Chocolatey Celebration

This is a festive time of year for GrowinKitchen. Not only it celebrates first anniversary today, but two of my friend also have birthdays on the 11th and 14th. And there's Valentine's Day too. That can only means one thing for me, a great chocolatey celebration. Since I still suck at baking, I try gather up some rather easy chocolate cake recipes and my heart instantly set on a flourless chocolate cake from Masterchef Australia. Super simple ingredients, a bit tricky for amateurs like me, yet a perfection.


Plus, fresh whipped cream and berries for serving.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from Masterchef Australia)

  • 400 g dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons orange liqueur (you can alter it with grated orange zest and orange juice)
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • a handful of raspberries (strawberries work well too)
  • melted butter and cocoa powder for greasing

Preparation methods:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F.
  2. Line the bottom of cake pan with baking paper, grease pan with melted butter and dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Slowly melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir continuously until smooth, then remove and allow to cool.
  4. Beat yolks and sugar until pale and thick, pour in the melted chocolate. Add orange liqueur then mix to combine.
  5. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, carefully fold into the mixture.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cake pan, place in a bain marie then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Take out from the oven and let cool.
  7. Meanwhile, whip cream and icing sugar until stiff.
  8. Remove cake from cake pan, dust with icing sugar then serve it with cream and raspberries.
Yield 12 serves.

In the past few months I've been practicing my hand drawing, and after rediscovered a 9 years old Windsor & Newton's Cotman WaterColours in my college box now I am practicing it too. That's why I can't help but to make an illustration of this recipe and it is so very much fun.

Enjoy your (upcoming) Valentine's everyone!

Illustrated recipe.

This post is also linked to Simple Lives Thursday #82.
The food blog event is hosted by five awesome Iowa bloggers, Diana, Annette, Alicia and Wardeh.


Adaptation of Classic Ragù alla Bolognese

Have I ever told you that above all Italian pasta sauce my favorite so far was ragù alla Bolognese? No? Well, I just did.

Based on Indonesian adaptation of pasta sauce, I always prefered alla Bolognese first (followed by Aglio e Olio). And even though the only nearly-original pasta alla Bolognese experience that I had was from local Italian restaurant in Bandung, but the tangy taste kinda caught me in the heart. It has fresh sweet and sour yet meaty flavors that I love, so much. Honestly, I always wandered how the original ragù tasted like. If I were going to take my Master Degree in Milan two years ago, I would probably took a leap and stayed in Bologna until I could make the classic ragù properly. But since I was not, I googled about ragù alla Bolognese instead and found a classic recipe of it.

Evidently the ingredients consist of minced beef, pancetta (Italian bacon), tomato, carrot, celery stalk, milk, stock, tomato paste, red/white wine and olive oil. No herbs added, unlike in the pasta alla Bolognese that I had tasted at the local Italian restaurant (nor in the bottled ready-to-wear Bolognese sauce I used to buy).

Curious that I am, I tried to make it my own this morning. But I had to alter the recipe using information I gathered from the internet because I don't eat pork nor have wine. So, basically, this one is 'pork and alcohol free' version of classic ragù alla Bolognese.

Adaptation of classic ragù alla Bolognese. Pork and alcohol free.

Classic Ragù alla Bolognese
(Adapted from Accademia Italiana della Cucina and GialloZafferano)

  • 100 g carrot
  • 100 g celery stalk (use the yellow one if possible)
  • 100 g onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 600 g minced beef (as substitution for 250 g beef, 250 g pork and 100 g dried pancetta/bacon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red/white wine vinegar to taste (diluted in 100 ml of water, as substitution for 250 ml red/white wine)
  • 30 g tomato
  • 250 ml beef broth
  • 250 ml whole milk (boiled until half reduced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation methods:
  1. Finely chop carrot, celery and onion together.
  2. Heat the skillet in medium, pour in the olive oil. Melt butter then stir in chopped carrot, celery and onion. Cook for 10 minutes in low heat.
  3. Add the minced beef, stir evenly and continue cook until caramelized.
  4. Pour in the diluted vinegar and cook until half liquid evaporated. Stir regularly.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to boil. Take the tomato core out then slice the peel diagonally and vertically. Blanch in the hot boiling water, drain and move to cool water. Remove the peel and seed, then squeeze into chunks. Mix with beef broth.
  6. Pour in tomato and broth mixture into the skillet.
  7. Simmer for two hours, keep stir regularly and add reduced milk little by little. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield 6 serves.

From what I've read, ragù alla Bolognese is essentially a meat-based sauce. So supposedly the beef and the pork can be substitute with other animal flesh used for food. But when I tried to make the chicken version of this ragù for a friend who does not eat beef, it was okay but never as good as the beef one. This make me wandered, again, how great it would be with pork and pancetta. And real wine.. Oh my, this just make me more eager to experience Italy!

Penne alla Bolognese with chicken. (I like the version with herb better. So I served my own pasta alla Bolognese with fresh basil and oregano leaves, plus some red chili and fried garlic topping.)

This post is also linked to Simple Lives Thursday #49.
The food blog event is hosted by five awesome Iowa bloggers, Diana, Annette, Alicia, Wardeh and Mare.

This post is also linked to Presto Pasta Nights #220.
This week's PPN is hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. (Link to the full round up of superb pasta recipes from around the globe will be attached soon.)


GrowinKitchen At Bandung Berkebun

I've always wanted to have a big, beautiful garden, almost similar to the one in Jamie At Home. The idea that I would be able to pick fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables then directly cook them in the kitchen was somehow alluring. But, because I currently share house with a lot of people (plus the owner's family with two toddlers), the dream will have to wait.

Nevertheless, I still want to learn gardening elsewhere. So on the 21st of May, with an invitation from a friend, I joined Bandung Berkebun event 'Tanam Perdana'. The garden is located at a vacant space in the middle of a residential area around Sukamulya Indah, Pasteur. It's only a couple of hundred square meters, but more than enough to plant loads of vegetables.

Front area: junior's plot.

One of the junior gardeners.

My watch pointed at 08.00 AM local time when I arrived there. In the front area, I saw three large bean-shaped plots for local kindergarten pupils and several other junior gardeners to plant green and red amaranth. Meanwhile, in the back, a couple of workers prepare the space into small plots of approximately 45cm by 60cm each. Every four plots are numbered and surrounded with some kind of gutter. There will be planted green and red amaranth seeds too, alongside water spinach, pak coy, red bean, long bean and chayote.

I myself got a small plot number 9D to work on, while the rest of the 9th plots are shared by my new friends Samii, Diah and Ade. Together we planted red amaranth. But before that, we had to clear up weeds, rocks, glass fragments, plastics and any other things that could detain the growth of our vegetables. Now, this is the 'endless' part. The more we dig, the more garbage we found. I barely believe what was beneath our soil, we even found this..

Tazos! (Tazos were popular free toys that we collected from packs of certain snack during early to mid nineties.)

After an hour (or so) trying to get rid whatever garbage in our plots, we gave up. Arbitrarily concluded that a couple of plastic and a handful of rock would do no harm. So we spread the amaranth seeds (and planted red chili that I brought from home, in every corner), watered the plots, then moved to another plots to help planting red bean. Dozens of people were busy digging, seeding and watering (and laughing) that very morning.

Red amaranth seeds.

Somehow this little garden remind me of my mum's. She used to have a little garden in the front of our house when I was still at primary school. There she grown some local herbs and spices, and allowed me to sow watermelon, orange and grape seeds. Sadly, the plants never bear fruit. Some even died earlier because I was too lazy to pull the weeds.

Well, that was old story. I hope our laziness this time won't cost the four of us our red amaranth babies. Because I already have several red amaranth recipe ideas for later. We will continuously visit our garden every Saturday while daily maintenance are scheduled to a local resident. Oh, can't hardly wait to see our sprouts spring..

Fingers crossed.

Bandung Berkebun is a part of a project called Indonesia Berkebun, which aims to create green spaces in the middle of town that (hopefully will) also benefit the surrounding communities. Visit their website for more information.

This post is also featured on Simple Lives Thursday #49 round-up.
Special thanks to the five awesome hosts from Iowa, Diana, Annette, Alicia, Wardeh and Mare.