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

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

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
Sukiyaki
Beef Stroganoff

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.

EP-RAC50 Giveaway

RULES:
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.

GOOD LUCK!!

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