Saturday, April 10, 2010


Damn straight, we made sushi. and by "we," I mean "mostly Mirna." Because she is awesome like that.

For 6 rolls:
2 cups sushi rice
2 cups water (+ rinsing water)
1/4 c rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
6 sheets of nori (seaweed paper)
Fillings: totally up to you. We used:
salmon (make sure you buy sushi grade for any raw fish)
cream cheese
green onion
Sriracha hot sauce

Utensils: they are actually very important here
glass baking dishes for cooling the rice (metal will change the flavor)
wooden or plastic rice paddle/spoon
small bowl of water for dipping your hands

To cook the rice:
soak the sushi rice in cold water for 5 minutes, rinse it a few times, and let it sit in a drainer for a few minutes to get the extra water out. Using equal parts water and rice, cook the rice as you would normal rice. Okay, fine: bring the water and rice to a boil in a pot on the stove, then cover with a tight fitting lid and turn down the temp to a low simmer (med? depends on your stove). Cook for about 10 minutes, until you no longer see water in the holes that form in the rice (you'll see it, don't worry). Turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove, and let it sit, covered, for another 10 minutes steaming itself. Fluff.

While cooking the rice, combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small pot and heat, stirring constantly, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat.

The rice needs to be mixed with the vinegar mixture and brought to room temperature before making the sushi. To do so, spread the rice out in the glass baking sheets and stir in the vinegar mixture, fanning the rice all the while. Sounds complicated, I know. I am of the belief that there is room for error in this step, but you might prove me wrong.

Once the rice has cooled, spread saran wrap over your bamboo mat for easy clean up (or dont) and place one nori sheet on top, rough side up. This is important. The rice will only stick to the rough side!!!

In terms of placement, make sure the lines of the bamboo mat are parallel to the side of your counter. Lay your ingredients in this same parallel line. This seems common sensical, but just in case...

Cut your ingredients, whatever they may be, into long thin strips.

Wetting your hands first, pat down enough rice to cover all but a couple inches at the top edge of the nori. Add your ingredients in one long line at the side nearest you, parallel to the lines of your bamboo sheet. Using your fingers, wet the exposed top section of the nori.

This part is the trick to good sushi: the roll needs to be tight. Using the bamboo mat, pulling up from the edge closest to you, roll the first 360 degrees of the nori together, and pull it tightly back toward you, using your fingers to keep the ingredients inside. Continue to pull tightly back toward you with the bamboo as you finish rolling the sushi. The last bit of exposed seaweed paper that you wet should stick to the roll, sealing it.

Yay! Sushi roll! Using a VERY sharp knife, start by cutting the roll in half, then cut slices off of each remaining log. The pieces hold together better that way, says Mirna.

Enjoy! Next time, we are going to try spicy mayo from scratch... ballerrrrr

Friday, April 9, 2010

Vegan coconut, pecan, caramel-ish bars of love

*Best with Turkish peppermint hookah


This recipe is from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, an AMAZING cookie cookbook for vegans and non-vegans alike. They are more innovative and creative than most bakers can dream of becoming.

One of the best things about this vegan recipe is that the chewy coconut milk mixture cooks into the top of the graham cracker crust, imitating a good caramel.

Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly:

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
2/3 cup brown sugar

(if a film develops, just stir it back in)

Combine, until all moistened:

2 cups crushed graham cracker
- just put one of those little packages of graham crackers in a bag and crush them with your hands, no fanciness required
1/2 c margarine, melted (1 stick)
2 T sugar

Line a dish of your choosing (the book says 9x13, but I did more like 9x6, so it was extra thick and delicious) with parchment paper (or if its glass, no need. the margarine from the crust on the glass will make it easy to get out).

Smash the graham cracker mixture into the bottom using your hands and pack it as tightly as possible. The tighter it is packed, the better the final bars will turn out of the pan.

Pour the cooled, simmered coconut milk mixture over top.

Spread chocolate chips, flaky sweetened coconut flakes (redundancy is necessary), and chopped pecans, in that order, making sure they are all... incorporated (im too tired for preciseness... to be precise, whatever). moistened. submerged.

The book suggests:

1.5 cups chocolate chips
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

But exact measurements are not a must here. sprinkle as generously, or not.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes - until bubbly around the edges.

Cool completely. Breezy windows work well.

Refrigerate overnight (or just shove them in the freezer for an hour because you dont want to wait until tomorrow. but seriously, 4+ hours in the fridge is best). enjoy.

Eating from pan with forks is acceptable. Especially in the event that everyone finishes their first slice and wants more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cream of Broccoli Soup, Broccoli Cheddar Soup... cheese in soup form, whatever.

1 medium-large Yukon Gold potato
1 large onion (sweet is best, but apparently they're not in season. Yellow was good)
3 broccoli stalks
~3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 broccoli heads
2 qt water

a few cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, or just save the water from the cooking the broccoli heads, water, or any combination of the above)
2-3 bay leaves
generous marjoram
salt and pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard

1 cup cream (or soy milk, or coconut milk, or just plain milk)
LOTS of shredded cheddar cheese

*If you're making it vegan, add a couple of tablespoons flour along with the liquids to make it thicker.

Im going to guess a couple stalks of celery and/or chopped celery root would be good

ooh! or! I read in a recipe once the suggestion to use cauliflower and guillere cheese instead... mmm

Peel and cube the potato, onion, and the broccoli stalks. The potato will be easiest, but the onion and broccoli aren't all that complicated. Just make sure you peel them both, first, and try to make your cubes roughly the same size. And don't skip the broccoli stalks. They really make the soup.

Cut the broccoli heads into florets and boil the water. Throw in the broccoli heads and cook them for 2-3 minutes. They should be softer, but really shouldn't be cooked for too long. When they are done, use a slotted spoon (or something like it) to take out the florets, keeping the water! The less water used the more concentrated the flavor in the water.

Sautee the cubed veggies in a large pot with margarine, butter, or olive oil for about 5 minutes, stirring to keep the bottoms from burning. Add the garlic about half way through (garlic burns easier than onion. thanks Mirna!). Once they start to look softened and smell delicious, add the bay leaves, some salt, your liquid (broth, water, broccoli water), the marjoram (I really don't think you can add too much marjoram), and mustard. Simmer until the veggie cubes are fully cooked, and even a little longer if you'd like, adding more liquid if it starts getting too thick.

Add the cooked florets and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Remove Bay Leaves and puree the entire mixture, leaving chunks only if you prefer it that way.

Return to a very low heat and stir in the cream. salt, pepper, etc. to taste.

Only add the cheese right before serving (and I would suggest adding it to each bowl individually so as not to have left overs with cheese already mixed in). This is for two reasons; most importantly, the cheese will become tough if it gets over heated or boils in the soup. Secondly, cheese just seems to retain more of its flavor when it is just barely melted.

As with most soups, this is even better a day or two later.

Mini Cheesecakes

I've been craving these for about eight years now, and they surprisingly lived up to their reputation, by which i mean the reputation they had developed in my head.

No comment about using little cookies for the crust. No, they're not from scratch, but i tried making a little graham cracker type crust and it was nowhere near as good.

16 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sugar
Nilla Wafers
cupcake paper liner things

*note: use a mixer, seriously. It will start out kind of chunky, but use a higher setting if you need to and continue mixing until it becomes very creamy. I would even suggest turning up the speed afterwards so that it gets a lighter, whipped consistency.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line your muffin pan with the paper liners. Place one Nilla Wafer in each one, and fill them about 2/3rds full with the cream cheese mixture.

Bake. The recipe says 15 minutes, but my oven seems to be kind of weak and they needed more like 21 minutes.

Basically, they should puff up and take on a more firm, less shiny texture. Experiment by doing one small pan first and adjusting as you go.

*Trick: when not using all of the cups in a muffin pan, add water to the empty cups. This keeps the heat spreading evenly, and pretty much everything baked comes out more moist if there is a little cup of water in the oven.

These are way better after sitting for at least until cool, but they really mature by the next day!

Also, a dollop of strawberry jelly makes them gourmet-ish. Mom's jelly, of course.
makes about 18.