Category Archives: Appetizers

Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

sweet potato chips1

I have been addicted to these microwave sweet potato chips recently! Why? Because they taste great (obviously), AND they are sooo easy to make!  I’ve been keeping a peeled sweet potato in the refrigerator. When I want to have some fresh chips at lunch time, I just slice thin rounds with my mandolin, place on a parchment lined plate, season with parmesan and onion powder, and zap in the oven for three to four minutes.  How easy is that?

I was inspired by this recipe for sour cream chips.  I couldn’t find powdered buttermilk, so I just omitted it.  I also omitted the salt, which I found unnecessary.  I was dubious at first – -I have always made chips in the oven.  But invariably they would burn on the edges.  I thought microwaving these would produce soggy chips — and they did, the first time.  The trick is to slice them REALLY thin, and you need a mandolin to do this.

0926151301_resized

Now, I keep a peeled portion of sweet potato in the fridge, and whenever I want fresh chips, I just make them.  It’s so much easier than having to preheat an oven and attempting to bake them that way.  For some reason, the microwave ones may brown — watch closely at the end of cooking– but not much.  And it still tastes good — I actually prefer a bit of browning.  It is a very different flavor than the brown/black edges I would end up with baking traditionally.  Hope you try these! 🙂

sweet potato chips2

Microwave Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

1 sweet potato (I peel mine, but you don’t have to!)

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch or two of onion powder

Non-stick olive oil spray

  1. Line a plate with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice some thin rounds of sweet potato with a mandolin.
  3. Arrange in one layer on parchment. Spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and onion powder.
  5. Microwave on high for about four minutes checking to see if they are getting too brown at about three minutes.
  6. Remove and eat! If you want to make a bigger batch and save in an air tight container for later, just repeat the process until you finish slicing the sweet potato.

sweet potato chips 3

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Filed under Appetizers, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Peanut Miso Kale Chips – A New Favorite!

kale miso 2

A couple of years back, I did a post on these Kale Chips, but I’m here to tell you today that I’ve vastly improved them! These are the most delectable Kale Chips ever, and if they were sold in a bag, I’m sure they would fetch the usual $5.00 or so price tag for just a mere handful! The flavor is as wonderful as ever, but I discovered that using Tuscan Kale, removing every single hint of stem, and a new cooking method takes these chips to a higher level.

Tuscan Kale is the kind of kale with flat leaves, unlike their curly leafed cousin.

kale trimmed

I trim each leaf with kitchen shears, and save the stems. I cut the stems into short pieces, or process in a food processor and steam for later usage.

kale with scissors

Kale in steamer -- steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

Kale stems in steamer — steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

I mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl:

peanut sauce

Then coat the kale leaves completely. It is OK if there is just a hint of the sauce on the leaves — it packs a flavorful punch and a little goes a long way!

Spread kale out in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Put in a preheated 375 F degree oven. Turn off oven and let sit for 30-60 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

The chips are perfectly crisp with no brown edges!

kale miso

If you want an even faster recipe, just make the kale chips without the sauce. Cooking time is 20 minutes. I like to spray with olive oil and season with kosher salt.

kale

Look how thin it is!

Look how thin it is!

These chips keep in an air tight container for about two days, and they stay crisp! I have also tried them with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (parmesan would probably taste better, but if you want to go vegan…) and taco seasoning.

kale-chip-with-yeast

kale with yeast 2

My favorite is the peanut miso flavor though! 🙂 Have a try and let me know what you think. Which do you like best?

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

2 teaspoons water

A large bunch of Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, and mirin with a whisk. Add water and whisk until smooth. Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves. Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for one hour. Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

Plain Kale Chips

1 bunch Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

kosher salt to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Season with kosher salt. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for 20 minutes, checking after 12 minutes.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Sides

Best Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Ever and Baked Tortilla Chips

chip in salsa

I have made this salsa exactly four times since I saw this recipe from What’s  Gaby Cooking a month ago!  I made it a bit easier for myself by omitting the cherry tomatoes and reducing the amounts of garlic, cilantro, chipotle, and lime juice.  In the past I have shied away from using chipotles, not because of the heat, but because it comes in a can full of them, and you only need one or two at the most!  I made  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas for a party, and I still had extra chiles.  Luckily, I learned that they can be frozen for future use!  Brilliant!  The key thing is to line your ice cube tray with saran first, as I learned here.  The sauce stains and everything is really spicy!  I defrost and use a cube at a time (about one chile).

Doesn't it look like some strange fossil?

Doesn’t it look like some strange fossil or worse– preserved organ?!

Throw the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times and there you have it — perfect salsa.  Use more chiles if you want it spicier.  The fire roasted tomatoes give it a really nice rich flavor.  I used a can from Trader Joes.

fire roasted tomatoes

Serve with bagged tortilla chips, or make your own!  I also put salsa on everything else:  Eggs, veggies — both raw and cooked…  I can literally eat it by itself, I love it so much!
baked tortilla chipsFire Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

1 chipotle chile (or more if you want it spicier– one is pretty spicy though!)

1/2 medium onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro with stems

1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

pinch of kosher salt to taste

1.  Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times.

2.  Serve immediately with chips or store in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Baked Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas

Non-stick spray

kosher salt

 

1.  Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F.

2.  Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray and set aside

3.  Stack up to four tortillas at a time and cut into 8 to 10 triangles (I like 10 for thinner chips)

4.  Lay in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Spray with non-stick spray and sprinkle with salt.

5.  Bake for about 5 minutes, then watch closely and bake 1-3 minutes more until tan around the edges.  Transfer to a plate to cool and crisp up.

6. Repeat with remaining triangles until used up.

7.  Serve immediately.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.  If they lose a bit of crunch due to humidity, toast in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes before serving.

 

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Filed under Appetizers, Snack

The Hungry Artists’ Recipes

recipe header

Ok, I’ve had this blog for what, going on 3 years here, and I have never compiled a recipes page.  Major head slap.  People often ask me for recipes on the blog, and my feeble response is to “do a search”.   Really lame.

I guess when I began the blog, I didn’t know it would grow this big.  I should have had a recipes page on day one.  I realized this fact a couple of months ago, and the prospect of going back and linking everything and getting it all in ship shape paralyzed me.  I realized it is never going to happen unless I start NOW.  So, I am currently building it, but it will take time.  I have over a 100 recipes on the site to categorize and link.  And now is not the best time in terms of my book and illustration projects (though when is it ever, right?) I am currently involved in.

I just want to say that the recipe page is a work in progress.  It has been really enjoyable to go back and look at older recipes though.  Some I haven’t made in awhile, and I will definitely have to.  Especially the soup recipes!  As some of you might know, the impetus for starting this little blog was the publication of Soup Day, which I wrote and illustrated and came out with Henry Holt in 2010.

Here are the categories I came up with, and here is the recipe page for the whole collection (so far).  Also, there is now a RECIPES link on the header of every page and post! Thanks for your patience and hope you try out some old favorites!

appetizers

green-harvest-soup

chicken

Pork

beef

salmon roll up close

eggs

vegetarian

Sides

breakfast

lighter peanut butter chocolate popcorn

dessert

cookies

beverages

sauces

seasonal

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Filed under Appetizers, Beef, Beverages, Breakfast, chicken, Children

Coconut Sesame Kale Chips and Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon

Sesame Kale

Coconut Sesame Kale

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store, and I noticed packages of kale chips at the cashier stand — $7.49 for a little box!  I decided I needed to make these again at home ASAP.  I did a Miso Peanut Kale Chip post some time ago.  Remember these?

kale up close on plate darker

I began experimenting again.  I decided I wanted a lighter, crispier chip in less time.  So I used coconut oil, a bit of sesame oil, and soy sauce for flavor and sprinkled on sesame seeds.  Instead of 200 degrees, I roasted them at 375 for 15 minutes.  Then I turned off the oven, removed the already crisp ones, and let the not quite crisp kale chips roast in the residual heat.  I kept checking after 5 minutes and removed the crispy ones so they didn’t burn and let the others stay in.  The result was a really light, very crispy kale chip that kept for days in an air tight container and did not lose their crisp!  So this is the method I shall be using in the future.  The coconut oil gave it a real lightness and subtle coconut flavor.

Another soy-sesame based recipe I would like to share was inspired by the Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook which I reviewed in my last post.  I used salmon instead of tuna and I grilled it on the stove, rather than on an outdoor grill.

This is good served with hot, white rice-- it is so good with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

This is so good with hot white rice with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

 

The flavor was incredible!  The texture was  flaky and moist! It was the best salmon I have made in a long time.  Even Jamie loved it and asked for seconds — and he’s usually not a big salmon eater.

I used Kirkland frozen salmon, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I marinated the fillets in a soy, ginger, lemon, sesame oil marinade for 30 minutes, then grilled on the stove in a cast iron grill pan.   Because I heated the pan for four to five minutes beforehand, it was piping hot — perfect for beautiful, crispy grill marks and a slightly caramelized flavor.  The crunchy exterior contrasted with the silky, richness of the interior meat.

I love that I was able to grill it on the stove, making this a dish I’m likely to repeat when it’s too cold to grill outside!

kale 2

Coconut  Sesame Kale Chips

Non-stick spray

One large bunch of kale, leaves torn up, thick stems removed and discarded

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

pinch of kosher salt (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Mix oils and soy sauce and sesame seeds together in a small bowl

3.  Place 1/2 of kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and drizzle 1/2 of oil and soy mixture on top.  Rub into kale with clean hands to coat well.  Spread seasoned kale in one layer on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat with the other half and kale and spread onto second baking sheet.  Sprinkle kale with salt to taste.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir leaves in baking pan.  Remove any to a plate that are completely crispy.

5.  Turn off oven and return baking sheets inside, letting kale crisp up in the residual heat.  Check every 5 minutes, removing crisp ones to plate and letting others bake longer.

6. Cool completely before storing.

Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon based on a recipe from The Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 salmon fillets (I used Kirkland’s)

non-stick spray

1.  Combine all ingredients except salmon and non-stick spray in a large container or freezer bag.  Add salmon fillets.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once.

2.  Heat a grill pan on the stove until very hot – about 4-5 minutes.  Spray with non-stick spray.

3.  Grill salmon for about 1-2 minutes, until top is starting to look opaque.  Turn over and grill for another minute or less.  Transfer to a plate and let sit for a few minutes.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dinner, Fish

Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce and Soba Noodles


Last week, we’ve so enjoyed having my mom visit us from California.  She came to celebrate her 82nd birthday. 🙂

Denis did not photoshop this photo. His comment: What 82 year old woman has that jaw line!??

Other than when we took her to visit Denis’ lovely parents in Shelter Island, she’s been in our garden weeding, picking up leaves, pruning plants–basically working her green thumb magic on it (which I sadly did not inherit)!

I wish I had “before” pictures to contrast this with! There were less flowers all around, and the rocks and back were covered in leaves and weeds!

We call her the Energizer Bunny.

Instead of eating out, she preferred me to cook “things from [my] blog” for her, so all week, I prepared various dishes for her and revisiting some old recipes.

Lots of smoothies:

A ton of sushi, of course (click on each image for recipe):

With Miso Soup:

For her 82nd birthday which was the same day as Father’s Day, I made Reese’s Pieces and M & M waffles for brunch using our trusty Cadbury Egg Waffle recipe:

I bought a small bag each of Reese’s Pieces and plain M & Ms and scattered them on the batter before cooking in waffle iron.

And Crispy Fish Tempura Bites for dinner:

with Miso Green Beans:

And Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting for dessert:

I used a double amount of  Chocolate Ganache Frosting in place of this frosting

Other meals were quick Chicken Quesadillas using cooked rotisserie chicken (after a long day of shopping–not much time to cook!):

I filled ours with cooked chicken, cheese, onions, and salsa

and Creamy High Protein Avocado Dip:

I discovered I don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for favorite recipes anymore — I can just do a search on my blog!

For her last night here, I decided to make something special and created my version of a chicken salad with peanut sauce, because she had mentioned she had had a great one awhile back during her many travels.  It is a quick and easy when you have leftover cooked chicken! We used more of the rotisserie chicken.  I also used my favorite peanut sauce recipe using roasted peanut flour (if you can’t find this, just peanut butter is fine–use this recipe instead minus sesame seeds) and coated cooked soba noodles and chicken with it (angel hair or vermicelli would work too).  Then I made a salad with shredded Napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, shredded carrot, julienned daikon radish, cilantro, green onions, and snow peas.  I topped the salad with the peanut sauce coated noodles and cooked chicken and garnished with more chopped cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts.

It was really good!  We had leftover sauce which I diluted with a bit of rice vinegar and used as a salad dressing over the course of the week –sans mom.  😦
We miss you obaachan! (Japanese for “grandma”)  Thank you for all your hard work here!!


Asian Chicken Salad with Soba Noodles and Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce:

¼ cup peanut butter (or 1 tablespoon peanut butter plus ½ cup peanut flour and 2 tablespoons water)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salad Greens:

4 cups shredded Napa cabbage

2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce

1 cup sliced cucumber

1 cup julienned carrot

1 cup julienned daikon or other radish

1 cup blanched snow peas

2 scallions, sliced

¼ cup chopped cilantro, divided

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

4 oz. soba noodles

2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded

¼ cup peanuts, chopped

  1. Make peanut sauce.  Process all ingredients (peanut butter to sesame oil) in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare vegetables.  Mix salad greens together in a large bowl, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro for garnish.  Set aside.
  3. Make vinaigrette.  Whisk soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together in a small bowl.  Toss salad greens with vinaigrette to taste.
  4. Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Drain.
  5. Assemble salad.  Toss cooked soba noodles with shredded chicken and prepared peanut sauce (use as much sauce as you want depending on how dry or wet you prefer the noodles—you will probably have some leftover!).  Divide salad greens into four bowls.  Top with noodles and chicken.  Garnish with reserved cilantro and chopped peanuts.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breakfast, Desserts, Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Sides, Snack, Vegetables

Inside Out Salmon Sushi Roll


I was recently invited by Green Peace to enter their “Think Outside the Can” recipe contest.  They launched the contest to raise awareness on the destructive and irresponsible tuna fishing practices of large companies, such as Chicken of the Sea. The hope is that by raising awareness, these companies will realize their customers care about environmental practices.

My recipe uses an alternative to tuna– canned Wild Alaskan Salmon.  Salmon caught in Alaska is abundant and the fishing processes used are not damaging to the environment. This Seafood Guide is helpful to determine whether or not the seafood you are buying is eco-friendly or not.

The salmon salad I make has an Asian flair with roasted sesame oil and wasabi mayonnaise.  In Japanese convenient stores, tuna salad used in rice balls (onigiri) is common, and I thought I’d do a sushi roll (makizushi) version and replace the tuna with salmon.  You could also just use it in a sandwich or on crackers of course!

First, cover a sushi rolling mat with saran (I had forgotten to do this in the photo!  The saran makes life easier).  Then place roasted dried seaweed (nori) sheet on top.  Cover with a layer of seasoned rice using a spoon or paddle. I dip the back in water while pressing which keeps the rice from sticking to it.  Sprinkle the rice with roasted sesame seeds.

Flip the whole thing over so that the nori is facing up.  This is where the saran comes in handy!

Note: Make sure the mat is oriented so that the long side is facing you as in this photo! I failed to do this in the previous photos. 😦

Put a strip of the salmon salad in the middle with a sprig of green onion.  Then, using the roller, roll up tightly from the bottom.  Cover the filling with the bottom of the nori and rice and slowly continue to roll, gradually removing saran as you go (so that it doesn’t get caught inside).  At the top 3/4″ of the nori, wet with a bit of water with your finger and finish the roll.  The water will seal the ends together.

All rolled up.

Then cut the roll in half, then cut the halves into fourths, so you have eight pieces per roll.


I actually prefer the taste of the salmon used this way than tuna! 🙂

Salmon Salad

2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise

1-2  teaspoons of wasabi paste, to taste

6 oz can of Wild Alaskan salmon

1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

kosher salt

black pepper

  1. Mix mayonnaise and wasabi paste together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Drain salmon and break up flesh with a fork in a bowl.
  3. Add mayonnaise mixture and sesame oil to salmon and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Mix until incorporated.

Inside Out Salmon Sushi Roll

(Note:  Japanese rice, nori, and black sesame seeds are usually available in Asian stores or the International section in grocery stores.  Sushi rollers are available in Japanese markets or here.)

2 ½ cups cooked white rice (made from 1 cup uncooked rice)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ½ teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sheets nori (dried roasted seaweed)

2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (black or white)

Salmon salad (see above)

1 scallion, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

  1. While rice is cooking, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Put freshly cooked rice into a large bowl and sprinkle with rice vinegar mixture.  Mix with a wooden paddle or spoon while fanning the rice.
  3. Cover a sushi roller with a piece of saran wrap.  Orient the mat so that the long side is facing you.  Place a sheet of nori on top.
  4. Spread half of the sushi rice on top in a thin layer, using a spoon.  Dip the back of the spoon in water to prevent rice from sticking while you press down on the rice.
  5. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds on top.  Flip over so that the nori is face up.
  6. Spread ½ of the salmon salad in center and top with green onion.  Roll the sushi by first covering the filling with the bottom part of the sheet and rice and gently pulling towards you so that the roll is tight.  Then slowly continue to roll while removing saran wrap.  When you get to the top, wet the top ¾ inch of margin of the nori with a bit of water with your finger and finish the roll.  The water will seal the ends together.
  7. Cut the roll in half, then cut the halves into fourths.  Make another roll in the same manner with the remaining salmon salad.

Yield:  16 pieces from 2 rolls.

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Filed under Appetizers, Fish

Peanut Miso Glazed Roasted Kale Chips and Winner!

Thanks to all who participated in my signed copy of Soup Day giveaway!

I loved hearing all about your favorite soups!

From Soup Day, Henry Holt 2010

I’m happy to announce that the winner of the giveaway is:   Michelle!

I will contact you and send you a signed copy this week.

I hope the child you give it to is inspired to play in the kitchen and enjoys my book! 🙂

**********************************************************************

Remember when I was swooning over Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed?  Well, I think I’ve created a great cheaper, healthier alternative.  Kale chips have been around in the blog sphere for quite awhile, but it was fellow home cook, Alexandra, that I learned of slow roasting them and coating them with a sort of sauce.  I didn’t have the ingredients she uses on hand, so I made up my own using peanut butter, miso, soy, mirin, sesame oil, and some water.  The second time I tried it, I threw in some sugar.  I’m telling you, they are addictive.

Look at the peanut butter and miso yumminess!

I was blasting my kale chips at 400 degrees before and they always had burnt edges.  Slow cooking them creates the crispiest, crunchiest kale leaves with no burns anywhere.  The texture is a lot like roasted seaweed.  But this way, you are getting all the vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber that kale has to offer.

I love the nuttiness of the peanut butter and miso and the salty, sweet flavor combination these chips have.  Try it.  It may make a kale lover out of you! 🙂

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons water

8 cups of kale leaves torn into chip size pieces

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar with a whisk.  Add water and whisk until smooth.

3.  Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves.  Spread leaves in one layer on lined baking sheet.

4.  Bake for one hour.  Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

Makes about two servings.  You could probably double the recipe and use two baking sheets on different racks.  I will do this next time, because I could easily eat the two servings in one sitting — it’s hard to stop!

Note:  Don’t do this!  I tried it while in California, and the leaves get too crowded and don’t dry out properly, and it took forever.  Better to do a single batch and roast on two baking sheets!

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Filed under Appetizers, Art Related, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Bean Bean Sushi: Creative Sushi Making with Kids

Hope everyone is having a great 2012 so far!  I’m beginning mine with a slight thumb injury caused by over vigorously kneading the gum paste from this post.  Who knew of such hazards in the kitchen?!  Anyway, the healing process is slow and I have to be careful not over use my right hand (though I’m constantly using it!)  One of the activities that exacerbates it is handling the camera– changing lenses and even removing the lens cap is very painful for me.  I may not be posting so much for awhile, and just wanted to let you know.  (The photos in this post were taken pre-injury.)

The idea of making sushi at home may seem daunting to some people, but if you aren’t a purist, it really is easy enough to make on a weeknight.  My kid friendly version focuses on makizushi (the rolled kind) and does not involve raw seafood– just vegetables and cooked meats.

Freeing yourself from the notion of making traditional sushi opens up your world for creative play and improvisation and is a fun activity to do with kids.

All you need is a sushi rolling mat, nori sheets (dried seaweed), cooked Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and whatever filling you’d like to put in the sushi.

Roasted seaweed found in Asian markets.

Awhile ago Jamie announced that he had a new idea for a sushi roll that he wanted to try and make.  He called it “Bean Bean Sushi” and he envisioned it to be filled with ketchup and cooked green beans.  I was dubious, but never one to say “no” to a vegetable creation — especially coming from my son, I told him we’d make it for lunch that day.

This is what we did.  First I cooked rice in my rice cooker (here are directions for stove top cooking). While it was cooking, we got all the fillings together.  I decided to make mine and Denis’ with some leftover grilled chicken, cooked shrimp, leftover grilled Kirkland marinated salmon,  scallions, and avocado.

When the rice was ready,  I seasoned it with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt.

To make the rolls, I set the nori rough side up (shiny, smooth side down) on a sushi rolling mat.  I spread the surface of the nori with a thin layer of the seasoned rice, leaving a margin at the top.  It helps to wet your fingers with water while doing this to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers.

Jamie put ketchup in the center and then steamed green beans on top.

I made Denis a grilled salmon and wasabi mayonnaise roll.

Then we rolled it up starting from the long side closest to us.  As we rolled, we gradually  let go of the end of the rolling mat (or else it would be rolled inside the sushi!) and continued to roll the sushi cylinder inside the mat until we got to the top margin.  Then, we wet the nori with a bit of water — it acts as glue– and completed the roll.

I made three rolls — one for each of us.  For the inside out roll, I covered the mat first with saran and laid the nori on top of the saran.

After covering the nori with rice and then black sesame seeds (you don’t need to leave an uncovered margin at top for an inside out roll), I turned the nori and rice over so it was nori side up.  The rice side should be on the saran covered mat.  Then, I laid some shrimp, avocado, and scallions on top of the nori and rolled the sushi up, this time with the rice on the outside,  in the same manner described above.  Once you get the hang of rolling, it’s really quite easy.  It helps to do it slowly.  Try and keep the roll tight and even while rolling.  A perfect roll has all the filling in the center.

When the rolls were finished, I cut each in half and then cut those halves into fourths.  So one roll yields eight pieces.  It helps to use a very sharp knife and to dip the blade in warm water between cuts, so it doesn’t stick.

The rolls after cutting.

Surprisingly, Jamie’s Bean Bean roll was actually quite tasty.  Who knew ketchup, green beans, rice, and seaweed would go so well together?

Jamie's "Bean Bean Sushi"

Inside out shrimp, avocado, scallion roll and regular salmon and Trader Joe's wasabi mayonnaise roll.

Makizushi (Rolled Sushi)

Nori sheets (Dried Roasted Seaweed)

About 2 cups of short grain Japanese rice

2 1/4 cups water

3 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

fillings for sushi (for example, wasabi, wasabi mayonnaise, plain mayonnaise, ketchup, cooked meats, smoked meats, steamed vegetables, raw vegetables, cooked egg — basically anything you can line up in the center of a sushi roll!  The other day, Jamie tried to make one with edamame succotash, but it didn’t work so well, because the edamame and corn kept falling out…)

1.  Rinse rice in water several times until the water is almost clear.  Cook in rice cooker with water or cook on stove.  Prepare fillings and have ready.  Also have a small dish of plain water set aside.

2.  Mix vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

3.  When rice is finished cooking, transfer to a non-metallic bowl, preferably a wooden or glass one.  Sprinkle vinegar mixture on top (don’t pour all at once — taste rice as you go and season to taste-you may not need to use it all).  With a large wooden spoon, mix rice with a slicing motion.  With your other hand (or employing a helper), fan the rice as you mix to take away the excess moisture.  Keep sushi rice covered with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out while you are making the sushi.

4.  Lay a sheet of nori on a sushi rolling mat rough side up.  Spread sushi rice on nori in a thin, even layer, using the back of a spoon or fingers. Wetting spoon or fingers with water helps to keep the rice from sticking.  Leave an 3/8 inch margin at the top uncovered.  This is the part that you will use as a seam to close the roll.

5.  Place spread if using and choice of fillings in the center of the roll horizontally.  Lift the mat with your thumbs, holding the center ingredients with your other fingers.  Slowly roll into a cylinder, while moving the rolling mat out of the way (so it doesn’t get rolled into the sushi).  At the top of the roll, wet the uncovered seam of nori with water and complete the roll.

6.  Wet a sharp knife and cut roll in half.  Then cut each half into four pieces.   Continue to wet knife in between cuts to prevent sticking (I like to have a tall glass of water to dip the knife into).

Enjoy!

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Filed under Appetizers, Children, Sides

Guilt-Free Potato Chips and Onion Dip

Last weekend was the fabulous City Harvest sponsored 1st annual Brooklyn Local.  It was a complete success — over 2,400 people attended and over $100,000 was raised to help fight hunger in NYC!

Here’s some snap shots of what I did that day:

I read my book, Soup Day.

Did collage crafts throughout the day with children and little “creatures”.

Played a drawing game with the kids.

Met some nice clowns, Tudie and Sammie.

We found out the next day that Jamie's 2nd grade teacher is married to the lead singer!

Listened to the beats of the Deedle Deedle Dees.

Wandered among aisles and aisles of artisinal local foods, and tasted quite a bit too with new foodie buddy, Esther, but didn’t get photos!   😦  We had many pieces of chocolate, nitrite free beef jerky, cheeses, granola, marshmallow treats, crackers, hotdogs with kimchee.  Everything was amazing!

With Billy Strynkowski, executive chef of Cooking Light

Got to see some familiar faces. 🙂

In my last post which featured potatoes, I didn’t get a chance to share two recipes I’ve been loving for a long time now:

Guilt-Free Potato Chips and Onion Dip

They are both “guilt-free” because the chips are baked, not fried, and are basically fat free. The dip is virtually fat free and packed with protein because it is made with my dairy go to —whipped cottage cheese.

Did I mention they are full of crunch and flavor??

The one key kitchen tool you need is some kind of vegetable slicer that you can use to slice the potatoes into paper thin slices.  I use my trusty “Benriner“, which is a plastic, cheap, Japanese version of the more expensive stainless steel French one.

By all means use the guard!   It is so easy to slice the tips of your fingers off if you don’t…  I’ve unfortunately witnessed this!

raw potato slices -- paper thin!

Spray with non-stick spray, bake at 400 degrees, checking every 3-5 minutes or so.

This is one potato!

Seasoned with a bit of salt, they are delicious and crunchy as is.  But of course, they are even better with the onion dip! 

Guilt-Free Potato Chips and Onion Dip

3 large onions, sliced vertically into thin slices

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

salt to taste

1/2 cup whipped cottage cheese

However many potatoes you’d like to bake — one large russet potato yields two big bowlfuls of potato chips

non-stick spray (I use Trader Joe’s olive oil)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Whip container of cottage cheese in food processor for 3 minutes.

Unwhipped new container of cottage cheese.

After processing -- silky smooth!

3.  Slice onions while heating a large cast iron skillet or other large pan on stove (do not use non-stick or it won’t caramalize!)

4.  Melt butter with oil in pan.  Toss in sliced onions.  Turn heat down to low.  Stir to coat with butter and oil.  Season with salt.  Stir every few minutes or so.  Then cover and let cook for about 30 minutes, largely unattended while preparing the chips.  I stir every 5-7 minutes or so.

5.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spray lightly.

6.  Slice some potato with a slicer.  Lay pieces on parchment.  Spray again and season with salt.  Repeat with other baking sheet.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes, checking every 3-5 minutes and flipping chips halfway.  They don’t cook at the same time, so remove them when they look brown and continue cooking the rest.  Add new slices to pan as you removed cooked ones.

These are half baked -- watch closely -- when they are mostly brown, taken them out. They crisp up as they cool.

7.  After about 30 minutes of sauteing onions, remove cover and turn up heat.  Stir every minute or so, watching closely so onions don’t burn.  They should just brown evenly.

This is how much they reduce!

8.  Remove onions and let cool.  Stir in 1/2 cup of whipped cottage cheese.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Appetizers, Art Related, Children, Condiments, Vegetarian