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OK, I'm back, by popular demand! hehe.... After being back for 2 days, I'm still struggling with crazy jetlag and exhaustion - so please bear with me!
This year, for our Asian adventure, we went to Bali, which for those who don't know, is one of the islands in Indonesia. Bali is a very unique place - from its topology, to the people, language, customs, religion and food. Whereas the majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim, most people in Bali are Balinese Hindu, which from what I understand is a little like Indian Hinduism, but has more ancestor worship. Religion is very important to many people in Bali - there are temples everywhere, and at least in one area, there are religious processions through the street practically every day - but we'll get to that later.
Bali has some food unique to it among its Indonesian neighbors, but like everywhere, has seen quite a bit of immigration from other Indonesian islands (many from Java, just to the west) who have brought their classic dishes with them.
Basically all Indonesians speak Indonesian, or what they call Bahasa Indonesia, or just Bahasa, which, anyone who has read my prior foodblogs wouldn't be surprised to hear that I learned a little bit just before the trip. Unfortunately, I didn't get to use any of it, except a couple times which were totally unnecessary. When speaking with each other, most people in Bali speak Balinese (totally different from bahasa) - many times when I tried using my bahasa, they smiled and replied, and then tried to teach me the same phrase in Balinese! As time went on, and I used some of the Balinese, I got lots of surprised smiles and laughs - who is this white guy speaking Balinese?!? Seriously though, tourism has been in Bali for a very long time, so just about everyone we encountered spoke English to some degree. Some people spoke German as well, as they supposedly get lots of tourists from Germany. As one of our drivers was telling us, Bali is heavily dependent on tourism as they have no real industry other than agriculture, which doesn't pay nearly as well as tourism does.
While there are beaches all around the island, most of the popular beach areas are in the south of the island, and those areas are the most highly touristed. We spent very little time in the south as we are not really beach people (we get really bored) and during planning, decided to stay in less touristed areas so we'd have more opportunities for local food... this didn't work out, as you'll see later.
So, it wouldn't be a KennethT foodblog without photos in the Taipei airport and I-Mei Dim Sum, which we called home for about 4 hours before our connection to Bali...
Beef noodle soup:
This was the same as always - huge pieces of beef were meltingly tender. Good bite to the thick chewy noodles.
Xie long bao (soup dumplings) and char siu bao (fluffy barbeque pork buns):
we're all used to the Wednesday/Sunday food sections of newspapers far and wide, national and local. I see corrections in the local or regional columns when called for, but there's never a way to critique the ones published on a national scale because the content is behind a paywall. I get the WSJ, but don't want to pay additional (I should get access to it all on line for free-the newspaper is not cheap) for their online edition. Very frustrating to try a recipe and have major problems with it and not be able to point out some serious issues. Specifically, the WSJ published a recipe from Dee Retalli, a pastry chef in London who's recipe is in the cookbook 'Rustic' by Jorge Fernandez and Rich Wells.
I have made this cake 3 times.
First time was a total runover disaster, which I should have foreseen. This cakes calls for a 10" springform or if you don't have that, a 10" cast iron skillet. I went for the latter because that is what I had. Almond mixtures tend to really smoke when they run over, just so you know.
Tried again later with a deeper than normal 9 " springform. Happened again. Think it has to do with the 2 teaspoons of baking powder and quick activation in a 350º oven.
Invested in a 10" springform for '3rd times a charm' try. I was successful, but not because I followed the directions, rather I became a little obsessed with making this work. Checked my oven, followed with the recipe and eyed it warily. It came up to the brim...and stayed. 45 minutes later it was supposed to be done but while it was beautiful, it was a bowl of jello in the center. It was also browning at an alarming rate- the almond flour again? So I placed a sheet of tinfoil over it (beautiful top crust) and turned the oven down to 325º and carefully watched and tested for almost another hour. That's a big time difference.
I found the recipe on cooked.com - credited to the above authors and cookbook albeit in Euro style measures and temps. All seems the same, so what are the odds that the recipe was misprinted twice from 2 different media?
All I can think of is somewhere down the line (in the cookbook itself?) the cook time and temp were off. The time on both reads 45 min. The recipe took at least 1hr and 45 minutes. methinks someone left out the hour...
The temp. thing is a little more obvious. Celcius to farenheight 350ºF does not equal 180ºC, more like 176ºC. Over almost 2 hours, I think that could make the difference between cooked and burnt? Sooo, I turned it down when I saw how fast it was browning to 325.
The cake stays in form while you pour the honey over it, then orange water, then 2(!!!) cups of sliced toasted almonds. I put 1 cup and there is no way another cup would have stayed on that cake. I cup settled up to almost an inch on a 10" cake...
Has anyone else tried this recipe or have the cookbook? It's a wonderful cake if you correct the time and temp., But I'd be really curious to see if anyone followed it exactly as written with success?
How much minute tapioca do you use to thicken pie fillings? I read through every one of the rhubarb pie posts and no, the recommended amount is NOT on the box I just purchased.
I will be making rhubarb pie but also apple, sour cherry, raspberry and blueberry later in the season. I will freeze most of the pies, unbaked, but would appreciate knowing what amounts you use for immediate baking as well. Also, I will be using tinfoil pie plates that say they are 10" but I think are really more like 9 inchers. They certainly do not hold anywhere near as much as my 10" pyrex pie plate.
I tried tapicoa years and years ago and decided I preferred flour but my sister now has a gluten allergy so I'm going to try tapioca again. That way she can at least scrape out the filling and eat it. Can I just substitute equal amounts of minute tapioca for the flour?
My method with the flour has been to mix it with the sugar and sprinkle some on the bottom crust, then a layer of fresh fruit. then a sprinkle of flour/sugar, with usually only two of three layers of fruit and finishing with a sprinkle of the flour/sugar. Can I do that with the tapioca?
Oh, and strawberries in the rhubarb pie? No way, DH would kill me. Rhubarb is his favourite and he says strawberries contaminate a rhubarb pie.
Cake construction question - I have a wedding cake order next month for about 175 people. I think it's going to be 14" round, 12" round, double-height 9" round, and a separated 6" layer with her great-grandma's cake topper.
My question is about the double-height layer. Should I layer cake and filling as usual but just make it super tall, or will whomever has to cut the thing appreciate it if there's a goo-free zone of cake-cardboard-cake in the middle so they can separate it into 2 x 9" cakes or more easily cut it? I mean, I could make two regular layers with 5 layers of cake and 4 layers of filling, not frost the top of one and just stack the other on top, or I could make one giant cake with 10 layers of cake, 9 filling, and no cardboard in the middle. I almost never have to cut cakes so I don't know if it matters but I thought I'd ask. The filling will either be salty caramel or raspberry, and the icing will be meringue buttercream, not as sturdy to handle as a crusting icing or fondant.
Or any other tips on giant wedding cakes? Thanks!
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