Tomato Egg Drop Soup

I wasn’t able to take photos as I was preparing this soup since I upgraded my phone and it took forever to sync with the old one.

In the meantime, I was totally phoneless (is that even a word?). I could’ve used the big Nikon dslr but it definitely would be in my way.

This soup cooked up really fast, about 15 minutes total, so it was ready way before my phone was done. I didn’t realize I had 12,000 photos and almost as much videos in there as I take photos with the phone when trying out and testing new recipes. I need to go and delete some one day. One day….

Anyway, the recipe….this is similar to the Egg Drop Soup you’ll find in most Asian restaurants, but with the addition of tomatoes. Trust me, it is very good.

My husband really loves Egg Drop Soup and since March last year, we had not gone out to eat at all. Time to try making it at home.

Someone sent me this recipe to try and after a few tweaks, I think it’s just perfect. I added a cup of water as the chicken stock made my soup a bit too salty for my taste. You may use 6 cups of chicken stock if you prefer your soup saltier.

I only have that one photo of the soup in the serving bowl, but if I make it again, I will update with step by step photos like all of my recipes!

Enjoy and I hope you’ll like it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

2 ripe tomatoes, stemmed and diced

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

Green onions, sliced

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

2 tbsp soy sauce

Pinch of ground pepper

Procedure:

1. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch or two of salt set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until it softens.

3. Stir in the garlic. Cool for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

4. Add in the the chicken stock and water, cover and bring to a boil.

5. Stir the soup clockwise. Pour the beaten eggs into the center of the pot and keep stirring clockwise.

6. Stir in the reconstituted cornstarch, soy sauce, and pepper.

7. Simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the cornstarch and thicken the soup.

8. Pour into serving bowls. Top with the spring onion before serving.

Japanese Strawberry Short Cake

Strawberries are pretty tasty this time of the year. I had been purchasing them from farmer’s stands and farmer’s markets as they are always good, unlike other places where it’s hit or miss.

They’re quite expensive though, at $5 -$8 per green basket, but totally worth it as they are sweet and delicious all the way through. I like eating them just as is, after washing. No need for anything else as they are very tasty…and fragrant.

There are no green sour patches on these at all. And since they are so good, I decided to make a cake for my mom’s birthday. I have quart of whipping cream and a dozen home grown eggs in the fridge so I’m all set.

I had been trading loaves of sourdough bread for eggs with my co worker once a week, so the eggs I have are really fresh. Which is important, as the cake is a simple sponge cake recipe where in your ingredients need to be really good and fresh for it to taste great. The frosting is a simple, lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, and topped with the best tasting strawberries you can find, this will be a cake you will make over and over.

We had to go to a soccer game at 9 am so I baked the layers and let it cool upside down for 20 minutes while we got ready, turned them right side up to cool completely while we were gone. I then whipped the cake, sliced the strawberries, and put the cake together after lunch, then chilled it for an hour before driving it over to my mom’s. Busy day!

I did not expect a lot of requests for this recipe so I did not photograph anything while whipping up the first, full sized cake. I did not have the time to either as I was rushing to get it done before we had to leave. However, since I did get a few requests, and since there was no left overs after it was demolished at my mom’s, I decided to make another, smaller cake for our home.

I halved the recipe and baked them in two 5-inch round cake pans. They were filled and frosted the same way as the full sized 8/9 inch cake. It was just enough for 6 slices, 2 each for me, my husband, and my son.

So here it is. There are a lot of steps but it is easy and the results are more than worth it. Feel free to break the steps down like I did to fit your schedule. I promise you will be amazed with the end results.

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Ingredients:

275 grams eggs

124 grams sugar

146 grams cake flour

45 grams milk

14 grams melted unsalted butter

1 pound fresh strawberries

500 grams cold heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans with parchment paper cut to fit.

2. Combine eggs and sugar in a small metal bowl. You will make a makeshift double boiler using the bowl and a small saucepan.

3. Place bowl over a small pan with simmering water.

4. Cook, stirring, until a thermometer reaches 98F.

5. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.

6. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 4 minutes.

7. Lower speed to medium and beat until ribbons form, about 5 more minutes.

8. See the videos above to determine when to stop. You should be seeing clear ribbons in the batter. This is important as this cake has no leavening, aside from the air trapped in the egg mixture.

9. Sift flour into a bowl to aerate it.

10. Place milk in a microwave safe bowl.

11. Place the butter in the bowl too.

12. Heat the mixture for 30 seconds and stir to melt butter.

13. Fold in 1/3 of the flour into the egg mixture until combined. Repeat twice more to use up the flour.

14. Slowly add the milk and butter mixture and stir to combine.

15. Do not overmix as you need the air in the mixture to make your cake light and fluffy. Mix just until combined.

16. Pour into the prepared pans. Drop the pans from about 2 inches from the counter to release any big bubbles.

17. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

18. In the meantime, slice a few of the strawberries into thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

19. Remove the cakes from the oven when done.

20. Invert them onto a cooling rack sprayed with nonstick spray. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.

21. Turn them right side up and cool completely.

22. Unmold and peel off the parchment paper.

23. In the meantime, pour the whipping cream in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

24. Wash, rinse, and dry a few strawberries left whole. Cut them in half lengthwise if desired.

25. Place on cake layer on the serving plate.

26. Spread an even layer of whipped cream over.

27. Top with sliced strawberries, trying to follow the shape of the cake. Cut the strawberries if needed.

28. Top with a little more whipped cream, just enough to cover the strawberries.

29. Top with the second cake layer and gently press down.

30. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.

31. Top with whole or sliced strawberries. Chill until set, about an hour or so.

32. You can serve it like this or decorate with melted chocolate.

33. I used melted Hershey’s sugar free chocolate to pipe zigzags on the strawberries I used to top my mom’s cake. You can also pipe it across the top of the cake.

34. Slice it carefully, serve and enjoy!

35. See how beautiful this cake is? Yum!

The picture below is my mom’s 9 inch cake, all lit up, with the chocolate topped strawberries and chocolate greeting on the side. It was totally out of this world delicious.

Trader Joe’s Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce

I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.

I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.

So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊

So…this is my most recent find!

I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.

You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.

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Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. I used the following:

1-2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

1 big potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into half moons

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

Water

Freshly cooked rice and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté garlic and onions until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Next add the potatoes and carrots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

4. Pour the curry sauce over. Fill the bottle halfway with water, cover and shake to get every last bit of the delicious sauce, open the bottle then pour contents into the pan.

5. Stir the mixture and cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken and vegetables are done, around 10-20 minutes.

6. Serve over freshly cooked, hot rice. Top with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic

Water

Store bought natto, or natto spores

Procedure:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!

Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.

The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.

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Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese shao xing wine

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

6 oz snow peas

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

Green onions, to serve

Procedure:

1. Prepare all ingredients and set close by.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together chicken, soy sauce shao xing wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and sugar.

3. In a wok, heat up oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.

4. Drain chicken, keeping the marinade, and add the chicken to the wok. Stir fry until cooked through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas, and stir fry for a minute.

6. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another minute.

7. Add in the reserved marinade and boil for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you boil it.

8. Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

9. Enjoy!

Chicken Satay

Right after I was done with college, my mom, dad, and I got into this habit of driving around without a destination, just looking to relax and unwind. In the process, we got to try a lot of different restaurants all over Luzon, in the Philippines.

One of our favorite was Thai restaurants. The delicious Chicken Satay, bagoong rice with green mangoes and scrambled eggs, and delectable peanut sauce served with it is enough to keep us dreaming till the next Thai meal. Rounded out with Thai Iced Tea and we’ve got fuel enough to take us wherever that full tank of gas can go.

Fast forward 21 years later, allergic to shrimp, I have not been able to eat this in a restaurant because of possible cross contamination. So what was I to do? Make it at home, so that I am sure of what went into my food!

This is a very delicious meal, even without the Bagoong rice. If you are not allergic to shrimp, I recommend you try this with the Bagoong fried rice. I did provide an easy guide at the very bottom of this article.

2 pounds chicken breasts, sliced into pieces about 1”x2.5”

MARINADE:

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped red chili, optional

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons minced ginger, or ginger paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 heaping teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

SAUCE:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/3 cup water

Procedure:

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all marinade ingredients until well blended.

2. Add chicken slices and mix well to coat evenly.

3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight, to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors. In the meantime, soak short bamboo skewers in water.

4. Skewer 3 – 4 pieces of chicken in bamboo skewers and set aside.

5. Grill until done on one side, then turn to cook the other side. I used my stovetop griddle/grill plate as it was too cold to grill outside today.

6. Repeat with all remaining chicken skewers.

7. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. *Forgot to take a picture of this sauce! Sorry! I will update once I make it again!

8. Serve with chicken and rice. Enjoy!

*This is usually served with fermented shrimp paste rice. My son and I are both allergic to shrimp so we do not serve it this way. If you do want to make it, though:

Heat a pan and add some canola oil. Saute minced garlic until golden then add chopped onions. Cook until onions are golden and soft. Add a few spoonfuls of bottled bagoong (fermented shrimp paste). Mix well and add cooked rice. Stir to heat up the rice and distribute the shrimp paste evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with scrambled eggs sliced in long strips.

Microwave Mochi

Microwave mochi was one of the food that me and my coworkers at Brentwood made one fun day.

I purchased a few of the microwave Mochi makers from Marukai (now Tokyo Central) in Gardena, CA. We brought in boxes of Mochiko rice flour, sugar, and any filling we want to eat! There was strawberries, mangoes, coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, truffles, peaches, blueberries….anything and everything you can imagine.

We made batches upon batches and quickly formed the hot mochi into little balls with our chosen filling inside. Then quickly pop it in our mouths. We had an hour lunch so we had time to make our mochi and enjoy it too.

I really like the mango filled ones that I then rolled in desiccated coconut. That was yum!

So here I’m sharing the basic recipe! It’s easy to make and takes 5 minutes or 9 minutes depending in which method you follow!

You’ll need:

Microwave Mochi

1-1/2 cups mochiko (rice flour)
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
Katakuriko (potato starch) or kinako (roasted soybean flour), for dusting
1 cup tsubushi an (mashed bean paste) or koshi an (smooth bean paste)

Lightly coat a microwavable tube cake pan with cooking spray.

Mix mochiko, water, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Pour mixture into pan and cover with plastic wrap or a microwave cover.

Microwave 3 minutes on low, then 3 minutes on medium and 3 minutes on high, for a total of 9 minutes.

OR microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Cool in microwave 5 to 10 minutes, then turn onto a baking pan sprinkled with katakuriko, kinako, or cornstarch. Cut into 16 pieces using a plastic knife.

Dust hands with katakuriko or kinako and flatten each piece. Place 1 tablespoon an (or any filling of your choice) in center of each piece. Bring edges together and pinch to seal. Shape as desired.

Note: This recipe is based on microwave wattage of 1,000. Depending on your microwave wattage, cooking time may need to be adjusted.

Variations

>> Add fresh strawberries, peanut butter or sweet chestnut covered with bean paste.
>> For chocolate flavor, stir 1/4 to 1/3 cup melted chocolate chips into mochi batter before cooking.
>> Add a few drops of food coloring into batter for color variation.
>> A few drops of flavoring (strawberry, grape, orange, blueberry, etc.) may also be added.

Electric Lunchbox #91: Strawberry Nesquick Mochi

I always have this big can of Nesquick Strawberry mix as my son loves it mixed in his morning mug of milk. I started buying it when I was pregnant, as I didn’t like chocolate then, so was happy to see they offered it in strawberry flavor! It was the only way i could drink milk then. I guess it got passed on to my son! 😊

When I was making the mochi recipes for the ELB, I happened to see the can of Nesquick and immediately thought of using it as flavoring. And here is the result of the experiment!

I would add more Nesquick next time as the flavors and color was minimal. Otherwise, the mochi was chewy, sweet, and delicious enough for a snack.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup mochiko rice flour

1/4 cup sugar

2- 3 tablespoon Nesquick Strawberry drink powder

1/2 cup water

Katakuriko or cornstarch for dusting

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix rice flour,

2. Sugar,

3. Nesquick powder,

4. And water,

5. Mix well until blended.

6. The mixture will be thin, see photo below.

7. Spray the medium or large ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

8. Pour mochi mixture into the bowl. Cover with foil and place in the ELB base. Pour 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

9. Carefully open the ELB, and check if mochi is set. Add more water to the base and steam longer if needed.

10. Dust the top with katakuriko or cornstarch.

11. Turn out onto a plate dusted generously with katakuriko or cornstarch.

12. Using a plastic knife, cut mochi into bite sized pieces.

13. Dust with more katakuriko or cornstarch to prevent sticking.

14. Enjoy!