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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning How To Make Sushi From A Sushi Master

Do you love this face? It's one of two baby harbor seals being cared for at the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, which has the highest success rate of any marine mammal rescue center worldwide, with 90% of the animals successfully saved. Founder and marine biologist Peter Howorth runs this center on grants, donations and volunteerism. They had a fundraiser last fall, where we got to meet Philippe Cousteau and won a personal lesson on how to make sushi.

A volunteer from the Center, Ashley, works at Sakana Sushi in Montecito. She brought the amazing sushi chef Teru to show us how to make sushi. He was very generous with his time and top quality ingredients! We had mounds of delectable sushi for lunch and dinner and went with them afterwards to see the baby seals.
Matsuri brand rice
1 cup vinegar
150 gm sugar
30 gm salt
small piece of konbu (about 3" long)
dash of Yuzu, optional
Cook the rice per directions. Gently simmer the vinegar, sugar and salt for ten minutes. Put the konbu in and let cool. You can add a dash of Yuzu (Japanese citrus juice). Mix the rice and vinegar mixture. (see this post to see how to mix them properly so the rice is not mushy--the rice should have texture--like "al dente" pasta)

1. Always cut across the grain.

2. Salmon is cut into blocks that are four fingers wide. Trim the fillets so they are four fingers across, then cut them into four finger wide squares. Then slice them.

3. Other fish, like yellowtail: cut the fillets into long triangular pieces, then cut the slices at a diagonal. It's a little hard to see in the photo, but notice that the yellowtail fillet is triangular and you can see the diagonal cut at the end.

1. Take a small bit of rice in your right hand and gently roll it into a loosely packed ball using the index, middle and ring fingers against the palm of the hand.

2. Place the fish slice in your left hand and use your right index finger to daub a bit of wasabi onto the fish.

3. Put the rice ball on the fish (in your left hand) and press it down with the left thumb. Use the right thumb and index finger to squeeze in the sides of the rice to shape a rectangle.

4. Turn the sushi over on your left palm and hold the top of it with your left thumb. Curl your left index finger over the end of the sushi to keep the straight edge and use the right thumb and index finger to shape the sides of the sushi. Turn it 180 degrees (still fish-side up) and repeat.

*The goal is to make the sushi rice into a rectangle that is slightly wider on the top, like this diagram. The left index finger in step #4 is instrumental in making this slope on the short sides of the rectangle.

5. I didn't get a shot of this, but the finishing touch is to put the sushi fish-side down into the right palm and cup the palm so it slightly rounds the top of the fish.

Thank you so much, Teru-san and Ashley from the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center for the tour and the lesson on how to make sushi!

Beet salads are popular on the menus of fine restaurants. Make yours at home and enjoy with the 2009 Healdsburg Ranch Un-oaked Chardonnay.
2 each orange and purple beets
2 artichokes
spray olive oil
juice and zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 cup microgreens
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the root end and leaves off each beet. (Save the leaves: chop, steam and season them with butter and lemon pepper for a healthy hot vegetable side dish) Cut each beet in half, spray with oil, then wrap in tin foil. Cut the artichoke in quarters, remove the thistly inside and cut off the sharp ends of the leaves with a sharp knife. Rinse, shake and pat dry, spray with oil and wrap in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. When the beets are cool enough, peel off the skins and slice them. Mix the orange juice, zest, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, pepper and salt and add the beets and artichoke quarters. Mix gently, then plate with microgreens and the fresh basil.


Kitchen, Notebook, Memory: A Writing Retreat Inspired by the Five Senses
Saturday, March 19, 2011, "Bambooland," Santa Barbara, CA
Led by Chris deLorenzo, this writing retreat with workshops is for all levels of writers. Set in a beautiful Ryokan-styled home surrounded by lush Japanese gardens and koi pond, we are sure to find our muse, especially since we will be regaled with the fabulous aromas and flavors coming out of Chef Skip's kitchen! (read my post on him here)

5th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival
Friday, March 25-Sunday, March 28, Petaluma, CA
Tickets are selling out fast for Farm Tours on Friday--the Giacomini family will show off their cheesemaking operation, followed by a multi-course meal with local wine, produce and CHEESE! Saturday's seminar choices include curd-stretching, the world of mold, wine pairing, transhumance (traditional cheesemaking from herds moved to seasonal pastures) and...aahh...more cheese.
(read my post from 2009 here)

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