Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cranberry Sauce Oat Finger Cakes


December started with a snowfall at my place. Nothing major but it was enough to let my kids dressed up in their snow attires and enjoyed the coming of winter. The X'mas tree is up and decorations on the way. Amidst the joys of the season celebrations, I always feel a bit sad to see another year ending. 2012 has been particularly fast in my opinion, the months just came and went like days and without realising much, my family and I have done alot this year. I am thankful that everything went and done without a hitch and hopefully all will be well into the new year.

There was still Cranberry Sauce that I made for the Thanksgiving dinner sitting in the fridge. It wasn't sweet enough to spread as jam on my morning toast and so I went ahead and baked with it. I adapted this recipe
and tweaked it a little. I had to scoop out all the Sage that I cooked in the cranberry sauce earlier and added more brown sugar to the cake batter. The recipe said Muffins but I used this Wilton rectangular fingers shape for a different take.


This was what I tweaked about the original recipe :
  • for the Whole Grain Wheat flour, I substituted with exact measurement of All Purpose Flour in addition to the amount of Flour given
  • for the Cranberry Sauce, I used 1 cup
  • for the baking Powder, I used only 1 tsp
  • for the Vegetable Oil, I substituted with exact measurement of melted Butter
  • for the Milk, I substituted with exact measurement of Heavy Cream
  • for the Brown Sugar, I added 2 tbsp more to the Original recipe
  • And Baked for 30 mins.
  •  
  • Results: Very Moist and Soft cake. Kids love it and good for snack boxes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Meat Pie with Peas


Another Thanksgiving celebrated with my family. Oddly, this was only the second time I attempted roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving. And the secret to a flavorful big bird is nothing else but Butter! Although I like to remind myself of healthy eating on a daily basis, I take exception on celebration days and Holidays.If it is butter and cream that completes and make the best food for any celebration, they are top in my grocery list!



We managed to eat only half of our 12lb Thanksgiving Turkey and I used up the rest for Congee and this Pie today. As there was nothing to cook from scratch, this pie is very easy and fast to make as long as you have enough left over of the turkey meat and its gravy. You can add frozen mixed vegetables instead of peas only to make this pie a more hefty lunch. This pie is made in a 6 inch tart pan, but if you have bigger pie pans and more leftover turkey meat than I do, the pie dough can be doubled. 



Recipe
Pie Dough 
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Cold butter, cut into cubes
1 Large Egg

1.  Process the flour with the butter cubes together in the food Processor for 1 minute.
2. Beat in the egg and mix till everything comes together to form a dough.
3. Grease a 6 inch tart/pie plate.
4. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and line the tart/pie pan. There will be about half of the dough left. Roll this out too to use for the top part of the pie.
5. Preheat oven to 375F.

Filling
450g Shredded Turkey Meat
1/2 cup of the Leftover gravy
1/2 cup of Frozen Peas or Vegetables
4 sage leaves, julienned
1 egg for Egg wash
Salt & Black Pepper to season

1. In a large bowl, mix the turkey meat with the frozen peas/vegetables.
2. Pour in the gravy and sage leaves to mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Spoon the filling into the lined tart/pie plate and spread evenly.
4. Take the extra dough and lay on top of the filling and pinch it to the sides to join with the dough in the pie plate. Make a few slits on the surface.
5. Place the tart/pie pan on another baking sheet and apply egg wash and bake for 1 hour. After the first 30 mins, remove from oven and apply more egg wash. Finish up baking. Turn off the oven. Any gravy oozing out from the pie is fine.
6. Let the pie sit inside the oven for another 10 mins and serve hot/warm.

Serves 6
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry and Peach Pie


This year's Thanksgiving celebration felt a little bit too early. The reason is that this American celebration of Thanks is usually assumed and celebrated on the very last Thursday of November but the fact is it is  celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. Oddly, this year's November has 5 Thursdays and so November 22 was the actual date instead the one I assumed on November 29. Having said that, I am thankful too that there is another extra week for me to settle down before the busy Christmas month of December ushers in which eventually will speed away to 2013! Time really flies and I am running after every day.

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving at home and by ourselves. It is great to enjoy the new house and to utilize my bigger kitchen efficiently. I took upon myself to bake, roast, cut, stuffed and cleaned up for the dinner while everyone else just went about doing their things. Too much apples during the last two months didn't entice me to bake an apple pie and I resorted to making something out of the cranberries again. And this time I think I got the perfect combination of tart and sweet when I thought of canned peaches that are soaked in syrup! Canned peaches takes baking very well and they do not break down mushy but still give that very soft texture like baked apples.


My other half loves his Apple Pie and perhaps the most choosy eater in this house! Skepticism did existed in my thoughts of whether this will go down his palate and to my delight, he ate almost half of the 8 inch pie by himself despite already gulping down a hefty turkey dinner! And then came the kids and all I was left with was this last piece that I managed to snap picture of or else there was no proof of how luscious it looked and tasted :). This recipe didn't require much ingredients and faster to make than all my previous apple pies.

Recipe
Pie Shell
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Cake Flour
3/4 cup cold butter (1 stick plus 1/2 stick)
2 Large eggs

1. Mix the flour together in a mixer.
2. Cut the butter into small cubes and beat them into the flour mixture till crumbly.
3. Beat in the eggs to mix well and form a dough.Grease the 8 or 9 inch pie/tart pan with butter. Roll out the dough to the pie plate's size and line it with sides pinched in and decorate as you wish. Cover with cling plastic and rest it in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Place extra dough in the fridge.

Cranberry & Peach Filling
350g Fresh Cranberries
800g Canned Peach, drained and cut into cubes but not too small
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup of the Syrup from the Canned Peaches
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
4 tbsp Cornflour

1. Simmer the cranberries in the Syrup for 10 mins. Do not cook till mushy and remove from the stove as soon as some of them starting to pop. Pour into a large bowl and let it cool off for 15 mins.
2. Add in the peaches, brown sugar, Corn flour and Cinnamon. Mix together thoroughly. Let the mixture sit and macerate while preparing the pie shell.

To Assemble
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Roll out the left over pie dough in whole or cut to strips to form lattice. .
3. Spoon in and spread the fruit filling onto the pie dough inside the pie/tart pan.You can choose to cover the top with the left over dough or make lattice shape.
5. Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for a further 30 mins. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil.The pie filling might look slightly watery, almost gravy texture but it will harden up later. Remove the foil and bake for further 10 mins. Turn off the oven and let the pie sit inside for a further 10 mins. Remove and let it cool in the pie plate. This pie is best served warm.

Serves 6 to 8 person


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Almond & Cranberry Tart

 
The wrath of Sandy was terrible. I count my Blessings for being spared the big damages as suffered by the folks down in New Jersey and New York . Other than toppled trees and alot of mess outside in the yard, nothing terrible nor devastating around my neighborhood area. Another Halloween day ruined like last year, carved pumpkins rotting away and Trick or Treat postponed to a later date...forecasted to be a cold night too! Sigh....I am really not ready for the winter!
 
But one thing I am looking forward to is X'mas and end of year cooking and baking! And I just love the mood for X'mas with its white, red and green colors that adorn everything from house decorations to the pine trees and snow outside! Although I am not a very big fan of snow, a little white powder coating outside when everyone feels merry and thankful feels peaceful.

Cranberry is such a beautiful red and when cooked down into jam, it beats the usual strawberry and raspberry jams in terms of taste and color. I used up the remaining packet of fresh cranberries from my previous Muffins and cook them all down to jam to fill these tartlets. A pinch of nutmeg spice makes these tartlets wonderful and something different from the usual Apple pie. The tart base was made up with ground almond which bakes and browns faster than the usual flour based tart but the taste is superb with a very smooth melt in your mouth crunch and full of the nut flavor. I used both cups and the weighing scale in my baking and weighing, hence the cups and metric measurements in writing up this recipe.


Recipe

Ingredients
Almond Tart
1 & 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Almond flour
1/8 cup Confectioner Sugar
1 stick (4oz) Cold Butter
1 egg

1. Sift the flour, Almond flour and confectioner sugar into a large bowl or food processor.
2. Cut the butter into smaller cubes and mix into the flour bowl. If using hands, crumble the butter into the flour till resembling crumbs. If using food processor, pulse together for about 20 seconds till cubes of butter is not present. Beat in the egg just enough to form a soft dough. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 30 mins.

Cranberry Jam Filling
250g fresh cranberry
125g Sugar (don't skim on this...the cranberry is super tart if you do!)
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup Orange juice

1. Put everything into a small saucepan. Bring it up to a boil and lower the heat to simmer.
2. Cook for about 20 mins, till the cranberry breaks down and keep stirring. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

To Assemble
1. Grease an 8 inch removable bottom tart pan all over with butter or use five of 4 inches tartlet pans.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
3. Remove the tart dough from the fridge. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 mins and start to roll out to the size of the tart pan/s. The dough may easily tear apart when rolling, if you prefer , you can roughly roll it out and line the tart pan and free handly patch up with pieces in the pan.
4. Spoon the cranberry jam into the lined tart pan. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and bake for 25 mins (for smaller pans) or 30 mins (for 8 inch pan).
5. Remove from oven immediately as the almond tart burns easily once past the cooking time. Let it cool inside the tart pan for 10 mins and remove to cool completely.

Serves: 6 or 8


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cranberry and Toasted Coconut Muffin

The Fall Season has so far been erratic. One day cold and the next two days warm, three days wet with rain and four days windy warm! Being first time single house owners, we have to put our inexperienced minds and hands to deal with plenty of foliage waste and it is like a forever task till the first snow comes and cover them all! I was pretty bumped that I missed the Cranberry Festival again this year when all we ever do on weekends now is laboring the lawn and slump in front of the TV at evenings, feeling exhausted and unmotivated!

Cranberry is in season now. These little ruby red gem sized fruit doesn't seem to be very popular in baking nor cooking except for making into sauce to pour over that Thanksgiving Turkey and being simmered and cooked into Jam. Due to its tart taste and rather bland eaten raw, additional amount of other ingredients like sugar and flavorings need to be added. I had a jar of dried shredded coconut sitting around and used it instead of the boring Vanilla to whip up these muffins. I grew up with the coconut flavor in every type of Malaysian food that I have tasted but my other half and sometimes kids too can find the nutty and milky combination a bit overpowering. Once baked, the coconut shreds gives a sweet and chewy texture to the muffin. If not in favor of coconut, it can be omitted totally and a streusel topping can substitute the topping.

Recipe
Ingredients
250g All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
140g Sugar
100g Fresh Cranberries
2 Eggs
3 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup of Dried Coconut Shreds plus extra for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners. If not using, grease the muffin tin with butter. Spread out the coconut shred in a baking dish, pop it into the oven for 3 mins to get them lightly toasted. Remove and set aside.
2. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a fork in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat the eggs with the sugar together. Pour in the melted butter, Sour cream, fresh cranberries and 1/4 cup of the coconut shreds and fold in evenly.
4. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture bowl, stir and fold gently till all the flour is incorporated into the wet batter.
5. Use the 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into each paper liner, this will give an evenly spread and rise muffin once baked. Sprinkle the remaining coconut shreds on top of each muffin batter.
6. Bake for 25 mins or till done. Remove from oven and cool completely in muffin tin.
7. Keep in covered container if not eating immediately.

Makes 12 muffins

Monday, October 8, 2012

Green Tea Mousse Cheesecake


I have been in our new place for almost 2 months now. Amidst the many activities of my kids and the getting used to living in a bigger space, I am still very eager to try out new things with my baking and sewing. As I write here, plans are swirling in my mind on how to attempt the sewing of the Halloween costumes that my kids have requested and also the planning of another small dinner party for visiting guests this weekend. Exhaustion does get to me at times and I know it has reached its peak when I suddenly have an appetite for something rich and creamy.  Cheesecakes never fail me in this aspect and till today, I still love cheesecakes the best. I can make them everyday if I was born skinny.

For this recipe, I would recommend using full fat cream cheese despite myself using the lower fat content version. Sad to say, my weight conscious mind is very much intact and I try to continue adopting a low fat diet and remember very well on how hard it was for me to drop my sweat and excess fat on that overworked treadmill of mine 2 years ago! But hey, on the brighter side, I always get to eat more than one slice of a low fat cheesecake :). Having said so, only the full fat version will give you the ultimate great taste of a rich and authentic cheesecake and if you are the lucky ones, just use it!

This is the mousse type cheesecake, with a whipped light airy cream cheese layer over a thin sponge cake base. I do know some people who doesn't like the taste of mousse, as it might feel that you are eating foam rather than a cake. I made it even lighter with the use of low fat cream cheese and whipped cream. It will definitely turn out denser if full fat cream cheese is used. This cake depends highly on gelatine to hold its form and one thing I would like to note about using gelatine granules is that it should be dissolved in hot water just before it is ready to go into the cake batter. In previous uses, I noticed gelatine coagulates very quickly once it is dissolved and if not used while they are still in the dissolved watery form, bits and pieces of hardenend gelatine will exist in the mousse cake.

Recipe 
Sponge Cake Base
2 large eggs
50g sugar
50g all Purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp Vanilla Paste

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a round 8 inch/20cm cake tin with removable bottom.
2.Whisk the eggs. Add in sugar and beat till light.
3. Fold in the flour and lastly mix in the melted butter and vanilla paste.
4. Pour into cake tin and bake for 15 mins. Remove from oven and let the cake cool completely in the cake tin. Remove it from the cake tin and replace it back into the tin. This is to ensure that the completed cheesecake can be removed easily later.

Mousse & Cheese Layer
250ml Heavy Cream
450g Cream Cheese
4 large egg yolks
140g sugar
1 tbsp Cornflour
200ml Milk
1 tbsp Green Tea powder
1 envelope of Knox gelatine
3 tbsp Hot water

1. Whip the Heavy cream. Once whipped, return to fridge while preparing the other ingredients.
2. In another bowl, whip the cream cheese till it is light and creamy. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour till light. Set aside this and next do the milk.
4. Bring the Milk to a boil, slowly pour it into the egg mixture bowl, tempering it by whisking quickly to mix. This is the trickiest of the whole process, if the milk is poured in too fast, the eggs will cook and becomes scrambled egg and wasted.
5. Return this milk and egg mixture to the pot and keep stirring over low heat till it starts to thickens, like gravy. Remove immediately from the stove and slowly pour into the cream cheese and whisk to mix.
6. Dissolve the gelatine in the hot water and immediately pour into the cream cheese mixture to mix. Stir in the green tea powder.
7. Finally, fold the Whipped cream into the cheese and green tea mixture. Fold and do not stir.
8. Pour the batter onto the cooled sponge cake and level the mixture with a spatula. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
9. Slowly push the bottom of the cake tin to release the cake and place on a serving plate. Dust with green tea powder. For a clean cut, wipe the knife with a paper towel everytime you slice. 

Serves 6 to 8

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pear Vanilla Cake



I have been wanting to bake with Pears for sometime but apples and berries seem to always overflow in my shopping basket and preferred by my family. The fact is we seldom eat pears and the only way we use it is by steaming it with yellow rock sugar for more than an hour to get it soft and sweet. This particular Chinese way of preparing pears takes time and patience but it is said to heal dry skin and good for reducing dry cough and taken before bed to have a good night sleep.

My favorites are Bosc and Bartlett pears. I find other pears less juicy and sometimes just hard to get it the right ripeness for eating. It can be hard and tastes raw in the mouth when not ripe enough and when ripen too fast, they are mushy and simply a mess to eat! Having said so, it won't be fair to leave the pears out from my bakings as they are lovely fruits and as with apples, they are versatile in pies, cakes and can be cooked with main dishes, poached and served with cheese and crackers too!


For this cake, I used Bartlett pears. They were left to ripe over a period of 4 days and peeled and cut into chunks before adding to the batter. Almond flour or grounded almond is my favorite ingredient to bake with as it gives any cake a denser cakey structure with a nutty flavor bite. The batter is thicker and needs to be smoothed out with a spatula after being spooned into the baking pan. This cake is rich in taste and perfectly delicious eaten warm on its own or drizzled with melted chocolate or whipped cream. Leaving it overnight will enhance the flavor of this cake and because of its high butter and almond content, the cake doesn't dry out and remains moist for 3 days.


Recipe
140g flour
100g Almond flour (grounded from 150g toasted almond)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
200g Soft Butter
120g Sugar
2 large eggs
125ml Heavy Cream
1 tsp Vanilla paste
4 Ripe Bartlett pears, 2 cut into small chunks and 2 sliced half and cored

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grease an 8 inch round baking tin with removable bottom.
2. Mix the Almond Flour together with the Flour and Baking Powder. Set Aside.
3. Beat the Butter and sugar till creamy. Add in the eggs and mix in. Lastly add in the heavy cream and vanilla paste.
4. Spoon in the flour mixture in 2 batches into the batter. Mix in till no more trace of flour.
5. Stir in the chunks of pears gently. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and place it into another baking sheet. Use the remaining cored and sliced Pears to decorate the top by gently pushing down but not wholly submerged into the batter.
6. Bake for 50 mins or till set, lightly browned and firm to the touch.
7. Remove from oven and let the cake cool inside the tin for 15 mins. Remove to a serving plate and cut to desired sizes. Serve warm with whipped cream or melted chocolate.

Serves 6 to 8

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Apple & Fig Cinnamon Sugar Tartlet


The Cool and crisp Autumn air is here and the joy of baking begins. Apples, figs and pears quickly overtakes the aisles of berries and peaches while hearty stewed dishes comes to mind and feed the palates. Saying goodbye to another summer can be hard but before we hit the bone chilling beginning of winter, autumn always promises a burst of warm colors from mums, pumpkins and foliage and also the fun of looking forward to the many celebrations and holidays that fills up each coming months.

As we settle into our new home, I find it slow to re-start my baking again as my priorities and daily commitments grow with my kids new school year and I barely have much time to experiment with new recipes when the unpacking is not complete yet.

With very little time, I made some simple tartlets with the apples and figs that I have around.  There is really nothing much to this recipe, only a freshly made shortcrust pastry shell and sliced apples and quartered figs. Sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and baked for 40 to 45 mins. These tartlets are best served with ice cream as an after dinner treat and eaten while warm. The best apple to use will be Gala which curves nicely after baking and the figs turns soft while still retaining its shape adds sweetness. The concept is similar to eating cheese on crackers, no jam, no syrup and no other soft filling. What tingles the senses is the warm smell of the cinnamon and natural sweetness of the season's best fruits. That is good and simple enough for now.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

BBQ Sauce Flavored Pulled Pork


Wow! How's everyone doing? What an absence and I can't believe my last post on this Blog was in December 2011! And now it is almost the end of the 3rd quarter of 2012. Guess I have to play some catch up and a new kitchen with some new tools and gadgets do get me going.

I have always loved using the Slow Cooker. Used to have one in Japan but its electrical connection was not compatible for use here. But now I have a new one and with enough countertop space to place anything, I am using it as part of my weekend and sometimes, weekdays life saver!

For the first dish, I made this Pulled Pork. I believe this BBQ flavored version is American originally. It is very easy to make and kids love them in tortilla wraps or with mini buns. For a wholesome dish, cooking it with pinto beans will be great too! I threw in some chunks of carrot together with 3 rashes of Bacon, red onion, garlic and dried oregano to give the meat a greater flavor. I recommend using at least a 4 lb piece of pork butt meat to ensure enough for second helpings. Once the meat is cooked down, it is infact not that much. There are so many different types of BBQ sauce that you can find in your grocery store but the Original one will definitely yield the best result if you are thinking of adding extra flavor into the cooking. Just like me, I love the smell of bacon!



Recipe
3lb Pork Butt
3 Rashes of Bacon
3 Carrots, cut into chunks
1 Large Red Onion
5 cloves of Garlic
2 tsp Dried Oregano
Pepper and Salt
1 and 1/3 cup of Original Flavor BBQ Sauce
825ml Beef Broth

1. Heat some oil in a cooking pan, saute the onion (sliced), garlic cloves (minced) and Bacon for 5 mins.
2. Turn the slow cooker up to High.
3. Divide half of the sauteed onion, garlic and bacon into half and take one half and spread out on the bottom of the slow cooker pot.
4.Put the Pork butt meat (whole) on top. Take the other half of the sauteed ingredients and spread on top of the meat.
5. Slowly pour in the Beef Broth from the side into the pot to cover about half of the meat.
6. Pinch in the Pepper, Salt and Dried Oregano, close the Lid and let it simmer and cook on Low for 10 hours.
7. The meat will be tender but do not cut it. Remove it whole from the pot, drain all the liquid out of the pot and also the carrot, bacon and onion. This is the rich broth that can be used in other cooking.
8. Return the cooked meat back into the slow cooker, pour in the BBQ sauce and cover and cook for a further 2 to 3 hours.
9. The cooked meat will further fall apart, remove from the pot and using 2 forks, fork the meat apart.
8. Serve it on bread or wrap. Serve the carrot as side dish.

Serves: 4

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bento Days

School started last week. To get back into making Bento early in the morning is not easy and I started the first week with snack boxes and sent my kids buying lunches instead. The art of Bento has attained so much attention and interests these days and to browse for ideas and inspirations after a break of almost a year can be overwhelming. This year I will try to make simpler Bento designs that won't take up my whole morning to plan and create. Still, cuteness and color scheme are essential, just to get the kids interested ! :)

First Week Snack Boxes

First Grader and Third Grader Kids

Fishies Cheese, Oyster Cracker, Baby Tomato and Sliced Apple


Chick Cheese, Oyster Crackers, Kiwi & Baby Tomato


Turkey Ham, Baby Tomatoes, Ritz Crackers and Orange Slices


Second Week Lunch Boxes

Baked Chicken Dumpling, Boiled Egg, Fruits and Vegetable



Rice & Nori, stir Fried Chicken with Vegetable, Scrambled egg and Fruits



Rice & Nori, Stir fried Chicken & vegetable and Fruits


Hello Again

It has been about 6 months since I last posted and blogged. When I opened my Blogger account again this morning, it took me almost 3 hours to re-learn the whole concept and idea of blogging again. Yes, 6 months means half a year but not blogging, cooking nor baking for that kind of period of time resulted me in being rusty, almost to the point of losing patience re-learning the whole technology of digital photography, working through the many outrageous function and mode keys on the laptop and websites and finally trying to churn the brain for words to write about.

In the period of 6 months, I put everything on hiatus while my family and I went and searched for our next home. After walking through 50 houses and seeing the worst, bad and almost good ones, we have finally settled for one. When I first saw this house, I couldn't believe that it was real. After bouts of disappointment from seeing too many houses that didn't seem to match our needs nor liking and with major renovation work required plus the inevitable anxiousness that lurks in all new house buyers, I simply gave myself an ultimatum and took it then that I will never find my dream home! Until by chance, this particular house that opened its doors one Sunday for viewing and we decided to drive in and not expecting anything. As soon as I walked in, I knew this was the house that has been waiting for me. To some people, it is called a Gut feeling but to me intuitively, I just know, this house is calling me to come in and be its Lady in charge! It was exactly the same feeling when I first walked into our previous townhome.

I am very glad that I hooked up with the right Real estate agent and knowing how fussy I was, she patiently shown me so many houses. The whole process of buying my new house was long but made bearable by her and I am very thankful that once I decided on this house, everything moved smoothly, including the sale of my old townhouse!

Let's talk about the new house kitchen. It is double the size that I had previously and definitely more countertop space for me to shove things around. To motivate myself to get back into baking and cooking again, I have bought a portable Kitchen island to work on those rolling, mixing and stretching. So hopefully I will be able to spend more time now doing what I used to do before I moved house and continue to create delectable things for the palates. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Honey Citron Custard Tartlets

And I thought I was not ever returning to this Blog!

Phew...what a hectic time since my last post. Disappointment, Frustration and Tiresome all bundled up and filled those days and still on going with my next Home search. Never did I realize that this House Hunting process can take up so much of my time and even Sundays are spent somewhere looking besides baking.

Easter will be here soon and Spring indeed is lovely this year. The warmer weather brings more energy and I am now counting to the days when my kids and I can go to the fruit farms again to pick up some berries. Spring cleaning is in the process and time to re-arrange things here and there and throw out the old and hoping to get new ones. De-cluttering is the new and next therapeutic thing to me and so far, I have managed to junk out all ugly bottles and containers from my pantry and the next is to throw out old and extra baking stuffs that I placed around only for sentimental value and no more purpose at all!

To get away from all the craze, I made these tartlets using some left over Honey Citron that was sitting at the back of my fridge. This particular blend of Honey and Citron peels and juice are widely drank in Korea and even in Japan for extra intake of Vitamin C and usually I mix it with Hot water for a quick warming drink during cold nights.

The recipe for these tartlets are fairly easy and should yield one 8 inch tart by itself and I made them with smaller 4 inch tartlet pans. The most important thing is not to overwork the tart dough and the batter for the custard filling is a cinch to make. I ran out of heavy cream and used Almond milk instead of regular milk, hence giving the tartlets a creamier and heavier nutty taste. I am glad that I have not lost my baking passion despite most of my tools have been packed away for the future moving. Sometimes people do lose interest in things they once loved to do over a period of time and since my last bake in early February, I was almost at that brink of losing it already. Till my own daughter asked me if I still remember how to bake bread! Well, I made these tartlets and she chowed down one before dinner and said I was Still good :).



Recipe (yields one 8 inch deep tart OR six of 4 inch Tartlets)

Ingredients
Tart Dough: 300g All Purpose Flour; 180g cold soft butter; 1 tbsp sugar; 1 large egg

Custard Filling: 225g Neuchatel Cream Cheese; 2 large Eggs; 160ml Heavy cream or Milk; 100g sugar; 5 tbsp of Honey Citron blend

Method
Tart Dough:
  • Crumble and rub the butter into the flour and sugar. Using fingers, crumble and mix these 2 ingredients till evenly coated and light and airy. About 2 to 3 mins.
  • Beat in the egg and stir to mix. The dough will feel cool and work quickly with your hands to mix it into a ball. The dough must not look cracked or dry, if so, add 1 tbsp water at a time till the dough is like cookie dough. Place in plastic bag and let it rest in the fridge for about 30 mins.
  • Take out and roll out to line the tart or tartlet pans. Prick the bottom and return to the fridge to rest a further 15 mins. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Line the tartlet dough with parchment paper and baking beans. Bake for about 20 to 25 mins in the middle rack. Remove paper and beans at the last 5 mins of baking and complete baking. Remove and cool completely.
Custard Filling :
  • Beat the neuchatel Cream cheese with the sugar till creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time to mix.
  • Spoon in the Honey citron and stir to mix in.
  • Pour in the Heavy cream Or milk. The batter will be like pouring custard, heavy and thick.
  • Lower the temperature of the oven to 350F.
  • Using a ladle, scoop the custard batter and slowly fill up the tart or tartlet pans to the rim. Place the tartlet pans on a larger baking sheet and insert into the oven.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 mins till the filling is set.
  • Let them cool completely on rack and chill for 1 hour, tastes better chilled. Garnish with powdered sugar.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bento Days

February kicked off busier than January. As kids grow, priorities changed, and now I need to look for a bigger house and this time I am definitely sure that the biggest room for the new house shall be the Kitchen! When I first moved to my present house, never had I imagined that cooking and baking will take up most of my time and if jotted down and recorded, the time I spent in my kitchen far extend and outnumber the days I spend in any other parts of my house. There are times when I fret and curse about my present small kitchen and now when I have to put it up for sale, my heart beats and feel longing and attachment to it. There is no Kitchen island and I only had 3 very limited separated counterspace top to work all my ingredients, cakes, elbow grease and photo session, but somehow I survived! As evidenced from this blog, I have indeed done Alot in my little humble kitchen and I shall miss it when it is time to say goodbye. It is strange how one can get attached to a space, no matter how crowded, small or unfriendly it is!

While my attention is shifted to the whole house now in cleaning up, junking out stuffs and bringing out space once stuffed to the ceilings, I haven't spend much time cooking nor baking. Only managed to do Bento, partly because they are necessary for my daughter school lunches. I hope to be able to keep cooking, baking and blogging till the day I move.

Mushroom Rice with Cut out Cucumber slices. Doesn't matter if you don't have any Bento cutters, a paring knife will do the decorating part as long as you use some Maths concept and imagination! I always love the idea of the Taiwanese eat egg immersed and cooked in tea and herb. For this Bento, I boiled an egg and gently cracked the shell without breaking off any after it is cooked. And then I immersed it into a mixture of soy sauce and water for 10 mins, so that I don't have to waste a cup of soy sauce and cut down the saltiness if I had used only the soy sauce. For the carrot, I thinly sliced them into sticks and par-boiled them for about 7 to 10 mins which brings out its lovely orange color. To season it, I used a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce and sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds.

Just a simple chicken & mayo sandwich. With Side salad of peas and corn to add colors to the whole Bento Box. For the decoration, I used punches and dried seaweed.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bento Days

Welcome February. I am finding less energy to do cute Bento and trying to keep it simple this year. My daughter seems to socialize more now and busy chatting away during her lunch time at school, sometimes only finishing half of the content of the Bento. My only choice is to use a smaller size lunch box for her and trying to squeeze in everything neatly. Small and mini cookie cutters together with cute food picks can brighten up a usual lunch.

Lotus Root is crunchy and fun to eat. Here I parboiled them for about 5 mins to soften their texture, and drained and then mixed them with a bit of light soy sauce and sesame seed oil. They added shape and a nice color to the overall combination of colors inside the bento Box.



There are more choices of mushroom in my local grocery store now and they stock up on these little ones, which are usually available only at Asian stores. This one was referred to as Beech mushroom or 'Bunashimeji' in Japanese and only needed to be sauteed in very little oil for about 5 mins to soften and bring out the semi firm and crunchy texture. They look pretty in a cluster. For the mini pork patties, I used some minced pork, mixed and stirred it with seasonings and cornflour and shaped into flat disks. Pan fried for about 7 to 10 mins, turning sides and they fit in with the rests of the mini baby tomatoes, mushroom, cucumber and cut orange quarters from wedges.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Wings in lemon & Oregano

Recipe
Ingredients:
6 chicken wings, dissected to 2 parts; Juice of 2 large lemons; 5 pip of garlic (grated); 1 small knob of ginger (grated to yield 1 tbsp); 1 tbsp dried oregano; 1 tsp cornflour; 1/2 cup water or lemonade; white pepper; Kosher salt

Method: 
  • Marinate the chicken wings with the lemon juice, grated garlic & ginger, Kosher salt, white pepper and oregano. Leave it in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Heat the pan with 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Spoon in the wings Without the residue liquid from the marinate. Reserve the marinate liquid.
  • Cover the pan with lid and let the wings cook on medium heat for 7 to 10 mins, turning the wings once to prevent over cooking/burning on one side.
  • Add the 1/2 cup water/lemonade to the reserved marinate liquid and dissolve the cornflour into this liquid mixture.
  • Turn up the heat and pour the liquid mixture into the pan and coat the wings evenly. The sauce will thicken, once bubbly, turn down the heat, cover with lid and let the wings cook for another 3 mins.
  • Serve while hot.
Serves: 4 as side dish or finger food




Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Vinegar Braised Pork Hocks


Without realising it, January is almost coming to an end already. Is it me or the same with everyone else that the days and months seem to fly by so fast that I feel like I am always trying to squeeze in time for everything here and there and never have enough rest even during the weekends! While I long for Fridays to come by when Mondays start, the fact is I haven't even time to laze around when Fridays kick in and the alarm clock is already blaring 6am Monday morning. Oh well, like they say, time waits for no one and I will just have to run with the hours.
Today is the 7th day of the Chinese New Year celebration and I am almost a total failure this year for not having attempted any fancy Chinese cooking to celebrate the Dragon year. Not even made my annual Sticky cake that my kids love so much. Luckily there are still 8 days to redeem myself before the celebration officially ends on the 15th day which falls on Feb 6. On this 7th day, we are celebrating the birthdays of everyone. In short, it is celebrating and cherishing the meaning of life. Remember how I blogged about the Chinese being a very auspicious group that relates anything to everything, especially in terms of food? Well, I thought this dish will be very appropriate on this 7th day, not officially, but in my interpretation.

This dish is a type of confinement food served to Chinese ladies who have just given birth and the black vinegar together with the ginger are said to invigorate the body after labor and regulate the flow of the blood and the body system back to normal state prior to giving birth. I have eaten this dish too during my afterbirth with the 2 kids and I simply ate it by the pot. But eating too much of this can be heaty too and causes constipation. For people who loves the taste of pickles and fatty pork, this dish incorporates the best of both. I am not very sure on the origin of this dish as every ethnic group of the Chinese people do cook this dish. The black vinegar is only available at Asian stores, which tastes a bit malty and comes in sweetened or plain. Mine was plain and I had to add some brown sugar to the cooking to achieve a sweet and sour taste.

Recipe (Serves 4 with Rice)

Ingredients :
4 large pork hocks (about 2.5lbs), cleaned; 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled; 2 knobs of ginger, about the size of 2 thumbs, sliced thickly; 5 pips of garlic, sliced; 3/4 cup black vinegar; 1/4 plus 1/8 cups Dark Soy Sauce; 50g brown sugar (I used the Chinese block type); 1 & 1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking Wine; 1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil

Method :
  • Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a large pot. Tip in the ginger and garlic and saute for 1 min.
  • Add in the pork hocks, sesame seed oil and spread them out and mix in with the ginger and garlic. Add in 1 tbsp of water. Close lid and bring up the heat and let the contents sit for 3 mins.
  • Pour in the dark soy sauce and coat the hocks. Pour in the black vinegar and lower the heat to medium , close the lid and let the contents simmer for 45 mins. Open lid and stir the hocks around during the cooking to ensure even coating of the black soy sauce. Add 1/2 cup water .
  • The hocks shall be cooked to a soft texture, where the meat is easily snip apart with a pair of kitchen shears. After 45 mins of cooking, add in the brown sugar and the boiled eggs and close the lid and let it simmer another 15 mins.
  • Test and cut the meat, if it is falling off the bone, it is ready. Turn off the heat and let the contents remain in the pot for another 15 mins. This is so that the sauce will thicken from the gelatin released from the pork hocks and makes a thick gravy.
  • Serve with steamed vegetables and rice with the gravy poured over the rice.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kumquat & Tangerine Chiffon Cake


Today is the Eve of the Chinese New Year and as with all Chinese families, we will be having our Reunion Dinner tonight. I grew up loving and longing for Chinese New Year celebrations despite being a very westernized kid but there seems to be an underlying understanding in me that I am pure Chinese, only that I am illiterate in its language but everything else, I am almost perfect. I speak 3 Chinese dialects, have rice and soup everyday, watched Chinese dramas and movies since young, love Chinese pottery, porcelain and art, memorized Chinese songs to sing in Karaoke and now still trying to figure out how to learn the Chinese written language, which I doubt I ever can get it right!

At the time of this post, my family back in Malaysia and Hong Kong have eaten and enjoyed their Reunion dinners and possibly extending the hours into the early morning with the must do auspicious activities of all.... adults might be on the table rubbing the Mahjong tiles or blowing luck on Playing cards trying to win some while kids are all staying up digging out money from their little red money packet Ang Pow received from their parents, grandparents and immediate Uncles and Aunties. My kids have missed out on all these fun and no matter how we try to get together with friends here to celebrate the occasion, somehow the atmosphere back in Asia is exclusive and can never be replicated here. 


I didn't continue to bake anything after the last batch of Pineapple Tart cookies 2 weeks ago. And forseeing also that I don't have much time in the coming 2 weeks due to other commitments, I just baked this cake to enjoy on this Eve of the New Year. And with the ever auspicious mind of a Chinese, I planned and incorporated the colors and ingredients to reflect the hopes and thinking of the Chinese people, especially at this very revered new Dragon year, which is wishing for more fortune and good luck! In Chinese, the Tangerine sounds like the word Gold, and Kumquat is literally translated to mean Gold Luck. It is fun to attach  literary metaphorics this way, and trust me, the Chinese has a dictionary dedicated to all these manners of relating words to objects and vice versa. 

For this recipe I used 10 kumquats, patiently cutting and slicing the rind of these little morsels and removing the flesh inside. It is the rind that gives out the sweetness and the oil that exudes the crisp clean citrus taste. And for the decoration, I peeled and used fresh tangerine pulp and red and white non pareils. Red and Yellow are definitely the favorite colors of the Chinese and with this cake , I think I have incorporated all the good meanings!  Gong Xi Fa Cai and Kong Hei Fatt Choi........ well, one day I will be able to type that in Chinese! Gather your Drive and Passion this Dragon year and all the best to everyone!! :)




Recipe
Ingredients
200g Cake flour; 75g sugar; 6 large eggs, yolk and white all separated; 1 tsp Baking Powder; 1/2 tsp cream of Tartar; 1/2 tsp Salt ; 2 tsp Orange Emulsion/Oil (use vanilla if not available); 80ml fresh Orange Juice; 80ml water; 110 ml Vegetable Oil; extra 50g sugar; rind of 10 kumquats , sliced thinly & flesh removed

Garnish: pulp of 1 tangerine; powdered sugar; Non pareils

Method
  •  Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9 inch tube pan.
  • Sieve the flour together with 75g sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the vegetable oil and add in the orange juice and water. Beat to mix.
  • Pour the egg & liquid mixture into the flour mixture and with electric beater, beat to mix in.
  • Mix in the orange oil/emulsion and Kumquat rind. Leave aside.
  • In another clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar till foamy. Add in the 50g sugar and continue to beat the egg whites till soft peaks (holding onto the beater).
  • Scoop 1 spoonful of the egg white and fold into the flour & egg yolk mixture. Fold in with quick strokes. The mixture will lighten, continue to add in the remaining egg white and fold in with quick strokes till no more white streaks.
  • Pour the mixture into the tube pan, place pan onto another large baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 10 mins till cake is cooked, when gently pressed with finger, the top of the cake will bounce back.
  • Remove from the oven , turn the tube pan upside down and let the cake cool completely inside before removing from the pan.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar and decorate with tangerine pulp and non pareils.
Serves 6 to 8

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meyer Lemon Tart


Although it is cold winter now, my appetite somehow yearns for spring and summer flavors. Perhaps it was the overeating of meat, nuts and anything buttery during the prior holiday months of November and December, come January and February, I always feel like I have to trim down by eating more greens and fruits based desserts. I do enjoy dishes with heavy gravy but when comes to the sweet tooth, I love something citrus with the combination of tart and sweet.

Oranges are in season now and with the Chinese New Year looming, there are plenty of Clementines and Tangerines in the stores. I even managed to find Pomelo and to my surprise I saw these Meyer Lemons. I have seen alot of Bloggers bragging on how they were lucky to have neighbors with a Meyer Lemon tree and got a basket full to bake and cook with them while I look around and only found the usual sour pucker Lemon in my area. I was simply overjoyed and grabbed a packet of 8 and ran home clicking for recipes. Even before opening one up, I already loved the smell of this type of Lemon, which is a cross breed between a Lemon and a Tangerine, with a smaller tight roundish and smoother rind and loaded with juice. In my view, the grated zest of this Lemon is more pungent and doesn't fade even after baking. And the juice yields an intense taste of both sweet and tart, rightly combined and I only added a bit of sugar to the lemon filling.


This recipe creates pudding like filling rather than the firmly baked type. I adapted the recipe of Gordon Ramsey from BBC Good Food and tweaked it a bit to yield a smaller 6 inch tart with less quantities of the ingredients stipulated. Since the Meyers were partly sweet, I totally skipped out of adding any sugar to the tart dough and used only 100g of sugar to the filling. The tart is good served warm or cold and definitely a citrusy treat on a very Cold winter day.

For this 6 inch tart, follow the recipe Link above but reduce the quantities of ingredients to the following portions:

Tart Dough: Same as recipe given
Filling: 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks; 100g sugar; 125ml Meyer lemon juice; grated zest of 2 Meyer Lemons; 150ml Heavy Cream

Baking Time: 
Tart Dough (Blind Bake): 375F (20 mins, lined & with baking beans) and reduced to 325F (10 mins, without baking beans)

With Lemon Filling: 325F for 55 mins.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lotus Leaf Wrapped Glutinous Rice


My kids absolutely love sticky rice and everytime we go to the Dim Sum restaurant, they will always ask for the Lotus Leaf wrapped Sticky Rice (Lo Mai Kai) alongside the Char Siew (BBQ pork) steamed Buns. Glutinous rice is high in starch and requires extra water to cook it and some people gets indigestion for having too much. There are sweet glutinous rice desserts in the Chinese cooking, which I have yet to attempt and doubt my kids will eat it since they have only been eating glutinous rice in this savory way.

I have made the Chinese dumpling in Bamboo Leaves and glutinous rice , where the dumpling contained uncooked rice stuffed with fillings, bundled and wrapped into triangular shapes in Bamboo Leaves which was totally immersed into water to boil to perfection while the latter was the same thing except that the uncooked rice was mixed with the cooked fillings and put into the rice cooker with enough water to cook it. The extra character of this dish now is wrapping the rice together with the filling in a large Lotus leaf and steaming it on high heat so that the aroma of the leaf infuse into the rice. And the difference is that the glutinous rice here is cooked in the rice cooker prior to mixing in with the cooked fillings which blends the ingredients all together better and resulting in an evenly cooked rice. This cut down the time of steaming.

Dried Lotus Leaves comes in a huge packet of 10 to 12 and each leaf has already been folded into a half of a fan shape and needs to be softened and cleaned in hot boiling water prior to use. In texture and appearance, they look like grape leaves. I cooked about 2 and 1/4 cups rice here and used 2 leaves to wrap it all up, hence my rice packets looked 2 times bigger than those in Chinatown.


The original version of Lo Mai Kai contains diced chicken meat rather than pork and also the dried shrimps that impart the extra Umami taste with the shiitake mushroom. I ran out of both these ingredients and substituted diced pork and Goji berries for an additional color and sweetness to the overall rice. The most important thing in this dish is the texture of the rice, which is soft and sticky but not mushy and watery and also that the flavor from  the combination seasoning of the dark & light soy together with the Chinese cooking wine, white pepper, 5 spice Powder and sesame oil must linger and present after the high heat steaming.

Recipe (serve about 4)
Ingredients
2 Lotus Leaves, Soaked in Hot Boiling Water for 5 mins & Rinsed with cold water after softened, Pat dry
2 & 1/4 cups Glutinous/Sweet Rice
Water
5 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Re-hydrated & Sliced thinly
2 logs of Chinese Preserved Sausages (Sliced)
150g Diced Pork or Chicken Meat (marinated with 1 tbsp soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil and 1/2 tsp cornflour)
2 tbsp Goji Berries
3 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 of a Red onion Or 3 small shallot, minced
Dark Soy sauce, Light Soy Sauce, Chinese Cooking Wine, White pepper, Sesame Oil, 5 Spice powder

Method
Rice
  • Run the rice under running water for 4 times, wash everytime till the water runs clear. Soak the cleaned rice in water for 2 hours.
  • Cook the rice in the rice cooker, about 2/3 cup more water than the water required to cook normal Jasmine Rice. Turn off the rice cooker and scoop out the rice to cool.
Filling
  • Heat a large pan with 2 tbsp cooking oil. Tip in the minced garlic, onion/shallot and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the pork or Chicken and cook for 5 mins.
  • Tip in the shiitake Mushroom and Chinese sausages and mix in. Cook for about 5 mins. Add 1 tbsp water. 
  • Fold in the Rice and mix up to incorporate all the other ingredients.
  • Add in 2 tbsp Dark Soy sauce, 1/2 tsp White pepper, 1/2 Tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine, 1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil, 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder. Stir and mix to coat the rice. Add more soy if color is not thoroughly mixed.  Turn off heat.
  • Lastly, scatter the goji berries all over the rice and gently stir in.
Assembly
  • Take one Lotus Leaf, open it up gently to its original round diameter, scoop 1 rice spoonful of the rice mixture near to the middle with plenty of space near the rims. Double Fold the rim if required and fold up to enclose the rice, like packing up a book. Ensure all sides are enclosed and tie up with twine to secure the filling.
  • Place in a steamer (not inside the water but on a steamer plate standing over boiling water) and steam at high for about 20 to 25 mins.
Serve and scoop to individual plates.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bento Days

It is hard to believe that X'mas was just 3 weeks ago. January started with a very busy schedule for me and my kids, hubby including. Today is only the mid of the second week of the first month of the year 2012 and I already feel like I am doing alot everyday and wondered if I still have stamina to run the whole year before the next X'mas comes along! On the bright side, no snow and terrible wintry weather so far helps alot and with the unusual 'warm' air, I see stores coming out with spring gardening tools already. I already see the squirrels scurrying up and down, like Autumn never left! Signs of a very friendly Winter to me... I don't mind!

Ok...our next big thing is Chinese New Year. It will be celebrated on January 23 and onwards for a total of 15 days with auspicious and superstitious beliefs practiced in every Chinese homes and doings. And more this year as we are preparing to usher into the year of the Dragon which is the most Auspicious animal of the Lunar Calendar. Dragon is a symbol of grandness, power and ambition and I can only imagine the festive atmosphere back in Malaysia and Hong Kong, where business owners, big families and public all alike celebrating and revering in the celebrations to the max with no holding back, all in the hopeful thought for return of bountiful  prosperity and luck.

To kick off this Chinese New Year, I made a dragon bento for my daughter today. Lucky for me that I bought a dragon vegetable cutter during my last Summer trip to Hong Kong as I have no clue on how to carve out or create a dragon using the Bento ingredients. Cutters like this are special cutters made and catered to Chinese restaurants for carving decorations to accompany elaborate dishes and can be pricey. As with anyone on a vacation, I didn't mind the price but had to get it! I shall try to prepare another Bento using this cutter and motif as I think this one is not very appropriately Chinese themed. No one eats sandwich on Chinese New Year... that is for sure! Till then...


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Japanese Meals on the Go Bento Boxes By

I first got fascinated with Bento when I was once in Japan 10 years ago. O-bento as known to the locals is boxed meal, literally. As with any other lifestyle practices of the Japanese which emphasizes alot on presentation and practicality at the same time, preparing Bento involves the appreciation for aesthetic and presentation skills together with balanced proportions of the ingredients involved.

The Bento culture has evolved and expanded vastly outside Japan these past few years and I am seeing more and more enthusiasts of this form of food art through blogs, websites and recent published English language books. Although it is evident that the Bento culture appeals mostly to mothers of school kids, the idea is also adaptable to adults who packs lunch to work and for those who are watching their diets as well as those who are healthy and fascinated by the idea of a lunch meal complete and compacted in one container box.

I bought this Bento Book a year after I started making lunch boxes for my hubby. Previously, my lunch boxes were comprised simply of things that I thought colorful, yummy and were a total experimental ground for my novice cooking skills then. After a while, I realized that my lunch boxes were messy looking and I never understand why I can never fill up the gaps in the containers and the food inside sloshed around with rice balls falling apart and wet and saucy food soaking up stir fried vegetables. As there were limited books on Bento then in my local bookstore, this book caught my eye and I bought it hoping that I will learn more Bento like recipe to fill up my hubby's lunches to work rather than mindlessly cooking up and making something non appealing despite being good to eat or the other way round!

One thing I like about this book is the various recipes inside it and how the recipes for all the different ingredients that makes up one bento Box content are written out and categorized separately in one page. In one page, I can read on how the rice is prepared, the recipe of the accompanying main dish of meat and vegetable and additional photos showing how to

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