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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First home-made bento for myself and its vegetarian

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Sekihan Dinner Bento

I have finally made a simple bento for myself. The motivation behind it is I am on a vegetarian diet for 2 weeks for my annual cleansing ritual and I have to go to my mom’s place for dinner tonight which was loaded with yummy meat curries, pork knuckle stew, Hainanese chicken rice, etc. Totally irresitible dishes. I need to have a strong mind and disciple to refrain myself from surrendering to these delicious mommy’s cooking. In the past, I was able to do a meat-free diet for a month, but now, I decided to change to it 2 weeks routine once very 6 months, much easier to adapt to for a meat-lover like me. I am very lucky to be living in Asia as we are exposed to many different cultural vegetarian cuisines which are very tasty. I have a strong penchant for Peranakan and Thai vegetarian cuisine. The use of rich asian spices and different fermentation processes for beans and vegetables really tickle my picky tastebuds.

I did not have much time today to prepare an elaborate bento so I chose to do a mixture of both Japanese and  store-bought Korean dishes.

Japanese:
Sekihan ( Azuki bean rice balls)
This is a very simple recipe, all we need are 3 main ingredients, 1/4 cup azuki beans, 1 cup white rice, 1/4 cup glutinous rice.
Boil the azuki beans in some water for 20-30 mins. Drain the azuki beans and reserve the red bean water . Wash the white rice and glutinous rice together several times to remove the starch. Mix in the azuki beans into the rice and add in the red bean water to the normal water level of cooking the rice in your rice cooker, add more water if needed. Sprinkle some salt and cook.

Once cooled, shape the sekihan with cellophane wrap. For my rice balls, I mixed in some shiso-flavoured furikake for extra depths to complement the other dishes.

Panfried portobello mushroom
I basted the mushroom with a mixture of soy sauce and rice malt. I did not use any oil when cooking the mushroom so to retain much of its natural flavour (This is a tip I learned from a Hong Kong Chef).

Korean:
This is the fastest preparation. I added in some fresh cabbage kimchi and cucumber kimchi as sides (Bought from a Korean store which made all the kimchi dishes fresh) and Korean marinated green chilli which I wrapped with a tofu skin and pan fried til crispy.

The main green ingredient used here to decorate my bento are panda leaves, which I also made a panda leaf casing out of it with a cover to contain the kimchi.

It was an amateur vegetarian bento but at least it really satisfied my tastebuds with salty, sour, spicy and sweet flavours while savouring my mommy’s dishes with only my eyes…(àωá)