Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My fave trip!!!

One of my favorite things to do when we leave town is to stock up on my Asian spices. It is one of those things that you take for granted until you permanently relocate to an area where they don't even sell rice in larger than the 5-lbs bag.

Here are some pictures of my pantry must-have that I got during my trip to Michigan.

Picture 1: I found these cool tofu earlier this year. You know why they're cool? They don't have to be refrigerated, which lets me put them in the trunk and forget about it until I have to unload them. So in my mind, I am thinking that they must have added enough additives to make them stay "fresh" without refrigeration. But around where I live, they cost me an arm and leg of $3.99 or $4.99, while these are about $1.19. What about that!!! So anyways, aside from the weird concept of having non-refrigerated tofu, both Red and I had eaten them plenty of time before, and we both are still well, alive, and eating!

Picture 1: I don't know why I dedicated an entire paragraph on these tofu, but a small paragraph should rightfully goes to ready to eat Peanut Sauce. They sell two variety: one for Satay (Skewered Meat) and another one for Gado Gado (which is an Indonesian-style salad). Gado gado is very time consuming to make, but the satay one is a fave at our house. Red made sure that we bought enough of these paste so we can grill up some chicken in style!

Picture 2: Fried Chips - If you have ever been to Southeast Asia, you would notice that we absolutely love chips (and condiments!). Everywhere you go, you will see so many variety of them that it makes my heart sing! Here are some of the flavors that I was able to find here: shrimp, onion, and paddy oats. They come uncooked, and then you will have to spend an afternoon frying them. And then I will beg Red to bag them up and lock it down in the basement, or I would finish them in one sitting.

Picture 3: Sesame oil (great for a lot of things, like Chinese or Korean style dishes), Pandan Essence (I don't know yet what to do with it, but I will find something to use it in!), Fish Sauce (2009 may be the year that I finally try my hands on those gorgeous Vietnamese Style Pork Chops!) and tons of hot sauces!

With these items in my pantry, I feel like I am ready to tackle another year, well a few months of cooking, until my next trip to one of my fave places in the world.

Molten Chocolate Cake


Serves 6

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped Cream or Ice Cream for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin.
  • Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined.
  • Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  • Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
  • To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

When they say "generously butter" the muffin tins, you seriously need to do this, or the cakes will not come out from the pans, like mine did.

Courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Classic Lapis Legit

Classic Lapis Legit

20 egg yolks
150 g confectioners sugar
350 g butter, at room temperature
2 Tbs. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. bumbu Spekoek (All Spice powder)
1/2 tsp vanila powder
35 g all purpose flour
10 g powdered milk
  • Beat the butter and the sweetened condensed milk until white and fluffy using paddle attachment, set aside.
  • Meanwhile, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, bumbu Spekoek, vanili powder, and powdered milk) and set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar using the balloon whisk attachment until very thick.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and continue whisking until well incorporated.
  • Add the beaten butter to the egg mixture and mix well using the paddle attachment or fold gently using spatula. Make sure that there's no streak of butter left, or else you will have a rubber like layer in the bottom of your cake. The batter would be very thick with spreadable consistency.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Grease and lined a standard loaf pan with a parchment paper.
  • Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly using the back of a spoon. Bake for about 10 minutes until the top is golden brown. The time will vary depending on different oven and how much batter you put in the pan.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and change the oven setting to low broil (if you're in the US). Press the top of the cake using anything that's flat (I even use the back of a spoon). Then, add another couple of tablespoons of batter and spread it evenly. the heat from the pan will help soften the butter to make it easier to even out.
  • Put the pan back in the oven and cook for about 6-10 minutes until the top is brown (not burnt!).
  • Repeat this step until all of the batter is used up.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then unmold.
  • Cut the four sides of the cake to make it neat and so that all of the layers are shown.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sauteed Tofu

My grandmother used to make this dish when I was growing up in Indonesia. It is so simple to make, uses one of my fave ingredients, tofu, and a great pairing to a meat dish with strong flavoring. Sometimes I throw in some shitake mushrooms, and use chicken instead of shrimp as variation. If I decide to use chicken, you can still follow the same steps below, except that you need to cook the chicken first before adding in the tofu.
As many other grandmothers out there, she really didn't give me exact measurements to everything, she's used to a pinch of this and a little bit of that. This recipe is my best shot of her recipe.

Sauteed Tofus
  • 1 firm tofu, chopped into 1-inch cube
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely deveined shrimp
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • 1 generous tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ground white pepper
  • Chopped green onions
  • Fried shallot for garnish
  • Sautee the chopped garlic in canola oil until soft and slightly browned in medium heat.
  • Add shrimp, tofu, fish sauce, salt, and white pepper. Let it sit for about 10 mins, covered. Turn down the heat.
  • Fold in the green onions.
  • Sprinkle fried shallots before serving.

Merry Christmas from Charlotte

This is Charlotte Mae, my 19-month old St. Bernard puppy. Charlotte was born on May 29, 2007 in Michigan. "C.H.", as I dearly call her by, is a very well-behaved puppy. We first adopted her brother, which we named Noodle. A couple of months after we brought him home, Noodle died from heart-attack in the middle of the day. Charlotte came later, healed our broken heart with her big loving heart, wet sloppy kisses, and has been with us for about 15 months.
She loves snow and this is how she looks like after playing and digging out in the snow. Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I was thrilled to run into this recipe on Smitten Kitchen's website. I am not a chocoholic like my husband is, but I do like good quality chocolate treats. Since I first tried this heavenly treat many years ago, I have been searching to find something similar to this everywhere (at the malls, chocolate shops, upscale bakeries, none!) but haven't run into one yet. The ones that I have found on chocolate shops are usually orange gummy bears dipped in chocolate instead of actual orange peels. This also gets my husband motivated to eat two oranges in one sitting!

Thank God for this recipe.



3 large oranges
1 1/2 cups water
4oz semi-sweet chocolate


Bring a pot of water to a boil (not using the above 1 1/2 cups water) and blanche orange peels for a couple of minutes.

Remove the peels, rinse with cold water, and repeat. Drain well.
Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Carefully add the peels to the saucepan. Allow to return to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.

Be sure to periodically check on the syrup level - you don’t want the peels to burn.
After an hour, remove the peels from the syrup and let them cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler and when peels are cool, dip them in the chocolate. Let them dry on a piece of parchment paper set on a cookie sheet.

When all have been dipped, move them to the fridge for 20 min or so to allow the chocolate to set up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bar

My sister is a Starbucks' addict. I seriously think that she needs to go talk to one of my college classmates who work at Starbucks, to see if she can get a job there. I believe it would cut down on her daily commute to Starbucks for her coffee and treat fix. When I saw several recipes on line, I knew that I had to make it for her. I decided to use the one from Mr. Breakfast's website as a starter and made several modifications to the recipe since there are several versions out there.

This version below turned out pretty good, with a good mixture of sweet and tanginess (from the frosting). I did, unfortunately, feel that this was baked a little bit too long because the edges were browned pretty good. The recipe requested 20-25 minutes, but I think mine would have been sufficient with just 20 mins or even less ~ although the flavor was still excellent.

Some of the reviewers on line said that it was too sweet, so when I added cream cheese to the frosting, I only added a little bit of the powdered sugar. I also omitted the melted white chocolate garnish.

For Cake Base
2 sticks margarine (or butter if you want to indulge), softened
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup minced dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup Lindt or Perugina or other quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced candied ginger

For Frosting:
4 ounce cream cheese, softened (I used 6 ounce)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 1 -3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier (since I didn’t have any orange extract or real orange for some zest, and I really thought that cranberry would go great with orange)
2 tbsp butter, softened (I omitted the butter)

For Garnish:
(I decided to skip the melted white chocolate, so I just sprinkled the cranberries )
2 Tablespoons minced dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips (e.g. Ghiradelli or Guittard) -- melted

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
Beat butter and sugar together for the cake base, and add eggs/vanilla beating until fluffy.
Sift together flour, ginger, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture beating well.
Fold in the cranberries, chocolate and ginger.
Spread thick batter in pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden.
When cake is cooled, mix all frosting ingredients together and spread a thin layer over the cake. Immediately sprinkle with the minced cranberries.
Then use a cake decorating bag of melted white chocolate with a tiny decorating tip (like the size used for writing on cakes) and drizzle the chocolate over the cake.
Cut this into bars immediately because the white chocolate hardens pretty fast and makes cake cutting messy

Red Velvet Cake Balls

My dad is a very picky eater. He doesn't eat chicken, hates cheese unless it's mixed into a lasagna or sprinkled on top of spaghetti or salad. He likes iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. He's a meat and potato kind of guy. His fave dessert is yellow cake with chocolate frosting and ... you guess it, Red Velvet Cake with seven-minute frosting. When I saw this recipe on Bakerella website, I knew that I had to try it. They were absolutely divine, and lighter in comparison to the other truffle recipes that I tried. We'll see if he likes them or not.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

1 Box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 Can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.) --I used regular white frosting
1 Package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate) --I used regular baking chocolate, since it is easier to work with than the chocolate bark
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Tip: Melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It's easier to work with when it's hot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

I have been craving these yummy appetizers for about a month now. I used to live within five minutes driving to a PF Chang restaurant and really enjoyed the convenience of having easy access to their great menu selection. The closest PF Chang location now is about two and a half hours from where we live now. So I decided to try making these appetizers myself. I found this recipe on line, and couldn't think of anything that I would change to make it differently next time. The key here is the ability to tailor the flavoring from the amount of sauce that you'd use. If you like a more spicy version, just mix in the spicy sauce into the original sauce.

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnut
2/3 cup mushroom
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
teaspoons water
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

  • Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
  • Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
  • Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.
  • Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
  • Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
  • Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
  • Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done.
  • Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
  • Keep oil in the pan, keep hot.
  • As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
  • Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
  • When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.
  • With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.
  • Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.
  • Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce"cups".
  • Top with"Special Sauce".

Hopscotch Candy

I first tried this sinfully delicious cold treat at work many years ago in one of the goodies tins that I received for Christmas. I quickly asked for a recipe, which I don't do very often. I have been making them every year since then.

I used to make two batches of this recipe and brought them to work frequently for birthdays as well, as this was often requested. I made two big batches last weekend for the holiday party and Red, my loyal taster and part-time dishwasher.

Hopscotch Candy
Servings: 24-30 pieces

Combine in a double boiler or a pan:
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 6-oz package butterscotch morsels
Place over low heat, stir until melted.

1 3-oz can chow-mein noodles
1 1/2 cups of miniature marshmallows
Stir until coated, remove from heat.
Quickly drop by teaspoon-full onto waxed line cookie sheet. You want to make sure the marshmallows retain its shape.

Chill until set.
Store in an airtight container inside the frig for up to two weeks. At our house, it doesn't last that long.

Perfect Roasted Turkey

I really haven't had the time to post all of the delectable recipes we tried for Thanksgiving this year. But we finally survived making our very first turkey! The turkey breast was tender, moist, and flavorful. We decided to brine it using Martha Stewart Perfect Roast Turkey.

Roasted Brine Turkey

1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), brined
Turkey Brine - see recipe below
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine.
  2. Pat turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Place, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan.
  3. Let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position.
    Fold a piece of cheesecloth (about 3 feet long) into thirds, place inside turkey cavity, and open up to create a pouch.
    Loosely fill cheesecloth pouch with stuffing (do not pack tightly), and tuck in ends of cheesecloth to close.
  5. Tuck wings underneath the turkey, and tie legs together with kitchen twine.
    Brush turkey all over with butter, and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes and rotating the pan after 2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
    Remove stuffing pouch, and then empty it into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
    Cover if desired, and return stuffing to oven; bake until it registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes more.
    Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving pan juices for gravy.
    Let turkey stand for 30 minutes before carving.
Turkey Brine

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) water
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse salt
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
  • 1 bottle dry Riesling
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
Turkey Brine Direction

  1. Bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping turkey once.

Spirited Southern Sweet Potato Bars

I wanted to find a dessert recipe to use up my apple and sweet potato casserole from Thanksgiving, so I made these last weekend for our Holiday Party.

After searching endlessly in the Internet, I saw this recipe on Quaker Oatmeal website. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they turned out. It had a perfect combination of sweetness and smoothness that you'd normally find in a pie, yet with a little bit of earthiness (from the sweet potatoes), along with the oatmeal and sugar topping that gave it a really nice crunchy texture. Definitely a winner for the use of leftover sweet potatoes.

2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato or canned pumpkin (I used my sweet potato and apple casserole, mashed in a food processor)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine oats and flour; mix well. Remove 2/3 cup and add salt and red pepper; set aside for filling. To remaining oat-flour mixture, add butter, granulated sugar and vanilla; blend with electric mixer on low to medium speed until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Bake 15 minutes; remove pan from oven. In separate bowl, combine sweet potato, eggs, brown sugar, bourbon and reserved 2/3 cup oat-flour mixture; mix well. Spread filling over warm crust. Add nuts to reserved topping mixture; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over sweet potato filling.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until topping is light golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack; cut into bars. Serve at room temperature. Store in refrigerator tightly covered.

Chocolate Truffles

I have been obsessed about trying to make these heavenly treats for the past two weeks. I made Oreo Truffles last week and again this week. But I also have been thinking about these little truffles that I first tried many years ago that were rolled in cocoa powder. The unique part of these truffles is that you can roll them in cocoa powder. So you will then experience the intense cocoa flavor in your first bite, but yet as you dig in deeper, there's this nice welcoming depth of chocolate that melts in your mouth.

I found a recipe that looked delicious on Williams and Sonoma website, and here's my proud result. The only thing that I would probably try to change in the future is trying to add in some liquor flavoring in the truffle.


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar or unsweetened
cocoa powder


Chop the ingredients
Put the butter on a cutting board. Using a table knife, cut the butter into small chunks. Set aside.
Put the chocolate on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, chop the chocolate into small, even bits. Set aside.

Warm the cream
Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and warm until tiny bubbles appear in the cream around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat.

Melt the chocolate
Add the butter and chocolate to the saucepan and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is melted and the mixture is very smooth. If the chocolate does not seem to be melting, turn on the heat to medium and warm for about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir again. Repeat the heating and stirring process, if necessary, until the mixture is smooth. Do not let the mixture get too hot.

Chill the mixture
Let the mixture cool to the touch, about 15 minutes. Using the rubber spatula, stir in the vanilla. Scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl. Cover the chocolate mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is solid, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Scoop the truffles
Using a melon baller, scoop the chocolate mixture to make rough balls the size of a gumball. Place each scoop of truffle mixture onto a cool work surface.

Shape the truffles
Put the confectioners' sugar or the cocoa in another shallow bowl. (The confectioners' sugar will give the truffles an extra layer of sweetness. The cocoa will make the truffles intensely chocolaty.)

Working with 1 truffle scoop at a time, use the palms of your hands to roll it into a smooth, round ball. After rolling, put the balls in the bowl with the coating of your choice.

Coat the truffles
Roll each truffle in the confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder until it is completely coated, then put in a serving dish. Cover and store the truffles in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. (You can even freeze the truffles for up to 3 months.)

Makes 25 truffles. Note: mine made about 45 truffles because I really wanted them to be bite-size!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oreo Truffles

I first saw this recipe on Kraft website while I was browsing for ideas. I was floored at how simple the recipe was, and was doubly pleased when I found out how wonderful they tasted! This is a must for any holiday get together. Who doesn't like Oreo and chocolate mixed together?


1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted


Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls

Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

From Kraft