Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls

SushiWe 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.

sushi stuffTo 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.20140602_173812Wet 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.
20140602_175110(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:
small rollWhen 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:
fat roll(We probably could have used less rice and more veggies). We also attempted the rice-on-the-outside rolls . . .
20140602_174320 . . . but they were harder to cut.
Anyhow, we still ended up with some decent rolls. They weren’t pretty, but they still tasted great.
20140602_180419I 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!
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Tofu-Avocado Bowl with Cilantro-Ginger Cashew Sauce

TofuAvoBowlIt’s been a busy spring, but I hope to get back to posting more regularly very, very soon. I’m excited to bring you this new recipe that is a “smorgasbord of flavors,” as The Husband called it. (That’s a good thing, I found out). This weekend, we went to WaterCourse Foods in Denver where I thoroughly enjoyed their Street Tacos that had a cilantro cream sauce. I have no idea how they made theirs, but it inspired me to make my own. Then came the veggies, rice and tofu and an incredible meal was born! (Sorry, a little dramatic). But I think you’ll really love this easy to make meal (no judgment here if you lick the bowl).

INGREDIENTS:
Cilantro-Ginger Cashew Sauce:
1 C raw, unsalted cashews, soaked for at least an hour in hot water
1 Tbs white or yellow miso
1/3 C packed cilantro leaves
2 Tbs lime juice
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4 C water
1/4 C unsweetened, unflavored almond milk

The rest:
1-3/4 C vegetable broth
1 C wild rice (I used Lundberg Jubilee variety)
14-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 6-7 slabs
1-1/2 C snowpeas, ends trimmed and cut in half
3/4 C green onion, sliced
2 carrots, grated
Shallot salt (or regular salt)
1-2 avocados, sliced
Cooking spray

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DIRECTIONS:
Start with preparing the rice. Combine the broth and rice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, to make the amazing sauce, drain the cashews and transfer them to the food processor. Add the other ingredients and puree. Scrape the bowl a few times and process until completely smooth.

20140507_172656Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Place the tofu slabs in the skillet, season with shallot salt. Turn the tofu once one side is browned. Season once again with shallot salt.
20140507_171113Once the tofu is done, transfer to a cutting board and cut each slab into 3 long pieces, then again in half.
20140507_173012Add the snowpeas and green onion to the same skillet. Over medium heat, saute the veggies for just a few minutes; enough to soften them a little. If need be, spray the skillet again with cooking spray. Stir in the carrot and cook another few minutes. Season with a little shallot salt, if you’d like.
20140507_173644To assemble, start with rice, top with the vegetable mixture, then add the tofu and avocado. Drizzle, drop or dump some sauce on top. Then . . . mix it all together and enjoy!
20140507_180038

 

Asian-Inspired Risotto

Asian Inspired Risotto with Bok Choy & Shiitake MushroomsYep, I’m still on my risotto kick. This time, however, I gave it an Asian twist by adding bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and a touch of sesame oil (among other seasonings). This is a unique and delicious change from the usual risotto dish and would be great paired with some veggie crystal rolls. Yum!

INGREDIENTS:

4 C vegetable broth
1 Tbs red miso
1 C water
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
2 C shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3/4 C green onion, sliced thin
1/2 C Sherry cooking wine
2 Tbs Earth Balance
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-Spice blend
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs tamari ( or soy sauce)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a Dutch oven, whisk the 4 cups of broth and 1 tablespoon of miso; stir in the rice. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Fifteen minutes before the rice is done, begin steaming the bok choy. Steam for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and green onion.

bokchoyWhen the rice is done (most of the liquid has been absorbed), stir in the one cup of water,sherry and Earth Balance. Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes—it’ll thicken up. Next, add the nutritional yeast, five-spice blend, sesame oil, and tamari. Stir well for at least a minute. Fold in the bok choy mixture and enjoy!

 

Tofu & Shiitake Stir-fry with Soba Noodles

Tofu & Shiitake Stir-fry with Soba NoodlesThis is such an easy and tasty dinner to throw together—as long as you remember to give the veggies time to marinate. Even it’s just an hour, that’s quite all right. Feel free to use your own favorite veggies, but keep in mind, that you may have to marinate certain vegetables separate, depending on whether or not they need longer cooking time. The vegetables I chose could be all cooked together at the same time, so it made this dish a breeze.

INGREDIENTS

Marinade:

1/2 C tamari
2 Tbs brown rice vinegar
2 tsp agave
2 tsp sesame seed oil
2 Tbs sherry
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs ginger root, grated
1/2 C green onion, sliced

The rest: 

8-oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed
3/4 C snowpeas, cut in half
6 to 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles ( I like Hakubaku brand. They come in a package of 3 separate rolls of noodles. I used 2 of the 3)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs arrowroot

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a resealable bag. Mix it up well, then add the mushrooms, tofu and snowpeas. Coat the vegetables thoroughly and lay flat in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning over once, half way through.

DSC08184In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Drain and reserve the marinade in a measuring cup; you should have about a 1/3 of a cup; set aside. Saute the vegetables over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until they begin brown. Meanwhile, heat the water for the noodles. They’ll only take 4 minutes to cook once adding them to boiling water, so it will all come together pretty quickly.

When the vegetables are about done, whisk the arrowroot into the reserved marinade. Make sure you don’t have any clumps. Pour it into the skillet, coat the vegetables well, and reduce the heat to low.

DSC08187Drain the soba noodles and serve with the vegetable mix on top. Enjoy!

 

Tofu Sliders

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

This recipe is from Vegetarian Times, but I made just a few alterations. The original recipe is called “Kung Pao Sliders,” but I’m not sure where the kung pao is because they weren’t spicy at all—the recipe only calls for an optional pinch of cayenne. The recipe also says it makes 16 sliders and I sliced the tofu the same way and ended up with just 14. Next time, I’ll actually just cut large slabs instead of using 2 per slider, because they were pretty small. If you want them to have more of a kick, I suggest adding more cayenne, or some sriacha to the slaw mixture. Ok, with all of that out of the way, I have to say, these were quite delicious. The slaw is really flavorful and any leftovers would be great eaten alone, or on some rice or noodles. I made some fries to go with them and it was a great meal. (I guess you can call it “Frasian” dining . . .)

INGREDIENTS:

Sliders:

1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, patted dry
4 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (I used tamari)
2 Tbs natural cane sugar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
(I also added 1 Tbs yellow miso)
slider buns

Slaw:

3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
2 Tbs vegan mayo
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
5 tsp natural cane sugar (I reduced this to 2 tsp)
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 medium carrots, julienned* (I recommend 2 carrots, as there was a lot of slaw left—unless you’re fine with that)
2 medium (I recommend small ones) zucchini, julienned*
1/4 C dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
Optional: sriacha or other hot sauce for some heat
*Another option is to use a peeler and make ribbons of carrots and zucchini—this can be much easier than julienning them.

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making this a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the tofu to marinate and give yourself plenty of prep time. The recipe says to cut the tofu into 8 slices lengthwise; halve the slices to make 16 pieces. I did the best I could. (Again, next time I’ll make larger cuts)

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, cane sugar, toasted sesame oil and cornstarch. (This is also where I added in the miso). Pour about a third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place the tofu squares in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the tofu to coat it.

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

Cover and chill while you prepare the slaw. Basically, whisk together all of the slaw ingredients (minus the veggies and peanuts) in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots, zucchini, and peanuts. Cover and chill.

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

Preheat oven to 375. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and transfer the tofu to the sheet. The recipe says to drain the tofu, but I just poured the marinade over the tofu.

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake 20-25 minutes, then flip and bake 15-20 minutes. I reduced the times a little from the original recipe because mine seemed to bake pretty fast. Every oven runs different, so just check them often to make sure they’re not burnt to a crisp. On to assembling them . . .

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

Add about 2 Tbs of slaw and you’re ready to eat! Enjoy!

Tofu Sliders -- Epicurean Vegan

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup -- Epicurean VeganI have always wanted to try making hot and sour soup at home. Typically, Asian restaurants use a chicken or beef-based broth in their soups, so I usually have to pass on it. I found a recipe in Color Me Vegan, but I made some alterations to it. We loved the results! I went easy on the hot part, so feel free to spice it up more if you’d like.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 oz dried mushroom variety such as shiitake, oyster, porcini, boletus and woodear
3/4 oz dried exotic mushrooms
14-oz extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes
7 Tbs tamari or soy sauce, divided
1 Tbs canola oil
6 C vegetable broth
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C arrowroot
1 can bamboo shoots, sliced into thin strips
2-3 tsp chili sesame oil
4 green onions, sliced

DSC07111

dried mushroom variety mix

DSC07112

dried exotic mushroom mix

DSC07105

3 packets of dried mushrooms

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for about an hour. Drain, but reserve the liquid (approx. 2 cups). Then cut/slice the mushrooms.

DSC07108

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil and coat with canola oil. You don’t have to use foil, but I find stuff still sticks to the pan regardless. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and drizzle with 4 Tbs of the tamari.

DSC07106

Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the pieces. I’m sorry to say, there really isn’t an easy way to do this other than one by one . . . bake another 8-10 minutes.

DSC07107(These may look pretty scorched, but it’s actually just the baked-on tamari)

In a large soup pot, bring the broth to a boil, then add the mushrooms. Let simmer or med/low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot, rice vinegar, and 3 Tbs of the tamari. Whisk well to thoroughly combine. Stir into the soup and bring it to a boil.

DSC07109

Add the bamboo shoots, tofu, and chili sesame oil; cook for 5 minutes. You may want to thin out the soup a little, so add some of the reserved mushroom water. I had two cups and ended up using it all–it just depends on how thick you want the soup. Top each individual serving with some green onions and enjoy!

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles -- Epicurean Vegan

Sorry for the absence…I haven’t been making new dishes over the last couple of weeks, but instead, have been relying on some old favorites like enchiladas, creamy cashew pasta, and tofu sandwiches. We are leaving Wednesday for Santa Fe and Taos, so it was a good time to use up the veggies in the fridge. I’m excited to bring you lots of wonderful vegan food and news from New Mexico. It’s been ten years since we’ve there and we’re  looking forward to going back. Of course, any road trip is not complete in my household without an accident/injury a day or two before leaving. (Last year, the Eighth Grader got his two front teeth knocked out during a trampoline incident. We were supposed to drive to Southern CO for a wedding. It didn’t happen. Spring Break this year was altered after the kid’s appendectomy). It was my turn, I guess. I got a little too excited trying out my new mandolin slicer Sunday night…

I should have seen it coming. I’ve heard the horror stories associated with the mandolin, but I bought one the other day anyway. First time I use it, I slice a pretty large chunk off my right pinkie finger. I’m lucky though, it could have been worse. I was millimeters short of taking off bone and nail! Yikes. Good thing I married an Eagle Scout. He kept me calm and got it wrapped up. I ended up going to urgent care yesterday morning and they cleaned it up good, wrapped it, and I have to go back today to have it looked at. The doc said it will take several months to heal. :-(  The mandolin is in timeout.

Had I not been an idiot and lost part of an appendage, I probably would have used it to make this stir-fry, but I decided to stick with a good old-fashioned knife. It was slow-going, but I had some help. I picked up some East-West Stir-fry Sauce and these awesome ramen noodles from Hakubaku. Both were outstanding. The sauce had a mild flavor with just a tiny bit of zip. I used about 1/2 the jar, but feel free to use as much or as little as you’d like.

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles -- Epicurean Vegan

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchinis, cut into sticks
6 mushrooms, quartered
6 celery stalks, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
6 green onions, sliced thin
1-2 handfuls of cashews
3 Tbs freshly grated gingerroot
1 jar East-West Stir-fry Sauce
9.5 oz Hakubaku noodles
Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the zucchini, celery, and bell pepper. Cook until they begin to get tender, about 7-9 minutes.

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles -- Epicurean Vegan

Add the bamboo shoots and ginger. Cook another 5 -7 minutes.

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles -- Epicurean Vegan

The noodles will take four minutes to cook in boiling water, so when you toss them in to cook, add the mushrooms, green onion, and cashews to the skillet. Cook 2 minutes…then add the sauce. Stir well to combine and saute to heat the sauce.

Cashew Stir-fry with Noodles -- Epicurean Vegan

Drain the noodles and serve them topped with some stir-fry. Enjoy!

 

Sweet & Sour Boca Nugget Stir-fry

Sweet and Sour Boca Nugget Stir-fry -- Epicurean VeganStir-fries are great ways to use up veggies and they’re typically easy to throw together. I didn’t feel like using tempeh or tofu, so I went with Boca nuggets. The sweet and sour sauce came out perfect–a great balance of both elements!

INGREDIENTS:
1 pkg. Boca nuggets
2 C mushrooms, cut into chunks
6-8 green onions, sliced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 C carrots, sliced thin
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 C cooked rice

Sauce:
2/3 C rice vinegar
8 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs ketchup
2 tsp tamari
4 tsp arrowroot
6 tsp water

DIRECTIONS:
The sauce won’t take long to make, so I suggest combining everything in a small saucepan (except the arrowroot and water) and set aside for now. Bake the nuggets according to the bag’s instructions (12-13 minutes). Then cut each nugget into fourths. (And if using rice, don’t forget to get it started, too)!

Sweet and Sour Boca Nugget Stir-fry -- Epicurean Vegan

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the water chestnuts and carrots and cook until tender. Add the mushrooms, green onion, and Boca nuggets.

Sweet and Sour Boca Nugget Stir-fry -- Epicurean Vegan

At this point, bring the sauce to a boil. Mix together the water and arrowroot and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it up. This should only take about a minute.

Sweet and Sour Boca Nugget Stir-fry -- Epicurean Vegan

Pour the sauce over the veggies/nuggets and combine well. Serve over hot white rice and enjoy!

Asian Veggie Salad with Almonds

Asian Veggie Salad with Almonds -- Epicurean VeganThis is a simple summer salad that is ideal for parties and picnics. It’s also easy to throw together and I love the Asian dressing, too—gives it a yummy, peanutty-flavor.

INGREDIENTS:
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 C corn kernels, thawed (if frozen)
1-1/2 C cabbage, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 C edamame, thawed (if frozen)
1/2 a cucumber, sliced, then halved
1 C slivered almonds
1/3 C Light Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (from Kraft)

DIRECTIONS:

In a small, dry skillet, toast the almonds for a few minutes, until they begin to brown.

In a large bowl, combine all the veggies. Add the dressing and coat thoroughly. Note: if you are making this ahead of time, stir in the nuts just before serving, as they can get mushy if they sit too long in the dressing. Enjoy!

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean VeganI can’t make anything with cilantro in it and not think of my friend, Kerrie. She often checks out my recipes, but when one of them has cilantro in it, she’s very upfront with me about her dislike for the herb. Even just talking about it with her induces her gag reflex. I on the other hand, love it and so I apologize, Kerrie, that the last 2 recipes I’ve posted have had a cup of *gag* cilantro in them! I guarantee however, you’d like these tacos sans your least favorite herb . . . :) The recipe is from VegNews and I made some minor alterations. For one, I couldn’t find Korean red pepper and I left off the avocados (much to my dismay) because they were priced at $1.99 each! They still turned out delish—especially with that cilantro!

INGREDIENTS:
For the tofu:
6 garlic cloves, crushed (I used minced)
1/4 C soy sauce (or tamari)
2 rounded Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 Tbs peanut oil or vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 tsp tomato paste (I froze the rest)
1-1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp Korean red pepper (I used regular red pepper)
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 8 slices

For the Pear Cilantro Slaw:
1 large Asian pear
2-1/2 C finely shredded cabbage
1 C chopped cilantro
1-2 jalapeno peppers, roasted and finely chopped (I used 1 rounded Tbs of canned)
2 green onions, finely chopped|
3 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs agave
1/2 tsp salt

The rest:
8 tortillas
8 leaves of green lettuce
2 avocados, sliced
(Optional): mung, soybean, or radish sprouts, hot sauce. I added a shredded carrot.
I also decided to make a sour cream dressing: 1/2 C Tofutti sour cream mixed with some lime juice, garlic salt, and cumin—to taste.

DIRECTIONS:
For the tofu, whisk together the soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanut oil (or other oil), tomato paste, sesame oil, red pepper powder, and green onions.

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean Vegan

I used an 8″x8″ baking dish, poured some marinade in it, placed the tofu on top, then layered on the rest of the marinade. Spread it around evenly.

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean Vegan

The recipe says to marinate for 20 minutes, but since I had some time earlier in the afternoon, I made it then and stuck it in the fridge—tightly covered.

To make the slaw, quarter the pear, remove the core and grate it, using the largest holes on a box grater. Squeeze the pear shreds of excess liquid. Place in a large bowl and add the other slaw ingredients; combine well.

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean Vegan

Over medium-high heat, heat a cast iron, or other skillet and spray with cooking spray. Cook the tofu for about 3 minutes per side, or until brown along the edges.  The recipe didn’t specify whether or not to keep the marinade, so I just added it with the tofu.

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean Vegan

I then sliced each tofu slab into 3 pieces to make it easier to eat in a taco.

Tacos with Pear Cilantro Slaw  -- Epicurean Vegan

Serve in a warmed tortilla with the lettuce leaf, carrot (and any other optional ingredient), slaw, and tofu. I also drizzle on some of my sour cream sauce. So delicious!! Enjoy!