Little thrills, little trips, little ideas


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Pandora’s French Toast

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Pandora’s French Toast

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.

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Pandora’s French Toast sliced 

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.

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Pandora’s French Toast

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!


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Frankenstein, Dracula and Mummy 😈👻🎃 Bentos

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Mummy Hambagu Bento

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!

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Beetle Juice onigiri and sandwich

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!

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Little Frankenstein Ham Sandwich

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Dracula Bento & Chicken Wraps (Dracula made out of mashed potato, hanpen, carrot, nori seaweed and soy sauce)

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Little Frankenstein- How To Make (Ingredients: 2 slices of plain bread, ham, hanpen, soy sauce, 1 piece of nori seaweed &  1 Japanese crabstick)

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Mummy Hambagu – How To Make (Ingredients: 1 Hamburger patty, 1 carrot, 1 cheese slice & 1 piece of nori seaweed)

 


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Hubby Bento #28 – Stewed Squid and Ume Pork Belly Wrapped Asparagus

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EASY EASY EASY! Bento

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:

Stewed Squid
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
Asparagus
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”


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Baby Sloth Bento

www.ongling.comI 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!


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Totoro Lost Weight!

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This morning, I found out I did not replenish the rice, only left with a small cup. I promised Tz I will make him a totoro bento today and I did… a slimmer totoro. >O< hee hee…

In this bento,
Totoro:
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

 


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Hubby Bento #27

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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<”

Wikipedia
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. 😉


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Red Hair Girl Bento

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Red Hair Girl

Today I made a little girl out of mashed potato and instant noodle, Tz’s two favourite foods. For the sides, I have steamed siew mai (meat dumplings), broccoli and a chicken ham flower. Tz asked me who she is and I made up a silly story that this girl is a grown up Ponyo. He believed me….^x^….and told me he would take good care of her. I told him to eat it……..Ò⌈Ó

Red Hair Girl
Face – mashed potato
Eyes & nose – hanpen (surimi) & nori
Mouth – crabstick, hanpen & nori
Hair – instant noodle with tomato ketchup & a little olive oil

Have a great day! 😉


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Ponyo Omurice

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I bought this adorable little Ponyo puppet doll for Tz from Tokyo and he has been in love with her ever since. He brings her to school, eats with her, sleeps with her and sings the theme song to her (but only the first verse… he’s trying to learn the song in Japanese now… haha..). Ponyo, initially titled in English as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a 2008 Japanese animated fantasy comedy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli and Toho. It is the eighth film Miyazaki directed for Ghibli, and his tenth overall. The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and wants to become a human girl (definition from Wikipedia). I, too, the movie. So naturally, I am nuts about her merchandise too.

In this bento, I made omurice  (オムライス), fried rice with bacon, prawn, shoyu & tomato ketchup wrapped in omelette. In the box, I have also packed pork dumpling (siew mai from Tokyo), Satsuma imo sweet potato and steamed string beans.

How to make Ponyo:
layer 1
Hands and dress – Carefully spread open surimi crab sticks and shape with scissors.
layer 2
Face – Steam a small potato and mash it with some butter. Shape it into a round shape with hands.
layer 3
Eyes – wrap a small portion of cheese in a cellophane wrap and shape it into little balls. Gently make 2 small dents on each side of the face to sit the cheese eyeballs.  Use nori for black eye pupils
Hair – Shape 2 layers of ham using a pair of kitchen scissors, a bigger piece of ham for the top hair layer and a smaller piece for the under layer to create more depth.
Mouth and nose – tiny little carrot or leftover surimi crab stick for mouth and nori for nose.

I like how it turned out but wish I have more time to put in more details though. I love this bamboo weaved bento box, it looks like a little picnic basket. Easy to use and clean too.


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Hubby Bento #22 – Spice Island Bento

www.ongling.comWe are going off for a little weekend holiday in Thailand tomorrow, thought it would be fitting that I make a spice-themed lunch for my husband’s bento today to set the mood for our little getaway. Its a combination of Indonesian and Thai recipes in this box.

Tumeric Saffron Rice (Indonesian)
Ingredients: 1 cup rice, a pinch of sea salt, 1 clove, 1 cardamom pod, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or coriander seeds, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric, 1-2 inches pandan leaf.

Cover the rice with normal amount of water needed for the rice cooker. Throw in all the spice ingredients and start the cooker. Discard the pandan leaf and cinnamon stick after the rice is cooked.

Famous Sukhamvit Soi 5 Fried Chicken (Thai)
This is one of my all-time favourite fried chicken recipe from Thailand. Thanks to a wonderful writer, who managed to track down the owner of a small well-known street hawker in Bangkok in 2009 and miraculously got the family recipe! You can read the little story behind this dish and the recipe on http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/04/recipe-sukhamvit-soi-five-fried-chicken/38633/

Tahu Telor, Bean curd Omelette (Indonesian)
Ingredients: 1 box or tube of soft egg bean curd (tofu), 3 large eggs – beaten, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 portion of a onion – finely chopped, 1/4 portion of large green capsicum-finely chopped, some coriander or parsley leaves – finely chopped, 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock.

Mix all the ingredients together. I used a deep frying pan to cook so as to achieve a chunky omelette about 2 cm thick. The trick to a crispy egg surface is sufficient hot oil (covering about 1/2 to 1 cm in pan depth), preferably peanut oil which will fry the egg whites in the eggs to a light, fluffy and a crackling texture. Cook with a medium high fire fire and then reduce it to medium-low after 2-3 minutes when the outer skin layer is turning golden in colour. When the middle portion of the omelette is nearly setting, use a second pan to cover the the first pan, tilt it over and use the second pan to complete the cooking process. This is to prevent the golden omelette skin from burning too.  Do not remove the second pan until the omelette is cooked, this will maintain the shape.

The portion of ingredients I give above may be too much for just 1 bento. You can keep the rest for dinner!

Urap Urap Sayur (Javanese, Indonesian)
I have eaten this dish many times whenever I travel to Java, Bali and Sulawesi. I still remember the first time I ate this in Sulawesi, it was on a boat just after diving. I was freezing cold and my dive master gave me a pack of rice with this vegetable inside. It was HEAVEN! Its basically a cooked vegetable dish, mixed with spiced grated coconut like a salad before serving. And different region has their own version of cooking this dish.  I love it with Nasi Campur or Nasi Kuning (Wikipedia: Nasi campur  “mixed rice”, also called nasi rames in Indonesia, refers to a dish of a scoop of nasi putih (white rice) accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp krupuk.). I made a big portion of the spice paste and store in the fridge.

Spice Paste ingredients: 4 cloves of garlic, some hot dry chilli flakes or 2 birds’ eye chillies, 2 cm galangal sliced, 50 g palm sugar, 4 fresh kaffir lime leafs (finely shredded), fish sauce to taste

Simply use a pestle and mortar to pound all the ingredients into a smooth paste. You can use a blender too. Add a little oil into a sauce pan and stir fry the paste until its fragrant over low fire, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.

Other ingredients : Dried grated coconut about 1 to 2 tablespoons, 1 small aubergine or Nasu chopped, 3 – 4 chopped okras.

Stir-fry the aubergine and okras with a little oil and salt until they are cooked and set aside. Toast the grated coconut to light golden brown in the oven. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of the spice paste with the toasted grated coconut and add it to the cooked vegetables.

I had a pleasant surprise today when this bento photo got featured on @FoodPornAsia and #igsg on both Facebook and Instagram. I am honoured and humbled. I would like to thank them for choosing my little photo for their sites.

image


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Donut Babies

www.ongling.comIn Japan, these animals donuts are very popular, my kid fell in love with them instantly. Who wouldn’t? However I can’t find any donut shops selling these in my country. He has been asking for them so I decided to try making them myself. I used Japanese Confectionary brand Morinaga pancake mix. The mix can be tweeted to make donuts by adding egg, butter and sugar, the packaging’s recipe recommended frying them. I baked them instead in the oven(about 11-12 minutes at 180ºC), and it worked well too.  The texture is fluffy like a cake yet with mild chewiness of a pancake.

I used Candy Melts colours, dark chocolate chips and vegetable shortening for the coating of the donuts. By heating the candy melts in the microwave for about 1 minute, its easier to mix with the shortening.  The shortening helps to  dilute the candy melts and chocolate to a nice near fluid consistency which will give a smooth coating to the donuts (the consistency of the coating is similar to chocolate glaze on cakes). After 2 coatings each, I put them into the fridge to chill for a few minutes before I start decorating them with white and dark chocolate chips, marshmallows and cookies.

We couldn’t stop ourselves from grabbing them after I took this photo, especially my young customer who had been waiting patiently for 2 hours.