Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Asparagus Tart

I have previously made something similar to this but threw together some things I had today to make a new creation.


1 pizza crust(i used the tube roll out kind--lazy)
1/3 tub of dill flavored hummus(or flavor of choice)
6 spears of lightly steamed asparagus
1 tomato
fresh Parmesan cheese
olive oil(i used lemon infused)


Preheat oven to 425F.

I simply got out my baking stone and rolled out the tube of pizza crust on it. I lightly brushed the crust with a little lemon infused olive oil(I'm sure plain would be just as good, but slightly more boring). After that I spread a thin layer of dill flavored hummus on the crust(it used 1/4 to 1/3 of the small tub of hummus). I cut the asparagus spears into 2" pieces and places them on top of the hummus. I placed the tomato slices(1/8 in thick) on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle the whole top with a little salt and pepper to taste. Grate the amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top to suit your taste buds. I personally think a little goes a long way.

Bake at 425F for 14-17 minutes or until the crust is light brown and the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Next time I might throw some artichoke hearts on there, too.

It makes a great light lunch/supper on a hot summer day. Would also be perfect if cut in half length wise then into 1" wide strips and use as an appetizer at your next gathering. It's great cold, too!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Zucchini-Tomato Gratin

Straight out of Vegetarian Times


  • 1 1/2 lb tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices(I used Roma)
  • 2 medium zucchini(1 lb.), cut into 1/8-inch thick diagonal pieces
  • 1 T plus 1tsp olive oil, divided(I used a lemon infused olive oil)
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 T roughly chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup thinly slices basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese(the fresher the better)

1. Take your tomatoes and zucchini, place the slices on large baking sheets and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30-45 minutes to sweat out extra moisture. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil(this is where I went cowboy and pulled out the lemon infused olive oil because I thought the flavor would enhance the dish) in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the zucchini for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate.

3. Layer 1/2 the zucchini slices in an 8in baking pan. Top with 1/2 of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with 1/2 the garlic, 1 T of olives, half the basil and 1/4 C of the Parmesan cheese. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Repeat with remaining zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, olives and basil. Drizzle top with 1 T of the olive oil(went with the lemon again) and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 C of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 20 minutes more or until cheese is melted and gratin bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This is what it looked like when I pulled it out to take the foil off after 10 minutes:

While I was waiting for the vegetable to sweat, I realized that I had bought some white peaches at the grocery store(fully intended on eating them just as fruit and not combining them with alcohol) and that I also had some Bacardi Peach and a bottle of white wine. Hmmm...white peach sangria. So I mixed this up to sip on while I cooked...

Roll out! Make your own sushi

Sushi making is probably far easier for me to make than your average carnivore. The carnivore would have to search for special sushi-grade fish, while I just have to hit up the produce section and pick out the vegetables that I want.

I LOVE veggie sushi. Brock and I love going for sushi at this place downtown and their veggie rolls are so good that I have almost converted him to ordering only veggie rolls while we are there. For my first attempt at making sushi, I stuck to simple veggie rolls but next time I would want to try to make some veggie tempura rolls. Ok, enough of my rambling, I'll tell you how I made it.
  • Seaweed wrappers
  • Sushi rice(regular long grain rice will not work)
  • 3T of Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2T sugar
  • 2tsp salt(you can use table, sea or kosher...I used kosher)
Veggie fillers(what I used):
  • Tofutti better than cream cheese
  • Carrots( in matchstick form or shredded)
  • Cucumber(long thin slices or matchsticks)
  • Avocado
  • Jalapeno(diced)
  • Cilantro
  • Asparagus(cooked until tender)
My asparagus getting ready to get tender and then cool so it can go in my rolls:
This was the sushi vinegar my local grocery store carried:
To make the sushi rice, I simply googled "sushi rice" and a site called How to Make Perfect Sushi Rice popped up. So, I just followed their recipe...why mess with perfection? Here's their recipe:

Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved into the vinegar. Do not boil the mixture. Leave sitting off heat until needed. You can make this portion before or while the rice is cooking.

Here is my vinegar, salt and sugar mixture before everything is dissolved:
Rinse the rice with cold water. This may take several water changes. Do this until the final rinse water runs clear.
Steam the rinsed rice in an equal amount of water (i.e.: 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water) in a rice cooker or on the stove top following the package's directions or by bringing to a boil, then cooking over very low heat until the water is evaporated and you are left with lovely sticky rice.
As always when cooking rice on the stove top, use very low heat after the initial boil and keep the lid on at all times. The trapped steam is what enables the rice to cook.
Once the rice has finished cooking, it can be left off heat in the pot with the lid on for up to 15 minutes.
When the rice has finished cooking, add the vinegar seasoning to the rice. Turn the rice out of the pot and into a non-reactive shallow bowl.

You want to cool down the rice and add the seasoning at the same time.

Use a tool like a samoji(I used a wooden fork) in a gentle chopping motion to spread out the grains of rice and ensure the seasoning covers every grain.

Some people use a hand-held fan to help in the cooling process. (I did NOT do this, as I do not own a hand-held fan and simply didn't think it was necessary)
The website also provided this handy guide:

Tips for Making Perfect Sushi Rice

1. Use a non-reactive metal or wooden container for the final step of seasoning the rice, as some metals will react with the vinegar and mar the flavor of the rice.
2. Be careful not to squish the grains of rice together when adding the vinegar mixture. You want to maintain the integrity of the rice grains.
3. Spreading out the rice makes it cool down faster. This stops the rice cooking in its own heat. To make sushi, the rice should be at about room temperature.
4. If you are not going to make the sushi right away, cover the seasoned rice with a damp cloth to ensure that it doesn't dry out.
5. Never refrigerate sushi rice, as it will get too hard to work with or eat.
After making the rice it became very hands on, therefore a lack of pictures. Mathiew Le gave me a sushi making kit a few years ago and I had never used it, so I pulled it out of the closet and gave that beast a whirl. Thank you Mathiew! Making sushi is so much fun.

Have all your ingredients ready in bowls and have a bowl of room temperature water on hand.
Lay a piece of seaweed paper on your rolling mat and spread a thin layer of rice on it. I don't like a ton of rice, so I only covered about 1/2 of the seaweed with rice. It helps if your fingers are a little wet(dip them in the handy-dandy bowl of water conveniently sitting there). Then you put on any of the topping you would like. I made several different combinations. I really like a jalapeno, cilantro, carrot, avocado and cucumber combo with a little cream cheese. Sooooo good.

Once you have your fillings on the rice, you are ready to roll!
I don't really know how best to describe how to roll, but it is important to roll tightly. Use the mat to roll and try to roll and tuck the seaweed into the rice just past the ingredients very tightly. Pull the mat back and bit and keep rolling until you have a roll.

I got a little overzealous and made a lot of rolls. I was on a roll(pun intended).

Slice up your rolls into nice pretty pieces. Pull your wasabi and soy sauce out of the cupboard, dip and eat.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rustic Pizza

I made this about 6 weeks ago, but have obviously sucked at updating my blog. I got two new cook books for my birthday from Megan and am very excited about making several recipes in them. This is the first recipe I have tried. The cookbook is amazing, it's called 100 Great Recipes: Vegetarian. The great thing about it is that it gives you the recipe to serve 2 or 4 and lots of pictures. I really like pictures. There is a good chance I will never try to make something if I don't get to see the picture along with the recipe.

I came across a recipe for a roasted-vegetable and mozzarella tart that looked really good, but I had a hankering for something more pizza-ish. So I started out by changing the recipe a little...then a lot. But will probably make the original recipe sometime too, but it looks real good.


1/2 of a yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips

3 1/2 inch slices of eggplant cut into 1/4 in strips

4 vegetarian meatballs(cut each ball in half)

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese(I used the veggie shreds kind)

pizza sauce to the amount of your liking(I like a lot)

Box of pizza dough mix(lazy, I know)

Start by slicing your vegetables and tossing them in a bowl

Add the olive oil and toss:
Spread out on pan and ready to go in the oven

Preheat your oven to 400F. Once cup/sliced/shopped to the above specifications, toss the vegetables with little olive oil, place in a roasting pan. Roast for 25 minutes. I threw my pizza stone in the oven while the veggies were roasting to heat it up.
While your veggies are roasting, search through your pantry to for a box of pizza dough mix. Find one, discover it is expired and mix it up anyway, thinking that it should still turn out alright. I had originally planned on making homemade pizza dough but it was getting late and I didn't have time for it to rise an hour when the box mix is ready in five minutes.
I like it saucy:

Mix up that dough(follow the simple directions on the box) and spread it out. Next, look in your pantry for some pizza sauce, realize that you don't have any either and reach into your fridge and pull out some sundried tomato and olive marinara, add some extra Italian herbs and call it pizza sauce. Spread desired amount on to crust.

Now there are a lot of toppings on that beast:

Once the veggies are properly roasted, pull them out of the oven and arrange them any way you would like on your pizza sauce. Strategically arrange the meatball halves so they are about equidistant from each other. Then top with motz. Put this beast on your pizza stone and bake until crust is golden brown and cheese bubbly.

Maybe put a little too much cheese on it, but it was delish!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am not stretch armstrong

I have been over committed and stretching myself far to thin lately. I apologize to everyone I have been neglecting. When I get stressed I get really bad at communicating. Emails go unanswered, texts go unreturned and phone calls get sent to voicemail and stay there for days. I have been working too much and sleeping too little. This was brought to my attention when I went out to dinner with Megan last weekend, while I already knew it myself, sometimes I need someone to point it out to me.

I had a lot of fun social things happening this week, which is better than my usual tactic of hibernating when not at work, however they led to me getting even less sleep. So, after tomorrow which should conclude an insanity of shifts, I am cutting back. More time for me, less time for work.

I have several short travel trips coming up that I am looking forward to as well as a trip home, which is always relaxing.

What am I going to do with this new found free time? I'm going to look into taking a class. I need a creative outlet. What it will be... I don't know... But I'm looking forward to it.