Friday, July 29, 2011

BAHMI GORENG - Stir-fried noodles

When the U.S. President visited Indonesia on a state visit in 2010, his dinner included nasi goring, that nation’s classic fried rice dish, which he praised as delicious.

Nasi goreng evolved from Chinese fried rice.  Chinese influences on Indonesian cookery are obvious.   While Europe was struggling through the dark ages, trade developed between the two nations, and by the fifteenth century many Chinese émigrés had made the archipelago their new home.  The Chinese culture considers it unthinkable to waste cooked food.  So, leftover rice was recycled into fried rice.  The Indonesians learned the Chinese stir-fry technique and adapted it to their own cooking style which includes a sweet soy sauce and a degree more spiciness than the Chinese.

Not as well known but similar to fried rice, bahmi goreng replaces the Indonesian fried rice with stir fried noodles.  Bahmi goreng is a delicious way to accommodate whatever leftovers you have on hand. This flexibility means you can offer tasty noodles as a side dish with meals while using up leftovers.

If you like Chinese fried rice, you most likely would enjoy bahmi goreng, the delectable Indonesian treatment of noodles.

Dutch traders did extensive trading throughout Indonesia.  They adapted the rijsttafel  (Ry sta fel), Dutch for rice table, from the Indonesian feast called nasi padan.  Nasi padan is an Indonesian buffet featuring rice. A rice table can have dozens of different dishes in small portions, such as noodles, and egg rolls served with different rice preparations.  Indonesian dishes are beloved in the Netherlands.  Many Dutch children love bahmi goreng noodles for lunch, and consider it a local dish.

Let’s make Indonesian stir-fried noodles.  They’re simple to prepare, savoury and a good way to use leftovers in a delightful way.

Indonesian Fried Noodles (Bahmi Goreng)                                serves 4


·        1 pound of leftover cooked noodles or fresh cooked, drained and mixed with one tablespoon oil to coat the noodles.
·        ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
·        2 cloves of garlic, minced
·        1 pound (455g) peeled and deveined shrimp, or diced meat or poultry, OR: 11/2 cups green beans plus ½ cup chopped red sweet bell pepper (capsicum). If you are making a meatless goreng, feel free to use other combinations of vegetables.
·        1 or 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis); or add 1 teaspoon brown sugar to regular soy sauce
·        ½ cup celery leaves and stalk, chopped
·        3 scallions (green onions), chopped
·        3 cups bok choy, chopped or bean sprouts
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        ½  teaspoon pepper
·        2 or 3 slices of gingerroot, chopped finely
·        ½ teaspoon spiced chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
·        Chopped coriander leaves for garnish


If you don’t already have cooked noodles, Boil Chinese egg noodles for 3 minutes, and then drain and put into ice-water.  Drain again and rub 1 tablespoon oil into it. If you are using thin spaghetti, cook according to package directions and treat same as Chinese noodles.

In a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle – make a paste of two tablespoons of onion and the garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Add the paste and the remaining onion.  Add the shrimp or whatever you are using and stir fry 2 minutes.

Add the soy sauce, celery, scallions, bok choy or bean sprouts, salt and pepper, ginger and chili paste and stir fry 2 minutes.

Add the noodles and stir fry another minute to combine and heat. Add the coriander and serve.

  Some folks like to add a little lime juice at the end.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I remember at the turn of the century, I’m in the supermarket wanting to get some red bell peppers.  But I see the price at $2.50 each which seems expensive and so pass them by, which is a shame because, like that old Iron Chef Host, I really love them.  I decide I am going to grow my own and get them for free.

After going through all the hassle of obtaining plants, fertilizer, special dirt and the labour involved, my three plants yield 6 small misshapen peppers which don’t get red all the way.  So I give up and decide to cut corners elsewhere.

I am thinking of this two days ago when I buy “reduced for quick sale” red peppers.  I think they look very good despite being discounted and decide to make stuffed peppers.

I make them a little different than the usual stuffed peppers, but they are quite good groceries for all that, I assure you.  No boring ground beef, nay, but a toothsome creamy rice filling that makes a mouth happy.

Look this over and see if you don’t think it’s a culinary delight for any night, a winner at any dinner and a side dish that’s delish.

Stuffed Peppers                                      6 servings

¼ cup of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper

1 cup of short or medium grain rice (Not long grain)

½ cup sliced black olives
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of lemon juice

2 cups of chicken stock, or vegetable stock, simmering hot
1 cup of hot water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
6 red peppers, nicely shaped
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame
Add the onions with a little salt and pepper and shake pan to distribute thoroughly
A minute later, stir the garlic in.

Add in the rice and stir for a minute or two, to coat it wholly
Now put the olives and lemon juice in and keep stirring until it starts to dry out.

Add a ladleful (1/2 cup) of simmering stock and stir well. Let it dry.

When stock is absorbed add another ladleful and stir well.  Let it dry

Keep repeating this procedure until the stock is almost depleted.  Taste a grain of rice for tenderness. If the rice at this point is still too firm and the stock is used up, add a ladleful of hot water, watch that the rice does not burn.  The rice should be especially creamy, not runny or soupy.  When done, add the cinnamon, walnuts, parsley, oregano and the mint, and taste for salt and pepper.

Remove from the stove and set aside covered.

In a large enough pot to hold 6 red peppers, bring a quart of water to the boil.

Fill a large bowl or pot with cold water and add ice to it.

While water is heating, rinse the peppers and remove the inedible parts of the tops.  Now slice the peppers in half vertically (from top to bottom) scrape out the seeds and the white part of the ribs.

Blanche the peppers in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then plunge them into a bowl of ice-water.

Stuff the halves with the rice mixture.  Sprinkle cheese over the rice mixture.  Put the peppers in a shallow baking pan, or pans.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.  Or, you can microwave them (providing you are using microwave-appropriate equipment, like glass) for 8 to 10 minutes; in which case, only put the cheese on the peppers for the last minute.

Monday, July 18, 2011


In small towns where everyone knows each other, people don’t lock their doors – except at zucchini harvest time!  If you don’t lock your doors people will leave tons of zucchini there.

Until about forty years ago, zucchini was almost unknown in North America, except in Italian-American neighbourhoods, where it was called Italian squash.  Zucchini dates back 7000 years to Mexico, where it was one of the “three sisters”, along with maize (corn), and beans.  That pre-Columbian trio (some would say “Trinity”) is today still the core of the Mexican diet.

When European explorers arrived in the Americas, they carried these unknown foods back home with them.  The new -world squash eventually reached Italy where it was dubbed Zucchini, from Zucca, denoting small squash.  The Italians are acknowledged with propagating our modern zucchini from the indigenous American squash.  Both the French and the English call this fruit Courgette, which is the tenth most favorite culinary vegetable in the UK.

Mild- flavoured, ranging from savory to sweet and with more potassium than a banana, zucchini is a very versatile foodstuff, serving as a vegetable, as well as in breads and desserts. You can even bake a chocolate zucchini fudge cake!

In zucchini’s birthplace, the flower is often employed in the soup, sopa de flor de calabaza and is very popular in a quesadilla variation.

Zucchini’s  versatility extends to salads and a popular one is topped with a bacon dressing  over shredded  zucchini.  Bacon makes nice vinaigrette but I want to tell you about a zucchini salad that is, in a word: simply superb. Let me show you a zucchini salad that doesn’t require any cooking. 

Zucchini with Lime and Coriander


  • 2 cups (1 pint,  450ml) of shredded zucchini
  • ¼ cup (60ml) of chopped coriander (aka Chinese parsley and Cilantro)
  • The juice of ½ lime ( 2 tablespoons, 30ml)
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon  (5ml) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) of honey or sugar (some people like a little more)
  • ¼ teaspoon  (1ml) black pepper (could substitute half a jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced)
  • 1 teaspoon  (5ml) fresh gingerroot, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon  (1ml) powdered cumin
  • 1 teaspoon  5ml) ranch dressing (optional)


  1. Combine everything except the shredded zucchini.
  2. Now mix into the zucchini in a glass or ceramic bowl.
  3. When mixed, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Try this invigorating salad, goes great with outdoor bbq.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


When I was very young, the stoplights in the city were different than today.  Back then they were only red and green, with no yellow light in between.  Instead of yellow, when the green was changing to red, the red would come on with the green, letting drivers know it was about to be red only.

 In the grocery store you can get a “stoplight” package of one each - red, yellow and green pepper. The three colours together remind you of the stoplight and are really very appealing to the eye.

Okay, great, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?   Well, I was thinking about the “stoplight” package and the old traffic lights after I made a Thai red curry recently. 

My BW loves those very wide green beans, the ones called Kentucky wonder or Italian beans.  I decided to try a curry with them, and use a red- curry paste base. The first preparation was good enough for seconds and then I thought about adding tofu to boost the protein.

What follows is a great curry, featuring green beans in a red sauce; a red, green bean curry.  It’s not surreal; it’s surprisingly special in a simple, straightforward way.

Red Green Bean Curry                         serves 4

1- Pound (500g) green beans
1- 13 ounce (400ml) can of coconut milk
1- Tablespoon bottled red curry paste
1 or 2 red chilies, chopped (optional, red paste may be spicy enough)
½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon of grated lime rind, the green part only
½ cup small button mushrooms (optional)
4 ounces (125g) firm tofu, drained and diced
1 tablespoon oil, such as light olive or safflower, or your personal choice
3 scallions (green onions) sliced thinly
½ cup (125ml) coriander leaves, minced

  • Cut the beans into about 2-inch (5-cm pieces)
  • Pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan. Turn heat to high.
  • Add the red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, grated lime rind, paprika and chilies (if using)
  • Combine thoroughly and then add the beans and bring just to the boil
  • While pot is heating,  fry the tofu in the oil on all sides
  • When beans come to the boil, lower heat to a simmer and add the browned tofu.
  • Stir the pot and add the mushrooms if using.
  • Simmer the pot for 5 minutes then taste- check beans for doneness.
  • When beans are tender to your taste, they are ready to serve.

The curry should have a warm, reddish colour. I didn’t, but you could fry the raw beans in oil and then add to the coconut milk.

You could skip the mushrooms and tofu and this will still remain a lovely green bean dish.  But, if you have them, use them.

So, if you’re bored with green beans but still have plenty in your freezer, stop and go try this preparation, it will revive your interest in them.

Friday, July 8, 2011


In the summertime, many people like to take their meals outdoors.  If hot weather is on the brink of being unbearable, you don’t want to be miserable eating piping hot soups and such, because dining should be fun.  Eating with friends or family, enjoying conversation and good food out in fresh air is a lovely experience.

But wait; don’t move the meal indoors just because you are having a pasta meal.  Prepare this exquisite and surprising hot weather pasta dish and get ready to enjoy a refreshing meal al fresco.

This is neither a chilled pasta salad nor hot pasta.  It draws from both to generate a new taste I am sure you will like.

Pasta for hot weather

1 pound (450g) firm, ripe, fresh plum tomatoes chopped into chunks
1 onion, chopped
6 green olives, pitted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup (80ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
2 teaspoons (10ml) drained capers
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar
½ cup (125ml) good quality olive oil
1 pound (450g) dry pasta of you choice

  • Combine everything except the vinegar, oil and pasta in a medium size bowl.

  • Sprinkle the vinegar over the tomato mixture.

  • Pour the oil over the mixture, stir thoroughly, and then refrigerate, covered, overnight or at least 8 hours.

  • Just prior to serving, boil the pasta in salted boiling water until tender but still a little firm.

  • Drain the pasta and then toss into the cold marinated tomato sauce.

  • Serve right away

I think what makes this dish unique is the sudden union of cold sauce and hot pasta which releases a captivating, delicious flavour.  You may be pleasantly surprised when you eat it.

 This pasta dish offers a nice light lunch or dinner in the hot weather, but it is very adaptable and can also be used as a dressing for a mixed green salad, or a lovely addition to steamed rice, or as a relish for grilled meats. Enjoy it.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Often when we are in the car, the tipster and I listen to Chuck Berry’s Great 28.  When "Maybelline” is playing, I absolutely love the instrumental break in the middle where Willie Dixon pumps that pre-Fender acoustic double-bass.  I turn the volume up for that exciting rhythmic sound.  Another great track on that CD is “Roll over Beethoven”.  Since it contains the lyric: “Move on up just a trifle further”, my BW always comments that I turn the volume up just a trifle when Willie Dixon plays bass in the middle of “Maybelline”.

Since trifle is not commonly used, we always find it humorous when it is sung in the rhythm and blues classic.

My spouse reminded me last time that her mom, who was a war bride from Great Britain, made a trifle dessert at home on special occasions.  I vaguely remembered it as a layered dessert, but had never tried one.

 Trifle goes back to the sixteenth century, where it evolved from an earlier, similar dessert known as a foole.  In the seventeenth century, milk was added to sweet cream custard and was poured over bread infused with alcohol. 

A variation to the trifle is the Creole trifle, more commonly known as Russian cake.  I walked into a fancy bakery just outside of New Orleans years ago, looking to get a single serving bakery treat.  They had all these fancy cakes, but the proprietor showed me a gaily coloured slice of “Russian cake”.  It was a fruit -syrup soaked slice of cake and it was moist and sweet.  I later found out it was an ingenious way to recycle old cake. They take pieces of leftover cake and mould them with the syrup and pack firmly.

This is how some “puddings” originated - as a means to use up stale cake.  But just as French toast requires stale or dry bread, a trifle needs a dry cake, for absorption.  The English trifle is very similar to an Italian dessert called Zuppa Inglese and a  Spanish one called Bizcocho Borracho.  In Austria they call it Punschtorte.

The word "trifle" comes from the old French term meaning something whimsical.  A proper English trifle is made with real egg custard poured over sponge cake soaked in fruit and sherry and topped with whipped cream. 

ENGLISH TRIFLE                                 serves 12
2- 8 inch sponge cakes
2- Eggs
1- Egg yolk
14 ounces of light cream
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cream sherry
½ cup current jelly
2-medium peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Cut cake into ½ inch cubes.
      2.   In heavy saucepan beat eggs and egg yolk.
      3.   Stir in light cream and sugar.
      4.   Cook and stir over medium flame until mixture coats a spoon.
      5.   Pour this custard into a medium bowl and place this in a bowl of ice.
      6.   Stir occasionally.
      7.   Put half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 2 quart glass bowl.
      8.   Sprinkle half of the cream sherry over the cake
      9.   Using small dollops of jelly put all over the cake.
     10.  Spoon peaches and strawberries over.
     11.  Top with remainder of cake cubes.
     12.  Sprinkle on the rest of the sherry
     13.  Spoon the cooled custard over the cake.
     14.  Beat the cold heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
     15.  Keep beating until peaks form.
     16.  Spoon the whipped cream over the custard.
     17.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
     18.  When serving, garnish with mint leaves or extra fresh fruit.

The completed trifle looks very beautiful and this recipe is my favourite. I don’t care for the gelatin or the pudding mix trifles.  This is not difficult once you get the hang of it and contains wholesome groceries.

If you so desire, you can substitute thawed and drained frozen peaches and strawberries.  But don’t trifle with it too much, it’s a great dessert.


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