Quick Rice Cooker Castella

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  This is going to be a quick post on an easy and quick recipe that I saw today and just HAD to try right away.  I was browsing FB and saw this video:  https://www.facebook.com/dingo.food/videos/854615187974792/

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I always wondered why my Zojirushi Rice Cooker had a “cake” button and who would be crazy enough to bake a cake in their rice cooker… I guess I was crazy not to try it sooner!  At least with this Castella recipe, the rice cooker was just the right amount of heat and steam to make a fluffy, light, and airy Castella cake, which is basically a type of sponge cake, but a far cry from those dry sponge cakes that need to be soaked with syrup.  It’s a childhood favorite growing up and now my own children have adopted a love for them as well. Try it with a tall glass of milk!  You’re welcome.

And without further adieu, here are my converted measurements for the ingredients which were all in grams.  (If you know Korean and you watched the video, you may have noticed I substituted Mirin for Soju, since that’s what I have in my pantry and we don’t have soju in our home.)

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Quick Rice Cooker Castella

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided into 1/2 cups
  • 1 TB Mirin
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2  1/2 TB honey
  • 1  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 4 TB oil (canola, vegetable)
  • scant 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Grease your rice cooker with Canola oil spray.
  2. Whip 6 egg whites in a clean stand mixer with whip attachment and add 1/2 cup sugar in 3 increments until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  3.  Whip 6 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the Mirin, salt, and honey and whip.  Add the cake flour and mix.
  4. Fold in a third of the meringue (egg whites) into the yolk batter and carefully fold in.  Add another third and fold.  Finally, add the remaining meringue and fold.
  5. Mix the oil and milk together then fold into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into greased rice cooker pot and push your “cake” button or the video says “steam” setting for 60 minutes.
  7. carefully invert the cake out of the pot onto a plate, cool, and eat!

*Note: the top of the cake will look pale when you open the rice cooker and you may wonder if the cake is “cooked” through.  You’re welcome to try the toothpick test,  but it was nicely browned on the bottom of the cake (which becomes the top when you invert it).

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Now go and try it yourself!!!  I’m  never baking my Castella in the oven again!!!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!!!

-Flora

Birthday Wishes… Shopkins

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My little girl just had a birthday; and of course no birthday celebration is complete without a cake topped with birthday candles to wish on before they are extinguished in one (or a few) puffs, which concurrently blankets the cake with tiny droplets of birthday girl germs.  But we digress… let them eat cake.  Germs are everywhere.  Besides, this cake is bulletproof!  It’s covered with homemade marshmallow fondant which no one likes to eat anyway.  I just peel mine right off and get to the good stuff: 4-layers of moist chocolate cake, devil’s frosting, and french vanilla frosting just under the peel, err… fondant.

I’m definitely not a fondant fan, but I must admit that certain cake requests (like this Shopkins cake) does require edible modeling clay to achieve that smooth, plastic look of a toy.  Most of my cakes are covered in buttercream or whipped cream, but I made an exception for this one since I didn’t think tinted buttercream would look as nice as fondant would.

My little princess got 2 birthday parties!  One on her actual birthday with family, including grandma who was in town, and her second party with a little group of friends at our humble home for a night of pizza, “Snow White” the movie, popcorn, and cake, followed by a spontaneous game of balloon war; organized chaos at it’s best!

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Of course I used Ina Garten’s Cheesecake recipe but without the jam, just topped with fresh raspberries.

So lucky mommy (yes, that’d be me) got to bake a cheesecake for her family party and this cute Shopkins cake for her party with her friends and I’m going to share my Shopkins cake construction process.

Little princess wanted a chocolate cake, so little princess got a chocolate cake for her special day.  I used Toba Garrett’s chocolate cake recipe from her book “The Well-decorated Cake” and I promise it’s the BEST chocolate cake you will ever taste!  She claims it’s good to the last crumb, and believe me, it is!  For the filling, I made a HUGE mistake and accidentally  made chocolate icing!!!  Like the kind that you drizzle over desserts for the nice chocolate-spilling-over-the-edge look, and that doesn’t work for a cake filling unless you want a “Sleeping Beauty” type of cake look with all the layers sliding and frosting dripping and the whole cake leaning like the Tower of Pisa.  That’s why, my friends, we should stick to tried and true recipes when attempting a special cake for a special occasion.  Lesson learned.  SO, instead of dumping the chocolate icing, I just doctored it by adding more butter and powdered sugar and it was fixed!  Now, I had delicious devil’s chocolate icing buttercream that was perfect layered with the chocolate cake.

After that detour, I decided I didn’t want to risk the dark brown color of chocolate frosting possibly showing through the light yellow fondant so whipped up a batch of our favorite vanilla frosting, which is also found in Toba Garrett’s book (see above link) called French Vanilla Buttercream.  This buttercream tastes like vanilla ice cream and has a texture that’s lighter and in between a buttercream and whipped cream.  Definitely one of my go-to recipes and have used it in many of my past cakes.

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I made 2 batches of marshmallow fondant and colored one batch yellow then left a larger part of the 2nd batch white and colored some pink and a little black.

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I wanted a taller, cake but I didn’t want to bake a 3rd cake, so I cheated and used my inverted cake pan as my 3rd cake layer to give the cake more height.

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I was in a rush and wasn’t careful removing my 2nd cake from the pan and it broke in several places!

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see how much of the outside broke off?!?!

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But it’s okay!  Just take those broken cake crumbs and mix it with your frosting and now you have chocolate cement to fill in the cracks.  (This is also how you can make cake pops.  crumble cake, mix in frosting, shape, and stick onto sticks)

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Whew, there. Now the cake is good as new 😉

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I split my 2 cakes in half so I got 4 layers.  Put some frosting on my “fake” cake layer then stack cake, frost, stack cake, frost… you get the picture.  I purposely left the top layer rounded since I wanted to keep the rounded look for the Shopkins Wishes cake.  Refrigerate your stacked cake for about 30 mins so it’s easier to cover with frosting and doesn’t shift.

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Smooth on your vanilla buttercream frosting with an offset spatula and refrigerate again while you work on rolling out some fondant. Notice how I frosted my cake pan, the bottom layer of my “cake”.

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After you work your fondant with your hands to get it pliable again, roll it out as big as you can.  I wasn’t able to get it big enough to drape over the entire cake, so I just cut out two 6″ strips (height of the side of cake) and stuck it on.  Get a wet paper towel and run it over your fondant so it will stick to the cake. (dampen only the side that will be touching the cake)

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Carefully smooth it out with your hands or a fondant smoother tool.

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I used two strips to cover the sides of the cake. (you can see the small seam on the left)  It’s okay, I’m going to add the arms there later.

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Roll our your white fondant, then use an 8″ cake base (cheese board from Dollar tree) as a guide to cut out a circle.  You want enough of the white fondant to come over the side of the cake.

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Use a sharp knife to cut around the fondant like above to achieve the look of icing drips.

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Again, dab a wet paper towel over the fondant, then carefully position over the top of the cake.

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Now for the pink band around Wishes.   Roll and cut out an appropriate sized band

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Stick it on with some water then use a blunt knife or I used a wooden skewer to make the slanted indent patterns on the pink band.

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Now make your eyes, nose, arms, and lips and attach with some water!  It already looks so cute!

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Make 3 white snakes then coil into these little swirls

 

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Attach the swirls and make some white “sprinkles” and the cake is complete!  She wanted a “6” on her cake and didn’t want just green candles (which is what Wishes has).

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She loved her little party and was so excited she kept hugging me and telling me ‘thank you’.  That’s what makes my Saturday spent on a birthday cake, all worth it!

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Eating a slice or two of cake helps, too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Toba Garrett’s “The Well Decorated Cake”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2  1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (good quality), melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and parchment line two 8″ cake pans (2″ high).  Melt chocolate, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together on med- low speed until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Add eggs into the butter mixture, scraping bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in a third of the flour mixture, mix. then a half of the buttermilk.  Mix and scrape bowl. Repeat until you have ended with the rest of your flour mixture.  Scrape bowl.
  6. Add in your melted chocolate and beat on med-high until well mixed.  Scraping bowl as needed.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove carefully onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost cake after completely cool.
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Her friends got to go home with these cute Shopkins keychains from the supplies I had left from a past party where I had bottlecap necklaces.

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I found that printable for free on pinterest and taped them onto pink craft bags.  My girl is into word searches so they got a word search booklet and mechanical pencil (from Dollar Tree) and a pretzel rod dipped in white chocolate w/ sprinkles, plus the keychains.

 

Good luck with your baking adventure!  Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Early-bird Bacon and Egg Breakfast Tart

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What do you do when you get up at 6am to drop off the hubby at the BART station so you don’t have enough time for your morning exercise (since that means you would need to account for shower time) and you realize you have all the ingredients (surprising, indeed) to try out the recipe you have been wanting to try for a couple months now?  You roll up your sleeves and just do it, despite, after quickly skimming the recipe, the many steps including refrigerating the dough and pre-baking seems to threaten complicating your morning routine when you have lunches and snacks to pack, not to mention getting the kids out of their PJs and into semi-presentable (okay, passable) clothes for school.  You give yourself a pat on the back for getting it done with time to spare and now the kids are having fun playing with the empty laundry baskets that carted the weekly mountain of laundry onto the bed (one can be hopeful that it will get done before bedtime), where it awaits its return to the basket at night when you accept defeat, then back onto the bed then the basket a few more times before finally making it into their intended drawers.

What is this?  You hear rain outside!  It’s a welcoming pitter-patter with a few rolling thunders to pique the children’s interest away from the laundry baskets so you can finally put them away.  Besides, the youngest kept spilling out of the basket and you were afraid she would end up bumping her head on the furniture.  The kids have never witnessed a thunderstorm or seen lightning and so you show them a few youtube videos so they can see what lightning is like; nothing like experiencing nature vicariously through the web.  The boy was especially intrigued, and sat looking outside the sliding door waiting to see if the rumblings of thunder would make way for some lightning flashes across the gray sky, but none so far.  Maybe next time.

The rain is still coming down at a steady rate and you secretly hope the rain will continue for a few days so you can hibernate in your little home with the heater cranked on, maybe finally get some of the backed up projects done.  Too ambitious?  Perhaps, maybe just get through the day and squeeze in some laundry folding followed by the tedious task of distributing the folded laundry into its place.  Let’s take it one day at a time; or one moment at a time.  Breakfast is done.  Now on to…

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Unroll thawed pastry and cut into 4 squares. Fold in edges 1/2″. Brush with beaten egg. Refrigerate for 15 mins.

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Mix cream/milk with Dijon mustard. Mix in 6 TB Parm cheese. Spread cheese mixture into center

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Bake at 425F for 8-10 mins

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Slice grape tomatoes in half, slice green onions, cook bacon then slice into 1/2″ pieces

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Crack an egg and place into center of each tart. Scatter bacon, tomatoes, and green onions. Sprinkle with salt and remaining Parm cheese

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Bake for 5-7 mins, until egg whites firm up

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Beats cold cereal any day, but especially so on this cold, rainy day.

This recipe was adapted from Janice Cole’s “Chicken and Egg” recipe book.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Tart
ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 slices of Trader Joe’s Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 TB shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (sliced through the white part, lengthwise to make thinner)
Directions
  1. Thaw the puff pastry (or if you’re in a hurry, I microwave it very carefully at 50% power for 30 secs, then maybe 20 more secs, if needed.  You don’t want the dough to be hot).  Unroll the puff pastry then cut into 4 squares.  Fold over the edges of the dough 1/2″ and place on baking sheet covered with parchment. Prick the center of the pastry dough to prevent it from puffing up.
  2. Whisk 1 egg in a bowl, then brush it onto the pastry squares.  Refrigerate the dough for 15 mins (or you can put it in the freezer for a shorter period).
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.  Cook the bacon over medium heat until browned, pat the bacon with a paper towel to remove oil, then slice into 1/2″ pieces.  (I used kitchen scissors to cut them)
  4. Mix the heavy cream with the dijon mustard, then add 6TB Parmesan cheese and mix.  Spread the cheese mixture over the center of each of the pastry squares and bake for about 8-10 mins until golden.  If the center has puffed up, then prick with a fork to deflate.
  5. Crack and place an egg into the center of each tart and sprinkle with some salt, then scatter the bacon, tomatoes, green onions onto the egg, and scatter remaining 2 TB Parmesan cheese on top (I omitted the sprinkling of cheese)
  6. Bake for about 5-7 mins until the egg whites are firm and cooked.

Serve and enjoy!  Makes 4 tarts.

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Breakfast of the champs! My 3 kiddos enjoyed it, despite some picking off green onions and others, the tomatoes. 🙂

Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Back to School with Tangmyun SukiYaki

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Today was the kiddos’ first day back to school as a 1st grader and a brand spankin’ new Kindergartener and my first day having to make 3 trips to the same school in one day with pickups and dropoffs.    I’m hoping and praying that my kids will both be an early bird or late bird because I would NOT want to increase my trip to school to 4.  Not to mention, my youngest little will be starting preschool next week and that’s another school drop-off and pick-up to add to the list.  I think I should change my job title to: Chauffeur.  Despite the multiple trips, I did love being able to see their faces light up when they spotted me during pickup today and being able to ask them about their day, what they did, their friends, and hear about how exciting it was for my son to eat lunch in the multi-use room for the first time and hear my daughter talk about how all the boys in her class are silly except for two.  These really are all precious little moments… of them walking to school together with A holding my youngest C’s hand while B is charging ahead of them, C whining that she is tired and asking to be held, all 3 of them squealing and talking in their beds as I type this, when they should be sleeping…  One day, I will miss all of these little moments that, presently, make up my chaotic life now.

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Being the first day of school and all, I thought about taking the children out for some Loard’s Ice Cream after the last pickup, but my youngest fell asleep during the short trip to school… So that called for a party in the WOK tonight!

Growing up, this sukiyaki recipe is similar to what my mom would make and is probably a Korean-ized version of the traditional Japanese sukiyaki.  I used regular cabbage instead of napa cabbage and also used Korean Tangmyun (Vermicelli), which is what my mom always used.  And we don’t have Sake lying around the house… the mirin is the closest thing you’ll get.

It was a little warm today, so I cranked up the A/C while we were eating dinner, so we wouldn’t be sweating while eating this “hot pot”.  I sent a picture of dinner to the hubby and he immediately left the office to get some before he had to go to a meeting.  I know when I make this, that hubby will run home.  muhaha.  My children all love this dish as well and asked for more “soup”, although this is not really a soup… and with all the seasoning coming from soy sauce, i did’t want them downing it like soup.

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I used Shabu Shabu meat (super thin sliced beef)

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About 1/2 lb, defrosted.

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Soak dried Shitake mushrooms in hot water while you prep.  Squeeze excess water then slice. remove and discard stems.  Use only the “umbrella” of the mushroom.

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Prep your veggies. My favorite Trader Joe’s Shredded Carrots has made yet another appearance on my blog

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Heat slightly greased wok on med high heat. Brown meat quickly and transfer to plate. Don’t overcook

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Add 8 cups of broth/stock (I used a mixture of 2 cups beef broth and 6 cups chicken stock), soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and garlic and bring to a boil. Start with 1/3 cup soy sauce and add more as needed. Skim the foam off the surface

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Once the soup is boiling, add the cabbage and the tangmyun and let it boil.

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Next, add the mushrooms, onions, red bell peppers, and carrots and bring to a boil

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I slice my green onions after all the veggies are in the wok.

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Add your meat back into the wok and sprinkle the green onions on top.  Serve hot. 🙂

Sukiyaki w/ tangmyun recipe

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb shabu shabu or sukiyaki beef
  • 8 cups mixture of Beef Broth and Chicken Stock (2 beef, 6 chicken)
  • 3 cubes Trader Joe’s frozen crushed garlic (or 3 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Low-Sodium Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup very lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 TB Mirin
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, sliced
  • big handful of tangmyun (about full spaghetti pack)
  • 6-10 (depends on size) dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 fistfuls of Trader Joe’s Shredded Carrots
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 3 green onions, chopped
Directions
  1. Soak the dried Shitake mushrooms in hot water while you prep your veggies, then squeeze the mushrooms of water, remove and discard the stems, and slice the “umbrella’ portion of the mushrooms.
  2. Heat a lightly greased (Pam spray is perfect) wok over medium high heat and brown the meat and transfer to a plate.  Don’t overcook the meat.
  3. In the same wok, bring 8 cups of beef and chicken broth/stock to a boil and add the garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, and mirin.  Taste the broth and adjust as needed.  Start off adding 1/3 cup of soy sauce then add more to taste.  Same for the sugar and mirin.  Skim off any foam on the surface of the soup.
  4. When the broth is really boiling, add the cabbage and tangmyun noodles.  Then after that boils for a minute, add the rest of the veggies except the green onions.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the meat and the green onions and bring to a boil and you’re done!

*note: the Tangmyun noodles like to soak up liquid, so only add the amount that will be eaten.  You can also boil the noodles separately in water and add as you eat.  The noodles are less flavorful using this method since it takes away the time the noodles sit in the broth to soak up the flavor.

This Sukiyaki recipe is perfect to tuck away for the cooler weather that will be upon us as quickly as this summer has escaped us.  You’re welcome to crank up the A/C like us and make it during the last heat spell of summer too!

Thank you for reading and please subscribe~ My posts should be more regular with school back in session.

Korean Food: Bulgogi Bibimbap Recipe!

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Happy Father’s Day (yesterday) to all the wonderful dads, granddads, uncles, and all the male figures out there who are a role model/father figure to our little ones (and sometimes not so little ones…).  I am lucky to have an awesome partner to help me raise our three little ones in this parenting experiment we have undertaken that we, hopefully, don’t mess up.

We had a wonderful weekend filled with fun activities ranging from adult softball to swimming to a birthday party before our relaxing Father’s Day Sunday at home.  I had grand plans for Father’s Day… but well… it didn’t pan out.  I found myself standing in line at Safeway on Saturday night with some nectarines and whipped cream to make crepes for Sunday morning breakfast when I saw a college student in line before me with the Sports Illustrated Warriors Champs edition.  I asked him how much the magazine was, then I thought I should grab one as a last minute gift for my Warriors fan hubby.  He loved it!  And the crepes got raving reviews from the hubby and all three of the kids, so that was a score!  It was such a simple crepe, too!  Just used the basic crepes recipe that I always use, spread raspberry jam onto half of the crepe, then added sliced nectarines (peaches would be great too) and whipped cream.  So good!  You can never go wrong with peaches and cream.

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Ken hubby married a Korean woman, me, so we eat a lot of Korean food, and luckily, he loves Korean food! (most of it anyway… I can’t get him to eat rice cakes though)  So dinner tonight was bibimbap.  It’s basically lots of different seasoned vegetables (some pickled, others boiled or stir-fried) with some teriyaki-style marinated beef all mixed with rice; I like to add red pepper paste to mine. It’s gotta be one of the healthiest dishes out there, and it’s Soooooo good!  My mother-in-law joined us for dinner and this is her favorite dish.  She always orders the stone bowl bibimbap whenever we go to Korean restaurants, which is the same thing, they just put the rice in a hot stone bowl so the rice touching the bowl becomes nice and crunchy.

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I put together a recipe and measured the ingredients while making this today so I would be able to share it.  I eyeballed some of the ingredients but you can always adjust the seasonings to your own taste.  I tend to make my ingredients slightly more salty then I would normally season them because you’ll be mixing it with the rice, which is not seasoned.

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Bulbogi Bibimbap

serves about 5-6

Ingredients
  • 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 daikon radish, julienned (about 4 cups)
  • 2-3 bunches spinach (not baby)
  • 1 bag soybean sprouts (different from mung bean sprouts)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4-5 Mexican squash, cut in half vertically, then sliced
  • 1 lb bulgogi beef (thinly sliced beef)
  • salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, sugar, brown sugar
  • sesame oil, sesame seeds,
  • soy sauce, brown sugar, crushed garlic
  • cooked calrose rice (sushi rice, not long grain) (4 cups uncooked)
Directions
  1. Cook your rice in your rice cooker and cut/prep your ingredients.
  2. At least 1 hour ahead of time, pickle the sliced cucumbers by submerging them into a large bowl with salty water (should taste like the ocean) 🙂
  3. At the same time, but in a separate bowl, pickle the julienned radish by adding 3/4 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1TB salt and 1/4 cup water.  Set them both aside.
  4. Marinate the beef by massaging about a tablespoon of sesame oil into the meat with gloved hands then add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 4 TB brown sugar, and 3 crushed garlic cloves and mix.  Set aside to marinate.
  5. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then boil the soybean sprouts for 5 mins (becomes somewhat translucent) and drain.  Place drained sprouts into a bowl then season with salt, 1/2 tsp of sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp sesame seeds.  You can also add some crushed garlic if desired; about 1 clove. Mix with gloved hands. Sprouts are done, so set aside.
  6. Bring another pot of water to a boil and blanch the spinach.  Don’t overcook the spinach!  Just about a minute should be enough.  Drain, gently squeeze out the water and place the spinach into a bowl.  Add salt, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, (again, garlic optional) and mix.  It works best if you use food service gloves to mix by hand.
  7. Add about a tablespoon of oil onto a frying pan, heat over med high heat.  Add a clove of crushed garlic then stir fry the Mexican squash until cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add about a tablespoon of oil onto a frying pan, heat over med. high heat.  Add a clove of crushed garlic then stir fry the julienned carrots.  Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Drain the cucumbers, gently squeeze excess water from the cucumbers, then place them into a bowl.  Add a little sesame oil (about 1/2 tsp) then mix and the cucumbers are ready. Sesame seeds optional
  10. Scoop out the radish from the vinegar and place into a bowl.  You don’t need to drain it completely of the liquid.  You can add red pepper flakes if you want a kick to it, but I didn’t add it for the kids’ sake.
  11. Heat the pan and cook the meat until ready.
  12. Serve cooked rice in large bowls then place each of the vegetables and meat on top and mix.  Add a little more sesame oil if desired and also red pepper paste if you can handle the heat. 🙂

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My kids ate really well tonight!  The girls actually asked for seconds and my boy asked for a huge bowl of food to start off with and finished it!  We love bibimbap!!!  Try making your own~

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful, fantastic, awesome week!

-Flora

Tonkatsu 돈까스: Japanese Breaded Pork Cutlets

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Another weekend gone!  We packed in our Saturday with dental appointments, T-ball game, ballet class, friend’s birthday party, and cleared out our little patio to make some extra room for the kiddos to hang out in.  We are planning to be adventurous and TRY to make our own DIY teepees in the near future so the kids don’t burn outside since we don’t have any good trees for shade.  But in the meantime, I made A and B’s favorite dish: Tonkatsu!  We like to serve it up with cabbage slaw, white rice, and the special tonkatsu dipping sauce.

Back in March, I asked A what dish she wanted for her birthday dinner and she asked for Tonkatsu! She loves the crunchy breaded pork dipped in the sauce with the slightly sweet and tangy cabbage slaw on the side.  I think it’s safe to say it’s a family favorite.  My kids have never been huge meat eaters but I can always count on them to clean their plate when I serve them Katsu.  C likes to lick her dipping sauce bowl clean… … …

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Before you start on anything, you want to make your rice since it takes a good 40 mins in my rice cooker.  I used my handy dandy electric rice cooker and made 3 cups of white rice (we like to have rice leftover for making rice balls or fried rice for lunch the following day).  After you cook your rice, you want to make the cabbage slaw, the tonkatsu sauce, and the tonkatsu (pork) last.

Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish, but is quite popular with Koreans and was a favorite of mine growing up (now you know why my kids love it).  I like adding some garlic into my egg to help offset any “pork smell” and I think it makes it taste better.   You could “hammer” down the pork to make it more tender, but I don’t find it necessary.  Feel free to substitute pork with chicken or beef, too. And you can add tonkatsu to curry, ramen, and other dishes. How can you go wrong with crunchy, fried pork?

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Look how pretty and green the cabbage is!

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I used half a head of cabbage and sliced it nice and thin.

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Make your cabbage slaw sauce by mixing the mayo, vinegar, and sugar.

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Then mix the sauce with your sliced cabbage and add some shredded carrots. I usually have a bag of shredded carrots on hand from Trader Joe’s.

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Make the Tonkatsu sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.

Before you touch the pork, you want to get all the prep ready.

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Heat the oil on medium heat in a pan deep enough and wide enough to fry about 4 cutlets at a time.

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Prepare the flour mixture by mixing in the salt and pepper.

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Start with 1 cup of panko bread crumbs in a wide dish. I ended up using 2 cups total.

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Lightly beat the egg (I used a fork) with 1 TB of milk and a cube of frozen crushed garlic (from Trader Joe’s)

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Get your assembly line ready! 1.Flour 2.Egg 3.Panko

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Now time to handle the meat!

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You can buy the thin cut pork, or if it’s thicker, just slice it in half, horizontally.

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All sliced and ready to “bread”

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Coat in flour mixture

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Dunk it in the egg mixture

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Press it into the Panko bread crumbs until coated

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Bread half (4) of the cutlets then carefully place into hot oil to fry before breading the rest

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Gently and carefully place the pork into the hot oil and fry

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It should be hot enough that it bubbles. I had my heat on Med high heat. Raise or lower the temperature as needed.

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Flip it and fry until nice and golden.

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You can cut one in half to see if it’s ready.

Now for the recipes.  The ingredients are all easy to find.  Mirin is a sweet rice wine and can be replaced with these and they can be found in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores.  And I can’t imagine any grocery store that doesn’t stock Panko Bread crumbs in this day and age.  🙂  And you know where to find all the other ingredients.

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Cabbage Slaw Recipe
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TB vinegar
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix mayo, vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl then add it to the cabbage and carrots and mix.  You can add more or less vinegar and sugar to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tonkatsu Sauce Recipe
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 TB worchestershire sauce
  • 1 TB light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp Mirin
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Adjust worchestershire, mirin, and sugar to taste.  (If you like a stronger kick, then add 3 TB worchester, otherwise, just 2 TB) You can also omit the Mirin and add another 1/2 tsp of sugar, if desired.

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Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork) Recipe
  • 1.5 lb bonless pork loin chop (thin cut preferred)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 cube frozen crushed garlic from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil (approximately 4 cups, enough to fry the pork)
  1. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat in a saucepan or pot that is wide and deep enough to fry the pork (4 at a time).
  2. Prepare the flour mixture by placing 1/3 cup of flour into a wide plate and mixing in the 1 TB salt and 2 tsp ground pepper
  3. Lightly beat 2 eggs and add in 1 TB milk and garlic and mix.  Place in a wide plate deep enough to hold the egg mixture.
  4. Place 1 cup of bread crumbs into a wide plate and add more as needed.
  5. Prepare the pork by coating it in the flour mixture, dipping it completely in the egg mixture, then coating it with the panko bread crumbs.  Lightly press the pork into the bread crumbs to ensure a full and even coating.  Set aside and repeat for half of the pork.
  6. Check that the oil is hot, then carefully slide the breaded pork into the oil.  Fry about 2 mins on each side.
  7. Meanwhile, bread the remaining pork following the same order: flour, egg, panko.
  8. Fry the remaining pork cutlets in the hot oil and place the fried cutlets on a plate lined with paper towels.
  9. Cut and serve immediately with the dipping sauce, the rice, and cabbage slaw.

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If you’ve never tried Tonkatsu, then TRY IT!  L&L Hawaiian BBQ’s Chicken Katsu is sort of a spin-off of the Japanese Tonkatsu if you’ve tried that before.  I used to frequent L&L for their chicken katsu many times during my college years (I lived right behind it). Now I just make my own.  🙂

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

-Flora

Easy Seafood Soon Tofu (해물 순두부)

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Friday nights = I don’t cook nights.  With the exception of this past Friday night, that equation proves true.  We made a trip out to the Korean Market in Oakland a couple Saturdays ago and bought all the ingredients to make this Tofu Soup but for whatever reason, never got around to making Ken’s favorite soup.  Friday nights are always pizza and a movie night with the family and last Friday was going to be no exception, but I got a text message from Ken asking if we could have the Seafood Tofu Soup for dinner that night… I immediately thought to reply “of course not!  I don’t cook dinner on Fridays!” but then thought… well… I guess I could.  And that, my friends, is because this soup so easy and quick!

I already mentioned this soup is Ken’s favorite soup, and it’s also high up on the list for my kids as well.  They love Korean soups and like to dump their bowl of rice into their soup and eat it together, which is exactly what I did growing up, and is exactly what Korean moms feed their little toddlers after they start solids.  This tofu soup is a bit spicy but the kids didn’t have a problem finishing their food with a cup of water on hand.

Easy Seafood Soon Tofu (Korean Soft Tofu Soup)

  • 2 cups kimchi, finely chopped
  • 1 pack frozen seafood mix, 12 oz (or canned chopped clams, about 3 cans)
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 5 packs silken tofu, 11oz each
  • 2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • finely ground red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt & pepper

Optional step: Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to hot, large pot and add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to make the spicy oil, then add the kimchi.

  1. Heat a large pot and add a teaspoon of oil.  Add the kimchi and cook the kimchi on med-high heat until it starts to become translucent, about 3-4 mins.
  2. Increase heat to high, add the frozen seafood and stir-fry until it is almost cooked. Or add the canned clams with the clam juice.
  3. Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil.
  4. When the soup is boiling, add the silken tofu and break it up into big chunks with a spatula and bring to a boil.  Add the eggs and again bring to boil.
  5. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil and the green onions then season with salt and pepper.

Done!

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Super quick and easy. The only prep you need to do is to chop the kimchi and the green onions.  Tip: I like to wear food service gloves when handling kimchi so I don’t end up with orangey-red fingertips and a lovely kimchi smelling hand.

The soup tastes great with canned clams as well!  The clam juice in the canned clams make the broth really flavorful and gives it a stronger seafood taste.  Just add less chicken stock if you are using canned clams since the juice in the cans will count towards the liquid you are adding to make the soup.

Korean Soon Tofu is closer to a stew in the sense that your tofu chunks should not be swimming around in a lot of liquid, but if you like it with more soup then add more of the chicken stock, just don’t drown your tofu.

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The only “exotic” ingredient I used for this dish is the kimchi, and even that can be found at your local grocery store around the Bay Area.  I must confess, I buy my kimchi from the Korean market and don’t make my own.  But I have tried once!  Fun Fact: Did you know many Koreans have a separate Kimchi refrigerator that keeps their kimchi at their perfectly fermented state for months?  They actually sell these little (and sometimes, not so little) kimchi fridges.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, see if you can’t spot a little jar of kimchi! I bet you’ll see it, if you haven’t already.

As always, thank you for reading and hope you have a great week!

-Flora

Weekend Mashup: Cherry Blossoms, Cupcakes & Egg Hunt

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Spring and Easter season have the best colors!  The pretty pastels in pink, yellow, blue, the cute little bunnies, eggs, and chicks; flowers blooming, and the world waking from a winter slumber.  It’s definitely one of my favorite time of year.  I had heard there were pretty cherry blossoms at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park during March and April and I had been wanting to see them.  So our family took a trip out to see some pretty cherry blossoms Saturday morning, but I was disappointed.  I saw one fully bloomed, beautiful cherry blossom tree at the entrance of the garden and didn’t see any more inside.  The garden is really beautifully landscaped and we still had a good time taking photos, walking around the garden and watching the Koi in the pond, but I had envisioned paths strewn with cherry blossom petals that fluttered down from the branches throughout the garden.  Perhaps I need to go later in April or take a trip out to Japan!  (or a reality check)

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I had the privilege of taking dessert to a friend’s Easter egg hunt at her beautiful home over the weekend.  Her home had the perfect layout for hiding eggs and a nice size grass lot for the kids to run off all their sugar and play games like egg toss, egg-on-a-spoon-race, and more.  I know my kids had a blast and my youngest, C, who is not yet 3, participated in all the games.  It was fun watching her balance an egg on her spoon.

As you probably know, I enjoy baking and constructing layered cakes (eating them too!) but there’s something about pretty cupcakes, frosted and decorated in soft pastels that really make me happy.  I can’t look at one without eating them, which is why I get into trouble whenever I bake these little morsels of heaven.  I had been wanting to eat coconut cake, given it’s Easter season, so of course I thought I would make coconut cupcakes!  I love coconut, but I know not everyone is a fan, like my daughter A, who can’t stand anything coconut and banana.  Still can’t figure out why… they’re so tasty.  To make her happy, I added sprinkles on some cupcakes and only added shredded coconut on half of the batch.  I tried to make bunny ears with marshmallows like I’d seen on Pinterest, but they looked a bit awkward on the mini cupcakes.  I had recruited help from B and A to make the marshmallow bunny ears, but I didn’t use most of them.  Now they’re sitting in a container on my counter and getting snacked on every time I enter the kitchen.  I should probably move them to the back of my highest cabinet.

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I used my go-to yellow cupcake recipe which uses cake flour and sour cream and replaces half of the vanilla extract called for in the original recipe with almond extract.  I did the same to the cream cheese frosting recipe and added almond extract so it would compliment the coconut nicely.  Perhaps it’s the cake flour or perhaps it’s the sour cream, but this recipe produces soft, moist, almost melt in your mouth cupcakes.

Yield: a dozen regular cupcakes or 40+ mini cupcakes

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Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar (I usually add 2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare a mini muffin pan by greasing the cavities or inserting cupcake liners. (You may also use regular size muffin pans, see below for longer baking time)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light.  Add one egg at a time and then add vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then half of the sour cream and repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake mini cupcakes for 12-14 mins.  Bake regular size cupcakes for 20-25 mins.
  5. Let cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Almond Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer  or a handheld mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts and beat until smooth.
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • pastel colored sprinkles

After the cupcakes have cooled, use a butter knife or a small spatula to frost the cupcakes (or you can pipe) then top with shredded coconut or sprinkles.  I like using the shredded coconut for this rather than the flaked ones.  (They look better)

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Happy Baking and thank you for reading!

-Flora