What I wished I knew in my 20s about cooking

2015 is just a couple of hours away, it’s exciting and sobering. I am a few weeks shy of a milestone birthday too, and it feels just as exciting as my 21st was.

It’s going to be a beginning of a new year, and as a parting note to the last hours of this year is “What I know in my 30s (almost) that I wished I knew in my 20s”.

1. Don’t cook chicken and beef at the same time and in the same pot to save time.

2. Always add a little salt at the beginning of the cooking stages and build up on the taste as you near completion. Once i didn’t add any salt, only much later into the cooking process before serving and the dish was awful.

3. I’m sure you know this already, to add some oil and salt cooking any pasta.

4. The biggest investment in a kitchen should be the fridge because that’s where you’ll preserve the quality of food and reduce waste.

5. Use cooking as a medium of self expression rather than to feed oneself

6. To preserve more family recipes before it’s too late

7. Eating out is nice too but eating in is private and brings people closer together

8. To master frying drumsticks

9. Forget the knife skills and use food processors and graters, it’s efficient and saves time

10. Not anything that looks good taste good

11. A good frying pan doesn’t scald you with popping oil

12. There are knives for bread, meat and vegetables and it slice much better using them

13. Share food/recipe and in return learn new recipes

14. I should follow my own advice but I shouldn’t eat in restaurants what I could make better at home

15. I believe food is love, cooking for people conveys your love for them, expressing it in making something they love to eat and seeing happiness from a simple dish is rewarding.

Happy 2015 everyone!

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Spicy Christmas dinner for 3

This is not a traditional Christmas dinner spread, and it’s not so much about celebrating Christmas and I usually don’t, it’s just end of the year feeling that gets me super excited. My taste buds needs a jolt, and I’m digging into my Asian palette to get me through it. First of I baked chili cod fish in a marinate of 3 dark sauces (oyster, fish sauce and soy), then threw in a few chilies, kafir leaves, garlic and lemon juice, I got myself a decent thai ‘ish fish recipe, and the husband keeps on cautioning me about spicy food while he can’t help himself with more of it, I tend to weigh in more on the gesture than words which makes me smile remembering it. This one ends with that zing on your tongue. Bake for 25 minutes under foil 200 Celsius. Note to self, do not add in salt, the dark sauces were salt substitute.

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The second dish is baked chicken with homemade sauce. This is a milder dish, we played this game where 2 of them guessed the ingredients.They guessed ridiculous things too, like coca-cola,eggs, white chocolate. In the end I caved in and told them what it was. I like to cut the chicken in large sizes because it shrank about 70% once it cooked, or I look at the vegetable on top, once it’s wilted and creased, it’s ready. I happen to have leftover pumpkin, carrots and broccoli so I layered it: sauce, vegetables, chicken, and then back to sauce. Bake for 30 minutes 215 Celsius.IMG_1299

I am contemplating on giving up using stove, especially for frying. This is probably a futile effort because some of the best Indonesian dishes come from frying things. Maybe next year. Merry Christmas and Happy new year, I hope 2015 will bring us all good health, luck and wealth.

Christmas lunch

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For Christmas lunch I decide to make Kebab halabi and Chicken paprika. It’s not as grand as a Christmas dinner (which is too much work), but I think this is the easy way to wiggle out of making one.

It was enough for 3 people, and the first to finish is the Kebab of course. If you are wondering, why it’s all protein and no carbs, it’s because the husband and I are on our second phrase of Dukan diet.

This is how I made it

  1. 2 packs of minced meat, mix in (grated onion, turmeric, salt, pepper, parsley), shape it and grill on high temperature for 15 minutes turn halfway during the process.
  2. 3 chicken breasts (cube it size L), mix in (grated celery, onions, carrot,salt,pepper,hot sauce, paprika) bake 215 Celcius, 30 minutes.

Baked beans (Yemeni recipe)

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Today I made a traditional Yemeni breakfast with a modern take. I don’t remember what my mother in law called it, but it’s baked beans, eggs, with Yemeni spices. Traditionally, we ate it in the morning with homemade bread, either with Adeni or Arabic mint tea.

I have the stone bowl (meda3) to make the baked beans, but I decided to try it with my new oven instead. I’m loving my Breville smart oven, it’s the best investment in my opinion.

This is how I made it

  1. Baked beans with tomato sauce
  2. 4 eggs, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, and Yemeni spice (use your favorite seasoning like Italian spice)
  3. 200 Celsius, leave to bake for 15-18 minutes.