April 24, 2011

the perfect egg: a recipe for îles flottantes and one for pain brioché

Iles Flottantes

with Lime & Jasmine Blossom Crème Anglaise & Rose Meringue
will serve 4 
for the Crème Anglaise:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of milk
2 lime leaves
grated zest of 1 small lime
a handful of lime blossoms
a handful of jasmine blossoms
1 vanilla bean split in two

In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean, grated lime zest, lime leaves, lime and jasmine blossoms.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow and doubled in volume.
Just before the milk reaches the boiling point, remove it from the heat, cool it for one minute and gently pour it on the egg yolks while whisking them.
Return the milk and eggs to the pan, cook over medium heat while stirring continously. 
Do not let the custard reach the boiling point. As soon as the custard coats the back of the spoon, remove from the heat and pour it in a cold bowl, whisk it until cooler. Place the custard in the fridge with a plastic film on top.

For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
2 Tsp of sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp rose blossom water

In a perfectly clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar, salt and rose water until they stiff and shiny.
Spoon on a lightly buttered baking sheet dollops of meringue. Cook at 100C
for 45 minutes, do not let them color too much, remove from the oven and let them cool.

Prepare the Iles Flottantes: pour the custard in a large bowl and float the meringues on top.

For the Caramel:
1/2 cup of sugar
2 Tsp water

In a heavy saucepan, heat the sugar with the water until it forms a syrup.
Let it bubble until it starts coloring, tilt the pan until the color is uniform but do not use a spoon otherwise the sugar will crystallize. Do this until a nice light mahogany color is reached.
Drizzle the caramel on top ot the meringues and serve.

Pain Brioché

makes one loaf or 10 small buns

4 cups of flour
1Tbs of dry yeast
3 tbs of sugar
2 tsp of sea salt
3 large eggs
175grs (6oz) of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup of milk

Place the flour, the sugar, the salt and the yeast in a large bowl. Mix together.
Melt the butter with the milk in a pan on low heat. When melted, remove from the heat and cool to barely warm. 
Add the eggs and the milk/butter to the flour, mix, then start to knead (it will be sticky), add a little flour if you need to. Continue to knead for 10 minutes. When the dough is satiny and feel springy, place in a buttered bowl and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place. After that time, it should be doubled its size. Punch it down and let rise another 2 hours (if you made the dough in the afternoon, let it rise in a cool place overnight).
Shape it in a loaf or in a braid or make buns.
Let the dough rise 20 minutes after you shape it.
Cook in a preheated oven 200C or 350F for 40 minutes for the loaves and 20 minutes for the buns until golden.

April 14, 2011

Baking bread in a different world

If there is one thing I miss a lot here in Bali, it is a good, crusty, warm loaf of bread fragrant with the sweet smell and heady tang of yeast. I have been dreaming for a long time to build a bread oven but so far, it has remained only that, a dream.

Not only could I bake bread in it but pizzas and fruit tarts as well. Ahhhhhh, just the thought of it transports me back to the bakeries in France at noon, when all the baguettes, pains de campagne and other breads are still warm and ready to be nibbled on the way back home.
A few months back, I decided that if the bread oven was a dream, the bread itself could possibly become a reality. I went to the town next to our village, bought an electric toaster oven/rotisserie and started to develop some recipes which, if not on a par with French bread, are pleasant and edible.
So for all of us who do not live in a country where good bread is available at every street corner, there is still hope for a decent loaf of daily bread!

    Baguettes et Petits Pains 

will make 5 baguettes or 10 petits pains

4 cups of bread flour
2 packages of dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt (you can increase to 1 Tbs if you like)
1 Tbs natural sugar
1 1/2 cup spring water (not tap because of the chlorine in it)
Place the flour in a bowl, add the yeast, the salt and the sugar. Mix with your hands, add the water.  (I do not bother with mixing the yeast, sugar and some water together first). Continue mixing with your hands until the water is incorporated, add some flour if you feel the dough is too wet.
Turn on a counter and start kneading, pulling and stretching, tucking it under to incorporate air in it. It will be tacky at this point but continue, it will start becoming more elastic as you knead. You may add a little flour if you start to have more dough on your hands than on the counter! 
Do this for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and feels alive.
Form the dough in a ball and let it rise for 2 hours in a bowl covered with a towel in a warm, not drafty place.
After that time, when the dough has doubled in volume, deflate it gently. Add a bit of flour and form it in whatever shapes you want. Place the formed dough in a towel or on the baking tray and let it rise for 15minutes.
Bake at 475ºF or 250ºC for 20 minutes. Voilà, warm, crusty and chewy bread!

Olive Oil Dough & Fougasse

This soft dough is basically the same as above with the addition of extra virgin olive oil, the proportions are slightly different. It makes tender rolls and a perfect base for focaccia.

will make 2 large focaccias or 10 rolls

4 1/4 cups bread flour
2tsp sea salt
2tsp natural sugar
5/6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup spring water
Follow the directions for the recipe above with the addition of the oil at the same time as the water.
This dough can rise longer and be punched down 2 times. I make a large batch in the afternoon, make rolls for dinner and keep half the dough for making focaccia for lunch next day.

Roasted Lemon, Onion & Garlic Focaccia

for the focaccia:
2Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
A few basil leaves
1 ripe tomato, sliced thinly

for roasting:
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 garlic head, unpeeled
1tsp sugar
1Tbs olive oil
In a roasting pan, place the lemon, garlic and onion. Mix and rub the oil and sugar in. Roast 200ºC (375ºF) until  golden. Let cool slightly. Push the roasted garlic out of their skins. Cut the lemons in small pieces.
When the dough is rested, take half of it and turn it on a baking tray, push the dough to fit, from the center to the sides, but do not stretch it, poke it with your fingers and drizzle the oil. Cover with a dishtowel, let rest for 45 minutes.

When rested, poke the dough again gently, let rest 30 more minutes (you could skip this step if pressed by time).
Sprinkle the roasted garlic, onion, lemon and Rosemary sprigs on the dough. Arrange the tomato slices on top (you could add some cheese if you'd like), sprinkle some sea salt, grind some pepper on top and bake in a preheated oven at 250ºC (475ºF). Lower the heat to 220ºC (400ºF) and cook for 30 minutes.


1/2 batch of olive oil dough or 1/2 batch of white dough for baguettes
Preheat the oven at 250ºC (475ºF).
Place the dough on a floured counter and spread it gently in a rough square, let it rest 5 minutes. Divide the dough in three smaller squares. Be gentle in handling the dough, do not deflate it, you want to keep air in it.

Cut a large cut in the center and 2 smaller diagonal cuts on each side. Open wide the holes with your fingers as they will get smaller when the fougasse is baking. Sprinkle flour generously on the fougasse.
Place on a well floured baking tray in the oven. Cook for 15/20 minutes until golden.
Variations: After the dough has rested, mix in some good black olives, chopped anchovies and rosemary sprigs, knead a few times and let it rise for another hour, then follow the directions above for shaping and baking. Another good variation is to add some walnuts pieces and some blue cheese instead of the olives and anchovies.

I am still dreaming about my bread oven. Maybe one day....

April 8, 2011

Rejang Dewa and Lawar

Today all over Karangasem where we live, families are celebrating Odalan, the birthday of temples. On Saturday we will go pray at Pura Lumbung but today, Odalan has already started at that temple and young girls are performing Rejang Dewa (the dance for the gods), an event which takes place every year and a half.  Months ago, they started to prepare for that day.

They have been dressed amd made up since early in the morning and now they are ready to wear their beautiful gelungan (hats) made out of ental (the palm leaf which is used to make lontar, the sacred books)  Each one has been lovingly decorated with flowers by their mothers. Like the Banten, Gelungan is a tall and fragrant dedication to the gods, carried on the most sacred part of the body, the head.

The inherent grace and beauty of these young girls is always humbling to me, they naturally possess poise and dignity beyond their years.

Komang's beautiful little cousin, Iluh Mentik

On the other side of the village, since way before dawn, the men have been busy preparing Cassava Leaves Stuffing for Babi Guling, Saté and Lawar at the Banjar Dewa Mas near the temple.

Cassava Leaves Stuffing for Babi Guling

Komang's uncle (we could call him the Iron Chef of Karangasem) has been, with his two challenge ingredients "raw pork blood and bitter starfruit leaves", orchestrating the making of the mysterious Balinese Lawar.

No doubt, if you have been to Bali, you have heard about Lawar and maybe even had a chance to eat it. If not; let me explain, Lawar is mostly prepared for ceremonies and eaten as part of Megibun, the traditional shared meal. It is served as well with babi guling. It consists of roasted and boiled pork, coconut, spices, tree leaves and raw pork blood all mixed according to each Lawar master's unique recipe. Wayan Riem, Komang's uncle, is such a master and is always asked to direct and supervise its preparation. His skills, honed through a lifetime, are unsurpassed and his Lawar is reknown to be the best in the village .

Starfruit leaves and Lombok Chilies

The making of Uncle's Riem Lawar 

Wayan Riem is a very quiet man who has secrets and those are secrets he is not very inclined to share but Komang, being observant, has been able to "duplicate" his uncle's Lawar and give me a recipe that I am happy to share here. Of course, I am not really expecting anyone to make Lawar at home but for the curious and adventurous, it might be an interesting challenge. And next time you eat it, at least you will know what's in it!

Lawar is actually a complex dish, involving the preparation of two spice pastes, Basé Gedé and Pelalah which are mixed in three different preparations: Lawar Merah (the one with raw blood), Lawar Belimbing (with starfruit leaves) and Lawar Putih (white lawar with coconut). These three Lawar are then mixed together for the finished dish pictured below. Each of these Lawar can be served on their own.

For the Basé Gedé:
500 grs. (1lb) of shallots, peeled and finely sliced
200 grs. ( 7oz) of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 long red chilies, sliced
125grs ( 4.5oz) of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
100grs ( 3.5oz)  of fresh galangal, peeled and finely chopped
50grs (2oz) of kencur, chopped (omit if unavailable
5 candlenuts, chopped
1 Tbs roasted shrimp paste (wrap in aluminium foil and roast over a flame until pungent)
2 tsp sea salt
80 ml (3.5oz) coconut oil or bland oil
Mix all the ingredients together by hand except the oil. Add the oil in a frying pan and cook the ingedients until fragrant. Set aside.

For the Pelalah:
200grs (7oz) garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
100grs (3.5oz) kencur (omit if anavailable)
75grs (3oz) fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
5 candlenuts, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp roasted shrimp paste
80 ml (3.5oz) bland oil
In a mortar, place all the ingredients, except the oil, and grind into a rough paste. Add the oil in a frying pan and cook the paste until fragrant. Set aside.

 Lawar Merah

200grs (7oz) of pork rind, cleaned and boiled with a pinch of salt for 30 minutes
200grs (7oz) of pork meat with some fat, chopped finely and fried
100ml (3,5oz) of fresh pork blood
5 Tbs Basé Gedé 
3 Tbs Pelalah
4 Tbs of shallots, peeled, sliced finely, deep-fried until golden and drained
3 or 4 bird's eye chilies, chopped finely
1 tsp roasted shrimp paste
Juice of 1 calamondin lime or regular lime
Sea salt to taste

Mix well the meats and the blood together, add the basé gedé, pelalah, chilies, shrimp paste, fried shallots and lime juice. Mix well again. Tase and adjust for salt and eventually chilies.

Lawar Belimbing

500grs ( 17oz) of Starfruit leaves, washed and boiled for 5 minutes
1 1/2 cup of fresh coconut milk (good canned coconut will do if fresh is unavailable)
200grs (7oz) of pork meat with some fat, boiled 15 minutes
4 Tbs Basé Gedé
3 Tbs Pelalah
3 Tbs deep fried shallots (as described in above recipe)
3 bird's eye chilies, sliced finely
1 tsp roated shrimp paste
Juice of 1 Calamondin lime or regular lime if unavailable
Sea salt to taste

Once the starfruit leaves are boiled, rinse them under cold water and squeeze the water out, do this 3 times, it will help remove some of the bitterness.
Boil the coconut milk until thickened, about 10 minutes, cool and set aside.
Chop the meat in small pieces, set a side.

Mix the meat, coconut milk and the sarfruit leaves. Once mixed, add the basé gedé, pelalah, shallots, chilies, shrimp paste and lime and mix again. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside. 

Lawar Putih

1/2 fresh coconut, meat grated
150grs (5oz) of fried pork meat with some fat, chopped in small slices
150 grs (5oz) boiled pork meat with some fat, chopped in small slices
4 Tbs Basé Gedé
3 tbs Pelalah
4/5 Tbs deep-fried shallots
3 bird's eye chilies, finely sliced
Juice of 1 calamondin lime or regular lime
1 tsp roasted shrimp paste
Sea salt to taste
Mix the coconut meat and the meats. Add all the other ingredients except salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.

For the finished  Lawar, mix 1/3 of each preparation above ( Lawar merah, lawar belimbing and lawar putih) and serve with steamed rice.