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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Fig and Chestnut Tarts [イチジクと栗のタルト]

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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
1 egg
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
70gm-80gm honey
1-2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
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!


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Dad and Son Bentos – Friday Happy Meal 😜

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Its Friday! And I get a weekend break from making 🍱! Yah! So today I made something extra special for them, some Japanese sweets (Dango 🍡 and jelly) to accompany their seafood patties sandwiches. I bet Tz will skip his sandwich and go straight to the sweets….

The seafood patties are made up of :
half a cod fish fillet, half a squid and 4 prawns, all minced.
I mixed in :
half an egg, some potato flour to bind the ingredients (you can use breadcrumbs too), 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoon coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp, some minced coriander and basil leaves, and 2-3 green beans chopped.
And I fried them in some vegetable oil until all sides are golden crispy brown.

I added some crispy fried bacon into the sandwiches too. Tz is mad about bacon.

Have a great weekend ahead! I will catch up on my sleep……😴


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Stuffed French Toast with Cream Cheese, Mascarpone & Blackberry

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I am quite hooked on french toasts these days, kept making them for weekend brunch, and everyone in my family has sweet tooth, so its popular. My teenage son usually sleeps in however, if its french toast day, he will be up “ΟεΟ∴” instantaneously. This time, I stuffed the pain de mie with mixed mascarpone, cream cheese and blackberries before I soak them in egg mixture and panfry them. I would normally drizzle homemade buttery cherry sauce, a little squeeze of lime and top with lots of fruits and BACON!!!! The symphony of different tastes and texture is just fabulous.

Ingredients for the stuffing (for 4 thick slices of bread): 1/3 cup cream cheese (room temperature), 1/2 cup mascarpone (cold), rind of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons icing sugar, a dust of cinnamon powder and 8-10 black berries.
Mix everything well except the black berries which are lightly tossed in the end before filling 2 slices of bread with the stuffing.

Just use any french toast egg mixture recipe you are comfortable with. Mine is adapted from recipe by Robert Irvine on Food Network website, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/french-toast-recipe.html , simple and delicious.

Try making it yourself on Sunday… your family or loved ones will be crying for more…..
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My Humble Wagashi Creations

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Ever since my first wagashi (Namagashi, to be specific) class in Kanazawa in April, I have been spellbound by the beautiful creations made by wagashi masters, the meaning behind different wagashi for each season and their purpose in festivals and tea ceremonies. Many designs created are usually inspired by Haiku poems.

I finally took up the courage to make wagashi again after my second class in Singapore with ABC cooking studio. However, both classes, the wagashi pastes were pre-prepared. I had to do some research on my own to create the paste from scratch without the original white bean (or navy bean) which is found only in Japan. I used lima beans as a substitute. Its a long process but through this, I learnt to appreciate the art of making wagashi even more. So here are some of my humble creations for summer.

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Summer Peach

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Chrysanthemum in full bloom

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Love Birds

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Summer wagashi

 


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Cutest Thai Royal Dessert – Luuk Chup

imageThis one of my favourite desserts for many years. One of the cutest things I have ever seen too besides the beautiful Japanese wagashi. They are called Kanom Luuk Chup (thumb size fruit shaped mung beans) dessert from Thailand. I was lucky to have bought some during my short trip last week to Bangkok. This delicacy originated in the royal palaces of ancient Siam.  Each of them would be skillfully moulded into interesting vegetables and tropical fruits of Asia. It was important that food prepared for the royals tasted good and looked exquisite. It was given as gift to me from a Thai friend more than 10 years ago. By that time, Luuk Chup had reached beyond the walls of the royal palace to the markets of Siam.

They are made with mashed mung beans (the sweetness is well balanced with a hint of saltiness) coated with sugared agar or gelatine.

You can find them now in major supermarkets such as Paragon Bangkok and but one of the best i have tasted in Bangkok is from a stall in Or Tor Kor Market (one of the best market in Thailand) http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-market/or-tor-kor-market.htm#.

I am going to savour them with some nice jasmine lychee green tea in the afternoon.

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