Cucumber Confessional

I love cucumbers. Full stop. People profess their love to many types of foods, saying they could eat them everyday and never get bored. I actually do; everyday, I’ll eat at least one whole cucumber, sprinkled with just salt and pepper, or dipped in hummus, or chopped up in salad. Tiny Persian cucumbers, large English cucumbers, plain pickling cucumbers- I love them all.

Why hasn’t this obvious obsession factored more clearly into my writing or recipes? It’s not interesting, quite frankly. I’m not doing anything exciting with them, just eating them in mass quantities. Even this idea that I’m here sharing today is far from earth-shaking. Barely the tiniest twist on a time-honored classic, surely it’s been done before. However, it’s good enough that it bears repeating: Make shirazi salad while summer produce is at its peak, but replace the tomatoes with watermelon.

That’s it, that’s the whole recipe. Adding a whole recipe card with formal measurements is really overkill when so much of the dish is based on the produce itself and personal taste. If I can be honest and break down that fourth wall for a minute, the recipe card is for Google. For you, I trust you can figure it out.

Consider the chopping an opportunity to practice your knife skills, to meditate, or simply revel in the aroma of summer. The minute you slice into a cucumber or watermelon, that aroma floods the air, setting the mood like candles for a romantic evening, only with notes of whimsy, sunshine, and a cooling breeze.

To anyone complaining about the amount of liquid leftover at the bottom of the bowl: Congratulations! You completely missed the point. That heavenly elixir, my friend, is a beautiful meeting of the worlds, the best parts of fruits and vegetables, sweet and savory, existing in harmony as one. Don’t you dare dump it out. When you pick up the mostly empty bowl, the only option is to bring it to your lips and drink every last drop.

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Keema Curry for Keeps

To define shiitake as a Japanese ingredient would be correct, but also incredibly shortsighted. Umami transcends all cuisines and cultural boundaries, whether it’s added in the form of aged cheeses, seaweed, soy sauce, tomatoes, kimchi, green tea, and beyond. Shiitake can amplify those essential ingredients, harmonizing and accentuating their inherently rich flavors. What sets Sugimoto Shiitake apart from other umami powerhouses is the clarity and quality of savory depth, in addition to its uniquely meaty texture.

Previously, we’ve explored primarily western dishes like hearty hamburgers and comforting meatballs, bolstered with this plant-based dynamo. It’s about time we shifted focus to some more spicy fare. India, with an extensive history of vegetarianism, is ripe for an umami revolution.

Immediately, I thought of keema curry. Keema means “minced meat” in Urdu, which usually translates to ground lamb, goat, or sometimes beef when it comes to curry. The protein isn’t the defining factor of this dish, though; it’s the intense blend of pungent spices, tempered over a hot stove and then simmered gently, which unlocks a bold new world of flavor.

This is a great opportunity to use up any extra shiitake stems you might have been saving from other recipes. Minced finely, they add an ideal toothsome texture that approximates ground meat, working in concert with the walnuts and lentils to make a satisfying plant protein. Each bite is layered with nuanced, contrasting, yet complimentary textures and flavors using this easy approach.

How Can You Made Keema Curry Your Own?

No two cooks make the same exact keema curry. Spices are always highly subjective, so don’t be afraid to season to taste. There are plenty of other options to explore, including:

  • For a lower-carb recipe, you can either omit the potatoes or swap them for fresh cauliflower florets.
  • Bump up the beefy experience by using a meatless ground beef substitute instead of lentils. Be sure to brown it along with the onion before proceeding with the recipe.
  • If you’re working with a limited spice rack, you can use about 3 – 4 tablespoons garam masala instead of the whole and ground individual spices.
  • When tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use fresh (1 1/2 – 2 cups diced) instead of canned.
  • For those who like it hot, add diced Serrano peppers or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

While keema curry is brilliant right after cooking, it actually improves over time. If you can plan ahead and make your curry in advance, the spices can mingle and meld, becoming richer and more harmonious when reheated. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, leftover should keep for 5 – 7 days. Consider doubling the recipe to fully appreciate it, now and later.

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Party Like a Sushi Chef

When it comes to celebratory meals, sushi is always at the top of my list. For birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones, nothing could do proper justice to the event like a glorious platter of carefully rolled maki or dainty nigiri. From childhood to this very day, it’s still my number one request for a fancy treat.

Of course, sushi is not the kind of indulgence one can splurge on casually or in great volume. While I’d like to invite everyone I know and love to join me in such revelry, quite frankly, I don’t make that kind of money. I do, however, make that kind of food, which is why I’ve come to realize that throwing a sushi party at home is an even greater sort of celebration.

How can you throw a sushi party at home?

There are many ways to go about this. First, consider whether you want guests to be able to roll their own sushi or simply eat what your prepare. I think it’s a whole lot more fun to have a hands-on activity, and it puts much less stress on the host if they’re not doing all the work.

Don’t have enough sushi mats for everyone?

Don’t worry; I don’t even use mine anymore. Lay down sheets of parchment paper to help everyone roll up their sushi creations, and simply throw them away when it’s all said and done. Use compostable parchment paper to prevent excess waste.

How much sushi rice should you make?

Let’s work backwards to figure out portion sizes. The average sushi roll uses about 1/3 cup of cooked rice, and let’s say most people will eat 2 – 3 rolls each. That means we want at least 1 cup of cooked sushi per guest. My basic formula makes 4 cups, which you can halve, double, or triple accordingly, always erring on the side of extra. Leftovers are great for making fried rice or ochazuke the next day.

Yield: Makes 4 Cups

Easy Sushi Rice

Easy Sushi Rice

For perfect maki sushi or nigiri, this simple formula for easy homemade sushi rice will never do you wrong!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Sushi Rice
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the water.
  2. Bring rice to a boil over medium heat; immediately turn heat to low, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit, covered, 15 minutes, undisturbed.
  3. Mix together the vinegar, sugar, and salt and add it to the rice. Gently fold with a spatula to incorporate. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes longer, until just warm to the touch.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 132Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 415mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

What kind of fillings are best for a sushi party?

The luxury of making your own sushi is having endless options for fillings, freed from traditional, tired, or simply uncreative menus. You could truly put anything in the middle of your maki, including veggie burgers and guacamole, if you so wished. Go ahead, use this as an opportunity to empty out your fridge, freezer, and pantry if you’re entertaining on a shoestring budget! For more thematic options, my favorites include:

Don’t forget the sushi toppings and condiments!

If you don’t have some sort of soy sauce or tamari for dipping, that’s a crime and I’m never coming to any of your parties again. Beyond that, there’s plenty of room for different ways to finish off your rolls with style:

Prepare ample snacks for those who come early or late.

It might take some time before everyone can finish rolling their own, so don’t leave anyone hungry while they wait. You can prepare all sorts of small bites and starters well in advance so you can stress less.

  • Edamame, warm, chilled, spicy, truffled, or pan-fried
  • Gyoza, steamed or pan-fried
  • Miso soup
  • Chuka ika sansai (calamari salad)
  • Seaweed salad

Finally, don’t forget the drinks.

When in doubt, good old ice water has never done me wrong. If you’d like something a bit more festive to say “kampai!” with, consider both spirited and sober options.

  • Green tea, hot or iced
  • Iced mugicha (barley tea)
  • Ramune soda
  • Sake, hot or cold
  • Shochu
  • Japanese beer

Are you ready to start rolling?

If you’d like some more inspiration to get this party started, here are a few more recipes you’ll love:

San Francisco, California Roll
Sush-Easy Creative Vegetable Sushi
Sushi Cups

Dashboard Cookie Confessional

Ever since I was a little kid, it’s something I wanted to do. Young and naive, I couldn’t wait to grow up to have such freedom and access. Now that I’m an adult, I’m finally making my inner child proud: I baked cookies inside my car.

As temperatures began to exceed 100℉ on a regular basis, I knew this was my time to shine. Finally, I have my own car, live in an environment that’s somewhere between the depths of hell and the surface of the sun, and am still crazy enough to do it. If you’ve always wanted to open up your car door and step into your own mobile oven, here’s what you need to know.

Use Protection

  • Metal baking sheets are the best conductors of heat, but that goes both ways. Place a kitchen towel, pot holder, or trivet underneath so it doesn’t melt or burn the interior of your car.
  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the cookies from sticking. A silicone baking mat will absorb too much heat to be effective, and aluminum will reflect too much and cause the edges to get too crispy.
  • Likewise, use a pot holder whenever moving the sheet because it will be hot.

Placement and Timing Are Important

  • Make sure you park your car in direct sun to maximize those UV rays.
  • Start baking when the sun is at its peak; usually around noon or 1:00pm.
  • While your cookies will bake in any position, I found it was most effective to place the baking sheet directly on the dashboard, as close to the windshield as possible. Barring that, the next best place is the trunk, as long as you have a glass window in back too.

Turn Up The Heat

  • Keep the windows rolled up and the doors closed. Any time you open them or break the seal, you’re letting the heat drop.
  • It needs to be at least 95℉ (35°C)outside to attempt this with any level of success.
  • Keep a thermometer inside your car to monitor the temperature, and place it somewhere that you can see it without getting into the car.
  • The interior needs to reach at least 160℉ (71°C) to “bake” effectively.
  • Cooking time will vary, since this isn’t a regulated heat source. Expect it take anywhere from 2 – 5 hours for the cookies to set. They may not brown as much as you’d normally expect, but should be firm enough to pick up and no longer shiny on top.

Recipe For Success

  • While any recipe can technically work, simple drop cookies are your best bet, since they’re more forgiving with variable times and temperatures. A cookie with a high butter to flour ratio is more likely to end up greasy, which means that chewy wins the battle over crunchy for this round.
  • Size does matter. My usual cookies use about 1/4 cup of dough, which took roughly 3 hours to bake while it was 104 degrees outside. You can expedite the process by making smaller cookies, especially if it’s not as hot in your neck of the woods.
  • Vegans have the added benefit of being able to eat semi-baked or even raw cookies without fear. Look ma, no raw eggs! That means every attempt is always successful, with or without an excessive heat warning in effect.

The beauty of car-baked cookies is that you’re using a completely renewable, entirely free energy source while saving electricity inside your home! No need to blast the AC after cranking up the oven, which can add up quickly.

The only thing better than sinking your teeth into warm, gooey, homemade cookies on a hot summer day is getting to enjoy that freshly baked aroma for weeks to come. Hope you don’t drive hungry!

Too Much Is Never Enough [Zucchini]

“Too much zucchini” is a problem I’ve never had. While it’s true that I’m no gardener, I’m also no stranger to second-hand zucchini from friends and neighbors.

Big, small, serpentine, or spherical; all zucchini are welcomed with open arms. These green squash are even more versatile than cauliflower, if you ask me. They can blend into the background seamlessly, thickening soups and sauces without a hint of their vegetal origins, or steal the show as the main focal point of a dish. I have never once gotten tired of zucchini because zucchini can be anything.

If you’re struggling with an overabundance of summer squash, don’t panic. I’ve got a few fool-proof suggestions that will make easy work of even the largest harvest.

10 Best Zucchini Recipes

If you have too much zucchini on your hands and not enough ideas, these fool-proof recipes will help you make the most of your harvest.