Kreole Kitchen

 

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The food alone is enough of a reason to stop at Kreole Kitchen, but the retro ‘old school’ Melbourne vibe creates a wonderful sense of nostalgia that has me  reminiscing about the carefree days of my childhood in Australia.

Lime green Tupperware, pots shaped like pineapples, vinyl album art and lamp shades made from tea towels printed with kangaroos and kookaburras evoke the 70’s.  A black board lists homemade pies, and a glass cabinet is filled with the kind of sweets I used to bake with my mum – like peppermint slices, crumbly short bread and chocolate crackles, while I could swear the vintage crockery and framed teaspoon collection came from my grandma. However the rice field views from the breakfast counter at the back don’t let me forget that I am in Bali.

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Annick,who formerly worked in the design industry started the cafe in 2012 and  now spends her days cooking and playing gracious host to her many regular guests. “I am living my dream,” she says with a smile, “I feel blessed.”  While her heritage is Mauritian Creole, she grew up in Melbourne, and the menu and the paraphernalia reflect both.The space is nurturing and comforting, heavy on the human touch, with a dose of spirituality thrown into the mix. Paintings of three female deities preside over the open  kitchen to “bless the food,” and the counter has wooden  boxes marked with ‘magic bits’ and ‘fairy dust.’ “We sprinkle it on all the food,” she tells me with a smile. Whether its magic or just good old-fashioned home-style cooking techniques,  the food is delicious.

The popular Kreole Platter releases a fragrant aroma as it is set on the table – a thali tray with a thick yellow dhal; a light, yet fully flavoured okra and vegetable curry, creamy raita; tasty Mauritian-inspired coconut chutney, chapati and a mix of red and white rice. Aussie-style pies are also a crowd favourite and include Chunky Beef Pie  encased in golden pastry, a hearty mashed potato-topped Shepherd’s Pie and real, homemade Sausage Rolls,soft flaky pastry filled with chicken, beef, carrot and just a hint of apple. The mini Spinach and Feta Borek are excellent – I cook good borek myself – and although it kills me to admit it,these are better.

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There are no sugary soft drinks on the menu, instead  fresh juices, young coconut, herbal teas and homemade cordials like Rosella and Vanilla Bean and Ginger and Lime mixed with soda water. Annick also stocks the rather  hard-to-find, but very good Bali Cider and organic F.R.E.A.K(Fresh Roasted Enak  Arabica from Kintamani) coffee  which is cold-pressed, smooth and full bodied. It is  the perfect accompaniment to Chocolate and Peanut Hedgehog a crunchy chocolate nutty slice, a Lemon Slice and  a Melting Moment – shortbread that really does melt in the mouth.

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Kreole Kitchen

JalanDrupardi 11 no.56

P +62 361 738514

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Bungalow

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Bungalow

Just minutes from Seminyak, the pretty seaside village of Berawa is developing quite a cafe scene.  Bungalow is the newest addition, combining  gorgeous homeware with a tasty home-style menu. Balinese-born musician Donald, and his Australian wife Giovanna, have drawn inspiration from their global travels to bring a touch of the exotic to this charming store/cafe, where everything has been hand-picked to create a wonderful homey atmosphere.  “We wanted to make a cosy sanctuary with good music…..a place to smell the flowers, the coffee and the incense, ”says Donald. 

A colonial-style wooden bungalow with distressed timber, exposed brick walls and quaint shutters sets the scene. Ornate bird cages dangle above the shady terrace where shelves are stacked with hand painted watering cans and fresh potted herbs (for sale) in bright flower pots. The air-conditioned interior is brimming with retro style furnishings and antiques, many in soft hues of green – chosen, says Donald, “To create a soothing, natural ambience.” All homewares are for sale, from four poster bed, to chunky dining table, brass hurricane lamps, woven place mats, crocheted quilts and floral cushions. A veritable treasure trove, Bungalow is ideal for gift shopping with its own line of bath products and candles, antique toys and inspirational books, with titles like ‘Thank you’ ‘I Believe’ ‘Joy’ and ‘Love.’  Cafe tables are scattered amidst the antiques and there is a lovely cushion filled alcove under a wall of clocks.  

A cabinet displays an enticing arrange of cakes, big glass jars are filled with cookies and fresh herbs, and baskets are piled with almond croissants, blueberry muffins, and French apple pie. The menu is listed on blackboards and includes a healthy range of juices, smoothies, baguettes, open sandwiches on sourdough, and salads. Tofu is blended with red peppers and walnuts, flavoured with herbs and mustard then baked into patties and served in a sesame seed bun with rocket, tomato, cheese, and homemade mayo to create a wholesome and tasty Tofu Burger. The Daily Salad is a fresh and springy mix of rocket, mixed leaves, pumpkin and fetta, while Baguettes come with a selection of fillings, like smoked salmon, rocket and cream cheese. Refreshing drinks include an invigorating Ginger Lime Cooler blending crushed ginger root with Bali lime, fresh-picked mint and ginger ale, while the Berry Delight is a luscious, dark pink  treat of mixed berries.

A good range of coffees make a perfect accompaniment to rich Chocolate Cake, Blueberry Cheese Cake,Carrot and Walnut Cake and my choice – Italian Meringue Pie a creamy, lemony concoction with the softest sweetest meringue.

 Bungalow home/books/music/coffee 

Jalan Pantai Berawa

T+62 361 8446567

Open 8.30am – 6pm  Mon – Sat

Tofu and Tempe

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While both tofu and tempeh come from soy beans they are made with different processes. Tofu comes from curdling hot soy milk with a coagulant, while tempeh is made from slightly fermented cooked soy beans. While both are good sources of protein,  the fermentation process and the retention of whole beans gives tempeh a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins than tofu, as well as firmer texture and stronger flavor.

Tofu

Tofu is quite bland alone, but is a sponge for flavours, making it highly versatile as an ingredient. As a rule of thumb you could try preparing it in the same way that you cook chicken, using similar seasonings , best just to try and see what works for you. Silken tofu can be pureed and used in sauces, while the firmer tofus work well in stir fries or baked in the oven.

In Indonesia it is often deep fried which makes it tasty but not particularly healthy, and I have spent years experimenting to find the best way to cook it. Generally I keep it simple with a meal of tofu and salad, or a tofu sandwich layered with crispy tofu, grated carrot, sesame seeds and lettuce.To cook the tofu, first pat dry with absorbent paper, sprinkle with salt then pan fry in a thin coat of corn oil with sliced garlic and a little fresh ginger. Cook till golden. A drizzle of kecap manis (sweet soya sauce) at the end adds a sweet flavour, while a sprinkle of black sesame seeds adds a crunchy texture.

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Recently I tried the Caprese Kampung at Desa Seni. I am a huge fan of buffalo mozzarella and always love a Caprese salad, but this one  exchanges mozzarella with  fresh tofu, layering it  with avocado, kemangi (Balinese lemon basil) and firm but juicy tomatoes with a tangy sambal vinaigrette. The taste is  incredibly fresh and the sprinkle of crunchy fried shallots adds extra flavour. I will see if I can get the recipe so watch this space!

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Another of my favourite tofu dishes is at Clear  in Ubud, I think its called the snow crusted tofu – or something like that and I have been trying to recreate it. My version is  different – but it tastes pretty good.

Coconut crusted tofu

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • 1 x block tofu (firm tofu is best) cut into cubes sprinkled with sea salt
  • 2 x tablespoon organic coconut syrup  – available at Zula (or agave nectar)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (fresh if possible, but dried is ok)

Mix the tofu in a bowl with the coconut syrup and coconut until all the cubes are coated. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the coconut begins to toast. Serve with rice, or mashed potato.

This recipe  is a favourite with my friends

Pasta with tofu, broccoli and feta

  • I block tofu, sliced 1cm thick
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 head broccoli (chopped into florets)
  • 50-100grams firm feta cheese
  • 1 pkt pasta
  • handful fresh parsley finely chopped

Sprinkle the tofu with salt and lightly pan fry, adding the garlic and shallots after a minute or so. Cook till golden. Meanwhile boil or steam the broccoli until cooked (but still firm) strain then add to tofu garlic mix and heat through. Cube the cooked tofu and lightly mash the brocoli and add the feta cheese.

Boil the pasta till al dente, toss with olive oil, then add the tofu /broccoli mix and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.

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Tandoori Tofu

These tasty cubes of tofu are great as canapes, served on toothpicks.

  • 600 gr deep fried tofu
  • 150 gr thick plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • a garlic clove, crushed
  • 3cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (with seeds)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds plus 2 teaspoons coriander seeds,  lightly toasted in dry frying pan, and finely crushed 
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and place in a large bowl. In another bowl combine all other ingredients (except fresh coriander and lemon.) Spoon the mixture over the tofu and toss well until evenly covered. Marinate for at least one hour (overnight is even better.) Spread on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees Celsius. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with lemon juice and fresh coriander. 

Tofu and Shitake Mushrooms with crispy black rice patties

  • 600 gr deep fried tofu cut into cubes
  • 1 tbspn each soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil
  • 2 tbspn each sunflower oil, hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tspn chilli oil 
  • 275 gr carrot cut into match sticks
  • 250 gr shitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 9 spring onions, cut into 3 cm  strips

Rice Patties

  • 200 gr uncooked black rice (you could also use red rice)
  • 1 tbspn soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 heaped tbspn plain flour
  • handful of fresh chives and coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Cook the rice and soy sauce, then rinse until water runs clear. Put in a bowl and mash with chilli sauce, egg yolk, flour, chives, coriander, salt and pepper. Roll into 12 balls and flatten into patties. Heat oil (3 cm depth) in fry pan. Add a few patties at a time and cook on each side till golden brown. 

Put tofu on baking tray and sprinkle with soy sauce and chilli oil. Cook in pre heated oven at 200 Celsius for 20 minutes. Fry sunflower and sesame seeds , add carrots and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add hoisin, soy sauce and rice vinegar and 200 ml water and continue cooking for two minutes. Stir in spring onions, roast tofu and salt/pepper. In a separate wok/fry pan stir fry bok choy for 2 – 3 minutes.

To serve  Put three rice patties on each plate, with bok choy, tofu and mushrooms alongside. Sprinkle with coriander. 

AA026366Tempe

Tempeh has a slightly sweet nutty flavour and much thicker texture than tofu. The Tempeh penyet (fried in batter) that  you find in the street markets in Jogjakarta (Java) is divine, but once again a little too oily to be healthy.  The thing is tempeh definitely tastes better when its crispy, and although I have tried baking it, I find its tastiest if I pan fry in just a little corn oil with some garlic (you can soak in water and salt for a few minutes first to make the tempeh a little more moist.)  I then use the crispy strips to make tempeh burgers or sandwiches or just toss it into a salad. Recently though I have been experimenting with tempeh manis, a sweet and crunchy dish that’s popular in the warungs here. Its really good sprinkled on salad.

Recipe Tempeh Manis

  • 1 x block tempeh, cut in slices 1/2 cm thick
  • 4 x garlic cloves
  • 2 shallots finely sliced
  • quarter teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 75 grams peanuts
  • 40 grams palm sugar
  • 3 teaspoons water

Lightly pan fry in batches, first the tempeh, then the peanuts, then the shallots (till crispy) and then the garlic and ginger (taking care not to burn).Heat the water in a saucepan with the sugar and sprinkle of salt until the sugar melts and the liquid is bubbling. Leave for a couple of minutes and then pour over all the fried ingredients, breaking the tempeh into small pieces. Allow to cool

Food of the gods on the island of the gods

The magical world of raw chocolate

Legend has it that the first cacao beans came from paradise and lent wisdom and power to the person that ate them.  Deep in the tropical rainforests of central America, ancient Mayans  used ground cocoa beans in wedding rituals and for healing magic. To the Aztecs it was known as the food of the gods; and it is said that the  god Quetzalcoatl, was  kicked out of paradise for giving chocolate to the human race.

Most of us have experienced the ‘feel good factor’ of chocolate, its smooth exotic taste known to induce feelings of euphoria, even its aroma is enough to promote feelings of well being and happiness.  But if you are reading this while munching on a Mars Bar, its time to think again. While mass produced store bought confectionery might taste good and have a small amount of nutritional benefits,  this is sadly outweighed by vast amounts of chemicals, refined fats and sugars.

Raw chocolate, on the other hand provides a dose of pure natural goodness and is packed with magnesium, antioxidants and  a taste far superior to anything you will find on a supermarket shelf. In its purest form chocolate contains  an abundance of Tryptophan, a substance which triggers a reaction in the brain and creates a feeling of elation and giddiness. It is also packed with  Anandamide a name derived from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. Also known as the love chemical, Anandamide induces feelings of euphoria…. just like falling in love. While cooking and processing chocolate destroys much of its natural goodness, raw chocolate is healthy for the mind, body and soul.

A number of places in Bali are now making raw chocolate, but Alchemy, a quirky health cafe in Ubud has the best,  with its  gleaming refrigerator shelves stocked with a dazzling display of cakes, candy and chocolates that don’t just taste good, they are good for you. The slabs of dense chewy chocolate bars are seriously ‘to die for’ (or at least to ‘drive to Ubud for….’) I also love the homemade bounty bars filled with fresh shredded coconut, the dark peppermint infused Stevia Mint Drops and the coconut dusted truffles. Bali Buddha also has a good selection, including lovely heart-shaped chocolate truffles, while Desa Seni serves up a tasty range of energy balls – just the thing after a yoga session. The raw chocolate dream pie at Clear Cafe in Ubud also deserves a mention – it is positively dreamy! It is also worth paying a visit to Five Elements in Mambal, a divine eco retreat offering gourmet raw cusisine that provides one of the most profound dining experiences on the island. Actually, the first time I tried raw chocolate was here and it was a moment I will never forget.

One of the newest venues on Bali’s raw chocolate scene is the inspiring Bamboo Chocolate Factory, also in Mambal (just near the Green School.) The soaring bamboo building rises from a sea of tropical forests and has been created by Big Tree farms who work with local farmers to produce organic ingredients such as salt and pepper, vanilla, cashews and honey.  You can join a tour of the factory, which starts with  a cup of thick and creamy organic hot chocolate to get you in the mood. A guide will then lead you along the labyrinth of bamboo hallways and cavernous rooms, following the trail of the humble cacao bean as it is transformed into a delicious chocolate bar. If images of oompa loompas and rivers of chocolate are flowing through your mind, think again; but if you are remembering the movie ‘Chocolate’, with the beautiful Vianne sensually grinding beans on a stone you are a little closer, but still not thinking big enough.  Actually, the six tonne, 70-year-old Mélangeur is so big it has its own room – with two giant granite rollers that crush the cacao beans (fermented, not roasted) into a thick paste.  Twelve hours later the paste is ready for the conche which turns it into a smooth liquid, while a cold press separates the butter. In the cashew sorting room, nuts are hand selected and trimmed, before making their way into chocolate bars.  Back in the tasting room you can try the fresh slabs of 70% bitter chocolate, which is also on sale, along with cold processed cacao powder, and cashew chocolate nibs. Chocolate-making workshops are planned to start from August so you will be able to create your own sublime concoctions.

photographs courtesy of Suki Zoe/Alchemy www.alchemybali.com