Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bento 239

It's been more than 10 days since my last bento. I've been dying to pack one but unfortunately there was trial exams involved and then a long holiday following that.

I packed this for my lunch today.

It's basically some left over 'one pot rice' from last night's dinner. The rice had slivered Shitake mushrooms, yam cubes and slivers of lean pork, I topped it with a celery leaf. There was some steamed lady fingers and fried salt fish too.

This other box had some delicious store bought Korean Kimchi and some "Better banana bread" which I baked yesterday. I edited my post here if you want updates.

Home made sourdough bread is still going strong. I improvised another bread recipe and added sourdough thus reducing the yeast. I think I'll reduce the water too, next time. It's edible but definitely can be improved!

Hahaha! #2 refreshed my Photoshop skills!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

#3 playing with 'dough'

I made gyoza today. #3 loves to help me because she claims that it's like "playing with playdoh". Today being Saturday, her two elder sisters are busy with their own programs be it studying or out with friends.

I'm blessed to have this 10 year old who is ever eager to help and be ready to offer hugs and kisses in between.

I really don't have a recipe for this and everything is just put together by memory. Actually it's very simple but if you need details, go visit Terri's site. Her recipe is near perfect. I love making these dumpling and I find it very therapeutic.

We made three plates of these in two hours. Wish I could do more but with one assistant cutting the dough and doing the first 'roll' to flatten it, and myself alone continuing the process of further rolling and adding the filling and 'sealing' the gyoza. I'd declare that it was quite a feat on my end! LOL!

My Olympus gave up on me and I took this picture using my handphone. *Gawks*

The quality of the handphone picture was so poor, I couldn't but ask #2 to help me take the bottom few pictures. The reason I don't like to use the Canon 40D is because I find it bulky and the pictures take forever to load. After all, I do the same thing with all cameras, just press 'click'.

This is my 2nd batch of "Sourdough starter a.k.a. sponge".

I used the 'sponge' together with all these ingredients...

...to make another batch of Sourdough bread. This time, I was home most of the time and managed to 'handle and shape' the bread properly. I tried plaiting one and it looks like I have to practice it a little more.

I haven't been able to use the no-yeast method yet. Soon...

Tonight's supper is freshly baked sourdough bread with home made lemon curd. Care to join me?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sun dried tomatoes

I had a bottle of sun dried tomatoes in the fridge which I originally bought for making bread. I was in a hurry to make a quick meal for the kids and a pot luck at Church.

I blended the whole bottle of sun dried tomatoes, roasted some peppers, slivered some garlic and chopped a bunch of fresh basil from my garden. Tossed them all in olive oil and poured a box of cream and set to simmer for 10 minutes.

Result of this easy peasy recipe was awesome!!! I cooked 2 X 500g of pasta, one fettuccine and one spaghetti. I brought the fettuccine one to church and it was a hit.

Had some leftovers and had it for lunch, topped with some fresh herbs. The mint added a wonderful flavor to it!

"One pot rice"

LOL!! I think I've become quite an expert in 'producing' one pot rice! I do this at least once a week due to the laziness which I succumb myself to. In the early days of experimenting, I'd either turn out with 'burnt rice' at the bottom or too soggy rice which was really difficult to eat.

I work on some basics, i.e. One cup of rice to one and a quarter cup of water. Depending on what meats I want to cook, I use the same formula and top up with another quarter to half cup of water, again depending on the time used for simmering the meats.

This pot of waxed meats was simple.


1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups of water
1 waxed duck drumstick
1 lup cheong
1 oyster lup cheong

1. Boil the waxed duck in hot water for 5 minutes or more (to remove saltiness), and remove the fat and excess skin. Steam together in a metal plate with the 3 lup cheong for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, wash rice and place in a clay pot or casserole.
3. Add 2 cups of water and bring to boil.
4. When the water boils, turn fire to low and cook covered for 8 minutes. Set timer, do not open cover.
5. Remove the steam plate of wax duck and lup cheong from the steamer and pour out the oil into a bowl. Add shoyu and thick black sauce. Meanwhile, slice the duck and lup cheong.
6. Once the timer rings, open the cover for the rice and drizzle the oil, shoyu and thick black sauce. Top with sliced wax duck and lup cheong.
7. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes over low flame. Switch off fire and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Hubs was supposed to have dinner with some friends but couldn't resist 'cleaning the pot' because this "one pot rice" tasted so good!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sourdough bread and strawberries from the garden!

Finally, I made Soudough bread! There are lots of recipes on the internet forever tempting me to attempt my first.

I got smart and obtained some 'mother' from my local baker. I fed it and kept postponing my baking for almost a week. Worrying that something would happen to my starter dough or 'sponge' as it's technically called, I began work early at 9a.m. this morning.

I had a busy morning between making bread, going out for breakfast, tuition and Uni runs and errand runs. It was a chaotic morning rushing from one place to another in between the "bread proofing moments".

Nevertheless, the bread came out very well. I'm elated that the recipe called for so little yeast. I bake often and I do have some issues with the amount of yeast used so I bought organic active yeast. Now with the sourdough sponge, I can choose to omit the yeast but allow longer rising and proofing time.

Delicious Sourdough bread! I fed another batch of flour and water to the 'mother'. I'll try the no yeast method next!

See what I found in my garden!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

10 minute Banana Bread

I love the holidays! I have time to experiment with new recipes, do some spring cleaning, browsing my recipe books and surfing the net for new 'adventures'.

Banana is our favorite fruit. In this house, we eat bananas if we get constipation, eat them for energy, eat bananas for dessert, make smoothies out of bananas, etc.

I came across this banana bread recipe today and was captivated by the simplicity of it's method. I didn't even have to bring my Kenwood out!

As described in the recipe, it is really simple and quick. I made a double recipe here.

Beautiful banana bread!

Look at it's texture. It was delicious!!

A great recipe to try if you're in a hurry!


I tried the better banana bread.
I improvised on the ingredients because I only had one cup of Yogurt, so I balanced the recipe with another cup of cream. It tasted softer and more moist. Personally, I prefer the no fuss and more 'textured' 10 minute banana bread.

My own version of "Chirashi Sushi"

I made sushi for dinner last night. More often than not, the kids would be waiting impatiently for their dad to return home for dinner and as soon as he walks in, they'd all be ready at the dinner table to feast on home made sushi!

It was past 7.00p.m. and because 'dad' wasn't home yet, I decided to make a dish of Chirashi Sushi so that everyone could 'dig in' instead of waiting for me to roll the futomakis.

This was a quick and simple version of chopping the same ingredients which I use for rolling the futomakis and hand rolls.

Clockwise: Tamagoyaki, carrots, Teriyaki chicken, Crabsticks, simmered mushrooms, Kyuri all alternate with Sakura Denbu and kewpie mayo.

Delicious combination which resulted in many happy and contented stomachs!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hari Raya Holidays

Malaysia, being multi-racial and multi-cultural has once again provided opportunities for families to spend time together. I love living in this country despite of all the underlining 'issues' (many too, at that!).

Hari Raya is wonderfully welcome because schools get the longest break. A whole week to celebrate this festival, adding the weekends, they total up to 10 days.

Last night after dinner, #2 promised to make breakfast for us this morning. Pancakes were the call for this morning. They were freshly made and I made the 'accompaniments'. Instead of Maple syrup and butter, we had a variety of, whipped cream, lemon curd and a combination of onions and canned mushrooms cooked in Italian herbs and cream.

A closer look at this deliciously savory combination. #1 exclaimed that it was "delicious"!

This is a sweet combination of whipped cream and lemon curd.

Breakfast was at the terrace where my vegetable seeds has begun to sprout. These are tomatoes in the making!

My "kunyit" (tumeric) and spring onions are already growing and so is the "sawi" or was it "siew pak choy"? Anyway, there's going to be more updates soon on my other herbs. My little pots of herbs are growing and keeping me very busy.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

More cooking lessons by and for #3

When I got home one night, #3 told me that she and #2 "made an ice-cream cake" for #1's birthday! I was surprised and asked how they did it. Apparently she stumbled on an old 'cooking activity book' for children and there were simple pictorial descriptions of how to make an ice-cream cake.

They used a round loose bottom pan and lined it with plastic cling wrap. They crushed some digestive biscuits and scattered onto the base of the pan. They then scooped Vanilla ice-cream into the sides of the pan and then filled in with Strawberry and Chocolate ice-cream.

The original recipe called for nuts but knowing that their eldest sister didn't like nuts, they avoided it and used Digestives instead. I thought that they were very discerning and considerate!

After that, they returned the fully filled pan into the freezer. The next day, #2 drizzled Hershey's chocolate syrup on top and served the ice-cream as a dessert. #1 was amazed and touched! This 'cake' was one of the many which came along the way in celebrating the end of #1's teenage journey and the beginning of a new horizon as a growing young adult.

Happy Birthday sweetheart!


Lemon Curd is a hot favorite in our home. I saw lemons going for dirt cheap at the wet market and instantly bought some with the intention of making lemon curd.


Grate the zest finely and squeeze 6-8 large lemons equivalent to 300ml of lemon juice

Cut 225 g of unsalted butter into small cubes. Add together with 575 g caster sugar and the 300 ml of squeezed lemon juice and zest.

I created a Bain-Marie from a casserole over another pot of simmering hot water and slowly dissolved the combination of butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice

Lightly beat 5 large eggs and sieve into the above combination. Stir continuously for 25 minutes over a pot of simmering hot water until it gets 'thick' and able to coat the back of a wooden spoon. #3 was patiently doing that and once again enjoyed this supervised 'cooking lesson'.

This recipe filled the various sized bottles below.

The taste and texture was awesome as previous times. "Smooth, sweet, sour and just addictive!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Why all the 'excitement' about making a local dessert? Well it's easily available locally, and it is not expensive. To be honest, I haven't attempted making any local dessert since my home science lessons in high school.

A recent weekend trip to Melaka saw me coming home armed with loads of gula Melaka, belachan, curry powder and a couple of souvenirs for the two elder girls.

In Melaka, we had the most tasty Cendol, generously laced with fresh coconut milk and the most delicious, fragrant gula Melaka. I couldn't stop thinking about the delicious combination of coconut milk and gula Melaka!

I had to try making Abok-Abok Sago again today and it was one great success!!!

Nothing beats steaming it wrapped in banana leaf!

Delicious and a simple Malay dessert to make.

Made a bowl of popcorn too!!

Yeap! I'm random like that!

Bento 238

This is a quick fix. #2 finishes school at noon and need a light meal for break or in between exams.

In the left box are some sliced carrot circles for munching. There is a pancake sandwich slathered with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

In the right side box, there is home made Ciabatta bread with tuna and moyo in between. I also experimented with Abok-Abok Sago. This is a Ramadan sought after desert and sago, being #2
s favorite, I decided to try making it.

I read about it in the Star newspaper yesterday and since there was a recipe included, I experimented it. It was a simple recipe. I tried to follow it as closely as possible but because there wasn't specific measurements for some ingredients, I had to use my instincts. It turned out okay with some tweaking but I'm intend to try it once again today just to get the actual measurements.

By the way, I didn't have banana leaves yesterday so I steamed it "talam" style. I got some from the market this morning to try the recipe again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bento 237

I had to get my maid's passport renewed today so we were out of the house very early this morning. Got this bento ready bright and early.

Spaghetti tossed in the balance of the oil from the pan, after frying the prawns. #2 enjoyed this!

Quick blanched baby corn and baby 'sawi', topped with a squeeze of mayo. I added two muesli bars for 'just in case'.

All went well at the Indonesian embassy despite hearing and reading about un-settled disputes.
God is good!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bento 236

It's been more than a month since my last bento. Today's bento is for lunch, I am supposed to drop this off at school because #2 stays back to take an exam paper she earlier missed due to a throat infection.

Today, in the box on the left, we have Cha Soba topped with sesame seeds, some home popped popcorn coated with melted butter, honey and salt. The Cha Soba recipe can be obtained on the right side bar under Labels - look for Cha Soba.

In the center box, there is a mixed salad consisting of rollo rosa, julienned carrots, tomatoes, green apples and fresh button mushrooms. The prawns were fried with olive oil, garlic, mixed Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Very fresh and very delicious!

The small box on the right is filled with cold dipping sauce.

Here's a close up of the bento.


I had Cha Soba for lunch too and it was delicious with the additional condiments!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2nd Cooking lesson for #3

Today, up to Thursday this week, #3 is on holiday due to the UPSR examinations for Standard 6 students. To keep her occupied and satiated in her personal culinary quest, this morning we had our 2nd cooking lesson.

Meanwhile, #2 has ongoing SPM trials until the first weekend of September.

#3 fried her first pancakes (under adult supervision) this morning. It was a gleeful hour of dressing up with an apron for the role and then gathering the ingredients to whisk the load of wet and dry ingredients together to form the batter of this very flexible breakfast favorite.

We had these lovely pancakes with butter and maple syrup. *smacks lips*

This was #2's lunch when she got back from school. #3 fried the pancakes while I, pan fried the Sole fillet. I tossed some rolo rosa, julienne carrots, tomatoes, corn and sesame seed dressing together for the salad.

Notice the irregular color on the pancakes? The pan wasn't hot enough. The pan fried Sole fillet was topped with a gravy so that the dish would not be 'dry'.

When #1 came back from University after 2.00p.m., this was served to her. This time the pan was HOT and see how lovely the pancakes turned out!

Pancakes - delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Who said pancakes were for breakfast only? They are a flexible lot to be creative with! #3 had to make a second batch to serve this meal because there wasn't enough!

Another Smilebox recipe for you! Enjoy!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Pancake journey
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Frist cooking lesson for #3

It's Saturday and all the kids were home, so lunch had to be served! I was amidst spring cleaning the cupboards and house was in a total mess.

My ten year old was reluctant to practice her piano scales, so I cajoled her by inviting her to "help mummy to prepare lunch." She was very excited and so was I. Our lunch menu was Spaghetti Aglio Olio and Italian Seafood stew.

Item 1: Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

Step 1: Fill a wok half full of water and add 2 tsp of salt.
Step 2: When water boils, add 350 g of spaghetti in a 'spread out circular motion' (shown below).

Step 3: Peel about 10 pips of garlic. (Here, you can see #3 peeling the garlic under supervision).

Step 4: Add 2 tbsp of EVOO into a pot and toss in the sliced garlic. Add 1/3 tsp of salt. Keep fire low and once the garlic is soft, it is ready. Do not cook till brown or it will taste bitter. Turn off the fire.

Step 5: Once the spaghetti is cooked, toss it into a sieve till dry. Toss it into the EVOO and garlic combination and mix well.

Step 6: Mix and toss well so that the spaghetti is well coated with the garlic EVOO.

Step 7: Spaghetti Aglio Olio is ready to be served. Congratulations #3! You cooked this dish almost completely by yourself, under mummy's supervision.

Item 2: Italian seafood stew. This was from my frozen stash. It's a vegetable base and I can add whatever which is available from my freezer. My elder two loves seafood so it's been like that for a while.

I took the box of frozen vegetable base and added a piece of Sole fillet and some fishcake which I bought from the market. It was near expiry and I wanted to use it up quickly.

This was lunch today. The two elder girls had a great time tucking in. #3 had her spaghetti aglio olio with Kewpie mayo as usual. All the dishes were empty and that was a good sign.

While all of that above was happening, I had two loaves of bread proofing.

This time, I sprayed water on top of the bread before baking instead of salt water and the finish was slightly different.

When #2 ate it she exclaimed that it was delicious and tasted even better than the last. This girl has amazing taste buds.

Yesterday, when I was shopping for high protein flour at a nearby grocery store, I splurged on a bag of organic unbleached flour which cost me RM18/kg and a bottle of Organic active dry yeast. My regular high protein flour only cost RM3.50/kg.

I didn't even say anything about my excessive splurge and #2 could immediately taste the difference! She never fails to surprise me!

Finally, after a delicious and leisurely lunch at the terrace, #3 began practicing her piano scales. She spent about 3 hours practicing but also resting in between, to reach "an acceptable level of competency." Next stage is to work on the speed.


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