Love Bites

heart shaped cookies on dish with strawberries

Chocolate chip cookies and coffee must be a match made in cookie heaven, agree? I decided to combine the best of both worlds for Valentine’s, using the Recipe of the Year from King Arthur Flour® and Zojirushi’s newest coffee maker. The King Arthur Flour company claims to have baked over 1200 cookies to perfect this chocolate chip cookie recipe, and used over 38 pounds of butter in the process.

I didn’t use that much butter, but I did use a cookie cutter and my Zojirushi Toaster Oven to bake these lovelies.cookie cutters in heart shapes

I was worried about the cookie dough spreading out into an unrecognizable blob when it baked, so I simply baked them right in the mold. All it took was greasing the sides of each cutter, then baking like any batch of cookies.

If you like your cookies on the cakey side, this recipe is for you—you can find it on their site. I like mine chewy more than cakey, so I’ve had better IMHO. But they go great with coffee, so let’s segue into my new coffee maker, shall we?Zojirushi coffee brewer

First impressions — Zojirushi didn’t mess around with the design; it’s compact as can be for a 12-cup coffee maker. Fantastic use of optimal height, width and depth in a no-nonsense, sleek, small footprint design. I was happy to see a setting for brewing small amounts of coffee, which I experimented with immediately for my first test. I used grounds that I consider to be a cut above old school 1st wave but lower than craft coffee 3rd wave. If you’re a coffee snob you’ll know what I mean, and you’re probably into a 4th wave yourself.

I brewed only 4 cups, and the coffee was delicious! I tested the Taste Tuner feature that controls the brew strength and that worked too, turning my mid-level coffee beans into a pretty rich blend. I love the sound of percolating coffee.

A few years ago I reviewed my Zojirushi Breadmaker by baking a crazy looking Rainbow Bread with it, kinda going overboard with the food coloring in the process. I decided to tone it down for this Valentine’s, but not by much — ha ha!hand rolling pink and white dough together

I just used the Homemade Course on my Breadmaker to make the dough first, then flattened it out and rolled the two colors together as tightly as I could.

The dough should look something like this when it’s rolled up.rolled dough pink and white

The Homemade Course allows you the time to do this step in between the knead and rise cycle, so when you’re done you simply put the dough back into the baking pan and start the baking cycle again. I would advise you take out the kneading blade at this point because it’s no longer kneaded (get it?). You want to minimize the hole at the bottom of your bread.

Bake according to regular White Bread instructions and the Breadmaker does the rest. Look…look into my bread…are you getting sleepy? Watch the pretty pink spirals go round and round and round. When you wake up you can eat it for breakfast; trust me, it’ll be delicious.

pink swirl bread

What do you guys have planned for Valentine’s? How about a picnic or a brisk hike in the woods; maybe you have kids who play sports like we did and you spend a lot of time following them around, sitting on cold metal bleachers while you watch them for hours. The good ‘ol days! I don’t regret them — it was fun. We didn’t have Zojirushi Food Jars back then, but I wish we did. We would have made clam chowder like here, and packed a hot soup snack.clam chowder soup in food jars

I’m not gonna lie, I was already expecting the thermal insulation to be top notch (it’s Zojirushi after all), but I didn’t expect it to blow me away like it did. We heated and packed this soup in the afternoon at around 2pm, and we had it for dinner at 6:30. It was literally too hot to eat without blowing on it to keep it from burning my tongue. Maybe it was the type of soup too—clam chowder is thick and retains heat well. We also pre-heated the food jars which also probably helped.

Are these the perfect His & Her food jars? These might be the best designed jars that Zojirushi has made yet—minimalistic yet very sleek, in muted colors for sophisticated boys and girls. Lots of features in these new food jars; a better insulated, one-piece lid that’s easier to clean, and it’s designed to relieve the pressure build-up from hot foods when you open it. I even liked the octagonal packaging. Pretty cool.blue and pink food jars shown with packaging

Well, that’s it for me this month–have a great Valentine’s everyone!

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Dome Brew Programmable Coffee Maker EC-ESC120, Stainless Steel Food Jars SW-KA40 and SW-KA52H

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2024

I cooked every rice type on the menu!

rice cooker display panel

Hello fellow rice fans and Happy New Year! This month I thought about how many menu settings there are on my rice cooker and how I never use anything but “white rice”. What if I made all the rice types available, just to see how they work? Do you think it would really make a difference? I put my rice cooker to the test!

Jasmine

We don’t eat much Jasmine rice at our house—we almost always make Japanese short grain so I’ve never experimented beyond “Regular” or “Quick”. I can tell you for a fact that “Quick” only takes about 35 minutes but there is a difference. You sacrifice a subtle, overall fluffiness that you get from soaking the grain in water for that extra time and it does affect the texture. I’m embarrassed to admit I use that setting a lot, especially if I’m having curry rice. If I’m topping my rice with curry, I’m just not all that fussy about my rice, you know what I mean?

But we had Thai food for dinner, and I wanted authentic Jasmine rice to go with it. So we decided to cook our own instead of eating the takeout one from the restaurant. thai food jasmine riceZojirushi warns in their manual that it may cook firmer than normal depending on the brand of the rice, but ours turned out perfectly. It was loose and not sticky, like Jasmine is supposed to be, and the fragrance of the rice really comes through when it’s fresh.

Porridge

This setting is used to make the watery rice gruel called “okayu” (pronounced oh-kah-yoo) that we eat when we’re not feeling well and have no appetite. It’s warm, comforting and easily digestible. The cooker did its job and left the rice in this soupy texture. Normally regular short grain is used for okayu.porridge in rice cooker

Personally, I like to have mine with the rice sprinkles that you can get at the Asian markets. It adds a great flavor to the rice, and if you have it with a pickled plum it’s healthy for you too. If you have this setting on your rice cooker, try this; I promise you’ll find it amazing. You don’t even have to be sick.rice gruel meal

Oatmeal

Even though our cooker doesn’t have an Oatmeal setting, you can use the Porridge menu to make oatmeal. We made a slight adjustment by adding twice the amount of oatmeal so that it wouldn’t come out too watery like the rice gruel. For more detailed information go to this page in Zojirushi and it will tell you exactly how to cook oatmeal and other types of rice.oatmeal in rice cooker

The advantage to using the rice cooker vs. in a pot on a stove? You don’t have to keep stirring it and watching it. We made it for breakfast and had a self-serve Oatmeal Bar.oatmeal breakfast bar

Sweet

The Sweet setting is used for mochi-gome (mochi rice). You can make a lot of Japanese style traditional desserts using this extra-glutinous rice, but all you need is a stand mixer to make real mochi. After it cooks, transfer the hot mochi rice to your mixing bowl. The Sweet setting does everything, so as long as you’ve measured correctly, you’ll get the super sticky texture you want. We didn’t have a dough hook for the mixer (recommended), so we used the flat beater attachment and it still worked fine. Just knead the mochi rice until you get real mochi.making mochi in stand mixer

Make sure you use a lot of corn starch to make the mochi easier to handle. WARNING: Sticky! If you can get red bean paste at your store, you can fill your mochi patties and form them into homemade Daifuku, a traditional dessert. making mochi with red bean pasteMy impressions of homemade mochi: if you have a chance to do this, do it! The freshness and natural sweetness of the rice gets enhanced, and the flavor is unbeatable. Store bought mochi doesn’t even come close. But the caveat is that clean-up might be a turn off to some—it really is hard to get off of everything. If anyone has any ideas about this let me know.

Mixed

The Mixed setting is used to make Takikomi Gohan, type of Japanese rice dish that you can make right in the pot from a kit that you can buy at the market. All the ingredients are in the box, so all you have to do is set it and forget it.

The extra cooking time allows the dashi flavored soup stock to infuse better into the rice so you get an umami flavored rice dish that goes perfectly with broiled fish or any light entree.

Here are two kinds of Takikomi Gohan that we made with the “Mixed” setting. Both were complete kits. This one is a mixed mushroom dish with bits of salmon.Japanese mixed rice with salmon

If you buy one that is more expensive, you can get one with chestnuts.Japanese mixed rice with chestnutsJust FYI, both of these Takikomi Gohan dishes are kits that come with everything you see, right out of the box. So easy!

Stay tuned for another post where I try the other menu settings on my rice cooker. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to explore your own rice settings—there’s so much you can do with it!

Products used in this post: Rice Cooker NP-HCC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2024

Twas the Night for Zojirushi (revisited)

rice bowl with santa
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house–
Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.
And just when even a mouse wouldn’t squeak,
The Zojirushi products decided to speak!

rice cookerThe Rice Cooker said, “They can’t live without me.
Rice is a staple, their dinners need me.
Whatever the side dish, whatever the soup,
You need fluffy rice, to complete the group.”

Honey brick toast drizzled with honey“You’re wrong you know,” the Breadmaker said.
“What staple is there, other than bread?
I can bake it fresh, and it smells so good,
Their mornings are mine, that’s understood.”

water boilerWait just a minute. Wait for the spoiler!
“That’s not how this ends,” chimed the Water Boiler.
“It all starts with water and I heat it with ease.
Tea drinkers love me, everyone agrees.”

shepherd's pie coming out of oven“So what? Big deal.” said the Toaster Oven.
“I can toast bagels or an English muffin.
I can bake a cake or a whole lasagna
I’m the one and only, I’m tryin’ to tell ya!”

insulated drink mugs“Ah, but here’s one thing that’s wrong with y’all.
You guys are stuck here, you’re plugged to the wall!”
The Stainless Mugs just started to smile;
“We’re tall and sleek, we’re a lifestyle.”

miso soup served in food jarsThe Food Jars, they heard this discussion.
They said, “We agree, we second that motion!
We’re essential, maybe the best of the bunch.
Without us, how can you enjoy your lunch?”

flat griddleAnd that Gourmet guy, you know the one–
that Tabletop Griddle who has all the fun.
The life of the party, always looking so chic;
let out a sigh and rose up to speak.

“Hold it, listen you all. You’re missing the point!
It’s not who’s great, or who rocks this joint.
We all serve a purpose; we follow a plan.
We make life easier whenever we can.

We all love to cook, and that’s the truth.
We satisfy cravings, or any sweet tooth.
So let’s enjoy what we do–we are truly blessed.
It’s not about skill, or who is the best.”

A sudden silence then came over the kitchen.
The arguing stopped and they started to listen.
The Zojirushi spirit is alive and well.
“He’s right, good point! They started to yell.”

And so it was on that Holiday night,
with the fire in embers and the stars out of sight,
a commotion was settled, the rebellion rejected.
Peace came again, with the kitchen protected.

Zojirushi products were once again quiet
They knew better than to start a riot.
It’s so much better to give up the strife—
they started Treasuring Everyday Life.

(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Click on images to see past posts from Bert-san

Products used in this post: Rice Cooker NW-QAC10/18, Breadmaker BB-PDC20, Water Boiler CV-JAC40/50, Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Stainless Mugs SM-VA60/72, Food Jars SW-KA52H/75H, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Thankful For My Hainan Chicken Rice

I guess at my age, I don’t have to think really hard to appreciate what I’ve got. I’ve never been one to be envious or jealous of my neighbor, or complain about what I don’t have, so it doesn’t take much to keep me happy. Some might say that’s great, some may say that’s why I don’t have more. I say it’s a byproduct of having experienced the hippie generation, when material things were frowned upon in the name of simple peace and love. (Best excuse!)

Take my Hainan Chicken Rice, for example. I’m grateful that I can cook it and steam the Chinese broccoli all in my rice cooker.

Hainan Chicken Rice shown in rice cooker before cooking

The natural chicken broth seeps into the jasmine rice as it cooks, and the steamer basket takes care of the broccoli. I found out that this is a signature Singaporean dish, brought over from the Hainan province in Southern China.

This is what both dishes look like right out of the rice cooker.

Hainan Chicken completely cooked in rice cooker

Chinese broccoli steamed in rice cooker

Homemade Hainan Chicken Rice. The ginger scallion sauce is a simple topping you can find easily online, and Hoisin sauce was sprinkled on the broccoli. This is good stuff, just using our rice cooker!

Hainan Chicken Rice plated showing Ginger Scallion Sauce

I am thankful for my electric griddle, which continues to be a really handy appliance to have in our kitchen. We have the takoyaki plate that fits into the griddle, which is a treat sometimes when we’re craving these.

Takoyaki cooking on hot plate

Out of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, the four years I spent in Japan were the most influential and memorable that I can keep with me forever. And that includes the foods I ate that really opened my eyes to Japanese cuisine. It’s so much more than sushi and ramen, you know? I’ll always look back at my summers in Japan as the most excruciatingly sticky and uncomfortable seasons ever, but also the best time for all the fun festivals going on. Takoyaki and yakisoba are best eaten from paper trays at your local town festival during summertime.

Takoyaki plated with condiments added

Yakisoba on griddle

By the way, just to let you know you can switch from the takoyaki plate to the flat griddle instantly to make these two summer classics at home.

Do you know what else I’m thankful for? I’m thankful I was raised Asian-American. Think about how lucky I am to know both cultures, having been around both worlds since I was born. This is one of the reasons I never let my kids forget that when they were growing up. A big part of keeping that alive is the food that we eat everyday. I think we take that for granted sometimes, but to be able to appreciate good food from whatever culture or cultures that make up your background is essential. And it only gets more important the older we get.

My Mom always used to make meatloaf when we were kids. And the tradition continues today.

And don’t forget the potatoes…

What are you guys thankful for this Thanksgiving? Don’t let it pass without giving it some thought—it’ll do wonders for your day.

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Umami® Micom Rice Cooker NL-GAC10/18, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-BDC10, Takoyaki Plate EA-YBC01

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Favorite Fall Comfort Foods

Close-up of three sweet potatoes: purple, orange and yellow Here’s the thing—you wouldn’t expect the words “comfort food” and “high tech” to go together, but when I sit here and think, “What can I make with my Zojirushi products today?” the tech makes it easier to cook everything. And that includes the simple stuff that I grew up with, like sweet potatoes.

My wife loves French onion soup. She dug up this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens® that makes a one-pot pasta with canned soup, so we made it with our electric skillet.Finished French Onion pasta cooked in electric skillet

You can tell this is going to taste good just by looking at it—how can you go wrong with canned soup? Of course it isn’t going to compare with how the French did it in the 19th Century, when the modern version of onion soup first originated at open air markets, but modern times has its advantages too.Pouring canned French Onion soup onto mixture of cooked ground beef, garlic, parsley and raw pasta

Once the pasta has cooked through, the real flavor goes in; all those browned onions and cheese.Cooked pasta and ground beef, topped with browned onions and shredded cheese

The crusty French bread takes the place of the croutons you would normally find in French Onion Soup. This is the best kind of comfort food—the kind you make with no trouble in one pot.French Onion Pasta served in small bowls topped with cheese toasted roll

OK, I’m not gonna lie. We don’t have a lot of counter space in our kitchen, so when we take out an appliance to use, it’s going to get more than one use before it goes back into the closet. The skillet is handy for this kind of homey dish anyway, so we made Paella. Listen, whenever I eat rice it’s almost always an Asian dish, but I do like other kinds and Spanish Paella is one of them. The other is Cajun rice. I’ll eat anything that tastes good, you know what I mean?Finished Paella cooked in electric skillet

Notice how the skillet seared the bottom of the rice so nicely, a trademark of good Paella.Close-up of paella dish showing underside of seared crispy rice

More comfort food—a simple steak with grilled vegetables.Grilling piece of steak on the electric grill along with asparagus, peppers, zucchini and red onion

Maybe steak isn’t that simple. There are a gazillion ways to eat it, after all. Some people like a good steak sauce, some prefer a chimichurri, or maybe just butter and some salt and pepper for others. My favorite way to eat a steak is wasabi shoyu, a dipping sauce made of soy sauce and wasabi. But hey, it could be because I always eat my steak with white rice (which means I cut my meat up before I eat it and use chopsticks). How do you eat your steak?Smoky grilled steak with char lines alongside roasted veggies

Let’s talk about those lusciously colorful sweet potatoes. The purple one is the Okinawan potato, known for its sweet and creamy texture. It’s been called a superfood, and who am I to argue; we all know that Okinawans are some of the oldest living humans on earth. The orange one is the traditional yam, the kind we love on Thanksgiving. And the pale yellow one is the Japanese sweet potato, that I’ve heard can still be bought from food carts in Tokyo on a cold night. You’d have to be on a quieter suburban street probably, but it sure would bring back childhood memories for me. You can buy these at the market in season and bake them in your toaster oven.

Three colors of sweet potato on a pan coming out of toaster oven

Because it’s October, I really can’t finish this post without talking about pumpkins. One of my favorite desserts growing up local in Hawaii was butter mochi, the classic cake made with mochiko flour. Well, if you add pumpkin puree to the mix you can get pumpkin mochi cake and not feel left out of pumpkin season.

Pumpkin mochi cake baked in a pan, cut into squares and coming out of toaster ovenAdding the puree makes this cake a bit more pudding-like, but the flavor is ono; I guarantee it.Close-up of pumpkin mochi cake showing inside texture after a bite taken outAnd that’s how we do comfort food at our house. Whenever there’s any excuse to go a little beyond bacon fried rice for dinner (like using our Zojirushi stuff for example), our menu often gets more interesting. Ha-ha!

 

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10, Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023