Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vegan Spicy "Tuna" Hand Rolls

I'm sure everyone's heard of the "honeymoon stage". It's when you first start dating and everything is sunshine and happiness, so you eat. And eat. And eat. Billy & I definitely went through that & aside from the junk food, one of our favorite ways of putting on that happy weight was going out for sushi. I mean we went all the time and ordered a boatload. Literally. A tiny boat would sometimes come to our table of two. Ugh. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that...
Why we couldn't have picked a cheaper vice is beyond me. Nowadays, we enjoy a home cooked dinner & save the money for weekend eating or special occasion dinning. Besides, with some practice, conquering a restaurant dish at home is absolutely doable (and cheaper!). Even with that mindset, I'm still nervous to try a few things at home. One of those things being, sushi. My one and only attempt happened 6 or 7 years ago with an old roommate. They came out pretty good for our first go at it but I just never tried again. 
I figured it was time to change that. Instead of going straight to making rolls, I decided to dip my toes and just go for a hand roll since it seemed a little less involved and less likely I'd screw it all up. I used my baked watermelon recipe and also tried another marinade mix with a sesame chili oil base that turned out to be tasty.
For my first shot at making hand rolls, I'm pretty happy with the overall look. My second try at them did not go so well, but luckily the flavor was there so every wimpy roll was eaten regardless. I am getting better, though! And in perfect time... today is Billy & I's 6 year anniversary and after deciding that we deserved a Wii U for being so awesome, I think we may need to save the money and eat in. I'm fine with that. Staying in is the new going out!

Vegan Spicy "Tuna" Hand Rolls
recipe from my spicy "tuna" tacos 

1 small watermelon, seeds removed
olive oil
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp raw coconut vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp GF sriracha sauce or hot chile paste 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut your watermelon into steaks and place on baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, making sure to coat each side. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust to taste- I like spicy so I tend to add a few extra drops of hot sauce. Pour marinade over watermelon steaks, coating all sides. Cover with foil* and bake for 2 hours. Reserve the juice if you'd like!

*NOTE: If you bake without covering the pan with foil, it will still taste delicious but will result in more charring.

Marinade two: 
sesame chili oil
ginger, minced
dash of salt

This light marinade was made without measuring. Just tasted as I went. If you'd like to give it a shot, start with the chili oil and then the vinegar. Taste as you go. Add a tiny bit of minced garlic if you'd like.

To make the hand rolls:
1 1/4 cup cooked sushi rice*
1 tbsp rice vinegar
4 nori sheets
optional toppings: cilantro, sesame seeds, green onion tops

*NOTE: I know jasmine rice is a long-grain rice that is not used for making sushi but it's what I had on hand and it's also my favorite type of rice so I didn't mind using it as a substitute for the short-grain sushi rice.
In a medium bowl, toss the rice with the rice vinegar, season with the sugar and salt to taste. You don't want it overly sweet, instead you want it to compliment the spicy baked watermelon so if it helps, take a bite of watermelon with the rice and adjust seasoning to your liking. No more than 1 tbsp of sugar should be used. Set aside.
Using kitchen shears, cut the nori sheets in half lengthwise. Take one sheet of nori, shiny side down, and using your other hand grab some rice and lightly squeeze to form a log. Having a small bowl of water and dipping your fingers in it before grabbing the rice helps a lot. Place the rice on the left side of the sheet, like the picture above. use your finger to make an indention for your other toppings. Place watermelon, cucumbers and other toppings of choice on top of rice. starting from the bottom left corner, beginning rolling. You can use a tiny bit of sushi rice  or just a light smear of water on the end bit to keep it closed.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Baked Eggs, Tomatoes, & Sweet Potato Greens with chili oil

Breakfast is my EPIC mealtime. I'll never not know what I want, because what I want is just about everything in the morning. Leftover spaghetti sauce spiced with some baked eggs? Sure. French toast, pancakes, and waffles? I'm down. Just some leftover pizza? Why the hell not?! It's this non-picky behavior that can sometimes lead me to a new recipe idea and then introduce me to my new favorite meal. For instance, I love having leftover jasmine rice for my breakfast migas. Lightly fried rice meets spicy migas. It may sound odd but I'm telling you it works! In fact, I may have to do a post just to prove it.... 


Not all my morning meals are filled with leftovers or seem like a 6 year old's dream come true. Sometimes I just play it safe. My breakfast of choice for the summer was this baked egg dish. I had a variety of tomatoes and fresh sweet potato greens in my csa all through summer, so they played a major part in my meals. Have you had sweet potato greens? They are similar to spinach in the way they cook down but milder in taste. Sweet potato greens also lack the oxalic acid, which after doing some research I found out is the reason behind that funny feeling you can get on your teeth after eating spinach.

For this dish, I prefer a nice runny yolk but if you have picky guests who feel comfortable with a more solid yolk, you can tell them to "shut it!", and just leave it in the oven for another 3-5 minutes. 

Note:If you know how to achieve the baked egg dish of your dreams, by all means stick to that temp. and time.  


Baked Eggs, Tomatoes, & Sweet Potato Greens

1 tbsp Oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red pepper
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of sweet potato greens, julienne & stems removed
1/2 tsp butter
2 eggs

Before you begin prepping your ingredients, heat a griddle pan and put the whole red pepper on it. Get it nice & black all around. Place it in a bowl and cover with cling wrap or you can skip the bowl and place it in a paper bag to steam. Also, if you don't have a griddle pan, you can broil your pepper in the oven to achieve a nice char. After you've prepped your ingredients, remove char from pepper, scrape out the insides, and chop.
Preheat oven to 375. Place a oven safe dish inside to warm. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and add greens. Cook until wilted. Remove dish from oven and add the 1/2 tsp butter and pour in the tomato mixture. Gently crack the eggs on top without breaking the yolk. Season with a little salt & pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Turn your oven to high broil, and broil the eggs for another 2-4 minutes.

Chili Oil

recipe from: bonappetit
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
pinch of paprika
pinch of salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add spices & a pinch of salt. Cook until the butter starts to foam and browned bits form at the bottom of the pan, 1-2 minutes.

Drizzle on top of baked eggs. Serve with toast!

optional toppings: chives, cilantro, green onions


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lemon Chili Charred Okra


I immediately want cornmeal and flour when I see okra. Is that a bit of southern creeping out or does everyone wanna fry these green pods when they see 'em? There is no doubt that I can put away a pound of fried okra in a day. Psshh.. easy. Not even an challenge. Wouldn't even be impressed. And don't get me started on pickled okra! Too late, I'm riled up! Even okra haters can appreciate the pickled variety. Heck, why not let some of those pickled okras onto your next cheese board? I hadn't even tried pickled okra until my first year in Austin. An old roommate brought me a jar and I was a happy girl. At that moment I decided to stop stealing her toothpaste. 

I'm kidding, Jessica! It wasn't me! Relax.

Lemon-Chili Charred Okra
1 lb fresh okra
2 tbsp olive oil
Fresh lemon juice (1-2 small lemons)*
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced red onion
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt

Top with reserved chopped cilantro, sprinkle of kosher salt and charred lemon

Combine olive oil, fresh juice of one lemon, garlic, onion, red pepper, and 1/2 tbsp of cilantro. Taste & season with salt. Add an extra squeeze of lemon if need. * I realized my first lemon was a dud and had to cut another to get a few extra squeezes of juice in there-taste as you go! 

Trim the okra and cut in half lengthwise. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Make sure to use your tried and true, well seasoned skillet. In batches, place okra cut side down in the pan. Be sure you don't over crowd the pan. Cook until a nice char is achieved, about 3-4 minutes. Toss okra and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes, again, until a nice char is achieved.
Toss hot okra with the lemon-chili mix. Remove from lemon mix and plate. Sprinkle with remaining fresh cilantro, sprinkle of kosher salt, and a squeeze of charred lemon.