31 October 2011

Bali Eats

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In preparation for an upcoming wedding (of mine that is) I decided to take leave from work for almost 1 month leading up to the wedding. To be clear however, my preparatory work involves mainly nursing those dark eye bags back where they came from, smoothening out the fine lines that have been creeping out of the corners of my eyes and, if heaven permits, banishing those scars left behind from zits that popped out as a form of protest against a combination of irregular/too little sleep and poor diet.

What better way to start off the break than a trip to Bali with some of my best buds, and of course my best friend and husband-to-be? Courtesy of recommendations from friends, we had pretty awesome meals at Metis (a french restaurant with mind-blowing foie gras), Made Warung (a restaurant whose Nasi Campur is delicious), Kolega (a local institution serving Nasi Padang and a beef soup that must not be missed), Ibu Oka (serving roast pig aka Babi Guling that runs out so fast we wished we set out for lunch earlier) and Naughty Nuri's (whose finger-lickin good ribs and insanely powerful Martini make for great games or conversations around the table).

I'm such a late bloomer and only realized the trove of good eats that is Bali. And even though many say it is slowly losing it's charm with greater commercialization of it's streets, increasingly jammed roads, and more polluted beaches, I don't think that's the last of Bali Ed and I will see.

Till then, perhaps I should try to recreate those crazy ribs from Naughty Nuri's! If anyone has a good roasted pork rib recipe, please share!

04 October 2011

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Half an hour into watching Nigella Lawson whip up a batch of 12 giant cookies in her Kitchenaid, Ed looked at me with a pitiful expression and described how much he wanted to eat them. I suppose it was no coincidence that the look came right after Nigella Lawson revealed that half a kilogram of chocolate went into those 12 cookies.

Suddenly inspired and thinking of the big block of Valrhona Dark Chocolate I had stashed away in the refrigerator, I pulled my Kitchenaid out of the sad recesses of the kitchen and placed it in it's rightful throne - between the sink and stove.

And these cookies were good! I wouldn't advise eating more than 1 at a go, though Ed downed 4 easily.

Now I'm thinking brioche or cinnamon rolls or just plain old brownies!

02 October 2011

Making Chicken Rice

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I generally shy away from cooking Southeast Asian food because they require so many different types of spices and so much effort, not to mention the fact that a very good rendition is probably available a hop and a skip away from wherever I am and can be purchased for a song.

However, ever since I tried making Tom Yam soup and Pho Bo, and realized how easy those were, I've learnt to question these assumptions and have been more open to cooking (or at least attempting to) Southeast Asian food. In some ways, you can say Ed's soft spot for food from around the region has been a key motivating factor as well.

That is not to say that I've been particularly successful at my attempts though. In my previous entry I mentioned how the Assam Laksa took a painful two and a half hours to complete. Mind you, there were three, sometimes four, persons working on the dish at any one time.

Today, I was inspired by Adam Liaw's cookbook with a recipe for Chicken Rice - possibly one of Ed's top five favorite dishes, ever. It sounded simple enough and the ingredient list was not too long nor diverse. All was well - forty minutes into the cooking and I was almost done. Minimal washing up seemed to be required (I cheated and used the rice cooker to fry the rice first) and the smell in the kitchen was promising.

And then I had to chop the chicken.

Even with a sharp cleaver and all the determination I could muster, I could not make clean, decisive chops at the chicken. Worse still, I wasn't prepared for all the juices to spill out of the chicken's cavity, onto the chopping board, countertop and down the kitchen cupboards before finally reaching the kitchen floor in all it's greasy goodness.

But after some (more) struggle and compromises (drumsticks and wings left whole), I managed to get the chicken onto a plate of sliced cucumbers. With newfound respect for those uncles (and the occasional aunty) who chop chicken in the shops, I tucked into the chicken rice with Ed. After all that effort, would I make it again? Maybe!

Adam Liaw's recipe worked quite well and on the whole it was tasty. I liked the fact that I had very little chopping to do, apart from the chicken. Mainly whole cloves of garlic or thick slices of unpeeled ginger were used. I made chicken rice before, using other recipes and Adam's unusual step of wrapping the cooked chicken in cling wrap after brushing it with sesame oil might have lent itself to the silky smooth skin. While I wasn't too sure about the chilli sauce recipe - I doubled the recipe and used a whopping 11 bird's eye chillies - they turned out well in the end. The bright tang of the lemon juice freshened up the dish, and for some reason the sauce was not as spicy as I thought it would turn out to be.

Can't wait to try his other recipes!