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

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