Pizza Party with Old (and New) Friends

[Sushi pizza, in its just-unmolded glory.]

You know, sometimes I wish I had a bunch of posts pre-scheduled for this site. You see, I’ve been afflicted with a weird kind of virus-flu-sinus-thingie for the past several days. Just when I thought I was better, the following day I could barely get out of bed and slept 14 hours.  Fourteen hours!!  Clearly, my body is telling me something (like, maybe, “time to get those extra blog posts pre-scheduled.”).  Since I feel pretty good today, I’m going to leap on the opportunity and tap out this post toute de suite. Luckily, the skies cleared temporarily last Saturday as well, just in time for a dinner party I had planned.

You’ve probably heard it before, but truly, there is nothing like having old friends.  As my latest crush*, Irvin Yalom, says in his most recent tome, “You can’t make new old friends.”  That’s why it’s worth nurturing old friendships no matter what.  A huge benefit of long-term alliances is the shared history that helps to strengthen bonds in the present (or, when the present may be a little rocky, allows you to fall back on all that already-established goodwill).

For me, the “old friend” on whom I most rely is my pal Gemini I (and by “old,” I mean as in, “I’ve known her longer than I’ve known my younger sister.”).  I mean, who else would drop everything at 11:42 PM to sit in a cheap coffee shop with me for three hours while I cried about how my (then) marriage had just broken up?  Who else would force me to eat something while sitting for three hours in said coffee shop (almost the only time in my life I didn’t feel like eating because of stress)? Who else was there to double date with me when I (finally!) met my first boyfriend? Who else would cheer me on when I decided to leave my job for a spell and study nutrition? Who else would (literally) lend me the shirt off her back for a special date? Who else could sit with me and reminisce about events that happened when we were five years old?

I’ve often heard it said that you should never try new recipes on guests, but Gemini I’s status is more like family, so that old adage didn’t apply last weekend.  Then again, the other guests at the soirée were my buddy PR Queen (a veritable neophyte in the “friends-with-Ricki department at only 8 years) and her hubby.  But since PR Queen is my only other vegan friend, I reasoned that trying a new recipe would be acceptable in her case, too.

I decided to make this sushi pizza, combining the best of both Asian and Italian finger foods. Rather than roll up individual rolls as I usually do, I opted for a veganized/ACD revamp of a recipe I came across in Bonnie Stern’sHeart Smart: The Best of HeartSmart Cooking, which I’d checked out of the library.  (Yes, I do have more than 200 cookbooks.  And yes, for some bizarre reason, I still feel the need to look at yet more cookbooks from the library). Stern’s now-famous recipe deconstructs your standard nori rolls into their individual elements, layering them lasagna-style, then cutting them into little squares to serve as appetizers.  The only problem with the original recipe was (a) its reliance on regular white sushi rice and rice vinegar (two no-no’s on the ACD); and (b) its inclusion of smoked salmon as one of the layers.

What to do?  I immediately thought of using this recipe (which I’ve been eyeing for a while) in place of the salmon.  But when I made up a tester batch, I found that even though the flavor was marvelous, it didn’t adhere quite as well as I would have liked.  Instead, I added some liquid smoke to my own standard “salmon-like” sushi filling, and the resulting spread worked perfectly. I also used brown rice and apple cider vinegar (the only vinegar considered acceptable on the ACD) for the sushi rice (of course, you could substitute regular sushi rice if you are not following a special diet).

[Dessert, clockwise from back: banana cake, chocolate pumpkin pôts de crème, cookie dough truffles.]

I’m glad to say that the “pizza” was a great success, and even the omnis in the group (that would be everyone except PR Queen and me) enjoyed it immensely–only three small squares (from an 8-inch/20 cm square pan) were left when we hauled ourselves up to go eat the actual dinner.  After that it was on to the salad (baby spinach with grapefruit, kiwi and a tangy dijon dressing); crusty (non-GF) bread, courtesy of Gemini I; two types of stew (beef bourguignon for the omnis and a spectacular tempeh faux version for me and PR Queen–recipe anon) ladled over mashed potatoes, complemented by sautéed rapini with pine nuts and raisins (I picked out the raisins); accompanied by a great bottle of  First Press Cabernet Sauvignon (courtesy of Gemini I and her hubby).

Around the time that dessert made an appearance (chocolate pumpkin pôts de crème, chocolate chip cookie dough truffles, and banana cake, courtesy of PR Queen), the HH brewed his signature coffee (since, after more than a dozen years without, I’ve forgotten how), we were already moaning about how full we were and staggered into the family room to spend the remainder of the evening digesting and, ultimately, reminiscing.

[My mom and me at my wedding to the Starter Husband.]

I ran upstairs and grabbed an old photo album from my undergraduate days.  Here’s another great thing about old friends: they remind you of all the details you’ve forgotten from your twenties.  I’d completely forgotten about those deep turquoise walls in Gemini I’s old place!  And how about that papasan chair that I so loved in my first apartment after the Starter Husband and I split up! We squealed at the hilarity of our younger, 1980s selves in geometric hairstyles and Amazonian shoulder pads; murmured at the photo of me with the puppy I shared with the Starter Husband; tsk-tsk’d at the image of old friends who have since fallen ill; and (well, I did, anyway) teared up at the photo of my beaming mother and me at my wedding to the Starter Husband (sadly, she never met the HH).

All in all, it was a great evening, reaffirming old friendships and forging new(er) ones.  Unfortunately, the only photos I took that evening were of the food.  No matter: if I ever need a reminder, I can call up my pals and know they’ll have their own accounts of the dinner–each one served up with a square of sushi pizza.

I’m submitting this recipe to Amy’s weekly event, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.  Do you have a recipe to submit?  Check out the entries here!

Last Year at this Time: All About Stevia

Two Years Ago: Chinese Scallion Pancakes (not GF: ACD maintenance only)

Three Years Ago: Lucky Comestible I (5): Sweet Potato Pancakes (not GF; ACD maintenance only)

© Ricki Heller

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Comments

  1. glad you are feeling well enough to post on the blog – sounds like a horrible flu – sounds like a great evening with old friends and I love the sushi pizza idea – never thought of that but as I am in lazy sushi mode this sounds just my sort of thing – am not sure about the salmon spread – but I suspect it would taste so much better than salmon

    • I actually thought of your sushi salad first, but wanted it for an appetizer so made this instead. And yes, the spread is MUCH better than salmon! ;)

  2. I love the way your fingers are touching your mother’s hand in the photo.

    My oldest friends all live so far away, now, I can only host dinners with new friends. I enjoy their company, but I miss the shared history and comfort of being with old friends.

    Thanks for posting the recipe and the link to the “salmon.” I’m in the mood for some easy-to-assemble sushi.

    • Thanks, Andrea. :) New friends are great, of course, but yes, there is that shared history. And if you’re looking for easy to assemble, this is the recipe! (though the weighting with cans and unmolding is a wee bit more complicated).

  3. Hey Ricki–For someone who has been ill, you still manage to pull off a perfect post. Just lovely. I agree with Andrea … your hand touching your mom’s in that photo is just so sweet. You look beautiful and the love between you two is so apparent. And, wow, on all the food! Sushi lovers can delight, but I’ll take one of the desserts and some wine. :-)

    Hope you continue to feel better! 14 hours of sleep IS impressive! I remember sleeping whole weekends years ago as I fought off an illness. I’d get up for potty breaks and some water by my bedside, but otherwise my body had me resting. Often the body is good at that, so it’s good you listened. ;-)

    Hugs,
    Shirley

    • Aw, thanks, Shirley. :) I didn’t even realize at the time that I was touching her hand! But yes, my mom and I were pretty close. Re: the flu, I’ve done the “sleep all day except for bathroom break” thing, too, but must say I don’t recommend either approach. Staying healthy is much better!

  4. omg, this looks AMAZING!!!

  5. Sorry to hear that you felt so bad and happy that you are back up and running. Your presentation skills are delightful, both the writing and the photographs. And I’ve often wondered just how much of your time that you spend in the kitchen and then again on the writing.

    • Thanks so much, Gretchen. It does take a lot of time–more or less depending on whether the recipe works the first time or not. When I’m creating my own recipes, I sometimes have to tweak them 5 or 6 times before I’m happy with them (or, like my soy-free whipped cream, almost 50 times!) ;)

  6. Glad you are on the mend. I dream of pre-scheduled posts too, I hope to be so organized some day!

    As for this recipe, I’m in love. I have had zero luck rolling my own sushi, but this, I totally think I could do! Very exciting indeed.

    So glad you had the excuse to dig up that photo, so fun! You and your mama are so lovely!

    • Yes, you could definitely do this! It was really easy to put together. And thanks so much re: the photo. Of course I think my mom was beautiful. :)

  7. I hope you are feeling better!

    This is such an incredible recipe! I have a sushi casserole recipe from a friend that I keep meaning to make, but yours is even more creative and great for those who don’t like raw fish!

  8. So I love smoked salmon, I love sushi, and I love pizza….perfection

  9. You poor thing—I am glad you got some sleep and I hope you feel better soon!

    Aren’t old friends the best!? I am glad you got the chance to hang out with yours AND impress everyone with an amazing meal!

    Courtney

  10. i love those friendships where you pick up right where you left off :) this looks great, hope you are feeling better soon!!

  11. Oh wow, that sushi pizza looks amazing! I would definitely love to recreate that someday in my kitchen! :)

    As for old friends, what you wrote is so true. I love when I have friends where we can go for years without talking to each other because certain things have come up or we just both don’t have enough time for each other but when we finally meet up with each other again, it’s like time has never passed between us! Those are the friends that we need to cherish and are definitely worth keeping<3

    Those cookie dough truffles are definitely droolworthy :-D

  12. This pizza looks delicious. I see more and more creative pizza recipes every day, and this one is way up there in terms of creativity.
    Also, I am absolutely in awe of those shoulder pads. I was only 3 years old when the 80′s ended, but I like to imagine it as having been completely insane.

  13. I love how you veganized this! In Japan, I really enjoyed the deconstructed sushi roll salad, and I love this appetizer pizza version. :) Gosh, I feel like hosting a dinner party just to make this! :)

    As you probably know, I also have this thing with taking cookbooks out from the library. I find it works against me sometimes because I end up buying the book because I like it so much. :)

  14. Can I please come for dinner Ricki? What an AMAZING spread. You rock! Love the wedding photo :) You know what? I’d be happy to just come for dessert. You don’t need to go to the trouble of dinner. Just dessert…

  15. The photo of you and your mom made me smile. I agree about old friends, I have one in particular that has been through every single stage of life with me- even though we have been separated geographically for some time now.

    And heck yeah to that sushi pizza!!

  16. Sushi pizza is too awesome! I am scared of rolling up sushi for some silly reason. And three desserts? You are the best dinner hostess! :D

    Aww, look at you and your mom all dolled up! By the way, you crack me up whenever you say “Starter Husband” :P

  17. Is that a Southern Living dish in the photo? I have some that look close to that design. :D

  18. Sushi pizza!! Brilliant.

  19. Love the idea of a sushi pizza!! It looks beautiful too. And I love the photo of you and your mom. :)

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Inthemoodfornoodles, Ricki Heller. Ricki Heller said: A (sushi) pizza party with old friends: http://su.pr/4vMkgm [...]

  2. [...] as well as helpful for anti-candida living. Some of her tasty recipes includes one for Smoked Salmon Sushi Pizza and another for African Sweet Potato Stew. But for now, I hope you enjoy Ricki’s newest [...]

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