Miso, Ginger and Garlic Dressing


I started making this when running Ayabe Yoshimizu Guesthouse where there were several vats of rich dark miso in the basement that the owner had locally made. The guests could not get enough of this robust zesty, salty-sweet dressing, which works equally well over a green salad or as for a dip for small crunchy Japanese cucumbers. My son, however, likes to simply pour it over rice

The rich dark hatcho miso works best but it can be made with any kind of miso. The shoyu is optional but seems to add an additional savoury note. The dressing is rather thick so you can thin with water if preferred.

Makes 1 jar


  • 3 tbsp hatcho miso
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 3cm knob of ginger, finely grated


  • Whisk all ingredients in a jar, thinning with water if necessary.


Gateau Chocolat

I ran my last Anna’s Kitchen cooking class a few days ago, I’ve taught over 100 participants since I started  and it has really been a joy. The last session was no exception, and was attended by a lovely group of people.

We made Gateau Chocolat, a recipe shared by a French visitor at the guesthouse last year. I have amended it slightly and cut the sugar content in half.  It is an incredibly dense and rich dessert cake to be enjoyed in small slices. My students thought it went well with matcha, powdered green tea. It is gluten free as well.




  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 200g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g corn flour
  • 4 eggs


  • Heat the oven to 160°C
  • Gently melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water
  • Add the sugar and mix well
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl
  • Add to the chocolate and mix
  • Sift the corn flour into the bowl and mix so that it is incorporated into the mixture
  • Pour the mixture into a lined cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes
  • The cake should be lightly cooked on top but still a little loose (it will harden when cool)
  • Leave to cool completely before cutting, it is best left overnight


Kinome Dressing

Kinome are the young soft leaves of the Japanese herb prickly ash. The flavour is a fragrant mix of citrus, pepper and mint and the leaves are used as a garnish or in simmered dishes. I like to use kinome to make a fresh, zesty dressing.

The early shoots are just leafing now, in a month or so they’ll be a little prickly and more defined. The seed pods, sansho no mi, appear soon after and once dried are one of the spices used in shichimi, Japanese seven spice.


Kinome Dressing


  • 4 tbs kinome, finely chopped
  • 5 tbs (70ml) olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


  • Mix the oil, lemon and chopped kinome thoroughly, season to taste

Keeps for about a week in the fridge, although loses its lovely vibrant colour after a day

Kinome, Tomato and Tofu Salad



  • 2 tbs kinome dressing
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 blocks of silken tofu*
  • 1/4 lettuce, washed and ripped in bite size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper


  • Arrange the lettuce on a serving plate
  • Gently cut the tofu into quarters and place on the lettuce
  • Mix the tomatoes with the dressing and pour over the tofu
  • Garnish with red onion slices and fresh kinome leaves
  • Check and adjust seasoning if needed

*Tofu is best left on a chopping board that is placed at a slight angle on the draining board for 30 minutes or so to expel water, otherwise it will seep into the salad.


Chocolate [Tofu] Pots


There is no discernible taste of tofu (hence the brackets)  in this super quick and easy two ingredient chocolate pots, just chocolaty creaminess.


  • 90 g chocolate
  • 150g silken tofu

Serves 2


  • Gently melt the chocolate in a bain marie
  • Take the bowl off the heat, add the tofu and blend until smooth.
  • Spoon into 2 ramekins
  • Cool before serving
This recipe was featured in the Guardian newspaper:

Miso, Garlic and Kimchi Hotpot



Savoury Rice Porridge ‘Zousui’



Zousui translates as a hodgepodge or medley soup. It is typically prepared after a nabe, a Japanese hotpot, which is simmered throughout the meal and continuously topped up with meat or fish and vegetables and cooked like a fondue at the table with everyone helping themselves. At the end of the evening a tasty stock remains to which you mix in rice, crack an egg on top, cover and cook until the egg has set.

In our house though, it also refers to a one-pot dish we often make for breakfast (or lunch) using left over miso soup and rice. It is incredibly quick and simple, and is very warming on a chilly winter morning.

My children and I prefer the consistency of a creamy risotto, whereas my husband likes his more soupy so adjust the liquid to rice ratio as you like. If you don’t have enough soup add some water and mix in some more miso or shoyu. I like to finely slice the konbu originally used to make the dashi for the miso soup and add that in, too. Japanese often discard it but it is full of magnesium so I also eat it or make tsukudani (konbu relish) from it.


  • Cooked miso soup (or you could use a sachet of instant miso if you don’t have leftovers to hand)
  • Cooked rice, hot or cold, enough to serve the number of people eating
  • 1-2 Eggs (obviously use more for large quantities!)

Optional extras

  • Cubes of tofu
  • Handful of green leaves (spinach, mizuna, kale etc)
  • Any cooked vegetables, pulse or grain


  • Chopped spring onion
  • Sesame seeds
  • Slivers of ginger


  • Heat the miso soup in a pan
  • Mix in the rice, if cold heat till piping hot.
  • Crack in 1-2 eggs. You can either swirl the egg around on top as above or mix in the eggs and cook until lightly set for a creamy zousui.
  • Add the green leaves to wilt, if using.

Serve hot topped with spring onion and sesame and or ginger. I also like natto on mine! Pickles on the side is also good.




Overnight Turnip Pickles


The turnips in Japan are crisp and sweet and come in a creamy white or brilliant magenta pink. The latter make beautiful, colourful pickles that brighten up a winter meal. I like to add the stalks for a little contrast in texture and colour.


  • 1 turnip, preferably with stalks attached
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • yuzu or lemon zest (optional)


  • Wash the turnip and peel if necessary. Wash the stalks week of any grit or dirt.
  • Cut the turnip in half, then into quarters.
  • Thinly slice into crescents.
  • Finely chop the stalks.
  • Place in a bowl and add the salt.
  • Gently rub the salt into the turnip.
  • Leave overnight in the fridge (I have also left this for as little as half an hour).
  • Drain most of the liquid but do not squeeze dry, you want the pickles to be moist.
  • Add shavings of yuzu or lemon zest.

Keeps for several days in the fridge.




Christmas Yule Log

A very rich chocolate roll cake



For the chocolate sponge:

  • 4 large eggs (or 5 medium)
  • 100g sugar
  • 65g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder

For the chocolate ganache topping:

  • 200ml cream
  • 225g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • Knob of butter

For the cream filling:

  • 100ml cream
  • 2-3 drops vanilla (optional)
  • 10g icing sugar (optional)

Makes 2 small or one large log.


  • Heat oven to 190C.

To make the chocolate ganache:

  • Break or cut up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl with the butter.
  • Heat the cream till it starts to boil and then pour over the chocolate and mix until all the chocolate has melted.
  • Leave to cool in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the chocolate sponge:

  • Butter and line the base and sides of a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
  • Separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls.
  • Add the sugar and 2 tbsp water to the egg yolks.
  • Whisk the sugar and yolks together 
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa, and then fold in lightly.
  • Using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then fold into the cake mixture in 3 batches.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and carefully spread to the edges.
  • Bake for 10-12 mins, or until the cake feels firm to the touch.
  • Put a large sheet of baking parchment on a chopping board.
  • Turn the cake out and cover with a sheet of baking parchment, while still warm roll loosely then leave to cool.

To make the cream filling:

  • Whip the cream (and vanilla and icing sugar if using) in a bowl until stiff.

To assemble the roll cake: 

  • Carefully unroll the cake, and peel off the paper but leave one sheet underneath.
  • Spread the cream filling over the top.
  • Roll up the cake again using the paper to help you.
  • Cover the cake with the chocolate ganache.
  • Use a fork to create a bark effect.
  • Transfer to a serving plate. Just before serving dust with a little icing sugar to look like snow.

Put a spring of holly on top – thanks to one of the participants for bringing  some on the day. I haven’t seen holly in Japan…


Intense Chocolate Cookies


For the first Anna’s Kitchen at Ayabe Tokusankan this summer I wanted to go for something very yummy. This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe, I toned down the chocolate and sugar content but they are still extremely chocolately and very morish. Nigella suggests that you can freeze scoops of dough to have ready to bake at anytime, however we never seemed to have any left over dough. Next time…..



  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125 g soft unsalted butter
  • 115 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 200 g dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • Chopped hazelnuts or flaked almonds (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 170°C
  • Melt the 100g dark chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix together.
  • Beat in the vanilla extract an egg.
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
  • Finally stir in the chocolate chips/chunks, and nuts if using
  • Scoop out equal-sized mounds with a dessert spoon and place on a lined baking sheet with plenty of space between each one.
  • Do not flatten them.
  • Cook for 18 minutes, testing to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
  • Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies


Anna’s Kitchen recently took part in Ayabe Tokusankan’s Yasai Matsuri (Vegetable Festival). Of course, a vegetable recipe was called for and I chose to use sweet potatoes, that are just coming into season, and locally grown and dried red beans. I decided on a dense, fudgy brownie, adapted from a Hemsley and Hemsley recipe that uses no flour and maple syrup instead sugar.

Any floury beans can be used, black beans, kidney beans or red ingenmame, available here in Japan, but avoid soy beans which are too waxy. The best way to prepare the sweet potato is to bake it whole in the oven. Then split the skin and scoop out the flesh.


  • 2 x 400g tins cooked black (or red beans), drained (or 480g cooked beans if soaking and cooking dried beans).
  • One medium sweet potato, cooked (baked or steamed)
  • 230g unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 90g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 150 – 175ml maple syrup (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  • 130g chopped walnuts
  • 100g chocolate chunks


  • Preheat the oven to 170°C
  • Rinse the black beans and drain
  • Melt the butter or coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat
  • Place the drained beans, sweet potato flesh, eggs, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt into a food processor or large bowl and use a hand blender. Pulse a few times and then blend until smooth
  • Add the melted butter, slowly and blend
  • Taste the mixture, add more maple syrup if needed
  • Then, stir in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving a few, and the chocolate chunks, if using
  • Grease and line the inside of a 24 x 20cm baking dish, pour in the brownie mixture
  • Sprinkle over the remaining walnuts (if using) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the brownie feels firm and springy and its surface is cracked.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares, they become even more dense and fudgy if left in the fridge

Ingredients from Ayabe Tokusankan


Explaining the recipe





Interview with local radio station FM いかる


11911354_10153169637810765_1640790915_n11910897_10153169637080765_1655956023_nYasai Matsuri article

Yasai Matsuri article

Local paper Ayabe Shimbun