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Showing posts from March, 2007

Go Japanese!

I can always be heard saying "We are lead to our paths for a reason" to anyone who wants to hear it. Nope, this is not a religious talk nor am I a religious person to begin with. It is just that I always think that one thing leads to another and then another. So when you reflect on your journey, you would realise the reason(s) of your path(s).

Tell me how do all these gel up (all these happened around Christmas 2006):
~ I picked up The Japanese Kitchen and The Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat at the same time.
~ Stumbled into Cooking Cute's blog about bentos.
~ Hubby suggesting that we should drop our little precious to anyone who is willing to look after her for a dash to a decent Japanese restaurant.
~ Hubby trying to lose weight.

Clueless?

Well, I seem to see a big poster screaming "Go Japanese! That's why I put that on my food forecast for 2007.

I don't know if I would have the tenancity of Martha Stewart who was said to have worked her way through Julia …

Bento #6 et al

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::: Today's bento menu :::
Breaded chicken
Bacon wrapped asparagus
Stir fried snap peas
Rice dumplings with nori sprinkles

This is my first time trying out bacon wrapped asparagus. I took the idea from pork belly wrapped asparagus served in yakitori restaurants. Not exactly healthy due to the high salt content, but it is really delicious indulgence.

If you are interested to try it out:
- trim and cut the asparagus into 5cm lengths
- tightly roll 3 pieces of the asparagus pieces on a back bacon
- secure it with 2 tooth picks
- pan fry in olive oil

Here's my bento

Here's dear Hubby's bento


Here's a bento for my brother who happened to be my driver today

Bento #5

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::: Today's bento menu ::: Fried rice with minced pork and spinach Hard boiled egg with Japanese mayonnaise Grapes, cherry tomatoes and buttercup lettuce
This is one of my latest acquisitions: a Tupperware Reheatable Divided Lunchbox. First time fiddling with a divider in a lunchbox. Kinda cute and neat.

Mise En Place, Please!

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mise en place: (French) literally means put in place; in professional cooking, proper planning of equipment and ingredients for a food preparation and food assembly station.

- definition from Dictionary.com

The old adage that "if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail" rings true every time. Despite numerous failures and hanging in the brink of failure in my cooking, I still resist doing full prep work when I cook. Strange, isn't it?
Here's my second attempt at Cooks' Illustrated Cream Cheese Brownies.

Anyway, the cream cheese brownie turned out alright (thank goodness!). I had it for breakfast and lunch yesterday. Absolutely sinful! Recipe for the brownie can be found here.

Bento and Parenting

In my continual search for bento ideas, I found many interesting sites and many interesting articles about bentos.

Here is an article about bento which left such an impression on me about how a simple act of preparing a lunch box for a child by a parent would have such profound meaning behind it. I hope I would be able to prepare lunch boxes for my little cherub when she goes to school in the future. But in Singapore context, that would probably make her an odd-ball since all kids tuck into all sort of garbage that childcare centres or school canteens serve up. We need a Jamie Oliver to campaign for better food to feed our children here. Anyone?

Now, if only I could get my little princess to eat tomatoes, cheese, carrots ...

Bento #4

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Here's another round of bento making session.
::: Today's bento menu ::: Breaded chicken Braised spinach in soy sauce with bonito flakes Brown rice
The menu is no different from the previous bentos. Hopefully my clients (aka dear Hubby and my mom) don't complain. This is the first time I am making rice dumplings with brown rice and surprisingly they make the dumplings look so attractive with the random brown grains.
My mom's bento
Dear Hubby's bento And finally, my bento (with crispy fried anchovies again!)
Last night, I zipped down to Isetan and bought a few Lock n Lock boxes with partition, so now I have to switch on my creative machine and crank out some ideas on how to pack bentos in them.

Tidbits - Freezing Food

What's sitting in your freezer right now?

Let me see what's in mine:
5 kg sack of ice cubes (it's not for some upcoming party, and don't ask me what's it for)many ice cream cones from Korea1 ice cube tray1 pack of Natto (Japanese fermented soy beans)1 1/2 bag of young soy beans1/2 bag of corn nibbles1/2 bag of mixed veggies1 kg of chicken breast meat2 pints of Ben & Jerry'smany other unidentified itemsI don't know if this is atypical of what's inside most people's freezer, but I have read that it can be put to better by storing real ready-to-go food in a freezer (think: frozen pot stickers (gyoza), frozen pasta sauce, frozen unbaked muffins/scones, frozen unbaked bread, frozen rice dumplings, frozen cooked curry, etc.), but that's one area which I haven't dared ventured into yet. I always been brought up thinking that eating frozen food is not good for you, but I'm sure that's in the context of frozen commerical food, right? How ab…

Bento #3 and more ...

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Monday mornings are usually cranky for me. It is the start of the work week and I'm usually suffering from a weekend hangover. So to add on to the maddness, I decided to mass produce my bentos today.

::: Today's bento menu :::
Breaded fish
Braised spinach in soy sauce and bonito flakes
Omelette roll
Rice (topping varies)

My mom's bento box - her rice is merely sprinkled with black sesame seeds.


My brother's bento - his rice dumplings are made from wakame and dried salmon flakes mix.


My dear Hubby's bento - Plain rice dumplings with nori wrapping.


And of course, lastly my own bento - rice topped with nori and sesame seed sprinkles.


Don't count on me to be terribly creative on Monday mornings. But as you can see, even with a few simple dishes, there are just so many different combination and presentation. So goes the old saying :"There's more than one way to skin the cat." But in this case, "There's more than one way to pack a bento!"

Bento #2

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::: Today's bento menu :::
Stir fried pork with ginger and spring onions (姜葱炒肉)
Baby xiao-bai-cai(小白菜)
Rice balls with crispy fried anchovies

Here's some basic rules for packing bentos which I have read. The whole bento is made up of 6 parts, comprising of 3 parts carbs, 2 parts veggies and 1 part protein. So if you stick to this composition, you would have a well balanced diet. And to make the bento visually exciting, just make sure that you have 5 colours in the box: red, yellow, green, black and white. Guess I've to work on the visual aspect of my bentos.

5 seems to be a very important number in Japanese cooking. According to Elizabeth Andoh's Washoku, there are 5 principles of washoku. 5 colours, 5 tastes, 5 ways of cooking, 5 senses and 5 outlooks (religious-wise). I find this book to be very interesting for its discussion of these principles and also instruction on how to take short-cuts to some of the lengthy preparation processes in certain recipes.

More on bentos in…

My First Bento Lunch

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After stumbling into Cooking Cute, I have been fascinated by the myriad combination of food that people put into their lunch boxes. Some are so lovely that I am sure that my heart would break if I eat them.
So, finally I tried my hands at making my first bento lunch box. This is still a far cry from those creatively packed bento boxes I have seen so far, and I would have to practice more often to learn the art of packing bento boxes.
Off to eat up my bento box now ....

Tidbits - Food Blogs

I feel like I'm in the story Alice in the Wonderland at times, but I am not Alice with a big bow ribbon on my head, thank you. Rather I feel as hurried as the harassed looking white bespectacled rabbit who was always looking at the huge antique pocket watch. Well, I guess I'm still groping my way around my almost-2-year career as a working mother. Being able to stir a pot of something or thump a dough these days is almost a luxury.

But I did the least I could do: read food blogs. Here are some of the interesting links I have stumbled into these past weeks.

k How to make better bread by Farmgirl

k Photos of fabulous looking breads by KitchenMage

k Hints and Tips for successful bread making by The Flour Advisory Bureau

k Creative bento boxes at Flickr

k Chinese cooking forum at 美味DIY

k Blog by Queen of cake making - Ms Rose Levy Beranbaum

k Beautiful looking blog with an article on baked doughnuts by 101cookbooks

That's all for now folks!