Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To all my readers, I have moved my blog over to WordPress. You can find me at the following web address:

Be sure to update your bookmarks, readers, etc.

See you over there!


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Blues: Baked Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp

I love my freezer.  Having a freezer means that I can save the handpicked blueberries from Lake Chelan and sun ripened blackberries from my yard and use them in the winter for yummy things like, Crisps!

There is not a soul on earth who isn't tempted by the smell of a fruit crisp baking in the oven.  With a browned crumbly, brown sugar and oat topping over warmed bubbly berries and a side of fresh vanilla icecream, who can resist.  Remember, crisps are timeless and you can serve them any time of the year with any fruit combo you desire.  Make it your own.  Serve with a cup of hot coffee for best results.

3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. oats
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
6 T.  butter, softened
1/2 C. toasted hazelnuts

1 1/2 C. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/1/2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Look for an oven safe pretty pan/dish from your cupboard.  Not something with yucky stains on it, but something you will feel pround to bring out in front of guests if that's what you plan on doing with your crisp.  You want it to be presentable.  I suggest shallow white bakeware or a glass pyrex.  You can also make these individual if you want to use ramekins or small oven safe decorated dishware. 

For the topping, add all the ingredients in that section in a medium bowl and blend together using your hands.  Be sure to work the butter pieces with your fingertips into the mixture.  The topping should look like course sand when you are done.

For the filling, mix all ingredients until well combined.  Prepare dish with baking spray and pour in your fruit mixture. Cover with topping mixture.  Place your dish on a cookie sheet and put it into the oven.  This way, if it bubbles over the side, you're not spending the evening cleaning your oven.  I doubt it will go over the top, but depends on the size of your dish.  Be careful not to overfill.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.  It's going to smell amazing.
Remove it from the oven and let cool for at least ten minutes before serving.  Serve it with vanilla ice cream on the side.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chicken, Kale and Brown Rice Soup

If you want something delicious and healthy for you during the icy winter months, try this soup.  It's not only full of vitamins and fiber, it's also good for your budget.  I look forward to coming home to this soup on weeknights.  Prepare it on Sunday afternoon and it will be waiting to welcome you home after your long day.

1 T. Olive oil
3 large shallots, chopped
3 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch segments
1 lb. ground chicken
1 T. herbes de Provence
5 C. chicken broth
1 14 oz. diced canned tomatoes, with juice
1 14 oz. canned white beans, like Great Northern
1 1/2 C. cooked brown rice
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/2 c. chopped flatleaf parsley
grated parmesean cheese to top

Heat the oil in your soup pot and add shallots, carrots, and bell peppers and saute' over medium heat until softened, and just start to brown, 10 minutes.  Add Chicken and cook stirring occassionally until cooked through. Add herbs, broth, tomatoes, beans and rice.  Bring soup to a boil.  Stir in chopped kale and reduce heat to a simmer.  Place the lid on the soup and cook for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with parsley and grated parmesean

Another way you can serve this is with a baked cheesy toast on top.  Slice french bread, turn on the broiler.  Butter top side of bread and sprinkle parmesan over it.  Place soup in bowl on a cookie sheet and top with cheese bread.  Put into the oven, under the broiler for 4 minutes or until toasted and bubbly.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Harissa Sauce made with Spinach and Cilantro

This sauce is amazing.  It's refreshing and brings new life to the old dinner menu.  I think you would agree with me that this is a "go to" sauce.  It's impressive because it is versatile and can adorn virtually any meat, vegetable or bread.  Usually pesto is my "go to" sauce, but this has become a favorite.

If you have been reading this blog, by now, you probably understand that I really love to cook all types of food from varying cultures.  I'm facinated by the history of food, the preparation, the cultural impact and the different tastes.  One of the most relaxing things for me is to come home from work, turn on music that matches the dinner theme and just cook up a great meal.  The joy this brings me is only enhanced when I am joined by others in my kitchen who share my passion.  I hope some of these recipes inspire you too. 

2 C. fresh spinach, washed
1 C. fresh cilantro, washed
1 serrano chile, seeded
1 T. lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 t. coriander
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 C. olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth consistency.  Store in plastic container in the fridge until ready to use.  I actually double the recipe and freeze half for quick and delicious weeknight meals.  Using a spoon, spread sauce on Salmon, cod, halibut, steak, bread, chicken or vegetables and cook as you normally would. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Barbequed Greek Chicken Skewers

Barbequed Greek Chicken Skewers

I made this chicken dish earlier this summer and have made it numerous times since.  This recipe was sort of created by accident.  I have been craving greek food. I kept seeing ads for Greek Yogurt and became very curious about how I could use it in a recipe or maybe I just wanted to buy it because the package looked cool.  Whatever the reason, it came home with me.  I think it tastes horrible by itself, but it's a wonderful tenderizer.  I also happen to love fried chicken marinated in buttermilk.  Wouldn't it be great if we could eat fried chicken every day?  Ok...okaaaay maybe the wasteline doesn't need it, but this recipe accomplished a lot of my cravings in one healthy recipe.  If you have leftovers, try rolling it in a tortilla with cream cheese and crunchy lettuce for lunch the next day.

Note:  You can buy Garam Masala in any specialty spice store.  Unless your grocer is really something, chances are they probably don't carry it.  It's worth every penny. 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into strips
2 C. plain, greek yogurt
1/2 red onion, chopped medium
1/2 C. cilantro
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. olive oil
1 T. lime juice
1 T. garam masala
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. powdered ginger or 1 inch grated fresh ginger

Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag.  Make sure all the air is out.  Marinate the chicken in the yogurt sauce over night.  Assemble chicken on skewers that have been soaked in water for at least an hour.  Prepare barbeque grill and place chicken skewers on grill with skewer ends hanging over the edge so they don't burn.  Grill for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the other.  Enjoy hot.

These are very good as little appetizers too.  Use toothpicks, but don't put them on the grill.  Just cut the chicken up smaller and have toothpicks on the side for your guests to use.  Mmmm!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiesta Rice

I just celebrated the birthday that I will be celebrating the rest of my life.  Thirty nine.  Okay, now let's talk about food.

A couple weeks or so before my birthday, my friend and I were chatting about it and I told her that I was going to host an outdoor birthday dinner party.  "Im going to make the Tacos Al Pastor on my blog."  Then I asked her, "What do you think I should make as a side to go with them?"  "Oh, I think you should make Spanish Rice." she responded knowingly and went on to tell me all the good things she adds to hers.  "Corn, green peppers, onions."  She's the kind of friend who just has to look at you a certain way and you know everything she's going to say.  We started adding ingredients taking turns in the conversation, our eyes getting bigger and bigger as if each ingredient that came to mind outdid the last.  The more we talked, the more excited we got about...rice.  Who get's excited about rice?  Apparently we do.  And you're about to.

If you want your birthday party to be what you expect it to be, you'll have better luck throwing it yourself.  Well, unless another really good friend makes you dinner and orders your favorite cake.  That (and many other reasons are) what friends are for, right?  I had a great time putting together my own party though.  I bought lanterns to hang outside from our table umbrella, citronella candles, cute party plates and napkins that I got out of a sale bin, and decided on the theme.  I have to tell you, dinner was great, but the best part was the outdoor movie we enjoyed after the sun went down.  Upon inviting my guests, I asked them to bring a lawn chair and a very warm blanket.  We set up the laptop, speakers and video equipment on a table in the yard and aimed the movie projection at the back of the house where we have some very large windows.  We all sat in a row, snuggled up and watched one of my favorite movies.  I think it was one of the best birthday celebrations I ever had.  And it should be if I'm going to celebrate it for years to come, right?

I included the rice recipe.  Keeping with the birthday theme, I called it Fiesta Rice.  I also served chips (Juanita's - which are my personal favorite!) and salsa, and a great summer crab salad.

Fiesta Rice

1 T butter
1 C. long grain white rice
1/2 C. chopped red pepper
1/2 C. chopped orange pepper
1/2 C. chopped white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C. Herdez Ranchero Sauce, Salsa or tomato sauce
1 1/2 C. water
1 small can green chilis
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the rice.  Stir to coat.  Add the peppers, onions and garlic and  cook for five minutes until rice is lightly toasted and vegetables are softened.  Stir occassionally.  Add the Ranchero Sauce and water.  Cover skillet and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat and simmer about 25 minutes until rice has absorbed the liquid and is done cooking.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the green chilis and black beans. Serve hot!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Backyard Summer Flips!

FLIPS!  The following recipes were inspired by a Cherry Lime Flip recently consumed on a shopping trip with my sister.  We spent a very long time trying on wedding and bridesmaids dresses and decided that it was high time for a refreshment!  We both ordered the Cherry Lime Flip which was drained at lightning speed.  During the second round, I pondered putting flip concoctions of my own on the blog.  I came up with the Orange Citrus Flip, the Wild Tea Flip and the Raspberry Lime Flip.

What exactly is a Flip?  About 300 years ago, a flip was a mixed cocktail of beer, rum and sugar that was heated through with a red hot iron.  The hot iron was used to froth the cocktail, thus flipping it from cold to a warm foamy texture.  Although tempted to use the term as a verb, the drink was referred to as a noun, "Flip".   Later versions of the Flip usually included cream and was similar to egg nog concoctions.  Essentially the red hot heating element was tossed out as an antiquated method and frothing was replaced by the constant pouring of the spirited blend back and forth between two vessels.  "Thus, to live at sea, eat biscuit and drink flip!" 
Orange Citrus Flip
The Orange Citrus Flip
Makes 2

8 oz Orange Crush Soda
2 oz Blood Orange Absolut vodka
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. Rose's Lime juice
1 T Rose's Grenadine
Orange and Lime slices for garnish
crushed ice

Take a pitcher and add the first five ingredients.  Mix.  Pour over ice into two chilled high ball glasses and garnish with lime slices.  Add a fun straw or a party swizzle.  Serve ice cold. 

*I love the color orange!  I served them at my birthday party!  Everyone loved them!

Wild Tea Flip

 Wild Tea Flip
Makes 2

8 oz Ginger Ale
2 oz Wild Tea Absolut vodka
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T Rose's Grenadine
Lemon slices for garnish
crushed ice

Take a pitcher and add the first four ingredients. Mix. Pour over ice into two chilled high ball glasses and garnish with lemon slices. Add a fun straw or a party swizzle. Serve ice cold.

Raspberry Lime  Flip

Raspberry Lime Flip
Makes 2

8 oz 7-Up soda
2 oz Raspberry Absolut vodka
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T Rose's Lime juice
1 T Rose's Grenadine
Raspberries and Lime slices for garnish
crushed ice

Take a pitcher and add the first five ingredients. Mix. Pour over ice into two chilled high ball glasses and garnish with lime slices. Add a fun straw or a party swizzle. Serve ice cold.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Red Snapper in a Roasted Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

*** Before I begin, I want to apologize to my blog followers.  Things were hectic for a spell and further complicated by catastrophic computer issues.  I'm back and ready to get the great recipes as of late on the blog!  Thanks for checking in on me. 

You've heard it before.  When cooking, buy what's fresh and what looks good in the case.  My local fish monger had fresh red snapper and I chose to serve it with a roasted bell pepper cream sauce.

Now you can do it the long way and roast the bell peppers yourself over an open flame either on your gas range or on the grill, then put it in a closed brown paper bag for about 20 minutes and peel.  Like that's not a lot of work!!  Or, you can simply buy your roasted red bell peppers in the jar, like Mezzetta, which come from California and are very good quality.

Ding! Ding!  Table for two please!

1 lb red snapper fillets
2/3 C. roasted red peppers (Mezzetta)
2 cloves garlic
dash salt and pepper
1/2 C. white wine
2 T whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. chopped flatleaf parsley

Remove fish from wrapper and rinse in cold water.  Pat dry with paper towel and set aside.  Combine the roasted red  peppers, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Pour red bell pepper sauce into skillet over medium heat.  Add white wine and stir.  Add fillets and cover with lid.  Steam fillets over medium low heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove fillets onto serving plates. Going back to your sauce, turn off heat and add whipping cream and stir until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chicken Curry with Lime and Tomatoes

Kye thar hin
Chicken Curry with Lime and Tomatoes

This week was a dandy.  I mean that with every possible amount of sarcasm.  Sometimes one feels overwrought with the problems of the world, but we must remember, it's always worse somewhere.  I love to cook because its an outlet of artistic expression, its creative and amongst many other reasons, it is the only thing I really have control over.  When the week is tough, there's always cooking.

I get to the end of most weeks and I usually can't remember how they started.  I chose to leave it all behind me and left work to take the kids to the park and be a kid with them.  We even took the car through the car wash for fun.  After making them dinner and getting them all settled, I opened a cookbook my sister got me for Christmas titled Curry Cuisine and opened it to this malaysian recipe.  I poured a glass of one of my absolute favorite wines, a Kestrel 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, turned on some low groovy music and got down to cooking this spicy and delicious meal.  There is something to say for taking your time and enjoying the experience.

This recipe comes out of the book Curry Cuisine, but I did change it to suit my taste.  I added the bell peppers, made substitutes for the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and Balachaung and left out the chicken thighs.  If you happen to have these things on hand use them.  If not, here is your recipe:

Kye thar hin

2 T. peanut oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 sliced red bell pepper
1 sliced orange bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. ground tumeric
1 T. ground coriander
1 dash cinnamon
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. lime zest
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut lengthwise and again through the center
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 T. lime juice
1 1/2 t. red chili sauce like Sambal Olek
1 T. fish sauce
1/4 C. hot water
1 t. sesame oil
chopped cilantro
3 T. roasted peanuts
4 C. cooked jasmine rice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pour the peanut oil in a skillet and when very hot, add onions, garlic and peppers and stir fry for about three minutes.  Add the tumeric, corriander, cinnamon, lemon and lime zests and chicken pieces.  Stir fry for about 6 to 8 minutes until all your ingredients are beautifully colored and slightly browned.

Add the tomatoes, lime juice, chili sauce, and fish sauce.  Stir and cover the pan to simmer for three minutes.  Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup of hot water and sesame oil.
Transfer skillet contents to oven safe casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and spoon over hot prepared rice.  Garnish with cilantro and peanuts. 

Serve with your favorite wine!

Four Lemon Tart

Four Lemon Tart

A year ago, I bought a tart pan as a gift for someone and tucked it away and forgot about it.  It always happens that when you are looking for something else, you find something you forgot you had.  I have no idea who the tart pan was intended for, but I made this lemon tart for Easter dessert with it, so I guess it's mine now!

Much like always, I reviewed and researched several tart recipes that included lemons or some other variation of fruit and assorted toppings and decided that this version seemed like the strongest candidate for a light dessert after a big dinner.  It came out perfect and after rushing around preparing for this dinner, I thought, forget the glazed spiral sliced ham, where's the dessert!? In my opinion, you could serve this any time of year and it would be amazing.  Who doesn't love lemon desserts?

Four Lemon Tart

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 T. finely grated lemon zest, divided
cooking spray
1 3/4 C. flour
1 1/4 C. sugar, divided
dash salt
6 large eggs
1 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice from four lemons
1/2 C. heavy whipping cream
1/2 C. confectioner's sugar for dusting

This recipe will require an 11 inch tart pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt your butter and pour into a mixing bowl.  Mix in 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest.  Let this mixture stand for about five minutes and using the cooking spray, prepare your tart pan.

Add flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar and salt to a medium bowl and stir together.  Slowly add the butter mixture and stir until combined and dough resembles course pea size pieces and you can squeeze it between your thumb and index finger and it sticks together.  Turn dough out onto prepared tart pan and using the bottom of a tumbler or by hand, flatten dough onto bottom and shape up the sides of the pan.  Make sure to smooth and flatten the edge at the edge of the pan so it looks neat when it comes out of the oven.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Add the remaining sugar and lemon zest to your food processor and blend until the zest is finely ground.  In another mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar/zest mixture, lemon juice and salt and whisk until smooth.

Add whipping cream to a mixing bowl and using electic mixer whip cream until soft peaks form.  Fold the whipping cream into the egg mixture until just blended.

Place your cooled tart pan in the center of a cookie sheet and pour the batter into your tart pan.  Place tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes and the filling is set in the center.  The edges may become a light golden brown.  Remove the tart carefully from the oven and rest until tart is cooled completely.  It is important to know not to touch the top of the tart despite how tempted you are to do so.  The top of the tart is sticky and it will adhere to your finger leaving an unsightly divit on the top that will be noticable despite how much confectioners sugar you use trying to cover it.

After the tart has cooled and just prior to serving, you can place the tart on a cake stand and sift confectioners sugar over the top, or slice tart in wedges individually and sift the sugar over the top after it's plated.

Leave me a comment and tell me how much you love it!

Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor

You're going to laugh.  I ran into these tacos while wine touring.  How does one do that?  Well, I'm not really sure.  What I do know is that I attract unusual circumstances.  It's been that way all my life and one day I'm going to write a book about it.  This day, it was a taco truck in the vineyard.  My sister, her beau, my husband and I were touring Washington wine country and at one of our last stops before the long drive home we drove to a vineyard on a bluff overlooking Rattlesnake Hills called Knights Hill Vineyard.  The vineyard was situated up a gravel drive.  In the dusty sunshine we crested the hill and there it was.  The glorious......taco truck.  Bright yellow, it seemed a vision of heaven for very hungry wine enthusiasts.

We had our priorities in order.  Wine tasting first, then tacos.  After making our wine purchases, we got in line to read the taco menu posted on the side of the truck.  Tiffany (my sister), pointed us in the direction of Tacos Al Pastor.  She said they would be the best around.  One thing I know for sure is that you never come between my sister and a taco.  Never.  I never ate Tacos Al Pastor but when one is staring in the eyes of the taco truck, the smell of the grill is wafting out the door and Tiffany is very enthusiastically convincing us this is the way, we were all listening and pooling our cash.  They were wonderful.  She was right.  I took a few photos to share with you all and researched recipes when I got home.  I made them and my husband and I shared them only communicating with raised brows and eyes open wide.  "It's a hit.  It's going in the blog" I said.
There are several methods for making Tacos Al Pastor, but since I do not have a rotisserie or a spit, or time for that matter, I did mine in the crock pot for a weeknight meal, but it is wonderful roasted to perfection in the oven.

Tacos Al Pastor

1 1/2 lb pork loin meat, cut into striplike pieces
1 C. white vinegar
2 jalapeno or serrano chile peppers
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 medium white onions, finely diced, divided
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pkg Mexican Grill Seasoning (red)
1 C. pineapple juice

Serving Ingredients
40 very small corn or flour tortillas (about four inches in diameter)
6 limes cut into wedges
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 can salsa verde
1 can salsa ranchero

Soak the pork in the vinegar for two hours prior to cooking.  Remove and drain well. 

To soften the chilis, boil them in about 2 cups of water on stovetop until soft and fragrant.  Save your liquid and set aside.  Remove from water bath and remove seeds.  In a food processor, combine chilis, tomatoes, one of the chopped onions (remember these were divided), garlic, Mexican Grill Seasoning, pineapple juice and salt.  Blend until smooth.

In a hot skillet, add sauce and simmer, stirring often for about ten minutes.  Remove sauce and let cool completely. 

When you are ready to assemble, add pork to crock pot with the reserved pepper water and half the sauce.  Keep the other half of the sauce refrigerated.  Cook either in a crock pot on low for four to six hours or in a roasting pan on 325 for 2 1/2 or 3 hours depending on thickness of pork.  At the end of the cooking time, drain the liquid.   Take a fork in each hand and gently pull the pieces of the pork apart, similarly to pulled pork.   Heat up the remaining sauce on stovetop or in microwave and pour over the top of the cooked pork and work in with a fork until combined.

Preparing your tortillas
You can do this two different ways; steam or lightly fry.  Both are good options.  To steam, preheat oven to 200 degrees.   Soak a teatowel in warm water and ring out.  Lay wet towel on a cookie sheet so half of the towel is covering it.  Lay your tortillas in a row next to eachother until sheet is filled.  Pull the wet cloth over the top and tuck in the sides so nothing can burn.  Place sheet in 200 degree oven and turn off the heat.  Get out one of your biggest plates or a platter.  After 10 minutes in the oven your tortillas should be moist and hot.  To fry, pour a tiny bit of oil in a skillet and heat until hot.  Lay the tortilla down for about one minute until it puffs.  Using tongs, turn it over and cook the other side.  Remove on plate lined with paper towel until ready to assemble your taco.

Layer two tortilla shells on top of one another and fill the plate.  Place the marinated meat on top and layer chopped onion and cilantro on top of the meat until all tortillas are filled.  squeeze your limes over the top excessively and serve with salsa verde and ranchero sauce.   After you taste these, you'll know why I said "40 tortillas"! 

Enjoy along side your favorite vineyard!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Banana Cream Coconut Muffins

Banana Cream Coconut Muffins

Once upon a time there lived a little princess who would not eat slightly over ripe bananas so her mother had to come up with a recipe in order to not have them go to waste.  The little princess loved to bake and use the ice cream scoop.  Her mother's recipe was the answer to the question of what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  The little princess, the little prince and their father happily ate the banana cream coconut muffins while their mother enjoyed a few silent moments on her own.  

1 3/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
2 t baking powder
1 small pkg Banana Cream Instant Pudding mix
1 C shredded, sweetened coconut, divided

1 C milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C cooking oil
1 t coconut extract
1 overripe banana, mashed
3 T sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, add flour, sugar baking powder, pudding mix and 1/2 C. coconut.  In a large mixing bowl, add milk, egg, oil, and extract.  Mix.  Stir in mashed banana.  Using rubber spatula, add flour mixture and fold in.

Using an icecream scoop, drop dough into prepared muffin tin.  The dough should come a little more than half way up the muffin cup.  Sprinkle with coconut and sugar.

Place muffin tins in hot oven and cover loosely with a large piece of foil.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes or until coconut on top is lightly golden brown.
Remove muffins from the oven and let cool slightly before turning them out onto cooling rack.

Makes 12 standard muffins or 8 large.


A Handmade Sushi Dinner Party

My good friend Tracy hosted a handmade sushi dinner party this weekend for one of our Dinner Clubs.  A seafood and sushi lover myself, you can imagine the sheer delight at the thought of making our own sushi.  The sushi rolls were fun and easy to make and they were amazingly fresh and delicious.

Tracy had assembled a beautiful table adorned with cherry blossoms, white carnations and pale pink tealight candles.  At each place setting, there were sushi roll mats, chopsticks and little dishes for wasabi paste and pickled ginger. 

To prepare for the evening, she compiled a list of all the ingredients used to make our sushi rolls and divided it among the group.  Her list included shredded carrots, butter leaf lettuce, bell peppers (red, orange, yellow), sliced mango, cucumber, smoked salmon, cooked crab, cooked shrimp, tuna, teriaki tofu, pickled ginger, wasabi paste, soy sauce, black sesame seeds, lemons, Nori (wrapper made from seaweed), rice noodles, handroll wrappers and Sriracha sauce. 

To accompany our sushi rolls, she also prepared broiled Kalbi beef flank and yaki soba noodles.   The whole evening was a lot of fun, but one of the best ideas she gave me was to buy the sushi rice from a sushi restaurant.  You can do this by ordering a box of rice for each of your dinner guests.  

Crab, Avocado and Mango Roll

1 C. crab meat
1 T mayonaise
2 t lemon juice
1 t brown sugar
thin slices mango
thin slices avocado

Mix crab meat, manyonaise, lemon juice and brown sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

To prepare your sushi roll, lay your sushi mat out flat in front of you.  Take a piece of Nori, shiny side down, and lay it flat on the mat.  Dip your fingertips in lemon water and take some of the sushi rice in your hand and flatten it to the center of your Nori making a flat, hoizontal  strip in the middle from one side to the other.  Gently lay pieces of avocado, crab mixture and mango slices hoizontally across your rice.  Take the side of the Nori and gently fold it over the mixture.  Using your rolling mat, roll the mat over the Nori forcing it to roll together.   Applying pressure, squeeze tightly until your sushi roll is compact.  After you have completed this step, put your sushi roll on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife, carefully cut off the excess on both ends.  Place your knife in the center of the roll and cut through.  Then repeat this step again with each section until you have the desired thickness of sushi roll, a little less than an inch.  Garnish with black sesame seeds.

Upon my arrival, Tracy asked me to put this sauce together.  This is a spicy chili sauce based off a recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis.  Including this sauce inside the roll or as a dip to spring rolls was a spicy delight!  This sauce is so good, I would dip pretty much anything in it!  The next day, I made crab cakes with this on the side.  I will warn you that if you can't take the heat, then this sauce isn't for you.  Look at the picture.  Now that is spicy hot!

Chili Mayonaise

1/2 C mayonaise
1 T. chili paste, like Sambal Olek
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. fish sauce (optional)
2 t. brown sugar

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a very this slice of lemon in a twist.  Serve with sushi rolls, spring rolls, crab cakes or at a fish fry.

Tracy's choice of cocktail was a Green Tea Martini.  This is a refreshing mix of tea and citrus flavors which pairs nicely to sushi rolls.

Green Tea Martini
by Tracy Schaaf

6 oz lemon vodka
3 1/2 oz. Gran Marnier or other orange liqueur
7 C water
4 green tea bags
1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate
2 limes, cut into eighths
1 cup fine white sugar

Brew tea in teapot.  Add concentrate to tea.  Set aside to cool completely.  By using four tea bags, you will want the tea to be strong.  In a pitcher, combine vodka, gran marnier, and 12 ounces of the tea/juice mixture.  This will leave extra tea/juice for a second batch.  Stir.

Pour the sugar out on to a saucer.  Line the rim of a martini glass with the lime and turn it upside down onto the saucer to coat with the sugar.  Pour the green tea beverage into the glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.  Serve cold. 

Serves six.

                                                                                           One Cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. - Virgina Woolf

Special thanks to Tracy for the idea and the thoughtful presentation and to my fellow Dinner Club girls.