Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cranberry Sauce

Soak in a pan overnight or for an hour or so:

1-1½ C dried cranberries
freshly squeezed orange juice to just cover
(a dash of red wine, maybe 1 T)

Before cooking, add:

a small amount of sugar, about 1 t 
a pinch of salt

Simmer over a very low fire for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and the sauce thickens slightly. Cover and set aside until you're ready to serve.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fried Rice

Heat in a frying pan:

1 T oil (olive, or a mix of olive and sesame)

Stir fry:

½-1 minced onion

2-5 cloves of minced garlic
200 gm minced chicken

When the chicken is almost completely cooked, add:

1 finely grated carrot
2-3 chopped shiitake mushrooms
1-2 C minced vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach, broccoli stalks, red peppers, etc. (Add the vegetables that take longer to cook first. Think about adding a variety of colors. If you need more color, add some green onions at the very end, after you mix in the rice.)

When vegetables are cooked, push them towards the edges of the pan, make a well in the center and cook:

2-3 scrambled eggs (mixed with ¼ t salt and ½ t sugar)
Add and mix in:

2-3 C cooked rice

Season with:

Salt and pepper

If you are making more than this amount, you can just mix the cooked vegetables and meat with the cooked rice in a large mixing bowl. No need to cook the rice together with the vegetables in a frying pan.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Whole Grain Crepes

Place in blender and blend until smooth:

1½ C milk
3-4 eggs
2-2½ T grape seed oil
1 t vanilla
2 T honey
½ C raw oatmeal (old fashioned - or whatever you have)
1 C whole wheat flour (or ½ C whole wheat + ½ C white)
1 t baking powder
1 T flax seeds
1 T chia seeds
¼ t salt

Pour it into a mixing bowl and stir it before making each pancake. The batter will be kind of thin, but it will thicken up as time passes due to the chia and flax.

Heat frying pan, and set fire to medium/low. If you have a non-stick pan, don't use any oil on the pan. If you don't have a non-stick pan, pour a tiny bit of oil on the pan and spread it very thinly with a folded paper towel. Do this before making each pancake.

Pour or scoop about 2-3 T of batter on the hot pan, and tilt the pan so the batter spreads to a big circle. Flip when bubbles come up all over it and it's browned on the bottom. 

Here are some ideas for fillings:

Any combination of cut strawberries, blueberries, banana slices, kiwi slices, peach slices, mango slices, and Greek yogurt or whipped cream.

Apple sauce, a slight sprinkle of cinnamon, yogurt.

Jam and yogurt.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mexican Wraps

Marinate in a plastic bag for 30 minutes:

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips against the grain
1 onion, sliced into crescents
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 t taco seasoning*
½ t cumin
(¼ t basil)
(¼ t cinnamon)
1 t olive oil

*If you don't have taco seasoning, increase your cumin to 1 t and add ½ t chili powder.

Stir-fry gently until chicken is cooked.

Slice and grill or steam:

1 red or yellow pepper


1 avocado
(1 tomato)
Natural cheese

Wash and pat dry:

3 leaves of leaf lettuce

Place a large frying pan over a very low flame. Heat about 30 seconds on each side:

5-6 large tortillas

After you flip the tortilla, place 1 slice of cheese on it, off-center (so that it will be in the right place for wrapping). This will slightly melt the cheese. It's especially helpful if your cheese is crumbly, as mine often is. When each tortilla is done, place them on a clean, dry counter or on plates.

When all the tortillas are cooked, fill them with your ingredients by placing on top of the cheese:

3-4 slices of chicken with onions
2-3 slices of avocado
3-4 slices of red pepper
(1-2 tomato slices)
½-1 lettuce leaf

Wrap the bottom of the tortilla a third way up over the filling, then fold the sides in and pin closed with a tooth pick. Serve with salsa, chips, and/or (if you're like us) hummus.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Fresh lemon juice

Wash, (peel if you want to), and core apples. Chop them into cubes or slice them. Put in a heavy pot, squeeze on lemon juice to keep the color, and add a sprinkling of cinnamon if you want to. Mix them around a bit to coat them with the lemon juice. Cover and cook over a low flame until the apples soften. 

Keep in a container in the fridge. If you won't be eating it all soon, freeze some.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tomato Nabe

This is a great winter meal, and can be cooked on a hot plate at the table, if you like. Serve with pasta or rice.
Place in a nabe pot (or other deep, wide heavy pot) and heat:

2 (400 gm) cans chopped tomatoes - blend in blender to make smooth
1½-2 cans water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3-4 cloves garlic - sliced or whole
½ t basil
¼ t oregano
1 bay leaf

As this is heating, add:

1 potato - cleaned and chopped into about 3 cm pieces
1 carrot - peeled and cut into about 5 cm sticks
¾ onion - sliced
3-4 shiitake mushrooms (or other mushrooms)
Salt and pepper


Now, to make the cabbage rolls.

Steam until soft:

3-4 large cabbage leaves

Prepare the filling for the leaves by mixing:

200 gm minced chicken
½ C Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
¼ onion - minced

Cut out the hard center from the steamed cabbage leaves, and cut them into quarters (or a manageable size). Put 1-3 T of filling on a leaf (depending on the size of your leaf and what you want to do), roll up, secure it closed with a toothpick. Repeat until you've used up your leaves. If you have extra filling, make those into about 3 cm meatballs.

Add the cabbage rolls (and meatballs) to the pot. Also add:

4-8 sausages
(½ block tofu - cut into quarters)

When carrots are soft and meat is cooked, serve. Top with:

Grated cheese

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tofu with Chicken and Vegetables

2 dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced (soak for 30 minutes or more to reconstitute) 
OR fresh shiitake or shimeji mushrooms
300 gm tofu - rinsed, drained, and mashed with a fork
1 t vegetable oil (grape seed, canola, whatever)
150 gm minced chicken (more or less)
1 T minced ginger
(1 clove garlic - minced)
2 T cooking sake
1 carrot, shaved (I use a peeler)
½ T light brown sugar
1 T soy sauce (either usukuchi or regular soy sauce)
1 egg
(8-10 snow pea pods)
¼ C chopped green onions (negi)

Heat oil in a frying pan, and sauté the minced chicken with the ginger (and garlic). Add mushrooms, carrots, and sake. Stir for about 1 minute until the carrots begin to soften. Reduce the heat, add tofu and and cook until heated through. 

Mix egg with sugar and soy sauce. Pour over tofu and chicken and stir until just cooked. (If you're adding snow pea pods, add them when the egg is about half-cooked. They cook very quickly.) Serve over rice. Top with green onions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Temaki Sushi (Hand-wrapped Sushi)

Egg, cucumber, lettuce, mayonnaise, and wasabi.
Salmon, avocado, onion, lettuce, mayonaise, and wasabi.
Chicken tender, lettuce, mayonnaise, and wasabi.

These are made-at-the-table sushi wraps. Basically, you put a little rice on a piece of nori seaweed, then put in a little sliced omelet, fish, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, and/or whatever you like. The secret to making them pretty is to be sparing with the rice.

Prepare sushi rice.

Prepare ingredients for wraps:

Tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) -

Use the basic recipe on that page; add no extra ingredients. After it is cooled, cut into about 1 cm square lengths.

Fried chicken tenders (sasami)  –

Cut chicken tenders in half, lengthwise.

For 3 tenders, marinate in:

1 t sake
1 t soy sauce
½ t finely minced garlic

Put 3 T flour in a disposable plastic bag. Add the marinated tenders and shake bag to coat them.

Put 1 egg in a wide bowl and mix it. Dip the tenders, one at a time, in the egg.  

Put ½ C panko (Japanese bread crumbs) in a disposable plastic bag. Shake the tenders, one at a time, in the bread crumbs to coat.

Heat about 1 cm of canola or grape-seed oil in a small frying pan. When the oil is hot, turn the fire to low and add 3 of the tenders, making sure the are straight in the pan. (To test the oil temperature, put the end of a wooden chopstick in the oil. When the oil is the right temperature, the oil on the chopstick will bubble.)

Cook until golden brown on one side, gently turn and cook the other side until golden. Drain on a rack over newspaper (to catch any dripping oil).

Raw tuna and/or raw salmon – 

Slice as for sashimi, thinly across the grain of the fish. 

Avocado -

Slice thinly.

Leaf lettuce -

Wash and gently pat dry.

Cucumber – 

Slice in ½ and then lengthwise in rectangles. You don’t need to peel it.

Onions -

Slice paper thin with a vegetable slicer.

You will also want to have:

Wasabi paste
Temaki sushi nori
Pickled ginger
(umeboshi, aka pickled plums)

Put rice and all the other food you have prepared on the table. People make their own sushi wraps by putting 1-2 T of rice on the nori and then add whatever other ingredients they like and roll the nori into a cone shape.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Crunchy Granola

The ingredients for granola are very flexible, and you can pretty much use any mixture of nuts and seeds you like. You could also add more oats and fewer nuts/seeds, as well as adding shredded coconut. This is what I generally use:

¼ C coconut oil 
¼ C honey
½ t vanilla
2 C old-fashioned rolled oats
(2-4 T of psyllium powder or husk - if you want additional fiber)
1½ C chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
½ C sunflower seeds
¼ C flax seeds
¼ C chia seeds

Stir or whisk to combine the oil and honey. Heat it a little, if necessary, to soften the coconut oil so it mixes thoroughly with the honey. Add the vanilla and mix in. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until everything is mixed. Spread in a baking pan lined with cooking paper.

Bake at 170ºC (340ºF) for 25-30 minutes, taking out to stir from time to time. When it's almost done, you can turn off the oven and leave it in there to finish cooking until it is all lightly toasted. Cool in baking pan on a wire rack. (When cool, add dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries.) Store in an airtight container.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stuffed Peppers

Prepare a baking pan. I use a 30cm (12") pyrex pie pan lined with cooking paper.

Slice in half lengthwise and remove seeds and stems from enough:

green peppers 

to cover the bottom on your pan. Since the green peppers in my area are small and the flesh is thin, it takes about 12 green peppers for me to fill the bottom of the pan.

Set that aside and prepare the filling.


1 T olive oil
½ onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
200 grams minced chicken

Heat oil in a frying pan and then stir-fry the above ingredients. When cooked, mix in:

1½ C cooked rice

When mixed in, add:

1 beaten egg

Sprinkle on:

salt and pepper to taste

Spoon the mixture into the green peppers, piling any overflow onto the tops.

Sprinkle on, about:

2 T Japanese dry bread crumbs (panko)
½ C grated cheese

Bake at 190ºC (375ºF) for 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. 

A stuffed pepper is nice in an obento.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Niku-udon (Beef Noodle Soup)

This is by far the easiest and most tasty way I've discovered to make this. Serves 3-4.

Prepare in advance 900 ml of chicken broth like I described here.

The meat can also be prepared in advance, if you want.

Cook in a heavy pan:

300 grams thinly sliced beef
2 T mirin
2 T soy sauce
2 T sake
2 T light brown sugar
4 T water

When cooked, turn off the stove. Heat up the chicken broth and pour all the liquid from the beef into the broth.

Cook udon noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse. Don't overcook; being in the hot soup will continue to cook the noodles a bit.

Place noodles in bowls. Top with a little meat. Ladle on the soup, then add chopped green onions (negi). Serve with Seven Pepper Spice and garlic paste.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Serves 4-5.

Put 3-4 C Japanese rice in a rice cooker. Set it on timer to be ready at dinnertime.

Prepare the ingredients. (It's not as hard as it looks.)


Remove the fat and skin from: 

1 large chicken breast

Place in a pan, and add: 

900 ml water*
3 chicken bouillon cubes (or 3 t Better than Bouillon)

Boil on a low flame, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off fire, and leave until cool. Shred chicken with a fork. Save the broth for soup.

*I suggest that if you have made chicken for Mexican food or sandwiches, this is a great way to use the broth. Cook the chicken for this meal in the broth you have saved from previously making chicken. Do not add any more bouillon. This extra chicken will add more natural flavor to the broth. A strongly flavored soup is important for this dish.

If you are able to make the broth by boiling chicken with bones, all the better. That is not practical for me, so I cut corners.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Soak 4 dried mushrooms in 1 C water for 30 minutes or so, until reconstituted. Place a clean cup or something on the mushrooms to keep them submerged while soaking.

Pour the soaking water into the chicken broth. (If there is any grit from the mushrooms in the water, strain that out.) Remove the stems and thinly slice the mushrooms.

Place in a small saucepan:

100 ml water
1 T mirin
1 T sake
1 T usukuchi (light) soy sauce
½ t light brown sugar
1 T minced fresh ginger root
the soaked and drained mushrooms

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and have absorbed the flavors.

Strain out the mushrooms and ginger; add the broth to the soup. (If you want include the ginger, you can add that to the soup. I remove it because my kids don't like it.)


Mix together:

2 eggs
½ t sugar
¼ t salt

Put a little sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and heat over a low flame. Pour ⅓ of the egg mixture into the pan and turn the pan to spread it. It should be very thin. When almost set, turn it and cook the other side. The egg should be yellow - not the least bit brown. Remove from pan and place on a plate. Repeat until you've cooked all the eggs.

When the eggs are a bit cool, roll them up and slice thinly.

Citrus peel

Finely grate the clean, dry peel of whatever citrus fruit you have. Ideally, you would use yuzu, but if that is not available, mikan (known in the West as Satusumas) or lemon peels are fine. You will need about ¼ t per serving.

Takuan (daikon pickles) or pickled papaya

As this recipe originated in Amami (one of the southern islands of Kagoshima Prefecture), traditionally pickled green papaya is used. But since that's a little hard to find, I use pickled daikon.

Slice into small thin strips:

10-12 cm of pickled daikon 

Nori (dried seaweed)

You can buy shredded nori in the supermarket, but regular nori is fine. Just cut that into thin 3 cm lengths.

Negi (spring onions)

These I buy in season, wash, slice and freeze, and I always keep some growing outside somewhere since they are so easy to regrow.

Remove the root ends, wash, and slice into ½ cm lengths:

4-5 green onions

Finally, to serve:

Fluff the rice in the rice pot up, and put some in each bowl. Arrange a little of each of these ingredients around the top of the rice: shredded chicken, mushrooms, egg, takuan. Top with negi and citrus peel. Ladle on soup. Place nori on the top.

Serve with Seven Pepper Spice.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marianne's Banana-nut Cake

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line a 9X9" square pan with cooking paper.

3 ripe bananas
1 C light brown sugar (or ½ c brown sugar + ½ c white sugar)
½ C oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut, etc.)
2 extra large eggs
½ C yogurt (or sour cream)
½ T vanilla extract
1 C white flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
½ C walnuts chopped or crushed
¾ C dried cranberries, chopped dates, etc.

In a large bowl combine the bananas and sugars, and whisk until the bananas are mushed to the extent you want. Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined.

Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Mix till just combined. Fold in the dried fruit and walnuts. Pour batter into pan, and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cocoa - Three Simple Methods

1 liter milk
2 T good quality cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
3 T sugar

Whisk together and heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Serve.

If you use powdered milk

Heat in a heavy-bottomed pan:

½ liter water 

Mix in a blender: 

½ liter water
1 C milk powder
2 T good quality cocoa powder 
3 T sugar

When the water starts to have air bubbles (from being heated), pour in the blended ingredients. Turn off fire. Serve.

To make "instant" cocoa powder to mix into a cup of milk

Put into a small air-tight plastic container:

4 T good quality cocoa powder
6 T sugar

Shake to mix. When you want to make a cup of cocoa, heat a mug of milk in the microwave until hot (not boiling). Stir in 1 spoonful of powder. Reheat if necessary.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sesame Spinach

2 C raw spinach, washed
1 t sesame oil
2 t ground sesame seeds

Steam spinach until bright in color (about 20 seconds)*. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. If it's a bit wet, pour off the liquid.

Put the oil and seeds in a little dish and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. You just want it to be warm and fragrant; it should not boil. Pour the oil and seeds on the spinach and mix. If you want to, cut the spinach with a kitchen scissors.

Add freshly ground salt to taste.

*You can easily do this in the microwave if you prefer. Put your clean spinach in a covered microwave-safe container and place in the microwave. Heat it up. In about 20 seconds or so it will be steamed. Be careful not to overcook it. It's done when the leaves are a little soft, and it's a bright green color.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cream of Broccoli Soup

2 T butter (or 1 T olive oil + 1 T butter)
1 clove garlic - finely minced
2 T flour
2 C milk
1 bouillon cube* (or 1 t Better than Bouillon)
1 C chopped steamed broccoli
grated cheese

In a heavy pot, melt the butter/olive oil and briefly cook the garlic. Add the flour and quickly whisk so there are no lumps. Continue whisking and let the flour and butter simmer over a low flame for a couple minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. 

Gradually add the milk, while constantly whisking. Add the bouillon, and continue whisking gently until it thickens to a creamy consistency and the bouillon dissolves. 

Divide the broccoli among the bowls and pour in the soup. Top with a little grated cheese and pepper.

*If you use powdered milk regularly, like I do, then you can blend milk powder into chicken broth to add to the soup instead of using plain milk and bouillon.

You can also use this basic recipe to make other cream soups, such as mushroom, onion, cauliflower, etc.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Enchilada Pie

Enchilada Pie made with shredded chicken breasts
These ingredients are approximate amounts.

5 corn tortillas
¾ C shredded cheese
¾ C strained yogurt or Greek yogurt
½ recipe Multi-purpose Mexican
½ C salsa

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Take out an ovenproof dish. (I use a 9 inch pyrex pie pan.)

To assemble

Mix a little salsa with the meat/bean mixture to moisten it.
Thinly layer ingredients in the following order: 

tortillas, yogurt, meat/beans, cheese
tortillas, yogurt, meat/beans, cheese
tortillas, meat/beans, salsa, cheese

Bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through and top is browned. Cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I usually make 2 of these and freeze one (either before or after baking) to use for a later meal.

Monday, October 20, 2014


In the morning, make the white cheese by straining 1½ C yogurt. I do this by putting the yogurt in a thin handkerchief (that I keep for this purpose) in a sieve over a pitcher, and then covering it with a small plate.

At least 4 hours before you want to eat dinner, make the noodles:

Put in a bowl and mix together:

⅓ C white flour
⅓ C whole wheat flour


1 egg
1 T water
½ t salt
1 t olive oil

Make a hollow in the center of the flour and add the egg mixture. Mix and then knead the dough for 10 minutes. Let it rest, covered, for an hour. Break off small pieces and roll them on a very lightly floured surface until they are paper thin. 

Hang them from a wire rack to dry for 30 minutes or more.

Cook for about 7 minutes in boiling salted water, depending on the thickness of your noodles.

While the noodle dough is resting, make this meat sauce, but double the amount of tomato paste. 

You will also need:

250 gm grated mozzarella cheese

To assemble the lasagna

Place your ingredients in thin layers in a large oven dish in the following order:

Sauce, noodles, white cheese, mozzarella, repeat; end with noodles, sauce, and top with cheese.

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Bake the lasagna for about 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fried Satsuma Potatoes

2-3 Satsuma sweet potatoes
¼ C cornstarch
Canola oil

Peel or thoroughly scrub a few potatoes. Slice ½ to ¾ cm thick. Soak in a bowl of water for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from water and blot the potatoes dry. Put ¼ C cornstarch in a disposable plastic bag. Put a few slices of potato in the bag and shake them around to coat them with the cornstarch. Wipe off any extra starch, and place the potatoes on a wire rack. Continue until all are lightly coated.

Heat about 1 cm Canola oil in a frying pan. When a wooden chopstick put into the oil bubbles a little, the oil is hot enough for cooking. Turn the fire to medium-low.

Place a layer of potatoes gently in the oil. When golden brown on the bottom, gently flip them and cook until the other side is done.

Take them out and let them drain and cool on a wire rack over newspaper.

Salt and serve.

Friday, October 17, 2014


1-1½ packs firm tofu - rinsed and cut into cubes
100-150 gm minced (lean) beef or chicken
1 T canola oil
(½ pack shimeji mushrooms)
1 T minced ginger (or ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic - finely minced
½-1 t tobanjan (Chinese hot chili sauce)
2 T miso paste
2 T sake
1½  T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
¼ t konbu dashi powder (you can use the more common fish dashi, if you prefer)
1 t sesame oil
1 small red pepper, cut into small squares
(6-12 snow peas with tips and tails removed)
2 T chopped green onions (negi)
1 C water
1½-2 T cornstarch 
  1. Heat oil in frying pan and cook minced meat, (mushrooms), ginger, and garlic.
  2. Put in a tall cup and whisk: ¾ C water, sake, soy sauce, tobanjan, miso, and dashi powder. When the meat is crumbly, add this to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Using the same cup, mix cornstarch into ¼ C water until smooth, then add. Mix in well. (If it's too thick, add a little more water. If it's too thin, you will need to take a little sauce out and mix in a little more cornstarch into it, then mix it back in.)
  4. When the sauce thickens, stir in sesame oil and chopped red peppers.
  5. Gently fold in tofu. (Sprinkle the snow peas on the top. They take less than a minute to cook.) 
  6. When the tofu is heated through, add green onions. Serve on rice. Some people may like to add a little rayu (chili oil) to theirs.