Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls

Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean VeganWe love going out for veggie sushi rolls and after attempting to make them at home, we still love going out for sushi. It was certainly an experience and I’m sure those of you out there who can whip out a veggie roll and cleanly cut it into 8 beautiful pieces in ten seconds, are rolling your eyes right now, but I am happy to let you folks make my veggie sushi for now on. Here’s what I learned:

  • Sushi rice is called “sticky rice” for a reason; It. Sticks. To. Everything. (Including feet. Yes, you will find it between your toes)
  • Sharp knives are a must, not the ones we’ve had for nearly 12 years and have been sharpened once (Yes, I’m taking them in this week)
  • The Tenth-Grader has WAY more patience and optimism than I, thank goodness.
  • Contrary to popular belief, making sushi is not a zen-full experience.

What You’ll Need:

  •  Sushi rice
  • Nori (seaweed wraps)
  • Veggies
  • Bamboo rolling mat (helpful, but not imperative)
  • Jarred ginger
  • Wasabi powder/paste
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Small bowl of water with a splash or two of rice vinegar.
  • Patience, a good attitude and perhaps some saki.

Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean VeganTo begin with, the rice will take about 15 minutes. Going by package instructions, I combined 1-1/2 cups of water with 2 cups of rice to make 4 cups of rice (minus about 1/2 C that stuck to the bottom of the pan). This made about 5 rolls of a few good-looking and some very ugly rolls, varying in sizes. (As you may have guessed, this probably won’t be the most precise method of making sushi rolls). Transfer the rice to a wooden bowl (that is important, but I’m not sure why).

As far as veggies go, we went with avocado, carrot, cucumber, and mushrooms. They don’t have to all go on one roll; use whatever combo you’d like. I recommend using carrot peelings, unless you slice the carrot pretty thin, otherwise, it can be a pain in the butt to cut (especially if your knives are dull…) We found that the thinner things are sliced, the easier it is to pile the veggies in the roll.

To assemble . . .
Lay the bamboo mat out. To make small rolls, cut the nori sheet in half and place on the mat, shiny side down.Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean VeganWet your hands with some of the water/rice vinegar and grab a large handful of the rice. The water helps keep the evil sticky rice from overtaking your hands. Press it onto the nori, leaving about an inch at the top; layer the veggies down the center.
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan(You can certainly add a lot more veggies).
Next, from the bottom, roll the bamboo mat up and squeeze the roll as you go. (That is such a terrible description, but I think you’ll figure it out). Very quickly, wet the top inch strip of nori, so that it will stick to the other end of the roll. This will all make sense when you try it. Hopefully, you’ll end up with a decent-looking roll:
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean VeganWhen cutting, we found that wetting the knife also helped to keep the rice from sticking to the blade. The serrated knife worked well. We also made a nice fatty roll:
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan(We probably could have used less rice and more veggies). We also attempted the rice-on-the-outside rolls . . .
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan . . . but they were harder to cut.
Anyhow, we still ended up with some decent rolls. They weren’t pretty, but they still tasted great.
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean VeganI love to mix about 1-1/2 tsp of wasabi paste with tamari or soy sauce, place a piece of ginger on the roll and dunk it all in the sauce. Delicious!! So I just might try this endeavor again (especially since I have half a bag of rice and several nori wrappers left). Any tip and tricks to making sushi is welcome, so let me know!
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan

 

 

Hummus & Tomato Tart

Hummus and Tomato Tart -- Epicurean VeganThis is great for a last minute appetizer and is extremely versatile. Change up the veggies, spices, and herbs and you have another great appetizer. I used Pillsbury crescent rolls (yes, they’re vegan) and I actually like them as a crust a bit more than puff pastry (which is also vegan). The crescent rolls have a fluffy layer effect that’s light and tasty. I cut the tart into 9 squares, but feel free to slice and dice the way you’d like.

INGREDIENTS:
1 pkg. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (8 to a package)
1/3 to 1/2 C prepared hummus
2 tomatoes, sliced thin (about 9 slices)
1/3 C chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9×13 baking sheet. Unroll the crescent rolls on the baking sheet and press the perforated edges to seal them. Using your fingers, firmly press the dough in several directions in order to get it to fit the baking sheet.

Hummus & Tomato Tart -- Epicurean VeganBake for 9 minutes, or until golden brown.
Hummus & Tomato Tart -- Epicurean VeganLet it cool completely, then spread on the hummus, add the tomatoes and sprinkle on the basil. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

Garbanzo-White Bean Truffle Spread

Garbanzo-White Bean Truffle Spread -- Epicurean Vegan

This is a variation on the white bean truffle spread that I decided to whip up for our July 4th party. I’ve made the original version several times, but I wanted to change things up a little and I’m thinking I like this new version even better!

INGREDIENTS:
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 large (or two medium) clove of garlic, halved or quartered
1 tsp salt
5-6 large green onions (white and green parts) sliced
4 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs truffle oil

DIRECTIONS:
Add the salt and garlic to a food processor and process until the garlic is pretty well chopped up. Add the beans, lemon juice, salt, and green onions; puree until smooth. While the machine is running, add the truffle oil; blend well. If you have time, let it chill for an hour or two before serving. Enjoy on crackers, toasted baguette slices, or veggies.

Garbanzo-White Bean Truffle Spread -- Epicurean Vegan

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps -- Epicurean VeganLettuce wraps are a favorite around here, especially since we can be picky and add what toppings we want. Oh, and they’re fresh and easy to make. I suggest having all of your ingredients out, ready to go, and even chopped before anything else; it just makes life easier. I was inspired by a Vegetarian Times recipe, but I made lots of changes by adding ingredients and omitting some. That’s the beauty of these . . . they’re so versatile.

INGREDIENTS:
Filling:
2 8oz pkg. tempeh, broken into chunks
5 large mushrooms, diced
1 can water chestnuts, chopped (I didn’t have any, but I would have used them if I did, so these are certainly optional)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C fresh mint, chopped
1/8 C lime juice
1 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs toasted brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp brown sugar
Sauce:
1/8 C lime juice
1/8 C water
1/8 C sugar
2 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs brown rice vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbs yellow  miso
salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings:
2 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into strips
Fresh basil, sliced into strips
1 C green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
1/2 C chopped peanuts and slivered almonds (also chopped)
12-16 large lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS:
Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. To make the filling, pulse the tempeh in a food processor. Depending on your preference, you can pulse it until you’re left with course pieces, or process it a bit more like I did. It can be difficult to get a consistent texture if you want larger pieces.

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps -- Epicurean VeganHeat the oil in a large skillet and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tempeh (and water chestnuts, if suing) and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook ten minutes. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients and heat thoroughly.

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps -- Epicurean VeganSince you were so efficient in your prep work . . .  ;-) you’re ready to fill the lettuce wraps! Place a scoop in the center of the lettuce leaf and add your favorite toppings, and drizzle with about a tablespoon of the sauce. Enjoy!

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers -- Epicurean Vegan

The Eighth Grader and I have been wanting to try making these for a while, but we kept forgetting. We were to bring an appetizer to a dinner the other night and finally! I remembered these. Not only that, our friends love jalapenos, so these were ideal. They were literally gone in about 5 minutes. They were so easy to make, too, so I’ll be bringing them to the next get together.

INGREDIENTS:

10 jalapeno peppers

Filling:

6-oz vegan cream cheese
1/2 C Daiya cheese shreds (I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3  Tbs vegan bacon bits

Coating:

Egg-replacer powder + water
almond milk

Breading:

3/4 C flour (any variety)
4 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 to 1-1/2 C panko

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients, except the bacon bits, in a mixer. Once well incorporated, fold in the bacon bits; set aside. To prepare the peppers, cut the tops off and slice the peppers in half, length-wise. Clean out the insides, reserving any seeds you may want to keep (for heat).

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers -- Epicurean Vegan

To prepare the coating, I didn’t measure out the egg-replacer powder and water .  .  . sorry. But I can tell you, I used about 1/3 C of Ener-G Egg Replacer and created a thick, meringue-like consistency by whisking in some water. I then combined it with about 1/2 to 3/4 C of almond milk.  Next, combine the flour and nutritional yeast in a shallow bowl.

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers -- Epicurean Vegan

In another shallow bowl, pour in the panko. So here’s the process:

Fill the pepper halves with some cream cheese filling, roll it in the milk, then the flour filling, then the panko. Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Repeat with remaining peppers. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown. I threw them under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Enjoy!

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers -- Epicurean Vegan

And guess what . . .  it’s snowing! Again! I’m so over it.

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Luckily, the veggies we planted in March are doing fine. Of course, we had to cover them again last night, but we should only be getting 3 inches at the most.  I suppose the good thing is that this will help with this summer’s fire danger. But still . . . why can’t it just rain?!

Macadamia Nut Cheese

Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

I was immediately smitten when I saw this recipe for macadamia nut “goat cheese” over at The Holy Kale. I haven’t met many nut cheeses I didn’t like, and this one looked too delicious not to try. I followed the recipe as it was written, but when I tasted it, I found into be incredibly bland. After all, there wasn’t any seasonings besides the tarragon it was rolled in. . . I took matters into my own hands because I sure the heck wasn’t going to waste the $7 I spent on two cups of macadamia nuts! A little salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and agave saved the day . . . and the cheese! Other than the texture, I don’t think this resembles goat cheese, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tasty–it most certainly is!

INGREDIENTS:

2 C macadamia nuts (I used unsalted), soaked for 24 hours in water
1 cap veggie Probiotic
1/2 C water
2-3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp, or to taste, salt
1-2 Tbs agave
2-3 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

After soaking the nuts, drain and transfer to a food processor along with 1/2 a cup of fresh water and the contents of the probiotic capsule. Blend until smooth (you will probably need to periodically scrape the sides).

Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Wrap in a cotton napkin or a few layers of cheese cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Keep wrapped in the cloth and place into a bowl. Do not seal the bowl.

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Let it sit for 2 days on the counter and ferment. Unwrap . . .

Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

. . . and transfer to a bowl. Using a fork, blend in the lemon juice, salt, and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings/flavorings if need be. Wrap the cheese in plastic wrap, shaping into a log.

Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Refriderate for several hours to overnight to allow the flavors to meet and mingle. The longer you let it percolate the better! Spread the chopped tarragon on a cutting board and roll the log over it. Drizzle with agave and serve with crackers. This would also be excellent crumbled over a salad. Delicious and worth the long process! Enjoy!Macadamia Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

I think non vegans would find it pretty hard to know this is nondairy. (And when is it not fun to fool omnivores)? This is a Tofutti cream cheese-based dip/spread, but you could easily reverse the ratio of cream cheese and sour cream in this recipe and make it a sour cream-based one. It works great as a dip, dolloped on a baked potato, cracker spread, bagel topper, or sandwich condiment. It was ideal for veggie wraps . . .

Veggie Wraps -- Epicurean Vegan

INGREDIENTS:

12-oz container of Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 C Tofutti sour cream
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs dried minced onion
1 tsp salt
2 large green onion, sliced
1 Tbs lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container and keep chilled until using. Enjoy!

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart -- Epicurean Vegan

This was so good and so easy to make! Yes, I know, puff pastry—even though it’s vegan—isn’t the healthiest of foods, but once in a while, it’s okay. In fact, it’s downright fun to come up with recipes using it. This is the perfect time to break out the mandolin slicer (if you’re brave enough). I’m still too freaked out to use it after my mishap with it.  Anyway, I used my go-to ricotta cheese recipe which makes more than what you need for this, but the rest will freeze well or keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. It’s great mixed in some cooked pasta with veggies, or small batch of a stuffed shells. You can also just halve the recipe if you’d like. This dish works as a main meal, or cut into small squares, is ideal as an appetizer. Check out these other tart recipes: Savory Vegetable Tart and Savory Asparagus Tart.

INGREDIENTS:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Ricotta:

14-oz tub of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tsp basil (sometimes I use fresh basil–about a cup)
1 tsp rosemary (Again, you can use 1 Tbs of freshly chopped rosemary)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 C nutritional yeast
Optional: 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vegan mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to fit an 11″x17″ cookie sheet. It’s ok if the edges go over the side—just tuck them in. Stick with a fork in several places.

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Bake for 7-10 minutes (check it to make sure it’s not browning). You want it just toasted:

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To make the ricotta, combine all of the ingredients (except the cheese, if using) in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in the cheese.

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Spread about a cup or so of the ricotta onto the puff pastry. You can use as little or as much as you’d like. Top with the tomato slices. I got about 9 slices, so I spaced them evenly on top.

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Next, layer on the zucchinis. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the crust brown the zucchinis are tender.

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart -- Epicurean Vegan

Transfer to a large cutting board, then cut and enjoy!

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart -- Epicurean Vegan

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart -- Epicurean Vegan

Spicy Empanadas

Spicy Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Happy New Year!

We spent our New Year’s Eve with friends and I brought these empanadas. I’ve made similar ones before and I noticed that I had written 5-6 jalapenos for that recipe. Those must have been some pretty mild peppers, because I used one in this recipe and they were plenty zippy! I changed these up a little and they turned out great. I think adding a chipotle-flavored Field Roast sausage link would also be great for the filling. I’m going to have to figure out how to keep them from opening up during the baking process, but it didn’t seem to make a difference in taste—they were gone in minutes!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

3 C flour + some for kneading
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer + 4 Tbs water
12 Tbs Earth Balance (1-1/2 sticks)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs white vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 C water

Filling:

8-oz non-dairy cream cheese
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs almond milk + some for brushing
1 tsp shallot salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C vegan pepper jack, shredded
1 tsp cumin
1 jalapeno, chopped fine
1/3 C red bell pepper, chopped small
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbs olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

To make the dough, combine the egg replacer with the water and process until foamy.

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Add the flour, Earth Balance, salt, vinegar, and water. Process until well combine.

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Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a medium skillet. Add the onions, jalapeno, and bell pepper. Season with cumin and saute 5-7 minutes, then remove from the heat.

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Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese, lime juice, almond milk, shallot salt, and garlic powder. Stir in the cilantro, cheese, and pepper mixture.

Spicy Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough and using a disk, bowl or cup, cut out 4″ circles.

Spicy Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Place about a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of dough circle. Fold over and you can either use a fork to seal the edges closed, or a pastry wheel cutter, then place onto a large baking sheet.

Spicy Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 15 minutes, then brush the tops with almond milk. Bake another 5-7 minutes, or until the tops brown. Enjoy!

Cashew-Truffle Hummus

Cashew-Truffle Hummus -- Epicurean Vegan

This was probably one of the best cashew spreads ever. The original recipe, called Rich and Creamy Cashew Cheese, is from Vegetarian Times, but when I tasted it, it was incredibly bland, so I decided to up the ante and add some of my favorite ingredients. After I messed with it, I found that it ought to be more appropriately called hummus, not to mention, my new favorite hummus. It’s hard to go wrong with miso and truffle oil!

INGREDIENTS:
2 C raw & unsalted cashews, soaked for 24 hours
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp white balsamic vinegar (I used regular and added another tsp)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2-1/2 Tbs truffle oil (my addition)
2 Tbs white or yellow miso

DIRECTIONS:
Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Using a food processor, process for a minute.

Cashew-Truffle Hummus -- Epicurean Vegan

Add a 1/2 cup of water and remaining ingredients. Process for 3-5 minutes or until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about 12 hours or overnight. Enjoy with pita chips, crackers, or on a sandwich.