Under 15 Minutes Lifesaver Meal: Pork Shogayaki over Rice

This dish is a lifesaver.

Sometimes I go out for an extended tea session and get caught in bad Jakarta traffic on the way back. I finally reach home at 6.30 p.m.++ and dinner needs to be ready soon. What do I do?!! Pork Shogayaki over rice IS THE ANSWER.

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Pork Shogayaki over rice.

It is so simple and easy to make yet so yummmmmy! Perfect if you need to put something on the table in less than 15 minutes. 

Pork Shogayaki (豚の生姜焼き; buta no shogayaki) is a Japanese dish, where shoga = ginger, and yaki = grill or fry. The term “shogayaki” generally refers to pork in Japan, although beef can also be used. It is often served hot over rice (i.e. a donburi).

Consisting mainly of pork, some onions, and fluffy white rice, this one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables (if you consider onion a vegetable?!), and carbs covered. Definitely a fast and economical way to feed hungry young men like Agent D (I refilled his rice bowl thrice the last time I prepared it).

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This one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables and carbs covered (using pork belly shabu shabu meat in picture).

For this recipe, it is best to use thinly sliced meat. Alternatively, you can buy shabu shabu meat. Depending on how fatty you like your meat, you can either use pork belly (highest fat content), pork shoulder (medium marbling), or pork loin (least fatty). My personal preference is pork belly! 🙂

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 8 oz thinly sliced pork (pork belly, pork shoulder, or pork loin)
  • 1” ginger grated
  • ½ medium yellow onion sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. First, peel off the ginger skin and grate the ginger. Next, slice the onions to about ¼” thick.
  2. Heat a pan on medium heat, add a bit of cooking oil. Toss in the onions and ginger. Stir fry for a bit.
  3. Add in the thinly sliced pork and make sure it browns on both sides.
  4. Add in the soy sauce, mirin, rice wine, and sugar. Stir fry until sauce is incorporated.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes depending on how ‘cooked’ you want your onions to be. Some people like their onions crunchy whereas I like them to melt in my mouth.
  6. Remove the cover and turn up to high heat to reduce the liquid by 50% (thicken the sauce).
  7. Pour the pork shogayaki over a bowl of rice and it is READY. 🙂
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Enjoy! xxx

Recipe credit: http://www.itsmydish.com/pork-shogayaki/

Super Easy Doubly Yummy: Fudgey Nutella Brownies

I’ve always had a thing for Nutella (hazelnuts and cocoa combined). During my childhood days where calories and waistlines didn’t matter much, I would eat it straight out of the jar and finish the entire thing in one setting. *horrors*

Last week, I attempted to bake Nutella brownies for the first time. And…they turned out really well!! In this recipe, no chocolate or cocoa powder is added to the brownie batter; all of the chocolate flavor comes from Nutella. YUM.

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Each brownie has this incredibly delish chocolate hazelnut flavor.

Plus it is really easy to make with everything prepared in just one bowl. Practically fuss free and zero mess! Sharing the recipe here with you. ❤

Fudgey Nutella Brownies Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (72g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar (use 70g of sugar if you don’t want it too sweet)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (370g) Nutella, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the brownies out of the pan. (If using a 9 inch pan, the bake time will be a few minutes less.) Set aside.

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Line baking pan with parchment paper.

2. With a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

3. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl where necessary.

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Add 70g of sugar.

4. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined.

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Add eggs and vanilla extract.

5. Beat in 1 cup of Nutella and salt. Mix until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl where necessary.

6. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour, mixing just until combined. Do not over-mix.

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Almost done! 🙂

7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella on top. Using a knife, swirl the Nutella into the batter.

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Swirl nutella into batter (pardon my messy swirling heh).

8. Bake the Nutella brownies for 32-36 minutes. Keep checking on them and test with a toothpick to determine whether it’s ready. If the toothpick comes out with only a couple of moist crumbs, the brownies are done! Mine took about 33 minutes.

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Love the smell of something baking in the oven.

9. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan.

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Homemade nutella brownies fresh out of the oven!

10. Once cool, lift the paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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TA-DAAAAA. Nutella brownies a success!

The brownies were crumbly chewy on the outside, fudgey moist inside. Really nice. And the best thing yet – it is not difficult to make! x

Original recipe credit: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/04/04/nutella-brownies/

Little Things to Remember

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Simple meal for two.

It’s been a while since I last updated on my kitchen happenings (see Kitchen Diaries for some background). Well, it hasn’t been too exciting I guess.

So last night, I cooked watercress pork ribs soup, salted fish taugeh with tofu, and stir-fry pork with garlic and herbs.

Agent D: “My heart is full.”

And that made all the oily hair and washing up worth it. (Am penning this down to remind myself WHY I COOK, an activity I still can’t seem to resonate with.)

Ok good night world. XOXO

Mid-Autumn Festival in Jakarta: MOONCAKES

I usually equate September with Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s been one of my favourite Chinese Festivals since I was a kiddo. Why?! Because I get to eat MOONCAKES!!! (I absolutely LOVE mooncakes.)

Eating and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of Mid-Autumn Festival because the round shape of mooncakes = completeness and unity of families. Back in Singapore, there’d be huge mooncake fairs (where various vendors come together to sell mooncakes) in shopping malls. Shopping at the Takashimaya mooncake fair is a yearly highlight for me that I’d never miss!

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2015 Takashimaya Mooncake fair (photo credit: majoritymag.com).

Sadly, the Mid-Autumn Festival is not as hyped up here in Jakarta as compared to back home. There are no mooncake fairs around, not even in the big shopping malls. 😦 😦 😦

If you want to buy mooncakes, you have to either go all the way out to one of the big name hotels or to a reputable Chinese restaurant.

Last week, I casually told Agent D that I was craving some snowskin mooncakes. To my surprise, he dropped by home during his lunch hour on Thursday in between meetings to deliver this pretty box from Hotel Mulia. He actually remembered, awww.

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Azuki, matcha and custard snowskin mooncakes from Table8 at Mulia Signature.

Snowskin mooncakes are usually eaten cold and remind me of mochi ice cream as both have glutinous rice crusts. SO GOOD. If only they had the original lotus seed paste + salted duck egg yolks inside the snowskin. That would be heaven on earth to me.

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Mooncakes in a bright festive box. Planning to transform it into a makeup box.

Aren’t they pretty?! Couldn’t bear to eat them initially – until Agent D told me that they only have a shelf life of 3 days. :/

For more information on where to buy mooncakes in Jakarta, check out this article: Where to get mooncakes in Jakarta 2016 – Honeycombers.


Since Agent D surprised me with mooncakes, I decided to be a better wife to him by cooking up a new dish on Friday night – heart healthy penne pasta with beef. (Prior to this, I had been cooking the same few dishes every other day. Cooking is just not my thang, sigh.)

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Beef penne pasta.

I’m always cautious about trying new things but I’m glad it turned out okay (phew). And it brought a smile to Agent D’s face. 🙂

On another note, so happy that coming Monday is a Public Holiday and we are having a long weekend YAY.

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Sexy wink from Freckles.

Have a good weekend! x

Bake Your Own Bread: Raisin Date Loaf

About one year back, Mom started baking her own bread from scratch with the help of a bread machine. My family and I practically live on bread (bread is like air to us) so Mom has to bake a loaf once every few days. One of the things I miss about home is the comforting, inviting smell of Mom’s baked bread.

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Homemade raisin date bread.

Why bake your own bread?

Compared to commercially-made bread, home-baked bread has much more nutrients and lesser additives. You choose the ingredients that go into your bread loaf which can be…

  • 100% whole-grain (versus refined white flour).
  • Less sweet/contain brown sugar (versus high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar).
  • Trans fats free/contain olive oil (versus vegetable shortening or margarine).
  • Healthier by adding ingredients like ground flaxseed, whole oats and quinoa flour.
  • Free of preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Plus the fact that there are so many bread machines out there to simplify the process of baking your own bread. 🙂

During my last trip back in Singapore, I baked a Raisin Date Loaf with Mom, putting to use the dates I brought back from Jakarta. We used the oven instead of the bread machine for this one.

This Raisin Date Loaf recipe is simple and very easy to follow. You can hardly go wrong with it!

Raisin Date Loaf Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose floor (we used organic flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we used brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)

Instructions

1.Preheat oven to 180 °C  and grease a 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

2.Chop dates and squeeze oranges to get 1 cup orange juice.

3.Bring dates and orange juice up to a simmer. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature (a must!).

4.In a bowl, sift floor, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves.

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Sifted floor, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves.

5.In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and oil.

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Egg and olive oil.

6.Add egg mixture and dates to flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in raisins.

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Add egg mixture to flour mixture.

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Add dates and orange juice to flour mixture.

7.Pour the combined mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean).

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Pour into prepared pan.

As our 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan was being used for something else, we used two separate smaller pans instead.

8.Let the raisin date loaf cool for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

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Raisin date loaves fresh out of the oven.

There you go — your very own home-baked raisin date bread! #SoGood #SoHealthy

YUMMMMMMMY. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Gula Melaka Japanese Cheesecake Recipe…SOooO Fluffy

Agent D had to work the whole of last Sunday so I had a girls’ day out baking session with Ivana over at her place (which by the way is super nice, like a hotel. I’m so going to self-invite myself more often from now on hehe).

Ivana and I wanted to bake something no-frills i.e. something that wouldn’t require buying a lot of additional ingredients and has an easy to follow recipe. After some online research, we eventually settled on…THE FLUFFY JAPANESE CHEESECAKE.

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Japanese Cheesecake (Soufflé Cheesecake) fresh out of the oven!

We got our Japanese cheesecake recipe from Just One Cookbook. The original recipe can be found here: http://www.justonecookbook.com/japanese-cheesecake/.

We followed the recipe quite closely throughout. The only tweak we made was that we used coconut palm sugar instead of  normal white sugar (hence the brownish tinge in our cheesecake). It turned out surprisingly well, the gula melaka flavour complemented the cheesecake nicely. Plus it didn’t feel sinful at all – not too sweet, very light and fluffy. TASTES REALLY GOOD SERVED COLD. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Gula Melaka Japanese Cheesecake Recipe (Makes one 9-inch cake)

Ingredients

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Picture of all the ingredients needed.

  • 400 g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 60 g coconut palm sugar
  • 60 g unsalted butter, cut into ½” (1 cm) slices, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg yolks, beaten, at room temperature
  • 200 ml heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 80 g all-purpose flour
  • 6 egg whites, refrigerated [for meringue]
  • 100g coconut palm sugar [for meringue]

*Before prepping, remember to keep cream cheese, butter, egg yolks, and whipping cream at room temperature.

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ (23 cm) spring-form pan with butter and line the insides with parchment paper. Wrap the base of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent seepage.
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Parchment paper on the inside and aluminium foil on the outside.

2. Preheat oven to 320F (160C) degree. Start boiling water.

3. In the electric mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and coconut palm sugar on medium-high speed until smooth.

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Cream cheese and coconut palm sugar.

4. Add butter and mix thoroughly.

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Butter added!

5. Add the egg yolk and whipping cream. Mix well. (Remember to separate the yolks from whites earlier on!)

6. Add lemon juice and mix until the batter is very smooth.

7. Add in the sifted flour all at once. Mix well.

8. Transfer the batter to another large bowl. Wash the mixer bowl and dry completely. Make sure there is no oil or water in the mixer bowl.

9. To make meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In the electric mixer bowl, whip the egg whites on medium low speed (speed 4) till opaque, foamy and bubbly. Then add ⅓ of the sugar at a time as the mixer runs. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high (speed 10) and whip for approximately 4 minutes, until the meringue has doubled in volume and is thick and glossy.

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Add ⅓ of the sugar at a time.

10. To test for stiff peaks, the peaks should stand straight up when you lift up the beaters. The whites should not slide around. If the meringue has not reached the desired consistency, continue whipping at high speed for another 30 seconds, then stop and test again. Once the egg whites are over-beaten, they can’t be used for the recipe.

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Stiff peaks??

11. Add ⅓ of the meringue to the batter. Mix well first.

12. Then add the rest of the meringue all at once and fold it in (don’t mix this time).

13. Pour the batter into the cake pan. To remove any air bubbles, drop the pan from 2-3″ (5-7 cm) high to the counter top several times.

14. Place the cake pan in a water bath with 1″ (2.5 cm) of boiling water. Place the baking pan in the middle rack of the oven.

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In water bath 2.5 cm high.

15. Bake at 320F (160C) for 60 minutes or until light golden brown. Then reduce temperature to 300F (150C) and bake for another 30 minutes.

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A wefie with our cake before it goes into the oven!

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RISING. *so exciting*

16. When a wooden chopstick/toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean without wet batter, turn off the oven. Let the cake sit in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 15 minutes. After that, cool the cake pan on a wire rack.

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Pock face cake cooling on the wire rack.

17. When the cake is completely cool, refrigerate it for a few hours before serving. Cut the cake with a warm knife (run the knife under hot water and dry it before each cut).

Notes
*Leave the oven door ajar for 15 minutes because a sudden temperature change will result in the cake collapsing.
**The cake should be consumed within 3 days if it’s kept in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it and keep it up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature while covered.
*** I know our cake is on the ugly side (not sure why it has a pock face) but it tastes much better than it looks. Not lying.
Enjoy! ❤ ❤ ❤

Baileys Irish Coffee Cream CHEESECAKE Recipe + DORÉ by LeTAO in Jakarta

Cheesecakes are one of my all-time favourite desserts. To me, they’re like a classic finish to a nice dinner meal. I can never bring myself to say no to cheesecakes, regardless of how satiated I feel. :/

SO last Saturday (when I was still back in SG), my mom and I decided to bake Baileys Irish Coffee Cream CHEESECAKE together. Although my mom cannot cook for nuts, she loves to bake. She bakes from time to time on weekends for parties and for friends. Lately, she has stopped buying commercial bread but instead makes her own bread from scratch. Effort indeed.

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Our Baileys Irish Coffee Cream CHEESECAKE.

We adapted our Irish Coffee Cream cheesecake from Aunty Janet’s original recipe (Aunty Janet is a good friend of mom’s who also loves to bake and has shared many recipes with her).

It’s quite a simple recipe! If a baking noob like me can grasp and follow it, I’m sure you’ll be able too. Oh yes, and I took some pictures along the way for your easy reference. 🙂

Janet’s Irish Coffee Cream Cheesecake Recipe (Makes 3 20cm x 6cm aluminium pans)

Ingredients

  • 200 grams shortbread/oreo biscuits (crush them)
  • 37.5 grams melted butter (approx less than 1/6 of block)
  • 8oz x 3 pcs Philadelphia Cream cheese 
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 3 tbsp plain flour 
  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup Baileys Irish Coffee Cream

Instructions

To make biscuit base:

  1. Put shortbread biscuits in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin or put in a bowl and use a masher. Do not crush until too fine. Do not use a mortar and pestle because oil will ooze out from the biscuits.
  2. Add hot melted butter to bind the crushed biscuit pieces together. If using Oreo as a base, use less butter.
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    Add hot melted butter.

  3. To make the crust, press the crushed biscuits evenly onto base of pan, using a masher and a gloved hand.
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    Press and even out the crushed biscuits.

  4. Chill in freezer for 20 mins. (If not using immediately, can just put in the lower fridge shelf.)
  5. Use a skewer to make holes in the crust – this helps to hold the filling together.

To make filling:

  1. Cream the thawed cream cheese, sugar, cocoa powder and flour. Do not overmix – cake will crack otherwise.
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    Cream ingredients together.

  2. Make sure that there are no lumps before adding the eggs, one at a time. 
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    Add eggs.

  3. Add the sour cream. Mix well.
  4. Add Baileys Irish Coffee Cream. Mix well. 
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    Add Baileys.

  5. Pour the mixture over the crust. 
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    Pour mixture over biscuit base.

  6. Bake in Bain Marie (water bath) at 250 degrees C for 10 mins. Do not open the oven door. 
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    Ready for baking!!! (2 cheesecakes with coffee powder swirls + 1 plain cheesecake)

  7. Reduce heat to 120 degrees C and bake for 60 mins.
  8. When done, cheesecake will be firm and shrink from all sides of the pan. Do not over-bake.
  9. Cool the cheesecake in the oven with the door open and oven turned off.
  10. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the fridge before serving. (Good to place a piece of paper towel over cheesecake, with the plastic wrap on top of the paper. Paper towel helps to absorb moisture.)

Don’t forget to…

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
  2. Prepare water bath at the same time.
  3. Let aluminium pan sit on a tray of water. Make sure the pan has no holes!! If using a metal pan and it has seams, wrap pan with aluminium foil at the base.

TA-DA! You are done. Let me know how the cheesecake goes! (PS: It’s worth every calorie.)

❤ ❤ ❤


DORÉ by LeTAO in Jakarta

Speaking of cheesecakes, I finally got to check out DORÉ by LeTAO‘s first outlet in Jakarta (Plaza Indonesia)!!! DORÉ is French for “golden” and it is a subsidiary brand of LeTAO from Hokkaido, Japan.

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DORÉ by LeTAO outlet in Jakarta.

DORÉ’s specialty Fromage Cake (a kind of cheesecake) is AMAZEBALLS. Seriously. It is very soft and creamy, yet light, and it melts in your mouth almost instantly.

I first had a taste of cheesecake heaven when Christian and Sasha sent one whole DORÉ cake to our doorstep last Christmas 2015. Before Agent D could have a go at his second slice, I had already wiped out the entire cake (oops :/ ).

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Fromage Cakes on display.

Other than the renown Fromage Cake, DORÉ by LeTAO also sells various cookies and chocolate. The cookies have fancy names like ‘Le Choco Noir’ and ‘Cheddar & Gouda’ (don’t know how to pronounce). I was very tempted to get the ‘Earl Grey’ cookies but self-control held me in.

Anyway, I’m so happy that they finally have a physical outlet here in Jakarta! Going to bed dreaming about their Fromage Cake tonight.

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Original and Chocolate Fromage Cake that I had with Sarah.

Cheesecakes aside, I got my batik cloth buys (from Yogyakarta) framed today. Can’t wait to see the finished products tomorrow. Will blog about it soon. X

DORÉ by LeTAO
Plaza Indonesia Level 3
M.H. Thamrin Kav.28-30, Central Jakarta

One breakfast staple: Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs (YUM)

Stir-fried tomatoes and eggs on toast is one of our favourite breakfast fixes – because it doesn’t require many fancy ingredients (just tomatoes and eggs DUH) and it doesn’t take long to prepare. PERFECT for a lazy cook like me heh.

Also, pairing tomatoes and eggs is such a heavenly combination. Think Juicy tomatoes with soft runny eggs. Simply yummy with rice (for lunch/dinner) or on toast.

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Stir-fried tomatoes and eggs on toast, with baked beans at the side.

Not to mention the high nutritive value of tomatoes and eggs. Did you know that…

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a treasure of riches when it comes to their antioxidant benefits (anti-cancer!!). They contain good amounts of three high-powered antioxidants — Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. They also contain all four major carotenoids — alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. On top of that, tomatoes are rich in minerals like potassium and manganese, which we often don’t get enough of. For breastfeeding moms, it increases the concentration of lycopene in their milk.

Eggs

Eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high quality protein. They are regarded as a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all eight essential amino acids (which cannot be synthesised in our bodies and must be obtained from our diet). The whites are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. The yolks are sources of cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and lecithin.

Time to start incorporating more tomatoes and eggs in your diet. Here’s the recipe which I tweaked a little from something found on the internet:

Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 tomatoes (diced into small cubes)
  • 4 eggs (I usually buy organic, lower-cholesterol ones)
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (optional for added flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or any other kind of vegetable starch)
  • green onion
  • salt and pepper
  • sugar (neutralizes the sour taste of the tomatoes)

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs together and season with salt and pepper. Add the green onion and sesame oil to the eggs and mix well.
  2. Add olive oil to the pan; turn up the heat. Add the egg mixture and break the egg into pieces. Toss and cook until the eggs are almost done (should be less then 2 minutes). Take out the egg mixture from the pan.
  3. Add more olive oil to the pan and stir-fry the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with rice vinegar and sugar. Cook until you can see the tomato juice run and smell the tomatoes.
  4. Transfer the egg mixture back to the pan.
  5. In a separate small bowl, mix corn starch with slightly more than 1 tsp of water. Add to the pan.
  6. Toss and serve hot. It is ready! 🙂

This dish of tomatoes and eggs is original in taste and flavor (no need for MSG whatsoever), fresh and SO GOOD. Enjoy! x

Overnight Oats: Easy, Healthy, SO GOOD

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Overnight oats: wholesome and yummmmmy.

I’ve noticed that overnight oats is all the rage these days — from instagram posts and pop-up stalls all over. I always thought there was some complex process involved in making it (fermentation perhaps?!)…UNTIL Sarah corrected my misconception and told me it was super duper easy!

So I decided to try it out and true enough, it didn’t take me more than 5 minutes (!!). The night before, I simply added the oats, milk, and toppings into a glass jar and put them into the refrigerator. I rolled out of bed the next morning and TA-DAH!…a delicious and wholesome breakfast was ready. 🙂 TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Why didn’t I discover the wonders of overnight oats earlier (thanks Sarah!!).

Here’s some easy step-by-step instructions for making overnight oats in a jar:

1. Add a serving of rolled oats (about 4 tablespoons) into a glass jar. Some recipes recommend adding 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for more nutrition (omega-3s and protein).

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Rolled oats in a glass jar.

2. Add milk to the glass jar, ensuring that the oats are well-covered. I usually use full cream fresh milk but soy milk, almond milk, chocolate milk, etc works too. The milk will get soaked up by the oats overnight.

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Milk added to rolled oats.

3. Add toppings to the milk and oats. For my no-frills overnight oats, I simply add toasted muesli/granola (a blend of nuts, seeds, raisins, dried banana, grated coconut and dried mango) bought off the shelves. Additional toppings include fresh or dried blueberries, raspberries, banana, apples, grapes, greek yogurt, plain yogurt, etc (the list is endless!). You can add the toppings either the night before or the next morning – depending on how soggy you want them.

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Two different types of muesli/granola added to the rolled oats.

4. Pile on a sweetener (optional). My favourite options are manuka honey, blueberry jam and kaya (which reminds me of home). I’ve also tried pineapple jam which my mom bought for me. Other sweeteners include maple syrup, peanut butter (sinful), nutella (doubly sinfulll), etc.

5. Refine the overnight oats with spices like vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, etc. I do not have any spices at home so I usually skip this step.

Place the lid back on and pop the glass jar into the refrigerator. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours so all the milk can be absorbed. Now all you have to do is get a good night’s rest and breakfast will be waiting for you the next morning! 🙂 Remember to shake everything up in the jar with the lid on before digging in.

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Enjoying my overnight oats in my half-awake state before rushing off to church. YUUUUM.

Agent D swears by eating cooked oats every morning before going to work. Prior to my wonderful discovery of overnight oats, I always had to wake up slighly earlier to boil water and cook his oats on the stove. After having it cool down, I’ll then add milk, honey, muesli/granola and fruits. The entire process takes me about 15 to 20 minutes.

As of now, I’m looking forward to sleeping in more (Agent D can simply get his ready-to-eat breakfast from the fridge himself!). Whooooop.

Have a blessed Sunday everyone! xx

Kitchen Diaries: A Small Progress

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Since young, I was never into cooking. I was the kind of student that all Home Economics teachers would turn their noses up at (upon seeing my end-products). And I don’t blame them one bit. :/ My passion for cooking was non-existent (not even the tiniest flame!) and I had no intention of changing the status quo…UNTIL I learnt that Agent D had to take up post in Jakarta and he wasn’t keen on hiring domestic help. *cries*

What complicates matters is that Agent D LOVES HOMECOOKED food (he’s more health conscious than I am. I seriously wouldn’t mind eating out like everyday or something). Who is going to cook for him and put food on the table every night? Not me, right?

“Yes, it’s going to be you,” Agent D gave me a wry grin. If not, who else? IF NOT WHO ELSE rang in my head for quite a while. Could anyone save me out of this predicament? Sadly no. It was going to be just the two of us in Jakarta. No mommy or daddy there. A proverb came to mind – the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – which I remember many friends testifying to be true. After mulling over the issue (whether I should put my foot down and insist on domestic help OR pick up a few SOS cooking skills), I decided to go with the latter option.

Two weeks before our move, I picked up some essential kitchen knowledge/skills from my helper back home. I can still remember a few things off-hand now:

  1. Never add water to an oil fire. Water and oil do not mix. (I took chemistry up till A-levels but hey this never occurred to me!)
  2. Crush garlic before peeling them (That doesn’t even make sense! But ok I’ll just do it if it makes peeling garlic easier.)
  3. If there is not enough water in the stainless steel pot, the pot will burn. (seriously?! Hmm never knew that either.)

Many of the things would seem like common sense to you but they weren’t to me at all. When I was doing my Masters in the UK, I alternated between eating out and eating microwavable food from Marks and Spencer (I only remember packing 1 fork, 1 spoon, and 1 butter knife from home. NO POTS. NO PANS.) When I was doing my exchange in the States for 6 months, I survived by cooking with a group of friends. I was often relegated to doing the cutting/washing of vegetables whilst my peers did the real cooking. That was how I survived overseas.

But now it’s a totally different ball game altogether. I have to feed a HUNRGY GROWING MAN everyday. It wasn’t about me anymore.

8 months on, I’m proud to say I AM STILL SURVIVING. 🙂 Of course, there were times when I got frustrated (for example, burning a pot for the third time in a week) and would cry out to Agent D to just get a helper for me. But most times I gritted my teeth and learned through my failures. If you ask me whether I like cooking any much better now – I’d still say no. I do it because it’s a necessity, with us being on a long-term overseas posting.

I’d like to share some pictures documenting my small progresses in the kitchen (and also for me to remember how I’ve grown on this culinary journey):

As you can see from the pictures above (of my first few weeks of cooking in Jakarta), my food wasn’t all that enticing. Well, they were edible I guess. But more often than not, the veggies were undercooked/ meat was overcooked and too tough/ fish was overly salty/ etc. Kudos to Agent D who did not complain one bit and managed to even finish everything up! (I’m not quite sure how he did it. Even I could not bring myself to do so.)

As the weeks passed, my cooking skills got slightly better. I learnt how to add spices and sauces in moderation and how to control the fire. I must say learning on the job really helps. No choice what!

Here are some pictures of what I cook for our weekend brunches/ lunches. They’re mostly one-dish meals. Throw everything in and BAAAAM READY TO EAT. EASY. I LIKE.

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Spaghetti aglio olio with steamed greens and baby corn.

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Tomato mushroom penne (sauce was made from scratch!).

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Organic buckwheat mee sua with beans, carrots and lean pork.

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Eggs with tomatoes on toast, with baked beans on the side. (This one was a hit with Agent D!)

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Improved spaghetti aglio olio with mushrooms and roasted pumpkin soup.

As Agent D is pro-organic and likes anything healthy, I don’t fry food at home. Almost everything I cook is stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in soup. Here are some dishes that I’ve mastered after a while. They’re easily prepared in 20+ minutes or cooked on a slow fire which I don’t have to bother about.

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Steamed fish with ginger, chilli, and spring onion.

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Stir-fried pork with chinese cabbage and tofu.

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Bak kut teh.

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White fungus chicken soup with herbs.

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Baked salmon with vegetable herbs (pardon the over-sized vegetables, erm cutting skills are still work in progress).

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Winter melon soup with pork ribs, pumpkin, and egg.

These dishes are the same few I put on the table every week. Thank goodness Agent D doesnt grumble HUH why same thing again or can you please try something else. Whatever I cook, he eats (which is really helpful). Sometimes, he compliments me by saying “my wife’s cooking is really improving” and gives me a big hug — AWW how to stop cooking for him like that. Must persevere in my kitchen. 

These are what our regular dinner meals look like:

You can see that they’re actually the same few dishes rotated around. :/ I haven’t been too motivated/ adventurous to check out new recipes but I shall do so SOON. Agent D likes to have variety for dinner (2 veg + 1 meat + 1 fish) which comes up to a little too much when shared just between the two of us. As I don’t like to waste food, I always end up over-eating beyond my maximum stomach capacity. SIGH which explains my 2 kg weight gain since coming to Jakarta.

Will update again if any of the new recipes turn out particularly well! 😉


Today is a Public Holiday in Jakarta (Hari Raya Nyepi a.k.a. Balinese New Year). Agent D and I spent some time preparing a simple lunch together (which was really nice because he’s often so busy).

At night, we met a lovely Singaporean couple for dinner at Unacho (a Japanese restaurant that specializes in unagi dishes), which I’ll blog about another day. The food there was SO GOOD – especially on days when you have a major unagi craving.

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Homemade oats from Sarah.

Thanks for your yummy homemade oats, Sarah! Totally made my night. ❤

Happy Thursday everyone! Good night, world. YAWNS.