Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trying a New Recipe

I've become a regular reader of, written by my friend Amy. She has a great "Foodie To Do List". I couldn't decide what to have for dinner, so I browsed her list and a link to Sushi Rice Salad caught my eye. Tonight I was on my own for dinner - my dining partner and resident dishwasher is on his way to a work conference for a few days - so I wanted something that didn't require too many dishes! With Grease 2 on the TV (don't laugh at me), I got to work preparing this quick meal.

A note about the rice. I was home sick today and ran out to the closest store (Whole Foods) to pick up a few ingredients for this recipe, including brown rice. Apparently there had been some disastrous spill in the Asian food aisle - also the rice aisle. After waiting for them to finish mopping, which they didn't, the very nice customer service man offered to get me the rice I needed. I didn't know I wanted, so he led me slowly down the aisle to pick it out. Once I was in this dangerous area I surveyed the rice options. Turns out that WF does not have any 10-minute brown rice or any quick-cooking plain brown rice of any kind. Strike! But I felt like I had to pick out something for all the trouble of shuffling down the aisle practically holding hands with the WF man (it was NOT that slippery, guess they are terrified of lawsuits). One of my upcoming meals will be accompanied by sesame ginger rice. I checked out and headed across the street to Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's had a completely opposite rice selection. Almost everything was pre-cooked rice in packaging designed to go in the microwave for 1-3 minutes for instant eating. So, I gave in and bought a pack of plain brown rice that cooked up in 1 minute.

For the recipe, I followed it pretty closely just tweaking the amount of some ingredients. For the original recipe check out I'll retype it below with my tweaks. Next time I'll make sure to get the right rice and will add more of it. Also, I will leave out the pickled ginger. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I left it in for this first try. I also added the wrong measurements for the dressing ingredients (which I didn't realize until I started typing up the recipe for this post). It still tasted great, but could have tasted a lot better. That's what I get for trying to follow a new recipe when I'm in a sudafed state. Next time will be better!

This would also be delicious with some sushi-grade tuna or salmon diced up in place of the tofu. Those are my notes - enjoy!

I love to chop veggies - so this recipe was perfect for me. Here's a shot of my chopping:

Sushi Rice Salad
Adapted from

1 package of pre-cooked brown rice (according to package, 3.5 servings of ½ cup each)
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, divided
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled ginger
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, shredded
1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped
8 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 sheets nori (dried seaweed)
1 avocado

In a small saucepan bring 1/4 cup vinegar to boil with sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat
Cook rice, transfer rice to a large bowl and stir in vinegar mixture
Cool rice and drain excess liquid
Stir in sesame seeds, remaining 3 tbsp. vinegar, ginger, scallions, cucumber, tofu, and carrot
Cut nori sheets into 1 inch wide strips
Cut open and pit avocado
Score avocado with a sharp knife, making cubes
Use a spoon to remove from the skin and add avocado to salad with nori
Toss well

2 teaspoons wasabi paste (I accidentally did 2 tablespoons – SPICY!!)
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons ginger juice (from the jar of pickled ginger)

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together
Drizzle dressing over salad and mix carefully.

Serves 4-6

I didn’t use all the dressing I made, partly because I made the wrong amount! Reduce the amount of wasabi if you don’t want it as spicy.

Prep Time: 15 minutes of chopping and assembling
Cook Time: Less than 5 minutes
Cutting board and knife, bowls, sauce pan and spoon, serving bowl and utensils

And of course - fun chopsticks! I got these at Sunfest in Florida a few years back. They make it fun to eat!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Night Stir-Fry...

Tonight's plan was for a fancy stir-fry with pan-fried tofu over rice. I had almost all the ingredients and the best intentions, but it didn't turn out so fancy. Don't get me wrong - it was edible (and tasty) - but it didn't turn out the way I hoped it would.

On some cooking show or in one of my cookbooks there was a tip to dust tofu with corn-starch before pan-frying it to get a nice golden brown crust. I tried it when I first found it and it was great - crunchy on the outside and still tender on the inside. Tonight I either had too much oil or the wrong temperature or I put the cornstarch on too early. My tofu kind of stuck to the pan and the nice crispy crunch came right off. Or maybe I should blame it on my resident dishwasher - the really non-stick pan was dirty so I used a different pan. Either way, it was still tofu and still tasty.

For the vegetable part of the stir-fry I stuck with a pretty basic mix. I served it over couscous (no rice in the pantry). We got a new cilantro plant and have a lot to use so I added that in at the end. Here's the veggie recipe. I'll skip the tofu recipe until I get it right!

Stir-Fried Veggies
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 small can of sliced water chestnuts, rinsed
1/4 white onion, diced

Sauce and Spices
Couple tablespoons of Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tsp. of Thai fish sauce
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of garlic powder
Salt and Pepper
Juice from 1/4 lemon
Handful of cilantro leaves chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium heat
Add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil (enough to cover the pan)
Toss in veggies
Cook for 4-5 minutes and then stir
Cook for another 3-4 minutes until veggies are cooked through, but still have some crunch

Mix all sauce ingredients (except cilantro) and pour over veggies
Sprinkle cilantro over the skillet and stir
Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto...from scratch!

Inspired by the new basil plant that I bought over the weekend and some leftover sun-dried tomatoes from the couscous salad last week, tonight's dinner was penne pasta with homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. Instead of searching for a recipe to try - I made this one up! It was delicious and would be great on a baguette as an appetizer or on a sandwich with mozzarella. Yum!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this, but bread is my favorite food (followed closely by cheese). So what better to go with pasta than more carbs! I made biscuits (Jiffy mix) but for a special twist I added about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the batter. I can't believe I haven't tried this before. The lemon gave it a nice fresh, bright taste and tied in with the lemon in the pesto.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

8-10 leaves of fresh basil
7-8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
About 1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 cloves of garlic
About 1/4 cup of olive oil

Add basil, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and garlic to a food processor
Put the lid on and begin to pulse
As you are pulsing slowly pour in the olive oil through the hole in the lid
Continue pulsing until you get a consistent texture

I mixed in some grated Parmesan cheese after pulsing it in the food processor

Quick note: traditional pesto calls for toasted pine nuts. I didn't have any on hand so I just skipped them. I was planning to add in walnuts for another flavor, but I totally forgot too add them in.

Cook pasta according to instructions on the package
Drain and return to the warm pot
Add pesto and toss until well combined
Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Food processor, pasta pot, colander, serving dishes and utensils.


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