There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July, July, July.. never seemed so strange

Augh, it's hot. We're going through a "heat wave", which in New England means that it's over 80 degrees. Listen, I know that it could be worse - but when your winter is half your friggin' year, you're so busy trying not to kill your family Shining Style that you forget what's it's like to be warm. Plus, it's humid and that is GROSS. We don't have AC, save for in Jeffrey's little home office*, and my small house is set up such that cooking on the stove raises the temperature substantially.

The weekend was for barbecues (it was Independence Day, after all), Monday we had rotisserie chicken, last night we ate at Apollo. Tomorrow and Friday we are invited out to other people's houses, but tonight I have to cook. Tonight is for cold food. Minimal stove time. Tonight is peanut noodles and fresh rolls.

I don't usually make peanut noodles from a recipe, I just kind of mess around until it tastes right, but I came across the following and I have to say that it tastes exactly how I want it to. (I added more garlic and an extra tablespoon of vinegar, but that's just me. I also used whole wheat vermicelli)

Cold Peanut Noodles

recipe courtesy of Catherine Newman

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
1/4 cup hot water
1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, very thinly sliced (optional)
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into long, narrow strips, then cut crosswise
2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)

Whisk together first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pasta, scallions, cucumber, and cilantro, and use your fingers to toss and coat the noodles. Add salt or more vinegar if it isn't as vibrant as you like. Let sit at room temperature if you're going to eat fairly soon — otherwise refrigerate.

Our accompaniment was asian-inspired fresh rolls. These are a great way to trick children into eating salad, by the way. There are near endless possibilities as to what you can put in these light, tasty, little packages; once you get the hang of rolling them you will want to make them all the time. I like to put rice noodles in there, usually, but since noodles were the main course it seemed like overkill. Tonight was simple, using what I had on hand.

Chicken, Basil, & Romaine Fresh Rolls

1T rice vinegar
1T soy sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
1 small clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp fish sauce
zest & juice of 1 lime
2 c cooked chicken, shredded
4 c chiffonade romaine lettuce
1 c chiffonade basil, any variety
1 carrot, grated
package of rice spring roll wrappers, available at any asian market

Whisk together first six ingredients until sugar is dissolved, then toss with shredded chicken. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes, then toss with lettuce, basil, and carrot.

That's your filling, now you need to know how to wrap it up.

First of all: spring roll wrappers come stiff, like uncooked noodles. "IF I BEND THEM THEY WILL BREAK, OH GOD." Don't be scared. Let me walk you through, friend.

1. Set up your work space. The bowl of filling, your package of wraps, a plate or some kind of dish with cold water, and a cutting board or dish to roll them in.

2. Lay one wrapper in the cold water. Wait 30 seconds. Take the wrapper out, being cautious not to rip it. If it falls apart, you left it in too long. If it still feels stiff, like it won't be pliable enough to work with, put it back in the water for a few seconds.

3. Place the wrapper on the work area, and a large pinch of filling in the middle.

4. Wrap it like you would a burrito, keeping in mind that unlike a tortilla this will stick to itself. You also have to work kind of fast so it doesn't get too tacky or soggy. If you don't know how to wrap a burrito, it's pretty simple. Fold the southern "flap" up over the filling. Bring the eastern flap over, then west. Roll it all north.

I have made a video that demonstrates. It was shot by my eleven year old daughter, who spends a lot of time making Ke$ha tribute videos and is handy with a camera.

Once you get used to it, you can soak the next wrap while you're wrapping. Serve as-is, or with a dipping sauce. An easy one is soy, fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Thai sweet chili is excellent, especially when accompanied by sweet soy sauce. Hoisen, grated ginger, and a shot of lime juice or orange juice is good too.

*that we have totally taken over, the poor man gets no peace.


bugsboysandbooboos said...

I'm trying this recipe using sunbutter...
I love fresh spring rolls. yumm.

Holly said...

How is sunbutter? I've had almond and cashew (and one time some frigging nasty soy stuff from Deals & Steals).

Jennifer said...

Ahh you sound so DIFFERENT in my MIND.

Also: YUM!

Jon said...

Instructional videos! I'm gonna hug you in San Diego and not even charge for it.

Holly said...

Haha Jenn, I bet you sound totally different than I expect too! Someday we will meet IRL and blow each other MINDS.

FJ - I will take the Free Hugs but I insist on paying for relationship advice.

bugsboysandbooboos said...

I heart sunbutter. We can't have any nut stuff...and yes, the soy blows chunks. I think I've forgotten what peanut butter tastes like. I haven't had it in almost four years. I eat it with veggies, on sandwiches, etc. No one else likes it, though, except Silas.

Anonymous said...

Amiable dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.