Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teriyaki Boy's Nasu Abura Itame

I rarely eat eggplants, and when I do, it's just the one with minced pork in a hot pot served in Chinese restaurants. A few weeks ago, I discovered another eggplant dish that I really, really like. It's Teriyaki Boy's Nasu Abura Itame, or pan-fried eggplant with sweet soy sauce. I'm not sure how long they've had it, but it was our first time to notice it because we usually order the same dishes over and over again without looking at the menu.

I tried to look for a recipe online, but unfortunately, didn't find a single one available. I usually need to have a recipe in front of me to follow to the dot, but I remembered the taste clearly and thought it might be worth a shot to experiment and try to make it on my own. I was pretty happy with the results of my experiment. It tasted like Teriyaki Boy's Nasu Abura Itame, but I didn't make as much sauce as they served it with and I added a lot of sesame oil for a stronger roasted sesame seed flavor.

Thought I'd share the recipe. I don't have exact measurements though since I just pretty much put everything in until I got the exact taste I was looking for.

Nasu Abura Itame

Eggplant, cut into strips
Canola Oil
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Sesame Seeds

Heat oil in pan. Fry eggplant strips until both sides are lightly brown. Add soy sauce and and a little water. Add sugar, then season with sesame oil. Allow to simmer for a few minutes. Transfer dish to a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Going Bananas

I love, love, love banana bread, especially when it's homemade, moist and flavorful. My sisters used to make the loaves of banana bread and even went into selling them at Christmas time. My elder sister made hers with lots of semisweet chocolate chips. My younger sister made hers plain. I happily eat both, but I wanted to experiment with variations for my own recipe collection, making muffins instead of bread.

Plain Banana Muffin

Banana Brittle Muffin
My personal favorite.

With less brittle
Seems like most everyone's choice.
I've actually gotten some orders for this.

Banana Walnut Muffin.
My mom's favorite...she loves everything with nuts!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes

My younger sister loves cakes, cookies and cupcakes. For some reason, however, she doesn't like homemade baked goods because we use eggs and she doesn't eat eggs. No matter how many times we remind her that all the ones she buys from bakeshops contain eggs, she wouldn't even taste a piece.

One day, I told her that I was starting to feel bad that she wouldn't eat any of the sweets that I've been baking. Aside from the usual sisterly support, I was really hoping she could give me feedback on the taste of the cupcakes. The guilt trip worked! She sent me a recipe of eggless chocolate cupcakes she found online and told me that she would eat it if I baked it.

I finally had some time today to make this for her. She not only ate it, but also loved it! So did our neighbor's 10-year-old daughter. In fact, our young visitor took home half of the cupcakes after we told her to bring home as much as she wants!

Hot off the oven, before frosting

Decorated with sprinkles

Decorated with edible pearl beads.
My mom thought I used the ones for my jewelry projects!

Tried making a mini cake using my sister's moon pan.
My first time to frost a cake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet & Sour Meatballs from Jeff's Mom

Coming from different cultures, one of the things I worry about is cooking food that Jeff may not enjoy eating. So when he went home to visit his family last month, I asked him to get some of his mom's recipes that he loved. Thankfully, she obliged, and he made time to type out and email me the recipes.

The first one I wanted to try was the sweet and sour meatballs. I'm used to eating sweet and sour, but this is the first time I'm trying it with meatballs. And the first time I'm actually making meatballs. With my own bare hands, if I may add. I dreaded this because I didn't like the idea of touching raw meat. But I forgot to buy disposable gloves, and using a wooden spoon didn't seem to be as effective in mixing everything well. So I had no choice but to do it. With my own bare hands. At least now I know it's not as bad as I thought it would be!

My family had this for dinner tonight and loved it. Mom even asked me to put a copy of it in her recipe notebook. I hope Jeff would think that I make it as well as his mom does!

Playing around with how to serve it

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Made Bread!

Yup! Focaccia, specifically. Woot! Woot!

My curiosity on bread making started after seeing a recipe for pan de sal in a food magazine. Then I saw a bread making machine at Rustan's that promised no hand mixing, no kneading, perfectly baked bread in an hour no matter which type of bread you want to make. Now how cool is that?!? I was so tempted to buy it right then and there, but I walked away after realizing that the cost of the machine was equal to many years' worth of bread. Besides, I'm supposed to be saving money.

But I couldn't get the idea of "freshly baked bread whenever we want it" out of my head. Never mind if, in my family, I'm the one who eats bread the least. I was obsessed, and I just had to try to make one myself! So I researched online and saw many recipes for focaccia bread. It's the one bread I can eat a lot of, and it seemed simple enough to make, so this was perfect for my first attempt at making bread.

Waiting for the dough to rise

Allowing bread to cool

Eating time!

I like focaccia best dipped in olive oil with balsamic vinegar and grated parmesan cheese. Occasionally, I use it as crust for pizza.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ah, Lasagna!

Lasagna has always been one of my favorite pasta dishes. In fact, when I was in high school, it was THE favorite. Like I'd eat it everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner without getting sick of it for as long we had some in the fridge. Turns out that it's my fiance's favorite pasta, too, so it just had to be the very first thing I'd try to make.

I've always known that it's quite tedious to make, having seen our former cook make it whenever we had parties. I never realized, though, that it would take me 4 hours! What was supposed to have been our dinner became lunch for the next day. I had hoped to cut the cooking time in half on my next try, but no, it still took me the same amount of time. Perhaps I'd have better luck on my third try, since I now have a mixer to help me prepare the third layer in the recipe.

Anyway, I'm very happy with this lasagna that I don't even want to try looking for a simpler recipe. Can't wait for Jeff to try this!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cookies for Tea Time

I had some free time last week and was looking forward to an afternoon of baking crinkles with my sister. She turned out to be swamped with work, though, and asked for a rain check. Since my mind was already set on baking, I thought I may as well try to make something by myself.

After going through the recipes I've compiled, the chewy chocolate cookies recipe seemed to call out to me, "Make me! Make me!". I'm not really a fan of cookies, but I knew my mom and dad would definitely have some when they come home that night. I had all the ingredients for it, and besides, it would be good to at least know how to bake cookies, right?

Turned out that the recipe was so delicious I couldn't stop popping them in my mouth! It was crispy on the edges with a chewy center. Plus, I discovered how easy it was to bake cookies! It took me about an hour to make 36 cookies, including clean-up, perfect for my 430pm tea time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kitchen Goddess In The Making

Somehow the idea of cooking never really appealed to me for many reasons. First, my sisters and I never had to learn how to cook, growing up, because we had helpers to do that. Second, the few times my mom attempted to bring me to the market, I always ended up feeling dizzy from the smell and sight of raw meat and fish. Third, I'm scared of using the stove, the oven, and any fancy kitchen tool or equipment. Fourth, I don't like standing and sweating in a hot kitchen. And lastly, I do not like the idea of touching raw meat and fish.

I do know how to make a few of my favorites like soup (with a big help from Mr. Campbell), sushi, a couple of pasta dishes, dips for chips, and a few no-bake desserts. Other than that, I never really had any intention to further my culinary skills.

Well, at least until I met my fiance last year. He doesn't expect me to cook, but loving him and wanting to take care of him the best way I can somehow awakened in me an urge to learn how to cook and bake. The want turned into a need after we got engaged because we'd be living in the US after the wedding. I definitely don't want us both to starve, so I've actually started spending my free time sharpening my knife skills (no pun intended), experimenting with flavors, and whipping up a meal. So far, so good.