An Easy and Healthy Dinner Option: Spring Roll

I don’t know how people eat out everyday. Do they just pick up food and eat at home or they just eat out? I must be disorganized or something because I can’t seem to find the time to go out for dinner, do all that needs to be done at the house and have the kids do homework. As a result, I find it easier to pick up things at the grocery store and prepare my dinner while the kids are studying or are doing what is expected of them.
This evening I was in the mood for spring roll. They do require a bit of patience and a bit of organization but they are quite easy to make.

There are a few rules, however, that you should follow and this will provide you with success and not frustration;-).
1. Have all the ingredients chopped and sliced in small bowls around your working place.
2. Only soak 1 rice paper sheet at a time, or it will get too wet, too soggy and will rip.
3. Lay a wet paper towel on your working area so that the rice paper will not stick to the surface of your working area.

Ingredients for 4-6:

  • 12 Rice paper ( you will need one per spring roll)
  •  2 oz. of Rice noodle 
  • 60 Medium sized shrimp cooked and cut in half
  • A small head of Boston lettuce
  • 1 / 2 of English cucumber cut in very thin slices.
  • 2 carrots grated in julienne
  • Fresh mint

Peanut Dipping Sauce ( yields about 1 1/2 cup)

  •  1 Tbsp. of Low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Thai Red Curry past
  • 1/2 cup of Coarse Peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup of lower salt chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp of lime juice
  • 2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 8 basil leaves minced

In a small saucepan, warm up the oil and add the curry. Cook the curry until it is starting to become fragrant. Add the peanut butter and cook until it is becoming a darker color. Then add the sugar and stir until it is caramelized. Add the coconut milk, broth, lime juice, hoisin sauce, fish sauce and mix well. Cook on medium temperature for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has reduced to half. Remove the sauce from the stove and add the basil. Et voila!

While the sauce is cooking, get ready to make the spring rolls. Pour some water in a small pot, add some salt, and bring to boil. When the water is boiling, add the rice noodles and cook for a few minutes or until they are pliable. When they are cooked, scoop them out with the colander and run some water over them so that they will not stick. Drain the water, transfer them to a bowl and set them aside. Prepare the rest of your ingredients and place them into bowls around your working area.

Whenever you are all ready. Place a soup plate near your working area, and add some lukewarm water. Also place a wet paper towel over your working area.

Place a rice paper into the plate and let it soak for a few seconds until it is soft.

Lay the rice paper onto the wet towel, and lay 6 shrimps halves.

 Cover the shrimp with one boston lettuce and fill the boston lettuce with cucumber, carrots, more shrimps, mint and rice noodles. Fold the boston lettuce onto itself ( it should not be thicker than 1 inch), fold the rice noodle onto the lettuce and roll it. Fold the sides and continue rolling and should have a tube like spring roll. Remove the spring roll from your working area, place it onto a tray that has also been covered with a wet paper towel. Repeat this process until you have used all rice paper.

Eat or devour with the sauce. YUM;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Poached Sea Bass with Coconut Reduction

Meaty white fish are my favorite. Unfortunateley they are hard to find. So I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Sea Bass at the Fresh Market tonite:-)

I wanted it poached, with fresh vegetables and a light sauce. To tell you the truth, I did not really want to poach it in broth as most poach recipes called for so I thought of using my Demarle Cookware to get the same result. The recipe today was inspired by a recipe from Guy Fieri that was featured on the foodnetwork called Asian-Style Baked Mahi Mahi.

For two people, you will need the following ingredients: 1 large size sea bass piece ( about 1/2 lb or 8 oz. ), 1 cup of fresh snow peas, half of a red bell-pepper sliced thinly, 2 carrots peeled and sliced into small coins, 1/4 cup of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of chicken or vegetable broth, 1 tsp of fish sauce, 1/16 tsp of salt, 1/32 tsp of pepper, 1 tbsp of fresh or dry basil, 1 inch of fresh ginger grated, 1 large garlic clove pressed.

Mix all the ingredients mentioned above except for the vegetables and for the fish. Place the fish in this mixture and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. After that time has elapsed, place the vegetables in the round mold, drizzle  3 tbsp of the marinade on top of the vegetables. Cover the round mold with the octogonal silpat and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove the round mold from the microwave, open it and place the fish atop the vegetables. Cover the round mold with the octogonal again and cook in a warm oven at 35o for 12-15 minutes. While the fish is cooking, empty the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to boil. When the mixture has come to boil, lower the temperature and let it simmer until the sauce reduces to half. To serve, place the vegetables on the plate. Place the fish atop of the vegetables and drizzle some of that sauce over the fish ( or not. The fish is great without the sauce, and if you are looking to cut down calories, then eat it without;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

A Summer Must: Andalusian Gazpacho

In this heat, I don’t really feel like eating. And if I do eat, I want to eat refreshing things like salads, tomato sandwiches, seafood with salsa..I must not be the only one as I see more and more ceviche,  and cold soups as appetizers instead of the traditional heavier appetizers. Today I will offer you the recipe of one of the most popular summer soup: Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is “ is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its cold temperature and acidic bite. Gazpacho has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain it became a part of Andalusian cuisine, particularly Córdoba and Seville, using stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar” Wikipedia.

There are two types of gazpacho. One called Andalusian which is very smooth and guests can add thinly diced vegetables to it, or you can have the more traditional gazpacho that is a soup made of coarsely chopped vegetables. Both are excellent..

The recipe I am using today is based on that of Anya Von Bremzen. It serves 6 people: You will need 8 slices of day-old country bread ( without the crust), and 4 slice of old -bread with the crust, 3 lbs of ripe tomatoes preferably homegrown, or vine tomatoes diced, 6 medium garlic cloves, 1 long European seedless cucumber peeled and diced, 1 green pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 medium red onion, 1/2 cup of very good quality olive oil, 4 tbsp of very good quality sherry vinegar, a small pinch of cumin seeds, sea salt  and ground pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, place the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, half of the diced onion, half of the bell peppers. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the vegetables so that the vegetables will let out some juices and liquids. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred 8 slices of bread in pieces in a bowl. Squeeze the juices of a few tomatoes and 1 tbsp of sherry vinegar over the bread, and let this mixture rest for a few minutes. While the bread is soaking using a pestle and a mortar, crush 3 garlic cloves, and the cumin with 1/2 tsp of sea salt.

Take the bowl of bread and with both of your hands massage the bread to make it a paste. Mix this paste with the garlic mixture. Place the whole thing in a food processor and process until very smooth. Slowly add your vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, half of the diced onion, and only half of each bell pepper. You will want to add the olive oil at the same time in 3 additions. Once the whole thing is finally ground, pass it through a sieve. Once you have passed the whole mixture through the sieve, add 3 tbsp of sherry vinegar or more ( according to taste). Salt and pepper as you feel as well.

Chill the gazpacho for at least 3 hours but no more than 6-8 hours or the garlic will overwhelm the taste of the gazpacho.

The Croutons: with the remainder bread, lightly toast the bread in a toaster, grind the garlic cloves over the bread. With a pastry brush, brush olive oil over the bread slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them. With a knife or a pair of scissors, cut small squares of bread that you will lay on a silpat. Bake in a warm oven at 325 for a few minutes, or cook them in a frying pan. Make sure to watch that they do not burn so keep on stirring them and turning them while they are cooking.

Place the garnishes in 3 individual bowls. Place the rest of the diced onion in a small bowl, place the croutons in another bowl, and place the left-overs diced red, green and red bell pepper in another bowl for your guests to serve themselves.

Serve the gazpacho in wine glasses and sprinkle a few diced bell peppers on the top of the gazpacho. Let your guests help themselves to the garnishes.

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!!