Friday, October 26, 2007

Witch Hat cookies

Flat round cookies
Big chocolate Kisses
Orange icing

Put a chocolate Kiss in the middle of each cookie. Glue the Kiss in place with the orange icing. Pipe the icing around the bottom of the Kiss to make the hat band. These cookies were a big hit at my son Benny's halloween party at his school today.

Eyeball Cupcakes

Makes approximately 40-45 mini cupcakes

Mini baking cups with foil liners
1 recipe batter for white cupcakes (I use Pillsbury)
1 recipe vanilla butter cream frosting (I use reduced sugar one Pillsbury)
red decorating gel
small black jelly beans
round candies with hole in the middle (I use soft Life Saver candies)

Put the mini baking cups on top of a baking pan. Fill the cups two-thirds full with batter and bake the cupcakes as directed in the recipe. I used mini baking cups, so I reduced the time by 15 minutes.

Frost the cupcakes. Pile the frosting up a little in the center to make a sort of domed shape, more like an eyeball. To make the surface smooth, dip a butter or frosting/palette knife in hot water and smooth it over the top of the frosting.

Use the red decorating gel to draw vein patterns on the tops of the cupcake. Make the veins radiate from the center of the cupcake to make the bloodshot quality more realistic. Cut the jelly beans in half. Place a jelly bean half into the circle of the round candy. Now you have an iris and a pupil. Place this in the center of a cupcake. Continue with the rest of the eyeballs.

If you want to check the original recipe, click here! Which is better for you? Mine or theirs?

Fingers Treat

2 packet Lady Fingers
1 large bag (11 1/2 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips or you can use chocolate spread Nuttela
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In double boiler melt the chocolate chips with vegetable oil. Coat the lady fingers with melted chocolate. Let the chocolate dry. Use a black decorating gel to draw knuckle marks on the lady finger. Attach almond slice fingernails to the tips of the lady fingers. Would you like some fingers treat?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tarantula Marshmallow

Makes approximately 25 - 30 tarantulas

I found this recipe at epicurious. But I didn't have time to do everything from scratch. So, I read the reviews and I found out that the tarantula body can be substituted with marshmallow. Horay !!!

1 packet big marshmallows
1 bag thin - short pretzel sticks
1 large bag (11 1/2 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp vegetables oil
chocolate sprinkles
small red candies

Halved the pretzel sticks to 2 inches. Press the tips of each of the pretzel sticks firmly into the marshmallow. Continue with the rest of the pretzels and marshmallow.

In double boiler, melt the chocolate chips with vegetable oil until smooth.

Brush the melted chocolate over each tarantula. Coat with chocolate sprinkles. Press in two red candy eyes on the front of the head.

Compare with the tarantula cookies one at epicurious, mine is not bad huh ... hehehe ;)

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Cooking Story

When I lived in Indonesia, I never cooked. Our helpers did the cooking for us or we bought food. But, when I came to the US, I had to do everything by myself, including cooking. My question was: how do I feed my family?

Many thanks to my mother-in-law, Cynthia, who patiently taught me how to cook. That is why most of my recipes are American and Italian food. Since then, I became interested in cooking. From "I had to cook" to "I love to cook." Cooking is fun !

Trying new recipes is my hobby. Sometimes I challenge myself to make a delicious dish (for me at least haahaa ...) by mixing some good recipes and adding a little more stuff. And voila ... it's a good one! It is satisfying to cook good food!

I still don't know how to cook Indonesian food. Well, I know just a little about it. I have been asking suggestions to my mother how to cook it. Thank you so much Ibu! Hopefully my Indonesian food label will have a lot of posts someday. :)

I am a very busy mother, so some of my recipes are semi-homemade. It means that sometimes I use store-bought food for my cooking. But don't worry, I still post the recipes from scratch, especially for you. ;)

I made a cooking blog because I want to share my recipes and my five years of cooking experiences with everyone. But five years experience is not enough to be called a good cook. Of course I still have to learn a lot about it.

Please help me by giving critiques, comments, and suggestions from all of you, my friends, so my cooking can be better. Thank you! I hope this blog is useful for everyone. Enjoy! :)

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis

I tried to make flourless chocolate cake several times, finally I made one that fit my taste. Since then this cake and its friend: the raspberry coulis, are always a big hit. Enjoy!

For the cake:
1 pound Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter plus 1/2 tbsp
1/4 orange juice
8 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
Confectioners sugar or cocoa powder, for garnish
Fresh raspberries, for garnish
Cream cheese frosting (optional)

For raspberry coulis:
10 oz ( 1 pkg ) frozen raspberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon juice
2 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon juice

For cream cheese frosting:
See the recipe here.

Fresh raspberry for garnish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

For the cake:
Boil water in a kettle for water bath.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tbsp butter. Line bottom with a parchment paper. Cover pan underneath and along sides with 3 layers of foil and set in a roasting pan.

Boil water in a medium saucepan. Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water. Stirring constantly until smooth. Cool it. Add the orange juice and stir it until just blend. Set aside.

Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and mix with electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5-10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Repeat this process until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into prepared springform pan and place in the roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides (water bath). Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set about 35-40 minute. Remove cake from roasting pan and cool on wire rack. Remove foil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cake from refrigerator. Remove springform pan sides, cover the cake with plastic wrap, and invert cake onto flat surface, and peel away parchment paper from bottom. Reinvert cake on a large plate.

For the cream cheese frosting:
Put the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe straight down onto the cake, release pressure and make a circular motion with your hand. Put on top of every icing with a fresh raspberry. Have fun and be creative with your design!

When you ready to serve, slice into wedges and drizzle it with raspberry coulis. Yum!

Chester Steaks: Sirloin Tips With Spicy Sweet Soy-Lime Sauce

This recipe is actually my family's secret recipe. Ha ha ha ... just kidding! We had been searching for a simple and delicious steak marinade for a long time. Finally, my husband found one online. Since then, we have always used this recipe. Usually we serve the steak with its friend: spicy sweet soy-lime sauce, asparagus and mushroom stir-fry, and warm white rice. We love it!

For marinate the steaks:
2 pounds Angus Sirloin Tips
1/3 cup steak seasoning (I use Montreal Steak seasoning)
1 cup Olive oil (regular, not evoo)
1/3 cup salty Soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)

For the sauce:
half red onion, coarsely chopped. Or you can use 8 shallots
3 to 4 habanero peppers. Or you can use 3 red and 3 green chilies
1/3 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce (I use kecap bango)
juice of 2 limes

See my recipe for asparagus and mushroom stir-fry

Turn on the grill

For the steaks:
Combine the Montreal Steak, olive oil, and soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix until the soy sauce is thoroughly mixed into the olive oil. Put the steaks into the bowl and make sure they are well coated with the marinade.

Grill the steaks on a medium high heat for 7 minutes on each side. Make sure you let the excess marinade drip off before you put them on the grill or you will have flare-ups. Cooking time will vary, depending on your grill.

Let them cool for 5 minutes so that the juice from the steak won't be running out. Cut them into thin slices - make sure you cut against the grain so that the meat is most tender.

For the sauce:
Combine together red onions, hot peppers, sweet soy sauce, and lime juice into a bowl. Mix them well.

Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry

1 packet of asparagus
1 small packet of slice button mushrooms
2 tbsp butter

In a frying pan, blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, set aside. Wipe the frying pan dry.

In the same pan, saute mushrooms in butter until soft. Season the mushroom with salt and pepper. Put the asparagus back into the frying pan, mix them with the mushroom until just combined. Transfer to a plate and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Rugelach Cookies

You got to try this recipe. My husband and I fell in love with this cookies the first time I made them. The great thing is: you can freeze them unbaked, so you can have fresh cookies anytime you want. Defrost them completely before baking.

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 pound or 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tbsp
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk, for eggs wash

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl with a electric mixer until light. Add 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and vanilla. If you have a good electric mixer, on low speed, you can add the flour until just combined. Because I didn't have one, I mixed them with a wooden spatula. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make filling, combine 6 tbsp of sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Prepare the raisins and put them in different bowl.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tbsp apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling but not the raisins. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges. If you want to make a smaller shape, you can cut the circle into 24 equal edge wedges. Sprinkle the raisin on top of them. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Roast Chicken With Gravy

I made this dish especially for my son, Benny, on his birthday. This is a delicious recipe that I got from my dearest mother in-law. Thank you Cynthia!

For the chicken:
1 whole chicken with pop-up timer
1 lemon, cut into wedges
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled

For the gravy:
2-3 cups of water
2-3 tbsp flour

kitchen string (approx: 10-15 inches)
roasting pan
paper towel: to pat the washed chicken
kitchen brush

Preheat the oven 400 degrees F

Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl. Put aside.

Put a roasting pan next to the kitchen sink. Wash the chicken and take out the giblets. Pat the chicken with a paper towel. Put the chicken into the roasting pan and rub it with salt and pepper. Put the lemon wedges and the garlic inside the chicken. Tie the chicken legs with kitchen string.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast the chicken until the timer pops, about 1 1/2 hours. Check the chicken after 1 hour and brush it with the "chicken juice" (grease from the chicken) in the roasting pan. Continue to cook. When the timer has popped, the chicken is cooked. I like to let it cook 15 more minutes to get the skin nice and crispy.

To make gravy, transfer the roast chicken to another plate and cover it with foil. Meanwhile, put the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium high heat. Add the flour into the chicken juice in the roasting pan and mix them with a whisker. Pour water into the roasting pan and increase the heat to high heat. Stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Be careful not to make it too salty. Continue cooking until the gravy is thick. Pour it into a gravy bowl or any small bowl. Serve with warm rice.

Apple Crisp

Serves 4 to 6

Cooking apples: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Macoun

For the apple
6-8 medium to large cooking apples, cored and cut into wedges
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

For the topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter an 8" square baking dish.

Combine the apple wedges with lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into the dish.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and butter. Mix with your finger until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the apples.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the apples are bubbly and the crust is brown. Serve warm.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saffron Orzo with Shrimp

Serves 6 to 8

Recipe from: Giada de Laurentis

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp saffron threads
1 pound orzo (small, rice-shaped pasta). I used "Da Vinci" orzo, but you can use any brand
7 tbsp evoo (extra-virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and devined

In a large pot, boil the chicken broth. Simmer, add saffron, stir until the saffron has cooked about 5 minutes. Bring back the broth to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still "al dente" (firm to the bite). Stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Depends on the kind of the orzo, some orzo don't absorb all the liquid, so you have to drain it. I didn't have to do it with mine (Da Vinci). Transfer to a large bowl. Combine 4 tbsp of evoo, the parsley, half the lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and the remaining lemon juice. Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of evoo in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp
and cook until they are just turning pink, about 2 minutes per side. Add the shrimp to the bowl with the orzo. Toss them and serve.

Tips: when you have to serve it at room temperature, make sure you stir the orzo occasionally to avoid clumping.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mascarpone CheeseCake

Makes 2 cheesecakes
Serves 8 to 12 each

2 ready-to-use graham cracker pie crusts. But if you want to make it from scratch, you can see my recipe for graham cracker pie crust.

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperatur
2 (8 oz) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperatur
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis.

See my recipe for glaze.

Use whipped cream for extra flavor.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

For the crust:
Wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan tightly with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Unwrap the ready to use crust and put it inside the springform pan.

For the filling:
In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat until well blended but not to much. Pour the cheese mixture over the each crust in the springform. Place the each springform pan in a roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the two cheesecakes moves slightly when the springform is gently shaken, about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the cake to a rack until it is cool, about 1 hour. Refrigerate over night until the cheesecake is cold.

For the topping:
Halve some the strawberries and arrange around the edge of the cake. For the next circle, use the blueberries. Add another circle of kiwi slices. Fill in any spaces with blueberries. In the center of the cake, make a flower shape using strawberries slices. Finally, put a blueberry in the center of the strawberry flower. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire cheesecakes toping. Have fun and be creative with the design.

Keep the cheese cakes in the refrigerator. Slice into 8 to 12 wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Glaze for Pies and Other Treats

1 (6 oz) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Put together the limeade, sugar, cornstarch, lime juice in a small saucepan. Cook it until it is thick and clear. Let it cool.

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the cracker crumbs and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and continue to grind until it is moist. Press the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Bake it until it is beginning to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let it cool.

Whipped Cream

2 cups of cold whipping or heavy cream
2 tbsp granulated sugar or powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla until it has stiff peaks.

Ayam Wailuyuk

It's stir fry chicken, cauliflower, and pineapple in tomato sauce. Special thanks to Mbak Ida from Indonesia who made this delicious recipe. You can see her original recipe here.

For the chicken:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 packet of sliced chicken for stir fry
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flower
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper

For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 habanero peppers (if you like very hot). You can use jalapeno peppers (seeded and sliced diagonal)
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup of water or you can use reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2/3 15 oz tomato sauce
- 3/4 tsp ground pepper
- a pinch of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cauliflower head, cored, cut into florets
- 1/2 pineapple, diced into small bites
- 1 tbsp corn starch, mix with room temperature water

Put sliced chicken into the egg batter and dredge it into the flower mixture. Fry the chicken in the oil until golden brown. Put aside.

Heat the oil in medium, heavy skillet, over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic and saute it until fragrant. Add the hot peppers, the oyster sauce, and the soy sauce. Saute it for a little bit. Add the water or chicken broth and let it boil. Add the tomato sauce, the ground pepper, and the sugar. Add the cauliflower and cook it but not overdone. Add the chicken and the pineapples. Add the corn starch. Stir it until it well mix. Ayam Wailuyuk is ready to be served with warm white rice ... hmm yummy!!!

Turkey Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Honestly, I am addicted with this recipe. It's super easy, super yummy and super fast too. And also healthier than regular pork bacon. This recipe is great to entertain your family and friends, I guarantee they will love it!

I cut the turkey bacon in half, cross wise, so that when you wrap the scallop, the bacon is not too thick. I use turkey bacon from Oscar Meyer 50% less fat. If the scallop is too big I cut it in half.

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1 packet turkey bacon, halve slices crosswise
extra virgin olive oil
4 green onions, chopped thinly

Heat the broiler. Wrap each sea scallop in a half slice of turkey bacon and secure it with toothpick. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Place the turkey bacon wrapped scallops onto the baking sheet. Season them with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with olive oil. Put them under the broiler. After 8-9 minutes, transfer them to a plate and discard the juice from the scallops. Put them back to the baking sheet, turn it over and let them cook for another 8-9 minutes, or until they are crisp.

Move some of the cooked turkey bacon wrapped scallops with tongs onto platter covered with two layers of paper towel and pat them with another paper towel to discard the excess oil. Put the dry ones on another platter. Do the same thing with the rest of them. Arrange them and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Enjoy!