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Lunch at home: Japanese!

Where have I been? There’s been an upgrade in my status at work recently, and I have been very busy with adjusting and keeping up with the tasks that naturally my hobbies are the first to go. Including cooking. I’ve been able to catch up though, and perhaps I can go back to this hobby which is dear to me.

What I’m excited about is my purchase of umeboshi. I’ve been looking for this for a long time, and I was finally able to eat some at a Japanese restaurant at Little Tokyo in Makati. Of course I immediately wanted to buy some, to make into onigiri. I was able to find it in a Japanese grocery also at Little Tokyo. At first I only saw the big jars, which costs Php560 each, but I doubted that I can finish such a huge amount even though I really like ume. Luckily, there were smaller jars which costs only Php140. Here’s my beloved jar, along with a bottle of soy sesame dressing (Php150?).

Today was my chance to make onigiri, and I decided to make a themed lunch out of it. I made ume onigiri for myself, spicy tuna onigiri for The Man, some takuan, and an egg drop soup with wakame seaweed.

Bits of the spicy tuna onigiri kinda fell apart a little at the plating. The spicy tuna is from a can of 555 Hot and Spicy tuna. There were quite a bit of it, and the left overs are in that small red square bowl at the bottom. Here’s a close up of the not-yet-wrapped-with-nori ume onigiri, which of course at this stage is not distinguishable from the spicy tuna onigiri.

The takuan came from a long solid piece that I bought from Landmark Supermarket. It costs about Php200+, but it’s a pretty big piece so this will last a long time. You only ever eat so many slices at a time anyway. Here I used three slices halved, served with a small dipping sauce of Kikkoman soy sauce.

Lastly, I made an egg drop soup made from this gem.

It’s really pretty easy to prepare. Just boil two cups of water, pour in the whole packet, and simmer for about a few minutes until all the powder has dissolved. Then I slowly poured in a lightly beaten egg while stirring the soup, to make the egg come out in strands. As a last minute inspiration, I decided to drop in about three pinches of dried wakame seaweed (bought from the Japanese grocery, Php 140 a small pack). It re-hydrated pretty well in the hot soup. After removing from heat, I put in a half teaspoon of sesame oil for added flavor.

Not bad for a homemade lunch!

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Blog

 

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Week 20 of 52: Lemon Cakes

I saw this around the time that Game of Thrones the TV series started. HBO posted this recipe on how to make the lemon cakes that was supposed to have been used in the filming of the series. I thought that it sounded interesting, even though I’m not really a big fan of lemon. A cooking blog I follow, Learn to Cook, also had a post about her attempt to make this recipe. Last but not least, my mom-in-law just passed down an old casserole that she wasn’t using anymore. All I needed to buy were some ramekins, and I should be set.

I was able to find some cheap ramekins (Php15 each) at Trinoma. I didn’t know how many would fit in the casserole, so I decided to just buy the whole set of 6. When I got home however, I found that only 3 can fit which meant that I had to halve the recipe.

I just followed the recipe instructions until I ended up with three ramekins-worth of batter. It was my first time to try the bain-marie method of cooking, so I was understandably nervous about the whole thing. Like Pikko of Learn to Cook, I had to extend the baking time by around 5 minutes to allow the cakes to firm up.

That’s how the casserole looked right out of the oven. At this point I was pretty much excited to see how it tastes that I tried all sorts of things to speed up the unmolding. I first held the ramekins in front of an electric fan, but it wasn’t cooling down fast enough for my taste. I ended up just taking a fork and sliding it around the side of the cakes. You could see in the picture below the very uneven edges, which was caused by the fork. You could also see some unevenness on the surface of the cake, which leads me to conclude that I didn’t butter the ramekins enough.

How did it taste? As I said earlier, I am not a huge fan of lemons, but the custard-y feel of the cake made up for it. I found it very delectable! I had The Man try it too, and unlike me, he likes lemons. Even so, he said that the lemon taste was a bit too strong. I should lessen the lemon juice a bit, and it’d be perfect. The three little cakes ended up eaten within 10 minutes of unmolding.

Unfortunately the casserole could only fit 3 ramekins. This would be a regular in my kitchen if only I could make more in one go. I might try looking for a larger casserole, or maybe a second one of the same size.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 14 of 52: Shake-n-bake copycat mix

The Man and I are big fans of the traditional Shake ‘n Bake by Kraft Foods. It’s very easy to use: just put the mix in the plastic bag provided, put the meat in the bag, shake to coat, then bake! Unfortunately it’s a little hard to find. So far, I’ve only been able to buy from Landmark Supermarket in Trinoma, and sometimes they don’t have stock.

Take for instance this week, we were unable to find any Shake ‘n Bake anywhere. I really wanted to make some crunchy baked chicken so I resorted to the internet for help. Luckily TheKitchn featured a reader question precisely addressing this issue. I found the recipe by contributor Lindsaur (4th commenter), and thought it was perfect to try out since I had nearly all the ingredients listed. The only main difference here is I used 2 beaten eggs instead of yogurt since I didn’t have any at hand, and none of the stores in my vicinity sold any. I was also able to only coat five chicken pieces instead of the recommended six, because I had run out of the mix by that point.

Here’s how my chicken drumsticks turned out:

It turned out to be really crispy, with panko encrusting almost the entire chicken piece. It was also very flavorful, with a good chockful of those herbs with every bite. I would probably be repeating this recipe with a few tweaks. First, I would reduce the salt to only 1 tsp, as it turned out to be a little too salty. Maybe also reduce the black pepper to 1 tsp as well, since I don’t want my chicken to be too spicy. I would also either extend the baking time to the entire 45 minutes (I baked for only the minimum of 35 minutes), to make sure that the insides are well cooked.

This is awesome as baon. I tried bringing one of the leftover drumsticks to work, and with a minute of reheating in the microwave it turned out to be just as awesome as newly baked! I’ll also be trying this out with fillets (easier to eat in baon) and see how it turns out.

Oh, and the most important question: Did it taste anything like Shake ‘n Bake? No, it didn’t. But it was yummy in its own right, and as mentioned above, will definitely be repeated whenever we don’t have a stock of Shake ‘n Bake.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Restaurant Review: Homerun Trinoma

Homerun Hotdogs is a recent discovery we made earlier this month. It is a food stall located in the second floor food court of Trinoma, sandwiched between Pao Tsin on the left and Maru Maru (a new Japanese food stall) on the right. Homerun isn’t a new stall or anything, but for the longest time we haven’t tried that because they almost always never have any customers. We recently developed a craving for hotdog sandwiches, and Homerun seemed like a good candidate.

Our first try left a very favorable first impression, that we ended up going back a couple of times more. We were able to try all of their sloppy joe offerings, and all types of their hotdogs (regular, frank, Hungarian) except the cheesedog. Here are pictures of what we ordered the last time we went there.

Texas BBQ Regular – It had ground beef and tomatoes as toppings, and their barbecue sauce. This was just an okay sloppy joe.

Hell’s Kitchen Regular – It looks remarkably like the Texas BBQ one, with the same ground beef and tomato toppings. In addition, it had some red pepper slices, and hot sauce. It tasted better than the Texas BBQ since it was spicier. This is The Man’s personal favorite.

Triple Cheese Frank – As the name suggests, it has three kinds of cheese topping: a bottom layer of melted chizwhiz, a generous sprinkling of grated processed cheese (like Eden), and around 3-4 strips of cream cheese on top. I chose franks because it’s supposed to be made of beef, and the regular hotdog was pork (I avoid pork as a rule). This is my favorite.

The other types of sloppy joes not pictured are: New York Supreme (tomatoes, onions, pickle relish toppings), Heart Stopper Supreme (bacon and egg toppings; yes, egg!), and Garlic Cheesesteak (ground beef, cheese, and garlic toppings). Garlic Cheesesteak is my next favorite. Heart Stopper is just weird with that egg topping. New York Supreme is good because it has pickle relish, but bad because the onions aren’t cooked enough (almost raw!).

The sloppy joes were quite filling and satisfying taste-wise, especially our favorites. For Php55 per sloppy joe with regular hotdog, it’s not a bad dinner choice. The Man considers two sloppy joes more than enough, and for me, one already hits the spot. Upgrading to franks will cost Php79, while getting the Hungarian sausage will cost Php89 (the most expensive type). The service is well enough; since there’s almost never any lines, you’ll get your order relatively fast. They fry the hotdogs and ground beef and toast the bread, so the sandwiches are served hot and fresh. They offer you your choice of condiments: mayo, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. The Man usually asks for everything!

We get our drinks and side dish elsewhere, though. Since Homerun is located in a food court, there’s nothing stopping us from ordering other stuff from the other stalls. Our mainstay side dish is this big order of fries topped with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and melted cheese from the neighboring Slammers Burger.

  • Summary – A great inexpensive place to get great hotdog sandwiches, served fresh and hot. Make sure to say that you’re dining in (if you are), so they’ll use those nice yellow plates instead of the default cardboard box. Sayang sa trees! Depending on your dining time, it might be a little difficult to get seats.
  • Food: 9
  • Service: 8.5
  • Ambiance: 5 (well it’s a food court!)
 
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Posted by on January 30, 2011 in reviews

 

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Gift Series Part 2: Gifts for cooks and cook apprentices

Gifts!

Photo credit: Stephanie Kilgast

As promised, here’s part 2 of the gift series. This time, we will be focusing on the little things that your friends or family who are cooks (or even just cook apprentices) will appreciate receiving. Again, I will be focusing on “affordable” gifts, costing Php500 (~$11.41) and less.

Pots

Photo credit: Japan Home

Small sauce pans – Many home cooks have a set of pots and pans sized for an entire family. However, sometimes they will need smaller-sized pans for cooking sauces and glazes or even meals for only one or two people. From experience, you can really never have too many sauce pans! Saizen and Japan Home both offer their signature-priced pans, although they are not really very sturdy. Department stores offer better quality pans for around three times the price.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, home and garden section of various department stores

A set of small glass bowls – These are the very small clear glass bowls that we usually see in cooking shows, those that hold only a tablespoon or three of liquid or powder. These little bowls can serve a variety of purposes: they can hold cooking ingredients, serve as dipping containers, and if you buy the right-sized bowls, they can even measure ingredients for you. These usually cost Php15-40 per bowl.

Places to buy: home and garden section of various department stores

Spices

Photo credit: Abhijit Tembhekar

Spices – Spices are always a welcome gift for any cook. Having a complete stock of spices is very difficult because they aren’t really all that cheap. Try to avoid the common herbs like thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Instead, focus on the different ones like allspice, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. Better yet, try to find the rarer spice mixes that come with its own grinder.

Places to buy: supermarkets, Gourdo’s, warehouse stores (S&R, Price Smart, etc)

Containers with screwtop lids – Ah, containers. These are my personal favorites. It is preferable to gift glass containers, since that is the least reactive of container material. Screwtop lids will prevent more dropped-container accidents than “vacuum” seals. Big containers offer good storage space for things like flour, pasta, and cereal. Smaller ones will hold sugar, coffee, and other table condiments. A matching set will make a great gift.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, home and garden section of various department stores

I was thinking of going on to a third part, but seeing as Christmas is already next week and the stores will be packed it might be too late. I hope you enjoyed my very short series! 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Gift Series Part 1: Gifts for the bento enthusiast

Christmas gifts!

Photo by Stephanie Kilgast

The Christmas season is undeniably here, even though the weather is still uncooperative. And of course, Christmas means presents! I’m going to combine two of my favorite activities, shopping and cooking, to present you with a series of posts dedicated to gifts. Part 1 will address the most specific: the bento enthusiast. Note that I will be focusing on “affordable” gifts, costing Php500 (~$11.41) and less.

Bento box for girls – What bento enthusiast will say no to a bento box? Even if it will be her tenth, or even fiftieth, there’s a good chance that she will not have that specific box yet. Just choose an unusual design or shape, and you’re good to go. For beginners, this will also be the perfect entry point and will definitely inspire them to further their skills.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, Clipper, children’s accessories section of Landmark Trinoma, home and garden sections of various department stores

Furoshiki – The nice thing about furoshiki is it could be of any cloth material. It doesn’t have to specifically say that it is a furoshiki. Normal items such as square scarves, large handkerchiefs, and bandanas can serve as furoshiki. Just find any square piece of cloth, preferrably of soft fabric and interesting design. Make sure that it is hemmed on all sides to prevent unraveling. You can even use it as the gift wrapping material itself!

Places to buy: Saizen, various fabric stores, various department stores (for scarves, handkerchiefs, and bandanas)

Sushi set – mat, paddle, and mold (optional) – Many a bento meal will feature sushi. A sushi set will always be a welcome gift. You’ll need a good bamboo mat and a wooden or plastic rice paddle to start out the set, and if your friend is ready to venture further, the addition of cute bento molds will be a happy surprise.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, asian section of supermarkets (for mat and paddle only)

Bento box for men – Sometimes your bento enthusiast will want to prepare meals for their significant others, sons, fathers, etc., and they will NOT appreciate being served meals in cutesy boxes. A perfect manly box is this black single-tier one from Saizen. Don’t worry about size, as they come in man-appetite-appropriate sizes as well.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home

Accessory set – cutters, sauce containers, and silicone cups – To round out the list, I suggest gifting food cutters, sauce or condiment containers, silicone cups, or any combination of the above. Food cutters are the easiest way to style vegetables or sandwiches. Sauce containers are usually small colored containers to hold soy sauce, ketchup, or even furikake. Silicone cups are the best to use for separating food inside a bento box.

Places to buy: Saizen, Gourdo, home and garden section of various department stores

Part 2 will address the home cooks and cook apprentices. Watch out for it!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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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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