Perfect Japanese Sweet Potatoes in a Rice Cooker


japanese-sweet-potato-rice-cookerJapanese sweet potatoes can be dry. They are sometimes even dry when they are in soup. I discovered a good way to cook Japanese sweet potatoes so that they are always moist and soft. This way is also really easy and convenient. I used the rice cooker. You can do this with regular sweet potatoes (さつまいも), the golden flesh kintoki imo (金時芋) and the orange flesh annou imo (安納芋).

How to cook Japanese sweet potatoes in a rice cooker

Wash and trim the ends (if necessary) of the sweet potatoes. Put 1-2 cm of water in the bottom of the rice cooker. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork a few times just to make sure they don’t explode. Cook small or medium sized potatoes in a quick cycle (早炊き or 白米急速). Larger potatoes should be done with a full cycle. That is all.

Note: You can wrap the potatoes in foil, if you prefer. The ones I cooked while wrapped still had a soft skin so I am not sure you can get a crunchy skin in the rice cooker with water.


Paprika-Spiced Cauliflower Soup



This was a gem I found on Pinterest when I searched for cauliflower recipes. Cauliflower is in season right now and I am taking full advantage of the white, yellow and purple cauliflowers at the local farmer’s association store. I eat relatively seasonally so when something I like is in season, I eat it every day.

You can find the recipe here. The changes I made:


  • additive free (無添加 mutenka) chicken (チキンyasai) consomme (コンソメ) –> 無添加チキンコンソメ
  • additive free (無添加 mutenka) vegetable (野菜 yasai) consomme (コンソメ) –> 無添加野菜コンソメ

Pizza Parties in Chigasaki

It’s time to kick off the new year with pizza. I’ll be hosting pizza parties at Serendipity cafe on the 24th and you are all invited.

Kid’s Pizza Party


At the kid’s pizza party we will make dough and tomato sauce, assemble and bake the pizzas. Each child will make a pizza that is suitable in size for both the child and accompanying parent.

Date: Jan 24th
Time: 2-4pm
Location: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2000 yen for one child or 2500 yen for a set of siblings (each will make their own pizza)
RSVP:  Here or on Facebook

Adult’s Pizza Party

pizza-party-chigasakiWe will make everything from scratch and then feast on our creations.

Date: Jan 24th
Time: 4-6pm
Location: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2500 yen per person
RSVP:  Here or on Facebook

*Older children are welcome to participate in the adult pizza party. Many of the children who go to the kid’s events are in kindergarten or early elementary school. There are toys at the cafe so you are welcome to attend the class with your child playing in the background.



Repost: Pumpkin pie made with kabocha

pumpkin pie kabocha

pumpkin pie kabochaI’ve been meaning to repost this for a long time but I didn’t have a decent picture. The recipe is buried in a Thanksgiving roundup post from 2009. That is quite some time ago. I had my Christmas dinner on the 23rd here and actually remembered to take a picture.

Pumpkin Pie

Alannah Leah (My grandmother)
Makes enough for two pies that are the size of a small oven plate in Japan

1/2 – 3/4c brown sugar (I use 1/2)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 1/4 cup pureed cooked kabocha

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water (optional – I usually don’t add it)

2 well beaten eggs

1 cup canned milk or fresh cream

Mix sugar and spices, then add pumpkin followed by liquid.  Whisk together until smooth.  Bake in your favorite pie crust for ten minutes at 220C and then turn the oven down to 160C and bake for 40-60 minutes more.  Cool before serving.

Note: The following day I baked the leftover pie filling in a silicon cake mold and it was brilliant – no crust needed.

Note: All you need to do to make kabocha puree is to boil it and then puree or mash it. I usually leave the skin on but that is a matter of personal choice. the color is prettier if you take the skin off.

Easy Pie Crust

Can’t remember where I found this
*use a 250mL cup and you have enough for two small pies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.  Place all the ingredients into your pie pan and mix with a fork.  Pat the mixture up the bottoms and sides of the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven or until light brown.  I sometimes don’t pre-bake it because it sometimes burns.


Gingerbread Muffins

Gingerbread muffins

Gingerbread muffinsIt’s winter and thus is time for gingerbread muffins. They are a great breakfast food, lunch food, dinner food or snack.

Gingerbread Muffins

*uses 200mL cups

1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup butter (I used vegetable oil once and they were fine)
1 egg
1 cup molasses (I use half molasses and half honey or corn syrup)
1 cup hot water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves (I usually skip this)

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the egg and then stir in the molasses. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the large bowl and fold in. Add the hot water at the end. I usually use a whisk when I add the water. Bake for about 20min at 180C or 350F.


In case you are lusting after the lego mug in the background, you can get it here from ThinkGeek.


Where to get molasses (モラセス morasesu):

  • Amazon Japan
  • Rakuten
  • Kaldi Coffee sometimes has it
  • Some upscale supermarkets carry it
  • National Azabu and Nissen in Tokyo



Gingerbread Cookie Class

gingerbread men cookie class

gingerbread men cookie class

My second class on December 20th will be a gingerbread cookie class. This is also family friendly, like the chocolate snowflake cupcake class.

Gingerbread Cookie Class

Dec 20th, 3-4:30pm
At Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
3000 yen for 12, 4000 yen for 24
*pricing is by number of cupcakes, not person so feel free to come as a family or with a friend

To sign up, click here.


Chocolate Snowflake Cupcake Class

chocolate snowflake cupcake class

chocolate snowflake cupcake classI have two classes coming up on December 20th at Serendipity Cafe. The first is chocolate snowflake cupcakes. This will be a family friendly event and pricing will be number of cupcakes made/decorated per group. Please feel free to sign up with a friend or as a family.

Chocolate Snowflake Cupcake Class

December 20th, 1-2:30pm
At Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
3000 yen for six, 4000 yen for twelve

*pricing is by number of cupcakes, not person so feel free to come as a family or with a friend

To sign up, click here.



Iron Chef Serendipity Recap

Sunday was Iron Chef Serendipity and it was really fun.

Iron chef Serendipity ingredients

The ingredients: Gluten free quinoa pasta (order from iherb), Chinese cabbage, enoki mushrooms, green peppers, Okinawa black sugar, yuzu, onions, ground beef, dried edamame, tomatoes. A bonus ingredient for one team was a kabocha squash and the other team got pumpkin seeds. I brought most of the contents of my spice cupboard for communal use.


You can see the results below. All of the participants were impressed with what they made. Everything tasted good.

I’ll be running it again in the new year for those of you who missed it. I can’t wait to see what they will make next.

Team Pavess

Team Pavess dishesTeam mamachanTeam mamachan dishes

Kabocha squash dessert pizzasQuinoa pasta with chinese cabbagebuns with pumpkin seeds

Gluten free Meat pieStuffed green peppers Fried gluten free quinoa pasta Curried pumpkin seeds


Stone Soup Children’s Cooking Class

stone soup children's cooking class


It’s time to get the children in the kitchen. My next children’s cooking class will be cooking along to the classic story, Stone Soup. I will have both the English and Japanese versions of the book on hand so that participation is not limited to English speaking children. We will also be doing a vegetarian version of the soup.

Pricing is by number of children from the same family participating and some parental assistance will be required for smaller children as we will be cutting ingredients with knives.

What to bring: apron and hat (handkerchief) if you have them. If your child has their own cooking knife that you use at home, they are welcome to bring that along as well.

Date: November 30th
Time: 1-3pm
Place: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Price: 2000 yen for one child, 3000 yen for 2+ children 
Sign up: below or on Facebook


Sign Up Form


Iron Chef Serendipity

Iron chef serendipity chigasaki

It’s time for a challenge. Are you ready to put your cooking and teamwork skills to the test?

Two teams, two boxes of food and one kitchen.

Come join me at Serendipity Cafe in Chigasaki for a night of creativity and socializing. I will divide everyone into two teams, give each team a mystery box of food and see what happens.

Date: November 30th
Time: 4-6pm
Place: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2500 yen per person (includes the food we make as dinner)
Sign up: below or on Facebook

If you let me know in advance, I can try to be flexible around allergies and eating styles.

Sign up


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