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


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


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


♥ 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.


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


♥ 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,


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


♥ 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


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.


♥ 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,


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


♥ 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


Porridge cooked with rice cooker:

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart


Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

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


♥ 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


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


♥ 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,

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


♥ 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)


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.


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,

W for wolfberry for #AtoZChallenge: easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe

Wolfberry is also known as goji berry (枸杞), desert thorn, or matrimony vine. When my eyes feel tired from staring too much into laptop, I remember Mom’s advice to have some wolfberries. They are versatile ingredients for tonic soups, porridge or congee, or herbal tea.

Wolfberries go well with a variety of dishes, simple ones include spinach soup.

In Southeast Asia, we often have spinach soup cooked with 3 different kinds of eggs: normal egg, salty egg, century egg. Home-cooked version of thin and clear spinach soup can be egg-free and simpler.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 26 Sat, I lovingly present a recipe of easy spinach soup with wolfberries by ServicefromHeart.
easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe by ServicefromHeart

Serving: 2 as a side dish
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes

♥ 1 packet spinach: sharp spinach (苋菜) or round spinach (菠菜)
♥ 1 tbsp anchovies / ikan bilis / ikan teri, rinsed
♥ 1 tbsp wolfberries
♥ 1 honey date (optional)
♥ 3 sticks imitation crab meat

1. Bring water to boil with anchovies and honey date to acquire salty and sweet tastes, respectively.
2. Before boiling, add wolfberies and imitation crab meat.
3. Meanwhile, wash thoroughly spinach.
4. After boiled, add spinach. Stir. Be careful not to overcook.
easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe by ServicefromHeart

♥ It is best to consume this meal immediately. Mom warned not to eat
left-over spinach dishes. Why? Spinach is rich in nitrate(which is
reduced to nitrite) and Fe2+ (oxidation of Fe2+ results in Fe3+).
♥ Rinsing and soaking wolfberries are also important to remove pesticides and fungicides.

Other recipes that I love:
♥ Nirmala Ganesh’s spinach soup at Lil Spice & Lil Stir
♥ Wiffy’s Chinese spinach in superior broth at Noob Cook

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

U for udang for #AtoZChallenge: udang tim DOM (steamed DOM prawns)

Hello seafood lovers! Spending my early years in Indonesia – an archipelago with 18,307 islands*, I grew up loving seafood greatly. We had them fresh and relatively inexpensive as compared to landlocked regions.

* according to a 2002 survey by National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia (LAPAN).

Udang is an Indonesian name for prawn. Initially, I wanted to prepare wasabi prawn but changed my mind as its recipe requires deep frying. Our little kitchen has no separation from our living room, so I agree not to deep-fry anything, as it will cause the couch and living room floor turning oily.

Quoting Plato, “necessity is the mother of invention,” I am motivated to think of ways to prepare delicious prawn dish without deep frying.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 24 Thu, I lovingly present a recipe of udang tim DOM / 法国廊酒蒸 / steamed DOM prawns.

steamed DOM prawns by ServicefromHeart


DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒) is a Made-in-France medicinal herbal liqueur beverage (1) developed in 1510 in a Benedictine monastery in Abbey of Fécamp, Normandy, France, and later (2) rediscovered by Alexandre Le Grand in 1863. 

DOM stands for “Deo Optimo Maximo” (“To God, most good, most great”) and is a commonly used abbreviation at the beginning of documents of the Benedictine Order. Aspiring like the highly dedicated manual & intellectual work of the Benedictine monks for God, we sincerely hope to produce delicious and nutritious meals with optimum and maximum love for our loved ones.

While the exact recipe of this 40%-alcohol liqueur is a closely guarded secret hitherto, we know that it is distilled in antique hammered copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for four months.

Nowadays, the ingredients include 27 ingredients. The list includes herbs and spices such as angelica, hyssop, juniper, myrrh, saffron, aloe, arnica & cinnamon.

When I just delivered baby Ren, I was given several bottles of DOM. The generations of our parents and grandparents believe that luxurious DOM helps mothers to recover from childbirth, especially during confinement. Thank you for such a gift with over 500 years of tradition!


Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes or until prawns are cooked


♥ 6 large prawns (known as shrimps in US)

♥ 3 cloves garlic (蒜头), minced OR 1 small knob ginger (), sliced

♥ 1 tbsp sesame oil (麻油)

♥ 1 tsp DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒)

♥ 1 tsp salt ()

Below are optional:

♥ 1 tsp wolfberries / Goji berries (枸杞子), washed & soaked

♥ 1 tsp light soy sauce (kecap asin)

♥ 1 tsp coriander / cilantro (胡荽叶) / parsley (香菜), finely chopped


1. Trim the head and tail end of the prawns using a pair of scissors.

2. Devein both back & under sides using a tooth pick.

3. Soak deveined prawns in salted water (to enhance the texture) for 10 minutes, drain & rinse.

4. Place ginger / garlic at the bottom of bowl, prawns on top of ginger.

5. Sprinkle DOM and sesame oil on top of prawns.

6. Steam at high heat until prawns cooked & turn orange (check once in a while to prevent overcooking). Cover bowl with aluminum foil.

steamed DOM prawns by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,