Monday, July 30, 2012

Balsamic-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1.5 T brown sugar
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into wedges
salt and pepper to taste

Chopped toasted walnuts or almonds
Crumbled Gorgonzola

Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil.

Combine oil, vinegar and brown sugar in a small measuring cup.  Arrange wedges in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.  Pour balsamic mixture over wedges and gently toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.
Roast wedges, turning halfway through, about 20 minutes, and then roast another 20 minutes until fork tender.  Garnish wedges with nuts and Gorgonzola.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cucumber Roll Sushi

Sushi Rice
1 cup short grain rice
1 cup plus 3 tsp cold water
1/4 cup sushi vinegar
cold water for washing rice

To Wash Rice: soak rice in a bowl of cold water. Stir the rice around in the bowl with your hands. After the water becomes cloudy, strain the rice by pouring the water and rice mixture into a strainer. Put the rice back into the bowl and add fresh cold water, repeating process until the water is no longer cloudy. Finally, leave the "washed" rice in the strainer for 30 to 60 minutes.

To Cook Rice: place rice in a heavy small-sized pot. Add water and cover tightly. do not lift the lid at any point until the rice is finished cooking, or steam will escape and it will not cook properly. Place over medium-high heat until the rice steams (7-10 minutes). Turn heat to high and cook 2 minutes. You may notice a white foam around the lid and the lid jiggling up and down. (I had no foam, or jiggling, but rice was perfect) Next, reduce heat to medium and cook another 5 minutes, until the foam stops and you hear a crackling sound. (no foam, no crackling, just a timer for me) Turn off heat, and let stand, covered, another 15 minutes, as rice steams. After rice is finished steaming, remove the cover and, using the bamboo paddle, fluff the rice. (this rice was already sticky at this point) Wrap the cover in a cloth towel and return cover to pot. Let stand another 15 minutes.

To Season Rice: With rice paddle, gently spread the hot rice in a shallow, large-bottomed nonmetallic bowl or platter. As the steam is escaping, sprinkle the sushi vinegar over the rice and with quick horizontal motions, scooping back and forth along the bottom, toss the rice with the sushi vinegar. Immediately start to fan the rice to cool it. A piece of cardboard or a paper fan, if one is available, are fine to use. The cooling process should last about 2 minutes. Cover the rice loosely with a clean wet towel and let it stand for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is at room temperature. Keep the rice covered with a damp towel. Rice can be prepared earlier in the day, and covered in damp cloth until ready for use. Do not refrigerate rice prior to making roll. After rolls are made, it can be refrigerated.

Cucumber Roll
1/2 cucumber sliced into thin strips
1 avocado peeled, pitted and sliced
prepared sushi rice
4 Nori sheets
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

bowl of water/vinegar solution (6 Tb water plus 2 tsp water)

Toast Nori sheets in skillet, shiny side down over high flame. Place Nori on bamboo mat. Dip your hands in the water/vinegar bowl and scoop up some sushi rice. Spread it evenly over the nori, but leave a margin of 1/2 inch at the far end free of rice. Moisten your hands when needed, but don't make the rice soggy. Create a narrow groove in the center of the rice and place cucumber strips, avocado slices and toasted sesame seeds.

Grasp the mat in both hands, thumbs underneath, and pressing lightly on the cucumber with index finger of both hands, lift the mat so the edge of the nori closest to you meets the near edge of the rice-free margin of nori at the far end. Press straight down on the sides of the mat, not on the op of the roll. Lift mat slightly and finish rolling the roll, so that the rice-free edge of nori adheres to the roll. Carefully remove the mat. Place roll on cutting board, seam side down. Dip the knife in water/vinegar; then slice roll in half. Clean knife with a towel, dip again and cut each half in thirds. Serve with wasabi paste and soy sauce.
sticky rice, very sticky.
cucumber, avocado, and black sesame seeds.
that's the way we roll!
with some wasabi and soy.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Potato Skins Potato Salad

The inspiration for this salad came after seeing a Loaded Baked Potato Salad on Pinterest. Thing was, it wasn't a baked potato, they were boiled, and when you are adding sour cream, cheese, bacon and green onions, that says POTATO SKINS to me.  So, I wanted to roast these taters to give them that crispy skin texture that makes potato skins such a treat.  Start by preheating your oven to 425, and then let's get started.
8 red potatoes (not baby new potatoes, and not big honkers, but medium or size of a small fist)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream (light or fat free is fine)
1/4 cup mayo (again light or olive oil is great)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon
1 bunch green onions (chop greens and discard or save white part of onion for another use.)
salt and pepper to taste

Scrub potatoes and leave skins on.  Cut potatoes in half, and then those halves in half, and cut into bite size chunks (two or three more cuts).

Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with lemon pepper or salt and pepper or seasoned salt, whichever strikes your fancy.  Put foil in roasting pan and top with seasoned potatoes. Roast for 15 minutes, stir, and roast another 15 minutes.  Switch to broil and give them 3-5 minutes stir and another 3-5 to crisp the outside and leave a tender inside. Watch closely while broiling as they could burn easily at this point.  Remove from oven and lift foil holding potatoes, onto a cooling rack and let them cool off.  

While potatoes are cooling, mix sour cream, mayo, shredded cheddar and half the green onions in small bowl.   Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and heat skillet for the bacon.  Using kitchen shears, cut bacon into small pieces into the heated skillet and brown.  Place bacon on paper towels once browned and set aside.  Once potatoes are cooled, place in large bowl and gently mix with sour cream mixture.  When ready to serve top with crumbled bacon and the rest of the green onion.  You can serve now while warm or cover and chill.