some reviews of local restaurants thrown in once in a while. Reviews/food experiences from other place will be included also.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Some Old Pics

Looking at the disc I noticed I have a couple (not so nice) photos of food from the end of last year. One was of sandwich fillings (tuna fish and egg salad). Another one was a blurry picture of tzatziki, Greek cucumber and yogurt concoction for breads and souvlaki. I have not made tzatziki since my stay in Greece back in 1998. I always loved this dish, but I couldn't make it back in US because it was impossible to find Greek yogurt. Then, I managed to find "Greek-style" yogurt made in Australia at an import store. The dip is actually really easy to make. It consisted of yogurt, olive oil, oregano, cucumber, salt, and a bit of pepper. The end result was a bit more sour than I remembered, but I guess it's because of the yogurt I used. Still, it was great on French bread and it brought back fond memories of Greece. I do miss Greek food a lot, but I haven't found a good cookbook dealing with that subject. Plus, nothing here will be better than home cooking that we had in Greece.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Clam Chowder - Success

The parents-in-laws have been big fans of New England clam chowder, and they have very fond memories from their visits to US. A few days ago Wid's dad reminded me about the soup, and I decided to try making the soup for them last night. Originally, I was supposed to make this around New Year's eve but things were very crazy.

I studied a bunch of recipes before I made the dish. What I ended up doing was a bit of improv, but the result was pretty nice. Since I only had one can of clams, I ended up scaling down the recipe. I cooked several strips of streaky bacon in the pan, and then I used the bacon grease (and a bit of butter) to cook the chopped onion, minced garlic, and potato. I then added flour to the mix and let everything cook a bit longer before adding the clam juice from the can. I then added milk and let the soup boil and then simmer before finally adding the canned clams. A bit of whipping cream, salt, and pepper for flavoring. The soup, with bits of bacon sprinkled on top, was served with crusty French bread.

The soup got a very enthusiastic thumbs up from Wid's parents. The only thing Wid's mom wanted was have more liquid because she wanted to sop up the bread with soup. Wid's dad thought it was perfect (salty enough). I think they were both very surprised by how thick and chunky the soup was, but that's how I like it. Wid's mom liked it so much that she wants to serve the soup for Wid's dad's upcoming birthday. Next time I'll add some chopped celery bits to the soup. I'm happy that the soup turned out well, and for once something actually worked on the first try.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

carrot cake

Who wants to make or eat carrot cakes that don't have the awesome cream cheese frosting? I thought the point of carrot cakes is an excuse to eat the frosting. Hehehe. I had a smidge of a carrot cake that was coated with almond flakes. It tasted very bland, not sweet at all, and dry. I should just make my own cake. I tried a decent recipe a while back that didn't taste too bad, and my frosting kicks butts.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Spinach Pasta

It seemed like such a long time since my last food experiment, but it's kind of hard to cook when Bonnie our puppy and kids (not mine) follow me around. Last night I tried to make spinach pasta using the recipe from Jacques Pepin's The Complete Techniques. First part was boiling the spinach. I really should have taken out the hard stalks right in the beginning, but I forgot local spinach has very fibrous stalks so I ended up removing the bits after boiling the veggie. I squeezed the boiled spinach dry and chopped it up. Next part was making the dough. I ended up using a lot more flour (semolina/high gluten mix) than the recipe called for because the dough was so wet (that's what happens when I live in a tropical island). My well of flour leaked so I got eggs and oil all over the place, but I recovered from that. After letting the dough rest, our cook took over because she's the noodle expert in the house. We had the dough cut into fetuccini size, but the pasta was too thick. The cook said that if it was thinner, then the noodles would stick to each other.

In the end, the noodle didn't turn out as well as I liked. It looked like green, home-made udon than pasta. The noodles were too chewy. I think the problem is two-folds. Maybe I should have used another flour combination (semolina/high gluten/all purpose). Also, the noodles really should have been thinner (flatter) or make it small like angel hair. Oh well, at least the taste was good. Food for thought.

For the sauce again I used Pepin's recipe for bachmael sauce. The sauce turned out much better than my previous attempt. I made a flour and butter mixture which is then whisked into boiling milk. After the sauce thickened, salt, pepper, and nutmeg were added for flavoring. The sauce tasted great and had no lumps. Thank goodness at least one recipe worked.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Pelangi Bali Bistrol (Review)

A few days ago for arisan we checked out the restaurant Pelangi Bali Bistro near Sunset Road. We've heard about the woes of the place, but Wid and I have never been to the restaurant. To tell the truth, we were expecting terrible food, but we were pleasantly surprised. Apparently, the original restaurant concept was European-style food, but for various reasons, they could not attract customers so they added Indonesian dishes to the menu. The restaurant seems to be suffering an identity crisis, but the food itself is actually good so it's something else that's driving the customers away.

Almost everyone got the beef strips in brown sauce with slices of herbed potato. It had some sort of German name, but its name escapes me right now. The beef used was imported beef, and the dish tasted exactly what it was supposed to be. The only complaint was the portion was too small, but at 50,000 rp per plate for imported beef, it was not too bad. I had the pork chop with fetticcini in mushroom sauce. The pork was tender (a smidge dry but still tasted good). The mushroom sauce was rich and creamy, full of flavor, and the pasta was cooked al dente. I thought my dish was quite generous in portion because I was very full in the end. The pork ribs cost around 42,000 rp. Other people got ribs and rump steak, but they didn't seem so keen on those dishes. The Indonesian dishes were quite good, according to others; I think they usually pick selections from the Indonesian part of the menu in previous visits to the place. I think the Indo dishes are much cheaper than the western dishes (6000 rp and up).

For dessert Wid and I tried the brownie sundae for 18,000 rp. The brownie seemed a bit stale because it was quite dry, but it actually tasted like a brownie, unlike the poor excuses of brownies that I've seen here so far.

Wid commented that if the atmophere was better, they could attract more people because the food is much better than some of the restaurants we tried recently (the ones I ranted about in a previous post).

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You are what you eat

Now if you are what you eat, then right now I'm a pig. Yesterday for lunch we went to our favorite Chinese-food done Japanese style restaurant Ippin Nyukon after we found out that they are NOT closed permanently. Let's hope the rumor that the owner/chef wants to go back to Jakarta is false because this is the only place with good ramen. Apparently, when Wid's mom called last time, it was a Wednesday and the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. Besides the usual (favorite) ramen, we tried a few other dishes. One was stir fried noodle with vegetables and wood ear mushrooms. The dish tastes fairly normal, but when mix in a bit of the wasabi mustard, it becomes something totally different but very tasty. We also tried the fried shrimp coated with seasame and Japanese mayo, but my favorite was the babi kecap (pork with soy sauce). It tasted almost exactly like the one dish we had at this restaurant by the river front (Ming Guan or something) in Singapore, except no steamed buns. The pork tasted even better with the previously mentioned wasabi mustard.

Last night we went to a Balinese wedding in Ubud. One of the employees in the company got married, and apparently he's a Balinese noblity so we got to see a very fancy reception (with real ceremonial dancing by real professional Balinese dancers). The reception was nice and I enjoyed the little cakes, but we skipped the dinner so we could get BBQ ribs at Nuri's. All the white people were staring at us, apparently they think staring it's not rude to stare in Indo or they've never seen people dressed up in fancy traditional clothes before. :P Anyway, because we were all still pretty full from the lunch, we only had two racks of pork ribs, two plates of kentang goreng (fried potato wedges), one plate of salad, one bacon cheese burger, and drinks. Good stuff, and bones left overs for the doggies at home. No bones for Bonnie though. She gets dog food and fruits/vegetables (she LOVES mango).

We tried out a new restaurant on Saturday, but maybe I'll make a review of that place later.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

An annoying trend

Haven't been posting that much on the blog recently because we've been so busy taking care of our new puppy Bonnie "The Naughty" Bonbon. I haven't had the chance to cook all that much since the new year, except for an overcooked brownie and cheesecake (curse that oven with the lack of temperature control!!!). Wid and I have tried out a couple new restaurants recently, and we noticed an annoying trend--these restaurants all try to be another Ku De Ta. It's not a good thing. They all try to charge the price of Ku De Ta, but the food is just absolutely mediocre. These restaurant owners probably figured that if Kudeta is successful in attracting so much clientile even with the expensive price tag, they can do it too as long as they have a nice ("western-style") atmosphere. I personally enjoyed the food and atmosphere of Ku De Ta, but the price is quite the turn off so we don't go there very often (only if friends or family are in town). The food is quite excellent, and we did consider it to be one of the best restaurants serving western-style food (but certainly not the best value) until we discovered Mozaic. Seriously, if I want to spend over 200,000 rp per person, might as well go to Mozaic and get the best food possible on the island without worrying about the dishes being plain average.

We adored Mozaic and had excellent experiences every time we visited the place. Even though it is one of the most expensive restaurants on the island, the food is definitely the best. Unlike Ku De Ta and the other Ku De Ta-wannabes, I actually considered Mozaic to be a great value, if you compared the prices with other restaurants of that calibur in other countries. I don't consider ourselves to be cheap because we are welling to spend lots of money on excellent foods.

I'm really disappointed by many of these new restaurants because of the lousy value. The price is too high for the lousy food. I might as well stay at home and make my own dishes, which some are starting to taste better than restaurant foods.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Spaghetti Carbonara

Happy New Year!!! Wid and I celebrated the start of the new year by getting sick and me banging my finger on a door.

Last night we decided not to go to his bro's house for dinner because we're still not feeling well. I tried to make spaghetti carbonara. The recipe is from my Italian friend Lia, who has been very helpful in answering questions I had about Italian cooking. It's pretty interesting that you have to be pretty organized or else you cannot work fast enough to make the "sauce" properly. While the spaghetti was cooking, I cooked chopped bacon in a bit of olive oil. Once the spaghetti is almost done, I poured the water into a bowl to warm it up and transfer the pasta to the frying pan with a bit of the bacon grease. To the pasta, I added the cooked bacon, four beaten eggs, a bit of garlic (don't know if that's Italian but Wid requested it), salt, and pepper. I mixed everything together on low heat and then poured the mixture into the warmed bowl. I then sprinkled quite a bit of parmasen cheese (sorry, Lia, I couldn't find any goat cheese like you recommended) and stirred again.

The spaghetti carbonara was really tasty and rich. Not quite comfort food in our book, but it certainly was enough as a meal. I'll definitely make the dish again, but I'm rather scared by the amount of cholestrol it contains. Hahaha.

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