A little xmas treat Caramelized Spiced Apples♡ Merry Christmas to all!
Last weekend, I had a craving for french toast again. However, I did not wish to elicit a negative reaction form my kids, rolling their eyes and complaining about having french toast again (though its an in-house favourite). Therefore, I cracked my brains and turned it up a notch with last weekend’s french toast.
To be honest, I have not tasted a good french toast dish in the local cafes, the most memorable one was during our holiday on Moyo Island, Indonesia, The french toast was superb! It was thick yet not dense at all as the homemade bread still retained its fluffy buttery texture. The best part was they used locally harvested raw honey and honeycomb to dress the french toast! It couldn’t get any better than this especially when we were stranded on an almost deserted island with only one resort.
I had come across some really interesting ways of dressing up the french toasts especially in Japan, like this one which I attempted. I called it the Pandora’s French Toast….haha….. Its a dessert with a surprise. What I did was to mix and match some interesting sweet ingredients and stuffed them by layers into the french toast. I used an unsliced bread loaf for this, cut out 2 slices of bread, 1 thicker slice and a thinner slice as a base. I soaked them in egg mixture and panfried them like any normal french toast recipe. You can find the recipe in my previous post Stuffed French Toast . There after, I cut out a hollow section in the centre of the thicker slice, placed it on the thinner slice and filled it up with the ingredients. So from the exterior, one could only see the bread and the condiments on top. However, when you cut into the bread, the layers of fillings reveal themselves which include citrusy ricotta mascarpone cheese, mochi, mashed sweet Azuki red beans and finished off with freshly sliced plums and more mochi! It was so much fun to see the reactions on my family’s faces who had not tried french toast prepared this way before. My husband was super happy when he saw Azuki red bean and mochi, his favourites. My elder son was scrutinising the stuffings like conducting a lab test. I totally enjoyed mine. My youngest requested for vanilla ice-cream in his toast.
The addition of the mochi was the best. It was like eating a dorayaki pancake with mochi inside. I dressed the plate up with little droplets of minty cherry sauce, some dried preserved fruits (mikan and ume) and sliced banana.
I think this french toast was my best so far not because of the mix & match ingredients but the surprise element. You can literally hide anything inside, maybe even an engagement ring for those men wanting to propose to their wives-to-be!
Its about a week more to Halloween and I had been busy making Halloween themed bentos for my son. Last year, I made him a Beetle Juice character, it was my first Halloween Bento. Time passes so fast!
He has been so obsessed with Hotel Transylvania 2 movie. Every other day, he would request for a Halloween character in his bentos. Of course, I could not replicate characters from the movie 100% as it would take too much time in the morning to prepare. So I made simplified versions of mummy and Frankenstein and he loved them! Except for the Dracula, which he also requested but did not touch it because he thought it was too scary for him! So much for my efforts to see Dracula come home intact after school ꒰╬•᷅д•᷄╬꒱
If you are keen to make the Mummy Hamburger or the Little Frankenstein Ham Sandwiches (҂⌣̀_⌣́) for halloween parties or your kids, please check out my hand=sketched instructions below. I hope you can read my handwriting… Have a great Halloween!
I have been intoxicated with images, stories and clips of Akita Inu on Instagram. They are such good looking dogs! Apart from looks, they are smart, loving, sensitive, attentive, all I need in a soulmate! Haha… My husband will not like what I wrote here but it’s okay… He wants an Akita too… 💕 have a great weekend everyone!
Last week was very hectic for my husband, back to back site meetings without time to sit down for a meal. He’s an architect, running to several sites within a day. Some evenings, he would come back without having eaten lunch. I believe many of us experienced that many a times in our work life. Therefore, I insisted he take his lunchbox along and eat in the car if necessary. He was glad he did. I prepared 2 types of onigiris and left-over fried chicken for him. First onigiri is saba soboro rice ball, I used the recipe from Japan’s famous chef, Harumi Kurihara. She made saba soboro (鯖そぼろ) served on top of a bowl of rice. It was very easy to make and I adapted it into a rice ball. The second onigiri is chestnut rice ball. Since chestnuts are in season now in autumn, I was able to get raw Japanese chestnuts from the supermarket, toasted them and mixed with rice. Two very easy, yet tasty recipes. Below is the recipe for making 1 Saba soboro onigiri
1 fillet from 1/2 mackerel
1/4 onion (minced)
2 shiitake mushrooms (can use dried ones too, just soak for 30 minutes until soft and squeeze excess water out from the mushroom lightly)
1 cm ginger minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sake
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
Use a tablespoon to scoop or scrap the mackerel flesh from the skin from head to tail avoiding the centre portion where the bones are. Remove the mushroom stems and roughly mince them. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium fire, add in the ginger and the mackerel. Stir fry the mackerel until the flesh turns flaky, add the shiitake mushrooms and onions. Add the sake, sugar, soy sauce and mirin. Keep stirring until there is a little liquid left in the pan. Cook some rice and cool it down before mixing with the saba soboro. Do not mix in too much liquid from the soboro sauce or the rice ball will be wet and soggy to form. Wrap the mixed rice with a piece of cellophane wrap and start shaping it without getting your hands dirty. Since the soboro has salt in it, I did not add salt into the rice, however I added a little when mixing it with the chestnuts. It was a nice sweet nutty contrast to the savoury saba soboro onigiri.
Yesterday I baked some tarts with leftover chestnuts and canned figs for desserts. I tried googling for recipes combining these 2 fruits and I could only find one. Therefore, I decided to combine various tart recipes together and came up with this. I did not want to waste too much time making these tarts and it took me only about an hour from preparation to baking. I used the fig and chestnut tarts with jam filling recipe from http://www.thelovebite.com but changed the filling to mascarpone and ricotta cheeses. The outcome is a nice biscuity tart crust with a soft, light, fruity centre and a nutty chestnut flavour inside ლ(´ڡ`ლ)
Makes about 12 muffin size tarts (Use a muffin tray)
Ingredients for the tart crust
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2oz / 60g shortening
grated zest 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
a pinch of salt
Ingredients for the filling
6-8 roasted chestnuts (breaks into small chunks)
4-5 Fresh figs or canned figs
150 grams ricotta cheese (room temperature)
200 grams mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
80gm castor sugar
1-2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
(You may have some leftover liquid filling. Keep it for a day or 2 for another tart!)
Pre-heat your oven to 375f or 190c
Place the tart crust dry ingredients except for buttermilk and egg into a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Then add in the buttermilk and egg and pulse, a dough will be formed. Add 1 teaspoon of water if its too dry for the dough to form. Roll the dough into a log 12 inches in a cling wrap and slice into 12 pieces. Hand roll each piece into a ball and press into a nicely greased muffin tray, gently press the pastry to spread evenly out to the sides of the muffin cups. Once done, put the tray into the refrigerator while you work on the filling.
Break the chestnuts into small chunks (not too small, you want to be able to have some crunchiness in the filling.) and slice the figs. Combine mascarpone, ricotta, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon powder, eggs, egg yolk and flour in a food processor and blend until smooth. Take out the muffin tray from the refigerator. Distribute the chestnut chunks evenly among the muffin cups before spooning the cheeses mix into the tart shell. Arrange sliced figs on top to finish off. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling is set but still slightly wobbly in the centre and golden. The crust should have a nice crunchy yet soft base. If you like chestnut flavour, add more in the muffin cup.
We drizzled some spiced blueberry cherry port sauce on the tarts which I made a week ago and it was very good together.
Try it yourself!
This stewed squid is one of the easiest recipe I have tried and its sweet savoury flavour goes well with white rice. It is also often called tender squid stew. Here’s the recipe:
1 whole squid cleaned and cut into rings
2 tablespoons each of mirin, sake, sugar and shoyu
2 thin slices of ginger
some whole green peppercorns (optional)
Grated kabosu or lemon zest
Throw all the ingredients except the zest into a small heavy pot. I added some leftover soup stock and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat to let it slow simmer for 20 minutes. After its cooked, mix in some grated kabosu/ lemon zest before serving
Ume Pork Belly Wrapped Asparagus
Thin slices of Pork Belly
Ume plum paste
This recipe is really easy too. Just spread a little of ume paste on one side of the pork belly. Place 1 asparagus on 1 pork belly slice and roll them up. Sprinke a little of salt & pepper on the outer side of the rolled pork bellies before sautéing them until the asparagus is cooked and the meat is lightly browned. Be careful ume paste is salty, so moderate the amount of salt used.
Steamed Kabocha カボチャ
Its easy to carve any pattern on the skin once its steamed.
Have a great day ahead! “^x6”
I am embarrassed to confess that the animal that I thought was a slow loris for a long time is actually a sloth ^‡^” …. So I have been giving wrong information to my little one all along. They are all equally adorable animals, slow loris, sloth, baby tarsier….big eyes.
Glad I found out the fact before I post this bento photo up, if not, it will be unimaginable embarrassment in public…haha…≥†≤”
In this bento, I made the baby sloth out of shoyu-flavoured rice, face and facial features made out of hanpen and nori cutoffs.
Other bento items include
Pork belly wrapped Asparagus sautéed with a pinch of salt
Negi Chikura with crabstick filling
Sausage and Tomago flower
Apple chunks and edamame
Well, you can never be too old to learn from mistakes and gain new knowledge!
In this bento,
Body – sushi rice mixed with shoyu
Tummy – hanpen cut-out with a circular cookie cutter and nori for “arrow” stripes
Foot – hanpen cut-out with a small circular cookie cutter and sesame seeds for toes
Eyes – hanpen cut-out with a small circular cookie cutter and nori
nose, mouth & whiskers – nori
Umbrella – Japanese cucumber cut-out
Steamed sausages & Broccoli
Beansprouts wrapped in bacon grilled
Over the weekend, I bought some freshly made squid mentaiko chinmi during a Kyushu fair in the Japanese supermarket, Isetan. it hosts Japanese food fairs regularly showcasing specialties from different preferture. Isetan is a very well known departmental store brand in Japan and in many parts of the Asia alongside its established counterparts like Takashiyama, Mitsukoshi, OIOI, Tokyu store, Hankyu, Seibu,etc. I am a big fan of Isetan supermarket! “>x<”
Chinmi (珍味) is a Japanese term meaning literally “rare taste”, but more appropriately “delicacy“. They are local cuisines that have fallen out of popularity or those cuisines that are peculiar to a certain area. Many involved pickled seafood. The three best known chinmi of Japan are salt-pickled sea urchin roe (uni), salt-pickled mullet roe (karasumi) and pickled sea cucumber innards. (konowata)
In this bento, there were rice balls mixed with steamed sweet potato (satsuma imo) and minced shiso leaf & myoga, tomago-yaki and shishito peppers wrapped in pork belly grilled with seasalt (shio-yaki)
All the foods prepared were placed in this beautiful megawappa bento box from Yoshinobu Shibata Shoten, Japan. There is a little writeup about the cedar wood artisan on my previous post Hubby Bento #25 . Do check it out. 😉