Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baked Vegetarian Egg Rolls

If you are looking to duplicate restaurant-style egg rolls, this recipe probably isn't the one for you. "Baked" will not taste like "fried." But these egg rolls are good on their own terms: light, crispy, and a cinch to make. They're seasonal, too, both in terms of produce (cabbage) and holiday (Chinese New Year is around the corner). An added benefit (especially if you have been nibbling on these): The egg rolls can be made virtually fat free, depending on your brand of egg roll wrappers and whether you use canola oil or cooking spray.

Baked Vegetarian Egg Rolls
(Adapted recipe. For a shortcut, substitute 2 cups cole slaw mix for the shredded cabbage and carrots. Makes 8.)

Canola oil or cooking spray
1 cup shredded or chopped green cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup mung bean sprouts, coarsely chopped if especially long
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (approximately one-half of an 8-ounce can)
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp corn starch
2 green onions, sliced
8 egg roll wraps
Additional water for sealing egg rolls

Heat a teaspoon of oil, or use cooking spray, in a large slope-sided skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and ginger to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to wilt slightly but retain crispness.

Combine the soy sauce and water; stir in the corn starch thoroughly so there are no lumps. Add this mixture to the pan along with the green onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove the vegetable mixture from the heat and let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Fill each egg roll as follows: Position the wrap in front of you so that it looks like a diamond. Place two rounded tablespoons of filling across the lower section of the wrap, avoiding the edges. Fold the bottom up over the filling, then fold in the two sides. Moisten the top edges of the wrap with a little water (a small pastry brush is useful here) and roll the wrap up, sealing the flap. Place each filled egg roll, flap-side down, on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each egg roll with cooking spray (or brush lightly with canola oil).

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, then turn the egg rolls over. Bake another 5 to7 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Serve with duck sauce, Chinese mustard, or a soy sauce-based dipping sauce of your choice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sweet Beginnings (and Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints)

I know what you're thinking. It’s January, so it’s time to be resolute once again about diet and exercise. Ordinarily, I'm right there with you. After all, I have a CSA-centric blog -- I really like my vegetables. But events over the past couple of weeks have reminded me of life’s uncertainties, and I’m not ready yet for seasonal austerity. I’m having dessert first.

So here’s to a new year, one that I hope will feature good health and a dose of sweetness for my friends and family.

Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints
(From the December 2011 issue of Everyday Food. Makes about 4 dozen delectable cookies.)

For the cookie dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1.5 cups sugar, divided use
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

For the filling:

5 ounces (3/4 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in the upper and lower thirds. Have on hand two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat the remaining 1 cup of sugar and the 1 cup of butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, using the mixer on low (if yours can handle a stiff dough) or by hand (which is the way I had to do it).

Scoop out cookie dough (in rounded 1/2 tablespoons, approximately) and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the reserved sugar to coat and place the balls about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake 5 minutes. Remove the sheets from the oven and use the back of a small melon baller or a round measuring spoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Return the baking sheets to the oven, switching their positions on the racks, and bake the cookies until just set but still moist-looking, about 4 more minutes. Put the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool in place.

As the cookies cool, prepare the filling. Place the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup butter in a bowl and microwave in 10-second increments until melted, stirring to combine. Stir in the peppermint extract. Let the filling mixture cool until it is thick enough to pipe, about 5 minutes. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip or to a large zip-top plastic bag (to which you snip a 1/4-inch hole in one corner). Pipe the filling into each cookie.

Store the cookies in an airtight container, up to 1 week (if you can keep them around that long).