Friday, June 18, 2010

Fast Food Friday: Sushi

During Great Lent, James and I made our first attempt at making our own sushi, and last weekend we enjoyed making it with friends. We've definitely got room to improve as far as making beautiful rolls, but we've had a lot of fun making it. We think it's pretty delicious. In fact, we like our homemade as much as restaurant sushi. During Lent we really enjoyed it with a pot of jasmine tea, but now we're finding one of the things we like about it is it's so cool and refreshing.

It's certainly far more economical to make it than buy it now that we've got some supplies, too. We bought a mat to roll the sushi, nori sheets, wasabi powder, pickled ginger, some black sesame seeds, and sushi rice. The condiments will last a long time, and even the nori and rice are enough for a few meals. For fillings we've tried carrots, avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, steamed asparagus, mushrooms marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, as well as shrimp and smoked salmon for the seafood eaters. I'm enjoying trying different combinations of fillings. I especially like asparagus and mushroom.

It's really pretty easy to do, and it makes a quick to prepare, almost no-cook dinner. It's a nice addition to our rotation of fasting meals. You cook the sushi rice, then spread it out on a plate, and sprinkle it with rice vinegar to cool and season it. Then you spread rice very thinly on the nori, add your fillings in a line, roll it up and slice it. I'm sure you can find a million tutorials and videos on how to make sushi, with much better advice than a novice like me can give, so give it a try.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fast Food Friday (belated): Tostadas

OK, so I know it's Saturday, but here we are in the midst of the Apostle's Fast, so I thought I'd do a few fast food Friday posts. We had these for dinner last night, and this morning I realized they'd be a great food to write about. I thought about saving this for next Friday, but then I thought, why wait? Tostadas are one of my favorite summertime fasting dinners. We really enjoy these during the Dormition Fast when we have all those great summer vegetables, and we often eat them on Fridays throughout the summer.  They are super easy to make, and they are a great way to take advantage of bounty from the garden and farmer's market.

This is not so much a recipe as a process and list of suggestions. First, you need the shells. I make the tostada shells by baking corn tortillas. Lay as many as will fit on a baking sheet, bake for about 7 minutes in a 400 degree oven until they are good and crispy but not browned. You could do a few baking sheets worth at a time for a big family. I've done that before for company, but generally I do 5 or 6 for James and me.  If you want them to be pretty flat, you can flip them over halfway through. Do NOT forget you have them in the oven, and keep an eye on them because they burn easily if left too long. I've burnt many a tortilla by getting distracted! If I'm just making tostadas for one, I will stick two tortillas in the toaster oven. You can buy tostada shells, but they are more expensive than corn tortillas, and they are fried. If you make your own tortillas, go for it and do the whole thing from scratch. I mean to try that some time, but I've only ever made flour tortillas.

So, once you have your tostada shells, you need toppings. Here are my suggestions:

Beans: you can do refried, mashed, or just cooked or canned. We usually use pintos or black, sometimes refried, sometimes not.

Salsas: Whatever you like. In tomato season, we like homemade pico de gallo. We also like corn salsa. I prefer a chunky salsa for this, but I generally just use what I've got.

Grilled or roasted veggies: This is one of my favorite parts. We grill or roast squash, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tossed with some oil, lime juice, chile powder and cumin. Yum. You could do whatever vegetables you like, but that is my favorite combination. Cherry or grape tomatoes are good, too.

Other chopped vegetables: fresh tomato, corn off the cob, bell pepper, canned or fresh hot peppers/chiles of some kind (if you want some heat), lettuce, onion (green, red, sweet), olives, avocado


Seafood (if you are a fish eater): Grilled fish or shrimp, quality canned tuna

If it's not a fasting day, or you're not Orthodox: Shredded cheese, sour cream

And if you're not a vegetarian like me: shredded chicken or pork, grilled strips of beef

The tostadas pictured here are topped with refried pintos, shredded lettuce, corn salsa, and guacamole. These are from my lunch. Last night I had roasted veggies to top them, but we ate those all up! I think this is pretty kid-friendly, since you can put out a whole bunch of toppings and people can pick what they like. They are also good for eating outside, because they are messy!