Strawberry Jelly #03

Does anybody love Monday? I have a love and hate relationship with it. I have a job that drives me nuts all week long, especially Mondays when I have to deal with messed up stuff the week before and the upcoming messes. Sounds fabulous? It is.

I made these pretty cone jellies out of strawberries and agar with bright colored fruits on the side. They would sure perk up those nasty Monday blues. Strawberries are one of the prettiest fruit out there, aren’t they? I decorated the serving plate with grapes and they just seemed to pop out of the white background I was using. They are pretty to look at, and also with the added benefit of their anti-cancer properties, who can resist them?

I seem to be addicted to using Royal Selangor pewter mould with jellies made from agar. The final products hold their shape really well. And they are crunchy to eat too. Plus, agar is also a great substitute for gelatin for you vegetarian guys. The thing with agar powder is that you need to bring it to a quick full boil with any liquid you are using, preferably water, before adding other ingredients. The agar has to be fully cooked and incorporated well with the rest. Also it goes well with everything and it set great.

There are two tricks I learned these couple of days. First is to spray inside of moulds with cold water right before pouring jelly mixture. That would help getting jelly out of it perfectly. Second is to dip cones in hot water for about 5-10 seconds before running a wet knife along side of moulds to remove the jelly. Well, practice makes perfect. Every time.

Wash strawberries thoroughly and quartered them.

Combine berries with sugar in a clean, non-reactive bowl.

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Nasi tumpeng is a dish of turmeric-flavored rice, bright yellow and shaped into a cone served with other traditional Indonesian dishes. I have been wanting to learn making this for a long time. The traditional cone is shaped by bamboo-weaved mould. The mould is pretty big, enough to feed 10-20 people. I am using my Royal Selangor pewter mould, perfect for shaping nasi tumpeng for one serving.

This dish has significant meaning to us, originally from Javanese culture, but now widely adapted in the country. Whenever we have something to say thanks about, it has to be present. Wedding, birthday, anniversaries, new year. The mounds of rice represents gold, and the many dishes surround it shows bountiful of food and luck.

I am not going to lie. It is a lot of work. Rice needs to be prepared overnight. The accompanying dishes are at least 4-5 dishes, and they should be chicken dish, beef dish, egg dish, green vegetables or salad. The tumpeng is always decorated with banana leaves and on top of the cone, a flower made of red chilies.

The rice I made was served with chicken rendang, chicken gizzard sambal, sambal belacan, carrots and cucumber sticks and omelette with rice crackers.

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This agar is mother’s favorite. This is also the very first one she shot out excitedly when I mentioned the Royal Selangor jelly challenge. It is easy to make with very little ingredients and more importantly, it is deliciously creamy and lightly sweetened.

The separation of clear and milky part of agar happened naturally, as water is heavier than coconut milk. After a few minutes, the coconut milk will float to the top of agar mixture. Just make sure you already pour the agar into containers before this happened.

On another lighter note, we have just renovated our front yard a couple of weeks ago. It is now very nice with its own little outdoor umbrella and yard furniture. We spend weekends sitting out reading and eating. Lately there are a lot of cone-shaped dessert involved. It took me many years to decently appreciate the beauty of tropical sunlight. It is one of the best aspects of living in the equator, although we have always taken it for granted and complained about it tirelessly.

Ready to make some jelly?

I used store-bought agar-agar, about 7g a pack. The liquid used is water and fresh coconut milk. If fresh is not available, canned or powdered can be used as substitute.

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Really? 30 days full of blogging and new recipes? Can I do it?

Chosen as one of the 10 contestants of the Royal Selangor Get Your Jelly On 30-day challenge to raise breast cancer awareness is maddening for me. I confirmed the participation without thinking much of the other hundreds of work chores I have to complete each day. Let’s pray I won’t ditch this one half way. I am sure the nice people at Royal Selangor won’t be very happy.

The kits sent include one set of the famous Nick Munro’s pewter jelly moulds, an apron (I love this!) and an Olympus camera. And a recipe booklet. Which I don’t think help that much since I got cold sweat whilst reading through them. They were difficult (too much for the amateurish me) and slightly complicated with ingredients I don’t think I will be able to whip out of thin air. Gelatin sheets? Anybody kind enough to send me some? Please?

So I took long breath and decided to take it easy and have lots of fun with those little cones. They are sturdy and well made, almost too good to be jelly mould. They are very fun! Check them out.

There are also 9 other cool foodbloggers and they are awesome.

Lastly but not least, please wish me luck. Please.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Pandan chiffon is one of those bake stuff that gives you the huge satisfaction when it is homemade. Huge. Doesn’t matter if it cost very little in the market. It is a head-inflating moment when I watched it rose to a big fat fluffy cake.

Since I have abundant access to pandan leaves (or screwpine leaves), I used fresh pandan as flavoring and coloring agent. They grow wild, almost too wild at home and at the office. I choose to use medium-sized pandan leaves. The young ones smell great but the leaves aren’t green enough. The old, bigger leaves have great deep yet vibrant green hues, but the fragrance is not the best. So I settled with the ones in the middle of both. Grab a bunch of leaves and cut them up into smaller pieces. Add a bit of water and process the pandan in blender. Strain pandan pulp in fine muslin cloth or strainer. The water that comes out of it is good for coloring and flavoring.

I have to admit that I was a bit worried about using fresh leaves, as I wasn’t sure it would be green enough. The first batch I made I choose to use instant pandan paste. I went overboard and the batter turned into scary green liquid. That batch met its destiny in the trash right away. Then I made second batch with the real pandan. It was not bright green, and it was quite subtly pandan scented. At least it didn’t look like Shrek’s food.

We also use the pandan for other stuff too. Chop up a bunch of them finely, arrange them in a decorative bowl and leave them in bedroom or living room. The vanilla-like scent brightens the rooms. Mother likes to fill up these little muslin bags with chopped pandan leaves and keeps the bags under car seats. Artificial car fresheners make her sick and she prefers pandan flavors in the car. My friends say our cars smell like dessert all the time!

I used about 20 leaves for the cake. Wash them clean under running water.

Chop up the leaves into smaller bits.

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