One-Pan Meals Are Too Easy

This is getting dangerous. My Zojirushi stuff is making it so easy to cook, pretty soon I’m going to be expected to do more cooking around here. My wife already said, “You’re gonna have to cook more if you want to get better. What if you start cooking every Sunday?” Waaait a minute…how come I feel like I’m going to get more “to-dos” around the house? Actually we usually buy take out food on Sundays anyway, so cooking might save us money—and I’m never opposed to that.

I recently tried these One Pot/One Pan recipes that really seemed perfect for my Electric Skillet and my Toaster Oven. The hardest part is prepping the ingredients, which isn’t that time consuming. The cooking part all happens in the same pot, so even if there are steps to follow, it’s not like you’re washing anything in between. I found that being able to electronically control the temperature when the recipe calls for it, helped a lot for a novice like me.

I’m happy to say this One-Pot Beef Stroganoff came out tasting as good as it looks,  Here are the ingredients I used (link to this recipe below if you’re interested). I used the shallow pan from my skillet for this one, which was the right choice because pasta stroganoff isn’t a soupy stew like sukiyaki or a hot pot.

Then it was a matter of cooking each stage of this dish in the same pan. First I sautéed the mushrooms.

I set that aside to make room for the ground beef and onions.

Here I’m stirring in the flour and paprika real good so it dissolves. Look at me—two fisted cooking technique! LOL.

Here’s where I added the broth and finally the pasta. That was basically it—all I had to do then was cover it and let it simmer for 10 or 12 minutes until the pasta cooked al dente. 

The sour cream is added after the heat is turned off, and then garnished with the parsely. Look at how creamy it looks!

I’m realizing that one-pot literally means one pot, so that’s easy on the cleanup, but I sort of thought you load up everything in the pot in the beginning and just let it cook by itself. There are recipes like that, but most recipes require “steps”, because different ingredients cook at different times. Not complainin’, just sayin’.

On the other hand, one-pan recipes are exactly like that—and are fast becoming my favorite kind. This is a sheet pan Garlic Butter Salmon and Asparagus that I found online that can be baked all at once in the oven (or toaster oven). Now this was easy—make the garlic butter, coat the fish and veggies with it on the baking sheet, and pop into the oven to cook.

14 minutes later, we got dinner, with sides! I am definitely trying more sheet pan recipes in the future. And having a toaster oven large enough means you can do everything on the countertop—from prep to bake to serve.

Check out the sizzlin’ salmon! Woohoo!!

Just For Fun
What in the world is this guy doing??

Products used for these recipes: 
Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EA-BDC10
Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

Beef Stroganoff recipe by JoCooks
Garlic Butter Salmon recipe by Chrissy Teigen

All photos by Bert Tanimoto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Island Style Kimchi Fried Rice with Spam

Comfort food is different for everyone, depending on where you grew up. I grew up bi-culturally, so if Fried Rice is one of the great comfort foods of all time for most Asians, my #1 is Cha-han, Japanese style—but my #2 is Spam Fried Rice, Hawaiian style. Here’s where non-cooks like me can never fail. Fried rice is so easy, the only way to fail, besides burning the rice, is to use rice that’s too freshly cooked because you’ll get mushy fried rice.

This is my Kimchi Fried Fice and this is how I made it foolproof. You’re supposed to use day old rice so that it’s slightly harder already, thus preventing mushy fried rice. I didn’t have any—so I made fresh rice in the morning, using the “HARDER” menu setting on my rice cooker. I didn’t make any adjustments to the water; I only cooled it off to room temp. Worked like a charm.

Kimchi and spam—who’s gonna argue with that? I’ll wait.

The Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert Electric Skillet at work.

The secret sauce (kimchi juice from the bottom of the jar). Feel free to add Korean gochujang if you want, but bear in mind it doesn’t really increase flavor, only spiciness.

Really fast Kimchi Spam Fried Rice.

The family liked it, so I guess that means I passed.

So now I’m getting cocky, right? I thought, OK—let’s try the steamer function on the electric skillet; I’ve already got it out anyway. I chose this Sesame Broccoli, a popular side dish that you get sometimes at Korean BBQ restaurants. The ingredients are simple enough—fresh broccoli florets, sesame oil, ground sesame seeds and lots of garlic.

The steamer plate is more than large enough to hold a bunch of veggies as you can see, and the skillet is deep. I filled it with about a half-inch of water, got it boiling, and lowered the broccoli inside. The steamer plate has a small handle and legs to hold it above the water. Steaming time was about 7 minutes, but I think I should have quit at 5. Still, it was OK.

Then all I had to do was dress it with the sesame oil, garlic, crushed sesame seeds and some salt and it was done! Looks good? I think my daughter really liked it—she even brought some to work for her lunch the next day.

 

Just For Fun
Remembering the late great Ruth Bader Ginsburg…my daughter must have been channeling her spirit with this hairstyle! LOL!

Have you ever been to the secret swing at the top of Elysian Park in Los Angeles? Not so secret if you’re on Instagram actually, but still worth finding if you want this great view! Check before you go though—it’s been known to disappear and reappear for various reasons, like COVID, too many influencers, etc.

 

credits: all photos by Bert Tanimoto, Sesame Broccoli recipe by Korean Babsang

 

 

 

Bert-san’s Take—Is it a Toaster or Oven?


Deep dish pizza from my new Zojirushi Toaster Oven (ET-ZLC30). Read on to see how I baked it with this high-tech toaster that does a whole lot more than just toast.

One of the functions that’s a little different on this toaster oven is called “RISE”, which is a kind of proofing setting for dough. I baked a simple Margherita Pizza with dough made from scratch…

And popped it into the Zojirushi for 40 minutes on the RISE cycle at 90°F.

Here’s something I should mention—this bowl is pretty big, but it fit comfortably. This toaster oven definitely had the room.

Pretty nice ball of pizza dough! Later on I’ll show you my wife’s bread dough, which is even more impressive.

Add my ingredients…

Annnd…Margherita pizza!

How do you like the Zucchini and Corn Pizza at the beginning of this post? I can’t take the credit—my wife decided to snatch my Trader Joe’s® store bought pizza dough and make her own. This is a brilliant, vegetarian pizza that was amazingly delicious and easy, and perfect for summer! First get any deep pan (we used cast iron to get that crispy bottom). We had this out in room temp for a few hours so it could expand. I could have used the RISE in the toaster but it was occupied with my Margherita!

Sauté zucchini, corn, green onion, some basil and some garlic. Season with garlic salt.

Add mozzarella cheese and a criss-cross drizzle of ranch dressing (!!), you heard me—don’t say “Eww” until you’ve tried this.

Top with the veggies and put the whole thing in the toaster oven. We preheated to 450°F and baked for only 15 to 20 minutes; pretty quick. Here’s another thing I should mention about the Zojirushi. This is a standard 10” cast iron pan and it fit inside easily. Also, these pans are heavy! I was impressed with the sturdiness of the rack. It’s tougher than it looks—no bowing or bending at all!

Done!

Isn’t it beautiful? Zucchini and Corn Deep Dish Pizza. Don’t tell anyone about the ranch and have them taste it first; you’ll get no critics.

Now what happens if you want to use that RISE function to do some real bread baking? Here’s dough mixed for easy no-knead bread.

And here’s the expanded dough after proofing in the Zojirushi for about 2 hours at 100°F. Mind you, this no-knead dough would normally require overnight to rise properly, so it was handy to be able to do it in the toaster oven.

Tah-da! No-knead bread!

We baked this in our other toaster oven because our cast iron Dutch oven was too high for the Zojirushi with the lid on. If yours is lower profile it may fit. One comment about proofing in a couple of hours vs. overnight. It was missing that “yeasty” flavor in the bread, but it was still very good. I guess there’s no substitute for time in some cases!

And lastly but very important, some dessert that you can bake in this toaster oven. A Plum and Peach Fruit Galette. Store-bought pie crust and fruit lying around the house and this one is done, baby!

Hope you guys enjoyed seeing all the things you can do with this Zojirushi Toaster Oven. Next time we’ll do some cooking and not just baking!

Just For Fun
Some people love the attention…but I give this person credit; that cannot be easy. And yes, he did make it all the way across.

Unlike this guy…

 

All images and videos by Bert Tanimoto

 

 

Instant Upgrades For Instant Coffee

Granita di Caffè
I’m not as much of a coffee snob as I used to be, when I lived in Japan and everyone around me treated Blue Mountain coffee as the Holy Grail—but I did make fun of my mother when she would take out her jar of Folgers® instant. “Why would anyone drink instant coffee at all?” is what I always thought. But those freeze dried pebbles of brew are making a comeback, doncha know…you’ve heard of Dalgona by now, right?

Turns out instant coffee is pretty handy…for certain things. This coffee granita is a frozen Italian dessert that came out fantastic! The easy part was making the espresso out of instant coffee. Our water boiler did that for me quick. Pro tip: the Zojirushi has temp settings that can be set for different types of tea. We usually have ours at 195°F for green tea, but I raised it to 208° so I could dissolve the instant coffee fast. The hot water was ready in a matter of minutes.

After mixing sugar into the hot coffee, I poured it into a flat pan.

Now the tricky part. After freezing for about 30 minutes, the coffee has to be taken out and stirred a little to break up the ice crystals. If you do this a few times—freeze, scrape the coffee, re-freeze, you’ll get a nice slushy coffee before it has a chance to freeze solid.

Add whipped cream and this Granita di Caffè is done! A frozen treat perfect for summer, that starts with hot instant coffee! Don’t be afraid to make the coffee strong—I used 1-1/2 teaspoons of powder to make 1 cup of “espresso”.

I got on a roll with the instant coffee, so here’s my Coffee Gelatin, made with Zojirushi’s recipe. My tip for this recipe: use a little more gelatin powder or a little less water. I prefer my Jello to be a little firmer.
Classic Coffee Gelatin

And here’s my Nutella® Iced Latte. This is super easy—blend Nutella® into hot instant coffee and refrigerate to cool. Then pour over ice with some milk for a delicious hazelnut latte. Be generous with the Nutella®; it’s good stuff!
Iced Hazelnut Latte

Speaking of Dalgona, this Korean iced coffee drink went viral everywhere a few months ago and it’s pretty much old news now, but if you’re interested in making one yourself, look it up. It’s fun to make and it’s photogenic.
Dalgona Coffee

Just For Fun
I’ve got 2 videos this month. First, if you’re feeling claustrophobic, enjoy the sunset with me for a few seconds. Sound on! If you don’t live near a beach, this is for you!

Next, one of my favorite things to do. Go through a carwash with me—so much fun for cheap! LOL. Sound on again!

 

All images by Bert Tanimoto
Coffee Granita recipe by The Italian Chef

 

 

July Is National Blueberry Month!

Blueberry Bread
This is an official month declared by the USDA! Did you know that blueberries are native to North America and we grow them in 35 out of the 50 states? That means we supply about 95% of the world’s crop. It’s known as a superfood, because they’re rich in fiber, low in calories and full of vitamins and antioxidants. It’s also one of the few foods found in nature that are blue, so there’s always that.

I wanted to try Blueberry Bread with my breakmaker, so I found a recipe on the Fleischmann’s site, the people who produce the instant yeast in bottles and packets. The experts at Zojirushi advised me to use dried blueberries because using fresh ones would make the dough soggy. This also gave me a chance to use the dispensing attachment that comes with the breadmaker—it drops whatever dry ingredient you want into the dough for you, so you don’t have to interrupt the cycle or even take the dough out. Worked like a charm. This is all I needed according to the recipe. (The black container is the auto ingredient dispenser.)

Ready to go.

This was the best looking bread I’ve been able to bake with my breadmaker. I mean, look how perfectly shaped it is! And the texture and color of it was amazing. Then when I sliced it open and saw the swirly blueberry, I was totally impressed. And yeah, it tasted as good as it looked, so I rated this one an “A” and patted myself on the back.

Blueberry Jam
Now for some fresh (ok, frozen fresh) blueberries and my Blueberry Jam using a Zojirushi recipe for the breadmaker! This also turned out amazingly good, and I think the credit goes to using fresh ingredients.

The frozen blueberries worked out great, and I made up for the freshness factor by using lemons from our garden!

I mean, this jam only requires blueberries, sugar and lemon juice—add it to the pan and the machine does the rest. Be sure to mash up the berries first.

Cook for an hour and twenty minutes with the Jam Course and ta-dah! Fresh blueberry jam!

Pour the jam into a glass jar and refrigerate to thicken it a bit. The homemade jam recipes online suggest adding pectin to the jam to add firmness, which I did—you can buy that at the supermarket.

This was a very tasty jam—not too sweet like the kind you get at the store. And it felt good knowing there weren’t any preservatives in it; but of course that means you can’t keep it that long in your fridge. Next up for jams—strawberry!

Just For Fun
What do you do when the twist-off cap on your soda won’t open? You use your slipper of course! (Don’t worry—I cleaned the bottle before drinking!)

 

All images by Bert Tanimoto