My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Homemade Sushi

When at Coastal Seafoods, we also picked up some sushi-grade ahi tuna, smoked salmon, sushi rice, and a rolling mat and thought we'd try sushi at home.

Sushi rice is a pain in the behind! Since this was our first time trying it, we were total direction followers as to not screw it up. So, instructions said to rinse the rice until is was no longer cloudy; we gave up after 45 minutes. Then we had to let the rice drain for 1 hour; we gave up on that after 40 minutes. Then, we have an electric stovetop, so we had to cook the rice over multiple burners at various heat levels for 15 minutes and let it sit for 10 minutes. The rice was a bit burnt. Oops!

After all those instructions, there were no details on sushi rice vinegar...were we supposed to add some or not? I added a little bit, but wasn't sure. The rice was really sticky, so I assume it was a success (despite the burnt pieces).

We made 2 kinds of sushi:
1.) asparagus, green onions, and cream cheese inside with tuna and avocado on the outside

2.) asparagus, green onion, cream cheese and marinated tuna inside with smoked salmon and avocado on the outside

For our first attempt, these turned out really well. They tasted just like the rolls at the restaurants we've been to. The appearance, though left much to be desired. We just don't quite have the rolling technique down.

Ryan and I both agreed that we'd much rather get sushi takeout than going through that rice ordeal again. Any suggestions for us on rice cooking techniques that are easier?

Tonight I have my last writing class. It's been a good course, but maybe not the right time for me with starting a new job that is consuming most of my time. However, the class has established a great foundation for more writing to come. I was at a complete writer's block before and now I know how to get the flow going again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Salmon and Asparagus Risotto

Getting back into the swing of things after a long break is tough. I knew I wouldn't be excited to go back to work. Luckily, I had Monday night free to continue some project work and make some food.

Ryan and I had a gift certificate to Coastal Seafoods (a fish shop in St. Paul), so we made a pit stop there to pick up some fish. We started with Margarita Salmon Fillets (from Cooking Light) and Asparagus Lemon Risotto (from Health).

The salmon was fantastic and cooked perfectly on our stovetop grill pan. The Asparagus Lemon Risotto wasn't my favorite. It turned out well, but the taste was a bit blah. I also think that Ryan and I like asparagus by itself rather than in a rice dish - we kept wanting to pick out all the asparagus to eat and leave the rice! Plus, we made way too much and felt horrible wasting some of it (even after taking it for lunch leftovers).

Margarita Salmon Fillets
(6 servings)

2 (4-oz.) salmon fillets
¾ tsp salt, divided
¼ c. cilantro leaves
¼ c. chopped onion
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp finely chopped seeded Serrano chile
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp tequila
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Place the fillets in a single layer in a 13x9-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Combine ½ teaspoons salt, cilantro, onion, sugar, chile, juice, tequila, oil, and garlic in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour cilantro mixture over the fillets, and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.

Prepare grill. Remove fish from dish; discard marinade. Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Garnish with chopped chives and lime wedges, if desired. Serve with yellow rice or black beans.


Asparagus-Lemon Risotto
(8 servings)

2 (14.5 oz.) cans vegetable broth
2 ½ c. water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c. minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ c. uncooked Arborio rice or other short grain rice
½ c. dry white wine
¼ tsp pepper
1 ½ lb. asparagus, sliced into 1-in pieces
¼ c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine broth and water. Bring to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Mix in pepper. Add broth mixture, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly; cook until leach portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next, about 25 minutes. Add asparagus during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and hopefully you got a break like I did. It was nice to be able to see family and catch up on some neglected projects. I don't have any pictures from my holiday meals, but be assured that they were great!

As I'm trying to get more veggies and more fiber in my diet, I thought this recipe would be a good one to try so I put on my apron and started chopping.

I had everything together in about 30 minutes, put it on the stove, and had a fantastic meal. Ryan was excited when he heard he could have a bowl of soup after a long day instead of a piece of toast or some other quick snack. The soup actually provided 5 servings, so we have plenty for lunch over the next couple days.

This recipe is from Canyon Valley Ranch's spa, unfortunately obtained from a magazine, not an actual spa visit!

Lentil and Vegetable Soup
(4 servings)

1 tbsp olive oil
2/3 c. celery, diced
1/3 c. white onions, diced
1/3 c. carrots, diced
3 tbsp shallots, diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 qt. vegetable stock
1 c. dry brown lentils
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt (optional
¼ tsp pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté celery, onions, carrots, shallots and garlic until onions are translucent. Add vegetable stock and lentils. Cook uncovered until lentils are just tender, but not too soft. Before serving, add mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Orange Lacquered Tofu and Bok Choy

Ryan has been rocking it in the kitchen lately and been a ton of help. Somehow, things have gotten crazy busy for me, so it's been great to come home to an already prepared meal.

Let me add something about our organization and how we do it. We go into meal planning mode - typically on a weekend where we just start picking out recipes from my recipe database (now contains over 700 recipes that are typed up on index cards and kept electronically), magazines, cookbooks, and various other resources that are in queue to be entered in the database.

We then compile a list of ingredients that we need and add them to the grocery list. I keep a list of all the possible meals in the kitchen so we can just pick one and go with it. It's been a really helpful system for us, but it's only helpful if we use it!

Onto today's meal...this one falls into the "quick and easy" category. The tofu recipe is from Vegetarian Times and the Bok Choy is from Delicious Living magazine.

Orange Lacquered Tofu
(4 servings)

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 14-oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained well and cut crosswise into 8 1/2–inch thick slices

Combine tamari, orange juice, syrup, and sesame oil in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Season to taste with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, or cayenne for a little more spice.

Coat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet with peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, without disturbing, about 7 minutes, until crisp and golden. Turn over, and cook about 5 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Pour in tamari mixture, and shake pan back and forth to coat tofu. Reduce heat to medium; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until sauce is syrupy and tofu and glazed. Sauce will get sticky if cooked longer. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Braised Baby Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic
(4 servings)

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger
1 lb. baby bok choy, rinsed and sliced lengthwise
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring broth, butter, garlic, and ginger to a simmer in a large heavy skillet. Arrange bok choy evenly in a skillet, cover and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bok choy to a serving dish, cover and keep warm.

Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until reduced to about ¼ cup. Stir in toasted sesame oil and pour mixture over bok choy. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chicken Style Seitan Goodness

Since we liked the other setian we made, I thought it would be good to make a Chicken Style Seitan from the Real Food Daily cookbook. It was super easy to make – just put all the ingredients together and bake for 2 hours in a square pan. The recipe made 4 pounds, 3 of which we stuck in the freezer for later use.

We did get some good meals of the first pound. First, we had a bunch of bok choy from my Oriental Market shopping trip. So, we stir fried carrots, mini bell peppers, shallots, bok choy and chicken seitan.

We added a sauce to the dish, but I can’t quite remember what was in it…I want to say veggie broth and soy sauce and a few spices. It was served over rice and topped with toasted cashews. Overall, a pretty easy dish with lots of veggies.

Next, we come to my favorite meal with seitan…Black Bean and Seitan Tacos, which is a recipe I pulled from a Cooking Light issue quite a few years ago before I even knew what seitan was! Ryan was nice enough to make this - he told me to sit down and read a magazine or something. Ryan is great in the kitchen, but I have a hard time sitting still and not trying to help so he had to often shoo me away.

Here’s the recipe, I encourage you to try it:

Black Bean & Seitan Tacos
(6 servings)

2 tsp olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion
½ tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, undrained
8 oz. seitan, finely chopped
½ tsp black pepper
12 taco shells
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
Avocados or other desired toppings

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, oregano, garlic, and jalapeño; cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sherry, soy sauce, beans, and seitan, bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Prepare taco shells according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into each shell; top each taco with lettuce, avocados, and other toppings.

We used blue corn taco shells and tried Tofutti Better than Sour Cream for the first time. The sour cream was great - hard to tell the difference. However, I'm bummed by the ingredient list because it is a lot more confusing than dairy sour cream.

For lunch the next day, we made a taco salad out of this with some tortilla chips. It was so dang good, I loved it!

Yesterday we gave Ryan's mom a pound of the seitan, so we still have 2 pounds left if anyone has ideas for us. Let us know.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Life can be easy.

Ryan and I have made quite a few things over the last couple of weeks. It was tough having to go to the grocery store and make a big trip, but it’s worth it to have healthy meals at home.

Starting off, I made another apple pie and actually took a picture before we ate it. Lucky for me, Ryan takes most of the credit for polishing it off.

We also had been making a few veggie burgers. My favorite thing to do is to sauté sliced peppers, onions, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil. Then pile the toppings on a veggie burger and top it with a little bit of cheese and let that melt. Serve it on a toasted English muffin. It rocks.

A good lunch option is a Tempeh sandwich. I lean more towards the Tempeh Reuben with sauerkraut, pickle, and VwaV’s sauce and some spinach. Ryan went more the TLT route with spinach and tomato. Definitely no pickle for him!

These kind of dishes always make my life much easier. We had to do a lot of errand running that night and were proud of ourselves for making dinner before we went out and were tempted by all kinds of dining out options.

We're still alive and cooking!

Just a quick note to say that Cafe Cyan still exists and we are still cooking. Kinda a catch 22 situation...I only have time to either cook or post and I can't post without cooking, so cooking wins out in the competition of time.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to share all of our great food with you all. I just got back from some work travel and trying to play catch up so stay tuned!
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