Tomato & Basil Brown Rice Salad


To accompany the chilled cucumber soup, I prepared a refreshing brown rice salad.

Both of these dishes could be made ahead of time, saving you valuable relaxing evening time.

Cold dishes like these really do offer you more interesting lunches as well.

What you don’t see in the image is a side dish I also served,  pan-fried tofu stakes seasoned in curry salt and pepper mix.  A nice tip for crispy tofu steaks is after draining and marinade (30 min),  dust the steaks with a little corn flour around the edges, top and bottom right before cooking them in your hot pan for 2 minutes each side and seal around the edges.  Serve immediately with the dish/salad of your choice.

Here is the salad I made.  It’s super easy to make as you don’t need to cook anything except the rice and egg, of course 🙂 (The egg is optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (1 1/2 cups when uncooked)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I use coriander and sweet basil and fresh mint)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 (cut into 1/8s) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped roughly)
  • sprinkle of Konbu dashi powder or bullion powder to taste
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. When the rice has finished cooking, allow it to cool.
  2. In the mean time combine all other ingredients in a large salad bowl
  3. Mix in the cooled rice then chill until ready to serve.
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Thai Mushroom Soup with basil & olive bread


Benri is back! At last a dish I feel is more than worthy of a post.

As I mentioned in a previous reply to a comment, Andy gave me a cookbook (one by the Weightwatchers team) as part of a birthday gift. I don’t think it was because he thinks I need to lose weight (I hope not) or I need more practice (which I do) or thinks my style of cooking doesn’t meet his expectations (his mmms & ahhhs confirms he’s satisfied). We have always enjoyed the recipes from the weightwatchers books as they are usually full of variety, so perhaps he is worrying I run out of ideas and stop cooking for him, so this gesture may be a gentle nudge to keep on doing what I’m doing.

I have been dying to get back into the kitchen for weeks. I was beginning to feel like I was going to burst if I didn’t get a post out there soon. Is that sad? Do I yearn for the life of blogging more than I do the outside world? I’m pretty new to this world of blogging, which I have found can be quite addictive. I’m quite happy to make it become a part of my life. However, not my life. What I love about blogging is the thought of other people loving and talking about the same interests I have. I just want to share what I love. One thing I do need to do is post more often. I’m thinking perhaps twice a week will be more doable.

Being so far away from close friends really does influence more activity on the net. If I can’t feed them, I feel the next best thing is to share what I feed myself in this blog and talk about it.

I love this hobby and it’s here to stay.

Anyway, before I run off the point, which is my last nights dinner; a creamy Thai mushroom soup served with basil and olive yeast free buns and a tomato side salad.

This one wasn’t taken from the book. It was only inspired by a recipe title in the book. I suppose you can say the ingredients share a similarity, but the taste is on a different level. A lot more to my liking. I also just wanted to use up what I had in the fridge. I’m terrible at following recipes actually. I always seem to be missing then substituting ingredients.

Due to the coconut milk this version isn’t as low in calories as the weight watchers recipe, but it still oozed fresh delicious nutritiousness (is that even a word? Well it works for me).

This one is a keeper. I hope you like it. If you’d like to check out the original recipe which caught my attention, I’ll post it in a comment below this recipe.

Creamy Thai Mushroom Soup

Ingredients;

  • 1/2 a tin of coconut milk topped up with water making one pint
  • 1 cup soy beans (or any white bean)
  • 200g mushrooms (a mixture of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • The juice of one lemon/lime/1tbsp rice vinegar/1tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 sachet of konbu dashi/ 1 1/2 tsp

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent
  2. add a little water to avoid sticking
  3. add the beans
  4. add the chopped mushrooms stir the contents together.
  5. mix the Thai paste, coconut milk, water & Konbu together
  6. pour into the sauce pan
  7. bring to the boil then turn to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. In the mean time prepare your side salad
  9. I used 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 cup of chopped spinach and salad leaves, 3 chopped umeboshi (pickled plums) and 2 green onions, chopped.
  10. The bread recipe is below
  11. When the soup is ready stir through the lemon juice
  12. blend the soup in batches then return to the sauce pan and heat through before serving in warm bowls.

Yeast Free Bread Buns

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 5 chopped green olives
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. sieve the flour, baking powder,soda,salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. add the basil
  3. make a well in the center of the flour and mix in the water little by little until it forms a dough and the texture is a little gluey.
  4. transfer the dough onto a floured surface then separate into 4 equal parts and form into small bun shapes.
  5. grease the rice cooker pan with some of the olive oil
  6. insert the buns
  7. brush the buns with the rest of the olive oil
  8. close the rice cooker lid and set on cake for 45mins.
  9. When they are done, crisp them up a little under the grill before serving. (best served hot)

Red Thai Curry Paste ~krung Kaeng Phed on FoodistaRed Thai Curry Paste ~krung Kaeng Phed

I love SALAD!!


It’s most definitely salad season here in Japan… Yipeee!!! Absolutely one of my most enjoyed foods.
The joy with salad is, you can go as simple or complex as you like, there are no limits!! Time to get creative…

What type of salad makes your mouth water? I want to try them all!!  Please post your comments 😀

Today, despite the gray dull rainy weather, I never lost my appetite for preparing tonight’s salad.
Perhaps that’s the reason the sun shone for the first and only time today when I decided to photograph my creation…hhhmmmm, maybe 🙂

Recipe:

  • Around 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 shredded small cucumber
  • 1 chopped small red pepper
  • 6 chopped green olives
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 9 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • A hand full of chopped basil
  • Roughly 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves
  • 1/2 can tuna(drained)

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp wasabi
  • 1 tbsp Mayo(light)
  • 3 tbsp soy milk

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta and bulgur in separate pans according to the package instructions.
  2. In the mean time, Wash and chop your veg.
  3. As soon as your pasta and bulgur have finished cooking, rinse with cold water, simply to avoid over cooking and wilting your fresh greens.
  4. Assemble your salad, keeping aside the avocado, tomatoes and sunflower seeds as these are to garnish the salad. Squeeze the lemon juice over and mix through,
  5. For the dressing, combine all ingredients and set aside. I love my wasabi strong, so carefully add and taste, add and taste until you reach your desired strength. Even if you feel it’s still a little over powering, you will find the flavour will mellow out when mixed into your salad.
  6. Drizzle a little of the dressing over each serving.
  7. Finally  garnish with the avocado, seeds and tomatoes.

Enjoy 😛

Juicy grilled Mushroom, Aubergine and Asparagus Salad on a bed of Spinach.


What a long title.  Maybe I should reconsider that one?

Anyway, this was last nights dinner.  I love warm salads and grilled veg.  This one is a keeper.

I bought some fresh locally grown beefy shitake mushrooms from our local supermarket.  Wow..the juiciness the bursting flavour.  In my opinion they win hands down on any mushroom I have ever eaten.  I never dressed them in anything.  The only addition was olive oil which I used to grease the grill pan.  Wonderful.  Oh how I love fresh veggie’s.  They beat meat any day in my opinion.

I’ll never call myself a vegetarian, I just have a love for the beautiful veggies ♥♡

So here it is my salad if the month, enjoy.

Ingredients;

  • A bunch of spinach washed and shredded thickly
  • 1 carrot, peeled into slithers
  • 8 green Olives dices
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 small beefy mushrooms of your choice
  • 1 medium aubergine, cut into discs
  • 1 cup of soy beans or any bean of your choice
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • a splash of olive oil

Dressing for the spinach and carrots:

  • 1 tsp honey
  • a plash of oliveoil
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper

Directions:

  1. grease your grill pan with a little olive oil
  2. Cut the spears off of the asparagus and set aside
  3. chop the asparagus stocks evenly
  4. place all of your veggies and beans out evenly
  5. cook on medium heat, turning occasionaly
  6. In the mean time assemble the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and cover with the vinegar dressing.  Allow the salad to sit and the flavours to mingle.
  7. When the veggies are cooked nicely, turn off the heat.
  8. Steam the asparagus spears gently.  You want them to be a little crunchy.
  9. Dress 2 plates with the spinach salad then evenly place the grilled veggies on top
  10. Garnish with an umeboshi and the asparagus spears then serve.

Edamame Salad with Wasabi Dressing


This weekend was off to a rocky start from Friday night.  Coming home with a head full of stress then waking up at 4.30 am on a Saturday morning worrying about work is something I don’t want repeated.  To top it all off, all the dishes I made completely flopped too.  Definitely something to do with my energy imbalance, I think.  Luckily for me the sun has been on my side and shining beautifully in my direction.

Ever since my knee injuries a little over a year ago now, my exercise regime has pretty much come to a stand still.  My body has been crying out for a decent cardio work out, even more  so now that my blood is beginning to boil over with stress.  I pushed myself to take a dip in the city training pool to work it out of my system.

I’m not a huge fan of swimming, mainly because I’m not great at it, however, desperate measures were called for and now I’m happy I went.  What an amazing workout!   Not as great as a 10k run, but I can’t afford to be picky when it comes to exercise right now.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday either.  Again the weather was glorious!  Still feeling a little fragile, we took a ride to the Buddhist  Chakra temples a short 45min or so bike ride away.  The fresh sunny spring air seems to be all I needed to get things into perspective.  Feeling inspired again and ready for a new, hopefully not so stressful week.

To finish of this slight roller coaster of a weekend I was in the need of a fresh crispy salad with rice of some sort.  Here’s what I came up with; an edamame salad with a wasabi dressing on the side of a mixed Japanese mushroom rice dish.   Also, In the fridge I have a strawberry and blueberry terrine setting as I type.   I hope it’s ready  and turns out successfully for a photo and post tomorrow.

This salad is inspired by a post I found on my foodbuzz page, but changed it to fit the ingredients I bought today.

The dressing is something I came up with a year ago when I was desperate for a dressing at the last-minute.  It has been a regular dip and dressing since.  It tastes much more powerful if you use fresh wasabi, but the paste works well too.   I absolutely love wasabi.  I could easily have it with everything. 😛

Ingredients (Salad):

  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • handful of sweet basil (torn/chopped)
  • 1 cup of leafy greens
  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • 9 quartered cherry tomatoes
  • a handful chopped spring onions
  • 1 cucumber diced

DRESSING

  • 2 tsp low fat mayo
  • 1 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 tsp wasabi (fresh/ready made paste)

Directions:

Simply assemble the salad mixing all ingredients together then drizzle a little of the dressing to your taste.

As I mentioned I pared up the salad with a Japanese style mushroom rice mix.  I mixed it into brown rice and barley.

Ingredients:

  • 200g japanese mushrooms (I used shitake and maitake)
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 5g bonito flakes
  • some chopped green onions

Directions;

  1. put the soy sauce and the mirin in a small sauce pan and bring to the boil.
  2. add the mushroom and cook until all the liquid is absorbed
  3. mix through the bonito flakes and sesame seeds.
  4. When your rice is ready, simply mix through and serve.

Bellow is a lemon cake which I attempted, however it failed to raise.

On the good side it tasted amazing, so full of flavour.  The texture wasnt fluffy like the recipe stated, but more puddingy, pie like and a wee bitty stodgy.

I actually love stodgy cakes.  I dressed it with some fresh grapes and a drizzle of natural yogurt, which complimented the lemon in the cake beautifully.  It really did burst with spring deliciousness, regardless of the fact it was a bit of a failure.

I will actually make this one again in the hope I make the same mistake as last time 😀

Here is my variation of the linked recipe:

Ingredients: serves 8

  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure honey
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven 350 degrees/ rice cooker to 50 mins on cake setting
  2. beat together the butter and sugar to a fluffy creamy texture
  3. add egg and mix until combined
  4. add honey, lemon juice, yogurt and vanilla
  5. In s separate bowl sift together the baking powder, baking soda, spices and flour
  6. Mix the flour mixture together with the liquid then transfer to a loaf tin or your rice cooker bowl.
  7. Bake for 40-45 mins
  8. allow to cool in the tin before transferring it to a wire cooling tray.

serve with a drizzle of natural yogurt and some halved grapes (or a fruit of your choice)

What makes you smile on a gloomy day?


Wow when will it stop raining?  It almost feels like Scotland here in Kochi right now.

I’m now on a mission to cheer myself up.   What do you usually do to lighten the mood when it’s the greyest of greys outside?

Besides baking and eating cakes my number 1 is listening to Joanna Newsom, especially when I want to feel creative.  My number 2 is painting, but the light is too gloomy to make the most beautiful of paintings look decent (that may just be an excuse for today).  Next in line after listening to Joanna, would be listening to a very eclectic Japanese musician, who owns the quirkiest of cafes in Hiroshima (One of our best finds since coming to Japan) Her name is Goto Izumi.  Her music is a desired taste, but makes me smile every time.  You can find her here.

Oh I almost forgot, before all of the above my all time pick me up is, of course, my out of this world, magic potion, cinnamon porridge. ahhhh shiawase 🙂

Sadly this can only fill a very small portion of my day.   Bellow you will see what is next on the BendiBenri list of rice cooker delights.  Not as flawless as those you will find in restaurants or izakaya, but still delicious, perhaps fresher and definitely healthier.

Simple salad Maki with a herby crunchy salad and ginger Miso soup.