11 Dec 2009

No1 Hummus

Over the past 2 weeks Andy has kindly taken charge in the kitchen and cooked up a storm, making the most healthy and yummiest of meals. His need to cook gave me time to work on my stock for the crafts fair in Akaoka town, Kochi last Saturday. I was so lucky to be apart of this fair. It only takes place once a year in the first week of December. The atmosphere was dream like, with smells of fresh multicultural inspired cooking and stalls packed with handmade beautiful crafts. Street performances were ongoing throughout the day with live music and authentically dressed locals. Homes and stores were opened up to sell vintage goods and home cooking. kotatsu (small tables with built in heaters and covered with a quilt for you to snuggle into) were set up with hand made traditional Japanese board games for passers by to play whilst absorbing the atmosphere and enjoy the festival food.
As things were drawing to a close and sellers were beginning to pack up their goods, the local Kabuki theatre opened for the annual Kochi film festival. This film festival is a competition for film makers, amateurs and skilled alike, to submit their works on the theme of Kochi. Unfortunately though we couldn't make it. Hopefully next year if we are still here.
Saturday was a big one, crafts fair from 7.30am to 5pm then potluck birthday party at ours (thanks for all the amazing food guys, especially the left over soup Jenya :) maaaan that stuff is to die for) for Chisako until...well... ??:?? o'clock. That part was erased by the sake. All for a good cause though.
Monday came too quickly followed by a nasty cold...sniff sniff...:(. This didn't stop me from experimenting in the kitchen though. The 2 day hangover gave me huge cravings for hummus. I hadn't eaten it since leaving Scotland almost 2 years ago. Something I've never tried to make, but had all the ingredients for it. I also never had high hopes for this one as I've never been fond of home made hummus. However, my mind has been changed for good now...I found a super simple recipe on www.jamieoliver.com and...OMG...this stuff is mecha oishii!!! (just too delicious)

Basic Hummus Recipe

2 cups dried chick peas (also called Garbanzo Beans), soaked overnight
1 T sea salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup tahini (also called sesame seed paste) - I didn't use so much tahini as it contains too many calories.
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t cayenne pepper, more to taste
1/2 c filtered water, plus 1/2 cup or more as needed
sea salt to taste

Rinse the soaked chickpeas well, put in saucepan with 9 cups filtered water, plus 1 T of sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 2 hours or until the chick peas are soft. As foam rises to the top, skim this off and discard. The foam contains the impurities of the beans (supposedly!) and is best to remove. You may need to add more water as it cooks down.

In a food processor, chop the garlic cloves. Add tahini, lemon juice and 1/2 c water, process until smooth and well combined.

Add cooked and drained chickpeas and cayenne to the bowl of the food processor with the tahini mixture. Process until well blended while adding additional 1/2 cup or more of water, as needed. Add sea salt to taste, as needed. Once blended, process another minute or so. The extra processing adds air to the hummus which gives the recipe a light, pleasing texture

Hummus is great with nearly any chopped vegetable. Add to sandwiches. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or chopped parsley. Experiment with adding chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes to the basic recipe for additional flavor. Enjoy!

Here is a short slide show of the crafts fair for you all to enjoy whilst munching on some yum.
The music is "Colleen" by Joanna Newsom.

28 Nov 2009

Beautiful November!

What a beautiful weekend it has been. Nothing but Chilling, making funky knit Jewellery, studying Japanese and practising Yoga in the beautiful autumn sun. This week has been a strange one. 10 degrees one minute and 24 the next. Keep it up Mr sunshine! However, I have the feeling today was the last we have seen of its beauty.
As I mentioned in my last post, yoga everyday... So far so good.

Today I decided to take my new yoga mat to this beautiful spot which was introduced to me by a good friend who once lived here in Konan City, Kochi (thanks Jules). It has been a while since my last visit, but luckily today the sun was at its best for me to salute it with a dose of A & B (sun salutation, Astanga series). Just to prove how amazing this spot is for doing yoga, here is a short video Andy took.

Suryanamaskara B x 5

27 Nov 2009

Sweetpotato, pumpkin and onion mash

The weather is becoming cooler by the day and the last of the momiji are parting from their branches.  Winter is approaching fast and the thought and excitement of winter deliciousness is beginning to excite my taste buds.
The thought of this yum also frightened my waist line, or what's left of it anyway (I bake cakes way too much) so this past month has been filled with the need to get back in shape.  Yoga every day has started me off to a decent start.  I also bought this genius little application for my ipod for strength training.  It's basically a game where you battle other users to beat their score.  The ipod scores you on your form and control.  such a genius piece of equipment.  Impressed.  Anyway, only just started using it and my body is feeling tender...I didn't realise how out of shape I became!
Let's just hope the motivation lasts longer than a week.

As for food, this week I wanted a wee change from our usual rice and veg, so decided to pick up some fresh fish fillets, leafy herbs and of course pumpkin and sweet potatoes and created this delicious dish.

The recipe will follow shortly....


2 cups sweet potatoes
1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash
1 cup celery
1 cup red onion
1 tsp powdered stock/ vegetable or konbu dashi
1 clove garlic
fresh ground black pepper
a dash of olive oil
a dash of soymilk


- Cut the pumpkin and sweet potato into cubes and boil untu\il tender
- Meanwhile, saute the onion, celery and garlic for a couple of minutes until translucent.  You want to have a bit of crunch to the vegetables.
- When the potato and pumkin is tenter and crumbling slightly, drain and return to the pot
- mash with the powdered stock, soy milk and a little olive oil
- mix in the sauted oinion etc
- sprinkle the black pepper

To accompany the mash I served mixed herbs with a lemon dressing and cherry tomatoes and
grilled a fillet of white fish and placed on top of the mash.

Beautifuly colourful and of course...delicious!!!

11 Nov 2009

Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

This soup is one I picked up from working in a bistro a few years ago. It is an absolute favourite of mine. It's deliciousness is 5 star. You have to try it to see what I mean.


Half a Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or 1 squash
1 onion
2 pints of vegetable stock (I used 2 sachets of Konbu dashi)
200 ml Coconut milk (1/2 tin)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 scallion (garnish)


1. Cut up the Kabocha/squash and cook it in the stock until the pumpkin becomes soft.
2. In the meantime chop up the onion and sauté in a pan with a little olive oil.
3. When the pumpkin is cooked add the onion, spice, and coconut milk.
4. Spoon half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth then transfer back to the pot and reheat.
5. Quarter the lemon then squeeze the juice into the soup and stir.
6. Serve with your garnish.

Day 2 soup = Pasta sauce!!

Brown pasta mixed with pumpkin soup, 1 small eggplant, a cup of spinach, 2 scallions, 1 big juicy tomato, 1 tub of firm tofu(diced).... basically all the leftovers in my fridge

Nice, quick and very satisfying : )

9 Nov 2009

Shiawase Sunday...pure bliss...

Unfortunately my Sunday had to come to an end :(
We are into the 2nd week of November and the shorts and T-shirt are still a strong contender in the wardrobe stakes. 24 degrees and a clear blue sky.
A lazy morning uploading images from the Japanese wedding we attended on Sat mixed with a yummy Sunday breakfast and watching "In treatment". I had the intentions of a morning full of Astanga, but that thought passed when I realised I need to clean (That also didn't happen). Instead we took an hour bike ride to our favourite cafe "Cotton Time" and devoured a smoked salmon and cream cheese wrap (above) coupled with Japanese study.
These wraps are sooo unbelievably fresh and addictive, you pretty much inhale it! Only one problem, fujuubun (not enough).

Arriving home and only an hour to spare before the family were online for their weekly catch up, so I spent it making unleavened bread or more like yeast-less garlic focaccia...(Oh my gosh) It has been soooo long since eating bread I almost forgot what it tasted like (not such a bad thing, as it does stick to your insides like glue, but it was a sunday and best time to indulge a little).
This bread was too easy to make and so easy to manipulate with any flavour you are in the mood for.

I'm gonna make more later so I can take a picture, but here is the recipe for now.

2nd time bread (above) with garlic and sunflower seads (I cut the cooked bread into slices, drizzled a little olive oil onto one side then toasted it and served it with soup...oishiiiiii)

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried crushed garlic
sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper and salt
sprinkle cayenne pepper.

1. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder into a bowl then mix in the water little by little. Depending on your flour you may not need to use all of the water.
2. mix into a dough.
3. turn onto a floured surface and kneed into a ball.
4. Plop the dough ball into the greased rice cooker flattening it to 1/2 and inch. It doesn't have to be even, but make sure there are no holes.
5. brush the dough with the olive oil.
6. sprinkle the pepper, garlic, etc. onto the dough
7. Set the rice cooker to the cake setting and time it to 45mins
8. wait for the beep then turn it out onto a wire rack and eat immediately. (best when hot)
9. It also tasted great day 2, toasted :)

25 Oct 2009

Chick Pea Chocolate Cake

This is how my Sunday began.  Woke up at stupid o'clock 6.30am and couldn't get back to sleep for the life of me.  Possibly has a lot to do with the fact that this weekend wasn't active and neither was I.  hhmmm no exercise for 1 month...I really should get back on track.
The only thing on my mind was to try out a new cake recipe.  I love secret ingredients and especially if they are healthy.  Chick peas were on my mind and that is what I used.
I didn't hold many hopes for this one working as the batter was pretty runny and minimal.  It was just too easy to make, but I bunged it into the rice cooker and the results, well...actually pretty good.  I wish I had a tub of creme fraiche to go with this one.  The consistency was similar to a chocolate fudge cake, but a little dryer and very nutty.  Next time I'm gonna mix in some chopped dates to give more moisture or perhaps a banana...hmmm...maybe both.
I love how this is healthy naughtiness.  It makes me feel a little less bad about not exercising.

I will post the recipe later, but for now here is a lovely find....This is the diamond in the rough and it goes by the name, "Graffiti"
Beautiful little gallery cafe in Kochi city, very fresh and bright with funky style.  The cherry on the cake was the free wireless.  Now I can spend all day here, blogging, studying Japanese and planning lessons.
A perfect Sunday afternoon.

Ok so now for the recipe to this protein rich gluten free cake.


1 tin of chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained.
1 cup dark chocolate (I used 70% greens organic)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
20g Butter
3 eggs
0.5 tsp baking powder


1.  melt the chocolate
2.  Mix the butter, sugar and baking powder to a paste
3.  mix the sugar mixture into the melted chocolate
4.  Put the beans and the eggs into the blender and blend until smooth
5.  Pour in the chocolate and blend together ( the smoother the better to avoid the cake to crumble when cooked)
6.  Add the raisins and pulse a few times
7.  Add batter to the rice cooker then set to the cake setting and cook for 45mins.
8.  When the timer has timed out, check the cake with a chopstick.  If it comes out clean transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Dress the cake however you please.  For me, a cup of green tea works just fine, but for others a spoonful of creme fraiche or double cream.

17 Oct 2009

Autumn Spiced Boiled Raisin Cake

Unlucky for me and due to the crazy changes of temperature, I caught the cold :( it was inevitable really since everyone around me seems to be sick.  Luckily though, it wasn't the piggy variety : )  For this I was surprised, considering the high school I teach at has been closed down twice in the past 4 weeks because of it.
On a good note though staying at home and trying to rest encouraged me to do a bit more baking, making and movie watching :)

Here is one cake I made (see pic below).  I took the recipe from www.allrecipes.com I have their funky wee spinner application on my iPod and this recipe took my fancy because of the easy instructions and I had all the ingredients.

WOW!! I love it!! It tastes like autumn and a bit like those little ginger German cakes covered with icing.  I know there is no ginger in the recipe, you don't need it either as the cake is super fragrant and tasty!!  I can't wait to have another piece today with my new fresh green tea : )

There were crumbs and chunks of cake remaining on the chopping board after cutting it into edible pieces, so Andy put them into his plain yogurt.  Now, this could be an excuse for me to eat it for breakfast I think!

I wish I could send a piece of this cake to everyone! instead this blog posting will have to do!!  Enjoy!


  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water ( or soda water - for a fluffier texture and appearance)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Boil raisins in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
    2. Add vegetable oil and cold water to the raisins.
    3. Mix sugar, flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
    4. Add the raisin mixture, and stir till just mixed.
    5. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan or rice cooker bowl, and bake for one hour in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven or 1hr 30mins in the rice cooker switched on to cake setting. It is done if a toothpick comes out clean.

    Pea n' Sweet Potato Soup

    This soup is an adaption from Jamie Oliver's 20 min recipes iPod application.   Quite a funky little application actually, with vids and pics and tips.  Some nice recipes and this is the first one I tried out.
    The problem with western cooking when living in Japan is the severe lack of ingredients, so for this wee dish I had to make a few adjustments.
    Here are the results.


    250 g   frozen peas
    1 large sweet potato
    1 small onion
    0.5L  vegetable stock (Miso paste and 2 sachets of Konbu Dashi)
    1 stick celery
    150 g pureed silken tofu
    6 tsp  cottage cheese (or feta cheese preferably)
    drizzle olive oil


    1. Set and start your rice cooker to quick cook.
    2. Add a splash of olive oil and leave to heat up.
    3. Meanwhile peel and chop the onion.  Trim and chop the celery stick.
    4. Add to the rice cooker with a splash of water and allow to cook until the onion and celery become soft.
    When a little soft add the stock and grated potato. Bring to a simmer.
    5. Add the peas, stir ingredients together close the rice cooker lid and set to porridge setting and leave to cook until the timer sounds.
    6. When cooked stir in the pureed tofu.
    7. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with the cheese and sprinkle with cracked pepper and salt.

    13 Oct 2009

    Tofu & pumpkin burgers

    Photo to follow....in too much of a rush to get them on the table hot.  Got all excited and we gobbled them up too quickly before taking a photo for you all to be tempted by the beautifulness!!   I'm obviously going to make them again.
    It was my first attempt at tofu burgers and oh my...too delicious for words!!  I was on the search of a good recipe off the internet, but no such luck.  I was also short on some ingredients and some looked too eggy or too plain.  I also wanted to use my ingredient of the month - PUMPKIN!!
    I made 6 burgers, 3 for me and 3 for Andy :)
    I served them up with a nice mixed salad of spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, shaved carrot, umeboshi (pickled plums) rasins, soy nuts and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.


    (makes 6 burgers)

    0.5 cup soy beans
    1 cup pumpkin finely copped
    1 cup onion minced
    1 300g tub firm tofu (drained)
    1 small bell pepper
    2 cloves garlic
    1 tbsp mirin
    1tbsp soy sauce
    2 tsp kombu dashi granules (bullion powder would also work)
    0.5 cup oats
    1 oat cake
    1 egg
    1 tblsp crushed sesame seads
    Dusting of corn flour

    [next time I'll probably add a little fresh herbs]

    1) To drain the tofu cut it into four even pieces wrapping each peace in doubled over kitchen roll. Set aside for 30 mins.

    2) Finely chop the onion, pumpkin, garlic, pepper and mix together with the soysauce, mirin and kombu dashi granules.  Mash the soy beans then add to the mixture

    3) Heat up a pan with a little olive oil then cook this mixture until all the ingredients come together and the onions begin to brown and the liquid has dissolved.
    When satisfied transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix through the oats, scrunched up oat cake and sesame seeds.

    4) Mix the tofu in the food processer or blender then scrape into the oaty mixture and mix through.
    Lightly beat the egg then mix together with everything else.

    5) lightly dust a plate with corn flour spoon a little of the mixture onto the flour turning and forming into a small or medium sized pates.

    The flour gives the burgers a delicious crunchiness so don't miss it
    out : )

    Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
    This mixture may feel a little unstable but it really comes together when you cook them in the pan.

    6) Heat a little olive oil in the pan and cook through.   Roughly a couple of minutes on each side should do.
    Serve with your favourite salad and enjoy!!

    8 Oct 2009

    Variety Bites

    Since coming to japan I have developed an obsession for onigiri (rice balls).   So much so I have ditched the sandwich for the delightful pretty tasty treats.   It has come to the point that my day doesn't feel fulfilled until I have munched on an onigiri.

    The joy with onigiri is that you can put pretty much put anything you want in them from bacon, eggs, haggis, fish to veggie's beans and pickles.  The options are endless use your imagination, anything goes.

    What's also exiting about these savoury treats is that each new onigiri can be a surprise when preparing a variety for guests.
    You can be guaranteed they will be polished off in a matter of minutes.

    The traditional shape to prepare onigiri into is a triangle, however you can be experimental with their shape or simply shape them into balls and roll them in sesame seads.   Personally though, I prefer the triangles, especially since I have a nifty wee mold making them perfect every time, although using your eye and clean wet hands also works just fine.

    My favourite filling by far is umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), see picture above.  Other favourites are listed bellow.  Honestly though, try anything you like as it probably will work!


    1 cup Japanese or short grain rice  (making 6 small onigiri)
    1 cup water
    1 tsp salt and pepper

    Either cook according to the instructions on your packet of rice, or if you have a rice cooker like me, follow the quantities above and switch the rice cooker on regular cook and wait for it to time out.
    When the rice has finished cooking, open the lid and fluff the rice allowing it to cool a little before making the onigiri.
    In the mean time prepare your desired filling.
    If you like you can take ideas from my list or follow the same fillings as I usually use.

    If you don't have a mold then using your hands is pretty simple

    1st - after cleaning your hands, wet them and dust with a little salt

    2nd - spoon some rice into the palm of your hands making a cup shape.

    3rd - make a well in the ball you have made with your hands then spoon a little of your desired filling.

    4th - cover with a little more rice.

    5th - Shape the mixture into a tight ball or shape into a triangle.

    6th - practice makes perfect.

    An alternative is to use a piece of plastic wrap using the same method as above from the 2nd step then gathering the four corners of the plastic wrap then twist and shape with your hands.

    Filling 1:

    1 tblsp Mayo
    0.5 tsp wasabi paste
    [this is a dressing so use sparingly.  making it in a small dish and add the amount you need when you need it]
    3 king size prawns cooked and chopped / 1 tblsp drained tuna flakes

    Filling 2:

    Half a cup diced cooked pumpkin
    1 tsp soy sauce
    1 tsp mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
    1 tsp toasted sesame seads

    Chop the pumpkin and mix into the mirin soy sauce and allow the pumpkin to soak up the flavour
    Remove excess liquid then mix in the sesame seeds.

    Filling 3:

    Half a cup avocado chopped
    Wasabi paste to taste(optional) / a little of the dressing you used for the prawns and tuna
    salt and pepper to taste

    Filling 4:

    Small Diced cucumbers
    dab of wasabi (optional)
    sprinkle Ukari flakes / salt and pepper

    Filling 5:

    4 pitted umeboshi (chopped)

    Make a well in the triangle and scoop in a little filling then cover with a little more rice.
    Dress with nori (seaweed strips) or sesame seeds.

    5 Oct 2009

    Curried Barley & Pumpkin

    When starting this blog,  I hadn't really experimented much in the way of using recipes.   I would only look through cook books, take ideas and make up my own dishes, but always forgetting what I used exactly in the way of quantities or method of cooking. This would make the same dish taste different every time.  Not such a bad thing, but it can become a pain when you want to cook something quickly, something that you know is good for friends visiting.
    From posting my fave dishes here, forces me to note down what I did, therefore opening up a new world of cooking.
    I'm also always open to new ideas, especially ones which are easy to make, take little time, taste outstanding and of course are healthy.
    I love it when friends are also interested in cooking, as this opens up new tasty doors.   Jules, a friend of mine from New Zealand is a keen cook and always has great ideas in the kitchen.  Being a yoga fanatic vegetarian and interested in healthful ingredients has possibly made her more experimental.   I turned to her first because one of the first dishes of hers I tasted was right up my street.  Curried barley and pumpkin.  A really delicious side dish so full of flavour and very aromatic.
    Sadly Jules had to leave Japan to return to New Zealand so no more sampling of new dishes that I can steal and no more yoga afternoons :( . Thankfully the power of the internet helps keep things close, so I asked her to send me some of her favourite meals, the ones she turns to most often.  Luckily she sent me the Curried barley and pumpkin recipe I have been trying to copy for the past 6 months.
    Tonight I followed the recipe for the first time and tried my best not to ruin it by adding extras before I'd even sampled the original recipe.   The results, were just as I thought, super delicious.   I served it with a tofu and edamame mixed salad and pickled cucumbers on the side (a new favourite of mine.  Thank you Chisako for introducing them to me).  I have sooo many left overs too.  I doubled the batch as Andy is a huge eater and always worrying if he eats enough.  He said he'd eat it again, however the only suggestion he made was to serve it with a saucy dish as it wouldn't work as a meal by itself.  I feel that this dish as a meal by itself, wasn't the intention and works amazing with a crunchy salad and tofu.  The quantities of spices were spot on and the sweetness of the pumpkin and the mirin pull out the spicy flavours.  I loved how making this dish filled my apartment with mouth watering aromas.
    I have no need to change anything, but I'm happy to hear what your opinions are.
    Thanks Jules for this one!! x


    1 cup barley
    1 cup chopped pumpkin
    2 teaspoons toasted and crushed cumin seeds
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1-2 tbsp mirin
    1 tbsp soy sauce
    2 teaspoons kombu dashi
    1-2 cups water


    Put all ingredients in to the rice cooker and mix together.  Set the cooker to cook and let the rice cooker do the rest.   Enjoy the smells and wait for the beep.

    Simple :)

    4 Oct 2009

    Powerful pumpkin

    My thoughts behind adding this message are based on the information regards the powerful properties pumpkin contains. 
    Thank you Choesf for your reply and more insight into this vegetable.
    I hope you enjoy the pumpkin cake : )   


    Susan said,

    Thanks sooo much for sharing your cake recipe.
    I had this tiny old second hand rice cooker and no oven. I really
    had the urge to bake so started serching the net for inspiration.
    Your choco cake was the first I stumbled on and I have been converted
    ever since. So much so I went out and bought a brand new
    rice cooker with sooo many funky functions.
    Are you still experimenting with new recipes in your rice cooker?
    I'm gonna try another of your recipes, the prune cake.
    I have tried a few more and thought you might be interested in trying them out.
    I have also set up a webstite. Feel free to have a nosey. :)

    • 25


      Hi there and welcome, dear Susan :D

      I'm glad my "rice cooker choco cake" post inspired you to get a multi-function rice cooker. :lol:

      No, I only baked a cake that one time in my rice cooker as I wanted to test it out. I had posted the other recipes here due to some requests. For those without an oven, this type of rice cookers would be good.

      Now, I want to try out that pumpkin cake recipe at your blog – I have never made a pumpkin cake before. It sounded so scrumptious and moist from your description. There are many health benefits of eating pumpkin :-

      1) it reduces the sensitivity of carcinogenic substances
      2) it prevents spread of cancerous cells
      3) it removes cholesterol
      4) it strengthens the kidneys and liver
      5) it enhances cell regeneration

      So, it was very good that you had chosen that month to cook as many pumpkin dishes as possible. I will be back there to check on those recipes. :wink:

      With best wishes,

      choesf :D

    30 Sep 2009


    This month I have chosen to use pumpkin in as many dishes as possible.  I want to find new ways of using it so if you have any suggestions please post them my way.  Jules has offered one of her delightful recipes which I look forward to trying now that I have all the necessary ingredients.   

    Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) is in season this month which is every reason why I want to cook with it.  Fresh is always best. This pumpkin is beautifully sweet and it's colour is a brilliant orange.  High in bita carotene a powerful antioxidant which converts into vitamin A in the body. 
    This anti-oxidant has been shown to help improve immune function and can reduce the risks of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  Not only that, pumpkins also contain many other vitamins and nutrients including: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, C and E.  Furthermore One cup of pumpkin contains 3 grams of fibre and only 50 calories.   It is high in carbohydrates so can be a healthy substitute to pasta, rice or potatoes. 

    Kabocha is traditionally eaten in celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when people lack the nutrients found more commonly in summer vegetables. Kabocha is often enjoyed as tempura or boiled in sugar and soya sauce resulting in a soft, sweet dish.

    For this blog posting, pumpkin cake is first on the list.  Pumpkin has an amazing texture perfect for baking with and will make your cake beautifully moist and colourful.

    It was my day off yesterday and was on the lookout for something easy to make and using the ingredients I already have. That's when I thought a pumpkin cake would be the ideal choice.  I did want to wait until I received my mums amazing squash recipe (which I have to add to this blog when I get it.  It is perhaps the only cake you can't resist to scoff, even if it has fallen and broken into peices on the kitchen floor - ah the memories) however I felt a bit impatient and thought I'd make one up myself.  I didn't want to be too experimental with this one so I thought the best thing to do was to work with something which was already a bit of a success, the banana cake.    The results were even better than expected.  

    Again, like the banana cake, this pumpkin one is a must try.  I wouldn't have put it on here otherwise.  Very moist and flavourful.  You can't really taste the pumpkin, but it gives this cake a mouth watering texture. You may find it also beats the banana cake in the tasty stakes.  I didn't think this could be possible, but the proof is in the pudding!! :)

    Here are the ingredients and the methods I used.  -

    113g butter or margarine/butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 cup All purpose flour
    1.5 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (if you are struggling to get it into a creamy mash add a little soy milk)
    a big handful of crushed walnuts
    1 cup raisins (boiled in 1 cup of water - drain)
    tsp heaped cinnamon
    1/2 tsp clove powder
    1 tsp nutmeg powder

    1.  Grease the rice cooker bowl/pan with butter or marg
    2.  Mash the cooked pumpkin with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender with a little soy milk
    3.  Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
    4.  Mix together the mushy pumpkin
    5.  Mix in the sieved flour and spices
    6.  Mix in the  raisins and crushed walnuts.
    7.  Scrape into the rice cooker and bake for 60 minutes on the cake function. If you don't have that function switch to on then check the mixture when the setting finishes with a chop stick.
    8.  If it comes out clean you are in the clear and can let it cool on a rack then eat if not put it on for a further 20 mins. 
    9.  If you want to make this in the oven the directions will be the same as in the banana cake recipe I found. 

    10.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool before cutting. 

    Remember, the steam in the rice cooker cooks the cake so don't look until the timer has beeped.

    20 Sep 2009

    Scrumptious Cinnamon Porridge

    This is my weekend breakfast and look forward to it all week :) It's also one I make for all my friends when they come to visit.  It seems to work every time.  No complaints to far.
    I actually found this recipe in a weight watchers recipe book my mum had.  I have pretty much stuck to the recipe, however there may be a few tweaks here and there.

    This one is for you Sofie x


    quantities for 1 serving.

    1/4 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 banana
    a few raisins
    drizzle honey to taste

    How to:

    1.  add oatmeal, water and milk to the pan
    2. turn head to medium and stir continuously
    3.  add cinnamon.
    4.  Bring to the boil and watch it thicken.
    5. When its bubbling and nice and thick but still soupy turn off the heat and pour into a bowl
    6. Chop your banana on the top then sprinkle the raisins.
    7. If, like me you have a big sweet tooth drizzle a little honey to finish.

    Enjoy :)

    Variation : Instead of banana grate 1/2 an apple and add it to the oatmeal when cooking

    19 Sep 2009

    Banana Birthday

    For this cake I used a recipe from one of my links to the left of this page 'Banana Cake'
    That one is pretty much what I made but instead of the oven, I cooked it in my rice cooker.   I also added some chocolate chunks, walnuts and raisins...mmm...with a tsp here and there of cinnamon, powdered cloves and nutmeg.

    Here is the picture of the finished result.  Unfortunately I can't talk about the outcome yet as I made it for Andy's birthday weekend up in Iya valley.  Not your typical birthday cake, but I think it looks pretty good and it smells even better.  The recipe I took it from has so many amazing reviews, so I think that speaks volumes.

    I'm just pretty impressed I made a cake in the rice cooker :)

    Note: If you substitute the self raising flour (as stated in the recipe) for all purpose flour, remember to add 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.

    113g butter or margarine
    1/2 cup sugar (granulated, caster, or mix in some demerara, whatever you have to hand)
    1 cup self raising flour (I couldn't find self raising here in Japan so used all purpose)

    [1.5 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt] - if you use all purpose
    2 eggs
    3 medium, very ripe bananas

    Handful crushed walnuts
    1 tsp heaped cinnamon
    1/2 tsp clove powder
    1 tsp nutmeg powder
    1 bar of chocolate (broken into small pieces)

    1.  Grease the rice cooker bowl/pan with butter or marg
    2.  Mash the bananas with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender
    3.  Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
    4.  Mix together the mushy bananas.
    5.  Mix in the sieved flour and spices

    6.  Mix in the chocolate raisins and crushed walnuts.
    7.  Scrape into the rice cooker and bake for 60 minutes on the cake function. If you don't have that function switch to on then check the mixture when the setting finishes with a chop stick.  

    8.  If it comes out clean you are in the clear and can let it cool on a rack then eat.  

    Remember not to peek in the cooker to see how its going as that will let all the steam out (this steam is what cooks the cake) :) 

    Update - Sep 23

    *****!!!  This one was super delicious and will be made again this week.
    It was devoured within seconds which gives me a clear sign that everyone who tried it felt the same.

    18 Sep 2009


    As you may have noticed this month, my very first month of blogging, I have decided to use tofu in every recipe.

    This particular food is very limited in flavour, but full of the most digestible protein of any food.  Containing almost 20 percent of your daily requirement of protein, about the same as a poached egg but minus the 350 mg of cholesterol.
    Tofu is possibly the one of the healthiest foods I have ever eaten.  Containing 8 essential amino acids which play a huge role in rebuilding cells in our bodies.  It also contains calcium and iron, so if you are lactose intolerant, vegan or trying to avoid dairy like me then tofu is your friend.

    From what I have experienced, tofu is soooo unbelievably versatile and I will try to prove that to you in all my tried and tested recipes.
    Tofu is possibly best described as a sponge, as it soaks up any flavour you put it with.  The only thing you need to remember is to drain it to get it to it's fullest potential.
    If you are in a hurry and no time for marinading, then 30 minutes in the flavour of your choice and your  tofu is ready for the next step.

    This spring was the first time I had even tried it on the BBQ.   From now on I will choose tofu over chicken/beef every time.  It's just sooo succulent and moist...mmmmm....

    Tofu and avocado dip

    This dip is super easy to prepare and works perfectly with chopped up raw vegetables or on crackers.
    You will find out for yourself that it's oishiiiiiiiiiii!!  yummy in my tummy.  Again, the textures of the tofu and the avocado make this dip sooo creamy you won't believe that it's good for you.  Also, the hint of garlic will keep you reaching out for more.

    The calories in this dip come mainly from the avocado, but don't let that put you off as avocados are packed with healthy fats (monounsaturated) which speed up your metabolic rate and also contain no cholesterol.  What we should really keep in mind is the total nutritional benefit we can receive from food is much more important than the food's calorie content.
    I reckon what sells this fruit to me are the advantages such as weight control (making you feel full and steers you away from bingeing on sugary treats), dietary benefits, fiber and fruit protein source, source of major antioxidants which are amazing for your skin inside and out.

    By stating this, I guess I am mainly making myself aware of it's benefits and to stop believing the negative misconceptions of this fruit.

    Ok, enough of the lecture and onto the yummmm....

    150g soft/silken tofu (1/2 pack)
    200g ripe avocado
    a little fresh lemon juice
    1.5 tsp granulated vegetable stock
    2 tbsp low fat mayo
    1 clove garlic minced
    salt and pepper.

    1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper on a sieve for 30mins to drain
    2. Peel the avocado. take out the seed and put the flesh in a mixing bowl
        Add a little fresh lemon juice and mash.  Cut or break the tofu into
        bit size pieces, add the avocado and mix
    3. Finally add the mayo, granulated stock, garlic, salt and pepper.

    Serve immediately


    16 Sep 2009

    Energising tofu breakfast smoothie

    I know this recipe isn't one for the rice cooker, but it had to be posted because i love it so much!   
    Not only that, since tofu is my ingredient of the month I really wanted to demonstrate
    another yummy way to use it.   

    You may be a little or a lot hesitant  about trying this one, but believe me you will be impressed with the results. 
    This particular recipe was inspired from one of my dads creations.  I had never thought about using oatmeal in smoothies before or tofu actually.  I was bored with my usual cornflakes in the morning , so I gave this smoothie a go and again to my surprise it worked out great.
    Next time though I may skip the macha and banana and use melon and strawberries instead.
    Not because the macha and banana aren't delicious, but because it's good to mix things
    up a bit and try out new ideas.  
    If you can think of any other tasty combinations of fruit please leave a comment.  I want to 
    stay clear of any carton juices as I feel they contain too much sugar.


    2 medium size glasses
    400g (1 tub, drained) silken tofu
    1 tbsp honey
    2 medium size bananas
    2 tsp Japanese green tea powder (Macha)
    6 tbsp rolled oats
    2 cups water

    Simply, put all ingredients into the blender and pulse to break the mixture down then blend until smooth.
    If you feel this is too thick, just add more water.
    This drink is a perfect start to your day.  Filled with goodness, protein and dietary fiber giving you a slow release of energy to stave off hunger and keep you energised until lunch.
    I usually make this the night before and keep in the fridge over night.
    I really love the taste of macha however it's difficult to find back home in the UK.  You may find it in some Asian supermarkets, if not you can order it online or if you ask nicely I'll send you some.  We could do a recipe swap...:)
    If there's one thing I'd want to continue to consume for the rest of my life, it's green tea. It really is one of natures wonder drugs!
    The macha does have a really distinct flavor, so it may take a little to get used to it.  Once you read about it's powerful benefits, you will quickly fall in love with it.
    Also, if you ever come across it.  Try macha ice cream!! you may just enter heaven for a few minutes. 


    Oh my gosh!! You have to try this one!! 
    Substitute the macha power for:

    1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp nutmeg
    put a little ice in the blender too :)

    + for the naughty chocolate lovers in the house add 1 tsp of coco powder...mmmmm......

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