Monday, March 10, 2014

Adventures in Sushi

Spring Chinook Salmon Sushi Roll

This beautiful Salmon was caught and cleaned on Friday morning! A buddy and I went halvesies on a Seafood CSA in our local area, and we get a fresh fish cooler every Friday afternoon. This week's haul was Spring Chinook Salmon and Fresh Smelt. We did not use the Smelt in our sushi (we fried it up and it was delicious!) we did however have the good fortune to cut into a couple of the Smelt and find some beautiful roe! After some online research, we decided to use the roe in our sushi roll. Turns out that a large amount of people prefer Smelt Roe to Salmon Roe, after tasting it I can see why. It is EXTREMELY mild in flavor but VERY creamy in it's texture. It really wasn't as difficult to make a simple sushi roll as I thought it would be. Granted this roll is not perfect, and I'm sure sushi chefs would be somewhat appalled by it. However, it tasted delicious and it was REALLY fun to make. I tried to take pictures as we went along, so it was easier to understand then just giving the recipe this time. I'm trying to get better about that, it's just so difficult to stop and take pictures when you are cooking by yourself and in the groove!

This will make two rolls.

Cutting Board
Sharp Knife
Medium Saucepan
Large Bowl
Wooden Spoon
Bamboo Sushi Mat
Plastic Wrap

1C Sushi or Short Grain Rice
1C Water, more for rinsing
1T Rice Vinegar
1T Sugar
2t Kosher Salt

Place rice in a mixing bowl and cover with cool water, swirl around, drain and repeat 2-3 times or until water is clear.
Put the water and rice in a pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil reduce heat to the lowest setting possible, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt together in in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Transfer rice to a bowl and fold in vinegar mixture with a wooden spoon until combined. Let rest at room temperature before using for sushi.

2 Nori Wrappers
6-7 Slices Fresh Salmon
1 Cucumber- Peeled, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
2 Carrots - Peeled, trimmed and sliced into matchsticks
1 Avocado - Pitted, peeled and Sliced into strips

Place bamboo mat on a flat surface, cover with plastic wrap then lay down your nori sheet.

Spread your sushi rice over the nori, leaving about an 1" of nori exposed on the side furthest away from you. Lay salmon down in the middle of your rice.

Now lay down your carrot matchsticks on one side of the salmon, and the cucumbers on the other.

Next, place your avocado slices on top of the salmon. This is also the step where we added the Smelt roe.

You are now ready for the rolling. Place your hands on either side of the bamboo mat, thumbs under the mat and index finger on the top for guidance. Use your remaining finger to hold everything in as you begin to roll.

Once you have rolled it all the way up, remove the mat and give it an extra squeeze in the plastic wrap. Roll it all the way up in the plastic wrap...this will hold it together while you cut it.

Now slice your roll to desired thickness.

Last step! Remove the plastic wrap from each piece, place it and enjoy with a little soy sauce and wasabi.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chinese New Year

Chicken Lettuce Cups

I know this is a little late, but I unfortunately couldn't find what I had done with my recipe until now. Until very recently I NEVER wrote down my recipes (or measured anything for that matter) so it was damn near impossible to replicate anything I ever made. So now, the biggest problem is that I have recipes floating around my house on little scraps of paper and on the backs of old bills. Luckily I did find these recipes last night, so this is why I am just now posting my Chinese New Year menu. That's my "my dog ate my homework" story and I'm sticking to it.


Small Glass Mixing Bowl
Measuring Spoons
Liquid Measuring Cup
Sharp Knife
Cutting Board

2T Low-sodium Soy Sauce
1T Hoisin Sauce
2T Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2t Salt
1/2t Sugar
3T Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2t Fresh Ginger, Minced
1/3C Red Onion, Minced
1C Button Mushrooms, Minced
1/2C Water Chestnuts, Minced
1Lb Boneless, Skinless chicken breasts, Minces (ground chicken can be used in a pinch)
8 Iceberg Lettuce Leaves (they provide the best crunch and balance for this dish)
Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Coarsely Chopped (to taste)
1/4C Unsalted Roasted Cashews, Coarsely Chopped (this is completely optional, but it does give a nice texture contrast)

In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix until the the sugar is dissolved.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the wok over high heat. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger together for a quick 10 seconds. Add the onion, mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok. Swirl the wok so the oil swishes around the entire wok. Add the chicken, and brown for 1 minute,or until it's no longer pink. Add back the cooked vegetables, turn down the heat and stir in your sauce mixture. Stir for 1 minute, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is warm.

Now you're ready to serve. Scoop the mixture into the lettuce cups and top with chopped cashew and cilantro.

On to Dessert!

Banana Spring Rolls with Chocolate-Coconut Ganache

Medium Saucepan
Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper
Cast Iron Skillet with high sides
Slotted Spoon or Spider

14-ounce Can of Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1/3C Light Brown Sugar (packed)
1 1/2t Ground ginger
8oz Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
8 Spring Roll Wrappers
2 Ripe Bananas, peeled, halved, cut lengthwise then crosswise.
1 Egg, beaten
Vegetable or Grapeseed Oil (for frying)
Fresh Mint (optional)

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar and ginger. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. *This portion of the dish can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate, then reheat over low heat just until pourable consistency.

Put parchment paper down on your baking sheet. Place a spring roll wrapper down in a diamond shape. Put banana piece across center of the wrapper, fold the bottom pointed corner of wrapper up over the fruit, then fold in the sides. Brush the unfolded top section with the egg, then fold over sealing the fruit in. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining bananas and wrappers. *Spring rolls up to this point can be made 4 hours a head, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Pour enough oil into skillet to reach a depth of 1.5inches. Heat the oil between 360 and 375F. In two batches (don't crowd the rolls) add spring rolls to the hot oil and cook until they are golden and crisp, turning them often for even cooking. Roughly 3 minutes per batch. Using your spoon (or spider) transfer the rolls to a surface with paper towels so the excess oil can drain off.

Arrange your spring rolls on individual plates, drizzle with the coconut-chocolate ganache and top with fresh mint sprigs.

Congratulations, you have just created a simple yet wildly tasty (and impressive looking) Chinese New Year meal. Invite some friends over and share the good fortune.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Mustard Whiskey Meatballs

Recipe testing was a success....these are delicious! Thank you Pioneer Woman.
I must reiterate that this is not my recipe, but I have used it several times and it is always a HUGE hit. I have copied the recipe exactly as it is written in the book, with one exception. I stuck with my layout for the equipment and Ingredients. This recipe is from "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier" by Ree Drummond

Large Glass Bowl
Rubber Spatula
Cookie Scoop
Large Plate
Large Cast Iron Skillet

1Lb. Ground Beef
1Lb. Ground Pork
1 1/2C Panko Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2C Spicy Mustard
2T Canola Oil
1C Whiskey
3C Beef Broth
3T Worcestershire Sauce
1C Heavy Cream

1. In a bowl, combine the beef, pork, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the spicy mustard.

2. With your hands (or a large spoon), mix the ingredients until they're well combined.

3. Use a cookie scoop or teaspoon to form balls, using your hands to shape if necessary. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet and freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, just to firm them up.

4. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs in 3 batches, turning them to cook all over, 5 to 7 minutes to a batch. Remove the meatballs to a plate as they're done.

5. When all the meatballs are on the plate, pour the whiskey and beef broth into the skillet. Allow the mixture to bubble up and reduce for 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thicker.

6. Then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup spicy mustard.

7. And the worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes.

8. Finally, pour in the heavy cream and stir it to combine.

9. Add the browned meatballs back into the sauce.

10. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

11. Turn the skillet into a makeshift sharing dish and stick toothpicks into each meatball. Serve immediately.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Scintillating Sunday

Cinnamon French Toast with Ginger Banana Sauce

I do apologize for the "brownness" of this dish, but bananas just aren't that attractive when mashed up. They do however taste divine when you add just a couple more things to them. With the exception of today, Sunday's are usually my one day off and I try to take full advantage of them by starting with a special breakfast that I don't eat the rest of the week. Even though I worked today, I still made sure to make myself a special breakfast.

Baking Dish or Wide Bowl
Large Saute Pan
Sm Saucepan
Wooden Spoon

Two Eggs
2T Milk (more if needed)
3t Ground Cinnamon
Good Sourdough

1 Over Ripe Banana
1/4t Fresh Ginger, zested
2t Honey
1/4C Whole Milk


Whisk eggs together with cinnamon and milk. Heat large saute pan to medium heat and melt butter in the pan. Dredge your bread (on both sides) in the egg wash, allowing excess egg to drip off before adding to pan. If there is too much eggs on the bread it will just end up tasting like overcooked eggs and bread. Place bread in pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side, or until there is a nice "crust" on the bread. If you are making this fora large crowd, the french toast can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

This should be served warm as soon as it is finished cooking, so prepare this last.
If you want a little chunkier sauce go ahead and use a fork to mash the bananas, if you are going for a smoother consistency add all of the ingredients to a blender and pulse until all is combined and smooth. Pour mixture into a small saucepan over medium-low heat and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until flavors are all incorporated. Do not allow to boil, and you will need to stir this occasionally. Feel free to tweek measurements if you would like a different flavor. Make it your own.