Monday, July 2, 2007

Walnuts, Pastry Sheets, and a TOASTER :)

My rice cooker endeavours have been cut short since I started a new job/wonderful opportunity at an old people's home and one of the well-known hospitals in my area. Rice-cooker baking takes a long time, and now my day has been more of the wake-up-and-bust-out-of-the-house scheduling.



Ah well, I know I should work on the "waking up early to eat breakfast" deal, but its not working...

Anyway, Japanese courtesy called for a few snacks for my mom's Quarter-Tennis team last Thursday, and she needed: "16-"somethings" to bring to the group!" Being the youngest in the group, and always getting little snacks from her "elders," it was about time my mom brought something.

I scrounged around the freezer and the cupboards only to find some honey, muesli, butter, walnuts and pastry sheets.


Crushed the walnuts, added the honey, added some muesli and made a sticky pasty kinda concoction. Nutty, sweet, and didn't look amazing....

Unrolling the pastry sheets in the freezer, i arranged them into little teaspoon fulls and placed another pastry sheet over the formation.

Made sure to put little air-holes in the top so the whole things doesnt EXPLODE!!

Sealed the two pastry sheets just using the tip of a fork :)

Ten minutes in the toaster!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Banana Bread!

I realized today that there is a BIG difference between plain flour and bread flour. I dont know how to explain it-I wikipedia-ed it and found out it has something to do with the gluten/starch composition in the flour.

From now on when I make cakes, I will be sure to use proper cake flour as well. No wonder sometimes my recipes really dont turn out the way they are supposed to. The catalyst to my enlightenment was due to the amazing-ness that is the Japanese language. The noun for cake flour and plain flour, and bread flour are ALL DIFFERENT WORDS COMPLETELY. Brilliant, say. 上新粉、薄力粉、強力粉。

Anyway, using real bread flour, I made Banana Bread. This time I played the recipe TOTALLY by ear. My dad is in danger of developing Type II Diabetes, so I wanted something with less sugar, yet fluffy....

P.S-yes, this is another creation made in your single-person-friendly RICE COOKER!! Wahoo!!!

10g dry yeast
180ml luke-warm water
100ml milk
1 egg
20g sugar
20g margarine
400g BREAD flour :)
1pinch baking soda
1pinch baking powder (I dont know if those two things make a difference, but I threw em in anyway.)
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon honey (just for a good measure)
3 "Dashes" (1 teaspoon?) Vanilla Essence. (Vanilla Essence comes out in little "nipple" drop bottles in Japan..not in small bottles with normal openings.)
3-4 bananas. Mashed. If they are hard to mash, pop em in the microwave for two minutes, add some (a teaspoon) of sugar, and they'll be mash-able. (Therefore you dont have to wait till they're ripe!)

Optional: A handful of walnuts. Whole, or broken up, your choice!

How To:...
1) Dissolve the dry yeast in 180ml lukewarm water, and let it hang out for awhile
2) Dump all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda/powder, and sugar) into rice cooker bowl.
3) Mix #1 and #2 and KNEAD like your life depended on it. (or until it looks nice and fun!)
4) Knead in the margarine and the honey.
5) Let bread rise for 45 minutes. Or turn the rice cooker on to "keep warm" for 5 minutes, turn off, and let bread rise for 20 minutes. (If you have the "keep warm" function on your rice cooker, GREAT!!)

(looks kinda gross when it hasn't risen yet...)

6) While you're waiting, go watch an episode of "Everybody Hates Chris" or "CSI" or "Grey's Anatomy...." or something like that.

7) Also, mix the egg with the mashed bananas while you're at it.
8) Done? Knead the bananas into the dough. (Add Walnuts if you want them!)

9) Throw the dough back into the rice cooker, press "Keep warm" for 10 minutes, turn off, and let it rise this time for 2-3 hours. (Depends on how fluffy/ bread-y/dense you want your bread to be. If you want it to be very dense, maybe 1.5 hours of raising is better.)

*****If you want your bread to be more dense, knead the egg and banana mixture BEFORE you let the bread rise the first time around, and let it rise for an hour. Skip procedure 8 and 9.

10) Bake in the rice cooker for one cycle, turn it over, and bake for another cycle (Or until you can poke a fork/toothpick/chopstick in it, and it comes out clean!) I baked it both sides, cuz I wanted both sides to be browned :)


After the bread rose for the second time, I added whole walnuts just to the top of the bread. I have crushed walnuts mixed into the dough, which I put in TOGETHER with the mashed bananas.

Yup. Its the second day and my dad already ate half.

He's a bread connoiseur, so I guess its a good sign!

Creme Brulee

I made awesome creme brulee for my friends when they came over for a party. Yum yum! My friend took this recipe off of, and gave it to me. I changed it up a bit, added my "easy cooking" tips to it.

8 egg yolks
600 millilitres fresh cream
100 millilitres milk
100 grams sugar
150 grams fine brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius.

Combine the egg yolks, cream, milk and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk and pass through a fine sieve into a jug. Pour the egg mixture into small ramekins, or ceramic little cups!!!

Bake in the oven for 1.5 hours to 2 hours. just see that it is firm-wiggle it around, stick a toothpick thru it, make sure its not soupy! Remove, cool and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours...if you like your brulee cold. They are really yummy warm as well.

Since we're talking about ricer cookers; DID YOU KNOW YOU COULD ALSO PUT the ramekins in the rice cooker and press "cook" for 30minutes....and get the exact same creme brulee? AMAZING!

Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each portion with a thin layer of brown sugar. Caramelise the sugar with a blowtorch and serve immediately. (dont worry about caramelizing if you dont have the blowtorch, it just makes it look nice.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Oven? No Problem.

A typical Japanese household doesnt have an oven attached to their cooking stove. Instead, we have one of these:

Wondering what it is? It's a FISH GRILL.

So coming home to Japan I've been feeling pretty antsy...can't bake, mom makes dinner, (I can only help, which kinda cramps my "I WANT TO COOOOOOOK" style.), and I dont have a gym to go to.

My mom came home yesterday with this book:
"Bread, snacks, and light meals even with a RICE COOKER!"

cha-CHIIIING!! *sound of JACKPOT*

The book was filled with so many fun things-Green tea sponge cake, pumpkin bread, strawberry jam...

(I realize this book is in Japanese...this one is a recipes for sesame-seed cake!)

But before I try out one of these fancy schmancy recipes, I wanted to try making PLAIN BREAD with the rice cooker.

So here goes

Flour - 350g
Butter - 21g
Sugar - 21g
Milk - 35ml
Water - 180ml
Dry yeast - 5g
Salt - 6.5g

How To:
1) Place flour, sugar, and salt into rice cooker bowl.
2) Mix dry yeast and water
3) Mix dry yeast and water mix into dry ingredients
4) Put in milk and butter
5) Knead the dough...It should look something like this:

6) Cover it with a clean towel, and let it rise for about an
hour. (Go do something, read a book, chat with your friends...)

7) An hour later, bring the dough up, and then drop it from about 50cm high, back into the bowl, to release the gas.
8) Repeat X 4

9) Put it back into the bowl, wait for another hour.
10) Take it back out, and split dough into 3 big balls and four smaller balls.
11) Make then into long "snakes" Twist them into little braid-ish things, and then make little balls out of them.
(They should look like little braided balls...mine don't look so appealing at can also add butter/margarine into the dough's surface while you are twisting the "snakes" around and arranging them into ball shapes)

12) Back into the rice cooker, and this time, press "COOK!"

13) After one cycle, the bread is gonna smell AMAZING. Open the cooker & FLIP the bread over.

14) Cook for ANOTHER hour. (I know, you're thinking WHAT?)

15) TA-DA!!! I promised you bread didn't I?

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Why Egg Tart?

No clue. I guess it's because it's and
1) Fairly easy to get ingredients for
2) All I needed was eggs and flour.

So I took a fairly decent-looking recipe off of "" and made a few of my own tweaks and turns. I wanted to give this out to my dairy-allergic, and on a diet friends, and ya know, it would've been healthier for me as well.


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup margarine (or olive oil, if you prefer)
1 egg, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract (or essence)

Egg Filling
1/2 cup white sugar (or honey)
1 1/2 cups milk (whole, skim, or soy)
8 eggs, beaten (or 6 yolks and 8 egg whites)
1 dash vanilla extract
1 cup milk (whole, skim, or soy)
1/4 cup coconut milk powder (or 1/3 cup skim milk powder)


  1. Mix together sugar and flour. Cut in butter/margarine/oil until crumbly. Stir in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The dough will be kinda flaky, but still moist. . Add more marg/butter/oil if it is too dry, or more flour, if it seems greasy.
  2. Shape dough into 2 inch balls, and roll out with a rolling pin-press them into the muffin tin (or whatever else you are using.) Leave at least 1cm over the edge (the crust will shrink whem baked) and shape the edges into a triangular tip.
  3. Bake the crust for about 5-15 minutes, depending on the thickness in 450 degrees F (230 C). Do not let the edges go brown, just make sure they are solid-ish.
  1. Combine the white sugar (or honey) and 1.5 cups water (or milk/soymilk) in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Crack & beat eggs. Strain the eggs through a sieve, and whisk into liquid mixture.
  3. Dissolve the milk powder into 1 cup milk, and add vanilla essence (or extract)
  4. Whisk liquid ingredients all together into one bowl.
  5. Sieve 2 to 3 times to make it smooth.
  6. Decant through a sieve into the crusts.
  7. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.
I think the smartest thing I did when I backed the crust was putting RICE in the muffin tin above the crust dough...On the one dough that I DIDNT put rice, a small air bubble EXPANDED in the heat and lead to a crackly, broken, UGLY crust. It was depressing. I ate it though. It was good. :P