Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sticky Rice Cake with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk - A Desperate Attempt of Indonesian Street Snack

What comes to your mind when you see something challenging?
A. Yes! I should try! I can do this!
B. .........Oh shit!

Not proud of it, but I am leaning more towards B. Oppps. Rarely From time to time, I welcome challenges and feel excited...but most of the time, including the time I heard that the cooking together (Masak Bareng Yuuk) event 's theme is Indonesian street snack, and not only that...the snack has to be made of rice...."oh shit" was really the first thing that came to my mind. I've never attempted any Indonesian snacks at home. Whenever I miss them, I'd dig deep into my pocket and just buy some. So, I initially planned to "miss" this event, but after some intense discussions with my blogging pal, Deetha, I gave it a go.

I started making this snack without any expectation of success, not aiming to create any specific classic snack. I was thoroughly submissive of what the result was gonna be, it was a desperate experiment.

My plan was to throw the following:
- Sticky rice
- Palm sugar
- Coconut milk
- a pinch of salt
into a pot, cook them for a while and see how it goes....

Sticky Rice Cake with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk

I realised that I haven't even tried cooking sticky rice before. I imagine it should be the same as cooking regular rice, which is..dump them into the rice cooker and press cook. I assumed I could do the same with this thing, and when I heard the beep, I would have some sweet and fragrant sticky rice thingy, ready to be consumed.

Clearly, I was delusional. Cooking sticky rice is a gadzillion miles away from cooking regular rice. It has to be soaked, it has to be steamed, and then cooked again, and possible steamed again. Whoa! Was I ready for that? Not really. But with a pack of sticky rice on my hand...and the fear of that pack of rice being thrown onto my face by Deetha (albeit virtually - hehe no, Deetha is sweet and not at all violent), I got onto it and did this very dubious snack, which despite of it looking miles away from any classic Indonesian snack, tasted bloody fantastic. Sticky, sweet and fragrant.

- 1 cup of white sticky rice, soaked overnight
- blocks of palm sugar (add bit by bit until you reach the desired sweetness)
- a pinch of salt
- coconut milk (I use 200 ml)
- water (add when necessary)

Cook soaked sticky rice in a bit of water, add coconut milk, add palm sugar and pinch of salt, adjust taste until it is perfect for you and all the coconut milk are absorbed. Set aside, let cool. When you want to consume it, steam until the cake is done thoroughly. You can create a sticky rice cake "sandwich" by adding mashed bananas or durian in between, or serve it with creamy coconut milk, or consume as is.

Hope I won't say "oh shit" again next month and take whatever challenge with courage and optimism (nah, that doesn't sound like me, does it?)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pizza Drama at Papa's Cafe, Kuta, Bali

Want a dinner with a side of drama? You got it!
This was the most dramatic pizza I've ever had!
It was surely a feast for my eyes, quenched my thirst for drama, but did it do wonders on my tongue?

We started off with something spicy. Grilled bacon wrapped green chillis stuffed with cream cheese. It wasn't really spicy, but it was tasty. Hmmm, anything wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese's bound to be tasty, right? A great combo!

The Pomodoro e Basilico soup, served with pesto toast...very tomatoey and you can really smell the fragrance of basil. It was one of the best tomato soup I've ever had.

The lobster bisque served with mozzarella toast on the other hand, was rather bland, it was so underseasoned, we almost had it with a side of table salt.

Now...are you ready for the drama?

...and let it begin...this looks nothing like the large meat lovers I normally order from Pizza Hut...


Call 999, my pizza is on fire!!!

The top comes off after it was perfectly scorched, and we had this goodness underneath. The Kintamani Volcano Pizza boasts Beef Ham, Sausage, and Beef Salami, with mozzarella cheese and tomato based sauce. The highlight of the pizza was of course, the thin and perfectly chewy can totally eat the mushroom-like top as well!

We were totally starved after a day (of lying around and shopping) at Kuta we ordered a good ol' classic lasagna. How was it? Hmmm, it's decent, but I've had better.

We should've ordered based on the drama of the dishes...we were rather upset we didn't get to order this dish...we were gawking at it, all green with envy...

She said "Grandma! That's yours!". From the back of her head, I could tell that grandma was a little flabbergasted. She was probably thinking..."I miss those days when food was just food, and the only drama queen was me"

Nothing ends such a meal better than chocolate. Hell, nothing ends or starts anything better than chocolate.

So, we ordered the Warm Chocolate Cake, which was voted the best in Bali in 2005. Clearly, 2005 is a lot different from 2009, as the warm cake presented to us was indeed...unwarm. It was good, but if it was the best in Bali...then Bali should probably learn to do better.

Now, if you are easily disgusted, or just had your dinner...please refrain from viewing below picture. Consider yourself warned....

I just had had had to do this. It's practically a ritual!

For better entertainment...request your cheesiest love songs. The band will serenade 'em beautifully for you, and they'd thank you in at least fivelanguages: Indonesian, English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean.

Papa's Cafe
Jalan Pantai Legian
Tel: +62 361 755055

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Burnt Beef Shin Stew - A Beautiful Disaster?

Let's take a break from the beautiful island and delicious food of Bali (I know you guys are probably sickkk of it), and get back to the normal disastrous reality *grin* (you know you miss it).

Here's another disaster, which happened quite a while ago. It was all drama drama drama. I was preparing the dish as we were expecting a friend to dine with us, and while the dish was cooking in a pressure cooker...due to its high sugar content, plus the way the meat absorb liquid...after about 15 minutes, I smelt something burning...and yep. The bottom of my almost brand new pressure cooker was pitch BLACK!!! My heart sank to my toes and I got all teary eyed seeing how my new HK$800 pressure cooker got ruined.

In between sobs, I scraped every bit and pieces of the burnt beef shin, and if you cut away the burnt parts, which was about 80% of was actually tasty. Smoky (of course), savoury, sweet, and very tender.

Eventually, I tried making the dish again, making sure that I added enough liquid, and shortened the cooking time.

Beef Shin Stew

(serves 4)
- 1 pound of beef shin
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cm ginger, crushed, divided
- 1 small carrot, peeled, chopped into 5mm thick chunks
- Chinese 5 spice powder, pepper, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, brown sugar, sweet soy sauce, olive oil, hot water (the dominant flavors should be smoky and sweet)

Boil whole beef shin with some ginger, cut into 1-1.5cm thick chunks, set aside. Saute garlic, ginger, and onion, add beef shin, add seasoning, add hot water to cover the meat and cook. I used a pressure cooker, and cook it for about 15 minutes (first attempt was 25 minutes). Without a pressure cooker, simply cook in low heat until the meat is tender and all the spices and seasonings are absorbed well (about 1.5 hour minimum), check from time to time to make sure it isn't burnttttt. (Sob)

Is it just me, or the burnt version actually looks more beautiful than this boring, successful one?

Special thanks to SC, who scraped every bit of burnt parts off the pressure cooker, it is now all shiny and new. You're truly my hero!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Warung Pregina, Sanur, Bali - Cooking Absence

You guys must have noticed that I haven't been cooking.
Here are some excuses reasons:
- Painting Mess
- A girl will never have enough bathroom storage
- Finding an indoor laundry hanger
...and...I have all these gorgeous and delicious food from Bali, which would be such a waste not to show off share.

Warung Pregina - Balinese and Seafood

The decor is very charming, with touches of Balinese everywhere, warung style bar, open air, relaxed, soothing and pretty cool for a super hot day.

We were lucky to have found this place on our way from a consuming day dodging seaweeds at Sindhu beach. Which treats would be suitable to feed four hungry monsters? First thing's first. Something to cool us down.

Hibiscus tea. Icy cold and very refreshing , ask for a separate cup of sugar syrup to control the level of sweetness. The spicy potato chips only left us wanting more!

Another great non-alcoholic highlight....the lemon squash, we ordered multiple tall glasses of this.

The cumi bakar (spicy grilled squid) was fantastic! The squid was grilled perfectly, none of those gummy extra chewy pieces. They are just perfect!

We could smell the fragrance of this grilled shrimp dish meters away....absolutely fantastic. Smoky, spicy, springy goodness. The picture at the beginning of this post is the garlic and chilli prawns with fries. I know I know... why would I order fries in Bali? But I couldn't help it. I crave fries sometimes...and they were delicious with the spicy garlicky prawns.

The place named their dishes with adorable names, such as siap panggang metok tok (spicy grilled chicken). However they called was delicious. The meat was tender and all the intimidating red chilli on top of it was not that hot, just bursting with flavors.

Save the best for last is always my motto, even when working on blog posts. My sis was the lucky biyatch who ordered the bet dish for the day, the bebek goreng (fried duck). Crispy skin, tender, tasty meat...oh my....I am so gonna order that next time.

Some sweetness to fight over share, black glutinous rice topped with vanilla ice cream and bananas. Wonderfully sticky and sweet...but I'd save some space for...

My favorite, hard-to-find-in-Hong-Kong dessert, tape goreng (fermented cassava rolled in wonton skin, fried, and topped with vanilla ice cream). This made me swoon and provoked me to do the following...

Both of us, who can't even ride a bike, let alone a motorcycle, pretending to be street racers. Bah! I should've cropped this picture higher.

Warung Pregina
Jl. Danau Tamblingan 106
Sanur, Bali
Tel. +62-361-283353

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk (Balinese Spicy Braised Chicken)

This was the meal which conquered us. We surrendered and bowed to the king of spicyness....while wiping our sweat and showering our mouth with glasses upon glasses of sweet iced tea.

We totally didn't see it coming. We've been told that Balinese dishes are ssssspicy. However, the tailor-made-for-tourists-watered-down versions we've tried were everything but spicy. So, we were kinda cocky and deemed Balinese food not spicy at all.

We couldn't be more wrong.

Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk (Balinese Spicy Braised Chicken)

We wanted to order the duck, but it wasn't available, so we settled with the chicken. This famous chicken was downright delicious. It was mild at first, the meat was ridiculously tender from the long braising, and the sauce...perfect poured over rice. It involves so many ingredients (shallot, garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, pepper, shrimp paste, small green chilli, kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves) which married together so well.

I started to feel the heat half way through my rice. I didn't know that the heat was coming from the chicken, as it looked innocently yellow. I suspected the red chilli paste served on the vegetable, and stopped eating it. I eventually discovered that the culprit was the chicken, but could we stop eating it? Nonono, we continue to get down until the last piece of meat was gone. Yay to us! Even our local Balinese driver, Mr. Made, who recommended this place to us, gave up half way and dashed out for a smoke. That's how hot it was.

The Ares Kuwir (Spicy soup) was great too, but it was kind of shadowed by the greatness of the chicken.

The lawar kuwir (shredded chicken) and gorengan (fried chicken gizzards), gave the meal more texture. I kinda love a bit of oiliness from this dish. Again, perfect with rice.

The intimidating plecing kangkung with sambal terasi (water spinach salad with shrimp paste chilli paste) and sambal matah (I saw shallot, chilli, and garlic in there) turned out just perfect, not too spicy for my tamed tongue...and even if you hate veggie, add all these tasty concoctions, and you'll be converted.

What stopped us from ordering everything from the menu? Ehm, most of them, including the sate lilit which I was dying to try were SOLD OUT!

Watch out for this sign at Jl.Merdeka, Renon, Denpasar and stop by some great cheap (fixed priced, yeehaw! no haggling necessary) souvenir shops after your meal.

The remnants of our hot hot HOT adventure....when we couldn't handle it any longer...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Darker Shots - Intentional or Accidental Photography?

In terms of photography, I am not much of an inventor and I don't really experiment. I thought I've found the winning formula (natural sunlight, Aperture priority mode, f/4.5, ISO100, portrait picture orientation, shot from about 45 degree angle above the object) and I stick with it most of the time.

However, recently, I've noticed that there are some fabulous shots done in darker settings....and just like how I sometimes itch to try on trendy outfits...although I doubted that I'd like it, I was kinda eager to jump on board the dark-shots wagon...and boy, it was a kind of a rough ride.

I didn't really know how to go about, the intention was strategic, but the results were purely accidental, resulted from the underexposure settings on my camera from my Bali super-glaringly-lit vacation. Well, accidents happen, but I kinda like it this time.

These experiment shots were taken for Still Life Fotografi, the theme for this month is Food and Props. When you are used to seeing brightly lit delicious looking food shots, these take getting used to. The temptation to brighten up everything using photoshop was so great, I had to stop myself from further tampering these photographs by snacking on a huge bar of chocolate. Hehehe.

I love props and I buy them following the same principal as I shop for clothes, shoes and jewelries...which is "BUY, BUY, BUY!". I am uncontrollable! If it wasn't for SC's ever-so-negative comments every time I spotted some cute props, I'd probably have to sleep standing up at the corner of my bedroom, buried in props up to my eyeballs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dine by the Sea, under the Stars, Menega Cafe, Jimbaran, Bali

Seated underneath millions of sparkling stars...
On top of soft white sands...
By the symphony of the sea...
the cool breeze of the wind...
Surrounded by twinkling candle lights...
Gorgeous, caring and loving people...
Latin tunes beautifully serenaded by your table...
Oh...if that wasn't romance, I don't know what is!

My seaside seafood dinner at Cafe Menega, Jimbaran, Bali
Romantical atmosphere,
Ridiculously delicious food, always...
Crappy photographs.

ARRRGGHHHH. Guys, do excuse my inability to capture that night's perfection.

As enter the restaurant, you'll see how your food is being prepared, smoky and fiery. Select your seafood and place your orders with the friendly and helpful guidance of the servers, and make your way to unbelievable gorgeousness.

Hungry after a day at the beach, despite not doing any water sports? Can't bear the idea of having to wait for your seafood to be grilled to perfection? No worries!

Share some spicy, buttery grilled corn on the cob...then gaze lovingly into each other eyes and listen to next table's conversation for a full blown romance (and human nature of curiosity hehe)

Here's a desperate no-flash shot of the food.

My acrobatic photographical moves around the table kinda ruined it for everybody. Oppps. Sorry. Thank you for being so understanding, guys.

You probably can't figure out what did I order that night from that photograph. So here's the breakdown...
Grilled Prawns

No flash doesn't always mean better. Here, take a better look..

They were absolutely delicious, grilled to perfection. I sucked and licked all the shells clean.

After a few desperate shots with no flash, I stopped torturing my companions any longer and just turned my camera dial to AUTO. Haha!
Grilled Squid

Succulent, smoky, yummy.

Grilled Fish in Sweet Soy Sauce

Tasted unbelievable, but probably not the best thing to order. It wasn't easy to spot and remove all the bones in such a romantic lighting (i.e. DARK). Unless your idea of romance is performing a Heimlich manouver on your better half to rescue him/her from choking on fish bone...or you have a giant torch, or you have a neon light on your beach hat, I'd recommend you to stick with stick with non bony seafood.

Which was my favorite dish of the night?
Spicy Grilled Clams

Finger smackingly delicious! We fought for each piece, down 'til the last piece (although not so obviously). I slurped everything, licked the plate, the shell, my fingers, others' fingers...squeaky clean!

Too bad I couldn't get a shot of the string orchestra who serenaded us with romantic Latin songs (a quick little tip: prepare some money on the table for the singers, you don't wanna dig into your pocket for money while struggling with the seafood with your bare hands). My super offensive flash would definitely ruin everybody's night further. So, I left that for your imagination. Daydream your way to Bali, people!

Menega Cafe
Jl Four Seasons Resort Pantai Muaya
Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: 62-361–705888