Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cooking With Thermal Cooker : Indonesian style beef curry (rendang)

This weekend's weather has been wet. Rain drizzled pretty much whole day on Saturday. What activities are best done at that kind of weather ? ha..ha..If you said eating, you're right. Another thing which is also fun is cooking.

A friend of ours own a few of thermos pot thingy which they swear by them. It's so easy, just put your ingredients in, bring it to a boil and drop it in the shell cover. Let it sit a few hours and voila you have tender azuki bean dessert. Or they even use it to cook rice. The best part I guess is using less power to cook. But I wouldn't take their words until I try it myself. So they were kind enough to let us borrow one since they'll be out of town for quite a while.

I got this piece of pork leg and I thought of making Indonesian style rendang (beef cooked with coconut milk and aromatic spices). And I would utilize the thermos pot for that purpose.

So what is this thermos pot thingy ? It's basically almost like a thermos used to keep liquid hot. Except this one is bigger size (like a pot). It consisted of the outer shell with the inner chamber that feels like made of aluminum. And the inner pot itself is made of stainless stell.

about 2 lbs of meat (I used pork). Cut into cubes of 1 inch by 1 inch.
1 medium size onion, thinly sliced.
300 ml coconut milk
200 ml water ( I used chicken broth for richer taste)
3/4 cup shredded coconut, pan fried under low heat until golden color
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded.
2 tbs oil (I used olive oil)
1 pack of store bought rendang paste
4-5 thai chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

Heat the inner pot of the thermos with medium heat. Pour in the oil and let it warm up. Put in the onion, thai chilli and kaffir lime leaves. Stir until fragrant, put in the meat and the rendang paste. Stir around for another 5 minutes. Pour in the rest of the liquid (coconut milk and water). Also put in the shredded coconut. Bring to a boil.
Heating up inner pot on stove

Take the inner pot out of stove and drop into the shell of the thermos. Lower the top of the outer shell of the thermos. Let it sit for at least 3 hours.
Dropping inner pot to the outer shell. Make sure to hold  it with  a pot holder. It's hot.

My pork leg turned out to be extra lean and tough. So my first round sat for 3 hours. Then I tested the meat and it was still tough. I took out the inner pot and brought it to a boil. At that time even after 3 hours, the contents of the pot was still hot. So it didn't take long to bring to a boil. I took the pot off the stove and dropped it back in the shell. That was last night. So the second round sat for almost 10 hours.

This morning I tested the pork and it's still not tender enough. So I took the pot out and brought it to a boil again. Then I dropped it back in the shell and let it sat until lunch time. The third round sat for around 3 hours.

When we finally tried it for lunch, the meat was tender enough to be separated by chopstick. Yum..yum..
pork rendang

Conclusion :
Thermos pot did cut cooking time for this preparation. Had the meat wasn't tough, it would have taken less round of reheating the pot. Satisfactory result.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Peacock Indian Restaurant - Cupertino

This review was almost titled "Deceptive Marketing Strategy or Honest Human Error ?" Continue reading to find out more about our recent experience there.
Hubby's first round :)

A coworker of mine told me about this Indian restaurant that just opened a new location in Cupertino. They offered $5 lunch and dinner buffet and also $5 Biryani rice. This offer along with the 25% off regular menu was supposed to be good from March 16 through March 18.

So off we went this afternoon. I was thinking wow with the price that low the line must be out the door. We did see a bunch of people outside the restaurant. Parking lot was full so we had to park on the street. When we walked in there there were like twenty over people just standing around. Some looked like they were lining up to the register. Nobody greeted us and there was no clear line for the buffet either. I pushed past the crowd to get to the counter and saw a wait list there. I put hubby's name and went back to the crowd.

While waiting it seemed that the line to the register was for take out. And then we saw this guy writing on few pieces of paper that looked to us like some sort of announcement. A few minutes later, he went to the door and sticked those announcement outside. I couldn't quite able to make it out from where we stood so I sent hubby out. He came back in and told me that the notice said that the buffet is going to be 25% off regular price. I went to the guy that seemed to be in charged of seating guests up and asked him what's the price for the regular buffet. He said $10.99 before 25% off. Oh well, we made it here and waited like fifteen minutes. It's cold out and we were hungry. So we just sticked around while the guy that I talked to earlier made his round and explained to everybody waiting that the price for buffet is going to be 25% off instead of $5. We noticed only a few people actually left. Rest of them were pretty much submissive just like us. Some did questioned about the emails that they sent out and also the price that was clearly stated on their website. I wasn't sure what happened. Did they not anticipated so many guests coming and chickened out of their own offer? Or somebody messed up and announced it on emails and on their website when it should be limited to just walked in guests ?

Sweet corn soup (Chinese style)

When we finally got the table about ten minutes later, we couldn't wait to attack the buffet line. First thing I noticed was the Chinese style corn soup with slices of green onion on top. Interesting. Then some deep fried fritter thingy which I wasn't too sure what else inside beside flour. Then I scooped up tandoori chicken and also butter chicken. Next was some pulao chicken rice which was spiced rice cooked with pieces of chicken and onion. I also got some beans cooked with onion. I stopped right there and went back to my table. Looked at my plate compared to hubby's which was more substantial.
My first round

My next round I went with spicy chicken that looked like sweet sour pork except this one was made of chicken and was actually quite spicy. Then I also got the goat curry and another curry which had darker color almost similar to the goat curry but was made of chicken. Those two last ones were quite similar to the Indonesian beef rendang.
Naan. Good and not oily.

So I guess this Indian restaurant offers cuisine with a bit Chinese influenced hence the sweet corn soup, stir fry noodle and spicy chicken. Anyhow the highlight was the spicy chicken, butter chicken and the green bean. I would say their food was in general very good. But I suspected they used tons of MSG since later on I got so thirsty. With that and also the price for the buffet, I guess that would be the last time we went there.
Peacock Indian Restaurants
10251 S De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 517-9000

Sunday, March 11, 2012

San Jose Noodle Bar - San Jose

When we got there on Saturday afternoon there was one table occupied. We chose a table and was given the menu. One of the items that hubby had his eyes on was not there anymore. Darn it. So he settled for a similar one - yellow noodle soup with wonton and bbq pork. I got a rice noodle soup with combination of pork, meat balls and prawn.

As we sat there waiting for the orders. I took in the decor of the restaurant. It's simple but modern. The wall was painted bright orange to give it a cheerful look. One of the corner behind us had a high vase with dried branches sticking out of it. Or I thought it was dried branches with petals but turned out that the petals were actually beads. Interesting.

We only wanted water but I was surprised to see slices of limes on our ice water. And it actually had a hint of lime juice in it. Very refreshing.

Come to our orders. We shared an order of spring roll (goi cuon). It came very nicely arranged on a platter with the dipping sauce on the side. The roll had leafy greens sticking out of it instead of the regular green chives. We could taste that the spring roll was freshly made since the skin was still moist but I think the skin was a bit too thick and chewy.

As we were enjoying our spring roll, the restaurant got busier. And it seemed like there was only three people working including the guy in the kitchen so the service was kinda slow. We got our bowl of noodle soup after we were almost done with the spring roll. The first thing I noticed was the size. Hubby ordered a large but he got the same size as mine. We didn't think much about it and started digging in. Only about ten minutes later then the waitress came back with another small bowl and I told her we got all our orders. She then said that it's additional to hubby's order since they made him a small one instead of the large one per his order. Aha !

My rice noodle soup was good even though the noodle was not the fresh one like I thought it would be. The prawns were big enough and fresh. Hubby's noodle soup didn't turn out quite the way he liked. The yellow noodle they used seemed to be either overcooked or not the right type for soup. It was not as chewy as we thought it would be. The bokchoy they used was a refreshing addition to the noodle soup though.
additional small bowl that came later on
San Jose Noodle Bar
856 North 13th Street  San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 292-1539

Hunting for donuts : Stan's Donut Shop - Santa Clara

Woke up on Saturday morning and craved donuts. That's what happened to us yesterday. But we craved not just any donuts. A few weeks ago I heard on KLIV when they featured this donut shop in Santa Clara that supposedly has been in business since 1950s.

We got ready with a thermos of hot water and our mug with green tea bag and off we went on our journey. It was said on Yelp to be there early to ensure your shares of donuts before they sold out. We got there around 8:30 but we could see people coming out with box of donuts. We walked in and checked out the menu before we settled with the glazed donuts (most popular), cinnamon, maple bar and jelly donut. The lady behind the counter told us that the glazed donuts won't be ready until another twenty minutes. We decided to wait since we drove twenty minutes to get there anyway. Then I noticed another guy behind the counter working on piles of dough; rolling and cutting it with a donut shaper.

When we finally got our shares in the donut box. We got our green tea ready and each of us dug in. The glazed ones were piping hot and smelled wonderful. That's the first time I ever tasted donuts so fresh. I guess that's the difference. The jelly and maple bar were so so only since they were not as fresh. The cinnamon one was pretty good even though it wasn't hot anymore.

Stan's Donut Shop
2628 Homestead Road  Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 296-5982

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Indo Cafe - Saratoga

We have a habit of eating out on weekends. Being a foodie, we try to utilize every chance to check out new place. So this weekend I started by looking at Yelp. It just happened that I found out about Indo Cafe in Saratoga. And it also happened that this place serves Indonesian cuisine.

It was a good thing that one of the yelpers mentioned about the location behind UPS store. We walked down the road trying to look for the address and we passed by the UPS store but I didn't see any sign of Indo Cafe. But then from the road I could see through the UPS store because they have their backdoor opened. It dawned on me that the business could only be accessed from the parking lot not from the Big Basin Rd. We turned around and found access to the parking lot and of course next to the backdoor of the UPS store there was a sign that said "Indo Cafe".

The place was tiny with three big wooden tables. It kinda reminded me of someone's kitchen. We ordered coconut rice combo, Padang rice combo and ice cendol. The ice cendol was brought out within minutes. Cendol is made of mung bean flour and shaped like worm served with coconut milk, palm sugar and crushed ice.
Ice cendol - with coconut milk, palm sugar and crushed ice

It took about fifteen minutes for our orders to arrive. They came in platter with rice in the middle and the condiments around it. Hubby's Padang rice combo had a big pile of rendang beef (cooked in spices and coconut milk), young jack fruit cooked in yellow curry, two skewers of padang style satay (beef satay with yellow gravy sauce) and a red egg (hard boiled egg with chili sauce gravy). My coconut rice combo also had rendang beef and red egg, perkedel (deep fried potato with spices) and deep fried yellow chicken

coconut rice combo with generous sides
Padang rice combo

The beef rendang was flavorful and the just melt in your mouth. The portion was so generous that we still had some left over beef rendang to take home. They also offered other Indonesian snacks like croquettes (rounded potato with minced meat and veggies filling) and risoles (veggies filling deep fried pastries). I was so tempted to try but my tummy just couldn't handle any of them anymore. Looks like we will have to go back another time.

Indo Cafe
14443 Big Basin Way
SaratogaCA 95070   (408) 741-1514