Monday, May 21, 2012

Sushi Time: California Roll

Okay my friends and readers out there (I know I have a few dedicated readers out there somewhere.  Thanks for all of your comments by the way, it's nice to know my posts actually get checked out!) who of you out there enjoys a good plate of sushi?  Any of you out there brave enough to eat sashimi?  Well, my husband was nice enough to cater to my desires for our 5th anniversary this last weekend, and we went out for sushi at an actual sushi restaurant and tried a few different rolls. Since then the two of us have gone a little sushi crazy.  We wanted to learn how to make it after having some and paying a sushi chef to make it for us (it's delicious, but spendy!)

We decided to start small and simple and learn to make California Roll first.  We figured since that is using the imitation crab sticks and avocado and cucumber, it would be an easy one to try out, and if we were successful with that we could move on to more complicated recipes.  So that is why I named this post as a sort of a beginning of a category, because I honestly would love to try making a spicy tuna roll or some other kind after the success we have had with this California Roll.   I wish I had thought to take tutorial type pictures because this recipe is very simple as far as ingredients, but a bit trickier with the process/technique.  Instead of my own tutorial pics, I will link you all to a very helpful YouTube video we found and used last night.  The above picture is an actual picture of my finished product from last night.

Go here for the tutorial video of how to put everything together if you can't understand what I will be giving as directions.  And now for the recipe...

California Roll Sushi--makes 6 rolls, or 48 pieces

Sushi Rice (recipe below)
1 avocado, sliced (I also recommend sprinkling a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent discoloration)
1 cucumber, quartered, seeded, and sliced into thin strips length wise
9 imitation crab sticks
1 pkg Nori seaweed (it's the dehydrated seaweed sheets, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
optional: toasted sesame seeds, tobiko (fish roe)

for serving: pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce.  All of these should be in your Asian section of your local grocery store.

Tools needed: sushi mat, plastic wrap, and you may want some cooking spray so the rice doesn't stick to your hands, and a good sharp knife.

Sushi Rice recipe

4 c rice
4 c water
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned, and it's in the Asian section.)
2 tbsp salt (yes, I said TBSP--that's a TABLESPOON, not a teaspoon. It's the right amount.)

Rinse your rice in a strainer til the water runs clear.  You'll want to swirl the rice around in the sieve or strainer in cold water, and just keep running the water over it til it runs clear and you cant see any white starchy stuff in it.  Then put it in your rice cooker and add the 4 cups of water and set to cook til its done.  When it's done cooking, immediately transfer it to a large glass bowl.   Mix your vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small bowl, and microwave the mixture for 45 seconds.  Stir to make sure its all dissolved together, then pour that over your rice, and stir the rice to make sure every grain is coated in the vinegar mixture.  Let stand to cool to room temp, takes roughly half an hour.  This is a good time to prep your veggies and set up your sushi station.

Wrap your sushi mat in plastic wrap so it is covered on both sides.  Place a sheet of the Nori seaweed on the mat.  When your rice is cooled to room temp, then spread it onto the seaweed sheet and press down so it sticks.   Cover the whole sheet with the rice in a thin layer.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if you like, if not, then just flip your seaweed over so the rice is facing down.

Cut 3 of the crab sticks in half, and leave the other 6 sticks in tact.

Place your avocado slices in the bottom center of the seaweed,  then cucumber above it, and then lastly the crab sticks (take 1 1/2 of the sticks) above the line of cucumber.  (see video for a clearer image of this description)  Using the mat, roll the sushi up and as the mat is rolled around the sushi roll, move the mat so it doesnt get rolled into the sushi roll.  (I hope this makes sense--again, see video for clearer image/demonstration) Continue to roll it til the whole thing is rolled into a log shape.  If any of your ingredients from the center are coming out of the roll, tap the ends to push it all back in.

With a sharp knife cut the roll in half, and then each half in half, and then each of the quarters in half again to make 8 pieces.  Repeat process again til you have completed all 6 rolls.  Serve with wasabi paste and pickled ginger.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lemon Curd

Alright, this is a rare thing that most people in America have no idea about, but my family LOVES it.  Pretty much everyone I have talked to has had a lemon bar/lemon square so they have eaten lemon curd before, but they have never known what it was, just this delicious lemon stuff on top of a shortbread crust.  But it has much more potential than just for that.

Last week Bountiful Baskets had an add-on of a 38 lb box of lemons for $21.  I suggested to my mom that we split the box and make some lemon curd which is one of her favorite toppings for toast.  Or make lemonade concentrate, or just frozen lemon juice in ice cube trays for later use, or pie or whatever we wanted.  She said that was a good idea and today we got my sister to join us for a day full of canning a bunch of lemon curd.  Mom also did a few ice cube trays of lemon juice, and some candied lemon peel for later use.  All in all it was a pretty successful day.

So, anyway, back to the original subject, our recipe of the day.  Lemon curd is a custard like lemon jam.  It's spreadable gold in my book, delicious on toast, pancakes, waffles, gingerbread, scones, english muffins, or even as a filling for lemon cake (or cupcakes for that matter).  It's also commonly used in baked form on lemon bars as mentioned before.  The only difference between the lemon bars and the curd in the jar is that you just mix everything together and pour it over the crust and it bakes in the oven for the bars, and for the jarred stuff you cook it on the stove til it thickens and then pour it into canning jars and then process it to seal the lids.  So imagine lemon bars flavoring on your toast in the morning.  Yup, you got it, it's DELICIOUS!

Here's how you make it.  We tripled the batches to make it go faster, and made about 26 jars for the 3 of us to split up and take home.  Trust me, you'll want the triple batch, it makes about 5 jars and it's worth the work.

Lemon Curd

juice and zest of 9 lemons (about 3 cups juice)
3 sticks of butter
1 pinch salt
3 cups of sugar
9 egg yolks
3 whole eggs

Zest your lemons with a microplane or fine grater or citrus zester.  Then roll lemons on the counter to loosen the juice inside, and cut them in half to juice them.  This is where an electric citrus juicer comes in very handy because it really makes things go faster.  My mom has a juicer attachment for her Kitchen Aid and we just hooked it up and it made it go really fast.  You'll want to use a sieve over whatever bowl or measuring cup you use for the juice (we used one of those Pyrex measuring pitchers) so it catches the pulp and seeds.  Once you have gotten all of the lemon halves juiced, measure to make sure its roughly 3 cups of juice, then add your zest to the juice.  Set aside.

In a double boiler, or a pot of water with a heat proof bowl over top of it, melt the butter.  Add sugar and salt and stir together, and then add lemon juice and zest.   Whisk over medium low heat til sugar is dissolved and mixture is heated through.

Separate your eggs (the first 9) and whisk the yolks with the 3 whole eggs til they are lemony in color and uniform.  When the lemon mixture is dissolved and heated through, add approximately 1 cup of the lemon sugar mix to the eggs and whisk vigorously while slowly pouring in the lemon mixture.  Once the eggs and lemon juice are together, and mixed well, add the whole thing back to the lemon juice and sugar on the stove, and continue to cook and stir for about 15 minutes til the mixture thickens to the consistency of honey and it looks glossy.

Take your canning jars out of your canner (a large pot that processes canning jars) and carefully ladle the curd into half pint jars and then top the jar with a lid and ring and screw on tight, and then flip it over onto a towel on the counter or table to seal.  Let stand for about an hour til the lid is sealed tight (when you press the center it shouldnt go down or make a clicking sound).  Store in a cool place for up to 2 years.

Spread on toast, english muffins, cake, banana bread, brownies, shortbread cookies, whatever you want. You could pipe it into the center of cupcakes too if you want.  Or on pound cake or gingerbread cake.  Delicious!