Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lazy Sunday Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce


Summer Rolls!
So it's Sunday. It's been a very long week. Andrew and I have both been working different hours, seeing each other for a few minutes in the morning, and for an hour or two at night (when I tend to be so tired he practically has to drag me to bed). However, today we both had the day off, and actually had time to do normal human things, like sleep in, go to the grocery store, put away laundry, clean up the multiple little craft explosions around the house, and drink many leisurely cups of tea. It's been a very nice day of calm. The crazy will start right back up again tomorrow morning, but I've made a point of trying to keep today as homework free as possible (by doing ALL of it yesterday). Though we did stop by the Fine Arts Library, where I picked up about twenty large, heavy, and beautiful books on Tudor fashion, Elizabethan Pageantry, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Fashion & Fetishism, etc. I love libraries. And I seriously love that as a graduate student I get to keep books ALL SEMESTER LONG! Muahahahhahahahahaha!

Anyway... to top off this lovely lazy Sunday, we decided to make Summer Rolls. I know, summer rolls in the fall? However, since Austin seems to have forgotten the fact that it is now mid October (today it got up to 88), these seemed quite apropos.

Summer rolls, Vietnamese style spring rolls, or fresh spring rolls (call them what you will)  usually consist of raw veggies/salad, perhaps tofu, rolled in a rice paper wrapper. They're cool, sticky, crisp and delicious. And they go together fairly fast, since there's really no cooking involved (ours took a bit longer because we wanted to add some baked tofu, which took about 20 minutes to prepare), especially when you have a little assembly line going. We only used about 1/3-1/2 of our wrappers and and made about 15 good sized rolls. And they're super fun! This recipe is just what I happened to have on hand tonight- but you could put just about anything you like in these and I'm sure they'd be delicious. The peanut sauce is based on the one I use in my Pad Thai, and also ridiculously easy to make :)

Summer Rolls

  • 1 12oz package 22cm round rice paper wrappers
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow summer squash, cut into small matchsticks/julienned
  • 1 carrot, cut into small matchsticks/julienned
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2-3 cups mixed greens, spinach, etc. 
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 15oz block tofu, baked (this is my go to method for baked tofu), sliced into 1/2" strips, and cooled
Prep all of your veggies and tofu. It's best to just soak the wrappers as you go - by the time you're done filling one, the next one should be soft enough to begin filling. Follow the package directions on your wrappers for this (I ended up filling a large wide pan with very warm water, and soaking the wrappers for about 5-10 seconds). Lay your softened wrapper out on a plate or cutting board, and fill with goodies! They don't have to be pretty, just try to make sure the ends are closed to prevent the veggies from spilling out (this isn't hard since the rice paper wants nothing more than to stick to itself). Continue assembling until you run out of ingredients.

They're not the most glamorous, but this was our first time :)


Peanut Sauce

  • 3 TBS chunky peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 TBS rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2  TBS wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp agave nectar

Mix all ingredients together. Dip away!

Andrew with a hand full of summer roll and a bowl of sriracha.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tech and Curry!

So it's been many a month since my last post - and all I can say is, I'm sorry but graduate school (while absolutely, mind-blowingly awesome!) is hard. And time consuming. I have several recipe's on backlog, several started blog posts, but just haven't finished them. However, right now I'm sitting backstage overseeing my wardrobe crew during the season's first tech, during which the shows four actors have no quick changes, and no costume changes period (which basically means we don't have a whole lot to do). So I'm using this time to start blogging again (I've already spent 4 hours on homework :).  I'm starting small, starting simple - with curry :)

*The curry in this picture doesn't actually have the tofu in it - my last batch disappeared before I could capture it on film, so this one's filling in :)

I won't lie, there has been many an evening after a LONG day in the shop, sewing/researching/mulling a hat - when popcorn is the most attractive dinner option. Quick, easy, and soothing. But now that I've gotten a bit more into the groove of things, I've had more time (and made myself find more time) to find my zen in the kitchen. Because if there's one thing that brings me sanity, and soothes my soul, it's cooking. And this is one of my favorites. It's delicious straight out of the pan, but it's even better the next day, as the flavors have had a chance to meld and get cozy with one another. This recipe originally started as my version of chana masala, but I've recently started adding cauliflower and tofu to the mix, and I don't know that I'll ever go back. I love the way that the cauliflower and tofu absorb all of the flavors of the curry, and still retain a good deal of their textures. I also love how easy this curry is to assemble, it's a meal I can basically throw together in my sleep now. I hope you enjoy it! I really want to get back to weekly blogging, but I can make no promises - please be patient with me, and eat some curry while you wait :)

Simple Sunday Night Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 TBS brown mustard seeds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or, spice things up and add 1 can of navy beans instead!)
  • 1- 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with some of the liquid drained off 
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2-3 heaping tsp of sweet curry powder (one of my favorites comes from The Spice House)
  • ½ -1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup chopped frozen kale
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • juice of 2 small limes
Heat the oil in a medium sized pot, over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds, and cover the pot. Allow the mustard seeds to pop for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (you want them to toast and pop, but not burn). Carefully remove the lid (watch out for rogue mustard seeds!), and add the onion. Saute for about 2 minutes, until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, curry powder and salt. Stir to combine, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, covered and stirring frequently, then add the tofu and kale and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender. Add the coconut milk and lime juice. Let cook for a few minutes more to heat through, then taste for seasoning and serve over rice :)