I love eating at Olive Garden. Besides the main entries, I also like the free flow bread sticks. The salad was my favorite, but not after we got fresh veggies from Megan. The price however, is not that friendly for student like me. So, I was so happy to find the recipe from their website.
Since I didn't have some of the ingredients, I adjusted the recipe a little bit. The chicken wasn't as much as what the recipe calls, for sure. Those much chicken (as the recipe calls for) would feed hubby and I for a week. The white wine was replaced by the red one, since we still had leftover red wine from New Year. So, the supposed-to-be white sauce became purplish, but didn't bother us. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
Hubby's mom brought kluwak nuts when she visited us. Many food that hubby grew up with contain that nut. She cooked soto Kudus and pindang using them, and still left me some. I had no experience cooking with it, but I knew what I could cook using those nuts before they went bad.
Rawon is traditional Indonesian soup originally from East Java. I heard from some people, that the blacker the soup, the better. It is the kluwak nuts that make the soup black. The nut's shell has similar texture to Brazil nut's. It is very tough also. The inside, the one that is used for cooking has rubbery texture. Mom told me that picking a good kluwak is tricky. She threw away some kluwaks after seeing the inside and smelling them. I didn't have her to ask when I made this rawon and I didn't know what to expect from smelling them, so I used ones that were not moldy (one was).
So, here is my first rawon from scratch. The taste was ok. I think I put too much water for such little meat. The mung bean sprouts I bought from oriental market two days before were slimy, so we were kinda annoyed. I need to cook this again sometimes before winter ends.
When still got weekly vegetable boxes from Megan, we had superfluous fresh basil leaves in our refrigerator. Since I was sure we couldn't finish the whole things before they got rotten, I made pesto basil then saved it in the freezer. I almost forgot about my frozen pesto basil, until I thought about making pizza the other day. My favorite pizza is ones from Tomato Head, a local restaurant at the heart of downtown. They have a lot choices of pizza sauces, not only the regular tomato sauce one like most pizza places offer. One of my favorite is their pesto base pizza topped with mushroom, spinach, olive, and other vegetables. Yummm...
Pizza Crust Recipe is adapted from here
Mix: 1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
Add: 1 ¼ cups warm water
2 Tbsp. oil
Mix to form a soft dough. Cover and let rise until nearly double in bulk. Grease large pizza pan or cookie sheet. Roll out dough on floured board. Place on greased pizza pan or cookie sheet. Stretch the dough as necessary.
Pesto basil sauce, adapted from here 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper Combine the all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Spread pesto basil, leave 1/2 inch from the edge. Sprinkle half of the cheese. Arrange spinach, tomato, mushroom, and red onion. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese.
Bake at 425º for 15 minutes or until it bubbles and the cheese just begins to brown.
Chinese New Year is around the corner, but of course there is no obvious festivity in my town. The only celebration I know is one at the university sponsored by Chinese organization. I miss celebrating Chinese New Year with my family.
To get the glimpse of Chinese New Year, I like to blog walk to Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean blogs and peek their CNY preparation. Most of them have started making cookies. Baking cookies for Chinese New Year is not a tradition in my family. Grandma would buy a bucket of bamboo shoots, grandpa would buy stacks of nian gao, mom would prepare everything for the party including cleaning the house (a.k.a throwing stuffs away), and dad as usual wouldn't really care but buy cute CNY stuffs for my nieces
I started my baking last week. Psstt...it was supposed to be kaastengels. Since I only used 4/5 of the butter, it was hard to shape. It still tastes great, and I don't think it will last until Chinese New Year.
We won't miss to go to Amish country in Shipshewana whenever we go to hubby's college town in Indiana. His college town, Goshen, is quite small and there are not many places we can go to. Therefore, going to Amish country becomes our ritual. Shipshewana is about 18 miles outside Goshen. I enjoy watching Amish buggies, barns, and the stores. This area is one of few places that provides spaces for horse buggies as part of parking lots. Although I've learned about Amish culture, I am still amazed by their culture and lifestyles.
The Amish store that we barely miss when we are there is Yoder Meat and Cheese. This store sells various kind of cheese, and they provide cubes of many kinds to sample. Our other favorite place there is an Amish style restaurant, Dutch Essenhaus. I don't know which one I like the best from their menu. All are great! Before the main food comes, they serve warm dinner rolls that are best eaten with their homemade apple butter and peanut butter. Even since we were still in Knoxville, hubby told me that he wanted to buy the apple butter.
Since we got back from IN, hubby continuously asked me to make rolls for the apple butter. Once evening, since his wife still hadn't had change to bake requested rolls, he scooped the apple butter and giggled like a little boy. *shaking head. Finally I had chance to make this rolls on Marthin Luther King eve, and we had this for our breakfast this morning. Seeing the fast descending of the apple butter's surface, I am afraid we have to go back to Indiana soon.
Hubby requested arem-arem since too long ago, so I had to make it while the school isn't that busy. This long weekend, was a perfect time for me since I we still have a big pot of red soup for lunch and dinner. Arem-arem is traditional Javanese food which consists of rice and filling, then is wrapped by banana leaf. Making it is kinda time consuming. First, because the filling and the rice are cooked separately. Second, the banana leaf needs to be cleaned and cut. Well...actually, it is not more elaborate than other Javanese food.
Eventhough the main ingredient for arem-arem is rice, this food is not a main dish. Indonesians tend to treat this as snack or appetizer. As for hubby and I, we eat this as our main course. Making this is as time consuming (or more) as preparing dinner, so I usually don't have time to cook other thing when I cook this.
Arem-arem Yield: 15 rolls
Rice: 3 cup rice
3/4 cup coconut milk (or more if you like)
4 1/4 cups water
Total liquid needs to be 5 cups 1 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
Cook using rice cooker or whatever you usually use to cook rice.
I didn't use measurement for the filling.
Filling: Ground beef Potato, finely cubed
Tofu, finely cubed
Red chili, thinly sliced, get rid of the seeds (I didn't have one) Red onion, chopped
Sauté garlic and onion until fragrant. Add the rest of ingredients and a little bit water. Make sure the potato is soft , then simmer until mixture is almost dry.
Wrapper: Banana Leaf
Wipe banana leaf with damp cloth until the leaf is clean. Cut the leaf to 20 cm wide (the length depends on the wide of the leaf). You will need approximately 15 wide(the 20cm ones) cut leaves then 15 small one.
To assemble, put the small leaf on top of the wide one. Place 2 Tbs rice on the leaf then flatten with consistent thickness. On top of the rice, place 1 Tbs filling. Roll the banana leaf into a roll. Repeat this method for the rest of the ingredients. This is the same method as making sushi.
Steam the rolls in a steamer for approximately 30 minutes.
Hubby was leaving to Seattle the next day we got back from Indiana. He got a very nice hotel paid by the University, since he would present his work at that conference. As we realized, in this country, most lower middle class hotels provide continental breakfast. Some are good, some aren't, but it's enough to start a day. On the contrary, nice expensive hotels do not provide complimentary breakfast. Since I knew my that hubby wouldn't want to get hotel's nor conference's breakfast, let alone going to a restaurant to get breakfast, I proposed to bake bread for him. I knew exactly that he doesn't care much about himself whenever I am not with him. He would be super frugal such as having brunch instead of having both breakfast and lunch and eating just for survival. He didn't even want to bring camera. For him, going without me isn't a holiday. I have different philosophy. Hence hundreds pictures of me and my friends on several school field trips.
He wasn't happy with my idea of baking bread since we got home from Indiana at around 7pm. He said he preferred to spend time with me than having bread for breakfast. After persuading that making bread was a great idea, he let me to do that. I picked the easiest recipe that called for minimal yeast since I only had one and a half pack of instant yeast. I could see that Hubby wasn't pleased that we couldn't spend our night talking and doing nothing. I felt bad that I didn't pick up what he wanted, yet I was also annoyed that he was a bit grumpy. Baking was extremely hard with seeing someone unhappy around me. The dough wasn't mixed well enough because we were in the middle of watching a movie. The fermentation wasn't long enough because he asked too frequently when the bread would be done. Finally the bread was done slightly after midnight. Despite the improper process, the bread rose just fine.
Mom cooked stir fried pork for steamed bun filling for our trip to North Carolina, and the leftover filling was still in the fridge. I also cooked mung bean for the bun's filling, so the pork filling leftover was still plenty. Mom told me to use it as soon as possible before it got moldy. The other leftover in the fridge was turkey from our brother. The meat was gone except the part attached to the bone. The most part of the bone was still intact except the neck that was eaten the first time for us to try since that part would have been overdone if it had been taken out the same time as the main part of the bird.
I had plan to cook mie Bandung (Bandungnese famous noodle and its sides) when my in laws were still staying in our apartment, but our tight schedule didn't allow me to do so. So, while there was a chance, I made mie Bandung using leftover pork filling and turkey meat for ourselves. The bone was mixed with ginger then boiled for the soup. I also ground chicken breast and spiced it to make chicken dumplings yet I couldn't find the wrapper. After thorough searching, I believed that I put back the dumpling wrapper I was going to buy from grocery cart to its shelf when our parents and I went grocery shopping the other day. We did grocery shopping a lot when they were here, I couldn't recall which one had that dumpling-wrapper part.
Hubby said that was the best noodle he ever had. Hehe...he is such a supportive and loving hubby. But I agree that the mix of pork filling and the turkey was great. I only added a little sweet soy sauce and mushroom to it. The turkey soup was unbelievably flavorful. I doubted it initially. But turkey is fatty, even the cooked bone can still produce great broth. The noodle, that was mixed with fish sauce, soy sauce, and pepper, again brought back my childhood. Our date on that cold winter day was perfect with chopstick-licking (is there such word?) bowls of noodle.
The next day, we decided to drive up to Indiana to visit our parents and brother. We tried to get to Indiana before it was too late because the weather prediction said that it would be snowing in the evening. It was so fortunate to have this yummy noodle for lunch to minimize our stopping time.