He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast in his heart.
– C. S. Lewis
The past few days, my taste bud has been somewhat off. I am craving for something that I don’t even know what. I’d thought I wanted some pasta, only to turn it down after one taste. I’d thought I wanted some cheese, making H got up and fetched it from the fridge, I changed my mind. It seems sweets are all I want these days.
I had thought I knew all that I needed to know about sugar and the variety there are. Then I came to France and went grocery shopping, wanting to buy a regular white sugar. Boy, was I dumbfounded with the many options for a simple sugar. Even with a decent level of french, I could not make sense any of it.
There is sucre cristallisé (your every day white sugar), sucre semoule & sucre en poudre (finer than regular white sugar, aka castor sugar), sucre glace (icing sugar), perles de sucre (pearl sugar) then there’s cassonade (natural brown sugar), sucre de canna (unrefined brown sugar), and then there’s sugar in sachet the commonly use in french baking: sucre vanille (sugar infused with vanilla). There are more, I’m sure. Needless to say, my pantry is now filled with several variety of sugar, as if I’m a sugar collector.
I never get to make chouquettes, a classic french snack, the whole reason I bought the pearl sugar in the first place. But here’s a really delicious recipe with pearl sugar, for breakfast or for snacks..
Do you know that you can make a fresh pasta dough with KitchenAid in 5 mins flat? I kid you not. Flour, eggs and if needed, a little water (if dough is too dry) or more flour (too wet), that’s it. The machine does all the kneading. How come I only know about it, like, now??? I was so ready to get my hands dirty, but hey, had I known it’s this simple, I would have made one sooner! Btw, Jamie Oliver does one with food processor, you can watch it here.
Don’t worry about les grumeaux, i.e. the lumps, they will disappear as soon as you pass them through the pasta attachment. But it helps if you use the finer flour possible. I used Type 45, under MasterChef brand. Ha!
Voila. Boil them in a pot of hot water before using.
This year’s Eid, I don’t know why I kept on thinking about my maternal grandmother. She usually made ketupat (rice cake in woven palm leaves), chicken curry, mutton curry, sayur lodeh and few other side dishes like sambal telur goreng (spicy deep fried egg) to celebrate the day. Occasionally she would send them by courier to us in Jakarta while other times she would come to visit us. She never wanted to leave her home, deep in Sumatra island, even when she needed to be taken care of. She was always an independent woman, one who wore a bright red lipstick. I used to savor her lipstick mark on my cheeks until my mom reached over and rubbed it off.
I got a lipstick mark, I was kissed, I was loved and nothing else matters.
When she was still alive, she never could stay still. She would wake up at 4am to run (even when her knees couldn’t support her anymore). She drove a boxy 4WD Daihatsu Taft when a woman driving a car was unheard of. She had a pretty successful restaurant and later a hair salon during the time men still expect women to stay at home. Many said she was a sharp business woman, but her business acumen never was passed down to the following generations. It wasn’t up till the morning of my wedding day, I was clued in to the “family secret”. That she was a mother and a grandmother to us in every sense of the word, except in DNA. Quelle horreur! Imagine the kind of scandal this was back in 1950s.
Yeah, that’s my mama. A woman of her own.
So, in memory of my beloved grandmother, the one who always told me to study hard, to go further, who left her small town to check out my university, and who always cooked all our favorites whenever we visited her, here’s Lontong with Sayur Lodeh and Sambal Telur Goreng. I miss you mama, selamat Idul Fitri!
There must be a moment, however brief, when you cease to be.
- NY Times Haiku
Accras de morue is fritters made from salted cod fish. Originally of Portuguese origin, but also largely eaten in the Caribbean, Martinique, Guadalupe and Barbados. In France, Accras is almost always synonymous to the Caribbean, it is as if the original version is made there. We certainly ate this in Angola and in Mauritius, though I didn’t particularly pay too much attention on their differences.
There isn’t one unanimous recipe when it comes to accras. Opinion differs as to what make a good accras. Some uses eggs, some uses baking powder. Some uses different flour. One thing is clear, parsley is key and if you like it hot, piment antillais (or habanero chili) is added.
Saying that I have had my fair share of bland accras is an understatement. But when it comes to fritters, I think Asians know a thing or two. They know how to tease the taste buds, playing with the saltiness and sweetness to reach that nice balance where everything just make sense together. And after multiple adjustments and tweaks, I think I found the accras that I really like: smooth and crispy skin, most importantly, far from bland.
It has been really hot, at times hitting 35 C. I don’t know how the kids can find the energy to run around and play. I just want to lie down and melt. Even the grass is really warm and so is my picnic mat. I live near the forest, my complex has lots of big trees, which supposedly make the area cooler than in the city but truthfully? It doesn’t feel any different. It’s just HOT.
So when I come home, I want to eat something cooling, something light, something quick, because I’m fainting. And fattoush has been the answer for me. It is especially nice when I step on the weighing machine too!
‘Fess up! Who has not heard about Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi? Bad, bad you, though to be honest, I am still holding out from ordering a copy. I don’t think the french version exists yet (I’m partial to buying a cook book in the language of country I live in, that makes ingredient hunting much, much easier). Few days ago, NY Times published a recipe from Jerusalem that piqued my curiosity. It is one of the “simpler” recipe from the book that I have seen. No unheard of ingredients. Umm, hang on, yeah there is.. barberries, the Persian currants.
This dish reminds me so much of the Indian Pulao. Cloves? Check. Cinnamon stick? Check. Cardamom? Check. Plain yogurt? Check. One pot wonder? Check check check!! I keep on waiting the turmeric or saffron, anything to color the dish. But nope, it wasn’t meant to be coloured, except from the red barberries.
If your curiosity is also piqued, one note: do not hold back the herbs nor the seasoning.. Also watch out for the rice and your fire/stove setting. I followed the timing indicated in the recipe, but I found the rice is overcooked – probably need to cook on even lower fire. I also wonder what would happen if chicken stock is used, instead of water. Hmmm..
I really like the dish. A little greasy but hey, it’s practically still weekend! I’ll just do an extra kilometer tomorrow.
Have you ever made pasta with garlic breadcrumbs before? Or even Aglio Olio? If you have, then you’d understand how simple this dish is. There are times when I want full, robust flavors but there are times when I just want a simple dish, taking stock of yet another week rapidly coming to an end.
The weather is slowly staying on the 30s, heat wave is announced, rain come and go in a blink of an eye. The mosquitoes aren’t shy to visit either so we’ve been burning citronella on all corners of the apartment. I get woken up from time to time in the middle of the night just because it is so warm. I miss having air-con!
Finally we are settled, I feel settled. For the next 9 months or so. As part of integration process with la vie en France, I had to attend civic course, complete with national anthem, history lesson and learn my rights as a resident and a woman. I had to do a CV in french and attend a professional competence evaluation. Luckily, they left me alone when it comes to french language. And no, it’s not for citizenship. In total, I had 4 certifications that are extremely precious to renew my carte sejour next year.
This weekend would be the first that we don’t need to go out and hunt something for the apartment, which is a relief. And we’re going to celebrate our anniversary too.
Anyway, I’ll stop yabbing. Here’s the recipe.. Continue reading