Mushroom Pizza with White Truffle Oil & Lemony Kale Salad

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I love pizzas with cold salads on top of them.  Typically – I use arugula (my all-time favorite green) but kale is so bizarrely popular right now – I thought I’d try a kale modification to satisfy those superfood fans out there.

Stolen from the internet:

Are you a fan of kale?

Kale is considered a “superfood” because it’s so nutritionally dense. This dark leafy green is packed full of fiber and vitamins. In fact, just one little cup of cooked kale contains:

  • 2.5 grams of protein
  • 354 percent of your RDA for vitamin A (beta-carotene)
  • 89 percent of your RDA for vitamin C
  • 1328 percent of your RDA for vitamin K
  • 27 percent of your RDA for manganese

Its high beta-carotene content means it helps protect your body from cancer and heart disease and the vitamin K helps keep your blood healthy and may even contribute to good bone health. Manganese also contributes to bone health.

So there!  Have a crazy, decadent pizza & top it with some kale & the next thing you know – you can kick Popeye’s ass & have a nice fiber induced BM.  It’s a win-win.

Another thing about kale – is it is cheap.  A head of kale (which was twice (or more) what I needed for this recipe) cost me .69 cents.  Truffle oil, on the other hand, very costly.

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This little canister, about the size of a Redbull, cost $15 (I think) at Whole Foods but a VERY little goes a very long way.  The only problem is – it will go rancid relatively quickly (a few months maybe) – so once you open it – start getting creative about ways you can use it.

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Mushroom Pizza with White Truffle Oil & Lemony Kale Salad

Pre-heat your oven to 450.

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Dough (about 1/3 of that prepared dough – or other dough of your choice)

1/2 cup (or less) tomato sauce of your choice (I use a spicy jarred variety)

Fontina cheese to taste

Grated Parmesan to taste

1/2 pound mushrooms – sliced

2 scallions – sliced – white & green parts

6 cloves garlic 9or to taste)

White Truffle oil – to taste – but likely not more than a tablespoon.

1 Head kale

juice of one lemon

olive oil

Parsley – chopped as garnish

Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat your oven to 450.  Ideally – your oven should have been at 450 for at least 30 minutes before you put the pizza in.  I let mine heat up half the day.  It gets you a nice, crispy crust.

Remove the ribs from your kale.

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Chop it to fairly small, bite-sized pieces.  Rinse & dry (in a salad spinner – if you have one).

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Squeeze your lemon (this one is from my back yard),

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measure the juice you get.  Put it in a shakable container.  I like to use recycled glass VOSS water bottles.

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Add about twice as much olive oil as your quantity of lemon juice, some salt & pepper & shake.  Taste it & add more olive oil if it is still too lemony.  I like it lemony.  I started with equal parts lemon juice to olive oil – but felt that was too lemony for general consumption.  This is a great all around dressing – so – feel free to adjust the ratio for your own palette.  Set your dressing aside.

Saute the sliced mushrooms in olive oil with the garlic (I left my garlic whole – but you can chop or mince yours) and the sliced scallions.  Saute them over high heat until they begin to brown.  Set aside.

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Roll out the pizza dough & put it on your greased pizza cooking thing.  Add a THIN layer of tomato sauce.

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Add whatever quantity of Fontina & Parmesan you desire then top with the sauteed mushrooms.  Put this bad boy in the oven for 10-20 minutes.  The timing will depend on the actual temperature of your oven & how deeply you stacked ingredients on the pizza – but you can eyeball it for when it is done to your liking.  I like to leave it in a minute or two longer than when I think it might be done…to get a crispy crust.

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While the pizza cooks, toss the kale with a little of your dressing & some grated Parmesan.  DO NOT OVER DRESS the salad.  Go light – check it – and add more if you need to.

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When the pizza is done – drizzle the white truffle oil SPARINGLY over the pizza & then top it with some chopped parsley (a nice FLAVOR & good color – not just a BS garnish) and the salad.  Top it all with some fresh ground pepper & maybe some more grated Parmesan & serve!

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Culina Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Lemme just start off by saying, I am not a fan of Beverly Hills.  In fact, going west of La Brea freaks me out & I scuttle back to the east side as quickly as I can on the rare occasions I am forced to cross the great divide.  But, the other day, my good friend, Thomas Kelly (best selling author – see here & successful television writer & producer of Blue Bloods – see here), happened to be in town & was staying at the Four Seasons.  In Beverly Hills.  He offered to buy me dinner at the modern Italian restaurant there if I dared come that far west.  Pissing & moaning, I agreed.  Ungrateful wench that I am.

The restaurant is huge & has an enormous bar area & a lovely outdoor area – pictured above.  That night, Some Like It Hot was screening silently behind the fountain.

The menu is pretty interesting & reflects very few of your average Italian selections.

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The most fascinating thing to me on the menu is a thing called CRUDO – or Italian sashimi.  We tried two.  The Tonno – for $12

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and the Kampachi – also $12.

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Tom preferred the former – myself the latter.  While we discussed this – I noticed a man – my stalker – in the dining room.  I couldn’t believe it.  Every time I had a nice meal on the west side – this fucker was there.  How did he know I’d be there?  It was getting problematic.  You may have heard of him.  His name?  Larry Flynt.  Yes.  Larry Flynt is stalking me.

It all began at the Beverly Hills hotel.  I was there celebrating my friend’s birthday.  Minding my own business.  Then Larry rolled in.  Took a place at the table next to ours – so close I could almost touch him.  I tried to pretend I wasn’t sneaking peeks at him every few minutes but, I must confess, I was a tad starstruck!  I admire this king of porn for his left-wing, political activism and I determined that I had to do something I had never done: approach the man & tell him I admire him.  My friends all forbid me to bother him but as I consumed overpriced wine – I became infected with an overconfidence that was, in fact, ill-advised.  As we sauntered through the dining room post-meal, I let my friends get ahead.  I was gonna do this thing!  My heart was in my throat as I approached Larry’s table.  I tried to clear it – no no avail.  “Excuse me, Mr. Flynt,” I croaked.  “I am sorry to interrupt your meal but I just had to tell you…”

Blah blah blah.  They all sat there politely while I delivered my tipsy & unrehearsed bullshit and once Larry generously said simply, “Thank you,” I took my leave of their presence.  I felt like a retard but fuck it.  He is the king of PORN, after all.  Who the fuck is he to be the arbitrator of appropriate behavor?  At least my vagina wasn’t showing.

Anyway, the next time I was on the west side – I was at the Newsroom Cafe.  This was during the primaries in 2008.  I was a huge Dennis Kucinich supporter.  My dinner companion was late and, as I sat at the bar waiting for her, I scanned the room, idly.  “Hmmm,” I thought to myself.  “Who is that striking red head in the center of the room?”  I looked around the room some more but my eyes kept coming back to her.  It was as if someone had shone a light directly upon her – like a statue in a gallery.  “Holy smoke!  That is Mrs. Kucinich!!!” I realized.  I immediately looked to her companion and – you guessed it!  It was Dennis Kucinich!!!!  I had to approach him.  I had to tell him I admired him & supported his campaign & that I would volunteer.  Sure, my Larry Flynt contact had been awkward & regrettable – but this was Dennis Kucinich.  In campaign mode.  It was his JOB to be harassed by the people.  Why couldn’t I be one of them?  I stood up as I built my nerve for the approach & it was then that I noticed there was a third person at the table.  Yeah – a third person.  Larry fucking Flynt!   WTF was Larry Flynt doing there?  I couldn’t approach Dennis Kucinich and say, “I’m sorry, sir.  I don’t usually do this…” because Larry Flynt was sitting right there.  Larry Flynt sitting there & just waiting to call bullshit on me!  “Don’t buy her shit, Dennis, ” Larry might say.  “She ruined my dinner just last month at the Polo Lounge.”

As I sat back down, thinking better of my plan, I noticed 3 or 4 Men in Black types sitting around the room at tables alone.  Drinking water.  Security.  Of course Dennis Kucinich has security.  He is a friggin’ presidential candidate!  I envisioned my shy approach to Dennis’ table & the resulting sudden counter attack or some incredibly bone crushing Diamond Dallas Page smack down….an encounter far less friendly than this one:

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I sipped my wine & threw stink-eye at Farry Flynt – even though he’d just saved me from a likely assault at best – a felony conviction at worst.  Who knows what they do to people that make sudden moves near political candidates?  Who knows how many unsuspecting constituents have been disappeared?

As it turned out – the security was there with Larry Flynt.  Curious.  I know – because they led him out and did not return.  Once my stalker left – I did – ultimately – approach a very accommodating Dennis Kucinich but the only campaign workers they wanted were door to door canvassers and I’d rather eat fresh cat shit (my equivalent to ending up with a Republican president?  Hmmmm…) than go door to door peddling anything – even for an hour.

And now, here he was again – at the modern Italian sushi restaurant at the Four Seasons!  Larry Flynt.  My arch nemesis.  I went to point him out to Tom but Tom was engaged in selecting overpriced wine for our pleasure & I didn’t want to impede that.  I turned back to Larry.  He was gone!   Just like that.  The ninja bastard. Well played, Flynt.   Well played.  But there will be other opportunities & will not be caught again so flat footed.

Next on the culinary adventure was the kale salad thingy.

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The Culina Caesar.  It was little more than an overdressed Caesar salad lightly peppered with bit of kale but the olives in it were high end and it was pretty good, indeed!  Just don’t expect anything healthy, light or any experience of kale.

Next – the squash blossoms (didn’t photograph well) and the octopus.

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Again – these were heavier than I expected – given the whole sashimi theme here but the zucchini blossoms were yummy.  The octopus – which I experienced as squid (in the dim lighting) seemed more traditional in flavor & texture to what you would get at a nice Italian restaurant.  I wasn’t a huge fan.  Then – in the sober light of day the next day – I saw the photos.  Are these guys intact baby octopuses (octopi?)?

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After looking at these images – I will never order a baby octopus ANYTHING.  Ew.  I feel terrible!

At one point – I looked out the window beside me – past my Prosecco – and who (whom?  Let’s not get too anal here, OK?) did I see walking outside about to take a table?

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Another of my idols – Chris Matthews.  I did NOT photograph Chris Matthews at Culina.

Watch Chris Matthews give a right-wing radio ignoramus the most brutal televised beating I have ever seen:

YOU DON”T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!

Click that link & watch.  So satisfying.

Tom Kelly must have been feeling the wine, too, because when I pointed out the arrival of Chris Matthews – he suggested I go introduce myself.  Despite the support in making an ass of myself from Tom & despite the fact that Larry Flynt was nowhere to be seen – I elected to remain seated – firmly atop my dignity.

Oh no!  Then MORE food came!  Tom had a veal chop (and no, I didn’t chide him – though I thought things) & I had the branzino.   I love branzino – and I miss chicken piccata – a lot.  It seemed a good choice.  And it WAS!

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Here is the Flintstone-sized veal chop:

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You will be surprised to know – Tom could not eat all that veal and I put my moralizing aside to bring the balance home to my dogs.  They were pleased.

As we pondered dessert – because, after all, we had only eaten 7 courses between us & two bottles of wine & spent about half the GDP – we noticed an elderly woman at a table nearby – all by herself.  She had finished eating but we heard her order a Lemoncello.  We invited her to join us.  And she did!

Ah, what can I say about Ms. Lillian, born 1928, married twice, 5 daughters, once-attorney now independent real estate agent?  She was delightful!  We all sipped after dinner drinks & shared a combination of gelato flavors & various life stories until it was past midnight & time to go.  Tom asked for the check and, it appears, was able to pay it without having to take out a line of credit on his home.  Whew!  And – thank you, Tom!  That was one DECADENT meal!

As I fetched a cab & invited Ms. Lillian to share it – Chris Matthews approached.  Fine.  He didn’t approach me – but he entered the foyer.  Tom, punk that he is, approached Chris Matthews to tell him what a huge fan I was of Hardball (Chris’ show on MSNBC).  I am a fan.  It is true.  Chris good-naturedly shook my hand as I sheepishly kicked at imaginary dirt.  Chris’s trademark blonde hair was disheveled – with an Alfafa spike in the back – and that seemed to me to be very charming.

With that – I got into my cab with Lillian, dropped her off two blocks away – and began my final adventure of the night – my ride home with my Chinese cab driver with English so broken – he was like a racist & almost impossible to understand cartoon.

I never got his name but I know he moved from mainland China to study chemistry.  A long time ago but he refused to say when.  “I give you enough clues!” he kept insisting.  He said something about the war – and for reasons I cannot remember – I am sure he meant WWII but I don’t remember what it signified.  I believe he went to school in Chicago.  Became a chemical engineer.  Retired.  Became a taxi driver because, while it didn’t pay very well, it allowed him to work alone – the way he prefers.  He doesn’t like people & dealing with their idiosyncrasies, it seems.

He then began to fill me in on old movie stars (something I am unusually informed about already) and the history of some of the landmarks we passed – like the El Royale.  He was impressed that I knew some things about that building which he did not.  He also told me that actors need to be good at dealing with the idiosyncrasies of others.  He used the word idiosyncrasies about 10 times during the ride which was hilarious because it highlighted his accent to scandalous proportions.  If I spelled stuff phonetically here – it could be my Mukaka Moment and I don’t want to come off like the racist arse George Allen did (is).  Also – idiosyncrasies isn’t a word that comes up every day.  It is funny hearing it so much &  blended into sentences void of appropriate prepositions.  Only big words for taxi guy.  No small words like in or to.   But – that is not important.  Taxi guy told me certain actors were exceptionally talented at this – dealing with idiosyncrasies – actors like (and I quote) – Robin Williams, John Travolta & Christian Slater.  They, it seems, have natural talents NOT artificial talents.  I never had a chance to get that explained.  His favorite movie is a Bruce Lee film he has on video cassette but he also enjoys films from the forties & fifties.  Sabrina, for example.

As we pulled up to my door, taxi man had one more thing to share.  “You know,” he said, “I asked John Travolta if he ever had affair with Olivia Newton John – from the film Grease.  He said he did.  But very brief.  Very brief!  Bad timing.”

“Really?” I asked, impressed.

“Yes, bad timing,” he repeated and shook his head solemnly.

“What do I owe you?”

Miraculously – the taxi from Beverly Hills to Hollywood was only $25.  Incredible!  I handed him thirty.”

“Oh!  Thank you.  That very generous.  Healthy tip.”

“You’re welcome,” I said and, unsure how to make my exit, I added, “That’s too bad about John Travolta & Olivia Newton John.”

“Yes, yes.  Bad timing.”

And while he pondered the missed opportunity those two actors shared in the seventies – I slipped out of the cab & into my front door.

Vegetarian, Vegan (or not!) Thai Chicken Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I haven’t eaten red meat or poultry in over twenty years so I am, admittedly, pretty easy to please in the fake meat department.  Veggie burgers & veggie dogs provide me with 100% of what their animal-based alternatives are meant to provide.   Sure – I miss a rare steak once in a while (like a time or two a year) but I never miss chicken or turkey or pork.  Except bacon.  But those completely toxic, all-soy Bacos work for me & I can still walk around and look pigs in the eye.

Anyway – while I do not miss chicken – I am still intrigued by the increasing number of options there are out there to let us vegetarians pretend we are lawless carnivores.  I used a wheat gluten version of “chicken” here but there is no reason you couldn’t use some cooked real chicken.  And if you are vegan – you can use vegan cheese (as I did here – regrettably).  If you are vegan – you can substitute additional soy sauce for the fish sauce called for here.  I also read that Golden Mountain Sauce is a decent vegan replacement – but I have yet to try it.  Hoisin & Oyster sauces also have vegetarian versions.

And hey – to you vegans out there – let me know if you have found any vegan cheeses that MELT.  The one I used here was almost too soft to grate easily and even so soft that it melted back into itself as it waited to be put on the pizza – and yet it didn’t melt at all in the oven.  I added fresh real mozzarella in the very end of cooking this particular pizza.

Know – this resulted in a pretty heavy & densely topped pizza.  I like my pizza thin & light.  If I were to make this again (and I likely will because it it delicious) – I would chop everything very finely – especially the (faux) chicken – and top the entire pizza more sparsely.  If you like a deeper dish experience – this pizza here is for you!  Know that this is a somewhat sweet-flavored pizza.   Delicious – but next time I make it – I will double the sriracha & the fresh jalapenos I add sliced as one of the veggies on top of the pizza.

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This has lots of ingredients but it is REALLY easy – so do not be intimidated.

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Vegetarian, Vegan (or not!) Thai Chicken Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Dough

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1 TBS fresh grated ginger

4 garlic cloves chopped very fine

2 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS sriracha

1 TBS oyster sauce

1 TBS fish sauce (or Golden Mountain Sauce or more soy sauce)

2 jalapenos – seeded – one sliced – the other diced

1 cooked chicken breast or vegetarian substitute – diced

1/2 red bell pepper – sliced very thinly

2 carrots – grated

2 scallions – sliced thin – all the white & part of the green tops

Sprouts – for garnish on cooked pizza

Cilantro – chopped for garnish on cooked pizza

1/2 lime – to squeeze over cooked pizza

1/2 diced small red onion (optional)

1 small zucchini – sliced very thin

Cheese (grated fresh or vegan – your call) to taste

Sweet Chili Sauce – to drizzle over cooked pizza

DIRECTIONS

PREHEAT THE OVER TO 450!!  It is best if your oven has been at 450 for at least 30 minutes before you put your pizza in.  

Whisk the peanut butter, hoisin, honey, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, oyster sauce, fish sauce and DICED jalapeno in a bowl.  It makes kind of a lot.  More than you need for one pizza, certainly.   You can easily toss this sauce – warmed together with the same veggies and whatever meat you opt for – with pasta or soba noodles or whatever.  Here is a good looking version HERE.  But I only point this out so you can get a visual.  So – do not throw away your extra sauce!

I marinated the fake chicken in the fridge for several hours in a little of the sauce.  I then opted to pan sear it a little bit – just to give it some color.  This is an optional step.

Then – when you have all your vegetables properly cut up – roll out your dough.  Top it with some sauce – not too much though!  You do not want soggy pizza.  Then layer your sliced jalapeno, the veggies (NOT the lime or cilantro, though), cheese & chicken.

Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes or until the crust looks golden & your cheese is melted.  Garnish with sprouts, cilantro & a squeeze of lime.  Drizzle some sweet chili sauce sparingly (it is very sweet) & serve!

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PS – I love my fresh ginger grating fish – though he looks properly bummed.  I wonder why he is so glum.

Raleigh Cafe & the Set of Castle at Raleigh Studios

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Photo – ABC TV

Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

vromans front vromans back

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Well – I haven’t been on the set of a network television show in a while.  I knew I missed it – but I now realize –  I didn’t know how much.

OOOOH!  A lot!  I love studio lots!  So much history.  It makes you really feel like you are part of something big.

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My character is one half of a Jersey hair & make-up team for a fictional TV news program.   The original breakdown compared them to the Simpsons characters – Patty & Selma.

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(Stock photo)

Here is my dressing room:

My first step in the process of becoming one of these women was wardrobe.  Here is one of the two outfits we decided on.

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(photo – Castle wardrobe department)

The next step was hair & make-up – courtesy of the imaginative Anthony & Patricia.

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Then came dinner.  There is a lovely cafe – with a wait staff and everything – there on the lot.

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I ordered a Caesar salad, fries & an iced tea.

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My cast-mate, Laura Niemi, joined me & we sat outside on a beautiful summer night & had dinner.

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We worked until late Wednesday night – and enjoyed some craft service.

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We worked again on Thursday & Friday.  Even got to change up our looks a bit.

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Laura & I – I think you can see – got along famously!   And why not?  We are fabulous chicks on a great show playing really fun characters!    People were dripping gratitude like a George Foreman grill drips grease.    Ok – that was weak – and kinda gross.   But I’m exhausted.  Not feeling the “art” here today.

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Additionally – the cast & crew of Castle rank among the friendliest I have ever worked with.  The two lead actors – Nathan Fillion & Stana Katic – went well beyond the call of duty in making their guest actors feel comfortable & welcome.  This is more rare than you might imagine.  They are both gorgeous to look at – and even prettier on the inside – so, if you are a fan of Castle – your heart is in the right place.  CLASS CLASS CLASS all over that joynt like white on rice.

The Raleigh Cafe hosted our dinner last night.  It was even more lovely eating there after dark – on another warm summer night.

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The other guest actors were all charming & a delight to meet.  Also – not always a given.

Castle – I love you!  You will go down as one of the most pleasant professional experiences of my career.  And that is saying a lot because, for personal reasons, this was one of the hardest weeks of my life.  Seriously.  The hair & make-up trailer was witness to many a tear from me & much silent, shaking-shoulder-crying-into-the-hands melodrama (for reasons too sad to share here) – and they were incredibly kind, patient & compassionate with me.

By the time we wrapped last night at 1:30AM –  Laura was getting weepy with me – but this time it was because we were so sad to go.   So –

Cheers, to you, cast & crew of CASTLE!!!!  And thank you!

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Sushi – Many Ways – Kale, Asparagus, Shitake, Tuna, Shrimp, Avocado and more!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

As I said yesterday – I love sushi!  I could eat it every day.  Here – I am going to try to take some of the intimidation factor out of preparing it at home.

Firstly – if your local supermarket has a fresh fish department & they also sell pre-made sushi – you can likely buy the spicy tuna already prepared – by the pound – plus any other fish you might like, already cut into sushi pieces.  The cutting of the fish is key & I am not even going to pretend I have even tried to master it.  I did TRY to do it, once or twice, but all I ended up doing was massacring some really beautiful & expensive fish.

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I buy my spicy tuna already pre-made at the most expensive store this side of Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods) and Bristol Farms – my local Gelson’s.  I think they charge $20 pound for the spicy tuna but a pound is a LOT – and my store is expensive – so be sure to suss out what your local stores offer & at what price before you give up.

Also – imitation crab – that pink-dyed whitefish in the fresh fish department – usually pretty cheap – like $5 pound.  This is what I use to make California rolls.

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I pretty much stick to rolls, though I do make a crispy rice with spicy tuna that doesn’t require any seaweed or rolling.  Nori (seaweed) is WAY cheaper in ethnic stores than in mainstream supermarkets so try to find one near you – if money is an issue.

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Also critical for sushi – the wasabi & ginger.  I like to buy those at Gelson’s, too, in these little containers that cost $1.29 each.

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Ginger also comes jarred & wasabi can be had in tubes or powdered.  The powdered variety is surprisingly good (when mixed with water).

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Also important to sushi – your rice.  There is a short grain rice that is specific to sushi.  Try to use that – if you can.  And here is an EASY SUSHI RICE RECIPE:

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Sushi Rice

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005

Serves:
4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi.

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OR – you can get crazy & make your rice out of cauliflower!!!

Recipe here.

Actual sushi rice is easier to work with than the less sticky cauliflower rice so, if you are new to this, I recommend going with the rice.

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Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you put in your rolls.  I used

Kale – Sauteed like this.

Avocado – sliced

Asparagus – steamed (wrapped in wet paper towel in the microwave for a minute or two)

Carrots – sliced thin

Cucumber – sliced thin

Spicy tuna

Shrimp – cooked (or tempura shrimp)

Imitation crab – recipe below

Jalapenos – sliced and/or diced

and both kinds of rice – regular & cauliflower.

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I sauteed the kale first (recipe here) and cooled it.  I also sauteed the sliced shitake in a little sesame oil & garlic – and cooled them.

I made a spicy mayo to add to the crab.  I had 1/2 pound of crab & this was the perfect amount of mayo.  if you hate spice – just use straight mayo.

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Spicy Mayo

1/2 cup mayo (use authentic Japanese KEWPIE mayo, if possible.  I did not.)

2 TBS Sriracha

1 tsp Sesame oil

Whisk it together & voila!

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Spicy Imitation Crab

Chop your crab or pulse it in the food processor to get that superfine dice.  Add the spicy mayo & mix well.

Done.

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Once you have prepared & cooled ALL your ingredients, the next step is assembling the rolls.  Some people think those bamboo sushi rollers are helpful.  If you like them – wrap it in plastic wrap before you use it.  That prevents rice & other goo from getting smashed into it.  I like to go freestyle.

Lay out the nori & press your rice into in all the way to the sides but leaving a lot of room on the nori for rolling.

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Top it with your selection of ingredients.  This one will be asparagus, kale & shitake with the cauliflower rice.

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Then start rolling this thing from the side with the ingredients on it.  Roll it as tightly as you can.  Dampen the last 1/2 inch with wet fingers & roll the thing over onto the wet edge.  I then rub it left & right on the counter in an attempt to seal it.  Cut it with the seam side down with a VERY sharp knife.  Wetting the knife can help prevent rice from sticking to it.

Do not get disgusted if you ruin a few of these before you get the hang of it.  Maybe practice on a few with just carrots & cucumbers & rice so you can get the hang of it without wasting the more precious ingredients.

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Here I go with a spicy tuna one (there are asparagus spears hidden under there:

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I add chopped AND sliced jalapenos to almost all my sushi.  You needn’t – if the heat bugs you.

And here is my chunky California roll.   If you chop the crab in a food processor – you will get the more recognizable looking crab dice.

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Or a shrimp sushi roll:

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And finally – if you are feeling adventurous – heat up a little vegetable oil in a pan.  Make some rectangular, flattish cubes with your sticky rice.  Pan fry them til they are golden on both sides.  Top with spicy tuna & some jalapenos! YUM!  Sesame seeds – either white, black or toasted – work very nicely as garnish

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So – there you have it.  I hope you try it & I hope you have great success!

P.S. – Pies & Scones

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All photos by Pies & Scones

http://www.pspiesandscones.com/pspiesandscones.com/Welcome.html

P.S. Pies & scones is owned & run by my friend Rebecca.  It is a very simple concept – homemade pies & scones (and cookie & bars) beautifully packaged for gifts & delivered with either assorted teas or, MY FAVORITE, organic milk in a glass bottle!!!   A wonderful & special way to thank someone and support a small, homespun business.  Here is the order page from the site:

Boxes and Baskets

To order just click the button at the bottom of the page and you’ll be directed to an email. Let us know the particulars (when, what, where), along with your contact information, and we will call or email you back. 48 hours’ notice would be great, but give it a try anyway and we’ll see what we can do. If you want things other than cookies and bars, go to the gifts page.

Basket of 3 dozen scones, $90

  1. •with organic milk in a glass bottle, $100
  2. •with a box of assorted teas, $105

Basket of 5 dozen scones. $150

  1. •with milk, $160
  2. •with assorted teas, $165

Box of 3 dozen scones, $75

Box of 6 dozen scones, $150

Monster Cookies and Bars Box—$200

(12 Chocolate-Pecan Bars, 12 Lemon Bars, 12 Brownies, 24 Chocolate Chip Cookies, 24 Crescents*)

Medium Box Cookies and Bars—$150

(9 Chocolate-Pecan Bars, 9 Lemon Bars, 9 Brownies, 12 Chocolate Chip Cookies, 12 Crescents*)

Small, 3 Layer Chocolate Box—$50

(6 Chocolate-Pecan Bars, 6 Brownies, 12 Chocolate Chip Cookies)

  1. •with milk, $60

Box of 3 dozen gluten free vegan Crescents, $50

• with box of assorted teas, $60

*Can be made Gluten Free and Vegan

You can add coffee, tea, or milk to any gift basket or box.

Delivery is free for most Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Venice neighborhoods; delivery fees for outlying areas begin at $10. Please include address in your order email. Orders that need to be shipped will be priced according to weight and overnight rates.

CLICK TO ORDER

I hope you remember this incredible resource the next time you want to send someone a heartfelt thank you!

Cauliflower Sushi Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I love cauliflower.  It is so versatile & an unsung hero in the vegetable world.

I also love sushi.  I have a tendency to gorge in sushi restaurants – likely to the horror and chagrin of the elegant staff, chefs & proprietors.  I can’t help it.  I want all of it.  In me.  NOW.  ALL OF IT!  Except, of course, for eel & mackerel & sea urchin (though I did try it & it wasn’t bad – but it took a lot of emotional prep.  I have no time for such indulgences if I want to eat my six adult servings of more immediately palatable “regular” sushi in a reasonable period of time).

The real culprit in keeping me from winning an imaginary Coney Island-style sushi-glutton eating contest is the rice.  Damned rice.  Fattening, too, when you eat five pounds of it.  “So,” I thought, “how can I make a sushi that I can overeat without repercussions?”  Shame – sure – but I’m used to that.  I will never get used to ratcheting up the size pants I wear every few years.  That shit’s really shameful.

So – I did some research.  Turns out, not only can cauliflower be whipped into delightful fake mashed potatoes but it can also be grated into rice.  As an unapologetic carb queen – these cauliflower, guiltless versions of my favorite white foods seem like a gift from God.  I decided to attempt a cauliflower-rice-based sushi & see what happened.

I looked at a lot of other people’s ideas & recipes & reviewed their results.  The result I got here was absolutely adequate but not perfected.  I added 3 egg whites to aid in binding a crumbly cauliflower rice into a tackier thing closer to the sticky rice used in sushi.  I don’t think the eggs added anything at all except for guilt-laden animal product – so – next time I try it I think I will saute the “rice” in a little oil & maybe overcook it into a sticker substance.  It is definitely a work in progress.  However – this DID work – and it worked well enough for me to share the results.  This makes a lot of “rice,” maybe 5 cups or so – depending on the size of the cauliflower you use.

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PRINT THIS RECIPE

Cauliflower Sushi Rice

INGREDIENTS

2 heads cauliflower – stalks & leaves discarded

3 egg whites

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Heat the rice vinegar in a small pan.  Dissolve the sugar & salt in it & set aside.

Using a cheese grater or the grating blade in your food processor (FAR less messy) – grate the cauliflower.  It will immediately look like rice.

I added the egg whites & rice vinegar mix & put the cauliflower in the microwave for five minutes.  I took it out – stirred it around & zapped it again in five minute increments until I felt the cauliflower was soften & cooked through.  Microwaves vary wildly in their effectiveness.  Mine is 20 years old.  This process might take you far fewer zapping episodes.

Many versions I saw of this added no rice vinegar/salt/sugar & instead – sauteed the cauliflower in coconut oil.  I might try that next.  I might saute AND add the vinegar mix.  You should experiment, too!

Once you feel you have a cooked rice texture – chill it in the fridge.

And there you have it.  Cauliflower rice!

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And here is a peek at how nicely it mimics rice in your sushi rolls!  Yeah.  That’s CAULIFLOWER!!!