Posts Tagged ‘cheese’


I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of these crunchy open-faced crackers topped with sharp creamy cheese and fresh tomatoes sprinkled with a little salt. The friend who introduced me to them calls them “Swedish sandwiches” and after the first bite, they are forever a part of my summer cravings. I moved coasts recently, and find myself back in the land of humid sticky summers. Any meal that doesn’t involve turning on the stove or heat is bound to become a part of my regular rotation. Particularly as tomatoes are currently plentiful and cheap, not to mention in season right now.

For one “Swedish sandwich”

– a piece of knackerbrod or crisp bread

– hushallsost ( or any kind of semi-hard cheese, I like Dubliner or a sharp cheddar)

– butter (softened)

– a slice of tomato

– salt

– fresh parsley or black pepper ( if desired)


1. Spread a thin layer of butter on the crisp bread.

2. Add thin slices or shards of cheese

3. Top with pieces of sliced tomato. Sprinkle a little salt over the tomatoes.

4. Top with fresh parsley or black pepper (if you like)






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Cheese crackers
Living in Japan, I have a love and hate (but mostly love) relationship with Costco. They have a food court that brings me back to the states, and the sight of 100 count boxes of Tootsie pops and 5 lb boxes of chocochip cookies makes me nostalgic about college and the all mighty purchase order.

The area where I grew up didn’t have a Costco nearby, so when I went for the first time, I was romanced by the tasty polish dogs (only a buck fifty, and it comes with a drink!) and the sheer fact that I could buy a 10 pound can of ketchup, 50 black Sharpies, a sofa, and pumpkin pie the size of a large pizza if I so desired. In college, I had a job that required me to buy food to feed large quantities of people at a time, and for a while, purchasing 4 flats of muffins, and 2 lb cans of hot cocoa mix was normal. Oversized food is one thing, Costco sized food is another. For some reason, I find ridiculously large food, or large quantities of food inherently comical and interesting. (on the flip side, I also find extra small food funny and amazing as well :P)

 So what does Costco have to do with cheese crackers? As my mother says, I sometimes have eyes bigger than my stomach. The last time I went to Costco in Japan, I was persuaded into buying a 2 lb brick of sharp cheddar cheese. (they didn’t have to try hard) I think you can guess where this goes…but the short of it is I ended up having a half a block left, and needed to use it all quickly before the cheese spoiled. I did think about just gnawing on the block, but decided that cheese crackers were the more socially acceptable option.


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Lucky Pierrot is a fast food restaurant chain only found in Hakodate, Hokkaido which serves some seriously tasty burgers and fries. We stopped there for a late dinner on our way around the northern most island of Japan, and only an incoming hurricane stopped us from going there again on the way back to mainland Honshu. Believe me, since we got back, I’ve looked for other locations, hoping in vain to eat there again. Unfortunately the chiikigentei 地域限定 or limited to region status of Lucky Pierrot is no joke. They have over 10 locations, none of which are outside of Hakodate.

While searching for Lucky Pierrot online, I was surprised to read that the restaurant chain has had some controversy in the past, mostly because they had a whale meat burger on the menu. The hunting of whales is a touchy issue between Japan and the rest of the world, and in general, I try to avoid eating things that are on the endangered species list. To be honest though, I did not even notice the くじら kujira whale burger on the menu, because I was too busy trying to wrap my head around how one restaurant can serve hamburgers, curry rice, and spring rolls on the same menu. Looking at their website online now, it seems they no longer serve a whale burger, though they do have a scallop burger, a sweet and sour pork burger and a Genghis Khan (lamb) burger on the menu.

Serious environmental issues aside, the food we did eat was good. Very good. Which is probably why Lucky Pierrot has won the best regional hamburger restaurant in Japan award for multiple years running. (Yes, there is a ranking for that.)

The Chinese Chicken Burger is their #1 selling menu item. It’s 3 large pieces of chicken deep fried and covered in what tastes like kung pao sauce (hence the Chinese part, I suppose) sandwiched with lettuce and copius amount of mayonaisse, in a sesame seed bun. The slightly spicy and sweet sauce complimented the freshly fried chicken, and the chewy bun was the perfect thing to contain the messy sandwich. I would have gladly eaten the chicken just by itself, but the combination of bun, lettuce, mayo and chicken was really satisfying.

I could almost feel my arteries shaking in fear, but pressed on and also tried the Lucky Pierrot special fries. From the menu photo, my friend thought they might be the elusive poutine. However, I was pleasantly surprised to get freshly fried thick cut french fries topped with not the conventional gravy and cheese curds, but a concentrated curry sauce and a mild cheese sauce. It reminded me of eating cheesy chips after a night out, the cheese complimenting the sweet Japanese style curry very well.

I couldn’t leave the shop without one of Lucky Pierrot’s shakes, which come in the normal vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours, as well as some seasonal varieties, including this black sesame shake that I ordered. I love all things black sesame, or 黒ごま kurogoma , and this shake was perfect. The shake was thick enough to hold a straw upside down, and had flecks of ground black sesame seeds stired. Don’t let the greyish color of the shake throw you off, it was really delicious.

I was sad we didn’t have the chance to go back so I could try the yuzu ,Japanese citron, shake and get another order of Lucky Pierrot fries.
If you happen to find yourself in Hakodate, I really reccomend you give Lucky Pierrot or LaPi ラピ a try.

Lucky Pierrot@ Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

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I finally went to the Ninja Akasaka restaurant and had a great time. The course dinner I ordered was lovely, but when dessert came out I had to contain a girlish squeal of happiness. ;P

This little frog is actually made of cheesecake!
The body is composed to a creamy lemony cheesecake, and filled with pieces of fresh fruit, and decorated with chocolate. The “lilypad” is a semi-sweet choclate biscuit, and the leaf is well, a leaf. The description was winter themed, so right after i took this photo, our ninja for the evening came by and sprinkled parmesan cheese “snow” over the frog.

It felt a bit wrong digging into this guy…but I finished every last bite!

Ninja Akasaka @ Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

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Korea Week : Mandu Love

Mandu are Korean style dumplings, similar to potstickers or gyoza. There was this amazing mandu shop in Pusan on the way to our hostel. It seemed like no matter if we were up at 6am or coming back at 1 am, the little shop was always open. In the morning, you could see the owner making mandu skin and being heckled by the ajummas, and at night the steam from the cooking mandu would surround the entire shop. I’ve had mandu before, both the frozen kind from Paldo World, and in other shops in Korea, but none of them could compare to these mandu. Eash little mandu is stuffed to almost bursting, and half the time the dumplings were being made right in front of us by the friendly owner, using house made skin and filling. We managed to stop in and try a new kind of mandu every day we were in Pusan, regardless of how full we were.

My favorites were the garlic mandu, steaming hot and served with a splash of black vinegar. We also got to try the owner’s specialty, cheese mandu. They are open faced mandu, topped with melty cheese, peas, corn, and a little ketchup.
I don’t suppose I could convince someone to open a little mandu shop here in Yamanashi?

Pusan, South Korea

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When I was still a college student, one of my favorite dining hall dishes was baked ziti. Something about the mild tomato sauce and dense pasta, topped with cheese was just fantastic in the middle of the finals rush. Carbohydrates are good for the brain, and good for the soul too. 🙂 However the thought of so many pots and pans to wash, and lengthy oven time makes me disinclined to make my own baked ziti.
This recipe for absorption pasta is just as tomato-y, cheese-y, takes requires only one pan and no oven time. I also love fresh vegetables in my pasta, but feel free to add your favorites, or remove the veggies you don’t like.


  • 200g (little less than 1/2 lb) ground beef (pork or turkey would also be good, as would soy crumbles)
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (I like macaroni elbows or shells, but any pasta is fine)
  • 1  fresh tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, roasted sweet in the broiler or oven, and then chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach (about 1 cup’s worth cooked)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, basil and oregano
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup water


  • 1/2 cup smooth dry curd cottage cheese(or ricotta)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or Peccorino hard cheese

1. Saute ground beef, garlic, and onions in a large sauce pan with olive oil until the meat is cooked, and slightly browned.
2. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, eggplant, mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach, water, all the spices and salt. Stir well and bring to a slow boil on medium heat.
3. Add pasta, stir well. Cover pan with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is just tender (al dente).
4. Combine cottage cheese and shredded Parmesan together until smooth.
5. Uncover, and stir the pasta to make sure it isn’t sticking, then stir in the cheese mixture until well combined.
6. Cover, and cook for an additional 5 minutes on low heat until cheese is melted.
Serves 6-8, topped with a little (or a lot :P) of shredded cheese.

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The pizza at Tecolote is very Japanese style, in that that crust is super thin and crispy and the pizza itself is about 50% tomato sauce. You have to eat it straight away, or the sauce will make the crust soggy and soft.

Tecolote @ Tsuru, Yamanashi, Japan

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