Friday, January 27, 2012

Going Dutch!

It's not what you may think. Although, yes, you have to make this yourself, unless you live in my vicinity. Anyways... let's start with a bit of a history lesson... Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for a good 3.5 centuries. It is this colonization that gave somewhat of a European flair to otherwise "humble" Indonesian cooking. It was the stuff that gave birth to my favorite cookies, "Lidah kucing" (literally, "Cat's tongue") and pineapple pastry and breads and other goodies for the rice table like the rouladen (don't worry, I'll give you my favorite recipe of the rouladen in a bit).

On the flip side, it's also the colonization that made my family shed all its "Chinese" language capability. My grandpa was educated in Dutch school. He spoke better Dutch than he did Chinese. To this day my family is like this: Chinese descendants who couldn't speak Chinese to save their lives, yet live every single day observing a bajillion Chinese traditions and custom and swear by them too. Go figure!

This recipe is suitable for breakfast or brunch. Now I'm not sure what the original Dutch recipe is like, but this recipe is very "famous" in Indonesia. We, of course, eat it with sambal (by now that's a given), but not just sambal, the other kind of sambal, the sauce kind...

Macaroni Schotel

1 1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups diced ham
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon pepper

1. Cook macaroni as directed in the package
2. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper
3. Add cooked macaroni, ham, and 1 cup of cheese, mix evenly
4. Pour onto casserole dish (9 x 13 in) and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes - 1 hour until cooked
5. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheese and put it back in the oven to melt the cheese (about 2-3 minutes)

1. You can use whatever tubular pasta you have, although within reason. Anything similar in size with macaroni would do. If I remembered correctly, my mother even used spaghetti one time since we forgot to get macaroni. But the problem with using spaghetti is that you have to cut them to small pieces, which is too labor intensive for me.
2. Use whatever meat you have. The original recipe actually calls for corned beef, the canned corned beef. But my mom's used ham, sausage, or SPAM (you just have to dice them small. For SPAM, use cheese grater, and use lite SPAM). 
3. Use whatever cheese you have. The original recipe calls for cheddar, but honestly you can mix and match as you will. This dish will assume whatever cheese and meat flavor you put in, just keep that in mind.
4. Go easy on the salt. Remember, the meat will be salty, unless you used ground meat, of course. Cheese also adds to the saltiness of the dish. If you're not sure, pan fry about a tablespoon of the mixture you made and try it.

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