Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Easy Udon Miso Soup

After a weekend of hosting friends at our place which also involves a whole lot of non stop eating and drinking. I wanted something lighter and healthier for the husband and I. OK, maybe the side of panko crusted shrimp with my noodles isn't the healthiest option....but it was good (and easy to make!!). =)

This posting is actually for my brother. Since we moved, he now doesn't have his sister to make dinner for him. In my recent conversation with him, I told him that I will come make some easy stuff and post it here for him. This way, he doesn't have to spend too much time to make dinner after work or spend too mch money eating out!

With the right ingredients in your fridge/pantry, you could easily make this miso noodle soup quickly. It's perfect pick me up on a cold gloomy day or bright sunny days like in California.

Udon is a thick Japanese wheat noodle and while I used udon in my noodle soup, feel free to use soba noodles or even pasta! I usually find my udon in the refrigerated section of the Asian grocery store and even the American stores. You can also find dried udon but I've yet to try them out. As for Soba noodles, most Asian aisle in your local grocery store would carry them in a dry form. You'll need to cook the noodles first before using them. Here's the recipe for one hot delicious (and quite healthy) bowl of udon miso soup!

*Serves 1
  • 1 Tbsp White Miso (plus a little more if you want it a a little more salty)
  • 1/2 Tsp Dashi Granules
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Bundle/Package fresh Udon noodles, blanched
  • 1 Tsp Chopped Green Onions 
  • Small bundle of shimeji mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 -2 Pcs of Crab Stick, blanched (optional)
  • 2-3 Slices Japanese Fish Cake (optional)
  • Handful of your favorite vege, blanched (optional)
  • Thin Shreds of Nori (optional)

In a small pot, add dashi and water and let the mixture come to a boil over medium high heat.  Then, add mushrooms and japanese fish cake and let it simmer until mushrooms are soft. Ladle about 1/2 cup of stock into a bowl, and carefully whisk in the miso until smooth. Pour the miso mixture back into the pot and turn off heat once the miso soup starts to simmer.

In a bowl, add the blanched Udon (or noodle of choice), crab stick and vege. Carefully ladle the hot soup along with the fish cake and mushrooms over the noodles. Top with chopped green onions and shreds of nori. Enjoy immediately!

Notes: There're various kind of miso and some of the most popular ones are white (Shiromiso), red (Akimiso) and mixed (Awasemiso). The differences between these miso are the the intensity and the saltiness. White miso being the mildness has the shortest fermentation time. If you do not have white miso in your pantry, feel free to use red miso. You might need to readjust the quantity of the miso though to get the correct level of saltiness to your preference.

Simply June 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Trip to India

The husband and I plus 2 of our good friends are planning a trip to India. We've done a couple trips in the past, but I somehow find this trip the hardest to plan overall. I guess with vacation day limitations, a wedding to squeeze in between, and the desire to visit as many places as possible during this short trip is proving to be quite a challenge.

I'm struggling to find the best route in and out of exotic India and I know the few key places that we will need to do is New Delhi, Agra, Indore and Mumbai.

All suggestions on routes, must see places, best way (and safest) to see India, recommended hotels, and must try delicacies are welcome!

Thanks in advance! =)

PS: We want to travel around India on our on... that means not following the convenient tour groups. Hiring a driver or a personal tour guide might be an option though...

Simply June 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Braised Chicken & Mushroom

I made a huge pot of delicious hot and sour Chai Boey (literally translates to leftover) soup yesterday. I guess in the olden days and perhaps till today, the soup is partly made using left overs. Even though I know the husband and I can devour the soup with a bowl of rice, I had to cook a protein dish partly so that the husband has something to bring to work for lunch the next day. Soup is little messy to bring in a container, so a chicken dish it is!

I make dinner almost every weeknight and will usually cook a little more for the next day's lunch. It's a habit that I've been doing even when I'm working. It's nice to save a little bit of lunch money and I guess know what goes into your tummy. =) The money we save on weekday dinner/lunchs goes into out eating out escapades on the weekends.

Using whatever I had in the pantry and the fridge, I made a braised chicken and mushroom dish. The recipe might differ sometimes depending on what I have on hand. I usually do not add the snow peas to this dish, but couldn't help to add a pop of color into the dish. Plus mommy said I must eat my vege! Here's the recipe of the braised chicken and mushroom we had last night.



  • 4 Pieces Chicken Thigh, Cut into Pieces
  • 1 Can Straw Mushroom, Drained
  • 2 Inch Carrots, Sliced Thick
  • 2-3 Oz Snow Peas
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion, Cut into wedges
  • 2 Inch Ginger, Sliced
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Smashed
  • 4-6 Pcs Dried Chili (for more heat, cut chili into pieces)
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Cut into 1 inch 
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Dark (Sweet) Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese Rice Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Water 
  • 3 Tsp Cornflour + 2 Tbsp Water Mixture
Heat sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add dried chili, ginger, garlic and sautee till slightly golden. Add chicken thigh, mushroom, onion, carrot, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Stir fry chicken until the meat is no longer pink, add rice wine and 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium, and let chicken simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add in snow peas and green onion. Stir in cornflour mixture and cook until sauce thickens. Serve immediately with warm rice.

Simply June 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ube Halaya Ice Cream

Weekends are the only time the husband and I (and sometimes Brady) travel outside of Thousand Oaks into the LA area to get Asian food or meet up with friends. With the horrendous LA traffic, we sometimes need to plan to leave the house earlier in the morning to avoid traffic and crazy LA drivers.

Over the past weekend, we ended up in West Covina to help a friend paint his new crib and since we're in the "Asian" neighborhood where it feels almost like home....we knew we had to eat up and stock up on Asian food. While we were waiting for out yummy Indonesian takeout in Walnut, I ventured into a Filipino bakery like store selling all sorts of Filipino sweets, snacks and pastries. Of course, I couldn't just window shop at those delectables; I had to get a few to sample. It's funny some of their desserts resemble and taste very similar to the Malaysian Kuihs. One of my Filipino friend and I are always teasing each other on "who copied who.

Anyway, before I get too carried away..... I got this container of Ube Halaya (again it looked a little like something we had in Malaysia except ours is made from Taro and this was made of Purple Yam). The texture wasn't what I expected as I expected something with a smoother texture and since I couldn't eat the the whole container as is...I decided to make some Ube Halaya Ice Cream!

Real quick on Ube Halaya. Ube means purple yam, while Halaya is a Filipino dessert where they boil and grate the yam and cook it with sugar, milk, coconut milk and butter (for greasing). I guess from googling a round the recipes will differ base on personal preference......

With that said, this batch of Ube Halaya ice cream was made using Kalahi Bakery's Ube Halaya. The sugar content might defer depending on the sweetness of your Ube Halaya... It's slightly grainy due to the ube... but I like it! =) Here's the recipe if you want to try it out. Maybe next time, I'll make my own ube halaya!

  • 6 Oz Ube Halaya
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar (*Sugar measurement might differ based on the sweetness of your ube halaya)
  • 3/4 Cup Half & Half, divided
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
In a medium bowl, heat 1/2 cup of half and half in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir in sugar in the hot liquid until all sugar has melted. Pour mixture, remaining half & half, and ube halaya in a blender. Slowly pulse the mixture until most of the ube halaya is incorporated, then pour in heavy cream and continue to pulse the mixture until they are well incorporated. Don't worry if you still see tiny bits of the ube in the mixture; they add some texture to the ice cream. =)

Turn the ice cream maker on and pour mixture ion freezer bowl. Process ice cream until you get a soft serve consistency or according to the manufacturer's instruction. Since this was a smaller batch of ice cream, it only took me 20 minutes with my Cuisinart 1.5 Ice Cream Maker. Transfer ice cream into container and freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.

June's Comments: The ice cream was good for about a day, after a few days of storage the texture wasn't very desirable. =(

Simply June 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Check List

I aim to keep my blog ad-free. And when I do blog about a company or service, it's voluntary and I do not get a commission or a cut.

Sometimes I blog because of a satisfactory service/product. This time it's just simply to help out a friend's new business in errand running. So, if you're in the Thousand Oaks area (Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village) and need someone to run some errands for you, house sit or pet sit, please contact CHECK LIST.

Check out some of the services CHECK LIST offers and don't hesitate to contact them if you don't see a service you need listed.

Simply June 

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

With a tea party coming up and bottles of jam at home, I wanted to make some thumbprint cookies. After googling for a recipe, I decided to go with Ina Garten's Jam Thumbprint Cookie. I've used some of Ina's recipe in the past and have always had good results with her recipes. So, using her recipe again is a no brainer!  The only change I made was adding some lemon zest (proud to say, the lemon was from my garden!!) to the cookies, and I used Blueberry and Apricot Jam for the jam filling. The cookies were delicious; the husband couldn't stop eating them! =)
Here's the recipe with my little twist..

  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Zest from 1 Lemon (Optional)
  • 3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Egg Beaten with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)
  • 7 Oz Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • Raspberry and/or Apricot Jam (Or your Jam of choice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla (and lemon zest). Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and 
roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookiesheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

June's Comments: I made my cookies a little smaller; they weigh between 0.7oz  and 0.8 oz. 
I made a slightly deeper indentation into the cookie, so that I can fill it with more jam! =)

Simply June 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TLC, DIY and the Patio!

Welcome to my home!.. in this case, my patio! =)

The husband and I do enjoy DIY. Well, I should admit that the husband probably enjoys it a little more than I do. However, we both think the results from your own DIY is absolutely rewarding. You get to learn the process, save some money, control the scenario and be somewhat proud of your achievement after putting 101% of your efforts and time into the project!

We were somewhat lucky to find a place very quickly in the Thousand Oaks area and being only semi-handy we didn't want to get too much of a fixer upper and obviously have a stick within our budget.
Our new home already had some upgrades done and it just needed some TLC to make it ours. Changing out some light fixtures, putting fresh coat of paint in most of the rooms and changing out old dingy carpet upstairs for some nice updated flooring were the few projects we knew we had to do first.

Changing out the flooring was a huge project and as much as we like to learn how to do it, we hired someone professional to do that. There's too much living space at risk to DIY! =) So we stuck to changing out light, painting and some interior decorating (which just translates to shopping!!)

I hated the old patio lights, and wanted something that had a little more personality and fit our design of the patio! The husband nicely changed them out for me! =)

After house hunting and visiting over 20 properties both of us fell in love with this one. I think the fenced in nice size patio (we didn't want a big yard) sealed the deal! It was bricked and it had some space for greeneries; enough for us to try to grow a green thumb and chill out comfortably. We saw the potential and was fairly quick to customize that space to make it ours. This was the first space in the house that we furnished, even before our household shipment from MA arrived! Here's the before and after....(yes Brady came along to the west coast too!)

I had Moroccan theme in mind, and wanted lots of bright bold colors. Lots of accent pillows and outdoor lanterns. I think I came pretty close to what I had planned. The nights here surprisingly can get pretty chilly, so I think we will need to get a chiminea or a fire pit...something cute that will fit in with with the rest of the furniture! I am still looking for some pieces here and there, but until then we are absolutely loving this part of the house!

Simply June

Zucchini Blossoms

Well, hello again! We're now nicely settled in our new house and bits and pieces of stuff to do....I think we're very comfortable at our permanent home (good bye temporary corporate apartment...though I miss the cleaning services provided) and loving the new place! And we can't wait to be able to host parties and have friends over! I'll blog more on perhaps what we've done to the place in another entry..

Back to the main topic of this entry.....Zucchini Blossoms!!! Ever since I tried Fried Zucchini Blossoms for the very first time in Rome, I was hooked! This was a while back and while I never really got to try it again at restaurants, I had been looking for fresh blossoms to try to make them myself. All these years, I had a hard time finding it at the local grocer back in the east coast. I remember the fried Zucchini Blossoms being absolutely delicious...it was crispy, yet so delicate with a delicious savory cheesy filling  ....and having it on the streets in Rome near the Pantheon was a bonus experience!

You had to see the excitement when I found them at a local Farmer's Market. I had wanted to check out the vendor selling Asian greens as we're quite deprived from them even though we're only about 45 minutes from LA. The grocery stores around the area only have bok choy and perhaps napa cabbage. This Asian green vendor has a good selection of Asian greens at very reasonable prices, and that was where I got my bag of beautiful zucchini blossoms. A bag of 20 blossoms for $2! Can you believe it???  I couldn't say no; got a bag of it and some other vegetables!

2 days later, this was what I made! Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with lemon herb ricotta filling. While I enjoyed the light and crispy batter (I used beer, rice flour and all purpose flour).. I thought my filling lacked a little something. Perhaps something more savory. My friend had suggested mozzarella and anchovy filling which sounded really good..so I might try it the next time I got a bag of the flowers again. In the mean time, do you have a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe for me to try and fall in love with?

Simply June
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