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We are still eating!

Hey all, this quick post is to just let you know that we are still eating! I have many photos to share and many adventures, but life is kind of pushing back at me right now. I have not found the time to upload my photos and not even to compose posts, but rest assured I will get to them soon.

Coming up on the blog: Two restaurant reviews and 2-3 weeks worth of baon diaries.

Let me just leave you with this picture of the first use of my totoro bento box.

Top tier: Vegetable salad
Bottom tier: from top, caesar salad dressing, plain egg omelette, hotdogs, bacon fried rice

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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Blog

 

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Week 33 of 52: Cayenne Pepper Beef

We had a slight problem with our fridge for most of the week. Actually it’s been going on for most of the month, but it was the worst this week. The fridge part seems to be getting too cold that it occasionally freezes some of the things in it like the water in pitchers, the eggs (which I had to discard), some of the yogurt, and others. Once or twice my veggies froze as well. It’s been annoying, but for a while it was manageable. This past week, however, has been totally discouraging, and I had a bit of problem thinking of something new to do. I needed to get rid of some of the stuff before it goes bad by the weird freezing cycles.

There was a small pack of sliced beef in the freezer and I thought I’d try making something out of that with the remaining veggies I had. I was also craving for something spicy, and I immediately reached for my cayenne pepper shaker. I was thinking to try some sort of stir fry or sauteed beef. Here’s what I did.

Cayenne Pepper Beef

Serves 1

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper, about a dash or more according to tolerance
Others:
  • about a half cup of beef strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, cut into strips
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • oil
1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the beef strips. Toss until fully coated and submerged. Marinade for about 10-15 minutes. Fish out the beef and set aside the remaining marinade.
2. Heat some oil in a frying pan or sauce pan. Put in the garlic and cook until a bit brown. Toss in the onion strips and cook until translucent.
3. Put in the marinaded beef. Cook in high heat until all sides of the strips are seared, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the carrots and stir fry in medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. Add a bit of vegetable stock whenever the pan gets dry.
5. Season with salt, pepper, and more cayenne pepper.

McCormick Cayenne Pepper c/o mccormick.com.au

It’s actually a pretty straightforward and easy process. With the preparation and cooking, it took about 25 minutes to complete. I put it all in a bento along with some freshly cooked rice, and I tasted the dish come lunch on that day. For good measure, I ran it in medium high microwave for a minute before eating. It was every bit of spicy that I was looking for. I can clearly taste the marinade on the beef, and the carrots added some texture and color. The beef turned out to be not that lean, and exuded some oil when I ate it at lunch time. It wasn’t that much of a big deal, but it would definitely taste better if I used not so fatty meat. The onions wilted considerably, and curled into almost unrecognizable balls among the beef. I’m thinking I could delay putting in the onions with the carrots next time, instead of sauteing it before the beef. To be honest, I was also a bit afraid that I didn’t cook the beef long enough, but it was cooked just fine when I tasted it. It seems 10 minutes in medium flame would do for thin strips.
It was a very interesting and informative experiment. I found that it’s not that hard to cook with non-ground beef (I had previously been cooking almost exclusively chicken), and an important process in cooking is the marinading. There’s a lot of scope for variations there, and I’m excited to find out what else I can come up with in marinade and stir frying.
 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 19 of 52: Egg Duo

I had a huge stock of eggs in the fridge, and I wanted to cut down on them a little to avoid them going bad. I decided to see what egg dishes are usually put in bento, and I found these two that sounded interesting:  Shoyu Tamago from Just Bento, and Usuyaki Tamago from Just Hungry.

Usuyaki tamago is somewhat similar to pancakes, although much thinner and a bit sweeter. It may also be used as a wrap around sushi rice, and this is the avenue that I wished to pursue. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that a good nonstick pan is essential to making thin pancakes. Here you’ll see that the first pancake stuck to the pan and got all torn up. I switched to my relatively nonstickier tamagoyaki pan and was able to produce two relatively whole sheets of usuyaki tamago.

I was  a little bit more successful with the shoyu tamago. It sounds simple enough: hardboil some eggs, then roll them around in some soy sauce until the soy sauce mostly evaporates from the pan. Unfortunately, when I tried to follow the instructions for boiling the eggs, I ended up with softboiled eggs instead. I had to go back and reboil the eggs before going to the soy sauce stage.

Here’s how the shoyu tamago came out, pictured with the formed usuyaki tamago wrapped around sushi rice.

The moment I tasted the usuyaki tamago sushi I immediately resolved to buy a better quality nonstick pan, just to be able to taste this again. It. was. awesome! The shoyu tamago was equality delicious, and will definitely be repeated.

Here’s the resulting bento:

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 15 of 52: Noriben

It’s back to bento week! I’m trying out what could possibly be the easiest bento to make, the noriben. My source as usual is Just Bento’s noriben tutorial. All you need are four ingredients: freshly cooked rice, nori, soy sauce, and bonito flakes. The first three are probably found in any pantry, but it’s the bonito flakes that might be a little hard to find.

I found this very small pack of bonito flakes at Kombini at Greenhills. It’s 85php (~$1.97) for only 2 grams! It barely made enough to put in my bento.

It’s pretty simple to assemble this bento. Prepare the bonito flakes by sprinkling it with some soy sauce until it’s moist. Put a layer of freshly cooked rice in the bento box, then a thin layer of the bonito flakes/soy sauce mixture, then top with torn pieces of nori. Repeat for another layer. The nice thing here is you can close the box without waiting for the rice too cool down.

Here’s how it looks from the side, so you can see the two layers:

This is what I brought to work this morning. It tasted great! I loved the interaction of the nori and the bonito flakes flavors. It was just a pity that there weren’t a lot of the flakes, I think it would have tasted really awesome if there were a lot of it. Certainly, this is something I’d like to try again, as soon as I get a fresh stock of bonito flakes. I also read somewhere that one can use canned tuna instead of bonito, and canned tuna is much easier to find. I’ll give that a try sometime too!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 8 of 52: Kamameshi rice

I’ve recently received my copy of The Just Bento Cookbook that I ordered from Amazon, and I was ecstatic to try out the recipes that are not on the site. The first thing that caught my eye was the Mixed Vegetable Rice, primarily because it had vegetables and it seemed like a safe place to try out the shiitake mushrooms I bought recently.

Here’s my pathetic attempt to take a self picture with The Book.

To summarize the recipe: Shredded carrots, thinly sliced dried shiitake mushrooms (soak in water beforehand), and couple of tablespoons each of sake and soy sauce. Put them all in the rice cooker along with the rinsed rice. The secret is in using the soaking liquid from the mushrooms for cooking the rice.

The first time I tried this, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and just used plain water for cooking the rice. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of flavor. Which is why I was very surprised when my husband commented that the rice strongly reminded him of the expensive rice he and his family used to eat at this restaurant called New Kamameshi House. It was that good! He was really impressed that he immediately requested me to cook up a big batch for the inlaws. Nothing could have been a bigger compliment.

Here’s a picture of the first batch.

The second batch (for the said inlaws) was three times the original recipe (but using the prescribed dried shiitake and soaking liquid), and it almost overflowed out of the rice cooker. At least now I know just how much kamameshi rice it can hold. It was a hit!

What I liked about this recipe is the absolute ease of preparation, especially if you have a shredder or grater. It also does very well in bentos (seeing as it came from a bento book!), paired with meat. Here you see one of a typical week’s baon: a layer of kamameshi rice, meatballs, and some of my home made pickles. The meatballs come with sauce which isn’t pictured here; I use either teriyaki sauce or sweet and sour sauce which I also got from The Book.

Postscript: I realize this is delayed as Week 8 was last week. Let me just assure my loyal readers that this dish was prepared last week; it’s just the blog post that’s delayed. I’ve been having challenges with photos recently, and I don’t want to write about any recipe/baon without accompanying pictures. I’ll be picking up the pace of writing, so watch out for more articles!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 1 of 52: Roast Chicken

This is Week 1 of my 52-Week Challenge for 2011, where I try a brand new recipe every week.

I’ve fallen in love with my oven. With all the baking I’ve been doing recently, I decided to try making viands with it instead. This recipe for Honey Soy Chicken Wings from Appetite for China seemed like a safe place to start. I didn’t have chicken wings though, only three boneless chicken thighs. I thought, hey why not try it anyway?

The method turned out to be pretty simple. Just marinade the chicken in the mix, covered, and leave in the fridge for just 10 minutes.  Roast in the 375F preheated oven for around 25 minutes, and you’re done! This method is perfect for bento creators, since you only need a lead time of around 40 minutes to prepare. And you can do the rest of the bento within the 25-minute baking time. Of course, you can do the roasting way ahead of time. The chicken keeps well in the fridge for probably up to a week.

Here’s the short list of marinade ingredients I used:

Marinade for roast chicken

  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • pinch salt

This marinade is supposed to be enough for 1 pound of chicken wings, so it was more than enough for the three large boneless thighs that I had. I cut the thighs in half each so it’d have more surface area exposed to the marinade (similar to wings). After roasting, this is what it looked like:

Gorgeous! The skin is nicely browned, although the pieces shrunk a little from the roasting. I cut these into small strips for easy eating, and packed two half-thighs into that nice little Hakoya box I got from my MIL. I added some smoked cheese halfmoons as a side.

How did it taste? Perfect! Just perfect. I can taste all parts of the marinade in there, and therefore it needed no additional sauce. It works beautifully in a bento too, no issues with being room temperature. Next time, I’ll try it with actual chicken wings (although it’ll be hard to eat in a bento), and maybe put in that optional cayenne pepper for a little kick. And I’ll remember to put sesame seeds as garnish too!

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Cookies and chicken

Success!! I’ve baked my first attempt of chocolate cookies and it was a success! I absolutely love cookies and these cookies came out exactly the way I want it: crunchy and crispy on the outside and chewy and melty on the inside. My recipe comes from Home Cooking Rocks.

There will definitely be more repetitions of this recipe in my kitchen!

In other news, I’ve finally tried the correct recipe for the chicken and peppers dish I had before, except this time I didn’t include peppers because I ran out. For some reason, the presence of the sesame oil made the chicken look like it’s not cooked. It tasted wonderful though. Here’s the bento it came in. Notice it comes with a new kind of furikake. It’s an egg-and-nori type I bought from Landmark Supermarket at Trinoma.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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