Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creamy Shiitake and Wasabi Soup

I don't often buy mushrooms, but I just fancied some mushroom soup today, and this creamy smoky soup with a very slight kick is what I came up with...

Nutrition Info (serves 1 as a light lunch)
Calories 253
Protein 11g
Carbohydrate 43g
Fat 5g
Dietary Fibre 7g

1 potato (about 150g)
100g shiitake mushrooms
100ml soy milk
50ml drinking yoghurt
1tsp wasabi from a tube
200ml water

  • Wash the potato and microwave in the oven for about 8 minutes until cooked.  Wash the mushrooms.
  • In batches, blend the potato with the mushrooms, soy milk, drinking yoghurt and water.
  • Gently heat the mushroom cream in a saucepan and mix in the wasabi.
  • Serve hot with a grating of black pepper.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pea, Potato and Ham Soup

Nutritional Info (per serving)
Calories 224
Protein 10g
Carbohydrate 43g
Fat 3g
Fibre 8g

Ingredients (serves 2)
300g potatoes
150g frozen peas
80g onion, roughly sliced
100ml soy milk
20g parma ham, chopped

  • Steam the potatoes whole in their skins in the microwave for about 10 minutes. (I use the LeKue steam case.
  • About 5 minutes into cooking time, add the sliced onion and frozen peas and finish steaming.
  • Puree in batches in the blender.  Put into a saucepan and heat gently.  Add salt to taste.
  • Pour into two bowls, and divide the ham over the two bowls.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Broccoli and Gorgonzola Potage

This is a creamy tasty satisfying soup! The recipe makes enough for two people for lunch.

Nutritional Information (per portion)
Calories 371
Protein: 18g
Carbohydrate: 56g
Fat: 10g
Dietary Fibre: 9g 

Ingredients (serves 2)

430g potatoes, unpeeled
220g broccoli
160g onion
150ml soy milk (or regular milk)
50g gorgonzola
salt and pepper to season

  • Roughly chop the broccoli - stalks, florets and leaves all OK.
  • Roughly slice the onion.
  • Steam all the vegetables.  I use my LeKue steamer for this in the microwave, steaming the potatoes whole in their skins for 10 minute, the broccoli for 5 minutes and the onion for 2mins 30 sec.
  • Measure out together 150ml soy milk and 350ml water.
  • In batches, blend the steamed vegetables and liquid together in a food processor, transferring each batch to a large saucepan.
  • When all the soup has been blended, crumble in the gorgonzola and stir over a gentle heat until the cheese has melted.
  • Season to taste.  I used a good grinding of salt and a black pepper mix that includes orange and lemon peel and garlic.
  • Serve hot.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chocolate Healthy Truffles

This was an experiment rather than anything else to see what kind of high protein/high mineral/high fibre snack I could make.  Really pleased with the result!  Despite the wacky ingredients, they're delicious (think chocolate cheesecake/brownie mix), not too sickly, and incredibly filling! I accidentally(!) ate 5 and may never need to eat again... They look high in fat because of the cheese and the almonds, but that also pushes up the protein and mineral content so I think is worth it, as part of a balanced diet. 

On testing these ones out on friends, it seems that people prefer a sweeter truffle, so maybe add more powder sweetener to taste.  Or even smoked chilli?  The kinako flavour overpowers the cocoa a bit, so next time I think I'll try rolling in cocoa or ground almonds...  Will update...

Nutrition Data (for 2 truffles)
Calories: 120
Protein: 5.8g
Carbohydrate: 9g
Fat: 6.8g
Fibre: 2.2g
Calcium: 118mg
Magnesium: 36.4mg
Zinc: 0.8mg
Iron: 1.6mg

100g red kidney beans
28g ground almonds
2 fresh figs (70g total)
28g grated cheddar
2 pieces iron-enriched processed cheese (30g total)
15g cocoa
1 tsp zero calorie liquid or powder sweetener
7g kinako (roasted soy bean flour), for dusting

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend as far as possible, then mash in a bowl using a fork.
  • Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray and spoon on 10 heaped teaspoons of mixture, flattening into rounds.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then cool on the paper on a wire rack. All you will have done is dry out the mixture a bit.
  • Roll each round into a ball and into kinako (roasted soy bean flour).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Growing Goya

So that I can find this information on growing goya again this year, this is an article I found back in May this year.  

'Green curtains' block heat, save energy

A growing number of people are turning to nature to help them save electricity this summer, creating so-called green curtains of climbing plants.
According to the Energy Conservation Center, Japan, a key element in power conservation is reducing the use of air conditioners, which consume the most electricity in homes. A green curtain helps block the sun and keep room temperatures from rising through transpiration of the plant's leaves.
Green curtains can be easily set up at home, and Tokyo's Itabashi Ward Office has been promoting them as an effective way to battle global warming.
With power shortages expected this summer as a result of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the ward office has received an increasing number of inquiries from local residents about growing green curtains.
It also received more than two applications for every spot available in a class organized by the ward office on how to grow a green curtain.
Likewise, Katsushika Ward of Tokyo distributed free goya bitter gourd seeds to residents in late April. All 500 packets were taken by the second day.
A Katsushika Ward official in charge of distributing the seeds said, "Interest is higher [in growing goya] than usual. Many people are trying to grow it for the first time."
Tsuneo Kobayashi of Itabashi Ward, 79, has grown goya since 2009. He said the plant can make a four-meter high and three-meter wide green curtain as its vines grow.
"The room with a green curtain is clearly cooler than one next to it, which gets direct sun," Kobayashi said. "Seeing green plants soothes me."
Plants suitable for making green curtains include goya, bottle gourd, morning glory and others.
Accordnig to Koichi Sugawara, secretary general of the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Midori no Curtain Oendan (green curtain cheering squad): "You can save money on electricity by making green curtains, which also give you the joy of growing and harvesting something."
Ichiro Awano, public relations director of Sakata Seed Co. in Yokohama, recommended goya for green curtains because it is easy to grow. People who want to use planters should purchase one that can contains at least 36 liters of soil, Awano said.
Goya seedlings should be planted 20 centimeters apart in a planter filled with soil for growing vegetables. It is important to fix a garden net firmly under the eaves, which goya vines could twine around. A net with a mesh of 10 to 18 centimeters should be used, Awano said.
When goya has seven or eight mature leaves, the tip of its stem should be nipped off to help lateral buds grow. Provide additional fertilizer after goya begins bearing vegetables, he added.
"If you want to make a thick leafy curtain, you should give extra nitrogen fertilizer," Awano said. "But this will result in a slightly smaller harvest."
It is now the season for planting seedlings in Japan, but the best time differs slightly by region.
"Before you actually start, you should seek advice on how to grow seedlings at the garden shop where you purchase them," Awano said.
(May. 10, 2011)

See also

Goya (Nigauri/Bitter Gourd)

I've just found this post that I started back on 15th August, but never got round to posting.  This strange knobbly looking vegetable is a goya, quite possibly one of my favourite vegetables for its fresh unusual taste and nutritional value.
I first ate this five years ago when I went to Okinawa, the southern-most group of islands in Japan.  In Okinawa, it is most well-known in Goya Champuru recipes.  It seems to be a vegetable that causes mixed reactions.  Many people say it is bitter and so they don't like it.  But paired with the right ingredients it is incredibly refreshing!  Having said that, I love it so much I eat it raw in salads and smoothies.  

It is extremely rich in vitamin C, B vitamins and many essential minerals, higher than other dark green vegetables.  It's also supposed to show improvement in psoriasis sufferers, but difficult to pin that one down!

As far as growing it is concerned, it is a very popular summer plant in Japan.  It is a climber and forms a dense mass of leaves so is known as one of the 'Green Curtain' plants.  'Green Curtains' block sunshine going into the house and so make rooms much cooler.

This year I decided to have another go (3rd time lucky?) at growing this vegetable.  Previous attempts have been abysmal, really through my own fault (too small a pot the first, planting late in the season in poor soil the second).  But this year, there was more information available on the internet on growing this vegetable due to energy saving requirements in eastern Japan after the Tohoku earthquake.

When I started this post in the middle of August, I was feeling rather discouraged...  As well as the above I had written, 'So far I have eaten 3 of my own goya, plus have another 5 currently on the plant, hopefully more to follow!  This is from 2 plants.  Don't think that's exactly a roaring success, and the leaves are rather sparce and pathetic actually, although they do block some of the heat.  But...  much better than previous years, and I pinched out the growing tips rather too late I think, taking the advice I thought I got from my goya-expert neighbour!  I'll definitely try this again next year.  Apparently, planting directly into the soil also helps get a much denser curtain but that's not really an option without a lot of planning...'

Now it's another month on, and I've been really happy with the number of goya I've got, at least for my first attempt.  In the last few weeks, the leaves have become really abundant from about a metre  and a half off the ground, and in the last week or so I've had a goya a day!  Seems to be a late starter!  I've just taken this photo today.  Thinking about the fact that the leaves were sparce at the beginning and never ended up growing at the bottom of my plant, I think I've worked out the reason for that. Thinking I was cooling it down, I sprayed the leaves as well as watered at night.  But that seems just to have killed them off.  Next year!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chocolate Banana, Spinach and Kiwi Smoothie

Don't knock this one before you've tried it...!  Blend 2 green kiwi, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 1 banana and 1 tbsp cocoa powder with some mineral water.  Amazing!  I might add some blueberries next time.

Celery and Pear Smoothie

Blend 2 pears and 3 sticks celery together with mineral water and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Peach and Kinako Smoothie

The kinako (roasted soy bean flour) adds a nutty flavour as well as protein and B vitamins.

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 peach
1 tbsp kinako
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp fresh mint

  • Put everything together in a blender with some ice cold mineral water and blend.
  • Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.

Creamy Smoked Salmon and Potato Soup

This tasty and pretty soup is a delicate shade of pink, highlighted with wisps of fresh green dill. 

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)
1 onion, sliced
500g potatoes in their skins
70g smoked salmon
1 x 150g pack of silken tofu
1 tsp olive oil
fresh dill
freshly grated black pepper

  • Caramelize the onion in the olive oil until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 20 minutes.  Drain and cool under cold running water.
  • Break up the potato in the saucepan, add the onions, smoked salmon, tofu and dill.
  • In batches, blend all the ingredients together in a blender with water to the desired consistency.
  • Reheat to serve.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rosemary and Ginger Caramelised Onion and Red Lentils

Ingredients (serves 1)
1/2 large onion
1 tsp olive oil
1 long sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp ginger paste
50g red lentils
300ml stock
50g goats cheese
1 cucumber and a large handful soy sprouts (or any other salad vegetables)

Ingredients for the dressing
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey (I used manuka)

  • Saute the onion, rosemary in the olive oil for about 10 minutes until caramelised, then add the ginger paste and red lentils off the heat, stirring for 1 minute.  
  • Add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the lentils are mushy.  Leave to cool slightly.
  • Slice the cucumber and arrange with the soy sprouts on a plate.  Add some slices of goats cheese.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
  • Spoon the red lentil mixture onto the soy sprouts and drizzle the dressing over the salad and lentils to serve.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Creamy Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Soup

Ingredients (serves 2 as a starter)
1 onion, chopped
1/3 kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
1 stock cube
250ml boiling water
150g silken tofu
1tsp olive oil
freshly grated black pepper

  • Par-microwave the kabocha for 6 minutes, and scoop out the seeds
  • Scoop out the flesh and roughly chop (reserving the skin for a smoothie)
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and saute for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, crumble in the stock cube and slowly add the boiling water to dissolve the stock cube.  Put back on the heat and add the kabocha chunks.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Leave to cool slightly.
  • Add to a blender with the tofu and blend until creamy.
  • Reheat in a saucepan and serve with freshly grated black pepper.
Note: Kabocha skin is edible.  However the colour in a soup is truly revolting, trust me!  Much better to add to a green smoothie, I made one with soy sprouts.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Miracle 6 Calorie Chocolate Jelly

    This is a bit of a miracle chocolate dessert, ideal for chocolate cravings when you're on a diet!  If you follow Slimming World, then this dessert is free on all plans (even if you end up eating all 5 portions!).

    Agar-agar is a seaweed, that can be used like gelatine, the difference being that it is vegan, high in fibre and some essential minerals and expands in the stomach making you feel fuller.  It's a great snack.  I've already given a few agar agar recipes on this blog, but this is my first chocolate one!  It also doesn't need a fridge to set even during the summer (setting temperature is 50C).  Currently it's about 35C in my kitchen (trust me, not pleasant!) and it set in about 30 minutes on the bench.  The setting time for this agar-agar recipe is a bit longer than most because it contains chocolate which is high in oxalic acid.  This setting property of agar-agar also means that it's ideal for picnics because it doesn't melt in summer temperatures.

    Agar-agar is very versatile.  This is a pure chocolate recipe, but you could cut back on some of the water and add juice or anything you like really (adjusting the syns of course!), once you've melted the agar in the water. Definitely recommended!  Agar-agar jelly is usually quite a bit firmer than regular jelly but with the addition of cocoa powder, this jelly is much softer.  A fantastic way to quell those chocolate cravings!

    I made 4 tubs and 1 rabbit mould jelly with 600ml water.

    Nutrition Data  (total for 5 portions)
    Calories: 28
    Carbohydrate: 6g
    Protein: 1.5g
    Fat: 1g
    Dietary Fibre: 3g

    4g pack agar-agar
    7g cocoa powder
    1tbsp zero calorie sweetener, to taste

    • Boil 400ml water.
    • Put cocoa powder in a jug and slowly mix in the water and sweetener.  Sprinkle in the agar powder, stirring continuously.  If using agar granules/flakes, then boil for a few minutes in a saucepan stirring continuously.  Quickly stir in 200ml cold water.
    • Immediately pour into 5 moulds or small containers and put on a bench to set.  Once cool, chill in the fridge.

    Multicoloured Potato Salad

    This very simple salad is jam-packed with healthy vegetables, and is extremely filling.   If you are able to get a mix of coloured salad potatoes, so much the better!

    Nutrition Data (for entire salad)
    Calories: 1082
    Carbohydrate: 184g
    Protein: 55g
    Fat: 16g
    Dietary Fibre: 34g

    Ingredients (serves 5 as a snack or 2 as a main course)
    340g new potatoes
    400g tin Four Bean Salad (drained weight 240g)
    250g pack frozen mixed vegetables (peas/sweetcorn/carrots)
    20 green olives stuffed with parmesan cheese
    450g tub fat free yoghurt
    15g wholegrain mustard

    • Boil or steam the potatoes in their skins for 20 minutes, then cool in cold water, drain and quarter.
    • Mix the yoghurt with the mustard, stir in the frozen vegetables (no need to thaw), the whole green olives and the bean salad.  Stir in the chopped potatoes.
    • Chill and serve.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Chicken, Bacon and Boursin Rolls in White Wine

    This is absolutely delicious!  It's not an original recipe, and there do seem to be many variations on the internet.  It looks impressive, but is very easy!

    2 small chicken fillets
    2 slices of bacon
    40g Boursin (soft garlic cheese)
    80ml white wine
    freshly ground black pepper

    • Preheat the oven to 190C.
    • Put the chicken fillets flat in a plastic bag and flatten them as much as possible with a rolling pin or heavy tin.
    •  In the middle of each fillet, put 20g of Boursin and roll the chicken up.
    • Roll a slice of bacon around in the other direction to cover the cheese, and keeping the ends underneath the chicken roll.
    • Put both rolls in an ovenproof dish (I use the Lekue steamer), and pour over 80ml white wine.
    • Cover and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, and then uncover and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the bacon is browned.
    • Serve with new potatoes and a selection of vegetables.

    Barley, green olive and mozzarella salad

    This came about as a bit of a 'what have I got in the cupboard to use up?' moment...    Some time ago I bought some barley on a whim, and have added it to rice from time to time.  Well, it really needs to be used up now, along with the mozzarella that is due to be used before tomorrow.

    Ingredients (serves 2 generously - the picture is a third of the total)
    1 cup of barley
    1 red  onion
    1 cucumber
    tin of sweetcorn
    1/2 can red kidney beans, drained
    1 can stuffed olives (40)
    100g mozzarella
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp lemon juice
    1 tsp honey

    • Cook the barley according to instructions (I use a rice cooker with double the amount of water), and allow to cool.
    • Chop the onion, chop the cucumber and mozzarella into 1cm pieces and halve the olives.
    • Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and honey.
    • Toss all the ingredients together and store in fridge until ready to eat.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Lemon Linguine

    Well it's been a while since I've posted any recipes so today I wanted to post a Nigella Lawson recipe that I like, that has many different versions available elsewhere.  No picture, because I haven't made it recently...

    Ingredients (serves 2)
    200g linguine
    juice and zest of half a lemon
    4 tbsp of light single cream
    50g parmesan cheese, grated
    1 egg yolk
    freshly ground black pepper

    • Cook the pasta according to instructions.
    • Meanwhile combine the cream, parmesan and egg yolk and mix well.  Slowly add the lemon zest and juice to avoid curdling.  
    • Drain the pasta, and stir in the sauce until the pasta is well-coated and the sauce is melted.  Add a little water if absolutely needed.
    • Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    March 11th - 17 days on

    OK, so this is my food blog, but this is so important that I am posting this on here as well as my personal blog.

    This is a difficult post to write, and please be aware that these are just my perceptions from living in Japan and from what I see on the news here and internationally.  Although aware through my own research and living here, I am not a scientist or an expert on the current situation, but I don't think the true picture is completely apparent outside of Japan.

    It's been over two weeks, and in some ways I think the timing of this post is right.  For me, I'm starting to grasp more of the enormity and reality of it all and could only now write this.  Perhaps for many people outside of Japan the initial horror has passed, and it's just another news item.

    I think that in the last week, the focus on international media (and even domestic media to a lesser extent) relating to Japan has shifted from the devastation in northern Japan, to nuclear power plant and radiation worries internationally.  Of course the nuclear power plant situation in Japan is a very serious concern, and has added to the number of evacuees and problems of food supply, not mention the large number of workers and their families.  However outside of the 20km zone, airborne levels are low.  For example in Tokyo, about 240km from the Fukushima power plant, after a very brief alarming spike they are currently at 0.11uSV/hour - higher than normal in Tokyo but still well under the international average of 0.27uSv/hour (based on an average background radiation of 2.4mSv/year). Outside of Japan, increases are minute (for example about one millionth of what you would get in normal daily background radiation).  This fortunately isn't another Chernobyl.

    The devastation in northern Japan hasn't gone away, even if the focus on the news has.  Pictures in the news show the remarkable transformation of a major road with a great chasm after the earthquake - six days on you'd never know.  Businesses are starting to relocate and get back on their feet.  This enables some supplies to get through to the affected region.  These stories are great.  But the reality is that whilst things are looking better, they are still not good.  Food, water, basic supplies and medicine are starting to get through now, but the diet is poor because non-perishable foods have to be used.  As at March 22nd 320,000 evacuees are staying at about 2,100 shelters.  The risk of contagious disease such as flu is high.  The landscape is still flattened.

    There is a still a lack of basic supplies, electricity and heat in many areas.  It is still very cold.  This means that people, especially the sick and elderly are still dying having survived an earthquake and tsunami.  This is correctly described as Japan's worst disaster since World War 2.  This page shows a translated interview with some local people.

    It seems that many people feel that because Japan is a rich technologically advanced country, people don't believe that they need donations so much.  Yet the United States is also a rich technologically advanced country and they received substantially more donations in the first week after Hurricane Katrina.
    Often  people donate in the first week whilst the emerging images are so strong.
    Japan always donates generously to disaster relief funds, again for example Hurricane Katrina and now Japan needs help to rebuild  itself.

    The northern area of Japan, especially the coastal areas, is not the richest region.  If a situation like this were to happen in the UK, then international help would be needed.  Japan is no different.  I think that people see videos and pictures on television and see people behaving in a quiet ordered manner without asking for help, and assume that help isn't needed.  There has been little looting in Japan, people tend to be more honest.  The culture in Japan is often to endure quietly and to try to resolve your own problems, not to ask for help.  The 'stiff upper lip' reputation of the British is more apparent in the 'gaman' of Japan.  Just because people don't ask for help, doesn't mean that we shouldn't give it.  Money is always needed for rebuilding no matter how developed a nation is.  Rebuilding homes, services, companies and lives.

    Donations are the best way to help, so that the relief agencies can spend it on what is needed most.  The Red Cross in your own country will have a donation fund for the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami and is a good way to help.  This is the key aid agency organising support in Japan.  They will ensure that the money is used efficiently and, in the event that it can't be used efficiently in Japan, they will use the money for other countries that need it even more.

    In Britain (online, or by phone or post), or you can use Google Checkout to pay via the Google Crisis Response site
    In Japan there are many more options which will get aid to the right place.  Almost every convenience store and supermarket has a box, many legitimate charities including Second Harvest, but again you can donate on the Red Cross website

    You can also donate by buying the Songs for Japan on iTunes for GBP7.99, $10 or 1500yen - all proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Cauliflower cheese and potato soup

    Nutrition Data (per portion, serves 4)
    Calories 231
    Protein 13g
    Carbohydrate 17g
    Fat 13g
    Dietary Fibre 6g

    1 large onion(210g)
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 head of cauliflower, head and stalks (520g)
    160g potatoes
    1 stock cube
    100g grated cheddar
    50g marscarpone

    • Wash the cauliflower and cut into florets, and cut up the stems.
    • Wash and scrub the potatoes, and cut into chunks.
    • Dice the onion.
    • Heat the oil and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until  soft and golden brown.  Add the cauliflower, potato, 1 litre of boiling water, and crumble in a stock cube.  Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
    • Stir in the mascarpone and grated cheese and stir until melted.  Leave to cool slightly.
    • When cool enough to handle, transfer in batches to a blender, and blend until smooth.
    • Reheat to serve, grating in fresh black pepper and nutmeg.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Banana 'Ice-Cream'

    A quick healthy dessert!

    You can freeze whole peeled bananas wrapped in greaseproof paper and packed into airtight ziplock bags for a few months, without them going brown.

    When you want to make this creamy ice-cream, just put a banana in a blender and pulse until completely mashed!  Serve with a teaspoon of chocolate sauce, or blend with a flavouring.  Idea from here

    Shirataki Stirfry

    Shirataki noodles are made of konnyaku and so very low in calories but high in dietary fibre.  They are filling and great once in a while, especially if you've eaten unhealthily and want to balance things out a bit!  They have no taste, but soak up other strong flavours.  This stirfry is tasty and quick to make.

    Nutrition Data (total for both portions)
    Calories 178
    Protein 5g
    Carbohydrate 30g
    Fat 5g
    Dietary Fibre 8.5g

    1 x 150g pack of shirataki noodles
    100g enoki mushrooms
    100g leek (one leek)
    40g red bell pepper
    1 tsp sesame oil
    2 tsp reduced salt soy sauce
    a little shichimi

    • Rinse the shirataki in a sieve under running water until the fishy smell of the packaging liquid is completely gone.
    • Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan, add the shirataki, toss well to coat and then continue to cook over a medium heat whilst finely slicing the leek and the red pepper.
    • Add the leek, red pepper, enoki mushrooms, soy sauce and a sprinkle of shichimi and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
    • Serve immediately

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Chicken and Brown Rice Meatloaf

    Nutrition Data (for whole meatloaf, serves 6-8 with a salad or vegetables)
    Calories 1094
    Protein 101g
    Carbohydrate 112g
    Fat 25g
    Dietary Fibre 11g

    400g minced chicken thigh
    380g cooked (1 cup dried) brown rice
    1 medium onion
    1 stick celery
    1 egg, beaten
    100g non fat yoghurt
    1 tsp nutmeg
    good grating black pepper

    •  Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
    •  Dice the onion and celery.
    • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
    • Pack well into a loaf tin; I use a silicone loaf tin, so don't need to grease it.
    • Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes until golden brown on top.  Drain off the fat and cooking juices.
    • Let it stand for 10 minutes, then slice. Serve hot or cold.
    This can be frozen.  Once the meatloaf is cold, finish slicing it and wrap the individual slices in greaseproof paper and put in a freezer bag.  Freeze on the same day.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Kimchi butter stir-fried cabbage with orange

    White cabbage
    Broken-up orange, pith removed
    kimchi butter for stir-frying (blend 1 quantity unsalted butter with 2 quantities kimchi)

    • Slice enough cabbage and put in a wok with some kimchi butter.  Stir fry for a few minutes, adding the broken orange pieces at the end to warm through.
    • Serve immediately.

    Kimchi buttter and blue brie croissant

    Aaaggghhhh, I hear you cry!  That is just not going to work!  My initial reaction was the same when I read  in the Flavour Thesaurus about Momofuku Restaurant in New York selling a kimchi butter and sweet gorgonzola croissant.  Still, I was intrigued, and the more I thought about it the more I could imagine that the flavours could probably temper each other quite well.  So I attempted it and it was delicious!

    Of course, there was the snag of obtaining sweet gorgonzola, otherwise known as dolcelatte.  You can relatively easily buy danish blue, gorgonzola and other strong blue cheese in Japan, I couldn't get dolcelatte.

    I processed kimchi with some butter in my blender, and was astonished at the change in taste.  I love kimchi and will quite happily eat it from the jar, but blending it with butter amazingly transformed the tart spiciness into sweet tangy creaminess.  Hmmm, this could work, I thought!

    With misgivings, I tried using regular gorgonzola, unsurprisingly it didn't work.  What I settled on in the end was Gerard Fromage Bleu which is like a blue brie, and available from Yamaya.  Delicious! If anyone tries this with dolcelatte, please let me know!

    1 quantity butter
    2 quantities kimchi
    slices of blue brie

    •  Blend the kimchi and butter in a blender, putting it into the microwave for intervals of 10-20 seconds if the butter is too hard.
    • Split the croissant with a sharp knife.  Spread both sides with the kimchi butter.
    • Top with thin slices of blue brie and sandwich the two halves together.
    • Enjoy! 

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Gooey Scrambled Egg and Spam on Brown Rice

      Hmmm.  This is my semi-healthy answer to McDonald's absolutely delicious Sausage and Egg McMuffin breakfast set!  On Saturdays I have an early start, and got into a habit of treating myself to a sausage & egg muffin and hash brown from McDonald's.  Delicious, but 600 calories, 36g fat, 45g carbohydrate, 22g protein and 4g dietary fibre for the lot (was surprised it was so high in fibre actually!)

      I needed a healthier alternative.  But most importantly, it had to be quick to make.  With this recipe, the rice is set to be ready in the rice cooker just before I go out.  Boil the kettle to heat up the thermos.  Make the egg mixture, spoon in the rice and top with the egg mixture.  Ready to go!

      Nutrition Data
      Calories 318
      Carbohydrate 23g
      Protein 17g
      Fat 17g
      Dietary Fibre 3g 

      Still very high in fat, but a better treat! I make double the quantities for my thermos, and eat the rest at lunchtime with a green salad.

      Ingredients (serves 1)
      85g cooked brown rice (1/4 cup dried rice) 
      1 medium egg
      14g grated cheese
      3g butter
      35g spam lite
      56g kimchi

      • Chop the spam into 1cm cubes.
      • If cooking to take to work, pour boiling water into the thermos, and put the lid on.
      • About 10 minutes before the rice is cooked, melt the butter in a saucepan, beat in the egg, and stir in the spam, cheese and kimchi.  Keep stirring until thickened but still very glossy and of a pourable consistency.  Take off the heat.
      • Pour the water out of the thermos, pile in the rice and top with the egg mixture.  Close the thermos immediately!
      • I find that, even after taking half out for breakfast, it is still pretty warm 5 hours later.  Absolutely delicious!

      Monday, January 31, 2011

      Fruity Coleslaw

      This is a slightly sweet, creamy but healthy coleslaw.  My quantities make an awful lot (about 8 large salad-sized servings), but it keeps well in the fridge for about 5 days in a covered container.  Using Hellmans mayonnaise is very important for the taste; this is sold in import food shops in Japan under the Best Foods label. Actual weights for mayonnaise and mustard were guessed.

      Nutrition Data (per serving)
      Calories 100
      Carbohydrate 16g
      Protein 4g
      Fat 3g
      Dietary Fibre 3g

      450g fat free yoghurt
      1 heaped dessertspoon (30g) Hellmanns mayonnaise
      1 heaped teaspoon (10g) wholegrain mustard
      1/2 white cabbage
      1 medium carrot
      3 medium radishes
      1 large red apple
      25g raisins

      • Mix the yoghurt, mayonnaise, mustard and raisins together.
      • Shred the cabbage, carrot, radishes and apple.
      • Mix everything together in a large container, making sure to coat the fruit and vegetables well.
      • Store covered in the fridge.

      If you make, or want to make, a lot of salads, it is well worth buying an electric vegetable slicer.  Last year, I bought one intending to eat more salads but was worried that the salad motivation would wear off!  Actually, because it means that it's much quicker to make salads, I eat even more than I expected!

      Monday, January 24, 2011

      Sweet Chilli Lentil and Smoked Salmon Warm Salad

      This is very filling and is high in protein and fibre.  The pomegranate seeds and chilli sauce give a lovely tang against the lentils, and the seeds look beautiful too.

      In the ingredients list I've specified 200g cooked lentils, I'm not sure what the dry weight would be because I cooked up so many for the week!

      Nutrition Data
      Calories 384
      Carbohydrate 59g
      Protein 28g
      Fat 3g
      Dietary Fibre 19g

      Ingredients (serves 1)
      200g cooked brown lentils
      1/2 red onion, sliced
      50g spinach
      1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
      40g smoked salmon
      30g pomegranate seeds
      1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

      • If not already done, rinse the lentils and cook them for about 30 minutes in boiling water.
      • Meanwhile, cook the onions in the balsamic vinegar and some water until soft and caramelized.
      • Wash the spinach and tear into the lentils.  Add the onions.  Mix in the sweet chilli sauce.
      • Mix in pieces of smoked salmon and the pomegranate seeds.
      • Serve warm or cold.

      Sunday, January 9, 2011

      Sage and Onion Stuffing

      When I was in England last summer, I brought back some stuffing mix, which I ate with some roast gammon on New Year's Day, and then cold over the next few days...

      This gave me the taste again for roast gammon, stuffing and cranberry sauce (I'm using lingonberry sauce from Ikea) sandwiches.  Not having any more stuffing mix, I made my own today from some of my own bread that I hadn't eaten and had gone stale.  Here is the recipe.

      180g stale bread (only because that's how much I had!), made into breadcrumbs
      a good teaspoon of sage, to taste
      1 medium onion
      1 medium apple
      25g walnuts
      25g raisins

      •  Preheat the oven to 170C.
      • Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and stir in the sage.
      • Grate the onion and apple and stir into the breadcrumbs.
      • Crumble in the walnuts, and stir in the raisins.
      • Mix everything together well.
      • Spoon into a greased shallow baking tray and bake for about 45 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

      Tobiko and Soft Cheese Rye Bread

      A straightforward snack!  Cut 3 slices of Delba Wholegrain rye bread in half.  Spread with soft cheese, and sprinkle a little tobiko on top.

      Tobiko - Flying Fish Roe

      I used to think flying fish roe (tobiko/tobiran) was not worth buying because there is a lot of it, and you only use a little in recipes.  However if you freeze it in small containers, it defrosts easily with no deterioration.

      What is it like?  Well, each egg is tiny, less than 1mm in diameter.  They are hard crunchy sparkling red-orange jewels which explode in your mouth with a salty lemony taste.  They make a beautiful garnish.

      This is about 40g for 298yen.

      Scrambled Eggs on an English Muffin

      I used to make scrambled eggs sometimes, using cream, as a special treat.  Using milk or cream, and cooking slowly was the method I used for a long time.  Then I discovered the Australian chef Bill Granger's recipe

      Indeed delicious, and very quick too!  Incidentally I first went to Bill's in Sydney for dinner about 5 years ago and was very impressed.  A couple of years back I went for breakfast at Bill Granger's relatively newly-opened restaurant in Shichirigahama, the Shonan Beach area of Kanagawa.  This was the following day after visiting Enoshima.  By that stage it had been open for 10 months, I got there just before the opening time at 8am and had to queue for about an hour for a table...  Make a reservation!  That day I had sweetcorn fritters which I found a bit too rich for breakfast...  Apparently, he's now opened his 2nd restaurant in Japan in the Red Brick Warehouse in Yokohama.

      However...  This morning I discovered a new and phenomenally quick method of making scrambled eggs, and I think I actually prefer them.  This is adapted from the British chef Nigel Slater.

      Ingredients for one muffin
      One English muffin, split and toasted
      a small knob of butter
      one egg
      about 25g grated cheese

      • Over  a medium heat, melt the butter.
      • Turn off the heat and beat in one egg.
      • Stir in the cheese, turn on the heat again if necessary to finish melting the cheese and setting the egg, but remember that the saucepan is probably hot enough to continue cooking the egg.
      • Spoon over the unbuttered muffin and eat whilst hot.

      Thursday, January 6, 2011

      Spam, tofu and potato salad

      This was tonight's spam dinner, and very tasty it was too!  Those of you who are sharp-eyed will notice a green olive in the bowl, that does not appear in the ingredients...  Yes, I love olives but they just were too much in this recipe.  The recipe is much better without them.

      A note on the mayonnaise...  This should be a mayonnaise that you could enjoy on a teaspoon on its own, no cheap salad dressing here!  I recommend Hellmanns, sold in Japan under the Best Foods label.

      Ingredients (serves 1)
      New potatoes
      100g spam, chopped
      100g firm tofu, chopped
      dollop of mayonnaise
      good teaspoon wholegrain mustard
      2-3 chopped garlic chives (nira in Japan)

      • Boil the potatoes, drain, then chop roughly.
      • Mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl, then stir into the hot potatoes.
      • Stir in the spam, tofu and nira.
      • Serve warm or cold.


      What can I say, I have a confession...  I've always has a sneaky love of Spam, despite the out-and-out derision it gets  in the UK these days.  My recent trip to Okinawa, where it is a common ingredient, re-ignited my love of Spam!  I predict that over the next few weeks, I'm going to be posting a whole lot of Spam recipes, inspiration coming from

      Look at the photo - a spam riceball!

      Wednesday, January 5, 2011

      Chilli Gammon and Potato Stew

      This was inspired by The Flavour Thesaurus and its description of a Korean soup called Gamjatang.  I googled Gamjatang and found that it was a spicy soup made from pork bones, potatoes and other vegetables and spices.

      Not having half the herbs and spices, and not even wanting to cook with pork bones, I came up with this adaptation.  It was delicious, and hopefully the fermenting kimchi will have the usual effect of helping my cold!  All of the ingredients are according to taste...

      Ingredients (serves 1)
      1-2 potatoes
      roughly chopped gammon
      Stock cube
      a bit of garlic puree
      a bit more ginger puree
      a tablespoon of kimchi
      1/4 chopped white cabbage

      • Halve the potatoes and boil them in water with a stock cube until almost tender.
      • Add the garlic and ginger puree, the chopped gammon, the cabbage and the kimchi, and simmer with the lid on for about 5 minutes until the gammon is hot and the cabbage is cooked.
      • Serve immediately, steaming hot.

      The Flavour Thesaurus

      One of my brothers gave me an interesting cookery book for Christmas, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.  It's not exactly a cookery book; instead it's a commentary on food pairings, some obvious, some definitely not so obvious.  She chose 99 foods/herbs/spices and researched 980 pairings of them, and described them in mouth-watering detail!  And with the description of the flavour pairings come the ideas and the combinations...!  Thank you!