Sunday, May 27, 2007

Indonesian Coffee Flan at!

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Photo by Yongkie Hurd

During my vacation at Portland, Oregon(see last blog), one exciting event I did was fulfilling Julie's request to present my Indonesian Coffee Flan recipe in her Everyday Dish.TV, a newly born website to present healthy and creative cooking. This is, indeed, a wonderful site with videotaped cooking shows (click on Cooking Show) where you can view what the dishes look like and how recipes are made, in short webtv segments. No measurements of ingredients are mentioned during the videotaping since you can find the recipes on the right hand side of the cooking show page. It is a smart idea for individuals who want to learn an easy-does-it cooking by using simple recipes and simple techniques.

I was, of course, NERVOUS, because the experience was really nerve-wrecking! It was my first experience being videotaped. Just try it, cooking something with someone breathing on your neck and watching you closely or from behind your back. In my case, it was the camera and the cameraman/director/producer, Jay. I was cooking under the shining bright lights everywhere. Hence, I have never cooked like this before. But Jay was very patience with me and methodical. At one time, he offered me a shot of tequila...hhmm....what a good idea! But I didn't take a shot and was able to go through it with his help. Let me know what you think of my video: Everyday presents Indonesian Coffee Flan. You may need to download the latest Quicktime 7 for Windows to view all the cooking shows in this site. If you are an iPod user, you can subscribe and download all cooking shows from this site. DH happens to get an iPod for his birthday and will be able to show his wife cooking to everyone he knows. :-)

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Indonesian Coffee Flan is a recipe I invented because an acquaintance visited an Indonesian restaurant, had this dessert, and wanted to know how to make it. The secret ingredients are Indonesian Palm Sugar called Gula Jawa, Pandan (Southeast Asian flavoring leaf smells like vanila, also called screwpine leaf), vanilla, and a good coffee. I grew up with these ingredients and have always used agar powder in making jello-like desserts. I didn't know that gelatin powder that is used commonly in the US is made of an animal ingredient until I became a vegetarian and was told so. Indonesians have always used agar powder which is derived from seaweed for gelling desserts.

You may say, 'Wow these are EXOTIC ingredients! How can I find these ingredients?' If you live in a metropolitan area, you can find these ingredients in asian markets who usually carry Indonesian ingredients. You may find Gula Jawa (palm sugar) and agar powder in the aisle of Thai or Indonesian ingredients and the pandan leaves in the frozen section. It is very unfortunate that I can't find fresh pandan leaves in the States. The aroma of fresh pandan leaves is so wonderful!

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Agar powder found in Asian markets in small packages

If you live in a non-metropolitan area, you can find on-line sources for gula jawa: IndoMerchant or Indonesian Food Mart; agar powder: or Amazon , and pandan essence (use 1 to 2 teaspoons):

Monday, May 21, 2007

Portland, VegFest, Veganized Molé Rojo, Molé Verde, and Tamales!

I was traveling to Portland, Oregon, from May 10 - 14, 2007. The purpose was to visit friends (Julie Hasson, Bryanna, and Yongkie) and to attend Portland's VegFest 2007.

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It was a delightful journey to be close to friends I met in the Internet. Yes, Internet is a great place to meet friends who have the same taste and ideas.

Take a look at Bryanna's Blog: Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen about this event. I also went to Powell's bookstore and attended Bryanna's and Julie's demos at the VegFest. It was a lot of fun! Then, we all had a vegan asian fusion dinner at Julie's. Yum!

At Powell's (the biggest bookstore I've ever been), I bought new cookbooks. I love cookbooks! The one that was outstanding to me was the Mole! cookbook by Gwyneth Doland. It is not a vegan cookbook but I am able to veganize the recipes. I also want to make tamales with the veganized molé sauces I made from this cookbook.

It was a success! I made Vegan Molé Rojo (red molé).

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The ingredients are guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, new mexico chiles, whole cloves, canela (Mexican cinnamon), whole all spice, pecan halves, almonds, garlic, onions, tomatoes, bittersweet chocolate, and veg. broth.

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The next sauce is Vegan Molé Verde (green molé).

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The ingredients are tomatillos, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), canela(Mexican cinnamon), whole cloves, whole cumin seeds, garlic, onions, fresh pasilla chiles, fresh jalapeno chiles, fresh cilantro, and veg. broth.

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Mole Verde
Adapted and veganized from Mole! cookbook by Gwyneth Doland
Makes about 3 cups
3/4 lbs. tomatillos, husked and washed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup pepitas or pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
3-inch piece of canela or Mexican cinnamon
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Put the tomatillos and broth in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain the tomatillos and save the broth.
  2. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the pepitas, cumin seeds, cloves, and canela until the seeds start to pop and turn golden.
  3. Transfer the seeds and spices to the blender and puree with about 1 cup of the reserved broth from the tomatillo pot. With a rubber spatula, scrape the puree into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Transfer the tomatillos to the empty blender. Add the jalapeno and poblano chiles, onion, and garlic. Puree while adding 1 cup of the reserved broth.
  5. Add the cilantro and puree again until smooth. Scrape this puree into a large bowl.
  6. In the cast-iron skillet, heat oil. Transfer the pepitas and spices mixture back to the skillet and fry this mixture in the oil until it browns slightly.
  7. Add the pureed tomatillos mixture to the skillet. Mix well and heat thoroughly. Add more broth if the mixture is too thick. Season with salt. Serve immediately or it can also be store in a freezer until ready to use.
Then, I made tamales' fillings using soy curls, onions, garlic, zucchini, red bell pepper, and cilantro. The fillings were cooked in these molé sauces.

Here is the picture of Molé Rojo Vegan Tamale:

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and the Molé Verde Vegan Tamale:

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BTW, I added Smoked Cheddar Sheese inside the Molé Verde Vegan Tamale and it was delish!

Now, this is a teaser for you. I won't post the recipes here but will include the recipes in Bryanna's Vegan Feast Newsletter . I haven't submitted recipes for a while so I thought I'll share my experience with vegan feasters only in the Readers' Recipes section.
On top of cooking and buying cookbook, I also went to visit my ex-roommate, Carolyn, that I haven't seen for 15 years. She suggested that we visit Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Rhododendrons are also known as Rhodies were flowering at that time. This turned out to be the highlight of my trip. We spent 2 hours in the garden and took a lot of pictures with my new camera, Canon Rebel XT Digital SLR. It was also Mother's Day that day. I promised my mother-in-law and my mom to share the pictures with them as I was thinking of them while strolling in the garden. For viewing the pictures, click here. I can't thank enough to Carolyn and her husband Michael to take me to this beautiful garden.
After enjoying the garden for 2 hours, we were famish. We went to this Lebanese restaurant(Yongkie's suggestion): Nicholas Restaurant for the best lunch I ever had in Portland. It is a family restaurant and very small. It has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options (check out their menu). This is the kind of restaurant I love: informal, family owned, small, located in not so great part of town (not in a mall or fancy location) but the waitresses and waiters are friendly and....the food is GREAT and CHEAP!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vegan Dark Moist Spice Cake and DH's "Surprised the Guests" Birthday Party!

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It was DH's (Dear Husband) birthday! I made a vegan Dark Moist Spice Cake from More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts by Fran Costigan (my favorite dessert cookbook) for his birthday. This was an unusual request for a cake for DH who likes CHOCOLATE! I guess he wanted to be 'different' this year. Before I tell you all about this scrumptious cake, I would like to tell you about his 'surprised the guests' birthday celebration.

He had a 'surprised the guests' birthday celebration this year. This was how he was going to surprise his guests:

  1. He didn't tell his guests that it was his birthday. This was hard but apparently possible.
  2. He wanted to surprise his guests to tell them that it was his birthday party with a cake that had a Happy Birthday candle on it, at the end of the party, dessert time.
  3. He wanted to present un-birthday gifts for all guests at the party.

His plan worked great so far as the middle of dinner. The phone rang and none of us got up and thought that we let the machine picked it up. It was DH's brother who left a message on the machine loudly "Hi, it's me, your brother from Missouri, Happy Birthday....." Ooops, the cat is out of the bag! Almost all of the guests heard the message and together they yelled "OH, IT"S HIS BIRTHDAY!" It was funny. I was laughing so hard. Of course, everyone said things like 'Oh, I didn't bring anything' or 'Oh, I didn't buy a card for him.' But that's exactly what DH wanted. Indeed, the phone message was a good way to break the news. Then, he gave his surprised un-birthday gifts for all his guests who were suprisingly happy to receive it. The cake was not a surprised anymore but they all were still surprised by how scrumptious it was for a vegan cake.

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It was indeed a delicious cake! It was moist (dark molasses and maple syrup), spicy (ginger, cloves, and cinnamon), and tender. It's topped and filled with Ginger Tofu Whip (tofu, ginger juice, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla, and a tiny bit of nutmeg). I also used maple sugar. Believe it or not, there is NO WHITE PROCESSED SUGAR in this cake! But yet it was yummy. If you like to know who invented such a healthy but sensational desserts, check out Fran Costigan's website. I recently saw her on TV making her recipe Chocolate Cake to Live For in Get Fresh with Sara Snow in Discovery Health program. YAY, Fran!

P.S.: Dinner menu consisted of (from start to end): Lentil and Walnut Paté and Muhammara dips served with crackers and fresh cut veggies, Tom Yum Soup , Spicy Seitan Stew, Confetti Rice with Coconut (these last 3 dishes were from my last blog entry), stir-fried Variety of Organic Vegetables, and Dark Moist Spice Cake.