Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tofu Pan Fried

This is the simplest of all simple recipes! All you need is the extra Firm tofu, this Vegetable sauce , chopped scallion and toasted Sesame seeds. And about 2 to 3 Tbsp of cooking oil plus salt and pepper to season. The only waiting part is the pressing of the tofu to rid excess water. For this, remove the soaking water, place the tofu block on a large plate, place a small plate on top of the tofu block, the water will flow out after about 10 mins and fill the large plate. Discard the water and pat the tofu dry with kitchen paper towel.

Cut the tofu by the width into 5 or 6 pieces, depending on the size of the tofu block. Soft tofu will not work in this recipe! Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Pan fry each side of the tofu for 5 mins till slightly browned. Remove from the pan and spread some of the vegetable sauce on one side and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallion. That's it! For great presentation, serve with some salad leaves.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bento Days

I finally found the right size Stainless steel lunch box for my 6 year old boy. A bit pricey but fits the purpose. Kids go through different phases of appetite, probably in a period of 2 months, they eat alot and always come home from school asking for bigger snack portions and there are certain times that they just don't eat much, leaving portions for me to eat up!

I love Rice paper for the fact it is so easy to use. The water for softening the rice paper out of the packaging needs to be warm and if cold, the paper tends to break when you try to lift it. I do get bored with stir fried vegetables and so I cut up some carrot and cucumber, both sliced thinly into sticks and placed them on a bed of romaine lettuce leaf and wrapped into the rice paper. The Bento box looks neater and easier to arrange. Hoisin sauce for dipping is a must and I packed it in those little small sauce containers. This was also my first time using and mashing up a purple potato to make the decorative flowers. Once mashed, I patted them into small disk and used a flower cookie cutter to cut it out. This is best done when the mashed potato is just done or else if it dries up, it will be difficult to push it out from the cookie cutter. Other fillers are pork and corn meatballs and quail eggs. The rice is fried with a little tomato sauce to give it color and taste.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Strawberry Cake

Ah...the smell of Spring air. Although the nights are still chilly, the daylight sun is just lovely everyday this week. Daffodils and Forsythia spouting out their vibrant yellows, iris and pansies proudly poking out in purple, trees finally regaining their branches with spots of green popping here and there. Migrating geese over and above in the skies, cardinals and frogs are busy with their rendezvous and I am on a baking mode! 

I followed this YouTube video Recipe to make this cake. Although it is named the X'mas cake, I think I have successfully adapted it and made it into a Spring day cake! Japanese recipes are practically right in sizes when you have a smaller crowd to feed and this cake was just the right size for my family of 4. It is absolutely necessary to have a 6 or 7 inches cake pan as this cake will look a bit flat when baked in an 8 inch. However, you can always put on more strawberry slices in the filling and pile up more on the cream. I used these gum paste flowers to mimic the color of the pansies and daisies, rosemary for the green grass and shaved chocolate for dirt/mulch. Here are the ingredients used for this cake :

Sponge Cake
150g /3 large eggs
100 sugar
90g cake flour
15g Butter
1 tbsp Milk

Soaking Syrup
1 heap tbsp Strawberry Jam
3 tbsp Hot water
2 tbsp Sugar

Filling and Frosting
400ml whipping cream
3 tbsp Sugar
450 g strawberries

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Morello (Sour Cherry) Clafoutis

I made these for a small pizza dinner party last week. Ramekins are very useful when there are more guests around and rather than baking in a large dish pan, I pour this recipe batter into 10 individual ramekins.  Trader Joe's Morello cherries in the jar is great for baking and I use them often. First I poured the cherries out from the jar into a strainer and let the juice drip off into a bowl. And then they were divided equally into the ramekins. The batter was easy to whip up and this warm flan and cake like dessert is best served warm.

I used this Recipe. Very easy and fast to make. So good for a cool spring night!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ham & Chive Quiche with Thyme

One of my favorite dish to make during Spring and Summer is Quiche. Besides it being pretty with its bright yellowish and creamy egg and cream filling, it is also very adaptable and versatile with all sorts of other additional fillings, from summer vegetables of sweet pepper, asparagus to shredded chicken and ham. Whether taken out for a picnic or party or perhaps a little special treat for oneself in the lunchbox or on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a glass of white wine, Quiches fulfil the palate at anytime of the day.
350g diced & cubed Ham
4 large eggs
25g (1/3 cup) chives, snipped
Thyme, amount discretionary
250ml (1 cup) heavy Cream
125ml (1/2 cup) Milk
salt & pepper to season
Pastry base
300g All Purpose Flour
150g cold butter, diced
8 tbsp Milk
Prepare the Pastry Base:
1. Drop the butter pieces into the flour.
2. Use food processor to break the butter into the flour Or use hands to crumble the butter into the flour.
3. Once crumbly and mixed, add in 4 tbsp of Milk and mix. Gradually add in the rest of the milk till the mixture forms a dough. Form it into a ball and wrap with cling film. Let the dough rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Grease an 8 inch quiche pan with butter.
5. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and lined the quiche pan with the dough, with a little overhanging over the edge of the pan. Put it back into the fridge and chill for a further 15 mins.
6. Line the chilled dough with parchment paper and baking beans and bake for 20 mins. Remove paper & beans and bake a further 8 mins. Remove from the oven and put aside.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
Prepare the Filling:
1. Beat the eggs, add in the cream and milk and season with pepper and salt. Mix.
2. Mix the Ham cubes and chive in separate bowl and spoon into the baked tart pastry case. Spread out evenly.
3. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the pan. If desired, grate some cheese onto the top.
4. Bake at 350F for about 45 mins.  Turn up the heat to 375F and complete baking for another 10 to 15 mins, until the filling is lightly set and doesn't jiggle anymore.
5. Remove from oven and let the quiche cool in the pan for about 15 mins before serving.
Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tofu Puffs with Minced Pork & Peas

As Spring weather is gradually taking over the left over tail of wintry nights, the appetite prefers more lighter dishes with lesser meat and thick gravy. Simple cooking is good and the lesser ingredients, the better.

There are many types of Soy products in the market. Tofu being the most versatile and comes in various texture from silky soft to very firm can be cooked quickly and served alongside vegetables or grains. Tofu puffs are almost hollow in the inside with strands of soy curd holding its cube shape and they have been deep fried prior to packaging. They can be stuffed with fillings of meat and vegetable or simply cooked in a stew and their main goodness is their chewiness and ability to absorb flavors. There are 2 steps to making this dish but nothing complicated. I love the gravy that coats the minced meat which is not watery.


20 Tofu Puffs
350g Minced Pork (Seasoned with salt, white pepper, 1 tsp corn starch and stirred to mix thoroughly)
50g Frozen peas
2 small shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup of Chopped Cilantro, leaves and stalks

Sauce mixture: 2 tbsp Oyster Flavored Sauce; 2 tbsp Light soy sauce; 1 tsp Chinese Cooking wine; 1/3 cup water/beef broth; 1 tbsp Cornstarch; Dash of White Pepper

1. Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil. Pan fry the Tofu puffs for 3 minutes, turning each every minute. Dish up and pat excess oil on Tofu with a kitchen paper towel. Set aside.
2. Heat 3 tsp of vegetable oil, saute the shallots, garlic and cilantro for 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp of water and add in the minced pork. Stir to break up the meat and cover to cook for 3 mins.
3. Add in the Sauce mixture and let the ingredients simmer for another 5 mins. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 to 2 tsp water to thin out or if too watery, dissolve another 1 tsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water and add into the sauce. 
4. Add and stir in the tofu puffs and peas to coat and cover and for another 5 mins.
5. Dish up and serve hot with rice.

Serves : 4