Special Dish for the Week: Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto

I am celebrating today’s signing off on the final page layout of my “Reclaiming My Thorns” story, which is going to the printers with the rest of the Boobs anthology any minute, and I do so with this Special Dish for the Week:

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto

I make myself this fabulous lunch of mushroom and buffalo risotto, prepared in my new Lagostina cast iron frying pan, and accompanied by a glass of my farourite wine these days: Apothic Red.

I chop the ingredients with my new Cusinart Santoku knife, and make the sprouted brown rice in my trusty rice cooker.

I add the following ingredients into the coconut oil seasoned cast iron pan in the following order—feeling amazed that everything fits into this one pan, which can then easily go into the oven for the final tempering.

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Ingredients

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Ingredients

The ingredients include:

  • onions, chopped
  • buffallo stewing meat, once cooked, I cut the cubes into even smaller bite-sized bits
  • cabbage, sliced
  • shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • garlic, grated
  • ginger, grated
  • 1-2 tsp thyme
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek
  • water, to keep the dish from sticking to the pan
  • sprouted brown rice, cooked
Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Preparation

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Preparation

Once all the ingredients are mixed in the pan, I place the pan in the oven and bake the dish for about 45 minutes at 350F.

While the risotto bakes, I prepare some chopped French green beans for garnish along with a few strings of arugula.

I serve the mushroom and buffalo risotto with a dribble of olive oil on the garnish and a glass of Apothic Red.

Today, I have my fully bloomed potted tulips to keep me company, and my “Let Go” picture from a dear friend to remind me of my new way of being in this world—feeling grateful for all the experiences I am having as a result of shifting my focus above all else towards contentment.

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Dish

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Dish

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Fully Baked

Mushroom and Buffalo Risotto Fully Baked

 

Special Dish for the Week: Seafood Laksa

This has got to be one of my favourite kind of meals—it’s soupy, it’s spicy and creamy, it’s full of veggies and seafood, and healthy to boot!—a combination of Indonesian and Thai ingredients and flavours that burst in the mouth and feel like there is sunshine radiating from the plate in this Special Dish for the Week:

Seafood Laksa

Seafood Laksa

Seafood Laksa

On a recent trip to T&T Supermarket, the Asian grocery store at the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown, to pick up some specialised ingredients for my multitude of Bali dinners following my recent self-directed healing retreat in Bali, I picked up some rice vermicelli noodles.

I have been salivating over the thought of making some type of a laksa meal since I was reminded of this delicious dish during my recent travels.

Laksa is actually a Malaysian dish of Chinese origin, though through the use of ingredients and spices, it can be varied in flavour. I use an Indonesian seafood recipe with spices that I am familiar with from Thai cuisine, and it turns out to be a taste sensation.

Seafood Laksa Chopped Ingredients

Seafood Laksa Chopped Ingredients

I start by finely chopping the spice and vegetable ingredients:

  • 1 stem of lemongrass, cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 8 leaves of kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 small Indian eggplants, cubed into 8ths
  • shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • small piece of green cabbage, thinly sliced
Seafood Laksa Ingredients

Seafood Laksa Ingredients

When the sliced ingredients are ready, I sautée the spices:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (a bit more if using shrimp sauce)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or 1.5L fish stock or bone broth, whichever is on hand, but using stock requires longer cooking time to reduce the volume)
Seafood Laksa Cooking in a Wok

Seafood Laksa Cooking in a Wok

I then add 2-3 cups of coconut milk to make the soup, into which I add the chopped spices and vegetables when the soup is lightly bubbling hot.

I let the veggies soften and absorb some of the soup’s flavours.

Meanwhile, I boil up some water, and place my package of rice vermicelli noodles in the hot water for about 10 minutes. (This dish could also be made with buckwheat soba noodles, for some Japanese influence on the taste, texture and nutrient composition.)

I drain the noodles in a colander, and set them aside covered with a lid.

Seafood Laksa Dish

Seafood Laksa Dish

After 10 minutes of warming up the vegetables, I add the seafood:

  • shrimp, dethawed and peeled
  • red snapper, sliced into small chunks (or any other white fish fillet)

I let the dish warm and cook for another 10 minutes, and I serve it by placing a generous portion of warmed rice vermicelli and topping it with a couple ladlefuls of the laksa soup, veggies and seafood.

I enjoy this pure sunsine in a bowl dish with a glass of my favourite Apothic Red wine and a flower by my side.

Meal ideas & recipes from Periplus Mini Cookbooks “Step by Step – Indonesian Cooking”.

Special Dish for the Week: Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters

I make one of the most sought after Indonesian desserts—another version of fried bananas—for this Special Dish for the Week:

Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters

Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters

Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters

Using a crêpe pan instead of a deep fryer, this Indonesian dessert reminds me of the Polish apple pancakes, except here I use bananas instead of apples and rice flour instead of wheat flour.

I try this with regular (large) bananas and with mini (half-size) bananas that are more common in Indonesia. Aside from the novelty factor of the mini bananas, I prefer the regular bananas—at least the ones I can get in Vancouver, BC. They are more moist and sweet compared to the minis, even after cooking.

Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters Ingredients

Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters Ingredients

To make the batter, I use the following ingredients, in proportions to make it flowy but not too watery:

  • brown rice flour
  • wheat flour
  • egg
  • salt
  • water
  • coconut oil, for frying

I mix the ingredients until no large lumps are visible, but avoid over mixing as well.

I peal and slice the bananas on a diagonal, dip them in the batter, and fry them with a little coconut oil until the batter is a little browned and slightly crispy.

I serve my version of Pisang Goreng Banana Fritters with organic coconut yogurt and garnish the dish with shredded or grated unsweetened coconut. The bananas are super sweet and the contrast of temperature and texture between the chilled yogurt, warm and soft bananas, and crispy fried batter does marvels on the palate.

Meal ideas & recipes from Bali Agung Village Chef Wayan Suana, personally prepared for me and my travel companion after preparing a set menu dinner for us and inviting me to sous chef with him on the preparations in the kitchen.

The Writer with Bali Agung Village Chef Wayan Suana

The Writer with Bali Agung Village Chef Wayan Suana

Special Dish for the Week: Sambal Oelek

I make one of the most versatile Indonesian condiments to have on hand—and use in other Indonesian dishes—for this Special Dish for the Week:

Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

This very spicy chili paste can be used directly in recipes or as a condiment served at the table allowing guests to spice up the dish on their plates.

In a pinch, a single red Thai chili pepper can be used in a recipe instead, although balancing out the flavours with the other ingredients in this paste gives that much more depth to the dishes that call for it.

Care is advised when handling these chili peppers, specifically to wash hands, utensils and chopping boards immediately after handling the chili pepper. Prolonged contact with the skin turns the skin quite painfully itchy, as I accidentally discovered in the past—and contact with the eyes and other body parts or orifices is definitely to be avoided if serious pain is not desired.

Sambal Oelek Ingredients

Sambal Oelek Ingredients

I use the following ingredients to make this wicked-sounding paste:

  • red Thai chili peppers*, finely chopped with seeds in (quantity and seeds in or out dependent on desired spiciness)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3-5 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

* I use about 20 chili peppers with seeds in, which means very little is needed for each dish and it looks like it will last me for a while

Chopped Red Thai Chili Peppers for Sambal Oelek

Chopped Red Thai Chili Peppers for Sambal Oelek

I boil the chopped red Thai chili peppers in water, covered on low heat for about 15 minutes. In my first trial of this paste, I used a little too much water and wasn’t patient enough to reduce it, so my paste turned out as more of a sauce. But no matter! Its spiciness prevails regardless, and I exercise extreme caution with the tip of the teaspoon when adding the saucy paste to my dishes.

I chop the cooked chili peppers in a blender together with the remaining ingredients, and on the advice of the recipe, I store the sambal oelek in a glass container with non-metallic lid in my fridge for several weeks.

Meal ideas & recipes from Periplus Mini Cookbooks “Step by Step – Indonesian Cooking”.

Special Dish for the Week: Mixed Bean Soup

Warm, hearty and tasty soups are still one of my favourites, and I make this one for this Special Dish for the Week:

Mixed Bean Soup

Mixed Bean Soup

Mixed Bean Soup

Super easy and relatively quick (once there is some fresh bone broth on the stove or in the fridge), I “Maggify” the recipe suggested at the back of the whole grains and mixed bean package* I pick up at a local whole food market.

I am treated to a nice surprise that one such package can make at least 2 sizable soups, so I get to do this particular soup twice (slightly varying the ingredients, of course, each time).

* Whole grains and beans in the package include:

  • small red beans
  • pinto beans
  • lentils
  • whole oat groats
  • brown rice
  • triticale berries (wheat)
  • rye berries
  • hard red wheat
  • pearl barley
  • kamut
  • buckwheat
  • sesame seeds

When I make this soup another time, I may use a combination of beans, lentils, barley and rice that already reside individually in my cupboard and see how it compares—although this ready made mix is really quite delicious.

Mixed Bean Soup Ingredients

Mixed Bean Soup Ingredients

I prepare and add to the pot the following ingredients, in order:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, for sautéeing
  • 1-2 onions, chopped and sautéed
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • red Thai chili pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala or alternatively, 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1-3 carrots, chopped (optional)
  • 4-8 shiitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 L bone broth
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • sea salt, to taste

I let the soup cook over low to medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours, and then I taste it, garnishing it with a spoonful of creamy coconut milk to take off the edge off the spices. I sprinkle some black sesame seeds for the effect of black on white contrast (entirely optional). The taste is sensational, as a soup guest concurs one evening.

Within 2 weeks, I already make the 2nd rendition of the soup. In this one, I include some of the optional ingredients, like cumin in place of garam masala, as well as chopped carrots and mushrooms. They’re both super flavourful.

Mixed Bean Soup 2nd Rendition Ingredients

Mixed Bean Soup 2nd Rendition Ingredients

Mixed Bean Soup 2nd Rendition

Mixed Bean Soup 2nd Rendition

Meal ideas & recipes from Bob’s Red Mill whole grains and beans soup mix package.

Special Dish for the Week: Gado Gado Salad

One of my favourite Indonesian dishes during a recent visit to the beautiful island of Bali on a self-directed healing retreat becomes my Special Dish for the Week:

Gado Gado Salad

Gado Gado Salad

Gado Gado Salad

What’s not to love (for me) in this salad: steamed veggies, peanut sauce, spice, optional tofu and tempeh, beautiful food arrangement and vibrant food colours, and memories of an enjoyable moment in my life to encourage the enjoyment of the present one!

I loosely follow the suggested recipes below, and “Maggify” the ingredients to suit my tastes, available ingredients, and the amount of time I have to make the base ingredients (like Sambal Oelek red chili paste and Peanut Sauce) from scratch or to find them pre-made.

Partially Pre-Made Peanut Sauce

Partially Pre-Made Peanut Sauce

I make up some Peanut Sauce ahead of time, in the future to be tried from scratch, but this one partly pre-made from an authentic Balinese package, adding:

  • piece of Bambu Sate Ayam dehydrated peanut sauce
  • 1 tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek or red Thai chili pepper, finely chopped with seeds in (quantity and seeds in or out dependent on desired spiciness)
  • warm water (for heating and diluting to a desired consistency)

I warm these up in a sauce pan, constantly mixing over low to medium heat. I set it aside, ready for slight reheating before serving (adding more warm water as needed for desired consistency at time of reheating).

Gado Gado Salad Ingredients

Gado Gado Salad Ingredients

I prepare the following veggies ready for steaming (in steaming order, at increments of 2-3 min):

  • green beans, diagonally cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • green cabbage or kale, shredded (optional)
  • green pepper, chopped or julienned
  • broccoli, cut into small flowerettes
  • bean sprouts, whole
  • spinach, chopped
  • firm tofu and/or tempeh, cubed or strips and fried up in coconut oil (optional)

I arrange the steamed veggies (with fried tofu and/or tempeh, when using) and peanut sauce on top, delicately decorate my plate setting with a flower and candle, and thoroughly enjoy the flavours and textures of this dish.

Meal ideas & recipes from Periplus Mini Cookbooks “Tropical Salads” and the recipe booklet from Jambangan Bali Cooking Class.

Special Dish for the Week: Fried Coconut Bananas

As part of my first Indonesian meal, Nasi Goreng Indonesian Fried Rice, prepared after a recent visit to the beautiful island of Bali on a self-directed healing retreat, I prepare for dessert:

Fried Coconut Bananas

Fried Coconut Bananas

Fried Coconut Bananas

This dish can serve as a refreshing spicy curry accompaniment, or as a dessert on its own or with a little topping.

  • 1-3 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise, cut in half or thirds if long, or thickly on a diagonal
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded or grated unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, for frying
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (alternatively palm sugar, ice cream, yogurt, coconut cream, or any other desired topping)
Fried Coconut Bananas Ingredients

Fried Coconut Bananas Ingredients

I cover the banana slices generously with the grated coconut, and fry them over low heat until they are warmed through and the coconut begins to brown.

I serve the Fried Coconut Bananas sprinkled with some shredded coconut and with a little maple syrup dripped over them, and enjoy their heated sweetness immensely.

Meal ideas & recipes from Periplus Mini Cookbooks “Step by Step – Indonesian Cooking”.