Monday, November 26, 2012

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread 4 Monkey Bread 3

It is Bread Week on Natural Cooking Club! Time to put your favorite bread recipe into action, knead and rise, bake and celebrate this humble food ever exists!

I love bread for its everything. Versatility, variety, history, and ultimately the fun of making it. Just like diving, you'll find what you specifically look for. If you seek adventure, you'll find one. Whether in yeasty dough, rustic starter sourdough, or the light soda bread and baking powder biscuit, you'll get a personal different experience you hardly forget. If you seek comfort, making it was like a meditation, and nothing can beat the comfort of home-baked bread coming right out of your own kitchen. If you need to get your creative juice running, endless of possibility was laid out in front of you, creating your own version of bread that adds to the already gigantic global variety. If you seek romantic past time reminiscing, the aroma will take you there, to the time where life was simple and problems were either to make loaves now or later after the strawberries were picked.

I love Monkey Bread. I love how it looks, how fun it is to make and eat, and how the unbeatable sweet cinnamon bursts in your mouth, covers your fingers to lick clean. I even love the name! For this Monkey Bread, I used my favorite Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread. Seriously, you can use any bread recipe you like, even biscuits, which I actually plan to make one with. The "monkey" is the shaping process. You ball the dough, dip it into melted butter, throw it in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat, arrange in a pan. You can add nuts or raisins to the cinnamon, add honey to the melted butter, anything you fancy. You can even fill the ball first before dipping and coating, i'm thinking.. cheese cream?

That's it. When you turn it out of the pan onto a plate, you get a beautiful mounded pull-out breads. 
Shiny, gooey, rustic. There, you get your monkey :)

Monkey Bread 2

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sony SLT-A55V: Killer!

Salmon Salad
Taken by Citra Anggraini Kusuma

What do you expect from a mirrorless camera? I expect smaller and lighter camera, of course, yet reliable to produce near-DSLR quality photos, of course. Not too much to ask, huh?

I was lucky the other day, my friend lent me his Sony SLT-A55V with two lenses: 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 and  50mm f/1.4. I know I always appreciate any camera, how simple it is, how complicated it is. Every camera is special and personal. As if it has its own life and character that communicates and adapts accordingly to its master. But I gotta say I was blown away by this baby.

Sony didn't pay me to write this post. Although it will be nice if they did :D
But you can browse on Shopbot to find even newer release of the camera.

The focus is deadly fast and accurate, color is amazing, sharpness and crispness are beyond expectation. I took it to the Food Photography Workshop where Citra, my foodstylist, and I had fun playing with it and produced great food photos. I also took it with me on my diving trip to Tulamben, Bali, as I thought my DSLR would be too bulky to carry.

So these are the photos taken with the camera with no or minimum editing. And by minimum, I mean one or two clicks max on level or color balance.


California Sushi Rolls Fish and Chips

Gado-Gado Tea & Palmier Pastry

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Late Lunch: Mustard Omelette & Bang-Jo Salad

Mustard Omelette & Veggie Salad
One of my bad habits is that once I start working on anything, I tend to be unable to stop until I finish it all. So I often had a late lunch. Not a healthy habit, I know.

Living in a dense area with a university right behind my kitchen, eating places swarm around my neighborhood like ants to candy. I could easily buy whatever I want for my meal, and I do, from two of them which had passed my inspection as being healthy enough, descent enough, and hygienic enough to eat. Although sometimes I'm not really sure about the latter. I usually was exhausted from work, so I just let go. As long as it has enough raw vegetables and is sold in a house, not by the street where carbon monoxide is expected to be all over, I can live with it.

But when I have the energy to prepare my meal, and I often do, I just open my fridge and improvise from there. One afternoon, I had all these beautiful free range eggs, grainy mustard, gorgeous red and green veggies, and I was sold. Turned them into a delish omelette and red-green salad, and I had a beautiful healthy late lunch.

The name Bang-Jo salad I got from when I was on a trip to Jepara and was looking for a direction. A man said, "Go straight until the bang-jo." I frowned. Later I found out that bang-jo was a short for abang-ijo, means red-green in Javanese, means traffic light. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holy Mission On Earth

Bangket Kacang - before baking

Time flies. Yet another year, another idul fitri. I didn't plan to sell lebaran cookies this year, due to time and mental constraint. We have to finish wrapping up material for the upcoming book of NCC at the beginning of Ramadhan, that alone took me more than a week to recover. Then I still taught a few classes during fasting month, another slow recovery. Yet, I still craved to have obligatory cookies for idul fitri. No, it's not nastar nor kaasstengels. For me, those obligatory cookies are bangket :) Haha, you might be sick of this word by now, I don't care :D

Around mid Ramadhan last year, I baked Bangket Kacang using unpeeled peanuts, coz there is no way I would leave that beautiful tasty skin behind. It created the pretty specks on my bangket and it tasted better to my palate. I baked them again this year, around the same time of Ramadhan, along with its peer, Bangket Susu. The photo above was from last year, which later became the inside title cover of my book.

The Towers 1

So much for the plan, it wasn't quite agreed by a few customers. Allah The Most Beneficent. Some of them called, some of them twitted. I never thought I would feel guilty rejecting their orders, so I referred them to a friend instead, hoping they would be as satisfied. That worked for common cookies like Nastar, Kaasstengels, and such. But when they insisted on ordering PennyLane Cookies, I just had to fulfill it. It's my call, my holy mission on earth.

So, yeah. There I was, in my kitchen again, having fun baking the chocolate cookies, mound after mound, tower after tower. Not much, 12 towers in total, but satisfying as the sun. Allah The Most Compassionate. I have to say though, it was one of the greatest temptation that I could not lick the batter!

The Towers 2

Eid mubarak, everyone.
Forgive me for everything. And I mean everything.

1 Syawal 1433 H,

ps: all the bangkets were gone even before idul fitri *sigh*
so, so, so much for the plan..

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chocolate-Peanut Spread

Choco-nut Spread 1

I have this little book for 2 years now, "200 Chocolate Recipes" by Felicity Barnum-Bobb. I use it for food photography purpose and never tried any recipes in it. Until one night I was thinking it's time for the book to fulfill its destiny in my hand.

How I wished we grow hazelnuts locally in this country, coz a jar of homemade Nutella won't hurt at all. But I love peanuts just the same. I can finish a jar of Skippy crunchy peanut butter by myself and not feel guilty at all :). So when I poured the shiny chocolate spread into 2 half-pint mason jars, I couldn't help but feeling gleeful inside, almost could feel the dancing of two most delightful food in the world on my tongue already.

It was that good I felt like spooning all night. Literally :)

Choco-nut Spread 2

100% Whole Wheat Loaf

Whole Wheat Bread 2

"Who says whole wheat bread has to be dense, dry, and tasteless? This 100% whole wheat recipe features the delightfully nutty taste of wheat in a fine-grained, moist, faintly sweet loaf."
You know what, they speak the truth. When I read the review, it didn't take long before I ran to baking store  and be back in my kitchen to try the recipe. By the time the sun smeared the sky purple in the afternoon, I've had a wondrous yeasty fragrant kitchen and the best home-baked wholewheat loaf for my afternoon tea. Could life be any sweeter?

I'd been in quest for a good one-hundred-percent wholewheat bread for quite some time that I almost gave up. They're always too dense, too dry, didn't taste really good, or I had to give up some part of the flour for white flour. But this, I love! Got it from King Arthur Flour website, tweaked a little bit, and I have a foolproof recipe I always can count on. Been baking this several times now and for me it's a life saver. Can't count on the so-called wholewheat loaf they sell in the bakeries, let alone supermarket. You have to find a European style bakery to get a full wholegrain bread in Jakarta. Last time I checked, only Vineth Bakery still sells this thing. Others only sell the fake ones, the ones contained only about 10-20% wholewheat flour in them. And they don't even taste good.

One afternoon I enjoyed it with homemade chocolate-peanut spread and fresh cheesecream, another time I had it with vegetables and homemade mayo for lunch. Call me wholewheat crazy, I'm happy.

Whole Wheat Bread 3

Bangket Susu

Bangket Susu in the Jar

That milky floury super crumbly melt-in-your-mouth sensation which had been around through generations. In other words, yet another Bangket :)

Yea, yea, another little known fact that Bangket takes control of me like a charm. For this coming idul fitri, I have nothing in mind but bangket after bangket. I planned to bake Bangket Susu, Bangket Kacang and Bangket Jahe --which by the way, I have found the best recipe of--, but turned out only accomplished the first two. And finished them all even before idul fitri. Couldn't help it!

This is the famous Bangket Susu by Nadrah Shahab. Other than the already famous virtues of bangket, this one particularly boasts the milky aroma that surprisingly goes really well with the distinctive character of savor of sago flour. Two years ago, Natural Cooking Club took the community by the storm with its Bangket Week, where the members deliriously baked nothing but bangket to respect and honor this traditional cookies of Indonesia. I've had it a year before when Nadrah sent me one jar, along with a jar of Bangket Kacang. So when the Bangket Week was on, the two bangkets were stars in a matter of seconds.

The original recipe uses margarine which I initially planned to substitute with butter. I was run out of butter, so I used oil instead and it produced different texture than those made of butter or margarine. When the oil mixed with flour, it created lumps that later when baked turned to be these wonderful crunchy things inside the crumbly cookies, things the original one doesn't have. On the exterior, they created beautiful cracks adorning each cookie beautiful like pretty laces. Oh, how lovely little nibble!

Bangket Susu

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Pride of Dieng

On The Table


I know it doesn't feel brand new here with me retaining the old design. What can I say, I'm either an old fashioned blogger or just too lazy to whip up a new design. In which the latter seems to be more likely. Nevertheless, it feels home, doesn't it? Although I'm not quite sure if I'm still into blogging. Despite the time constraint, if I'm still into this, I should've always been able to find time to blog, shouldn't I? To take pictures and write. When I keep coming up with the same old reason not to blog, doesn't it say something? So why bother then?

Gee, you know what? I don't know. Maybe I just miss it. Or being too nostalgic. Maybe I just don't wanna let go yet. Or maybe, by keeping up blogging I'm hoping to be able to go back to those good old times. When everything seemed to be simpler and time was abundant.

Oh, screw.

I wanna tell you a story about the pride of Dieng Plateau. Carica and Dieng potatoes.