Anti-bacterial EZ-Lock boxes for bento

EZLock Ag+

EZLock Ag+

Japanese bento boxes have come with anti-bacterial silver ions for some time, like these ones. This helps to prevent your food from going bad, especially in hot weather.

Now Lock n Lock’s EZ-Lock range also some with Ag+ ions. After you remove the cardboard packaging, the Ag+ boxes can be distinguished by their lids of a slightly lighter shade of blue compared to standard EZ-Lock. View the latest 2009-2010 Lock n Lock catalogue here (only works with Internet Explorer).

Here are some suitable sizes for bento.

EZlock Ag+: 520ml & 620ml

EZlock Ag+: 520ml & 620ml

EZlock Ag+: 890ml & 965ml

EZlock Ag+: 890ml & 965ml

Gluten-free waffles

Gluten-free waffles

Gluten-free waffles

I’m afraid I’ve been very slack at updating my blog. The truth is I have experimented with several gluten-free waffle recipes, one of which was wonderful – but because I didn’t make notes, I can’t remember which one it was now :(!

The last recipe I tried was from the book Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America. This recipe uses ‘Flour Blend #5′ which of all the flour blends in the book, is the one with the highest protein content. As you can read in my earlier notes, I modified the flour mix slightly too. If my inference is correct, this could be the reason for these waffles having a rather bread-like texture. I personally prefer my waffles more crisp, so perhaps I should experiment with using different flour blends with this same recipe.

This recipe also uses additional whisked egg whites to add more lift to the batter (just as my grandmother’s waffle recipe does). Actually I haven’t noticed a huge difference between waffle recipes that used the extra egg whites and those that don’t (although others swear that whipped egg whites are critical). Since I’m lazy and would also prefer not to use up four eggs on one batch of waffles, I’d probably choose another recipe as my basic waffle staple.

One thing I do like about this recipe is that it’s not as oily as the first waffle recipe I tried. Overall, it’s quite a good recipe.

1 1/3 cups (7.7 oz) Flour Blend #5: rice, tapioca, soy flours – see here.
1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt [omitted]
1/2 cup (4 oz) sugar [omitted]
2 eggs
1/4 cup (2 oz.) butter, melted
3/4 cup (6 oz.) milk
2 egg whites

1. Mix together dry ingredients.
2. Mix together wet ingredients separately.
3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix thoroughly.
4. Whip egg whites to medium peaks.
5. Temper egg whites by adding one-third of batter to egg whites and mixing gently.
6. Fold tempered whites into remaining batter.
7. Bake in oiled waffle iron.

Related posts:
A waffles novice
Four-grain waffles

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

This is one of the other things I made for my recent tea party. For food intolerance readers, sorry this one breaks all the rules — it’s got sugar, eggs, butter and wheat flour! I was baking for the eating pleasure of others…

I used this basic recipe with some modifications.

115g butter
60g castor sugar [or to taste, less is also ok, especially if you use sweet fruits]
115g flour — used all white flour and substituted two tablespoons with homemade dried okara (simply because I had some to use up)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin [steam or microwave the pumpkin]
chopped walnuts to taste

To prepare the nuts: roast wholenuts over very low heat in a frying pan without oil. I like to chop them by placing in a deep bowl then using scissors. If you chop them first, the very small bits burn easily when roasting. Use a coarse sieve to remove bits of bitter skin or small burnt scraps.

Cream fat & sugar.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Fold in sifted flour and baking power.
Add pumpkin and walnuts this to sponge mixture & mix well.
Put into 1 loaf tin.
Bake 40 mins at 375˚F / 180˚C or until done.

The final result was very light and spongy! However, I did use a bit more flour than the recipe amount and it was a bit dry. I’ve made this basic recipe countless times before and learnt the following:

1) It’s usually very moist, because of the high butter content, so an oily kind of moist.

2) Don’t overdo the amount of fruit puree (banana, pumpkin, peach etc. – anything soft and mashable) as it results in a batter that has too much liquid and you end up with a dense cake (canceling out all the hard work in creaming to introduce an airy texture!).

3) ALWAYS take the trouble to do the creaming stage properly, don’t rush the process. The light and airy creamed mixture will impact the final texture of the cake greatly.

Be careful of emulsification, which happens when you add too much egg at one time, as I experienced before. I now beat all the eggs in a bowl and add it to the creamed mixture one tablespoon at a time.

Read more about creaming here and here.

12 Sep 09 update: Made this cake again today using homemade red bean paste (sweetened to taste) instead of pumpkin. Very successful and delicious!

Strawberry & pear agar-agar

This was part of my menu for a tea party. I had to choose some foods to suit the extremely hot weather at the moment, as well as things that would go well with Chinese tea. I flipped through my summer wagashi recipe books and decided that a co0l, non-melting kanten/agar agar dish would go down well.

strawberry & pear agar-agar

strawberry & pear agar-agar

Started out planning green tea and red bean agar, but found my matcha had expired and turned a dusky brown colour *yuck*. Looking around in the kitchen for tasty alternatives, I found  some strawberries in the fridge — small Korean strawberries which, if you’re lucky, can be very sweet. This batch wasn’t, so I didn’t mind using them to make agar-agar instead of enjoying fresh with crème frâiche (Carrefour’s La Reflets de France premium house brand, great with scones too).

I put the strawberries into the microwave for a short while, then mashed them with a potato masher (a fork will also do). As there were only  a few strawberries, I chucked in some canned pears leftover from the improvised gluten-free pear muffins, and mashed up the whole lot.

Measured the fruit puree then added water to make up 1 litre. Put in quite a lot of sugar, which I normally wouldn’t do but since these were for a party, the tastebuds of the guests took priority over my own food preferences.

Heated the mixture and added the agar-agar powder according to the packet instructions, then chilled it in moulds. Super easy and they were a big hit!

The full tea party menu:
Strawberry & pear agar-agar
Pumpkin walnut sponge cake [adapted from this]
Earl Grey creme caramel [using this basic recipe]
Chinese “gong fu” tea: oolong and pu-er

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