Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coffee Houses & Adventures in Cooking: Vegan Sushi!

Today I hung out with Alan and our good friend Brian! I was basically snarfing down my breakfast when Brain called complaining of being bored. So Alan and I hopped into the car and picked him up. Then we mulled over where the hell to go (such is life!). Brian had the idea of going to a coffee shop, and new of a pretty cool local one in Roswell. So off we went to go grab some coffee house goodness!

The place is called the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffe Co. Turns out these guys roast their own coffee beans, and ship of thousands of pounds a week! They have a slogan which is "Drink Coffee. Do Good." and it made me smirk a little considering a past company I worked for. However, these guys actually mean it! According to the Roswell locations website, The company pays their coffee growers in Rwanda higher than Fair Trade prices, use their profits to invest in sustainable village projects in Rwanda like micro-finance loans for widows, sustenance farms for orphans, medical care, and soccer fields. If you're interested in checking them out head over to! I also suggest checking out the coffee house itself. It's awesome and the drinks there are even better!

Speaking of drinks, I got a Chai Latte with soy. Alan got an espresso thing, because he's a caffeine fiend and Brian got the French Roast coffee. Apparently when they ask you what kind of coffee you want at this place - you have the option of small, medium, or large - they bring you out a freaking coffee pot based on the size you get. Brain got a medium and it was kinda huge. Not what I was expecting when he told me he paid four bucks for it. I'm not sure if he drank all of it but I think he did! They also have a great selection of baked goods there too. Some are gluten free and I'm almost certain they had a vegan selection as well! Brian got a chocolate chip, and Alan and I shared a Lemon Poppyseed. I didn't get a shot of the Lemon Poppyseed, because by the time Alan came over to the table with it, he'd eaten most of the top off. Boys... So we chilled for a while, drawing, and talking and with me annoying the boys by taking pictures.

By the time we got out of there, 5pm was rolling around. I asked Alan if perhaps we could get the stuff to make sushi, and he begrudgingly obliged.

You see Alan and I had a bit of a mini war going on. I wanted to make sushi because I thought it would be fun. Alan wasn't sure we'd be able to make it because he was convinced it was too complicated. Then I found a recipe for sushi rice in Mark Bittman's book. Alan 0. Carrie 1! We grabbed a bamboo place mat from Pier 1, because Whole Foods didn't have sushi mats (hint hint to anyone who cares). We grabbed up the ingredients and trotted home.

I got started right away and it was AWESOME!

It's so pretty~!
Recipe for Vegan Sushi

1 1/2 cups short grain rice freshly cooked
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Nori Sheets(pre toasted if you can find it)
Fillings Pre-chopped/prepared & cool (I used varying combinations of carrot,cucumber,avocado,alfalfa sprouts,cooked asparagus, and 1/4 of a package of cooked Gimme Lean. You can use just about anything though!)
A shallow bowl filled with cold water and ice

1. Get your rice cooking and while it gets ready, grab a small sauce pan. Put your rice vinegar into the sauce pan, followed by the sugar and then the salt. Stir over a medium heat until salt and sugar have fully dissolved away. This should take maybe 5 minutes. Remove the sauce pan from the stovetop and place into a shallow bowl filled with ice and cold water. Stir off and on while it cools off.
2. Once the rice is ready throw it into a big mixing bowl. You may want to use the biggest one you have because this gets messy. Dump the hot rice into the mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, or mixing spatula start mixing the rice like you would if you were folding egg whites into a dough, ONLY FASTER. Sprinkle a bit of the vinegar mixture into the rice as you mix it up. The idea is that you need to add the vinegar as the rice cools. If your mixing utensil gets rice stuck all over it, run it under cold water, dry it off and then go about mixing and adding more of the vinegar mixture. I tasted the rice as I went, making sure it wasn't too vinegary. I only used about half the vinegar mixture myself, but it's to your taste so add more or less depending on what you like. Once I got the amount of vinegar in that I liked, I still found that the sushi rice was still pretty hot. I threw the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes to help it cool.
3. Once your rice is cool, take a sheet of Nori and place it on a sushi mat (I used a bamboo placemat that could easily be rolled up). If you have any excess vinegar mixture add water to it and use this to help keep the rice from sticking to your fingers. Otherwise, just mix a small thing of rice vinegar and water together. Spread a thin layer of the rice over the sheet of nori. I left about 1/2 an inch on every side. Add your filling but BE CAREFUL not to add too much! Mark Bittman had a tip: Think of the rice as the main dish and the filling as the spices. Place your fillings inside on one end.
4. Once ready, fold the mat up and slowly begin to curl the nori over itself. You're rolling the nori much like you might roll a piece of paper. Wet the last bit of exposed nori before you close everything off. This keeps things stuck together a bit firmer. Now you have a sushi roll!
5. Once you've made your roll, take a very sharp knife and cut off the excess on the ends. The good thing about being a chef is that you can eat these remnants much like you would excess cookie dough. Yum! Once the long rolls are cut even at one end (bunching may occur that's okay), cut into pieces about an inch wide. Arrange on a plate with your choice of pickled ginger and wasabi (we were lame and didn't use any).
6. Serve immediately with soy sauce. Make whoever didn't cook do the dishes.

Note: Sushi rice doesn't keep well, so make sure you make enough for what you're going to use. Anything you don't use should be thrown out (putting it in the fridge will only dry the rice out and make the fridge smell vinegary).

We really enjoyed the sushi! Brian is one of the best cooks I know, and I always love his food. When he told me that he really liked the sushi I was ecstatic! Alan loved it too, so much so that he didn't really bother with the chopsticks I brought him and just ate with his hands. I can't blame him for that really.

So today was pretty awesome. I have 2 tattoo designs to finish up tomorrow for a client. I may just post them here once they're done!

Oh! And for anyone wondering, yes I took these pictures, and if you want to find more of my photography head over to my flickr account!

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