June is for Dads

Grilled chicken and veggies on a Zojirushi electric grill
Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Dads this month. Do you know when a joke officially becomes a Dad joke? When it becomes apparent! I’ve been a parent for 26 years now and my 2nd kid graduated college last month. This is a milestone! Not only for my daughter who is getting ready to start adulting, but for me having fulfilled my goal of getting both kids through college. Woo hoo!

To celebrate, I made some stuff that I like for Father’s Day. June also happens to be National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, and I love a good veggie stir fry, so I made Yasai Itame. This is the best thing for eating healthy and balancing out the guilty desserts that I’ll be showing you later in this post. I used a recipe from Just One Cookbook (link below).

Start with the protein (pork is the classic choice) and the veggies that take the longest to cook first.
Yasai Itame - how to start

Add the rest—I have snow peas, cabbage and bean sprouts that I added to the onions and carrots. You really don’t need a wok, but crank up your electric griddle on high if you’re using one. It cooked quickly enough, and the large surface area of the griddle helped to evaporate the water from the vegetables fast enough to prevent them from going limp. Pour in the sauce and it’s done in a flash.
Yasai Itame in process

This is cheap eats—the best kind when you’re putting two kids through college. Really, the most expensive ingredient here is the meat, and that’s not all that much. I like to eat mine with white rice and a side of miso soup. By the way, do you know what PacMan® uses to make stir-fry? A wok, a wok, a wok, a wok…
Yasai Itame is done!

Since it’s also grilling season, I took out my Zojirushi electric grill and tried chicken as an alternative to steak or shrimp. It came out good and tender, but a couple of things I learned—the marinade was probably too sugary which caused a lot of smoke, and the temperature has to be low and gradual because…well, it’s chicken.
Grilled Chicken

Indoor grilling should become more of a thing though, in my opinion. It’s not as much hassle as preparing a charcoal grill, and I like it because you can do it anytime of the year.
Grilled Chicken

And now for the desserts I promised. I worked real hard on this Honey Brick Toast, so pay attention—ha! This was popular a few years back, but I hate following trends so here I am right now. To me it’s timeless anyhow, and it’s the perfect way to build a crazy dessert using the basic white bread course on your breadmaker. What did one bread slice say to the other slice when they saw butter on the table? “Uh oh! We are toast.”
Honey Brick Toast

Bake your bread loaf first and cut out the cavity in the middle. Here’s how to do it in steps: 1. Cut the side walls but stop your knife about half-inch from the bottom. 2. Cut a slot about half-inch from the bottom but don’t go all the way to the edge. 3. Dig out the block of bread. 4. Cut the block into equally sized cubes.
Honey Brick Toast - How To

Generously butter everything and toast in your toaster oven—if you don’t have one, you have indeed been depriving yourself. Check out this one from Zojirushi.
Toast until golden

Load all the cubes into your brick and drizzle with honey.
Drizzle the toast with honey

Warning! This dessert requires a knife, fork and zero guilty conscience in order to eat.
Honey Brick Toast - Ready to Eat

Since we’re on a roll now and we love our Dad bods, my last one (mercifully) is this amazing looking fresh Plum & Peach Galette. Remember, it’s National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month. Just get some ready made pie crust at the market and bake. Sprinkle powdered or crystal sugar if you like; there are plenty of ways to do it online.
Plum and Peach Galette

Before I sign off, I want to wish my daughter all the luck in the world as she moves on with this next phase of her life. You know what they say about the bond between fathers and daughters? It’s all true.
Bert and His Daughter at Graduation
One last one, I promise–What did baby corn say to momma corn? “Where’s popcorn?”

Products used in this post: Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-BDC10, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

Yasai Itame: Just One Cookbook

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Cinco de Mayo

My delicious Cinco de Mayo Mexican meal made with Zojirushi

My challenge for Cinco de Mayo—how many Zojirushi products can I use to cook a Mexican meal? Our dinner tonight was Shrimp Fajitas, Mexican Rice and Corn, which I made with our electric griddle and rice cooker. I set the timer on my breadmaker and baked some bread for the next day so we could have Molletes (Mexican toast) for brunch.

Mexican rice is a whole lot easier with a rice cooker. I found a good recipe that I’ll credit at the end of this post, but the beauty of using my Zojirushi Umami® Rice Cooker was that I could steam my corn at the same time! The ingredients just all go into the pot.
Cooking rice and steaming corn

Long grain rice works best for Mexican rice, so you get the fluffy texture without the stickiness. I used Basmati, which worked out perfectly, and cooked it on the Quick Jasmine menu setting. I don’t want to brag (yes, I do), but this was restaurant quality. So good.
Cooked Mexican rice

And here’s what I love about this rice cooker. The steaming basket gives you the opportunity to multi-task if you can think creatively. It’s just large enough to hold three ears of corn, so why not? They came out golden, didn’t they?
Steaming basket with delicious corn

Now on to the Fajitas. The shrimp is frozen, sure, but I used a Chinese restaurant technique that is supposed to firm up the shrimp and give them that snap and crunch when you bite into them. You’re supposed to coat the shrimp first in a mixture of sugar, salt and baking soda, then marinate them in a bath of ice water for a couple of hours. Rinse all of it off with cold water and drain before using. Guess what? It works! Look it up and see for yourself.

I did fajitas before on this blog, but I feel I didn’t get the results I could have because I used a packaged liquid sauce to season it. I mean, it was the only one that was labeled specifically for fajitas, so that’s what I got. But frying it all in liquid just made it too wet. This time I used a packet of ordinary powdered taco seasoning and sprinkled the shrimp with it. This electric griddle was made for dishes like fajitas.
Fajitas on the griddle

After mixing everything up, I even had room to fry some pineapples.
Fajitas closeup on the Zojirushi electric griddle

So have you ever had molletes, or Mexican bean toast? This was my first time, and I liked it! I figure it all starts with really good bread, so I made my own with the breadmaker. Kept it simple—I baked the basic Japanese white bread course because that’s my favorite and the easiest to bake. The advantage to this kind of bread is that you can load up the breadmaker the night before and set the timer to bake the next day—you don’t have to worry about perishable ingredients sitting in the machine. By mid-morning it was ready to cut into thick slices!
Perfect white bread

I made my own pico de gallo (salsa) with tomatoes, onions and cilantro; I used a can of refried beans and topped it off with some crumbled Mexican cheese. I toasted my bread but didn’t melt the cheese—the warm beans and toast combined with the fresh salsa was enough for me. This was good stuff! The thick toast was crisp and held everything together but was still tender and fluffy on the inside. Add some Tapatío® and you’re ready to go! And it looks good too, sí?
Molletes - mexican bean toast

That’s my Cinco de Mayo challenge—using as many of my Zojirushi products as I could. Lucky I love Mexican food! What are you all going to do?
Products used in this post: Umami® Micom Rice Cooker NL-GA10/18, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Rice Cooker Mexican Rice: Pinch and Swirl

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Bert-san’s Take—Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50) & Giveaway

Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50

I am so happy to announce my first giveaway for Zojirushi this month! To enter, read the contest rules at the end of this article for your chance to win a new Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50!

This is a review that I should have done a long time ago; not only because this Zojirushi product is probably their most underrated appliance ever, but also because people should know how really versatile it is. The Electric Skillet has been in their line-up for a long time, which shows how time-tested and trustworthy it has been. For our family, It gets the most use around our house for a variety of meals (only the rice cooker and water boiler gets more time, but they’re specialized).

Check out the recipes available on the Zojirushi site under Other Electric Products and you’ll see how many were cooked with the skillet. So many awesome one-pot meals you can make! I put the skillet through a workout with a classic Japanese hot pot called Tori Nabe (chicken hot pot), because it’s still a bit chilly out there, and it isn’t a heavy hot pot dish like you’d want in the middle of winter. Tori Nabe uses mainly chicken chunks, vegetables, tofu and a light chicken broth.

Once you get used to controlling the temperature on the skillet, it’s easy to cook with it. It heats up very fast so it didn’t take long to bring everything to a boil with the glass lid on.
It's easy to cook with the EP-RAC50 Electric Skillet

In about 10 minutes you’ll be done so you can bring it down to a simmer and just dig in. The beauty of this dish and the skillet is the portability. You’re not anchored to the stove because you can simply cook on the dining table. You’re not even having to serve because your eaters can serve themselves right out of the pan, so you’re enjoying hot pot the way it was really meant to be.
Cooking tori nobe

This skillet also comes with a shallow pan, which is big enough to almost be a griddle. In our Korean/Japanese household, we’re always going to get both cuisines, so here’s a couple of dishes where a flat surface area like this makes stir frying easy. We had just enough leftover rice to make Korean Bibimbap—my favorite.
Cooking bibimbap with the EP-RAC50

If you’ve ordered this at a Korean restaurant you might have had it in a dolsot stone pot, the crazy heavy bowl (sometimes solid granite) that gets so hot it browns and toasts the rice by the time you’re ready to eat it at the table. The Zojirushi skillet gets major points for heating evenly across the entire surface, able to replicate the rice browning for the bibimbap!
Stirring the bibimbap

By the way, bibimbap can be made totally vegetarian like this one is, and you won’t miss the meat because it’s so flavorful. For me, I like how the fried egg mellows out the taste of the gochujang spicy paste. And to make this at home easily, go to your local Korean market (hopefully you have one nearby) and purchase all the ingredients seasoned and pre-made.
Crispy rice for perfect bibimbap

Similarly to bibimbap, Japanese Yakisoba can also be made easily from a kit sold at most Japanese grocery stores. Get some sliced pork and the veggies you have lying around the house and just assemble—they even furnish the sauce packet.
Yakisoba kit

Plenty of space in the pan to stir-fry two portions of yakisoba.
Cooking Yakisoba in the EP-RAC50 electric skillet

Just cook and you’re done—so easy. Yakisoba is probably one of the most popular street foods in Japan and can be found in hundreds of permutations because of the variety of ingredients that are used. Growing up in Japan, my memories include finding them at the temples during summer festivals, with the sound of cicadas ringing from the trees.
The yakisoba is done

Some nice variations that you might like are Yakisoba Pan (stuffed in a hot dog bun), Omusoba (stuffed in an omelet), or Yaki Udon (made with udon noodles). My version of a completely dressed up yakisoba is topping it with Japanese aonori (seaweed flakes) and red ginger.
Yakisoba with aonori and red ginger

The Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet was provided by Zojirushi and I’ve been using it to make all kinds of dishes for this blog, but we found it so useful that we also bought the smaller version of this skillet for ourselves. It’s the perfect size for when we only need enough food for two. You can check it out here: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-PBC10. And if you want to see what else we’ve done with these skillets, you can see some of my older posts below:

Pepper Rice
Mille-Feuille Nabe
Korean Army Stew
Hawaiian Chicken Hekka
Beef Stroganoff


EP-RAC50 Giveaway

1. Answer this question in the Comments section below—how would you use the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet to cook for your family?

2. Leave a valid email address so we can contact the winner of this contest.


This giveaway will run from April 4th, 2023 until April 17th, 2023, and is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.

One winner will be selected at random on the following business day after closing, and be contacted by email. You must respond within 48 hours to claim your prize.

More rules:
•Must be 18+ and resident of US or Canada
•Prizes can only be shipped within US and Canada
•Make sure to enter your email address correctly so we may reach you if your email is chosen
•One entry per email address
•Winner will be contacted by email from info@zojirushi.com
Giveaway rules here: https://www.zojirushi.com/sweepstakesrules/
Products used in this post: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50)

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

The Day Everything Turns Green

St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake
It turns out about 54 percent of Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year according to a 2022 survey, which got me thinking—why? Most of us aren’t even Irish. It isn’t a national holiday here, unlike in Ireland where it really means something because Saint Patrick symbolizes the arrival of Christianity. But it’s kind of a fun day to be green and all that, and celebrate with Irish food. They even have St. Patrick’s Day parades in Japan, because they know how to copy and make things distinctly Japanese over there, ha-ha!

I baked a hidden surprise Shamrock Pound Cake that I never knew I could pull off. This thing was like a magician’s trick, where once you know how it’s done, you realize how easy it is to create the illusion. It’s an old trick for bakers, but it wasn’t for me. So if it isn’t for you either, here it is in pictures.
Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake - Preparation
Make some shamrock cake cutouts. I used ordinary pound cake mix, dropped food dye into the batter and baked it in a loaf pan. Get a clover shaped cookie cutter. Slice the pound cake into even slices the same thickness of your cookie cutter. Then press out your shamrock cake cutouts and set aside.

Now here’s the tricky part. You need to stand up the cake cutouts in another loaf pan like soldiers as best as you can. Layering the bottom of the pan with batter gives you a base that will help keep the shamrocks standing, as well as suspending it off the bottom.
Shamrock Pound Cake - Shamrock cutouts

Cover it all up with the rest of the batter until the shamrocks are completely hidden. Then bake the cake as per normal like the cake mix instructions say. When it’s done, glaze over it with lemon glaze (you can see the cookie cutter I used).
Shamrock Pound Cake - Glazed

Let it cool completely before you attempt to cut it. The trick is to cut the slices along the same widths of each of the shamrock cutouts that you’ve baked into the cake. If you did a good job of standing them up tightly together before covering with the batter, the result should be pretty convincing. If you thought the inside cake would overbake or something, don’t worry—it doesn’t. Pretty cool, huh?
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake

Everybody makes corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not a great fan, so we made Shepherd’s Pie instead, which I liked a lot better; mainly because I love ground beef. So apparently this Irish classic would normally use ground lamb, but since I’m not a big fan of lamb either—well, you get the picture. Lots of recipes for this simple dish online, but it’s basically exactly like you see here. Mashed potatos and a filling made of ground beef, peas and carrots that was sautéed with beef broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
Recipe - Shepherd's Pie in Process

I mean, it’s pretty basic—the only thing is that it does require some steps. You have to mash the potatoes, which you can do ahead of time before you make the meat filling. And like any casserole dish you have to bake it.
Recipe - Shepherd's Pie in the Oven

I guess technically if you use beef instead of lamb, this dish would be called a cottage pie by the British or the Irish, where it originated. I don’t think we Americans are that fussy about the name. It’s interesting to note that the name Shepherd’s Pie came from the minced lamb because a shepherd looks after sheep. And the mashed potato topping was meant to represent the sheep’s fleece. Makes good enough sense to me!
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shepherd's Pie - Plated

So what do you do with the leftover mashed potatoes that wouldn’t fit in the Shepherd’s Pie? You make Irish potato pancakes of course, which is what the Irish do so they don’t waste food. Also known as Boxty, this classic dish is a cross between hash browns and a pancake. It contains flour and grated raw potatoes, so combined with the mashed potatoes, Boxty has a uniquely smooth texture when pan fried—yet you can taste the grated bits of potato like hash browns.
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Potato Pancakes
Ireland and potatoes go hand in hand as everyone knows, and a lot had to do with potatoes being the food for the country’s poor back then. Potatoes can grow anywhere so it was the ideal staple food. You can find authentic Irish potato pancakes all over the republic today, including at restaurants that specialize in it and packaged for sale in supermarkets.

We had ours for an Irish style breakfast. Traditionally, we could have had some pork blood sausage too, but we didn’t have any. If you want to see that, check out Zojirushi’s Irish Breakfast here.
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Full Breakfast
How are you going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Happy Pies!

National Pie Month is here and Valentine’s Day is coming! Let’s make hand pies—or are these empanadas? Whatever; I know they aren’t turnovers because they haven’t been folded over like one. Every food culture in the world seems to have their own version of a hand pie, both sweet and savory. The English can probably claim to be the original hand pie, with the Cornish Pasty dating back to the 19th Century.

The county of Cornwall, located on the southwestern tip of England, is a huge tourist destination known for its world renowned beaches. But it wasn’t always so—most Cornish people made their living in the tin mines centuries ago and the pasty was a quick meal for the miners and easy to eat. Miners could hold the pasty by their signature pinched crust, even with their dirty hands, and throw that part away after eating the rest. There were a couple of reasons for this—mining caused arsenic to come up and the miners didn’t want to ingest any for fear of poisoning. And a more colorful reason was to appease the fairie spirits of the mines, by leaving behind the crusts for them to eat. No harm in hedging all your bets to be safe in a mine!

I made 3 kinds of hand pies for National Pie Month with different ingredients.

The fillings were just fresh strawberries and strawberry jam, fresh apples with brown sugar and cinnamon, and store bought kalua pork (Hawaiian style) so I could have a savory one.

Just buy some ready made pie crust, cut them out with a cookie cutter and crimp the edges with a fork to hold the ingredients inside.

Coat them with egg wash and throw them in a Toaster Oven for 20 minutes. You can do them all at the same time and you’ll have a mess ‘o hand pies made to order.

Now here’s a question that needs answering. Is a quiche a pie? Of course it’s a pie. It’s a savory egg custard pie that you bake in an oven that originated in France, that you can have for dinner. You could also make an apple or cherry pie for dessert too, if it pleases you. What about a frittata? Is a frittata, which is also an egg custard, a quiche? NO, because it isn’t baked in a crust, and it isn’t French. A quiche needs to bake longer and has that creamy texture, and just smells like a tempting weekend breakfast.

My favorite thing to order at the pancake house in our neighborhood is the diced ham and scrambled eggs. It comes with a short stack of their famous pancakes, which I drown in maple syrup. The eggs are always fluffy, and I like to eat them with ketchup and Tabasco®. Doesn’t this slice of quiche kind of look like the same, except that it’s been baked in a pie?

Here’s my last pie for Pie Month. A humble slice of homemade custard pie, which happens to be my go-to comfort pie. Hawaii people are into custard pie—did you know that?

Local style custard pies are slightly different from the Mainland ones; a little creamier I would say, rather than eggier—softer and silkier in texture. The secret ingredient is using evaporated milk rather than whole milk or cream. And eat it chilled; that’s really the only way. Next time you visit Hawaii to binge eat all that amazing local food, save some room for a slice of custard pie. It’s a well-kept local secret.

Happy National Pie Month and Happy Valentine’s Day! This is still the best use for a pie:

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

09-September_qwest_pie_throwing_0111 (pie in face) by Seth Lemmons, under license by Creative Commons