Tag Archives: jalapeno

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

Autumn Bounty: Roasted Acorn Squash and Seeds

Hope all you folks (who celebrate it) had a nice Thanksgiving!  We visited our family in Illinois for a week.  I also visited the children at Woodland Primary School in Gages  Lake where my sister-in-law works on Monday. We had fun pretending to make soup!

From the Daily Herald -- my sister-in-law is in the back in the striped sweater!

While I was in Illinois, I received a really touching email from a woman whose adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter, Addison, enjoys my book, Soup Day.  She did a blog post about them spending the day recreating the story that is so perfect I just have to share it.  Check it out here!

Before, during, and after the Thanksgiving festivities, we all indulged in comfort foods and desserts.  My mom made our favorite enchiladas.

My nephew made amazing grilled chicken sushi.  Unfortunately I have no photos!  Major fail on my part.  He basically grilled some chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil.  Then he cut it into strips and rolled it with cucumber, green onion and wasabi on seasoned rice and seaweed.  See the maki method here.  We also made crazy kimchee and jalapeno versions with smoked salmon and avocado that were so good.

My nephew’s girlfriend made these decadent, addicting Oreo Truffles with milk and white chocolate.

Photo credit: Run For Your Life on Food.com

My cousin made her own inventive creation of Coconut Frosted Pumpkin Cupcakes filled with Haupia (Hawaiian Coconut Pudding).   She’s from Hawaii and had the brilliant idea of combining Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Cupcake recipe (sans Maple Frosting) with this Haupia and Frosting recipe  (sans cupcake).  They were to die for!!

Since my brother’s house was overflowing with decadent food, I focused on making a lot of vegetables!  One of dishes I made was my favorite fall veggie that is also readily available throughout the winter months—acorn squash.  You can steam cook and even microwave them, but my favorite way to prepare them is to roast them at high heat.  It really brings out the natural sugars, and you can do double duty and roast the seeds at the same time.

To serve, I mash the cooked acorn squash halves in their skins a bit and add butter and brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  I cut the halves into wedges and serve them in their skins.  If you don’t eat the skins, it’s easy to scoop out the sweet flesh and eat with a spoon.  It tastes like dessert.

We like to eat the savory roasted squash seeds as is or tossed on our salads for added crunch.

For about $1.49 per acorn squash, this is a fantastic deal I love to take advantage of this time of year.  🙂

Roasted Acorn Squash

non-stick spray

1 medium acorn squash

butter to taste

brown sugar or maple syrup to taste

cinnamon to taste

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Seeds from an acorn squash

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Kosher salt to taste (or other spices — cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic salt might be good!)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Spray with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh.  Separate seeds from flesh and rinse in a colander.  Spread seeds out on a paper towel to dry a bit.

3.  Place acorn squash halves cut side down (I do this to get them caramelized on top) on parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes.

4.  While squash is roasting, scrape seeds off paper towel into a medium bowl.  Toss seeds with oil and seasonings.  Set aside.

5.  When squash has roasted for 30 minutes, flip halves over so cut side is up.  Set timer for 20 more minutes and continue roasting.

6.  When timer goes off, move acorn halves to one side of the the baking sheet and spread prepared seeds on other side of pan in one layer.  Set timer for 10 minutes.

7.  When timer goes off, stir seeds and continue to check every five minutes or so once or twice.  Remove seeds to a plate when they are golden.  They will crisp up more as they cool.  Test acorn squash flesh to see if they are done.  If they are soft like a cooked sweet potato, they are ready.

8.  Season acorn halves with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, and cinnamon to taste.  Cut into wedges and serve.
9.  Serve seeds as is in a bowl or tossed on salads as a healthy, crunchy condiment.

Mmmmm!

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Dinner, Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian