Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Light Beginning to the Summer Temperatures




After a long time of cold and rainy weather here at the Bodensee, the sunshine is peaking through my bedroom window. Its 6:30 am and the town is slowly waking up to charming bird melodies and the promise of a bright day. I quickly get dressed, put on my running shoes, and press play to Dustin O'Halloran. How wonderful it is to feel the warm sunshine on my face, breathe in the crisp fresh morning air, and listen to piano tunes as I run through the woods, fields, and small outlaying towns of Radolfzell. I am happy.

A view of Radolfzell from the boat.

To start the beautiful day off right, I made my favorite breakfast. I have been saving a small papaya for a sunny day, and cut it lengthwise, allowing it to glow a deep orange red. To me papayas, are more than a fruit, they are happiness waiting to burst behind a thin layer of yellow. Their bright vivid color and their delicate flavor always bring a smile to my face, they are just simply beautiful. I spooned out the peppery black seeds, and filled each half with fresh yogurt and topped each off with a handful of muesli. Delicious...

A glorious view of the Swiss Alps from Konstanz.

Today is market day in Radolfzell, perfect timing for the glorious weather. Although the morning was still a bit chilly, I put on a summer dress that has been patiently awaiting a day like today, and made my way by foot the 2 kilometers into town. Everybody was out and about and the town center was filled with locals, gathering their fruits, veggies, breads, meats and cheeses for the next few days. I decided that today I would surprise a friend with fresh market sushi and a papaya salad for lunch.


After browsing many different booths and slowly making my way around the market a couple times through, I finally had a basket full including fresh white asparagus, garden pepper cress, avocados, a cucumber, a large fresh papaya, and tons more. I was happy with my purchases and started my 2 km walk back home.


The item that I was most excited about, was the garden pepper cress, known in German as Kresse. It is a spicy small sprout, resembling arugula but with even more of a punch. People say its a mixture between the flavor of a radish and mustard. It is stock full of vitamin C, vitamin B, calcium, zinc, and even has omega 3! Its spicy flavor is a characteristic of the isothiocyanates which help to inactivate and eliminate carcinogens. It is also a known liver and blood cleanser as well as an immune booster. So if you like it spicy I recommend this amazing little plant stock full of goodness!


The great thing about the garden cress is that you can quickly sprout it at home. All you need are the seeds, cheese cloth, a small flower pot/bowl, and water. First fold the cheese cloth to fit the small pot/bowl and soak it with warm water. Place the cloth into the bottom of the bowl and drizzle a little more water over the cheese cloth. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of garden cress seeds evenly on top. Make sure over the next few days that the seeds do not dry out, otherwise they will stick to the sprout leaves. Water on a daily basis but do not flood the cheese cloth. The cress sprouts will be ready to harvest after about 7 days. When harvesting, cut the upper 3/4 of the sprout, leaving behind about 2 cm.

I used the garden cress in the sushi rolls, spring rolls, as garnish, and also later in a salad. They are versatile and can be used anywhere you want to add a nutritional spicy kick. I hope you enjoy these sprouts as much as I do!

Spring Sushi and Nigiri
Makes 2 rolls & 6 Nigiri
Ingredients:
2 cups prepared sushi rice
1 pkg smoked salmon/lox
2 Nori sheets
1 large avocado
4 spears white asparagus
1/2 cucumber (sliced thin, lengthwise)
1 handful garden pepper cress


For the Spicy Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp Chili/Cock sauce

Other Sushi Essentials:
Soy Sauce
Wasabee
Pickled Ginger
Chopsticks!

Directions:
1.  Cook 1 cup of sushi rice as stated by package. You can also use arborio, short brown rice, or even my favorite quinoa.
2.  Once the rice has been fully cooked, stir in the seasoned rice vinegar and cover with lid. Let the rice sit for about 10 minutes.
3.  Prepare the asparagus by cutting off 2 inches from the bottom. Then peel the outer layer of skin with a potato peeler. Steam until tender. Remove from heat and immediately place into cold water. Dry asparagus and set aside.
4.  Remove the lid and allow the rice to cool to room temperature. It should be sticky but not too warm. Meanwhile mix together the 3 ingredients to the spicy sauce.
5.  Lay nori sheet vertically on a cutting board with the short edge nearest you. Spoon about 2/3 cup of sushi rice onto nori sheet and spread evenly from the bottom up until about 2/3 of the sheet is covered.
6.  Spread spicy sauce onto the rice layer. Then place along the center of the rice layer the smoked salmon in a single layer.
7.  Following the salmon, place asparagus spears with the heads facing outwards and a little over the edge of the nori sheet. Top with avocado slices and garden cress.
8.  Carefully roll the sushi from the bottom up. Dab your fingers into water and slide along the upper most edge of the roll. This will act like glue to stick the nori together. Roll all the way to the top. Place onto a plate with the seam facing down to "glue" together.
9.  Fill a large glass with ice cold water. Place a sharp knife into ice water bath prior to cutting EACH slice. Allow more width to the edge pieces to make sure the "garden" is secure. Evenly cut the remaining roll into bite size pieces. Each roll should have 6 pieces total.

Note: It takes patience to roll the perfect roll, but with time it will be as easy as making a burrito. Have fun!

Directions: (Nigiri)
1.  Use remaining sushi rice and form little mounds with two table spoons. Use your hands to form them perfectly and place onto a plate.
2.  Spread a little bit of the spicy sauce onto the rice mounds. Top a slice of avocado, smoked salmon, and then to garnish a cress sprout.

Note: Nigiri is very easy to make and is a great way to use any left over sushi rice.

Papaya and Lime Salad
Makes about 4 cups
Ingredients:
1/2 of a large ripe papaya
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lime

Directions:
1.  Spoon the seeds from the papaya and peel the outer skin layer with a potato peeler.
2. Cut the papaya into small cubes and put into a bowl.
3. Pour the juice of 1 lime over the papaya and stir well. Then add the zest and stir again. Cover and place into refrigerator. Serve chilled.





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