Friday, October 11, 2013

Kuma Bentou - Decorative Japanese Lunchbox (bear)


Wah, I haven't posted in a long time. Haven't cooked in a long time either, but today I decided to make something special!

Been wanting to make a decorative bentou box for so long, but finally got around to doing it!


A bentou is, as Wikipedia put it:
"...is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container."
A decorative bentou means creating an image, almost like a drawing or a painting but out of food. The most common form of decorative bentou has shapes of popular cartoon characters, and are mostly skewed towards girls and young children.

The bentou I made is made out of 2 parts, and before I started, I lined the edges of the bentou box with the leafy part of Butterhead Lettuce.


The Kuma (bear)


I made the bear shape according to a template I made in Illustrator.


For the ears, I used a thinly (okay, I didn't do mine thin enough, but you get my drift) sliced carrot. Otherwise you can use ham, cheddar cheese, or anything yellow/light brown in colour. I used a special knife from Daiso that is food-safe and is shaped and held like a pencil to carve stuff out. (Will update with a picture soon)

For the head, I used Japanese rice mixed with light soysauce (should use Kikkoman sauce). To handle the sticky rice, you should wet your hands with salted water so it won't stick.

To shape the rice for the head, print out the template above and place it flat on the table. Place a sheet of clingwrap over the paper and place a fist-sized portion of soysauce rice in the middle. Wrap the clingwrap around the rice and shape according to the template.

Repeat the process for the ears and the white part of the mouth.

For the eyes, nose and mouth, I used Nori (dried sheets of seaweed). I cut the Nori based on the template with a pair of scissors. For the eyes, I actually used a standard paper punch you'd normally see lying around your study/office =p

I then filled the gaps with Broccoli and slices of carrot. (Eh, I eat it okay. My tastes have changed!)

The bottom half




Chicks hatching from the eggs, accompanied by "flowers" made out of sausage (okay, this part is quite the fail, but it's better than sticking in pieces of normal sausage).

I used hard-boiled Quail eggs. I must stress that you should NOT overboil your Quail eggs, as the outer part of the yolk could become discoloured (green) due to a chemical reaction.

I made an incision 1/3~1/4 from the tip of the egg around the egg. I then gingerly separated the top of the egg's white and the yolk with my fingers. This takes a lot of practice and I admit, I still haven't gotten it right.

After separating it, cut the edges with triangle shapes until you get what you see in my photo.

For the eyes, I used black sesame seed. I placed it in place with a chopstick wet with salted water. The sesame seed came from a bottle of Furikake I had lying around. The beak was made with small triangle-shaped carrot.

For the sausages, I cut a sausage into four parts (I think?), throwing away the rounded edges (or like me, eat it). Place the sausage vertically so that it stands up, and make X-shaped cuts down 3/4 the length of the sausage. Boil in water so that it will "open up" or "bloom" like a flower.


Collectively it took me 2 hours total to make it, maybe even 3 if I didn't rush so much. The hardest part has got to be the quail eggs. The bear head was surprisingly easy (once I wet my hands enough so the rice didn't stick). I could get used to this! You should try it too! But don't do it when you're pressed for time, it's meant to be therapeutic and treated as an art form, NOT as an art of torture =P


Since there was a lot of leftover rice, I also made soysauce onigiri furikake with no filling \o/

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nutella Banana Toast




Hello everyone! Man, I haven't been updating in a long time. Sorry about that, been busy with living life. But rest assured, food will always remain close to my heart.

Today Is World Nutella Day! So for my contribution, I'm making Nutella Banana Toast :D Perfect for a lazy Saturday morning. This is really easy to make, and kids go absolutely bananas over it.

Ingredients
  • Slices of bread
  • Nutella
  • Bananas. Any type is fine, but I personally like Dole.

Method
Using a knife, slather a generous amount of Nutella on a piece of bread. And with a serrated knife, cut slices of bananas (approx 1/4 inch thick) and place them on top.


Pop them in an ovenette until desired crispyness. Mine took about 5 minutes at 175 celcius. If you have a oven grill, you can turn that on until the bananas have caramelized a little on the top. Be careful not to burn the toast and bananas!


Serve immediately. And enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fruit Trifle



Yesterday I made fruit trifle. It is the easiest dessert recipe, and can be made in so many ways depending on your mood!

I apologize as I can't give measurements for this, because I am not sure how to and it really depends on how much you want to put.

You can alter the ingredients as you see fit. This is what I normally make.

Ingredients:

Cake (butter or marble)
Jelly (prefer the instant type and not the ready-made ones)
Mixed fruit in a can (with some liquid reserved)
Custard (can be thick or thin to your liking)
Whipped cream (can add sugar or vanilla to your liking)

Topping suggestions (but not limited to):
Strawberries
Kiwi
Mandarin oranges in a can (if you want to use fresh instead, I suggest getting rid of the skin)
Peaches


Instructions:

Line your dish with slices of cake (thin or thick, up to you).

Using the liquid reserved from the can of mixed fruit, pour it over the cake. Do not put too much to make it soggy.

Prepare your jelly according to box instructions, and pour it over after letting it cool for 10 minutes. Let it set a little before continuing. If you are using ready-made jelly, roughly mash it up and pour it over.

Prepare custard according to instructions, or use ready-made and pour over the jelly layer.

Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes before topping it with whipped cream. You do not want to put whipped cream on hot custard. If you used ready-made custard, you can put whipped cream over it instantly.

Top with desired toppings. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Best served cool so allow 1-2 hours in the fridge for best impact. And enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quick Idea: Grilled Sandwich


Hi guys. I know I haven't updated since forever. Been busy!
(want to know what I've been up to? Follow my design blog here)

Anyway, this segment will be a little different, because this recipe will vary on your tastes. So I'll be sharing what I sometimes have as a quick and easy lunch: Grilled Sandwiches!

It's pretty easy to make, fairly fast, and so yummy. This will make you want to eat-in instead of dining out!

Basic ingredients:
Two slices of bread (white is good for this recipe)
Butter
One or two slices of cheese (depending on how cheesy you'd want it to be)

Variable ingredients (can be omitted altogether to make a grilled cheese sandwich):
Meat - Chicken, Turkey or even Beef ham "sandwich squares" slices. One. They usually sell these in flat packs in the fridge section of your local supermarket, and you don't need to cook them very long. I think they're cured meat.
Vegetables - Coriander, shredded carrot, fresh iceberg lettuce, shredded cucumber. You can add other kinds to your liking! These are all I can think of now.

Makes: One serving.

Instructions:

I have pictorial instructions this time! :D
Below are the instructions if you are using only one slice of cheese. (hence why I had to use pictorials)

Butter the bread well first, though. You can either butter both sides or just one side of each bread. And make sure that the bread 's butter-side touches the foil (to make sure it does not stick)







After assembling your sandwich, wrap it loosely in foil and grill or bake it for approx. 10 minutes. If you are baking it, try 175 Celsius. You may need to keep an eye on it after 5 minutes, as this may vary between different ovens.


If you are using two slices of cheese, you do not need to slice them into 6. Just place them as-is :D

You can even make a double-decker grilled sandwich. You will need four cheeses (or two and cut into 6 strips each) but only 3 slices of bread.

From top to bottom:

bread
cheese
vegies
meat
cheese
bread
cheese
vegies
meat
cheese
bread

Why do I insist of having the cheeses touch the bread? For me when it has melted, it acts like a glue, therefore holding everything together. Which is why I also insisted that even if you only have one slice of cheese, you'd still need to have it at the top and bottom of the sandwich.

Oh, my favourite combo? It's Grilled Cheese Turkey Ham Sandwich with shredded carrots and chopped coriander leaves :D yum!!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Little Gingerbread Houses & Gingerbread Man

Look what I made for Christmas!









This is the first time I am going to plug a recipe. Because I MUST give her credit! See the genius who came up with the Little Gingerbread Houses idea.

I made Gingerbread Man using the same batch of dough. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken and Tomato Rice Casserole


Another rice casserole dish, this time with tomatoes. Casseroles are really easy to make, even if the trade-off is that it takes quite some time to cook. It's still my favourite method of cooking anyway! =)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice
  • 1 chicken breast, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small/medium-sized red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano, or dry oregano flakes (optional)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • butter for greasing, or you can also use margerine or cooking spray
Makes 3-4 servings. You can adjust the rice amount of rice by changing it per ratio with the water and tomatoes.


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. (Approx 350 Farenheit)

Wash and rinse the rice in a deep bowl until water is no longer cloudy.

Add the rice, can of diced tomatoes, chicken, red bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste, and oregano (optional) I recommend 1/2 tbsp of salt to help make the rice taste better. Mix carefully but thoroughly. Finally, add the boiling water. Mix.

In a greased casserole dish, slowly add the rice mix and make sure the rice is spread out evenly.

Cover the dish tightly with tin foil and leave to bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil, and then leave to bake for a further 20 - 30 minutes depending on how soft or firm you want your rice to be.

Serve almost immediately. And enjoy! :D


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicken and Rice Casserole



My rice-cooker died recently, so you can imagine my horror. I cannot live without rice! And I really hate cooking on the stovetop because I have to keep watch over the rice, or else there will be burnt bits. Oh, how I took my rice-cooker for granted.

Luckily, there are such things as rice casseroles! If you're looking for a hearty dish, and have little money to spend on it, never fear! For this is one of the simplest recipe ever I've come across. And this dish is heavenly for a chilly winter's night :)


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 can Campbells cream of mushroom/chicken soup
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 chicken breast halves.
  • Butter for greasing, or you can also use margarine or cooking spray.

Makes 3 servings. You can adjust the recipe according to ratio if you'd like.


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. (Approx 350 Farenheit)

Wash and rinse the rice in a deep bowl until water is no longer cloudy.

Add the soup, water, garlic powder (optional) and salt and pepper with the rice. I recommend 1/2 tbsp of salt to help make the rice taste better. Mix carefully but thoroughly.

In a greased casserole dish, slowly add the rice mix and make sure the rice is spread out evenly.

Rub salt and pepper onto the chicken breasts and lay them on top of the rice, pressing down into the dish. It's okay if the casserole does not cover the chicken completely.

Cover the dish tightly with tin foil and leave to bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil, and then leave to bake for a further 20 minutes.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before cutting. If you'd like, you can put it under the grill to brown the chicken slightly. I didn't choose to do that though.


Enjoy! :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lemon Meringue Tart


Also fondly known as "Lemon Flan", it is a nice dessert comprised of a buttery pastry base, lemon custard and a nice and fluffy meringue topping. Not to sweet if you make it so, but can also satisfy any raging sweet tooth (like me) if you make your own adjustments. Versatile!

Originally, this was a recipe for a Lemon Meringue Pie where it was set in a larger baking dish, but I figured I should put them in tart cases instead.

My reason is simple: with small amounts, people will find it easier to take and eat it, if compared to a pie-version where you'd have to cut a slice. This is especially better for parties :D makes it easier on the guests.

Ingredients:

Approx. 20 tart cases, 2-inch wide.
Some melted butter to be rubbed inside the tart cases
Some flour to be dusted into the tart cases

Pastry

225g plain flour (almost 1 cup)
100g of a stick of butter, grated
50g icing sugar (about 3 1/3 tbsp)
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water

Lemon cream
25g caster sugar (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
25g cornflour (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
3 egg yolks
300ml milk
Grated rind and juice of one lemon (approx. 2 tbsp, no more!)

Meringue
1 cup caster sugar
4 egg whites
(have an extra 1/2 cup sugar and 2 egg whites on standby in case there is not enough Meringue to cover the tarts, which was what happened to me lol.)

Makes approx 18-20 serves.


Instructions:

For the pastry:

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees.

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and grate the butter into it. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it becomes breadcrumb-like.

Create a well in the center of the bowl and place one egg yolk, and rub that in slowly and evenly into the mix. Add one tbsp of water at first, mix it thoroughly, and then add the remaining 1 tbsp water, and mix it all up until it can take shape into a mold.

If you have time, put cling wrap or tin foil over it to cover the bowl and keep in the fridge for maybe an hour or so. If not, just carry on. I skipped this part and it still tasted fine, but I'm sure it would taste better if you did not skip it :)

Roll it out onto a flat surface, making sure that it's quite thin (maybe 1mm or 2mm thick) and grab a round cookie-cutter, maybe 2 inches in diameter and start cutting out shapes.

Butter and dust the insides of your tart cases with flour to prevent the pastry from sticking. Make sure to beat the tart cases lightly to remove any excess flour.

Put the pastries inside and using the tips of your fingers, gently press to follow the shape of the tart case. Take a fork and make some holes in the bottom, just to let the steam escape.

Pop it into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. After that, take the pastry out of the tart cases slowly because it might crumble.


For the lemon cream:

Mix the caster sugar, milk, egg yolks and grated rind and juice of lemon into a pan over a medium fire, reserving maybe a cup of the milk. Mix the corn flour with the cup of milk, this is to properly dissolve the corn flour because corn flour cooks in hot water.

If you are not aware, never put corn flour in hot water right away because the mixture will be clumpy. Corn flour cooks in hot water. You'd want to dissolve the corn flour in water before heating it and slowly cooking it properly.

So anyway. Stir the mixture slowly until it bubbles and it thickens. Careful not to burn it! This could take a while but stay alert anyway. After it is thick and cooked, set aside.


For the meringue:

Beat the egg whites in a mixer on high until "soft peak" form. This is when the egg whites has a fluffy and consistency, and when you put a spoon into it and pull it out, it forms a peak but the tip of it is curled.

At this stage, put in your caster sugar and continue beating till it reaches "hard peak" form.
This is when the egg whites appear shiny and solid, like whipped cream, and when you put a spoon in it and take it out, it forms a peak that is straight.

If you want to know more about this technique, click here.


Putting it all together:

Quickly but very carefully fold half of the meringue into the lemon cream mixture, reserving the other half for the topping. Mix the lemon cream and meringue mix thoroughly, careful not to whisk it at all, and put it into the pastry cups. The reason being that you'd have to be quick with this is because the mix will harden, making it harder to shape I think.

Then using a piping bag with a 1/2 inch star nozzle, put the meringue into the bag and start to pipe the meringue onto the tart. Start from the side and make a swirl towards the center, and upon reaching it, gently pull upwards to form a nice peak.

You might have to make more meringue depending on how much you put on one tart. In my case not all 20 of my tarts had full meringue tops. Some only had a miserable dollop of it, hahaha.

Dust icing sugar onto the top and pop that into the oven at 200 degrees Celcius, for about 10-15 minutes or when the meringue starts to brown.

Put the tarts into the fridge to cool. In my opinion, it should be served cold :) and enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roast Chicken (Chef Wan's Recipe)


I attempted to do this recipe for the first time - and away from home too! And it came out great, thank goodness!

This is a simple roast chicken recipe by Chef Wan. Chef Wan is a popular and reputable chef in Malaysia. He has his own cooking shows and has been doing so for maybe a decade or so.

So onto it:
Ingredients:

1 Chicken (duh)

Rubbing ingredients
:
2/3 stick of butter
1 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried thyme
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp ground fennel
2-4 garlic cloves, pounded


Garnish ingredients:
Some potatoes
Some carrots
Some onions, quartered

Sauce:
1/3 stick of butter
1 tbsp flour OR 1 tbsp cornflour diluted in cold water
1 cube chicken stock/cube/bullion
Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions:

Mix rubbing ingredients well and rub over chicken and under skin. Leave the chicken to "marinate", the longer the better.

Boil the whole potatoes (skinned) and carrots in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. Drain and quarter them and place them in the roasting pan with the chicken. Make sure to butter the potatoes and carrots so that they will come out crispy on the outside after it's been baked.

Place chicken in the roasting pan and roast in a preheated 180 degree oven. Normally to roast a chicken, calculation is 20 minutes for every pound PLUS 20 minutes extra at the end. One kg equals to 2.2 pounds. If you're wondering, I roasted mine for about 50 minutes, and then added another 5 minutes at 150 degrees (I don't know if this was pointless or not haha)

The chicken is cooked if the leg is loose when you try to move it with your fingers, or if you poke the thickest part of the thigh and the juices run clear.

Avoid over-cooking the chicken because this will make the chicken very dry.


After roasting, take out the chicken and leave to rest minimum 15-20 minutes before cutting. This is very important! This allows the juices inside the chicken to redistribute, making it more juicer.

Sauce:

Put butter into roasting pan and put over fire/stove. I actually skipped it because there the sauce from the pan was already quite oily. Note, If you used a roasting pan that cannot be in contact with direct heat/flame, (like a Pyrex dish, which I used) scrape off everything and into a pot over a medium-high fire.

Add 1 tbsp flour or 1 tbsp cornflour in cold water (2 tbsp if you want lots of gravy), 1/3 stick of butter (which I skipped), add 1 chicken stock/cube/bullion and pepper and salt to taste.

If you added too much salt (which I did, accidentally) you can add some brown sugar to neutralize the saltiness.

Add water to control the thickness to what you want. Serve in a gravy boat or pour it over the chicken, it's up to you!

And that's all! Enjoy! You can serve it with rice, mashed potatoes (if you don't mind having more potatoes) or even some meatless spaghetti, like what I've done today :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oven-Baked Cheese & Egg Sandwich


This simple cheese sandwich is so tasty, you'd think it would have been done in a restaurant! And you'll be surprised how little effort it takes to make it.

Great to have for a chilly morning breakfast!


Ingredients:

2 slices of white bread
Butter
2 slices of cheddar cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp oil for frying egg

Makes 1 serving



Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celcius.

While waiting for the oven to become hot, pour a half tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan and crack an egg into the pan. Turn on the fire on medium-low heat, thus slowly cooking the egg. Cook the egg enough to be able to safely lift it out of the pan without any spills. You don't need to cook it all the way through, just enough for it to set. It will continue to cook in the oven.

Butter one side of both slices of bread.

Butter-side down, place the bread on a tin foil. Place one slice of cheese on top of it, and place the egg on top of it. Place the other slice of cheese on it.

Now place the other slice of bread on top of that, butter-side up.

Pop it into the oven and leave for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove for oven and leave to cool for one minute before chowing down.

And enjoy!