food

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios

In the early spring 2014, I received a request to prepare two types of desserts for a friend’s birthday. The first one is for adults only: Irish cream Baileys tiramisu (an easy recipe here). The second one is for little guests, so it must be children-friendly.

After a brief brainstorming on a MRT train ride, I designed a dessert of chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

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Agar has multiple uses, from culinary to scientific ones.

Agar is a gelatinous substance derived from the polysaccharide agarose, which forms the supporting structure in the cell walls of particular algae / seaweed (e.g. Gelidium amansii).

Agar (a Indonesian / Malay word) is also known as:

kanten / 寒天/ かんてん, literally means cold winter in Japan

China grass in India

About a decade ago, I was fortunate to have a brief experience of using agar, as a culture media, to grow some harmless bacteria to express proteins of interest. The particular proteins were then purified prior to subsequent experiments. To prevent the proteins from denaturation (melted) and hence unfunctional, I did the purification in a cold room at 4C! The experience made me appreciate agar even more than ever. Thank you Dr. Tan!

In term of its biochemistry, agarose is a linear polymer made up of the repeating monomeric unit of agarobiose. Agarobiose is a disaccharide made up of D-galactose and 3,6-anhydro-L-galactopyranose.

For culinary uses, agar desserts are relatively easy to prepare: bake-free. Agar is also a less heaty choice of children-friendly snack.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Agar desserts (jellies, puddings, and custards) can be prepared the day or the night before birthday parties, casual parties, Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Valentine’s Day or barbeque (BBQ) events. Serve chilled.

An alternative to the animal-derived gelatin, agar is also suitable for our friends and family members who are vegetarians.
chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Since agar is 80% fiber, it is good for laxative purpose. When our little ones suffer from constipation, I will prepare agar desserts, which are more appealing than medicines.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

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For all of you who love chocolate drinks, including MILO lovers, I lovingly present a recipe of chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios.

Servings: 8

Preparation & cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 4-5g agar seaweed powder

♥ 8 tsp glucolin

♥ 2 tsp cocoa powder

♥ 250 ml fresh milk*

♥ 250 ml water

♥ Cheerios O rings, to taste

* If you want a creamier version of the pudding, use 500 ml fresh milk and no water.

Directions:

1. Dissolve agar powder in water & milk.

2. Bring to a boil over low heat & simmer.

3. Stir in glucolin and cocoa powder.

4. While the mixture is hot, pour it onto containers / moulds.

5. Decorate with Cheerios O rings.



Glucolin is suitable for days when we have poor appetite and feel low on energy. When we suffered from diarrhoea, our parents used to feed us glocolin water. Please consume in moderation because an excess intake of sugar can lead to unintentional weight gain.

You can substitute glucolin with sugar. I used glucolin because

1. Glucolin is mainly glucose, but it also comes with calcium and vitamin D3. For every 100g, glucolin has 0.5 g and 500 IU of calcium glycerophosphate and vitamin D3, respectively.

2. It is finer than sugar so it will dissolve faster.

3. I have a tin at home.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Tips:

♥ Have fun in your kitchen, engage your little ones if they are interested to join in. Mix and match with agar
jelly / pudding of similar / contrasting flavors.

♥ Please ensure dissolving agar powder in enough water or other liquid, to minimize the risks of bowel blockage & trouble swallowing. While the packaging of agar powder that I used for this recipe suggests dissolving 10g agar powder in 1 liter water, sometimes I use slightly more liquid.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140601

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits

In 2011, an entrepreneurial and creative girlfriend who grew up in Shenzhen, China and did her graduate study in Cambridge, England came to live in Singapore for half a year. Having neither seen nor tasted dragon fruits before, she was fascinated by and loved eating them very much.

You tend to grow loving things and people whom your inspiring friends – your influencers – also love.

Since then, I have developed an appreciation for dragon fruits, also known as pitaya / pitahaya / 龙珠果, which are often served cut in lunch or dinner buffets in Singapore.

You will hardly miss dragon fruits sold in tropical markets or supermarkets, thanks to their beautiful vibrant magenta skin.

In contrast to its eye-catching outer appearance, the mildly sweet flesh of dragon fruits offers delicate aroma. The sweetness reminds me on melon, honeydew and pear, but dragon fruits are softer in texture than them.

Widely grown in the tropics, dragon fruit has been reported as potential anti-cancer (PMID 21535651), thanks to its anti-oxidant phenolic content in both skin / peel (more!) and flesh.

Blending pitaya hopefully helps to break its black and crunchy seeds, which are indigestible unless chewed. Please do not forget to treat your olfactory senses to the subtle fragrance of pitaya, before gulping them down to quench your thirst.

In this post, I lovingly share two drink recipes of dragon fruits. Enjoy!

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Dragonfruit detox juice (火龙果排毒果汁)

Ingredients:
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (火龙果)
♥ 1 stalk organic celery (有机芹菜)
♥ 1 tsp honey (蜜糖)
♥ 150 ml water (过滤水)

♥♥♥

Dragonfruit banana smoothie (龙珠果香蕉冰沙)
Ingredients:
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (龙珠果)
♥ 1 ripe banana (香蕉)
♥ 100 ml fresh milk (鲜奶)

Directions:
1. Wash dragofruit, cut into halves. Use a large spoon to scoop out its flesh. Trim away any extra inedible skin. Cut into chunks.
2. Peel & chunk banana.
3. Blend dragonfruit, banana, milk together.

Tips: Since the skin has higher anti-oxidant content, consider using its flesh-facing side as a mask before throwing away.

由于火龙果皮肤具有更高的抗氧化剂含量, 扔掉之前, 请考虑使用它的肉面对侧作为面膜

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I love:
Dragonfruit and black sesame mochi ice cream by Maya, a scientist by training @ Foodiva’s Kitchen, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo
♥ Dragon fruit mock mojito by Elizabeth @ Frugal Mom Eh! Canada
♥ Pitaya sorbet by Yolanda Bertaud @ Byzantine Flowers

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
Spring 2014

very easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian)

This soup has been inspired from the apple beetroot carrot juice which has been promoted in relation to the “treatment of lung cancer and several other diseases.”

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

While it is best to consult experts (e.g. medical practitioners, doctors, specialists), we can also do our parts by improving our diets to stay healthy and get better in our health.

Since I am going to serve the delicious apple, beetroot and carrot to baby Ren, I prefer to cook them so that the water content inside these inexpensive vegetables and fruit is boiled (to kill any germ).

For Dear and myself, I alternate between raw juices and soups.

♥ ♥ ♥

Serving an apple a day to the apple of our eyes – our little one(s) is as magical as the classic story of Snow White and a ministory about it.
easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

Beetroot is known to help in the treatment of anemia. I love th imagine how our mother nature endows us with beetroot that ‘bleeds’ its natural bloody red liquid when we peel and cut it.

Please do not worry if you have a slight pinkish urine after consuming beetroot.

Beetroot can reduce blood pressure (PMID: 23596162), so it is good for people with high blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure like me, please consume beetroot moderately. I try not to eat more than one beetroot weekly. There are so many other delicious vegetables to savor, thankfully!

Since beetroot releases slight salty taste, I do not add any salt to the soup.

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

The soup tastes mildly sour with slight sweetness, and it goes well for baby Ren who loves sweet sour fruits!

Upon drinking the soup, baby Ren’s lips turn pinkish – like lipstick-adorned ones. He playfully laughs and sticks his tiny tongue out to slurp joyfully. Your heart surely melts when your little ones do so.

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart : food tester baby Ren

♥ ♥ ♥

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 1 green apple (苹果)

♥ 1 beetroot (甜菜根)

♥ 1 carrot (红萝卜)

♥ 6 red dates (红枣), pitted

♥ 1 honey date ()

♥ 800 ml – 1 liter water

Directions:

1. Wash the produce thoroughly. I wash both organic and non-organic products, and wash more carefully for non-organic ones.

2. Peel carrot, beetroot, apple. Remove the core and seeds of the apple.

3. Add all ingredients to boiled water. Simmer over low heat for 60 minutes.

Tips:

♥ To make the soup more flavorful, use soup stock (e.g. gratitude soup stock, which is non-vegetarian). Next time, I will share vegetarian soup stock recipe.

♥ Beetroot stains. Please be careful especially if you are wearing light color clothes or preparing beetroot in the morning in your professional attire. I normally prepare and consume beetroot first before getting changed.

Other recipes that I love:

apple beetroot carrot juice by Blessed Homemaker @ Singapore

cucumber, celery, pear and lemon juice by Swathi (Ambujom Saraswathy) @ Zesty South Indian Kitchen

celery pear kale juice by Whitney Bond @ Little Leopard Book

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

ServicefromHeart

comforting rice porridge (spring 2014)

Porridge, also known as congee / Okayu お粥 / bubur, is comforting food for breakfast, lunch, or supper. It is easy to prepare yet generously fueling our days with energy and nutrients.

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

Baby Ren loves thick but not thin porridge, so I use a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6 of rice grain:water.

Hot, nutritious and comforting porridge is a happy choice of our breakfast this spring. Sometimes, I use slow cooker to cook porridge overnight so it will be ready in the morning.

Fish porridge

♥ 150g Haruan fish

♥ 1 tsp anchovies

♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain

♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

Seafood porridge

♥ 150g Haruan fish

♥ 1 tsp anchovies

♥ 4 scallops

♥ 1 tbsp dried scallops

♥ crabmeat, to taste (optional)

♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain

♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

Meat porridge

♥ 200g pork ribs

♥ 1 carrot

♥ 1 tbsp dried scallops

♥ 8 red dates, pitted

♥ 1 tbsp wolfberries

♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain

♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

To enhance the flavor of porridge, consider adding the followings:

♥ white pepper

♥ sesame oil

♥ sesame seeds (white / black)

♥ fried red onion

♥ cilantro / coriander, finely chopped

♥ parsley, finely chopped

♥ nuts e.g. peanuts, pistachio, almond

♥ balsamic vinegar / wine vinegar

Sometimes I add any / some of these ingredients:

♥ millet: pearl millet, finger millet

♥ quinoa

♥ barley

♥ couscous

♥ oat

♥ lotus root powder / lotus root

♥ wild yam / 淮山 / Huaishan / Dioscorea opposita. I bought the powder form so it will dissolve faster while cooking.

♥ mushroom e.g. shitake

♥ sweet potato

♥ potato

♥ carrot

♥ celery

♥ onion

♥ peas

Do you have more suggestions? I would love to hear from you ♥

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

Tips:

♥ Once cooked, do not stir the entire pot of porridge to prevent them from turning thin / watery. If you want to add no-cook ingredients (e.g. sesame oil, pepper, chopped scallion), take a large scoop of porridge into a serving bowl. Then, add the desirable ingredients and stir.

♥ If possible, use freshly harvested rice grain, especially for babies.

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

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Porridge cooked with rice cooker:

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

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Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140501

Z for zucchini for #AtoZChallenge: zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe

Zucchini, also known as courgette / 夏南瓜, is a summer squash. A funny poem about zucchini and summer entitled Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy goes:

“And thus the people every year

in the valley of humid July

did sacrifice themselves to the long green phallic god

and eat and eat and eat.

They’re coming, they’re on us,

the long striped gourds,

the silky babies, the hairy adolescents,

the lumpy vast adults like the trunks of green elephants.

Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;

sauté with olive oil and cumin,

tomatoes, onion; frittata;

casserole of lamb; baked topped with cheese;

marinated; stuffed; stewed;

driven through the heart like a stake.

Get rid of old friends:

they too have gardens and full trunks.

Look for newcomers:

befriend them in the post office,

unload on them and run.

Stop tourists in the street.

Take truckloads to Boston.

Give to your Red Cross.

Beg on the highway:

please take my zucchini,

I have a crippled mother at home with heartburn.

Sneak out before dawn to drop them in other people’s gardens,

in baby buggies at church doors.

Shot, smuggling zucchini into mailboxes, a federal offense.

With a suave reptilian glitter

you bask among your raspy fronds sudden and huge as alligators.

You give and give too much, like summer days limp with heat,

thunderstorms bursting their bags on our heads,

as we salt and freeze and pickle for the too little to come.”

Zucchini contains useful amounts of folate / folic acid (24 μg/100 g), potassium (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A (384 IU [115 μg]/100 g).

While looking for star anise (for sea cucumber recipe) at Bishan NTUC Fairprice Finest, I came across yellow zucchini – products of Malaysia. Since it has been produced regionally, I asked myself, “why not try a new dish with zucchini?”

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 30 Wed, I lovingly present a recipe of zucchini bok choy stir-fry.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Dear loves it, he describes zucchini as being slightly similar to aubergine / eggplant.

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 7 minutes or until crispy tender

Ingredients:

♥ 1 zucchini (夏南瓜), washed & julienned

♥ 2 bok choy (小白菜), washed & cut

♥ 5 cherry tomatoes (樱桃番茄)

♥ 1 tbsp olive oil (橄榄油)

♥ 1 tbsp peanut butter (花生酱)

♥ 1 knob ginger (), minced

♥ 5 cloves garlic (蒜头), minced

♥ 1 tsp dried shrimp (虾米), minced

♥ 1 tsp DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒)

♥ pepper (胡椒粉) to taste

Directions:

1. Wash & cut zucchini & bok choy.

2. Sautee ginger, garlic, dried shrimp with heated olive oil until fragrant.

3. Add zucchini, peanut butter, DOM, pepper.

4. Add bok choy & stir-fry until cooked.

5. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Tips:

♥ If you buy green color zucchini, Choose bright green color one with a max length of 25-30 cm. Larger ones may be bitter.

♥ May I also suggest an easy recipe of zucchini soup with meatballs?

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.
With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140430

Y for yogurt for #AtoZChallenge: classic yogurt salad recipe

Friends and people in Turkey, Greek, Eastern Europe, India have commonly enjoyed classic yogurt salad. I have to acknowledge Rani, an Indian stall, for inspiring me to include the classic salad as a frequent dish item in our family meals, starting in late 2013. Baby Ren’s Daddy loves it a lot.

classic yogurt salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

Hard-working students, ambitious career professionals, and multi-tasking mothers love how very fast and easy this recipe is to prepare.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 29 Tue, I lovingly present a recipe of classic yogurt salad by ServicefromHeart.

Servings: 2

Preparation time: < 5 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 1 Japanese cucumber

♥ 1 red onion

♥ 5 tbsp low-fat plain / Greek yogurt

♥ 1/2 tsp black pepper

♥ 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped

Other optional ingredients:

♥ carrot

♥ tomatoes

♥ blueberry

♥ sesame seeds

… over 100 salad ingredients!

Directions:

1. Peel the Japanese cucumber, onion and chop into bite-size chunks.

2. Mix with yogurt and pepper.

3. Garnish with cilantro.

4. Serve immediately or put into the fridge before serving. It will taste better!

classic yogurt salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

Tips:
♥ For variations, substitute cilantro with 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tbsp fresh dill (莳萝) or 1 tsp fresh mint (薄荷).
♥ If you have more time, after chopping cucumber, put into freezer for up to 30 minutes or until just starting to freeze for crunchier cucumber.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes, especially for salad!

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140429

X for XO for #AtoZChallenge: easy XO fried rice recipe

XO stands for eXtra Old for cognac – a variety of brandy liquor – that has been stored for a minimum of 6 years (from 2016 onward, a minimum of 10 years).

Cognac, named after the town Cognac in France, must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels.

Since brandy has been used for:

♥ cake & pie toppings

♥ steak sauces

♥ soups such as onion soup

♥ Christmas pudding

♥ XO fish head bee hoon (thick noodle) in Singapore

May I recommend using XO cognac for simple home-cooked dishes like fried rice?

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Since I was using leftover rice for baby Ren – which I purposely cooked softer, my fried rice was slightly soggy.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 28 Mon, I lovingly present a recipe of XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart.

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Colorful rice grains of mixed white, red, brown rice

Serving: 1

Preparation & cook time: < 15 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 1 bowl pre-cooked rice, dried & chilled

♥ 2 tbsp olive oil

♥ 1 tbsp sesame oil

♥ 2 cloves garlic, minced

♥ 1 slice ginger, minced

♥ 1 tsp anchovies powder

♥ 1 tsp dark soy sauce (kecap manis)

pepper, to taste

♥ 1 tbsp spring onions, chopped

♥ 2 tbsp XO cognac

♥ 1 egg

♥ 4 scallops (optional)

♥ 1 carrot, diced (optional)

♥ 1 stalk celery, sliced (optional)

♥ 1 tbsp peas (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat oil using high heat to stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant.

2. Sauté vegetables (carrots, celery, peas)

3. Add scallops. After a side is cooked, turn them over.

4. Add rice, pepper, anchovies powder, dark soy sauce. Stir to mix well.

5. Coat with sesame oil and XO for a shiny look. 6. Stir thoroughly.

7. Garnish with spring onions.

Tips:

1. Use cold and dry cooked rice. You want to use firm rice grains because they are easier to separate while stir-frying them. This choice is important to prevent your fried rice turning out soggy or mushy. To remove moisture, you can either (A) air freshly-cooked rice and then refrigerate the rice for a minimum of two hours or (B) use leftover rice from the night before.

2. Use medium to long grain rice such as medium grain of jasmine rice. Choose the sturdy grains that don’t clump together when fried. Avoid short grain sushi rice or glutinous rice, which is softer and tends to stick together.

3. To acquire the smoky, slight burnt flavor, use high heat: a blazing hot pan / wok if possible. Add sufficient amount of oil to prevent your fried rice ingredients from sticking to the surface of pan. While the heat to stir fry our home-cooked version of fried rice may not be as hot as restaurants’ ones, we can pre-heat our pan with a lid before adding ingredients.

4. To ensure thorough mixing of flavors and aroma, cook 1 to 2 servings at a time.

5. To have a crunchy texture, include vegetables like celery or long beans as ingredients.

6. For a stronger taste, you can pre-infuse your oil with ginger and garlic overnight.

7. To prevent the fried rice from turning out mushy or soggy, I prefer to separately cook the egg into a sunny side up or an omelette that can be thinly stripped to garnish on top of the fried rice.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140428