Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hot Indigo Potato Salad













My very first job was working as a part time waitress and kitchen help in a small German restaurant in Southern California.   I was 15 years old at the time and the woman who owned the place was aptly named Ursula.  What I remember about Ursula was that she was a strong woman with a thick German accent and without a doubt she was an amazing cook.  She made all of her dishes from scratch and had recipes for hot and cold German potato salads that were to die for.

Unfortunately, I did not work there very long for she had to close her restaurant due to some unforeseen circumstances.  Long story…  It was too bad, for I was really starting to dig German food and I really liked working for Ursula.  I enjoyed learning about the dishes that she made in her kitchen.

My Hot Indigo Potato Salad is a twist on Ursula’s hot German Potato Salad and the use of blue potatoes was inspired by Weng’s gorgeous Summer Vitelotte Potato Salad at  This potato salad is a bit different than Ursula’s for it is made with hugely vibrant blue potatoes, white balsamic vinegar and garnished with bright green onions and chives.  She liked to slice her potatoes but I chose to cut them into large pieces. It has been many years since I worked in a German restaurant and I never did know whatever happened to Ursula, but I do believe that she just might approve of my Hot Indigo Potato Salad…  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds blue potatoes
  • 2 Tbls. bacon fat
  • 1 Tbls. all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbls. sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 c. chopped white onion
  • handful of chopped chives and/or green onions

Begin by scrubbing then boiling your potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Let cool and cut into 1″ or small pieces and set aside.  In a large saucepan add the bacon fat and flour.  Cook on medium for a few minutes stirring often.  Add sugar, water, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and onions.  Bring to a boil and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add your potatoes, lightly toss and cook until heated through.  Put in a serving dish and garnish with the chives and green onions.  Serves 8.



Green Zebra Gazpacho













If you happen to have an abundance of tomatoes, make some gazpacho.  Gazpacho is a wonderful chilled soup made with ripe uncooked red tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, onions, peppers, garlic and other ingredients.  Gazpacho has its origins in Spain however my version is somewhat similar but with a champagne vinegar and an obvious green tomato twist.













Green Zebra Tomatoes are my all time favorite heirloom tomatoes.  I plant several of these tomato plants in my little pocket garden every year.  When green zebra tomatoes are ripe, they are a gorgeous light green color with dark green stripes rather than the traditional all red color.  They are mild in flavor and are suitable for many dishes.  Mix these with other tomatoes in a dish or on a salad for a “pop” of color.  If you have a bunch of these little green tomato gems, be sure to make this gazpacho!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds green zebra tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber cubed
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 bell pepper (quartered)
  • 1 avocado (quartered)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c. cilantro
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbls. champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
  • garnish with cilantro sprigs and chopped red and yellow tomatoes

Begin by peeling your tomatoes.  The easiest way is to drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds and remove.  Then core and peel.  Toss the tomatoes into a food processor and buzz it up but do not puree.  You want to have some small pieces in the soup.  Put the tomatoes in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and repeat.  Mix ingredients together and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or overnight.  Before serving taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and chopped tomatoes.  Makes about 8 servings.

* Note:  Go ahead and use red tomatoes if you like.  I did not make up the rules and I purposely chose green tomatoes for the visual effect.

Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)













Every year for the past seven years I have planted tomatoes in my little pocket garden.  When we first moved into our home, my husband Bruce built me a couple of raised garden beds on the side of our house.  I have tomatoes and other vegetable plants tucked into those garden beds and every available space in our yard that gets over eight hours of sunlight everyday.  It’s now near the end of summer and for the size of my little garden, I am happy to say that I have quite the bumper crop of tomatoes.

Lemon boys and green zebras are the heirloom tomato varieties that I have chosen to use in my Indonesian inspired chicken curry.  I love the vibrant yellow color of the lemon boys in the sauce and the gorgeous green stripes of the green zebras as a garnish. My chicken curry is made with succulent chicken thighs, yellow tomatoes, Indonesian soy sauce, onion, coconut milk and fragrant spices.  Serve this flavorful curry over steamed rice and garnish with green onions and sliced tomatoes.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces.
  • 1 white onion chopped fine
  • 3 large yellow tomatoes (lemon boy) peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 6 oz. can coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground lemon grass
  • 1/2 tsp. galangal powder
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • a big pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • water
  • 1 Tbls. canola oil
  • garnish with thin sliced green onions and chopped green zebra tomatoes

In a large hot saute pan, cook the chicken in the canola oil over medium high heat until a gorgeous golden color.  Add your onions and cook until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, coconut milk, spices and a cup of water.  Cook covered until chicken is tender and sauce is thickened (about 30-40 minutes).  Add more water if necessary.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onions and tomatoes.  Serves 6.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies













A short while ago my family and I spent a week vacationing in a town a called Bandon on the Oregon Coast.  Bandon is a small touristy town with beautiful golf courses, gift shops, art galleries, fishing, boating, and cranberry bogs. Whenever we go to Bandon for a visit, I like to pick up a pound or two of the their locally grown Oregon cranberries and a couple of bottles of Sea Mist cranberry wine.












It is not unusual to stroll along the beach in Bandon and not see other people.  While on a walk early one morning I fortunate enough to see deer tracks heading back from the ocean.  How cool is that?










A  deserted beach.  The perfect place to walk and clear a busy mind…

Oregon grown cranberries are sweet, tart and perfect for my White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies.  These cookies are similar to a traditional chocolate chip but with white chocolate chips and bright little red cranberries.  Next time you see a bag of dried sweet Oregon grown cranberries, snag some and make these cookies.  Oh, and by the way, the dried cranberries and the cookies freeze well.  Enjoy!  – Tessa


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (use the real not imitation)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. white chocolate chips
  • 8 oz. dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Grease your cookie sheets or use a silicone liner on the sheets.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, blend together all the ingredients except for the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Mix well.  Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.  Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Salty Dog













This past week has been one crazy busy week.  My finance department just finished undergoing an annual audit of our year end financial statements.  All went extremely well but those who know what I am talking about know regardless of how successful an audit is, audit preparation can be time consuming and a wee bit stressful.  Not to mention, I have not been able to spend any time home in my kitchen.  Microwave products, fast food and dinners out have been my only options this week.

It’s over.  I’m happy.  I’m finally home.   And it’s time for a Salty Dog!

A Salty Dog is a simple cocktail made with pink grapefruit juice, vodka, and salt.  I like to use pink Himalayan salt and crushed ice in mine.

Here’s to a successful audit!   Great job everybody!  Cheers!  – Tessa


  • 5 ounces pink grapefruit juice (strained)
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1/4 cup crushed ice
  • coarse pink Himalayan sea salt
  • grapefruit wedge for garnish

Begin by mixing grapefruit juice, vodka and ice in a shaker.  Line the edge of a martini glass or an old fashioned glass with salt.  Pour cocktail mixture into the glass.  Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.  Sit down, put up your feet and enjoy the beverage.  Makes one cocktail.

Indonesian Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwiches













I remember years ago when my family got its very first microwave oven.  It was the early 1970’s and I will never forget the day when my mother attempted to make a meatloaf in it.  First of all, she had never made meatloaf before and the cookbook that came with the microwave said that it could be done.  She followed that recipe in the book and as a result my poor sister and I had to eat it for dinner.  I honestly have to say that it was “technically” edible but it looked and tasted like a beat up hockey puck.  After that experience, I swore that I would never ever eat meatloaf again…  Not to mention, but that microwave cookbook deserved to be tossed.

Well, I am older, I am wiser and have learned to never say never.  And, most importantly, I don’t cook meatloaf in a microwave.

My recipe for Indonesian Buffalo Meatloaf is a twist on traditional meatloaf but prepared with buffalo (bison) meat and Indonesian soy sauce and spices.  If you don’t have access to ground buffalo, feel free to substitute a high quality low fat ground beef.  This meatloaf is moist, flavorful and any leftovers make the BEST meatloaf sandwiches!  Makes 6 servings.  Enjoy! – Tessa

Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground buffalo
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 c. panko crumbs
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbls. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbls. tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1 Tbls. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. canola oil

Round up your ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Chop your onion and sauté in canola oil until translucent.   Cool.  Lightly mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Don’t be afraid to use your hand to mix.  Don’t over mix it unless you like tough meatloaf.  Shape into a loaf shape and put in a greased 9″ X 5″ baking pan.  Now let’s make the sauce.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. tomato ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Sambal Oelek if you are daring!

Mix together the above sauce ingredients and brush over the meatloaf.  Place in oven uncovered and cook about an hour, reaching an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove meatloaf from your oven and let it rest for about 10 – 12 minutes before you serve it.  The meatloaf will continue to cook for a few more minutes after leaving the oven .  It is important to let rest because it will slice easier and the juices will stay in the meat. Drizzle some Indonesian Soy Sauce over the meatloaf.  Slice and serve.  Got leftovers?  See below…

Sandwich ingredients: 

  • Sliced meatloaf (chilled)
  • fresh sliced tomato
  • lettuce leaf or two
  • clover sprouts
  • leftover meatloaf sauce
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

If you can make a sandwich, you can make these.  Assemble the sandwich with the above ingredients and slice in half.  Put a pick in each sandwich half to help hold it together.  Serve with bread and butter pickles.


Green Chili Sambal













My sister called me the other day and said that she was stopping by for she had picked some goodies out of her garden for me.  Every year, she grows the most gorgeous tomatoes that I have ever seen, so naturally that is what I expected to get.  Well, she surprised me instead with a bag of mixed green chili peppers.  In the bag there were jalapeños, a couple small anaheims and a bunch little serrano peppers that were wickedly hot.  Fortunately, she also brought me a couple of big fat juicy tomatoes.  Within minutes, I knew what I was going to make with those peppers…  Sambal!

One of my most favorite condiments in the world is sambal oelek.  It’s a red chili pepper paste that sets my mouth on fire.  My grandmother used to make her own sambal oelek from scratch by using a mortar called a cobek and an unusually shaped pestle called an ulek-ulek.  Sometimes she would add some dried shrimp paste (trassi) or garlic to the mixture for extra flavor.  Ask any member of my family and they would tell you that my grandmother’s culinary skills were legendary.  I could only hope to be a cook half as good as she was.













My Grandmother’s cobek and ulek-ulek.  Without a doubt one of my most treasured possessions.

My green chili sambal is prepared similarly to the traditional sambal oelek.  It just tastes milder than the usual red sambal oelek that you would find in a grocery store.  So what are we waiting for?  Let’s make some green chili sambal!


  • 1 pound green chilies (stemmed and seeded)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbls. white vinegar

Let’s begin by stemming and seeding your chilies.  While you are working with the chilies it is a really good idea to not touch your face or wipe your eyes.  Let me tell you from experience…  You will cry.  And when you are done prepping the chilies, wash your hands well with soap and water.  Place the chilies in a food processor (you can use the cobek and ulek-ulek if you want to but I find the food processor is so much faster).  Process until chopped and be careful not to over chop or puree your mixture.

Place the chili mixture in a saucepan and add all the ingredients except the vinegar.  Cook over medium heat until reduced and until the chilies are softened.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.  Let cool.  Place in a clean jar with a lid.  Keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 – 3 weeks.  Makes two cups.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Note:  To make a traditional sambal oelek, just use red chilies instead of the green.  In this version, I simply used the chilies that I had on hand.

Gado-Gado Wedge Salad













Those people who have spent time with me in my kitchen know that when it comes to cooking, I am terrible at following directions.  It’s a rare event when I prepare a dish exactly the way that it was written.  I am notorious for changing things up and cooking food the way I want.  My Gado-Gado Wedge Salad is a perfect example of my “I’m gonna do it my way and you can’t tell me what to do” behavior in my kitchen.

Gado-Gado is an Indonesian dish traditionally made with a variety of cooked vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, bean sprouts, beans or whatever fresh ingredients that are on hand drizzled with peanut sauce, garnished with egg slices and fried onions, served family style on a large platter.  It seems that there are so many variations of Gado-Gado for it all depends on the ingredients on hand and the person who is preparing it.  My Gado-Gado Wedge salad is a twist on the traditional Indonesian dish and is similar to the wedge salads that I love to order for lunch at a restaurants.

My Gado-Gado Wedge Salad is made with crisp iceberg lettuce, surrounded by tender green beans, bean sprouts, pan seared tofu, crunchy shredded carrots, crisp cucumber, fingerling red potatoes drizzled with my homemade peanut sauce.  I then garnish the salad with lime wedges, minced red bell pepper, green onion, and cilantro sprigs.  Make this dish for your next lunch or dinner.  And by the way, if you don’t follow my recipe exactly, I completely understand…   Makes 4 fabulous salads.  – Tessa


  • 4 wedges of iceberg lettuce
  • 8 fingerling red potatoes
  • 2 cups green beans cut into 1″ slices
  • 1/2 pound bean sprouts
  • 1 container extra firm tofu (drained and cut into 3/4″ cubes)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 1 cup peanut sauce (see my recipe!)
  • 1 Tbls. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • garnish with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, minced red bell pepper, sliced green onion and sambal oelek.

Let’s begin by boiling salted water in a medium sized pot.  Add your fingerling potatoes and cook until done (8 minutes or so).  Remove from pot using a slotted spoon or a spider and run cold water over the potatoes until they cool.  Slice into rounds and set aside.  Using the same boiling water add your beans until they are lightly cooked.  Remove and run cold water over until they cool.  Set aside.  Repeat the process with the bean sprouts and cook about 5 minutes and set aside.  Do not cook the carrots or the cucumbers.

Now grab a non stick fry pan and heat it with a bit of canola oil.  Add your tofu cubes and cook until lightly brown.  Add the low sodium soy sauce.  Cook a few minutes more and then remove from heat and set aside.  Find 4 medium sized or lunch plates and place an iceberg lettuce wedge on the plate.  Arrange your vegetables around the lettuce, add your tofu and drizzle with peanut sauce.  Garnish with your lime wedges, cilantro, minced bell pepper, green onion and sambal oelek.  Dig in and enjoy!

Note:  If you are changing up the ingredients just be sure to pay attention to the colors of vegetables that you choose to include on the plate.  – Tessa