Taho (Philippine Tofu Pudding)

“Taho….taho….taho….”

Early mornings in the Philippines, you’ll normally hear the man selling this warm, caramel tofu pudding calling out these words. He would have two metal pails balanced by a bamboo rod on his shoulders. Hard work for sure, but surely, it made our day.

Kids and adults alike would wait patiently, holding their little cups, glass containers, and tumblers, for the taho vendor to come by their home. I remember a few times our nanny got a whole Coleman cooler (a gallon one I believe) for us. It’s that delicious!

Everyone asks for extra caramel, as it is the highlight of this sweet dessert/breakfast in a cup.

So…it’s been a while since I’ve had that taho that you can purchase. Taho here in the US is mostly an anemic cousin of the real stuff, flavor wise and texture wise. What to do but make it yourself, right?

I had been making soy milk and sometimes tofu for a while now but I never made a super soft, silky tofu like taho should be. It literally disintegrates when jiggled. I tried to make it but it just curdled, not really forming any solid you could scoop up. Oh well…

My co worker Lisette gave me this tofu mix a few months back. She said they use it to make taho, and you just need the sago pearls and the caramel and you’re good to go. Since my “from scratch” tofu pudding failed, I reached for the box and tried it.

It worked beautifully! See my photo below! And it’s super easy to make!

All you’ll need are the following:

For the tofu pudding:

1 box (6.06oz) Tofu mix

10 cups water mixed

For the caramel:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

For the tapioca pearls:

1/2 cup Tapioca pearls

5 cups water

To make the tofu pudding:

Mix 10 cups water with the tofu packet mixture in a large saucepan. That is the big envelope in the tofu box. Set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Stir constantly with a whisk. Lower heat and for 3 minutes.

Add the coagulant, which is in the smaller white envelope, into the mixture, slowly. Give it a quick stir. And stop.

Remove from heat. Cover. Set aside to set. Do not touch or move it while it is setting. I just left it to set in the saucepan I cooked it in. 😊

In the meantime, prepare the Caramel.

Place 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium low heat. When it comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the caramel is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Sago Pearls,

Bring 5 cups water to boil. Add 1/2 cup sago. Simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes until translucent. Drain and rinse. Place in a bowl of water until ready to use.

To assemble your “taho”

Using a spoon, carefully scrape thin layers of the warm tofu pudding into a glass, cup, or bowl. You only want a few spoonfuls as we will be layering this with the other ingredients.

*If the tofu is getting watery, scoop out and discard the excess water.*

Next, place a spoonful or two of the cooked tapioca pearls in.

Then a spoonful or two of the caramel(I always add more when no one is looking! It’s super delicious!).

Continue layering until you fill the glass almost to the top. I am stopping midway as I might eat everything at one go.

Remember to wipe of any caramel that dripped outside the glass! It will be a sticky mess if you don’t!

You can eat this with a spoon, as we do, or stir itup and drink it like I saw some folks do.

Either way, it is a nutritious and very delicious breakfast/snack/dessert.

I hope you all like this!

Tonkatsu (Breaded, Fried Pork Chops)

My all time favorite dish!

Call it whatever you want, schnitzel, milanesa, katsu…I always go with what I called it growing up-TONKATSU. And it has to be pork chops! Chicken is only acceptable to me when I have no other choice. 😊

Served with very thinly sliced cabbage, freshly cooked white, sticky rice, and of course the essential Bulldog sauce (no, it is NOT made with bulldogs!), I am a happy camper! I can really eat this everyday and I won’t get tired if it!

My mom, being Japanese, used to make this when we were little. It is definitely a comfort food for me and my family. My son actually loves this as much as do so even if I try to avoid serving fried dishes, I do oblige and make this once in a while. I always top the cabbage with Kewpie mayo too!

Of course, this is also the perfect “milanesa” to top my Peruvian Tallarin Verde. But more about that in my later article!

You’ll need pork chops. As much as you like!

I marinate them in lemon juice and fish sauce if I have time. Equal parts of lemon juice and fish sauce will make your pork chops taste really good, not fishy at all! Leave them in your refrigerator, covered, for a few hours, ideally overnight.

If you’re pressed for time, just salt and pepper them. It’ll taste good too!

You’ll also need flour. I start with about a cup of flour in a plate, and mix in a pinch or two of salt and pepper. This will be your first coating on the pork chops.

Next, you’ll need an egg or two mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Beat that well in another plate. This is your second coating.

Panko. Japanese bread crumbs. This will turn your pork chops into Tonkatsu.

Grab a bag, open, and pour some into a clean plate. A third plate. One for the flour mixture, one for the egg mixture, and one for the panko. Yup, this is your final coating before frying. 😋

Step 1: place a pork chop into the flour mixture, lightly press down on it to coat with flour,

Step 2: Turn over and coat the other side well.

Step 3: transfer to the egg mixture, coat well.

Step 4: turn pork over to coat the other side too.

Step 5: move on to the panko, coating one side thoroughly,

Step 6: turn over and press pork onto the panko to coat the other side. Repeat with remaining pork chops.

Step 7: heat a good amount of canola oil in a fry pan over medium heat.

Step 8: When hot, slide a couple of pork chops in. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Step 9: Carefully turn over to cook the other side. I find this is easiest done with a metal kitchen tong.

Step 10: cook the other side until golden snd meat is cooked through.

Step 11: carefully remove tonkatsu onto paper towel lined plate or wire rack.

Step 12: thinly slice a small head of cabbage. Rinse in cool water snd drain thoroughly.

Step 13: arrange tonkatsu, cabbage, and rice on s plate.

Step 14: serve with Bulldog sauce snd Kewpie mayo! Enjoy!!!

Shoyu Chicken

One of the easiest recipe ever! As easy as – place everything in a saucepan, simmer until done and sauce is reduced to a thick, sweet syrup. And of course, the chicken cooked through.

This is another Brentwood UCLA recipe that I still constantly prepare. The original recipe is from my work spouse, Loraine Yokote. She has a lot of easy to prepare yet utterly delicious recipes that I love! I mean who won’t like easy recipes, as we mostly work away from home yet still need to feed our families when we get home, right?

This is perfect, specially for when you are crunched for time. Simmer this on the stove then prepare the sides (rice in a rice cooker needs no supervision, a salad will come together in 5 minutes…) and you will still have enough time to take a shower, or help with homework while dinner is cooking by itself. All around awesome, I think!

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Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs, or 8 drumsticks

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sake, vermouth, or sherry

Procedure:

1. Place chicken pieces in a saucepan. *I used up a whole package of chicken drumsticks. There were 11 pieces and so I adjusted the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.*

2. Pour in water,

3. Soy sauce,

4. Sugar,

5. garlic and ginger, (I love garlic and ginger, so I added more than what the original recipe called for!)

6. and finally the sake. Stir, stir, stir!

7. Cover the saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

8. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour. The longer you cook it, the more tender the chicken will be. Watch the level of the liquid in the pot. You do not want this to burn.

9. After about an hour you will have this deliciously sweet, glazed chicken that goes perfectly with freshly cooked white rice! Or salad if that is what you like!

10. Enjoy and I hope you like it!

The original recipe by Loraine Yokote

Electric Lunchbox #99: Mangoes with Sticky Rice

This is a very delicious dessert typically found in Southeast asian countries. Rice is a staple eaten 3 times a day in that part of the world – plus for dessert/snack too! Mangoes with Sticky Rice is a simple treat but truly memorable and I know that I crave it often, specially when I see ripe, super fragrant, mangoes at the grocery store.

There are several variations of this Sticky Rice in Asia.

In the Philippines where I grew up, my aunts would wrap the rice mixture in banana leaves then tie them up in pairs before boiling it until the rice is done. They would serve these “Suman” as our midday snack, dipped in sugar, topped with ube halaya, or fried and topped with more sugar. There is also Biko, which is sweetened sticky rice and coconut milk, baked in a pan and topped with caramelly coconut jam. Another of my very favorite sweet!

I tried it served as this recipe is, with a side of mangoes and decorated with an orchid flower, in Singapore. 😋

When there are ripe mangoes available, they are THE perfect partner to this simple Sticky Rice dessert. Just make sure the mangoes are perfectly ripe!

To add more ooomph to this already yummy dessert, I added a drizzle of some Coconut Rum just before serving. I personally do not drink alcohol but somehow I love baking with it! As is evidenced by this recipe, and my famous Rum Cake recipe: https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/11/16/electric-lunchbox-bacardi-rum-cake/.

This dessert is something I’d gladly skip lunch or dinner for.

It is easy to make and sure to impress! I hope you try it!

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

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Ingredients:

1 cup sticky rice – I use Botan brand sweet rice🔝

2/3 cup canned coconut milk

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large ripe mangoes, cut from the pit and scooped out

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut rum, more if desired 😉

Procedure:

1. Place measured rice in a fine strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear, running your fingers through it to help in rinsing it.

2. Place rice in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and let soak for 4-12 hours.

3. Drain rice and place in the big bottom bowl of your ELB. Place this bowl, uncovered, in the ELB base.

See the difference in size? The one on the right is straight from the bag and the one on the left is after the rice was soaked overnight.

4. Place 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam for about 1 hour, until your lunchbox shuts off.

5. Carefully open the ELB and fluff rice with a fork. Cover loosely and set aside.

6. In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt.

7. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.

8. Pour mixture onto the hot rice.

9. Place the bowl back in the ELB, add 1 ELB cup of water to the base, cover and let steam until done, about 15 minutes more.

10. Carefully open the ELB and stir the rice. Check to see if rice is done by tasting some. The best part, right? Adjust sweetness if needed by adding more sugar if you like. A reminder though that the mangoes will add sweetness to the dish too.

11. Slice each mango half into thin, lengthwise pieces. ⬇️

12. Mound rice on a serving plate and arrange mango slices around it, or on top of the rice. *I used a small cup to shape the rice into a small dome. Just scoop some rice into a clean, dry cup, level the top while gently packing the rice in. DO NOT pack too much as you want it fluffy, just enough to hold its shape. You could also just scoop some rice onto the plate and top with mangoes. It’ll still be delicious!

13. Pour coconut rum over and serve.

14. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy every bite!

Choco Flan

Unmolded this☝️before chilling it completely. Notice the sunken area on the upper left.

Lesson learned: Be patient! Chill it overnight before unmolding. 😊

ChocoFlan! This is a rich, delicious chocolate cake with a beautiful layer of creamy flan sitting on top.

I first had this over a decade ago when my Cuban coworker at UCLA brought it for a potluck. It still amazes me how the layers switch when baking. You get a bit of yummy chocolate cake, a thick, creamy flan, all topped with caramelized sugar syrup…what more could you ask for?

This cake is easy to make and truly beautiful that you can bring it to any gathering and it’s sure to wow everyone lucky enough to have a slice…or two!

You’ll need a 12-cup bundt pan to make this as it rises almost to the top when baked. Most bundt pans I own have a capacity of 10 cups, so be sure to check your pan!

If you only have the 10 cup mold, set some of the cake batter aside for 2-3 cupcakes, or make a couple of small individual Choco flans in a ramekin with some of the syrup, flan, and cake mixture. The baking pan with water will also catch any overflow batter, so you should be fine.

The flan layer on this cake is thick, just the way I like it. You’ll get a good proportion of flan to chocolate cake in every bite, I promise!

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*I recently found a 6-cup bundt pan in Target made by Nordicware (https://www.target.com/p/nordic-ware-6-cup-formed-bundt-pan-navy/-/A-76431260#lnk=sametab) and I got 2 of course! If you have these smaller pans, you can split the caramel, flan, and cake batter between the 2 little bundt pans and have 2 Chocoflans – one to eat now and another for later, or to share!

Ingredients:

For the Caramel:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

For the Flan:

1 can (12oz) evaporated milk

1 can (14oz) condensed milk

4 oz cream cheese (half a bar)

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cake:

1 box (15.25oz) devil’s food cake mix

1/2 cup canola oil

3 eggs, separated*

1 cup water

Equipment:

1 12-cup bundt pan (or 2 6-cup bundt pans)

Saucepan

Blender

Large baking dish

Bowls

Hand mixer

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Spray your bundt pan/s with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Caramelized sugar:

3. Pour sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until deep brown, about 10-15 minutes. Keep swirling the pan when it starts to turn golden and remove from heat right before it reaches the color you want as it’ll keep cooking. You don’t want to burn this.

4. Using heavy oven gloves, immediately pour into prepared pan/s. Set aside.

Flan:

5. Pour all flan ingredients into a blender and pulse until well mixed.

6. Pour over caramel layer.

7. Place the bundt pan/s in a large baking dish. Fill baking dish with water halfway up the bundt pan. We are steam baking this, baine marie style!

8. Now carefully place the entire set up in the middle rack of your preheated oven. Close the oven and set your timer to 20 minutes.

9. In the meantime, prepare your Cake layer:

10. In a bowl, beat together devil’s food cake mix, oil, egg yolks, and water until blended. Set aside.

11. Grab another bowl that it is clean, dry, no traces of oil or grease, or any speck of egg yolks. Wash and clean your beaters and dry them, too. Then beat egg whites in the bowl using clean beaters until soft peaks form. Carefully fold in 1/3 into the cake mixture until mixed. Fold in another 1/3, mix and then add in the last 1/3. Fold in until no more traces of the egg white can be seen.

*If you are crunched for time, you can also just place ALL the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat for about 2 minutes on medium to high speed. The cake won’t be as light, but I’m quite sure no one will notice!*

12. Carefully remove the pan from the oven after 20 minutes.

13. Slowly pour the cake mixture over the flan. Cover with foil, lower the oven temperature to 350F, and bake for 55 minutes more, or until cake is fully baked. Check if cake is done by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake, it should come out clean.

14. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill overnight before unmolding.

15. Place a plate on top of the bundt pan and carefully invert the whole thing. You would hear/feel the cake drop onto the plate. Carefully remove the bundt pan and serve the cake!

*You might want to fill the bundt pan with water now to facilitate removing the caramel that is stuck on the bottom. It will dissolve on it’s own, no need to scrub, but it will need time, like a day or two!*

Spicy Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant…this is one of my favorite dishes to order when eating out at an Asian restaurant. Of course with COVID-19 I had been cooking almost all of our meals at home for over a year.

Most of the meals I like to eat are easily made at home so I just had to recreate this recipe too as I have been craving spicy, salty, sweet foods lately. Must be because we are in this pandemic longer than anyone thought we would. This dish checks all the boxes – spicy, sweet, and salty – truly delicious with plain steamed rice. As a bonus, you get your veggie serving in there too!

You can make this vegetarian by cooking it as it is but my boys like meat and frowns if they cannot find meat in their plate so I did add a couple of handfuls of chopped meat in there. You can also make it spicier buy adding more chili paste. As always, feel free to tailor my recipes to your tastes!

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For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon ground bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To finish cooking:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

*I added about 200 grams chopped pork to this recipe when I was taking photos of it for this article. You can leave it out if you want, but it sure makes it taste better!*

1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees F.

3. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring once, for about one minute. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set on paper toweling to drain.

4. Remove all but about a teaspoon of oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and add the garlic.

5. Add the chopped pork and let it brown for a few minutes.

6. Carefully pour in the sauce.

7. Let the sauce come to a simmer for 30 seconds.

8. Add the eggplant back to the wok and cook for 10-15 seconds while stirring.

9. Combine the cornstarch,

10. and water to make a smooth paste.

11. Stir it into the eggplant mixture.

12. Keep stirring until it thickens.

13. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

14. Serve hot with lots of steamed white rice.

15. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #97: Pistachio Cake

I’m back after not posting for a long time. Have you tried a beautiful, green colored Pistachio Cake?

My coworker (Jonnielyn Rivera) shared this super easy recipe with me a few years ago and I just had to adapt it to the ELB! It did take some time because I sometimes ended up with a cake that is too dense or tasteless, because of the amount of pudding. After a few tries, I think I finally nailed it. 😊 Look at the crumb of this cake in the photo below! Light yet moist and flavorful! 😋

And so here is an easy to make yet delicious recipe to try if you have time. All you’ll need is a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a box of yellow cake mix, a little box of pistachio pudding mix, a bit of sour cream, an egg, some canola oil, and some water!

I hope you’ll try out and of course, I do hope that you’ll like it!

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

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Ingredients:

1 cup yellow cake mix

3 tablespoons Pistachio Pudding Mix

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 egg

3 ELB cups water for the base

Procedure :

1. Spray the big or medium ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

2. In a bowl, place the yellow cake mix,

3. pudding mix,

4. sour cream,

5. water,

6. Oil,

7. and egg.

8. mix well until blended.

9. Pour into the prepared ELB bowl. Cover with foil.

10. Place bowl in the ELB base, pour 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 55 minutes.

11. Carefully open the ELB and check the cake for doneness by inserting a skewer in the middle. It should come out clean.

12. Cool completely on a wire rack.

13. Carefully unmold the cake and serve.

14. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (the Elon Musk one)

Finally, I was able to write this article. I hope you all will like it!

Tesla. Elon Musk. Bitcoin…..Chocolate Chip Cookies???

A few weeks ago, while on one of my rare break times at work, I came across this article about a Chocolate Chip Cookie that allegedly made Elon Musk go back for seconds. Wait, what? Did I read that right?

So of course, I read the whole article. The baker’s boyfriend works at Space X, and his desk is near Elon Musk’s office. So when the cookies were seen, he asked the bodyguard to get some. And then more.

I just wanted to go home and try the recipe she shared after I was done reading the article. But of course, I had to finish work before leaving.

So, a few hours later, I was able to prepare it. Lucky for me, ingredients for chocolate chip cookies are always in my pantry. 😊

I doubled the recipe so that I could share, and made it in the Thermomix so that it came together really fast.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks

1. Place the butter in a bowl. You can use a stand mixer or a hand held one. I used the Thermomix to make life easier.

2. Add the brown sugar,

3. And the white sugar. Mix together over low speed for 3 minutes.

4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the vanilla extract,

6. And the egg (eggs in the photo as I doubled the recipe).

7. Mix for about 15 seconds, low speed.

8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

9. Stir in the flour,

10. Baking soda,

11. And salt into the butter mixture.

12. Mix on low speed for 10-15 seconds, until just combined.

13. See the texture on the photo above.

14. Add in the chocolate chips, (love Trader Joe’s chocolate chips!)

15. And stir until incorporated.

16. Transfer dough into a container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

17. Next day, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Preheat oven to 350F.

18. Drop 2 tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared sheets.

19. Leave 2 inches of space between the dough balls as these spread out a bit.

*You can also scoop the dough, place it on the sheets, touching is fine, and freeze them. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and bake as needed. See above photo.*

20. Bake in the oven for 11-13 minutes, or until edges are golden, but the middle is still soft.

21. Slide the parchment or silicone mats directly onto the counter and cool for a few minutes. When set, about 5 minutes, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy cookies while they’re warm and gooey!