Recipe: Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

French bread soaked in egg mixture, ready to be frozen

Frozen French Toast, before...

After... Delicious French Toast!

I was going to put a post about the cold noodle salad with strawberry vinaigrette, but I need to push it back a bit.  Because…

Mother’s Day is coming.  I have a great recipe to share that allow Moms in the world to be treated well — and easy for the family.

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make a large batch this weekend, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from on Mother’s day (and beyond).

Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  Place all of them cut side down in a flat container.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once.
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if wrapping two or more together, make sure it’s wrapped side by side like on the photo, not on top of each other).  Put them on the cookie sheet with sides to avoid leakage, and freeze.
  4. For Mother’s Day, or whenever you want to have your family make this it for you: : )  Remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toasts and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup.
  5. If they are not frozen, just cook with butter, without lid until golden brown.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup.  It was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later on Mother’s day.

As in this recipe, save some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give your family some written instructions.  Your sous-chef of the house (husband and children) will be able to assemble meals when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories on my blog for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.  As a matter of fact, when I got pneumonia last fall, these batched items in our fridge and freezer literary saved our lives, and upgraded my husband’s status as a Kitchen Wizard. Because of that incident, when I was still in Japan about a month ago, but he was back in the US, I didn’t have to stock up food before I left as usual.  What a treat!

In case you are wondering, my husband never really cook much in the past, so if he can do it, your husband and/or children can do it too!

Talking about batching,  if you have that strawberries and radish from the last post sitting around, it may be a bit limp and jammy…  Actually they are quite good with these French Toast as a topping.  If you cannot stand the idea of radish with the French toast, just pick them out.  You won’t even notice.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert?

Stay tuned for the easy bread pudding recipe…  Click “ Email Subscription” on the right column, so that you won’t miss it!

The Japanese noodle salad with strawberry soy dipping sauce will be posted after that…

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Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver Pan and Mix Review & Starter-Kit Give Away

   

Thank you so much for your comments on what do you think the pan is for, and what would you fill in these…
I was amazed by your creativity, and all the possibilities the pan offers.  Your answers certainly made me (and many others) very hungry… 

The answer is….  As quite a few of you guessed, Aebleskiver pan!   

You may ask “What is Aebleskiver?”  Aebleskiver are Danish round pancakes that are often eaten before Christmas. (<- Click here for Wikipedia definition of Aebleskiver.) 

As some of you may remember from my post of FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in November, the guy in the red outfit, living somewhere very cold up North sent the pan and mix around Thanksgiving as early Christmas presents.  This is one of the perks as a Featured Publisher at FoodBuzz.  I get to try many cool things and restaurants and write about it. 

This is my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s in Minnesota.  

   

I’ve been having fun with this every weekend, which I call Skiver Saturday or Skiver Sunday.  The best part is, these Aebleskivers are great not only for traditional apple slices, but with almost anything.  As you know, I love varieties and experimenting!  That’s why you may have already seen a few photos of them with many different things on top on Facebook, etc.  I never get bored.  And now I have even more ideas, thanks to you, I will be able to have fun with it for a very very long time! 

When I’m at home, these are the things I gather on typical weekend.   

Gorgonzola cheese, cheddar, chicken, sliced turkey, shrimp, cramberry apple batter, sauteed mirepoix and sauteed leeks. And of course one each of apple, banana and nutella.   

   

When we tried this first at our friends over Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to bother our friends with their computer password, I wanted to try so bad, I didn’t watch the video on AuntElse Website, they stuck really badly, and some of the got burnt as well.  Since then, My Skiver Santa has given me a pointer from the Northern land, so I now heat the pan for 10-15 min at low-medium heat as soon as I wake up.    

As soon as we pour the batter, it puffs up pretty quickly, so I put all these fun and different fillings in each well. Can you tell I pefer savory food to sweets, and lots of varieties?   

   

The trick is to:   

1. Season the pan well in advance, and use enough oil.   

2. Heat the pan at medium low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until hot. (Set the timer and prepare the filling during that time. If you still have time, watch the video one more time, and learn how to turn.)   

3. Aunt Else mix puffs up a lot quickly.  I recommend pouring about 2 TBS batter in each well, starting from the four corners, then middle four, and the very center well at the end.   

4. After adding the filling, if it doesn’t come up to the rim, add a little more. (The amount on the photo is a bit on the generous side, especially on the top row.  In my opinion,i t’s easier to turn if there’s no batter going outside of the well.)   

5. For perfectly round skivers, do the quarter turns as in the video. If you try to flip the entire thing 180 degrees, you’ll end up with half dome shaped skivers. : (   

It’s really important to pull the skivers UP 90 degrees, then they release itself like a magic!   Before I was trying to separate the balls from the wall, and that made them stick toghether more.  Every minutes or so, I pull them up another 90 degrees, and when you are finished with all four turns, you will have a perfectly round Aebleskivers!   

   

Just like these!   

   

Look at all these different fillings!  So much fun!   

   

Our favorites were:   

  • Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple Butter 
  • Gruyere Cheese 
  • Apple slices  
  • Caramelized onion and gruyere cheese (Like French Onion soup) 

Sounds strange but defintely my favorite:   

  • Green onions, drops of Kikkoman soy sauce, and gruyere as filling, home-made mayonnaise on top (below).  I also tried Japanese takoyaki or okonomiyaki style with green onion and cabbage mixed into batter (I made more traditional Japanese style batter for this instead of AuntElse’s Aebleskiver mix for this) with seafood etc in it.  That was quite delicious as well. 

Aebleskivers are very similar to pancakes or crepes, so you can fill with anything you’d wrap with your crepes.  With so many options, this can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.  I told you, I love things that can be flexible and optimized.  I like the fact that you can have so much fun making it too.  This definitely passed my test!  Next time, I’ll try sauteed mushrooms, seafood with cream sauce etc. (Use leftovers, since you need so little.)  My husband thought I’m weird, but I’m contemplating using a meatball or quail egg as well.  You know, just like a Scotch Egg!  Will see.   

In terms of savory or sweet question, I found Aunt Else’s mix very versatile, it works for both…  just like a good crepe batter!  You can certainly add more sugar or salt if that’s what you prefer, but I found it just right.  

If you like it sweet, my guess is Japanese anko — sweet red bean paste will be great in Aebleskiver.  We have similar street snacks called Tai-yaki (Tai Snapper shaped pancake sandwich with anko in it) and Dora-yaki (two round pancakes filled with anko), and Imagawa-yaki (Flattened version of Aebleskiver?)  Click each link to see the photos to see the difference.   

   

For 2 of us, we just do one batch (1/2 of the amount of the smallest batch measurement on the back of the bag), and that’s plenty for brunch.  All you need per batch is one egg, 1 cup of water, and a scant cup of Aunt Else’s mix, which is made of organic whole wheat flour.  Even though you don’t have to whip up the egg white like some other Aebleskiver mix, it’s perfectly fluff.  It works great for both savory and sweet fillings.  It’s really fun activity especially with kids (of all ages).   

So in our household, Saturdays and Sundays are Skiver Days!     

Can I tell you a funny story about this?  

In my determination to not to break that new tradition, and my desire to share this fun activity with our niece and nephew, I even dragged that heavy cast iron Aebleskiver pan from the Bay Area to Milwaukee for our Christmas visit.  The problem is, the suitcase that had our pan in it decided to spend some time in warmer climate, and ended up in El Paso, TX.  The good news is, after spending 2 days of us worrying about the whereabouts of my favorite new toy/kitchen tool, our luggage was found at the snowing, fridged door steps of my in-laws. (Geez, guys!   It has something very VALUABLE!)  Well, this is surburban Milwaukee, not Oakland, CA.  Fridged means there’s no one hanging out to steal it.  Plus, these people are very friendly and nice, they often don’t even lock their door!   

Anyway, I found this note in our luggage… and the box we had the skiver pan was opened, and searched… These curious inspectors might have even made a few batches of Aebleskivers…  Who knows?  Well, it was the same day (Christmas day) when they had the fire scare in the plane, so I consider it a good thing.   

   

When we were in Milwaukee, we only tried some apples, pears, bananas with powdered sugar, apple sauce, and some cranberry sauce. Everyone loved them, kids, grandparents and adults.  I guess they realized that I too could make some sweet, more traditional dishes. (I am known to suggest something “weird” like new vegetables, flavors, or spices (Japanese food anyone?) to cook during our holiday visits in my attempt to add variety to casseroles — their kind of Christmas meals.)  

Thank you, my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s!  With this, everyday (OK, weekend) is like Christmas! 

Oh…  Our generous Skiver Santa wants YOU to have fun with your own Skiver set.  One lucky reader will get an Aunt Else Aebleskiver Starter Kit (both pan and the mix)!    

He also want you to learn more about Aebleskivers and ask questions.  So I am hosting a phone interview with Chad Gillard (aka Skiver Santa), the President of Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers and you are invited!  Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Invite your friends and family too.

All the details will be posted next week, including how to increase the chance of winning. (Wouldn’t you be most curious about this?  I would!)  Make sure to subscribe to Secrets of the Kitchen Wizard by email (sidebar, scroll down just a bit), so that you will be the first one to know.

 In the mean time, please write to our “Skiver Santa” at C.O.mment Box of this post about:

1. What you may want to do with the Skiver Starter Kit? 

2. Why you should be the one to win the kit? 

Again, one comment counts as one point.  Come up as many ideas and keep posting comments. You are welcome to go back to these 2 posts about  1. Aebleskiver pan , and 2. filling, and post more ideas.  

Santa is watching….

Good luck and have a great weekend! 

 

 

The World’s Easiest, Fastest, Home-Made Miso-Soup!

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Do you like miso soup?

Miso Soup is considered Japan’s national dish (OK, next to sushi), many have asked me how to make one.

As a native Japanese, I love miso-soup, as much as you do, but I never made it too often. (Japanese housewives, whether they are working or not, they are expected to make at least 一汁二菜 (ichiju nisai, meaning 1 soup (most often miso soup), and 2 dishes, plus rice. I’m only forgiven because I live in the US, and am married to an American…)

Why?  Because I thought it was a pain to make it every time from scratch.

To save that hassle and satisfy my appetite for miso-soup (I like it especially in the morning with my bowl of hot rice), I’ve even bought one of these freeze-dried miso-soup from Japanese markets.  Although they are pretty decent and not as expensive as $3-5 cup of miso soup from Japanese restaurants, they end up quite expensive.

As I started Kitchen Wizard, one of the things I experimented with was batching miso-soup.

It turned out to be a brilliant idea!

So, let me share with you the world’s easiest, fastest, home-made miso-soup recipe.

The World’s Easiest, Fastest, Home-Made Miso-Soup

Ingredients:

(4-5 servings – multiply by the number of serving you want to make)

  • Miso with dashi: 1/4 c (1 TBS per serving)
  • Chopped green onions: 1 stalk (about 1/4 stalk per serving)
  • Dried wakame about 3-4 TBS (about 1/2 -1 TBS per serving)
  • Abura-age (fried tofu) cut in half, then into strips: 1 sheet (1/4 – 1/5 per serving)
  • Lightly cooked/microwaved vegetables, cut in bite-size pieces: about 1/4 C (1 oz per serving), such as cabbage, onion

Directions:

  1. Mix well miso and other ingredients that are cut in bite-size pieces.  Make sure to add abura-age, especially if you plan to freeze this. Do not use things like tofu, potato, etc. that doesn’t freeze well. If you are planning to eat them quickly and not freeze, you can use anything including tofu.
  2. Divide into the number of servings and wrap each with plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer (Miso will not completely freeze.)
  3. When ready to eat, unwrap and pour boiling water.
  4. Optionally, you can garnish with chopped green onion on top.

Note:

You can make a large batch of softened miso, divide and add different vegetables for more variety.

You can also mix a little bit of liquid or powdered dashi into miso if you have any for more flavor. They are available at Japanese or Asian markets.

I know some (not so authentic) Japanese restaurants use chicken or vegetable broth for miso-soup…  so if there’s no dashi in sight, you may try a bit of either one for flavor as substitution.  Use only a little bit, especially if it’s liquid – you don’t want a soggy mess.

With this, you can have a nice bowl of miso-soup anytime you want… With rice for breakfast, just like in Japan, or you can even bring it to work for lunch.

Enjoy!

Note: I split the pacakge into two, because these particular bowls don’t hold much liquid.  The original miso-soup base only had green onion and abura-age, so I added dried wakame as extra before adding boiling water.

Need a break from cooking from time to time – even after your Mother’s Day break?

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

How many of you actually would like to have a break like that more often?

Even if your husband or child is not an avid cook – you can do it.  And it actually tastes good!

By saving some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give them some written instructions, your sous-chef of the house will be able to assemble dinner when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make extra, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from time to time.

Freezable French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  In a flat container with sides, place all of them cut side down.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once. 
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if 2 or more, make sure it’s wrapped side by side).  Put them on the cookie sheet (with side, in case of the leakage), and freeze.
  4. For when you have your family do it for you: : )  When you are ready to eat, remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toast and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Serve hot with maple syrup.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup, and it was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert? 

Stay tuned for the bread pudding recipe…  Click “Subscribe to ‘Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard’ by Email” above the calendar, so that you won’t miss it!

 

 

 

Leftover Make-over: Base Recipe – Swiss Chard and Potatoes, Part 2

We made Lidia Bastianich’s “Swiss Chard and Potatoes” (click her for the recipe), and there’s still a lot left.

So what to do with the leftover?

It’s time for Leftover Make-over!

  1. Eat as it is
  2. Potato and chard soup: Add some water/broth and puree with immersion blender – (Optional: add other boiled/sautéed vegetables, cream, mustard etc for variation.)
  3. Spanish omelet (photo): Add beaten eggs, S&P. Cook both sides of the egg/potato/chard mix in small non-stick skillet until egg is set and golden brown.
  4. Frittata: Add beaten eggs, S&P. Cook the mixture in an oven-proof skillet, cook one side on the stove, then put the skillet in the oven to finish it up.
  5. Traditional Omelet with potato and swiss chard: cook beaten eggs, S&P in a non-stick skillet. When the eggs are set, add the potato/chard mix on one side. Flip the other side of the egg to cover the veggies.
  6. Gozleme (Turkish Quesadella): Spread the potato/chard mix and feta cheese thinly on Tortilla. Cover with another one and trill both sides.
  7. Quesadilla: Spread the potato/chard mix, and shredded cheeses on Tortilla. Cover with another and grill both sides.
  8. Grilled Pita Sandwich (photo): Spread the potato mixture, and sliced cheese between half cut pita and grill or pan-fry both sides.
  9. Potato and Swiss Chard Curry: Sautee grated ginger, garlic and chopped onions (faster when you use batched sauteed onions).  Add chopped tomatoes, curry powder and spices and cook down a bit. Add Potato and Chard mix and cook until hot.
  10. Potato and Swiss Chard gratin:  Top the vegetables with shredded cheeses and bake.
  11. Come up with your own recipe and share it with us!

Do you feel like a Kitchen Wizard now?