Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF)


Sift into a bowl:

¼ C white flour
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T room temperature butter
1 t cinnamon
1 tiny pinch of salt

Mix with a fork until it looks like little balls.  Add:

½-¾ C chopped walnuts, pecans, or sliced almonds

Set topping aside.  


Sift into a bowl, then whisk together:

2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
a little less than ½ t salt

In another bigger bowl, whisk together:

2 eggs
1 t vanilla
½ C honey


1 C whey from yogurt (That is the watery part of the yogurt that separates out. If you don't have enough, you can add a little watered down yogurt, milk, or soy milk)

Mix ⅓ of the flour mixture in to the eggs and honey. Then add ⅓ of the yogurt. Repeat until everything is mixed in. Don't mix it too much. Once everything is just mixed, stop.

Line an 9 inch square pan with cooking paper. Pour in batter. Sprinkle topping evenly over surface. Push it in gently with a fork.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and it feels firm to the touch.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Makizushi (Rolled sushi)

Makes 5 sushi rolls

This lends itself to much variety and personal taste. 

Make Sushi Rice. While it's cooking, prepare your fillings.

Sushi Fillings

Cucumber – 

Slice in ½ and then lengthwise in rectangles. You don’t need to peel the cucumber. Usually the seeds are not used.

Cucumber and Tamagoyaki -

Prepare cucumbers like I described above. Make a tamagoyaki, and after it is cooled, cut into about 1 cm square lengths.

Tuna and lettuce – 

Drain 1 can of tuna and mix with mayonnaise to moisten and hold it together. Add a little wasabi and/or chopped green onions (negi) if you like.

Wash and dry a piece of green leaf lettuce

Fried chicken tenders (sasami) and lettuce –

Cut chicken tenders in half, lengthwise.

For 3 tenders, marinate in:

1 t sake
1 t soy sauce
½ t ginger paste

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 grapeseed oil in a small frying pan. When the oil is hot, turn the fire to low and add 3 of the tenders, making sure they 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.

Wash and dry a piece of green leaf lettuce.

For one sushi roll, include tender, 1 torn piece of lettuce to fit the nori, and 1 thin line of mayonnaise.

Natto – 

One pack of natto mixed with soy sauce and karashi (hot mustard) - or however you like it.

Boiled shrimp – 

Straighten the shrimp out to make a line across the rice. Add a thin line of wasabi beside the shrimp before you roll the sushi.

Raw tuna – 

Cut tuna into long 1cm square pieces. Place on the rice. Add a thin line of wasabi beside the tuna before rolling.

Raw salmon with onion and avocado -

Cut long 1cm square pieces of salmon, being sure to cut across the grain of the fish.
Cut thin avocado slices.
Use a vegetable slicer to slice some onion paper-thin. (Use the sweeter, summer onions if you can get them.)

Gyudon-style beef

Prepare a small amount of Gyudon, then chop it into small pieces. 

To make a rolled sushi
Lay your bamboo sushi mat on your working surface. (I usually put it inside a large zip-lock bag for easier clean-up.)

Place a piece of sushi nori on the mat, shiny side down.

Cover the nori with a 1 cm layer of sushi rice, leaving about 2 cm at the far end with no rice. Use a spoon or rice scooper that you keep in a bowl of salt-water to serve the rice with. This will keep the rice from sticking to the utensil.

Add your choice of ingredients from the list above. Place your fillings about 
 from the bottom edge of the rice, lengthwise. Carefully lift the sushi mat to roll the sushi away from you towards the empty part of the nori. Roll it carefully so the nori doesn’t fold or crumble. It should be rolled fairly tightly. Dip your finger in a little water or soy sauce and use the liquid to seal the open end of the nori to the roll.

Use the bamboo mat to shape your sushi into a firm round roll. Set aside, seam side down.

Continue making sushi according to that method until 5 rolls are made. There should be just enough rice. When using several ingredients, be sure to hold them so they don’t tumble as you roll the sushi. When I make the gyudon roll, I hold the gyudon in place with a butter knife as I start to roll the sushi.

When all the rolls are made, slice them with a damp, clean, sharp knife. Slice each roll into 8 tidy pieces. (If you want it to be more professional looking, cut the ends off first.) Clean and dampen the knife as needed, so the rice doesn’t stick to it. Lay the sushi attractively on a platter. If you are like me, and don't want to spend so much time slicing, an easier way is to slice the rolls in half along a diagonal. I did that with the rolls in the photo below.

Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

Click this link to buy a Bamboo sushi mat from Amazon.

Tamagoyaki (Rolled omelet)

Mix together:

3 eggs
½ t sugar
¼ t salt
½ t water or sake

Pour just enough to cover the bottom of the pan into a hot, oiled, heavy-bottomed frying pan. If you have a rectangular tamagoyaki pan, all the better. 

This cooked a little too much as I went to
grab my camera. I hope you get the idea.
When it is set on the bottom and still wet on the top, roll the egg from one side of the pan and then slide the egg back towards that side. Add another thin layer of egg to the pan and continue to roll the egg carefully. Continue adding more egg and rolling, one thin layer at a time, until all the egg is used. Gently turn and press it with your spatula to set it firmly into a rectangular shape.

Here are a couple other ways I make tamagoyaki:

3 eggs
½ t water
1 slice of chopped ham

Cook the ham a little in the pan, then add the egg whipped together with water, and cook as above.

3 eggs
¼ t water
¼ t sesame oil
¼ t salt
½ t sugar

Mix together and cook as above.

I've put edamame in tamagoyaki, too. Sometimes I use a mix of sesame oil and grapeseed oil in the pan for cooking.  

I bet you can come up with other good ideas. Of course, this is a standard ingredient in obentos. 

Click this link to see Tamagoyaki pans at Amazon. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tofu Egg Soup

Bring to a boil:

2-3 C chicken broth

Whisk together:

1 egg

¼ block of tofu - mashed

Add this to the broth and stir. When the egg/tofu mixture floats to the top after 30 seconds or so, it is done.

Put in each bowl:

½ t chopped negi (green onions)

¼ t sesame oil
a pinch of salt

Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

Chicken salad on whole wheat flaxseed bread.

Remove the fat and skin from: 

2 large chicken breasts

Place in a pan, and add: 

300 ml water
1 chicken bouillon cube

Boil on a low flame, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off fire, and leave until cool.

Mix in a large bowl:

¼ C mayonnaise
1 T French mustard
1 T German dill pickle juice
½ minced onion
(1 T strained yogurt)
½ t freshly ground pepper
¼ t salt
(2 T minced red or yellow peppers)
(chopped black olives)

Finally, add the shredded chicken.

Mix well. Refrigerate. This should be enough for 6 sandwiches.
You can keep the broth and use it to make Tofu-Egg Soup, Kenjin-jiru, etc. If you want to do that, you could double the amount of water and bouillon when you cook the chicken.

Tip:  Using a stand mixer to shred the chicken and mix it all up makes this so much easier! I broke the chicken breasts up, put them in the mixer and turned it on low. Then, as it was mixing, I added the mayo and other ingredients and let it run while I chopped the onions and black olives. By the time I turned off the mixer to stir in the onions and olives, it was mixed to perfection!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wasabi Okra

Remove any little leaves, wash okra well, and scrub a bit to get rid of some of the fuzz.

Steam until bright in color (about 3 minutes):

200 grams okra

Put in a plastic container and thoroughly mix:

1-2 t wasabi paste (or ½-1 t wasabi powder)
2 t soy sauce

Adjust amounts to suit your taste.

Add steamed okra to the container and gently shake until it's coated.


This also goes well in an obento.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Pie

First, prepare the pie crusts. Since you will need a top crust and a bottom crust, double the recipe for crusts explained in Kabocha Pie. Roll out 1/2 of the dough (2-3 mm thick) for the bottom crust, and place it in a pie pan that has been lightly coated with butter, then a light sprinkling of flour to keep the crust from sticking. Put this in the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

It's a little hard to be precise with the measurements for the filling, as much depends on the size and flavor of the apples. So take this recipe more as a general guideline than an exact science.

Put in a large bowl:

1-2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t finely grated lemon peel
3 big apples, cored and cut into approximately 6mm slices (about 6 cups)  It is not necessary to peel them. I usually don't, as you can see from the photo above.

Toss the apples in the lemon juice to coat them. This will help them to retain their light color.

Then sift in:

1 pinch salt
4-6 T cornstarch
4-6 T sugar
½ t cinnamon
(¼ t nutmeg)

Toss the apples to coat them with the dry mixture.

Roll out the remaining pie crust dough for the top crust.

Remove the pan from the fridge and add the apples. Put on the top crust and crimp the edges. Put a few small slices in the crust to allow air to escape while cooking. If you want, brush the top of the pie with a very little bit of milk. This makes the crust a bit more golden. (I don't usually do this.)

Preheat oven to 220ºC (430ºF). Bake the pie on a baking tray on a low shelf of the oven for 15 minutes and then turn down the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is golden and a toothpick inserted through one of the slice holes goes through the apples easily.

Pie ready to be baked.

Click this link to see the pyrex Pie Pans that are sold on Amazon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dry Curry

Dry curry made with minced chicken.

I got this basic recipe from Cookpad. It's easy, quick, and tasty.

If you are using ground beef, cook it first separately, drain the grease, then add it.

Heat in a frying pan:

1 T olive oil

When oil is heated, add and cook:

1 minced small onion
1 t minced garlic (about 1 large or 2 small cloves)
300 grams ground chicken or beef
1 bay leaf (aka laurel leaf)
1 grated carrot

When meat is thoroughly cooked, add:

300 ml water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 T curry powder
a little salt
(1 T ketchup)

Simmer until most of the water evaporates - about 10 minutes.

Serve on rice and top with a little grated cheese.

This is easy to make ahead of time and freeze, so it's handy for obentos.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Our default summer lunch beverage. Makes about 3 US cups, or about 600 ml. Before making, be sure your blender is the type that will blend ice. 

Banana Milkshake

In a clean blender add:

enough water to nearly cover the blades

Add and blend:

½ C whole milk powder
1 frozen banana (If you don't have frozen bananas, no problem. Just lessen the amount of water a bit and use a fresh, ripe banana.)

Add little by little, blending after each addition:

3 C ice cubes


Chocolate Milkshake

In a clean blender add:

enough water to nearly cover the blades

Add and blend:

½ C whole milk powder
1 slightly rounded T sugar
1 flat T chocolate powder
(1 T coffee, chocolate, or cream liqueur) 

Add little by little, blending after each addition:

3 C ice cubes


Other tried-and-proven flavor options:

Strawberry (use frozen strawberries and reduce the amount of ice)
Nutritional yeast with flax and chia seeds

You can use honey instead of sugar, but be sure it's fully blended before adding any ice.

Click this link to see the impressive variety of Blenders available from Amazon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kabocha (Pumpkin) Pie

Pie crust for 9
½" (25cm) pie pan:

Mix with a whisk:

1 C white flour

½ C whole wheat flour
1 T brown sugar
¼t salt

Mix in:

3 T coconut oil or butter

When the mixture looks a bit like peas, add, a little at a time:

3-4 T iced water, vodka, shochu, or tequila(the alcohol makes the crust more flakey)

Use your clean hands to mix only until the dough holds together, you may not need all the liquid. You may need a tiny bit more. You don't want too much liquid, so add it sparingly.

This whole process can be greatly simplified by mixing the crust in a food processor and pulsing, little by little. When a handful sticks together, it's done.

(Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.)

Roll dough out between 2 sheets of cooking paper until it's about 4 mm thick.

Remove the top sheet of paper, lay the crust in a pie pan, and press to fit. Crimp the edges.

Place the other sheet of cooking paper in the crust, and put flat marbles on it (or something similar and heat-proof) to keep the crust from puffing up while it bakes.

Bake the crust at 200ºC (390ºF) for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.Remove the marbles and paper and return to the oven until the bottom of the crust looks dry. Then cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make your filling.

Blend until smooth, little by little:

2C kabocha squash (steamed and cooled, peels are fine to include)

2 eggs
2 T brown sugar
½ t cinnamon
½-¾C milk
(½ t vanilla)
⅛ tsalt
(¼t nutmeg)
(⅛ t ground cloves)

After each batch in the blender (or food processor), pour into a big bowl. When finished blending, stir until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into cooled, baked crust.

Bake at 180ºC (350ºF)for 40-45 minutes, or until the center
of the pie is firm. Cool on a wire rack. Cover, and
refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream.

I usually use 1 whole kabocha, making enough filling for 2 pies and freeze the unused portion.
Click this link to see pyrexPie Pansavailable from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


½ C butter (110gm)
1 C light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

¼ C good quality cocoa (I use Van Houten
 C flour (white or whole wheat or a mix of both)
 C bitter chocolate chips 
about  C chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Melt the butter by placing your metal mixing bowl in the preheating oven. While you do that, get your other ingredients ready.
  2. When the butter is nearly melted, take it out of the oven (Use a hot pad!) and mix it around until it all melts (a little not completely melted doesn't matter). Whisk in the sugar. 
  3. Then whisk in first the eggs, then vanilla, then cocoa, then flour. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. 
  4. Spread in an 8 inch square pan lined with cooking paper and bake for 25-28 minutes or until cooked. (A toothpick will come out clean - unless it hits a chocolate chip. You can also gently touch the top and it should no longer be doughy soft.) 
  5. If you want to ice them, after they are removed from the oven, place a thin (dark) chocolate bar on the top. After a minute or two, spread it around.
  6. Cool on a wire rack. They're good the next day, too. If you make more than you will eat, individually wrap and freeze them in a freezer bag. 
You can make cherry brownies by adding ¼ C dried cherries that have been soaked overnight in brandy, and omit the vanilla. Don't add the soaking liquid.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Carrot Cake

2 eggs 
¼ C grapeseed oil
3/8-1/2 C applesauce
½ C brown sugar
1 t vanilla
½ C whole wheat flour
½ C white flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 t cinnamon
(¼ t nutmeg)
1½ C grated carrots
1/3 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Make the applesauce by simmering a chopped apple with a little lemon juice (just to keep the color). Cook, covered, over a very low flame until the apple is soft.  Set aside to cool to room temp.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line a 8x8” square pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar, vanilla.
  4. Sift in dry ingredients and mix. Stir in carrots. Fold in nuts.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chocolate Banana Cake

½ C softened butter (room temperature butter is good)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1½ C mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium - Mash them with a fork on a plate.)
1½ C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
3 T cocoa powder (or more up to ¼ C)
1-2 T milk

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line a 8"x8" square pan with cooking paper.
  1. Whisk butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined.  Mix in bananas. 
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (Be sure to sift the baking soda so no lumps go into the batter.) Stir until it's just mixed.
  3. Divide batter in half.  Add cocoa to one half.  Add 1-2 T milk to make that batter the same consistency as the plain half.  Spread in 8” square pan.
  4. Spread the rest of the batter on top of the chocolate layer.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack. This is even better the next day, and makes for a great breakfast.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Granola Bars

A quick and easy default breakfast.  Make a batch on Sunday, and you're set for the week.

1 cup coconut oil 
1½ cups brown sugar (kurozato works well if you don't mind its rather strong flavor)
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup flour (whole-wheat is fine)
1 t baking soda
¾ t salt
2½ cups chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc.) 
3/4 C chocolate chips or 2 chopped dark (or milk) chocolate bars (about 160 grams)

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line a big baking pan with cooking paper. (I use my oven tray which is 28x30cm.)

Whisk coconut oil and sugar in a big mixing bowl. When smooth, whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour, soda, and salt together, add, and mix in. Use a spatula to add in the oats. Then stir in the nuts and chocolate.

Spread in a big pan lined with cooking paper. Bake for about 28 minutes until golden brown and edges pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on wire rack. Cut into 36 pieces. These can be stored in zip-lock bags - frozen or refrigerated.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bitter Melon with Eggs

Wash, cut off ends, cut lengthwise, remove seeds and pith, and slice:

1 bitter melon


2 small cloves garlic (or 1 large clove)

In a non-stick pan, sauté bitter melon and garlic in:

½ T olive oil (or other healthy oil. I often use grape-seed oil.)

When garlic is cooked, add:

1-2 T water
1-2 t soy sauce
It depends on how big your bitter melon is.

Turn the flame down and simmer until bitter melon is soft. Remove lid and let the water evaporate while simmering. (That is, if there is liquid remaining in the pan.)

[Now, if your pan is really non-stick, you can add the eggs to this pan. My pan is not non-stick, so I do the following:]

Take the bitter melon out of the pan and place it in a bowl. Wash the pan, dry it, and add a little oil. Heat the oil and spread it in the pan. When the oil is hot, add:

2 scrambled eggs
Cooked bitter melon

If you want, you could sprinkle a little turmeric on it and/or additional soy sauce.

Cook, stirring and mixing as if you were making scrambled eggs. When they eggs are done to suit your taste, remove from pan and serve.

Bitter melon may take a little getting used to - it's not called "bitter" for no reason - but it's nutritional value is a worth it, plus it grows on you.