Making Kaki (Dried Persimmons) with Bachan


Persimmons. I love them. I know fall is here when the persimmons are out in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. When I was little, my Bachan’s neighbors had persimmon trees, so we would have a ton of Persimmons, mostly of the Fuyu variety–the crunchy ones. But sometimes we’d even have the Hachiya persimmons,which are best eaten when really soft. The Fuyu Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits, but when we had so many, it was hard to eat them all before they got bad, so my Bachan decided she was going to dry them and that’s what Kaki is. The Japanese word for Persimmon is Kaki. Everyone in our family loves this dried fruit and if you haven’t had it, it’s really something to try, if you can get a hold of any. I’ve yet to see dried Fuyu Persimmons in stores, so you’ll have to make them if you want to see what all this delicious hype is about.

DSC03665   DSC03663 DSC03678

The process is long and the yield is very small, but they truly are delicious. This year we bought some Fuyu Persimmons and brought them over to Bachan’s house so I could help her get them ready for the dehydrator. This year, Maleeya wanted to help us too, so we did it all together. The process can take my Bachan all day, but with a little help from me, we got about 20 done in an hour. For a 91 year-young lady, she’s pretty amazing with a mandoline.


DSC03670 DSC03667

Pick hard, bright-orange Fuyu Persimmons without any soft spots. Wash the Fuyu persimmons and peel the outer skin. Remove the stem and cut them in half. Using a mandoline, slice the persimmons to about ⅛ inch thick, so pretty thin. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can slice the  persimmons by hand, but this can affect the drying process if you don’t slice them in uniform slices, so I suggest using a mandoline for this project. Plus, it’s faster, but you do have to be very careful because they are extremely sharp. Use the guard and take your time.


After the Fuyus are sliced, place them on the dehydrator trays spread out evenly, ensuring that none of them are overlapping or touching. Continue till all the trays are filled. Place them in the dehydrator for about 6 hours or until they are completely dry. Place them in a plastic zip bag and store in a cool dry place.


You won’t need to store them for long because they are so delicious, they won’t last. And there you have it, Dried Kaki.

DSC03690 DSC03686

I love these delicious treats and so do my nieces and family. They are truly a Fujitaki tradition and I’m glad we could help Bachan make them this year.

DSC03696 DSC03704 DSC03703Happy New Year!




Andy’s Going Away Party

Taco Bar Spread

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I cooked for his dad’s going away party. He’ll be out of state for work for some time so we decided it would be nice to get his friends together and enjoy company while he was still in town. Being in the military is a difficult profession and I can’t imagine what our country would be without the help of so many men and women all over the world who sacrifice so much for our safety.

So for this event we had two chefs and one kitchen. Brandon and I have worked together in some kitchen during various times for the last 7 years professionally, at home, or at someone else’s home/event. You can currently visit Brandon at Blush Restaurant and/or Blind Tiger in Santa Barbara, where he is the Executive Chef.

Though most of my time is spent cooking for my family and teaching yoga, it’s nice to prepare a large meal for wonderful people. We decided to have a massive taco fiesta. Our first go with the barbeque ended up not too successful because the grill wasn’t in working order, so we went for the simple charcoal grill that I’m used to and I grilled the food while Brandon cooked inside. I think overall it was a great team effort. Safe travels, Andy!


Carne Asada

Grilled Chicken

Chopped Seasoned Pork

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini

Spanish Bay Shrimp

Mixed Vegetable Sofritas

Chorizo Bean Dip


Salsa with Green Chiles and Garlic

Tortillas and Toppings


Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie Recipe

Layered dark chocolate and white chocolate pudding in Oreo crust with marshmallows and chocolate dusted roasted almonds

1 Oreo Crust

½ cup cocoa dusted roasted almonds

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place cold heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer till thick whipped cream forms, no powdered sugar necessary. About 3-5 minutes on medium speed.

1 small box Hersheys white chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

1 small box Hersheys dark chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

Pour 1/2 of the white chocolate pudding into the bottom of the Oreo crust. Top with ½ cup of marshmallows and pour ½ the dark chocolate pudding on top. Mix the remaining pudding together and fold in the whipped cream till smooth. Top pie with the mixture and smooth into a mound. Top with the remaining marshmallows and cocoa dusted almonds. Refrigerate for one hour or more.




Veggies, salsa and Guacamole Mexican Inspired Catering Taco Bar Ingredients Chicken, Sofritas and Shrimp for Tacos Carne Asada and Grilled Chopped Pork

Fuji Apple, Caramelized Onion and Crispy Bacon Arugula Salad

My sister always says that I make really good salads and I always shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever! It’s just a salad.” But sometimes a really good salad is hard to come by. Some are just too traditional, others just run of the mill—lacking balance, flavor and texture and just haphazardly putting vegetables together with some dressing. I say this vision of salad must be changed so we are more comfortable eating things that we desperately need in our diets such as leafy greens, fruits, bright colored vegetables and balanced fats. I know bacon isn’t healthy—you could definitely omit the bacon— but the idea of this added lusciousness from just one piece of bacon adds depth of flavor and heartiness to this delicious salad. Avocado and sliced fuji apples give this salad great balance of creamy and sweet notes accompanied by the simple white balsamic vinaigrette that dresses the salad. I hope you find balance in your own ways to eat the vegetables and fruits our bodies so desperately need.


1 ½ cups arugula, washed and dried

½ cup baby spinach, washed and dried

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 slice bacon, small dice

½ fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced

½ avocado, small dice

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper



In a small non-stick sauté pan, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and cook diced bacon over medium til crisp, about 4 minutes. Take bacon out of the oil and set on a paper towel to drain.  Using the oil in the pan, place the red onions to cook till tender, about 6-8 minutes on medium heat. Take out of the pan and drain excess grease on paper towel.


In a small bowl, mix together white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, combine well. Add a pinch of salt and a little black pepper.


In a larger bowl, add arugula, spinach, avocado and apples together, then toss with vinaigrette adding a little at a time and tasting for your preference of dressing. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Plate on a small platter and sprinkle over the top crispy bacon and onions. Add a couple of slices of apple and enjoy.



Red Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

There’s really nothing like fall flavors. I love the combination of spices, hot foods and rich flavors that fall and winter have to offer. So as I get ready for Thanksgiving, I look for new ways to make some of the classic favorites into new and exciting dishes. Last year, I really enjoyed sage pumpkin pasta, so this year I decided to add a little bit extra to the mix and came up with this delicious Mac and Cheese. I used rigatoni pasta, but you could use whatever shape of pasta you enjoy. The creamy texture of this pasta comes from pureed butternut squash and a small dice of roasted butternut squash adds texture. Rendered bacon and red Swiss chard makes this pasta hearty and luscious with a generous sprinkle of crispy bacon and parmesan cheese on top. It makes for a wonderful side dish to accompany your favorite Thanksgiving protein or a delicious mid-week meal.

Red Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

1 large butternut squash, cut in ½ and peeled
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 bunch red Swiss chard, washed and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 box rigatoni, cooked to box directions and drained with ½ cup of pasta water retained
2 ½ cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Retain ¼ of raw butternut squash and cut into small dice pieces.
Place remaining ¾ of cleaned and peeled butternut squash in tin foil and bake for about 35-45 minutes till very soft and puree with a blender or with a hand blender till smooth.
In a large sautee pan place olive oil and heat over medium. Then place bacon in pan and cook till crispy, about 9-10 minutes, then remove bacon pieces and drain on a paper towel. Add garlic, garlic powder, a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper, dried sage and the small diced butternut squash to the bacon grease. Sauté over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the squash is soft, but still holds its shape.
*Be careful not to heat the squash over too high of heat or you’ll run the risk of burning the garlic.
Add red Swiss chard to the pan and cook for 5 minutes till wilted.
In a measuring cup add 2 tablespoons flour to cold milk and whisk together till incorporated.
Add milk to vegetable mixture and simmer over medium till sauce becomes thickened, about 6 minutes.
Add butternut squash puree and mix together thoroughly.
Toss the pasta in with the sauce and vegetable mixture, add ½ the cooked bacon and toss with ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
Place in a casserole dish and sprinkle the rest of the bacon and remaining ¼ cup parmesan on top. Broil in oven till the cheese is melted and the is bacon warmed, about 5 minutes.
Serve Red Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese with your favorite protein or as a hot meal on its own.

If you want this dish vegetarian please feel free to omit the bacon in place of it use 2 tablespoons more extra virgin oil oil when cooking the squash.



Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Cavolo Nero

We’re all looking for new and interesting ways to eat vegetables, right? Well, we should be, even if we currently aren’t. Being on a quest for healthy living, we sometimes come across a dish that just appears so often on the table that it’s second nature. One of these dishes in my family is roasted cauliflower.

If you haven’t had roasted cauliflower, you really are missing out on something very simple, yet quite delicious. You can make it with a variety of accompaniments, but you can also just make it with a little salt, pepper and a bit of water in a hot oven and you’ve got something delectable to pair with your favorite foods. This recipe is for roasted cauliflower, but I used the addition of roasted Tuscan black kale also known as cavolo nero, to make a textural and flavorful difference, that’s sure to get anyone’s lack of green veggies replenished. Tuscan kale is highly nutritious and like most kale, has a bit of a bitter earthy flavor. The use of lemon and garlic, along with a very hot oven, changes the texture and flavor to a wonderful new experience. I hope you enjoy this lovely side dish.


Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Cavolo Nero


1/2 head cauliflower, cut from the stem and made into small florets and washed, but not dried

1 bunch cavolo nero or Tuscan black kale, cleaned and chopped into bite-size pieces

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ lemon, juiced and zest of ½ lemon



3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pinch cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

On a large cookie sheet, place small cauliflower florets on sheet pan, just after they are washed and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the edges are brown and crispy.


In a small oven-proof sauté pan or on a large cookie sheet, mix together cavolo nero with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice spread evenly over the surface. Then place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Check the cavolo nero about half way through and turn them in the pan so they don’t burn.

Pour the two together and let roast for another 3-5 minutes, till flavors incorporate together. Check seasoning to taste and add fresh lemon zest.

Place in a serving dish and serve.





Burrata Caprese with Arugula, Truffle Oil and Balsamic

Do you know about this amazing Italian cheese: Burrata? I don’t really know what I did without it. It’s pretty much the luscious, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that is creamy in the center, like mascarpone, but has the casing of buffalo mozzarella. So if you like the two, you’re sure to enjoy burrata. Sometimes it can be a little difficult to find. It’s a little on the expensive side, but a little goes a long way and I’m telling you, it should be something on everyone’s ‘To Eat’ list.


I love truffle oil and on a trip to Italy my generous brother brought me back a beautiful bottle of Italian black truffle oil. I love its earthy flavor and just like the burrata, a little goes a long way. I also love fresh gnocchi with a tiny bit of truffle oil and pecorino, but that’s another post.  One of the reasons this is so delicious is because it’s so simple and satisfying. A few ingredients create a fantastic and flavorful feast or elegant first course. A small bottle of truffle oil can run you a pretty penny. If you need a tablespoon, you can come on over and try it for yourself before you buy it. I’ll share… a little…then you’ll have to get your own.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful Italian classic salad.


Burrata Caprese with Arugula, Truffle Oil and Balsamic

2 cups arugula

1/2 cup chopped romaine

6 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade, which is cutting the basil into thin long strips

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 tablespoon truffle oil (black or white)

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 piece burrata sliced into pieces




Place cherry tomatoes into small bowl and combine with salt, pepper, chiffonade basil and balsamic vinegar. Combine till incorporated well.

Place cleaned arugala and romaine together on a small platter or plate. Arrange the tomatoes over the arugula. Top tomatoes with sliced burrata and pour over the truffle oil. Add a small sprinkle of salt and pepper over the cheese and a small amount of tomatoes on top.



Japanese-Style Short Ribs

While in Mammoth, I always like to cook dinner for my family at least a couple of nights. Though we’re used to the food up there, it’s not the most amazing cuisine, but it’s pleasant because some of the places we go to, including Giovanni’s, Roberto’s, and Shogun, are places we’ve been going to for years and years.  This year I marinated Japanese-style short ribs and grilled them for the family, made a simple salad of shaved cabbage with a sesame, ketchup and mayo based dressing, along with vegetable rice and roasted zucchini and carrot hash; a hearty and delicious meal for anyone to enjoy. Think about using this marinade for your Labor Day BBQ it can be used for meat, chicken or even tofu if you like.

Japanese-Style Short Ribs

2 ½ lbs thin cut cross section short ribs with bone

1 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated ginger

½ cup mirin

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame oil



Take short ribs out of the package and place on paper towel to take off excess blood, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large zipper storage bag, place all ingredients (except short ribs) into the bag, seal the bag, and shake till all ingredients are incorporated.

Place meat into zipper storage bag and shake till the marinade is well dispersed.  Place the bag in a large glass tray to prevent spilling.

Refrigerate at least over night for the best flavor.

On a preheated charcoal grill, place the short ribs down and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your short ribs are.

Be careful of flare-ups if your grill is very hot because of the sugar content in the meat and do not overcrowd the short ribs. Depending on your grill size, you may have to cook them in batches.

Serve with your favorite sides.

Shrimp and Vegetable Chirashi

The type of chirashi that I’m used to is much different than the traditional Japanese-style dish that I had when I was in Japan, and the ones that I drool over in Japanese cookbooks, with lots of lovely expensive thin slices of fresh raw fish and other seafood over a bed of sushi rice. Growing up, we waited till Obon (a Japanese festival that takes place at the Buddhist temple behind my dad’s family house) in July to have different styles of simple Japanese American food. Amongst the teriyaki chicken and sato-shoyu grilled beef, we ate chirashi, which was a mix of marinated Japanese vegetables in sushi rice topped with a little ginger. Nothing too special or fancy, but with the other food we ate, it always tasted good.

This is my shrimp version of chirashi. I used a very simple package of Sushi Taro brand chirashi mix, which makes this a very simple process without having to pickle your own vegetables (including carrots, lotus, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms). In my chirashi I use leftover Japanese short grain rice to make an easy and delicious meal and add extra vegetables for additional nourishment. Even my niece Maleeya loves it.

Shrimp and Vegetable Chirashi
2 cups cooked short grain Japanese rice
1 package chirashi mix, set aside nori for topping
¼ cup kamaboko (Japanese fish cak–I like Yamasa brand), sliced into small strips
1 egg scrambled, plus 1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ lb peeled and deveined shrimp without tail
¼ cup frozen peas
¼ white onion, minced
¼ cup bamboo shoots, cut into small strips
½ portobello mushroom, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon pickled red ginger
Non-stick spray

In a small sauce pan, heat over medium-high heat and spray the pan with non-stick spray. Scramble the cracked egg with a teaspoon of water and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Fry the egg mixture in the pan, swirling the egg around till it becomes firm. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat off, letting the egg sit for about 2-3 minutes. Slide a rubber spatula around the edges to loosen the egg and slide it out of the pan. Set aside. If the egg becomes broken, that’s fine, because it’s going to be sliced into small pieces once cooled.

In a small bowl, place shrimp, a pinch of salt and pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce, then let the shrimp marinate for 5-10 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, place extra virgin olive oil at the bottom and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, portobello mushrooms and bamboo shoots, then sauté till the onions and mushrooms are cooked down (about 7 minutes). Add peas to the pot and cook another 3-4 minutes. Now add the marinated shrimp and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or a little longer, depending on the size of your shrimp.

Take about 6 shrimps out of the mixture and set aside. In a large bowl, add the vegetable and shrimp mixture to the rice, then stir till incorporated together. Add the chirashi envelope and incorporate well. Place the sushi rice in a serving container and let cool. Slice 6 shrimp in half along the center of the shrimp and place them on top of the sushi rice. Take the sliced egg and sprinkle over the top, top with kamaboko slices, red ginger and nori and serve.




Spanakopita Inspired Pasta – Whole Wheat Penne with Feta Cheese, Spinach, Basil and Mushrooms



This pasta was inspired by the Greek dish Spanakopita. Spanakopita is a phyllo dough pastry that has spinach and feta cheese in it. I love the flavors of this dish; it has herbs with a crunchy texture from the crisp phyllo. I didn’t have phyllo dough at my house and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of going to the store to get it and turning on the oven and waiting to bake, so I just took inspiration to create this dish.  I used healthy whole grain pasta and some of my favorite vegetables to get a flavorful and healthy meal from a classic idea. I also like to add the freshness of raw vegetables as a side to this pasta.


Whole Wheat Penne with Feta Cheese, Spinach, Basil and Mushrooms


6 basil leaves, chopped

2 cups frozen spinach

2 cups fresh kale, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½  small onion, diced

1 stock celery minced

8 oz carton button or crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered

5 florets cauliflower rough chopped to small pieces

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pinch garlic powder



1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

¼- ½  cup feta cheese

Shaved pecorino for garnish

½ pound whole wheat pasta


In a large sauté pan, place 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the pan.  Heat till glistening, add the onions and cook about 3-4 minutes till soft.

Add dried parsley, pepper flakes, garlic, garlic powder, celery, cauliflower and mushrooms, then cook for about 2 minutes.

Add fresh kale and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add frozen spinach and cook for 6-7 minutes till heated through and kale is soft.

Cook pasta as directed and save about 1 cup pasta water.

Put the pasta into the vegetables and toss in desired amount of feta cheese.

Add black pepper and salt to taste.

If desired, finish with a little more extra virgin olive oil and top with pecorino cheese.

Serve aside chopped tomatoes, basil and cucumbers, seasoned with salt and pepper






Whole Wheat Berry Pancakes with Honey and Granola


There’s something about a perfect fluffy pancake that can be heartwarming. I don’t mean going out to get some, because honestly, they’re so simple to make that paying $10 for pancakes just makes me cringe. So every now and again, when I’m in the mood, I’ll put together a little something different for a delicious breakfast treat.
I had pancakes like these in Seattle, over 2 years ago, in Capitol Hill at Glow . They were delicious and I remembered that particular set of flavors was really just wonderful, so one Saturday morning I decided to make my own rendition. Here’s what ended up coming out. I thought they were delicious I hope you do as well.

Whole Wheat Berry Pancakes with Honey and Granola
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¼ cup milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon flax seeds
1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries)
Honey for drizzling
½ cup granola or 1 plain or honey granola bar, smashed
Optional powder sugar

Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and put together in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, egg and milk together.
Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk together.
Fold in berries and flax seeds.
Heat a medium-sized skillet and using non-stick spray heat over medium heat.
Place ¼ cup of batter in the pan, making one to two pancakes at a time. Be careful not to overcrowd each pancake.
Flip pancakes over when bubbles are around the sides of the pancake.
Finish cooking the other side and serve warm with crumbled granola, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.