Sunday, 22 April 2012

Clear Caribbean Waters

The waters in the Caribbean are extremely clear and there is a wide range of fresh produce.

The food in the Caribbean is very much influenced by french cuisine with tropical influences. Here is a meal we had which consisted of pasta, roasted chicken cooked with cinnamon and spices, and roasted banana.

Food in the Caribbean is very expensive because most products are imported from France.  However everything is cooked to perfection and the produce that is found is always fresh and full of flavour.  

Indonesian Identities

Indonesian food is made up of regional cuisine influenced by a wide range of cultures and countries.  In Indonesia, food is most commonly eaten with a spoon or with ones first two fingers and thumb of the right hand.  (Most common in West Java and West Sumatra).  Chopsticks are uncommon except in Chinese or oriental food stalls.  

Food parcel consisting of plain rice, fried noodles, fried chicken, minced and fried onions and fish based sauce  wrapped in a banana leaf.  Food sold like this is very common and costs the equivalent of 80p.

Rice is an Indonesian person's favourite food.  Not only is it a stable part of the diet, but it is the diet.  Indonesian land is rich which bright rice fields, gathered, sold at the nearby food market and eaten three times a day.  Rice is often eaten plain alongside meat, fish based sauces or spices and often with noodles.

Rice fields

Indonesia is the home of sate.  These can be found in nearly every food market or nearby stall.  Sate (or what we call satay)  usually consists of chicken or pork.  The meat is either sliced into small pieces or minced with spiced then grilled.  Pork satay is more commonly found in Bali and other non - muslim regions.

Bakso: typically made of meat or fish balls in soup with noodles.

Stir fried vegetables dressed with bumbu kacang which means peanut sauce consisting of crushed peanuts, garlic, shallots, ginger, tamarind, peppercorns, lemonjuice, sweet soy sauce and water.  All these ingredients are crushed together using a pestle and mortar, essential component for cooking Indonesian food!

It was such a surprise in Bali to fall upon a chicken fight after wandering a temple. Around a little arena, they put two chickens to fight against each other and people bet on which chicken they think will  win.  Afterwards there are many food stalls selling satay, roast pork, roast chicken, vegetables, rice and other scrumptious things.

Fishy Fun in Indonesia

Made up of over 17,000 islands the amount of fish available in Indonesia is extensive.  As an muslim based country it is also understandable that fish is more often eaten rather than pork or meat that must be killed and cured in a specific way.

Arriving in Labuan Bajo, Flores,  we were greeted by a friendly fish market with hundreds of different types of fish- fresh, smoked or dried.  The pungent odour requires a more adventurous traveller to explore and admire the catches of the day.

Young boy chopping fish steaks on the ground outside the fish market.  

Popular seafoods in Indonesian cuisine include mackerel, tuna, red snapper, wahoo, milkfish, anchovy, cuttlefish, shrimp, crab, mussel

                                                    Fish in Indonesian cuisine in cooked in a variety of ways such as bakar (grilled), rebus (boiled) or goreng (fried).  Fish is also used in sauces and spices to add flavour to the dish.  Ikan asin meaning salted fish is preserved fish or seafood cured in salt as can be seen in these pictures.  Some are also dried fish.

Strong man slicing tuna

By every street you normally find a food stall which is like a mini outdoor restaurant.  When fresh fish is available you can just pick the fish you'd like and they grill it for you with a spicy sauce usually consisting of garlic and soy sauce.  A neat portion of rice and vegetables usually comes with the fish and it's eaten with your hands dipping in sambal - a type of spicy sauce that is served with most fish or meat.

As you can see this fish was thoroughly enjoyed!  

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Pesto, tomato and fresh ricotta cake

Savoury cakes do sound quite absurd to Brits but I reckon they're the best way to satisfy your baking need and have a delicious lunch.  On this particular day I spent all morning looking at things I wanted to cook and procrastinating over profiteroles and other tempting treats.  The ricotta in the fridge was looking neglected so I decided to whip up my own savoury cake. It took ten minutes of mixing and chopping and half an hour in a 180 C oven and was enjoyed a few times.

                                                * -Vital Ingredients

3 large eggs*
180g Self Raising Flour *
1/3 cup (8 cl) Olive oil*
1/3 cup (8 cl) milk*
Sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
Green olives, roughly chopped
Capers, roughly chopped
handful cherry tomatoes lightly fried with a tablespoon of olive oil & 1 garlic clove
Basil leaves
Salt and Pepper

Materials needed:

A loaf tin buttered or lined with greaseproof paper
A large bowl
A frying pan
A whisk
An oven

Do not be put off by the amount of ingredients in this cake.  It was particularly successful because of the many contrasting flavours however you can definitely leave out an ingredient or two (but not the vital ones which have a star next to them.)
Start off by chopping your cherry tomatoes in half with a tablespoon of olive oil and a crushed garlic clove.  Put on a low heat while you prepare your cake mixture.

-In a large bowl, lightly hand whisk your eggs with the olive oil.
-Sift the flour into the bowl
- Add the milk
- Besides the pesto, add all the other ingredients.  Make sure the cherry tomatoes are a little soft.
- Mix half the mixture in a buttered or lined loaf tin then spread some pesto.
- Add the rest of the mixture then finish off by dripping some more pesto.

Bake at 180 C for 20-30 minutes depending on how good your oven is.