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Showing posts from 2008

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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I don't know what hit me on the head. Something must have short circuited up there. Wacko enough to make these!

I hated sweet peppers. Especially green ones. I don't know why. Maybe it is the smell. Not too sure. I just hated them.
But some time ago, my brains got re-wired. It was roughly about the time when I tasted roasted sweet peppers on pizzas and then again on sandwiches. It was entirely a new experience for me in eating sweet peppers. Why wasn't I fed these in the first place! Well, over at this side of the world, the only way to cook sweet peppers is usually a quick stir-fry which would leave the peppers tasting raw.

While flipping my The New Best Recipe, I remembered seeing this recipe and thought that this would be something that I won't ever try in my lifetime. Well, never say never.

Preparing the rice stuffing was somewhat like making fried rice and then stir in the shredded cheese. I forgot to get parsley, which was listed in the recipe to be stirred in once t…

My Christmas Turkey

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Alright, alright ... It wasn't my turkey. I didn't cook it. It was precooked. Hey, heating up is not small task, okay?
I picked up the turkey along with a leg of ham and roast beef from Cold Storage and they all came cold. So I offered to heat up the larger items (ie. the turkey and ham).
This was the first time I put a whole turkey in my oven and having read some cookbooks certainly helps. At least I know how to tear the whole turkey up.
This was before it went into the oven. I added the veggies to the bottom of the pan to soak up the juices given up by the turkey during heating. And they were delicious!

I was so shocked that even just heating, the bird requires 1 hour and 45 mins in the oven. Well, now I know. Here's the finished product.

Happy holidays to my readers!

Kiddy Chocolate Dip

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Every alternate month or so, our little princess would have the sniffles and cough. Cough seems to be the bane of the very existence. She hates it because she can't have candies, chocolates, gummy and whatnots-kids-eat-these-days-to-make-themselves-hyper.

So, when she finally cleared her cough last Sunday, I made a little "just-gotten-well" treat.

It was kinda impromtu, so I didn't have many fruits for her to dip with. But bananas ... they are good with anything ... even peanut butter! Needless to say, our little princess was completely over the moon.

Korean Night

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Sometimes flipping through cookbooks, scouring through the internet and shortlisting what you are going to cook doesn't necessarily equate to what ends up on the dining table. Either the market/supermarket doesn't have the crucial ingredients or the ingredients got hijacked for some other dish.

Well, I did say that I was flipping my cookbooks, but it didn't turn up anything interesting. So instead, I kept my options open and see what's fresh and available from the market/supermarket.
When I got to the beef section of NTUC Fairprice Xtra @ AMK Hub, I knew right away that I am grabbing those short ribs and brisket even though I have no idea how I was going to cook them! They look so fresh and beaconing me to bring them home. So when back to flipping my cookbooks again, I spotted something interesting in my Eating Korean and I made Grilled Beef Short Ribs (Gal-bi) and Spicy Beef Soup (Yookgaejang).

The beef short ribs was quite delicious but it was on the sweet side. My lit…

Flipping My Cookbooks

For friends who know what's keeping me away from my kitchen, I would like them to know that I passed the test and would be zipping right back to the kitchen soon. It will be another good 8 weeks before my next test.

Please excuse me while I go back to flip my cookbooks and surf the net for inspirations.

By the way, if you missed the advertisment by Kinokuniya, they are having 20% discount storewide from now until 29th Dec. I am always happiest when the store is having such promotion. Weird isn't it?

Bread Baking Blabbering

There's always something to learn when I bake bread.

A thought or two on how to short-cut the prep work will come to my mind when I knead a dough.

In that span of a couple of hours, I become a:

(i) problem-solver when a dough doesn't rise as much as it was suppose to within the indicated timeframe;

(ii) patrol warden eyeing my little tot's curious hands roaming ever nearer to the rising dough; and

(iii) food critic when tasting my own fare.

Baking bread has a calming effect on my inner self ... but of cos when they don't turn out as it was suppose to then that's another story.

Doughnut or Donut?

While having lunch at my mom's house, we were watching Discovery Travel and Living featuring Donut Paradise. I can't remember how many times I said: "I want to eat this!" Unfortunately, over here on this sunny island, we don't have many choices for a good quality doughnut. Perhaps the only ones that I would consider good are from Wiener's Oven located along Upper East Coast Road but they don't come cheap. I vaguely remember that it comes at around S$2/piece. So I gleefully told my mom that I would make it myself and she can help me fry up the dough.

But as soon as I got back home and flipped open my cookbook, I knew my mom would be disappointed cos there is no way I would be able to deliver that piece of dough to her. The recipe specifically advised against hand kneading the dough to prevent it becoming greasy. Even food processor was forbidden. *Sigh* I just can't bear to imagine myself pulling out my KitchenAid. Does it have to come to that? Maybe wi…

Focaccia and Pizza

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I found this interesting focaccia bread recipe from Allrecipe.com and had to try it. The smell was terrific but the texture of the dough was not as good as Baking Illustrated's Olive Focaccia. But it was a good experiment, at least now I have a good pizza dough to rely on!

I followed the recipe accordingly but I made minor changes: * increased the amount of water by 1/4 cup as I found that my dough wasn't able to come together at all * substituted garlic powder with fresh chopped garlic
This is the dough after the first proofing:

Mini pizzas ready for baking:

Ready to eat!

I haven't made pizzas for a long time and this was the first time I made it with my little princess. She had a fun time smacking the dough and also doing the toppings. Despite the fact that she doesn't like tomato sauce, she took 2 bites of the pizza simply because she made it herself.

Freezer Candidate: Muffins

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One of the few things that I like to make is muffins. Mixed by hand, all in a bowl and quick to make. Need more reasons to make your own muffins? How about saving money? This is like a tag line now that will grab the attention of most people.
I used to freeze the leftover batter when I make muffins, but recently I seem to be making muffins specifically for freezing. These muffins take so well to freezing that you won't be able to tell if it was made fresh or frozen.
So just use your favourite muffin recipe and grab some aluminmum trays/cups and start freezing! You can pop 1 or 2 frozen batter into the oven while you get your morning started. Just remember to think of me when you are biting into a freshly baked warm muffin in the morning. (^.^)
Steps to freeze freshly made muffin batter:
(1) After mixing the batter, portion the batter into appropriate serving size aluminmum trays/cups. (2) Place the aluminmum trays/cups into a container. Be careful not to overcrowd so that the trays/c…

Freezer Candidate: Bread

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Sorry for this late post. I was down with the flu bug for the past week and was rather busy during the weekends house hunting.
I forgot to mention that I have frozen some of the olive focaccia that I've made previously and I am glad to say that they taste just as good coming out from the freezer.
Here's a short kitchen note on how to freeze and thaw bread from Martha Stewart.
I haven't quite figure out how to thaw unbaked bread yet so for the time being I will stick to this.
Steps to freeze freshly baked bread:
(1) Cool bread completely. (2) Cut bread into suitable serving portions. (3) Wrap tightly with clear food wrap. (4) Place into a zip top bag and squeeze out all the air in the bag before putting into freezer.
To use frozen bread:
(1) Preheat oven to 180 degC. (2) Remove plastic cover and place on baking sheet. (3) Bake for 15mins or until bread is heated through.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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I am now very conscious about food that I buy/consume these days after reading all that essay. So when I was in the supermarket yesterday and spotted a tin a Danish butter cookies, I was almost tempted to put that in my trolley when I saw the label "Sugar Free". Immediately all the red flags came up. Something is really wrong here. How can butter cookies be sugar free? Without even looking at the ingredient list, I chucked it right back to the shelf. But what made me interested in getting that tin of "cookies" was the assortment it had: choc chip cookies, oatmeal cookies and apple cinnamon cookies. Interesting!
Unwilling to deny myself a treat, I picked up my Baking Illustrated and found the recipe for this cookie. They are absolutely delicious and had a wonderful texture. This is the first time I have ever made and eaten oatmeal cookies and I must say that I like it very much. Although lots of butter goes into it, but I think it is still more natural than those &qu…

Scone or Biscuit?

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When I pulled these out of my freezer, the bag read: "Critus Scones - 10 Aug 2008". So I take it to mean that these are critus scones made on that date. And since I am out of breakfast options, scones sounds perfect.
Well, they always say that kids say the darnest things. And my little tot did just that when she woke up to the smells of the baking goodies.
She: "Mmm, smells nice. What did you bake?"
Me: "Take a look." (Fully expecting her to say scones.)
She: "What biscuit is it?"
Me: "..."
And it did taste like a biscuit. Maybe I was overzealous in patting the scone thinly that I over did it or left it too long in the oven (I was busy kneading the focaccia). The scone didn't rise much in the oven. That was pretty much the height when it went into the oven. Scone or biscuit? It didn't matter much, my main customers (and perhaps only customers of the day!) love them anyway. I going to pop some into the oven for my princess to bring to…

Olive Focaccia

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The past few days was one of the best weekends that I could ask for. Kinokuniya was on sale and I had time to do some cooking! Yay!!

Just the first day of the sale, I picked up Best Food Writing 2008 and immediately started reading that night. And just after reading the first essay, I felt enlightened. I felt that I have been fitted with a new lens looking at the food that I eat. The essay was lifted off the book by Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food. The book opened my eyes to what is real food and what is food products (ie what looks like food but really isn't). For some of the bullet-points of what the essay was all about, click here to find out more. The author used the example of supermarket breads to illustrate the difference between food and food product. Have you seen the ingredient list of that loaf of supermarket bread? Does it have an ingredient that you don't know? Well, I picked up my loaf and saw ingredients such as Nacin and Dough Conditioner. Ignorant as I …

Kimchi Pancakes

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In my previous post, I mentioned that I have been experimenting with making kimchi pancakes and I think I have finally got a recipe which I will stick to from now on. As with all pancakes, the comabination that goes into the mix is seemingly endless.

*********************************** Kimchi Pancakes ***********************************

1 1/2 cups plain flour 2 med size eggs, lightly beaten 1 1/2 cups water Thumb size ginger, finely chopped 1 sprig of spring onion, chopped 250g cooked ham, finely chopped 1 1/2 cups kimchi, finely chopped
Mix the flour, eggs and water in a mixing bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients. Cook as you would any pancakes.
Here's the batter after combining:

In the skillet:

And the finished product:

Chicken Pot Pie

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For some unknown reasons, my little princess asked me to make her chicken pie. I looked at her and wonder what kind of pies had she eaten to make her ask for more chicken pie. I racked my brains and the possible pies that she had eaten doesn't sound like something worthy of my effort to replicate.
So I hit my books and came up with this: chicken pot pie. I highly doubt that she has eaten this from stores, but I am willing to bet my last penny that she would love it. For one simple reason: it is creamy. She loves creamy foods. Pasta Alfredo, Pasta Cabonara, Cream of [fill in the blank] soup, etc. I've made chicken pot pie before, but I doubt I fed any to her. The previous recipe calls for whole chicken whilst this recipe calls for parts. Since I'm not in the frame of mind to handle a whole chicken, parts seems a perfect alternative.
It was no surprise when I was making the roux, she came running into the kitchen.
She: "Mommy, what's that smell?"
Me: "Smells …

Freezer Candidate: Chicken Balls

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These chicken balls freeze very well. Good for lunchbox, into soups or just another side dish. This is also good for BBQ, just baste with ready made teriyaki sauce.
I've adapted this recipe from The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo. In the book, this recipe is for yakitori chicken dumplings.
******************************* Chicken and Mushroom Balls (Adapted from The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo) ******************************* 500g minced chicken meat 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 3 sprigs spring onions or cilantro, finely chopped 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger 1 whole egg, lightly beaten 2 tsp sesame oil 6 med shiitake mushroom, diced finely (if using dried ones, reconstitute before use)
1. In a medium size bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well combined.
2. Shape into balls with your hands.
3. In a frying pan heated with a little oil, pan fry the balls until they browned.
To freeze: When cooled enough to handle, portion the number of balls for each serving. Wrap the balls p…

Peek Into My Fridge & Freezer

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With my beloved camera back, I immediately put it into use.

Ever wonder how my fridge and freezer looks like? Scroll down but try not to be alarmed.
This is the top half of my fridge:

This is the second half of my fridge:

Top half of my fridge door:

Bottom half of the fridge door:

Top freezer drawer:


And a peek into it:Bottom freezer drawer:And a peek into it:As you can see from the photos, I'm not a terribly organised person. And for your information, this fridge is BEFORE our weekly grocery shopping which we will be doing tomorrow or the day after. (^.^) Here's what I made for dinner last night. Salmon skewers. I didn't thread it myself. I bought it prepared from Fassler. Can't remember how much it cost. The fish is fresh and this makes good item to have for a BBQ.

Fallen In Love With Your Freezer Yet?

Looking back into my archives, I realised that I started building up my freezer inventory in earnest in July 2007. Since then, there was no turning back. What I cook and how we eat has very much changed. For the better of course!

My freezer is now so very important, that I dread the day it will whole fridge die on me. *touch wood!* So much so, that I am contemplating buying a standalone freezer. I found out that some breastfeeding mommies buy such freezers solely for storing excess breastmilk, maybe I should get second-hand from them when they are done with their freezers?

Anyway, I quote from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat: "The freezer can easily become a culinary graveyard, a place where good food goes to die." This was very true even for me long before I realised the usefulness of the freezer.

I have been asked by friends how I freeze this and that, so I thought that maybe I should share in more details what are the things that I stash in my freezer and hopefully you would…

Sheperd's Pie

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Just a quick post today.

Made some sheperd's pie last night. Recipe from Joy of Cooking ('97 ed.). Taste wonderful and the best part is it was super easy to make. Even my princess loved it too. The meat filling can easily be frozen for later use.

My camera is coming back tonight! Yipee! *doing a happy witch dance around my chair*

Can You Survive On S$36 A Month?

It seems like every weekend when I open the newspaper, there would invariably be articles of how some families here are cutting back on their spending given such challenging times. And most recently, it ran an article of how some big spenders are paring down their bills after they came to realise that their hopes for a fat 10-month bonuses are nothing but a figment of their dreams.

I mean it is really interesting to read how folks here are cutting back and saving for rainy days. But isn't it enough already?

I once read from somewhere a saying that goes "the shoeless should look at the footless". By the way, my sister completely hates it whenever I say this.

So if the middle class income families are complaining how hard life can be these days, perhaps we should all look at the those who are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Our Public Assistance scheme hands out S$330 for living expenses and S$36 in meal vouchers per month to our needy folks here. So what is it like to liv…

Hunting Korean Food (con't)

After we left my friend's baby shower, our little princess kept asking that we go out for lunch. So we hopped into the car and sat there racking our brains where to go for lunch. We certainly want to avoid those crowded weekend places, so we had this converstaion:

Me: "What do you feel like eating today?"
Hubby: "Why don't we go to that Korean restaurant you went?"
Me: "Huh?"
Hubby: "I don't mind having Korean today."
Me: "You sure? That place is not fanciful and the food is average."
Hubby: "Let's give it a try."

So within minutes I was back to Kim's Family Restaurant again. This time more tables were taken when we walked in at 1pm. Mostly Korean families. We were served by the same server again and she gave me a wide smile. Again a big jug of cold tea and we are back to the crumpled menu. This was what we ordered:

* Bibimbap [S$10] - This is my first taste of the dish that appeared a few times in the Korean dram…

Morning Breakfast

It's 5.30am and I have a steaming mug of tea one hand and a plate of pancakes on the other. The house is all quiet and I am sitting in front of the computer catching up on the news and blogs. Ahh ... Bliss!

Except that the pancakes are not your regular buttermilk or blueberry pancakes. They are savoury and spicy kimchi pancakes. (^.^) I made these 2 days ago on a experiment and it tasted good, but I am sure that there has to be better recipes out there.

Until my camera gets back and also finding a better recipe for the pancakes, sorry, no photos for now.

Hunting Korean Food

After reading an online article about Korean restaurants, this was what I wrote in a tiny slip of paper.

* Kim's Family Restaurant *
* Lorong Kilat *
* Spicy octopus fried rice *

And armed with that slip of paper, I enlisted my sis to drive my mom and I to hunt down the place. Well, I can't call it hunting, cos it only took us a 5 mins walkaround to find it.

The place is quite inaccessible (from my point of view, wearing 2.5 inch heels) unless you drive and it is located in the most unlikely place whereby its neighbours consist of a mix of foot flexiologist, car repair shops, an ice cream parlor and a tour agency (I think).

But first let me apologise for not having any photos in this post. I couldn't manage my flimsy handphone camera while handling/feeding my little tot.

The shop was quite empty when we headed in. Only one table was occupied by two diners who were ploughing through their big stoneware bowls of rice. When we were seated, a server immediately send us a big jug of c…

Camera-less

My Nikon D40 is currently on home leave. Went back to Japan with my brother last Thursday. I won't be taking any photos for the time being until it comes back. (-.-)

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

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I love cinnamon rolls and when the craze hit this island a few years ago, I was over the moon. I had to get one each time I pass by a shop. The heavenly scent of it will lead me straight to the shop and fork out more than two bucks for a bun.
I have been eyeing this recipe from Baking Illustrated for a long time, but hesistated to make it since I have no underwriter (Hubby not interested in sweet stuff; Sis doesn't care for any; Brother hates cinnamon like poison). But when I have a carton of buttermilk that was going to expire, I knew I had to give this a shot.
This is a Quick Cinnamon Roll cos it is not leavened by yeast but with buttermilk and baking soda. Hence they called the dough a biscuit dough instead of a regular bread dough. I was quite disappointed with it as the aftertaste was sort of gummy. I prefer my cinnamon rolls made with sweet milk bread dough. Well, now I know better. There is really no short cut to wonderful food. And in this case, wonderful bread.

Leftover Veggies

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Recently I have been going crazy about eating my veggies. Since my triumphant achievement of being about to pull together 3 dishes for a meal, I have been putting at least 2 veggie dishes at each meal. So each time when I hit the supermarket, my trolley is piled high with loads of veggies. But what to do with those leftover veggie odds and ends?
I made this soup with them, of course!

How to make this: Fine chop a big onion, carrots and celery. Peel and slice russett potatoes. Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Saute the onion, carrots and celery until the vegetables softened. Add potatoes and continue to saute until the potatoes soften. Add stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Simmer until all the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool down slightly. Transfer the soup into a blender (you may need to do this in batches). Blend until smooth and serve!This soup is thick without even adding cream! Packed with lots of fibre and delicious. Unfortunately, my…

Ultra Fudgey Chocolate Decadence

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I think I am doomed with it comes to baking cakes. I am sure to make some sort of boo-boo when I get around to it.

The story is that my sis has been asking me to bake her a chocolate her for some time and now when I finally got to it ... I made this!
What was it suppose to be??
It was suppose to be Baking Illustrated's Chocolate Sheet Cake. Click here if you want to see a more decent picture of it and also the recipe. But I used the wrong measuring cup and ended up with less flour and sugar.
How did the cake taste anyway??
Well, I gave most of it to my sis and she sent me this sms: "I've eaten 2 slices of ya cake and I've thought of d perfect name 4 it - Ultra fudgey Chocolate Decadence." I want to think that she must have liked it alot. The cake was, needless to say, dense.

When cooled, the cake has a dense fudgey mouthfeel, much like eating a brownie. As I mentioned that I used the wrong measuring cup, the cake wasn't overbearingly sweet. All things considered, …

Cool Cucumbers

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This is one of my favourite way of eating Japanese cucumbers.
How to make this: Cut cucumbers into bite size. Put into mixing bowl. Drizzle light soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sugar, a big heapful of chilli broad bean sauce and drizzle with chilli oil. Let it chill in fridge for 30mins before serving.
Most of the time I do this by rough estimation, so this is the best direction I can provide. (^.^)

New Cookbook!

Hubby just got this for me over the weekend! Yay!

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

I am still reading through the recipes, hopefully I can post a few cooking here shortly. (^.^)

Food Mistakes

Just came across this interesting article from the NY Times entitled: "6 Food Mistakes Parents Make". Very interesting to know that there is such a thing as a chocolate diet.

Let me check if I am making all the mistakes listed in the article.

1. Sending children out of the kitchen.
My girl usually hangs around the kitchen while I prepare our meals. She would either be pretending to cook or she would just sit beside our radio and sing. She is really a good helper if she has a mind to it and would help me beat eggs, wash vegetables or getting things from the fridge.

2. Pressuring them to take a bite.
Guilty as charged. But mine is more like: "Just take a bite and if you don't like it, spit it out."

3. Keeping "Good Stuff" out of reach.
Her snacks are all easily accessible by her. Half of them are on our dining table! Most of the time I would be the one asking if she wants a snack cos I desperately want some myself! Haha ...

4. Dieting in front of your children.

Bread Addiction

Did you read last Sunday's newspaper? No, not about the crashing of the a certain Ferrari, but the article about more Singaporean are tuning in to DIY bread.

According to the article, more people on this island are turning to hard, crusty and healtheir European style bread as their staple. Spelt bread? Rye bread? Wholemeal bread?

Not for me. Thank you.

I like my bread soft and fluffy. That is the kind of bread I grew up on, and that is the bread that I want my little princess to grow up on too. I mean bread is bread. A vessel for providing fuel for our bodies. I don't need fibre in my bread. I can bite into a fruit or top my sandwich with veg.

Despite the fact that I have so many bread making books, I have never found myself drawn to recipes for these breads. Strictly white bread only. And my quest for a good white bread recipe is never-ending. I will always be excited when I see a picture of a lofty loaf with soft fluffy white interior. I could almost conjure the smell whiffing f…

Sun-dried Tomato Butter

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I can't remember when was the first time I had tasted sun-dried tomato butter. All I know is that this butter will make you forget how many slices of bread you already had and the fact that you are slathering on full fat butter. It is insanely easy to make, only 3 simple ingredients and the food processor does the work for you. I made it once before and the memories of it haunt me from time to time. I know it is just butter, right? How exciting can a slab of flavoured butter be? Beats me.

Anyway, enough of me gushing all over about it, let's get down to how to make it. This was what is in my recipe book: "Drain and chop 1/3 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes. Cut 125g room temperature butter into cubes and combine in a food processor with the sun-dried tomatoes and 1 tsp lemon juice. Blend until smooth."

Simple, right?

All that you need to do is just line a small bowl with transparent wrap and scoop the sun-dried tomato butter into it. Portion according to your usage. Th…

Double Choc, Double Standard

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What does one do when one runs out of disposable aluminum muffin cups which one uses for freezing such batters? Use disposable aluminum mini loaf pans! Duh ...
And that was how my double chocolate muffins became double chocolate loaf.
Due to the size, the loaf took about 35 mins in the oven of 210 degC. It was an agonising wait for my princess, who wolfed down a third of the loaf when it had cooled sufficiently (and allowed me only one snap and no more!).
It is time to make a trip to SKP for those muffin cups.

Bento #4 For Hubby

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::: Today's Bento Menu :::Lady's finger blanched in soy sauce Sauteed zucchini Pan-fried fish fillet (hidden) Rolled pork with carrots and beans (hidden) Brown rice with radish pickles
::: Today's Bento Menu For My Mom:::
Lady's finger blanched in soy sauce
Sauteed portobello mushrooms with asparagus
Pan-fried fish fillet (hidden)
Rolled pork with carrots and beans (hidden)
Steamed Japanese sweet potatoes rounds
White rice with rice sprinkles
Recently I have seen an improvement in my cooking. Finally, after so many years at it! Geez ... Well, I am proud to say that I am able to cook at least 3 dishes in one session and doing all that in under 90 minutes. Not a very glorious accomplishment to most, but it is to me. I realised that it all boils down to being very organised in the head! Planning is everything. Mise en place, my dear.
Anyway, I have been tasked by my sister to take charge of my mom's lunch today and so I have woke up early to prepare something special. It is hard t…