So you want to throw a dinner party?

I love throwing dinner parties. Lurve it. I think whatever problems you’re having can almost always be forgotten for an hour or two when you’re surrounded by good food, family and friends. Unless the family and friends ARE the problem in which case, abort mission!

Here are my top tips for hosting a dinner party:

Provide bread:
Two thing always worry me. One, and perhaps the most obvious worry, if my guests will like what i’m serving, if it will be tasty. And two, if there will be enough of it. Bread solves both problems. Everybody loves bread and not just any bread but artisan bread. For me, Olivier’s is it, it has become my good luck charm and if all goes to shit, I know my guests can fill up on it. As the great Mr. Saavedra once said, “all sorrows are less with bread”.

Make salad:
Oi! I heard that! “Salad shmalad”. Be quiet! It’s important. It’s needed and it’s not just for the dieters. It brings freshness and balance. Just do it, okay? No dinner table is complete without a BIG bowl of salad. Throw in some fresh fruit (the fancier the better: strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, peach, pomegranate) and some nuts and/or seeds, and voila! Your salad is officially pimped. Just make sure not to over do it.
Tip: dry roast your nuts and seeds in a pan or toaster oven for extra flavour.

Colour me in:
Apparently Ed Sheeran sings “cover me up, cuddle me in” but I’ve been singing “cover me up, colour me in” for the past year, or for however long he’s been singing it. My ex used to find it cute when I messed up the lyrics but now, it’s just pathetic. Anyways, colour is important – another reason to prepare salad. Put some thought into your menu so you don’t end up serving everything red, yellow or orange.
Note: this can be as simple as adding some greenry (parsley, basil etc) to the top of your soup or pasta.

Where is the sauce?
Remember Manu, from My Kitchen Rules’ catch phrase? Don’t serve dry food. Make sure your pasta, curry or stir-fry has enough sauce, that your salad is served with dressing, your bread with butter, your meat with gravy and your basmati rice with yoghurt.

Tonights recipes:
Lettuce, diced roasted sweet potato, pomegranate seeds and dry roasted walnuts
dressed with: lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper

White bean dip:
in a food processor, blitz together: 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup olive oil, zest of one lemon,  juice of half a lemon, bunch of fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Pretty self explanatory, you can use pretty much anything for these…various cheeses, meats, vegetables (artichokes, peppers, olives etc) and pastas, too (tortellini and gnocchi rubbed in pesto are excellent).

Fettuccine, sliced button mushrooms, spring onion, canned tomato and cream – das it.



Stuffed cabbage rolls

I don’t know how to make them. I just know how to eat them. Yuko knows though but of course she does because she knows all Japanese food and she cooks them all SO well. Stuffed cabbage rolls or “roll cabbage” as Japanese call them are hearty and low in calories. Didn’t think such a thing exists? Well, me neither, until I tried them and felt light and full and all of the good things.

After a quick Google search, I found this very detailed recipe (video included) to get y’all started. Making roll cabbage seems a tad complicated and time-consuming to me but that’s probably cos I’ve become too used to only making muffins and smthisoothies. But, here’s hoping, you’re not as lazy.

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Food News (unintentional discoveries and Japanese Nabe)

Are you tired of cooking the same shizz everyday?

Are you dying to spice up (excuse the culinary pun) your boring dishes?

(This is not an advertisement)

Because Chef Anisa has accidently (no relation to blog name) discovered the resolution.

Are you ready?

Simply continue putting off your grocery shopping until your fridge and pantry are not far from vacant. Then, you’ve no choice but to improvise flavors and… TADA! Hello new tastes.

This morning, I had peanut butter and KIWIFRUIT (not banana) on defrosted toast for breakfast. Is this a thing? Have you already tried it? Or have I, in first-world-problems food shortage, unintentionally stumbled across genius? Kiwi-fruit and peanut-butter is INSANE.

Anywho, I wanted to talk about Nabe or Nabemono.

Nabemono (鍋物, なべ物, nabe “cooking pot” + mono “thing or things, object, matter”) or simply called nabe, refers to a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes, also known as one pot dishes and “things in a pot.”

Thanks, Wikipedia.

After hearing my students increasingly talk of having a “nabe party” (apparently the thing to do during a Japanese winter), I was itching (or should I say, shivering hahoehah, I know I’m hilarious) to try nabe, myself. So, last night, I kind of invited myself to Kaori’s for dinner – I’m good like that. She made kimchi nabe which is basically a kimchi-flavoured soup stuffed with loads of ingredients, ingredients which continue to be stuffed into the soup while the already cooked ones are hunted and eaten. It’s a glorious cycle really.

The nabe or pot is placed on a portable stove which is placed on a kotatsu (a low, wooden table frame covered by a futon, or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source, often built into the table itself) around which the dinner guests are seated. In other words, as the night progresses, you heat up in every possible way.

After eating for what seems forever, the left-over nabe is mixed with rice and egg and turned into a porridge – often eaten for breakfast the next day.

Are you salivating yet? I’m hungry all over again and I just ate that magical kiwi-fruit and peanut-butter concoction.


Italian night and a savoury muffin recipe

Last night was Taka’s birthday (the father of the adorable baby I keep posting). So of course, we cooked. And by we, I mean me. I made Gnocchi with mushroom, spinach and tomato, a garden salad with organic greens hand-delivered to my home by the local organic farmer in an eco-friendly manner (wrapped in newspaper not PLASTIC as is everything in Japan and I mean every single thing imaginable) and savoury muffins (recipe below). The wholemeal and olive bread pictured is from Hugo et Leo. For dessert, I made my famous crumble but seeing as I’ve no photo evidence for y’all, I may as well have not bothered at all (sarcasm).


image[2]3 free-range eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup almond meal
handful of grated parmesan
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped
handful of parsley, finely chopped

50 grams of cream cheese

Grease a 6 case muffin tray and pre-heat the oven to 180C

Mix together the eggs, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Gently fold in everything else except the cream cheese.

Place one heaped table spoon of batter in each muffin case, top with a dice-sized piece of cream cheese then cover with remaining batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fork comes out clean.

Note: recipe doesn’t need any salt as sundried tomatoes and parmesan are salty enough.

The secret ingredient is TIME

To me, the tastiest foods are those prepared by hand with love and TIME.


This green salad with the pretty edible flowers was prepared by Gergely, a Hungarian organic farmer now living in my very rural village of Higashiawakura (Japan) with his beautiful Japanese wife Ryoko and their sweet sweet girl Viola. Everything in it is natural and organic.


Two types of curry (and handmade naan) prepared by two very cool parents Taka and Kaori (Tokyoites now residing in the countryside). One, a traditional Khmer curry called amok – the spices for which I brought back as omiyage (souvenir) from Cambodia and the other, butter chicken.


Minako said she’d prepare a “light” meal for us but she ended up serving pumpkin soup (just pumpkin and herbs), sautéed mix veg, sautéed potatoes, organic bread, brown rice, home-made salsa, cheese and crackers. I hope her husband goes away more often so I can be invited over for more “light” dinners.


There is something so cosy and welcoming about a picnic. Here, it was the crumbed carrots and courgettes calling my name. “Anisa, Anisa, eat me,” they said. If you look to the left,  you can see half of an upside down apple and sweet potato frying pan cake and to the top of the photograph, a variety of onigiri (triangular rice balls) invented for picnicking. And of course, salad. That day we harvested organic rice by hand. It was incredible.


We (Kaori, her baby Emma and I) stayed at Kaori’s parents house in Nara (photos 2 posts back) over the weekend. Her mother lovingly prepared this delicious make-your-own temaki sushi bar for us. Kind of like a Mexican taco bar but with seaweed and seafood. She also served clam miso soup. Oishikata! 


Breakfast was just as adorable. We had fresh persimmons with yoghurt and raisins, boiled broccoli and edamame beans (from the local farmers market), egg, cherry tomatoes (from Kaori’s garden back in Higashiawakura) and typical Japanese bakery bread.


Another salad by Gergely. This time, topped with boiled quail eggs, carrots and walnuts. Again, all organic.

Vegan Wholewheat Spaghetti

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1 yellow onion (diced, small)
olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can/jar of organic all-natural pasta sauce
1 punnet of mushrooms (diced or as is)
1 small thingy of broccoli (sliced to individual pieces)
1 large ripe tomato (diced, small)
1/2 packet of organic wholewheat spaghetti (or soba!)
salt and chilli pepper

So easy, hardly a recipe at all…
1.fry onion with a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat until golden.

2.add the tomato paste to the onion and fry for an additional minute – this is my mama’s secret tip and what gives her food it’s vibrant colour

3.add the entire contents of the pasta sauce followed by the remaining vegetables to the pan (mushroom, broccoli and tomato) then turn down the heat and let simmer.

4.While  the sauce simmers, boil the spaghetti as per packet instructions.

Drain, rinse and add spaghetti to sauce mixture then season to taste.

Cook for an additional 5 or so minutes then nomnomnom with loved ones or as I did, in the beautiful company of yourself.

Shakshuka with Eggplant

Looking at the majority of my recipes, it may seem that all I shove down my gob (gracefully of course) are healthy cakes, cookies and breakfast cereals. And, that might very well be true, however; last night I made Shakshuka with a twist; subbing the traditionally used bell peppers for eggplant.

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 eggplant, chopped
400g tin of organic chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
4 free-range eggs
1 tbsp fresh parsley

Heat oil in a medium-sized pan

Add onion and sauté until nice and golden

Add the garlic and chopped eggplant, then cook for 5-7 minutes until softened

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, cooking for a further 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce.

Crack eggs directly over tomato mixture.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the egg whites are firm, the yolks still runny and the sauce has slightly reduced.

We served ours with warm wholemeal pita pockets. Oh mama.