Gyoza bento – bunnies

January 25, 2011

Gyoza bento - bunnies

For yesterday´s bentos I used leftover gyozas (Japanese potstickers) I made on the weekend after a fun Sunday out with the girls. We went to do “pulkkamäki” (downhill sledging) nearby and hubs and I ended up pulling the sled uphill couple of times :P… ehehe, I must admit, my thighs are still hurting today ^_^!

And because gyoza is by itself a good portion of protein and carbs, I added only small onigiris to their bentos. Bunny shaped =).

So, the contents of the boxes: homemade gyoza (with pork and beef meat, spring onions and chinese cabbage), cucumber sunomono with ham and omelet strips (under the rice), cherry tomatoes, steamed broccoli, lettuce, dark grapes and clementines. Bunny-onigiri made of rice, nori and turkey ham (almost unnoticeable! It is so pale pink… :/ )

Gyoza bento - bunnies

hmm… I am sorry about the “shiny” photographs. It was already very dark when I prepared the bentos… *waiting for winter to end*

Brigadeiro

Oh yes, brigadeiros! A classic candy from my native country Brazil. Some people say it resembles fudges or truffles. For me… they are just lovely oh-so-super-sweet candies that bring me comfort and remind my home.

Brigadeiros are a must be in every Brazilian party. At least birthday ones… as far as I remember, I had brigadeiros in every birthday of mine (wouldn´t be different this time right?).

This candy was created in the 1940s, when there was a shortage of fresh products (such as fruits, nuts and eggs) used in the normal confectionery during the war. The legend says it  was named after Brigadier Eduardo Gomes (brigadeiro means “Brigadier”).

When I moved to Finland I had difficulties to find the ingredients to make the recipe. Let´s say that 5 years ago sweetened condensed milk was an unknown product here and I could only find it in ethnic stores downtown (Chinese, Russian or Estonian groceries). After a huge breakthrough (thanks to the Banoffe pie and its popularization) I can find cans of condensed milk in normal supermarkets. Yay!!

The recipe I use comes from my mother´s recipe notebook. It is stove top method to make the brigadeiro. I know it is possible to make it in the microwave but I prefer this way.

Brigadeiro

Chocolate brigadeiros

yields about 35 small ones

  • 1 can (397g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (I used this tiny chocolate balls, about 1 cup)
  • small paper cups (optional)

Prepare a heat-proof deep plate, greasing with a bit of unsalted butter.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan mix the condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder. Bring to boil in medium heat. Whisk well to prevent any pockets of cocoa powder.

Low the heat and keep whisking the mixture. Use a wooden spatula or a silicone one to stir the batter.

After approximately 10 minutes the mixture should get thicker, fudge alike. It starts to get done when you can see the bottom of the pan and your spatula leaves a trail in the batter.

Now, the tricky part. There is a perfect moment when you stop cooking the brigadeiro. If you undercook , the batter can remain too soft to be molded and it will just be a thick milky chocolate sauce. If overcooking, the brigadeiros would be hard and chewy (and that remembers me once when I was younger I made brigadeiros so hard my dad called them “toothbrakers” :D).

The brigadeiro batter is ready when you lift the pan from the heat and when moving the pan sideways, the batter slides to one side of the pan as a whole blob. The bottom of the pan will be covered with a brown residual layer (as shown here)

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared plate and let cool to room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge (so it gets easier to mold the candies).

Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture and using your hands, roll little balls (about ∅2cm). Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture.

Put the sprinkles in a bowl. Roll the brigadeiros in the sprinkles, covering its surface and place them in the paper cups.

The brigadeiro keeps well in an airtight plastic container for up to 2 days at room temperature or for 2 weeks in the refrigerator (but believe me, it won´t last that long ^_^)

Brigadeiro

My notes about the recipe:

I know it might be difficult in the beginning to find the right moment to stop cooking the brigadeiro. If you undercook it and get a soft batter that doesn’t stay in the ball shape, use it to fill a cake or sandwich cookies (just like Dulce de Leche). Other option is to pour little portions in small shot glasses, put the sprinkles on top and eat with a small spoon. This last suggestion actually exists as a dessert and it is called “Brigadeiro de copinho” (brigadeiro inside little glasses) with the difference there is an addition of cream or milk to the batter to make it more liquid.

I think Brigadeiro is the main party candy made with sweetened condensed milk. There are many others (with shredded coconut, with grounded peanuts or pistachios, with strawberry jelly… ) and variations of the main brigadeiro-theme. They are all good, but nothing beats the classic chocolate one in its simplicity ;).

Easter themed

Here a classic brigadeiro with a chocolate decoration (Easter themed) I made last year on my youngest daughter´s birthday party.

Chocolate mousse cake

January 20, 2011

Chocolate mousse cake

Ah… yesterday was seriously a nice day (the weather was terrible but that didn’t matter so much this time ^_^), I celebrated my birthday and it was great :).

Thanks everyone for the sweet b-day wishes, I appreciated a lot! Double ♥ back to you all!

Now… let´s talk about the cake… To be honest, I don’t always make my own birthday cake… The rule in this house is to bake a cake on Mother´s and Father´s day only. So, making my own cake was totally optional :D (was it Monday I was complaining to Luonnonvoima that I should have _purchased_ a ready one from the bakery? ehehe)

I decided to try a recipe from a book I got as present from dear hubs many years ago (on Mother´s day :P! Ehehehe. The book is entirely about cakes ^_^).

I made my own adaptations which made me think if it is worth writing everything down here. Let´s consider this cake as my food memo then! :)

Chocolate mousse cake

Suklaamoussekakku – Chocolate mousse cake

For the cake layers I baked a 4 egg chocolate sponge cake, about ∅24 cm, cut in half and filled with cherry jam. I moistened each layer with syrup made with red berries juice and sugar.

For the mousse: egg yolks, double cream, sugar and dark chocolate. The recipe calls for 250g of dark chocolate so I used my recently purchased Valrhona baking 61% dark chocolate. The whole bar? Yep, the whole bar! After all, it was my birthday right? ^_^

Melting the chocolate

I assembled the cake in a cake pan slightly bigger than the one I used to bake the layers, so the mousse would cover the sides of the cake neatly.

To decorate: cocoa dust, fresh strawberries, chocolate decorations and powdered sugar dust.

Uh Oh. Heavy thing. Delicious with coffee =). By the way, must mention the girls helped me to clean the bowls when assembling the “beast”. Dark chocolate is a hit here!

I wanted to add some liqueur to moist the cake and scent the mousse, but I was afraid my little ones wouldn’t enjoy it. Maybe I can make two cakes next time!?!

Needless to say, the fresh berries balanced well the flavors of the strong chocolate and cream. I didn’t have any available on Tuesday. We ran to the market on my birthday just to get some! :)

Chocolate mousse cake

A piece of cake, anyone?

Snack bento: it is the bunny year!

Is that so my last obento was the puppy one? It has been ages then!! X)

Today´s bento is a very simple one. No intricate designs or anything like that (boring?). I’ve prepared them quickly for my girls´ snack time, in the afternoon (we call it “välipala” in Finnish).

I still intend to make another bunny bento later, to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit (Hare). But for now, this is the one I made to join the “theme”.  ^_^

Contents of the boxes: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red grapes, half clementine, dried prunes, usagi ringo (apple bunnies),  homemade pizza “cubes” (with tomato sauce, mozzarella, msg-free ham, onions, pineapple pieces and fresh tomato) and twin rabbits made with cheese and nori details.

I thought it would be too much food for them, but Luonnonvoima ate everything, including the lettuce :). (Mom secretly smiles with delight :D)

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

Hello everyone!

New Year, new post! Yay!

I will start this year by sharing what I’ve crafted for the girls as their Christmas gifts ^_^. I think it was a bit mad project once I decided to make it at the last responsible moment. Yep, the idea was in my mind for long but I only started making it couple of days before Christmas (ahahaha, didn’t I tell you I am _that_ type of lazy person?)

Hubs and I bought a very nice Finnish Animals Stories book and … I wanted to make finger puppets from the main characters (the brown bear and the fox) to be given together with it. I also crafted some other characters, inspired by books we had already. Girls could use the tales they’ve heard previously in addition to the new ones (or invent their own ^_^)

Introducing my finger puppets, I made a short comic page from three stories. :)

…And how the bear lost its tail

Original title of the story “Karhun kalanpyynti” (The bear went fishing) – from the book “Suomen Lasten Eläinsadut” (Finnish Children´s Animal stories).

 

Waking up from its winter sleep, the bear came by a fox eating some fishes. The hungry bear asked:

- Oh wow, you have plenty of fish! I can eat some of yours if you don’t mind! Where did you get them?

The fox, annoyed by the fact the bear was big and afraid it would eat all the fishes quickly answered:

- I went fishing in the farmer´s ice hole (avanto in Finnish). I used my tail as fishing equipment and because the sky was so clear and full of stars, the fishes were enough hungry they just bit my beautiful tail fur and in the morning, I had fishes all over it!

The bear believed in the story (it still had a long tail) and headed to the ice hole on the frozen lake. He sat by the hole and put his tail in it, according to what the fox instructed.The sky was all clear and the cold weather, very severe.

After a while, the bear felt some pinching in its tail. The surface of the hole was getting all frozen but the bear was happy believing it was the fishes grabbing his tail.

In the morning, the deceiving fox went to sneak a look at the bear sitting on the lake. “Yes, he is stuck!” and rushed to the farmer´s house screaming “There´s a bear messing your ice hole, ohoi! A bear is messing your ice hole!”

Meanwhile, the bear was getting bored about sitting on the lake. He tried to move the tail but it was so numb it felt very heavy. “I must sit a bit more, my catch is indeed big!”

Suddenly some huge noise could be heard from the lake shore. The farmer and his family, carrying huge sticks started to beat the bear out from their avanto. The bear tried hard to pull itself free, so hard its tail snapped and remained in the frozen ice hole. The terrified bear ran to the forest but his tail stayed behind.

Since then, the bear doesn’t have tail at all ^_^.

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The bear tail is attached to the bear with magnets :).

Three wishes (Kolme toivomusta)

From the book “Iloiset eläinsadut” (original book “Richard Scarry´s Animal Nursery Tales”). The original story is also known as “The Sausage nose”

 

Once upon a time there was a very poor woodcutter. He lived with his wife in a very humble cottage in the woods.

One day while working, he whined how nice it would be if he could have anything he wanted, once he had nothing at all.

A fairy, listening to that, appeared to the man and granted him three wishes.

- I make three wishes come true! But use them wisely or you end up a fool!

Happily, the man hurried home to tell the news to his wife. They couldn’t think what they could wish first so they decided to have supper and think better later.

Seeing not much to eat on the table besides soup, the man sighed “Wish we could have a big fat sausage for dinner instead”. In a blink of an eye, the sausage appeared on their dinner table.

His wife got really angry: “You foolish man! Look now! Our first wish gone because of a stupid sausage!”

The man, annoyed by all the nagging shouted “Wish that sausage was stuck to your nose!”. And the sausage got stuck to his wife´s nose and they couldn´t get it off…

“We still have one wish to make… we need to think wise”.

“There´s no thinking here! I don´t want to live with the sausage on my nose forever!”

So the man wished the sausage to be gone from his wife´s nose.

The sausage was gone, so their three wishes.

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The sausage is removable with the help of magnets too.

The Gingerbread Man

Because it was Christmas and my girls like this tale a lot, I made characters for this story too.

 

I think most of you know how the tale goes, if not check here. However, this version in my comics is based from the short story included in “Iloiset eläinsadut” (original book “Richard Scarry´s Animal Nursery Tales”).

In the very end, when the gingerbread man is running away from the city people, he ends up by the riverbank, where a fox offers help as a ferry to cross the river. After tricking the gingerbread “not to get wet” by getting him nearer and nearer his mouth, the gingerbread man finds himself eaten mid-stream. ^_^

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The girls didn’t give much attention to my present during the Christmas gift sharing but in the same night, before going to bed, they played with the finger puppets and created their “own” stories. ^_^

*Happy mom*

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

Have a great year my friends!

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