web analytics

Sushi


There’s a sushi shop I pass by on the way home and every day I’m tempted to make my own. So today was the day I stopped procrastinating! It’s not as hard as one would think but patience is definitely key here. Since most sushi recipes are 80% rice, it’s important to make sure you chose the right type of rice. I bought Niigata Koshihikari rice and was told this was a good brand to use. You can’t imagine my excitement when I picked up what looked like a milk carton filled full of rice!

Cooking it is as important as the type of rice. I have a rice cooker which is a great machine to use as you don’t have to do anything but pop the rice in with whatever liquid you need, press a button and away you go. But don’t fret if you don’t have a rice cooker you can still use a heavy pot with a lid.

Preparing the rice
Wash the rice several times until the water runs fairly clear when drained. Let the washed rice strain for 30 minutes. Transfer the rice to a pot or electric rice cooker and add the measured water.
For stove top cooking bring rice and water to boil, cover tightly and simmer at lowest heat allowing the rice to steam for 18 minutes. You must leave it covered and absolutely do not lift the lid! Remove the pot from the heat and let stand covered for another 15 minutes.


Tezu

Tezu is a vinegar-water solution which is mixed in the rice after it’s cooked. In a saucepan mix together 250 ml of water, 60 ml of rice vinegar, 30 ml sugar and 5 ml of salt.
Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let the sushi vinegar cool to room temperature.

Ingredients
500 ml Sushi Rice (4 large rolls futomaki or 10 small rolls hosomaki)
600 ml Water
5 ml Salt

After cooking the rice in either a rice cooker or pot, put the hot rice into a mixing bowl and add 1/4 of the sushi vinegar solution. Mix with a folding motion so as to not smash the rice. Repeat until all sushi vinegar is used. After mixing, fan the hot rice mixture for about 5 or 6 minutes in order to remove excess moisture and create a glossy shine to your rice. The rice should have a slight chewiness and be sticky to the touch.

Now the fun part!
1 English cucumber, deseeded and cut into strips (leave the skin on)
200g crab sticks
2 avocados, peeled and cut into wedges
5 half sheets of Nori (Takaokaya Gold and Yamamotoyama Gold are good choices) full sheets cut in half width-wise
50g toasted sesame seeds (black and or white for decoration)
50g Tobiko (flying fish roe) can use Masago but tobiko is a superior product

Place a sheet of Saran wrap the same size as the bamboo rolling mat. If you don’t have one just use the saran wrap to roll. Wet hands with cold water and lightly dry your hands. Slightly wet hands means the rice will stick less to your hands.

Take some rice and place in the center of the nori sheet. Gently distribute the rice the width of the nori sheet and 5 cm longer than the sheet of seaweed. The extra 5cm of rice is to make sure the filling won’t get squeezed out. Don’t work the rice too much.

Place a row of avocado wedges length-wise in the center of the nori sheet. Put the cucumber strips alongside the avocado and do likewise with the crab sticks. Lay a strip of mayonnaise and/or wasabi along the cucumber. Roll the side nearest you to form a center core of ingredients surrounded by nori (there should be that 5 cm band of rice left after your nori).

By pulling and lightly squeezing the mat you can form the roll circular or triangular. Be sure to gently hold the ingredient in on the ends while manipulating the roll. Cut your roll into 8 pieces. Your knife must be very sharp so as to not tear the sushi roll.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This was a lot of fun and I was quite pleased with the results. The effort in choosing the right rice did make a difference. Next time I’ll try to make the California sushi which is where the rice is on the outside.

Vegetable Samosas

A samosa is a triangle shaped pastry of Indian or Persian origin, stuffed with a delightful filling of meat or vegetables. This version I made comes from Good Taste magazine. What’s different about this samosa is that puff pastry is used which gives it a lighter texture and ultimately taste compared with a short crust pasty.

Makes 20-30
500g potatoes, peeled
20g ghee
1 long green chili, de-seeded and chopped
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
4 sheets (25x25cm) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Chutney
2 green chilies, de-seeded and chopped
1/3 cup fresh coriander chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint chopped
130g (1/2 cup) Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method
Boil potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and coarsely chop. Heat ghee in a frying pan over medium-high heat and add potato, chili, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric and chili powder. Cook 3-5 minutes until aromatic. Add lemon juice and remove from heat to cool for 30 minutes then stir in coriander.

To make the chutney, place all ingredients (except yogurt and lemon juice) in a food processor & process until finely chopped. Add yogurt and lemon juice and process until combined.

Use an 11-cm round pastry cutter to cut 16 discs from the pastry. Cut discs in half. Place 2 tablespoons of potato mixture into the center of each pastry half. Fold over to make a triangle shape. Press edges with a fork to seal. Add enough oil to a saucepan to reach a depth of 3cm. Heat to 170c over medium high heat. Add four samosas and cook 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining samosas. Serve immediately with chutney.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: I didn’t follow the pastry cutting directions and my samosas look more like turnovers but they still tasted great! I did find, though, that this recipe really needed the green peas not only for color but for texture and taste. If you don’t like the idea of cooking with ghee, you can always use olive oil.

Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Tomato and Lemon Grass Broth

Talk about a showpiece! I have a diverse collection of cookbooks and this particular recipe is from a book, ‘Hot Chefs Hip Cuisine’. This recipe comes from Joël Antunes. Sometimes you look at a food photo and just know it’s going to taste good!

Serves 4
4 (200g/7oz) Chilean sea bass fillets
1/2 cup of sake
1/2 cup of mirin
100ml rice wine vinegar
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
50g (1/4 cup) miso paste

Eggplant Caviar:
500g (1 lb.) eggplant
80g sugar
30ml (1/8 cup) of lemon juice
1/2 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
10g fresh thyme
1/4 cup hazelnut oil

Tomato and Lemon Grass Broth:
250g vine tomatoes
1/2 onion peeled and roughly chopped
1/8 cup of honey
1/8 cup soya sauce
1 lemon grass
5 coriander leaves
1.5 liters (6 1/3 cups) water
butter, salt and pepper

Preparation:
Marinate the sea bass fillets in the sake, mirin, vinegar, sugar & miso paste for 6 hours. Preheat the oven to 220c (420f). Place the fish fillets in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of marinade and roast in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and grill for a few seconds to allow the skin to become golden brown.

Preheat oven to 190c (375f). Peel eggplant and cut into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Toss in the remaining eggplant caviar ingredients (excluding oil) and wrap up in aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and add hazelnut oil.

Lightly pan fry tomatoes and onion over medium heat, then add remaining broth ingredients. Stir well then add water and simmer for 1-2 hours. Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a muslin strainer. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper.

Presentation:

Place each fillet in the middle of a plate and top with a quenelle of eggplant caviar. Garnish with some coriander and spoon some tomato and lemon grass broth around the fish.


The Culinary Chase’s Note:
This is a beautiful way to serve sea bass. Silky smooth are the words that best describe the texture of this fish. I have to say, however, the eggplant caviar was a bit too sweet for me so the next time I’ll reduce the sugar.

Braised Lamb with Gremolata

This is a hearty dish and hits the spot now that it’s getting a bit cooler outside. Simmering makes this lamb fork tender. Serve with orzo or rice spiced with saffron, chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. I opted to use orzo as the texture of this pasta is quite smooth. Try refrigerating overnight as this will help develop the flavors. Our choice of wine for this meal was a South African favorite of ours, Pinotage from Neil Ellis winery. After a visit to their winery, we soon realized why its among the most respected in Cape names.

Serves 8
2 boneless lamb shoulders (about 2 kg total)
1/2 cup (125ml) flour
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup (50 ml) olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 strips of lemon rind (4″/10 cm each)
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
1 can 19 oz (540ml) chopped tomatoes (including juice)
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
2 bay leaves

Gremolata
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon rind

Trim off excess fat from lamb; cut into 2 ince (5 cm) cubes. Combine flour, salt and pepper; dredge lamb in mixture.

In an oven proof Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons (25 ml) of the oil over medium high heat; brown lamb in batches, adding oil as needed. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil to pan; cook onions, carrots and celery for 10 minutes stirring often. Add garlic and lemon rind. Add stock, wine, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper; bring to boil, stirring to scrape up brown bits from pan.

Add lamb and accumulated juices, cover and bake in 350F (180c) oven for 1 – 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender. Discard lemon rind, parsley sprigs and bay leaves.

Gremolata: Combine garlic, parsley and lemon rind, sprinkle over stew. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

The Culinary Chase’s note: Next time, I would recommend making a cartouche to make sure the heat and moisture stays in. I didn’t bother cooking the gremolata. I just added it to the hot pot and the flavors melted into the stew. Quite delicious!

Salad Niçoise

Salad niçoise has a bit of a Mediterranean flavor with anchovy fillets and black olives. The term Niçoise refers to any of the dishes created by the women of Nice. This salad has many variations in terms of its ingredients and remains a dish that is argued over. Do you add potatoes and green beans or would a purist be horrified with these additions? At any rate, I am pleased to say that I like my version of this classic salad. I have yet to make this with pissala. Pissala is usually found as a topping for pissaladière.

Serves 4
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and cut into bite size pieces
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup aged cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
1 can tuna fish, drained
4 hard boiled eggs

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

With a whisk, mix the dressing ingredients in the bottom of a salad bowl until the mixture is smooth and silky. Toss in the salad and then add the other ingredients. Serve on a plate & top with the boiled eggs.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Sometimes I buy a tuna steak, grill it on the bbq and add to the salad. When adding fresh tuna, toss ever so gently and then serve. I sprinkled some of my dukkah on the top of the tuna before cooking on the bbq for added flavor. For the dressing you can also substitute Dijon for wholegrain mustard. The measurements for the dressing act as a guideline so change as your taste buds dictate! As an accompaniment, serve with fresh bread.

Warm Brie with Tomato Bruschetta Topping


This is an appetizer with oomph and a great showpiece for any occasion. My husband suggested we have brie and crackers as an appetizer and I said that was a good idea, but decided to dress it up a bit.

Brie or Camembert, about 4 inches (10cm) wide

Tomato Bruschetta Topping:
1/4 cup seeded and finely chopped tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped (can use dried)
a dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180c (350F)
Thinly slice top rind off cheese, leaving sides and bottom intact. Place on foil lined baking sheet for easy handling. Bake cheese in center of oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to serving dish. Top with tomato bruschetta topping and serve immediately with crackers or good Italian bread.


The Culinary Chase’s Note: I used a mini Brie (about 2″ wide) but did not remove the rind. I have found that removing the rind makes it more difficult to transfer the softened cheese to a dish. The rind is edible and not thick enough to make a difference. Bread sticks are very useful as the cheese becomes more like a dip! Enjoy!

Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce with Shrimp and Feta Cheese


Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 (14-16 oz. cans) chopped tomatoes (including juice)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leafed parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
dried hot red pepper flakes (add to taste)
1.5 pounds medium shrimp (about 34) shelled and de-veined
1 pound dried rigatoni or other tubular pasta
1/2 pound Feta, crumbled

Method
Pre-heat oven to 220c (450f).
In a large saucepan cook the onion and garlic in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the wine and boil the mixture for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes (including juice), 1 tablespoon of parsley, the basil, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes. Boil the mixture, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Add the shrimp and cook the mixture over low heat 4-5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Remove pan from heat.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, drain well and stir it into the shrimp mixture. Stir in 5 oz. of the Feta and transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled 4 quart shallow glass baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parsley and Feta. Bake pasta in the middle of a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the Feta is bubbling and the top is slightly crusty.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: We love feta cheese so I end up using more than what the recipe calls for. For a lovely taste sensation, substitute the dried herbs with fresh herbs.

Profiteroles


Although I don’t often bake many sweets (partly due to high temperatures and high humidity in Hong Kong), this tiny cream puff gem is definitely a must have in one’s collection of recipes! Profiteroles, one of the smallest members of the cream puff family, are made from a thick batter. A drop of the batter on a baking sheet expands during baking to become a hollow golden ball, perfect for any number of fillings, such as ice cream, pastry cream, or even savory mixtures. The magic ingredient that transforms solid batter into hollow puffs is steam, which is produced by the liquid in the paste during baking.

Serves 4
50g. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
75g. (2 3/4 oz.) plain flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
200ml. (7 oz.) whipping cream (whipped enough to fill puff)

Chocolate Topping
100g. (3.5 oz.) semi sweet chocolate (broken into pieces)
25 g. (1 oz.) unsalted butter
50 g. (2 oz.) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200c (400f). Grease a baking sheet and dust with flour. Pour milk and 5 tablespoons water into a small saucepan, add the butter and bring to the boil over a low heat. To form a smooth paste, add the flour all at once to the boiling water-milk mixture in the saucepan. Stir vigorously and scrape the sides of the pan until a stiff paste comes together in a smooth ball. Transfer the thick shiny paste to a large mixing bowl, separate the paste into a few pieces, and cool them for only 10 minutes before adding the eggs. If the eggs are added when the paste is too hot, they can set the eggs, resulting in a paste that will not puff sufficiently in the oven. Beat in the eggs by hand until fully absorbed.

Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe 16 mounds onto the prepared baking sheet making sure they are well spaced apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until the mounds are puffed up and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Do not place close together or the steam may soften the puffs and make them soggy.

Method for Topping
Melt the chocolate with 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir in butter and sugar and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Make a slit in the side of the profiterole and fill with the whipped cream. Top with the chocolate sauce.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Small cream puffs bake at a lower temperature (400 degrees) than large ones (425 degrees). You can also arrange the puffs in a pyramid on a dish and pour the melted chocolate over them. Always choose a high grade of chocolate. I like chocolate when there’s 60% cocoa. Don’t be afraid of it tasting too bitter, the sugar you add will more than compensate as you don’t want the chocolate too sweet. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a large (extra strength) baggie and cut one corner off and use as a piping bag. Enjoy!

Happy Deepavali


Deepavali is the festival of Lights. The word ‘Deepavali’ is made up of two simple words. ‘Deepa’ means light and ‘Avali’ means a row. Hence ‘Deepavali’ means a row of lights. This is perhaps the most well-known of the Indian festivals. It is celebrated throughout India as well as in Indian communities around the world.

This festival usually falls around late October. It is common practice to light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, verandahs, and gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls. In urban areas candles are substituted for diyas; and among the nouveau riche, neon lights are made to substitute for candles. The celebration of the festival is invariably accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks.
India is rich in ethnic and cultural backgrounds so it comes as no surprise that Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. In north India, Diwali celebrates Rama’s homecoming, that is his return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as king; in Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali. Everywhere, it signifies the renewal of life, and accordingly it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival. Fireworks and firecrackers go off during Deepavali and symbolize the use of fiery weapons used during the war that Krishna waged against the demon.


Some of the popular sweets are halwa, burfi and laddu. Hindus love eating spicy food and for non-vegetarians they indulge in favorites like chicken tandoori, prawn sambal and fish head curry. In homes of Hindus who are vegetarians popular dishes like thosais, idlis and naans are prepared. Most devout Hindus tend to be vegetarians.

What I like most about Deepavali is how people put aside their differences for this special occasion and the mood is festive and colorful. I was first introduced to the festival of lights when we lived in Singapore. It’s a national holiday there and Little India is decked out in all its glory with massive displays of lights, colorful stalls and a sense of happiness everywhere you go. As I said in an earlier post Sept.4), Indian’s are very hospitable and they enjoy sharing their food with others.

Quiche


This is a family favorite. It’s my Mom’s recipe and has been a tradition in our family for many years. Quiche is from the Lorraine region of France and is of German origin. The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. Add onions and you have quiche Alsacienne. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that was a long time ago and is now a short-crust or puff pastry crust.

Serves 6
9″ unbaked pastry shell
6 slices of bacon
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup table cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
ground pepper

Method:
Bake pastry shell 220c (425f) for 5 minutes until set but not brown. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel and crumble onto bottom of pie crust. Sauté onion in bacon fat until translucent. Remove from pan, add to pie shell and top with the cheeses. Beat together eggs, milk, cream, pepper and pour over bacon-cheese mixture.

Bake 200c (400f) 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of pie comes out clean.


The Culinary Chase’s Note: This time I decided to use puff pastry and cooked the shell for 5 minutes at 200c (400f), remove from oven. Add the ingredients to the partially cooked pie shell and cook at 170c (325f) for 40 minutes or until the center is cooked. My oven is a convection so it cooked in 35 minutes. Serve Quiche as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast or an evening snack.