Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Rolls

Back in the 7th grade, about 30 people in my grade were chosen to go on a trip to Washington D.C. I like to think of ourselves as the "chosen ones". Kidding. Anyway, for the week we were there we were sharing a dorm with other middle schoolers from around the country. One group was from Delaware  one from Alabama, and the last from Connecticut (I think... it's been awhile). One day, it started to snow. The kind of snow that as soon as it hits the ground it melts. Nothing compared to what we got in Minnesota, and the kids from my school were unfazed. Everyone else? Chaos. We saw on the t.v. that all of D.C. was shutting down, and there were New Englanders and Southerners running around in a panic. I'll admit, we made fun of all of them.

Fast forward a few years. This past weekend, I discovered something. I was turning into one of those people I always used to make fun of. The forecast was promising Snowmageddon 2013 part 3 on Saturday, the day of the Bishop Sullivan Center (a really great charity in Kansas City) Auction. I was staying at my in-laws with my mother in law (my father in law was in Las Vegas with my husband) and as soon as it started snowing, we were seriously discussing not going. Even though the snow was melting as soon as it hit the ground, I'll admit, I was nervous were were going to get stuck downtown. The newscasters were telling everyone to stay off the roads if they didn't have to be on the road, which almost sealed the deal that I was getting back in my pajamas. Then the weatherman started giving details of the storm. Above freezing? Won't get more than 3 inches before midnight? ARE YOU KIDDING ME NEWS PEOPLE! I told my mother in law I would drive, and felt a deep shame the entire way there that I had doubted my driving in snow capabilities. Missouri has made me soft.

Despite my few minutes of self loathing, this weekend did end up being very nice. I had my last retreat with my RICA class (the class I'm taking to convert to Catholicism), the Bishop Sullivan Center Auction was fun, and I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with my mother in law watching "snapped" marathons on the WE channel.

One thing I can always count on when I stay at my in-laws is that I will be fed VERY well. My mother in law, Cathy, is definitely a nurterer. This past weekend, I wanted to give her a break and actually make one of the meals. I had seen this recipe for Spring Rolls awhile back that I've been wanting to try, and I figured Cathy would be much more open to trying them than my picky eating husband. They were amazing.

The only thing from the recipe that I changed was that I brushed the tofu with low sodium soy sauce and grilled it. From past experience, I just prefer grilled tofu to regular. It actually gives a nice flavor to something that is usually so bland.

I would also recommend researching how to wrap spring rolls. I was once taught how to wrap enchiladas, so I assumed it would be a similar technique. While technically it is similar, they were harder to handle than I expected. My spring rolls were not the prettiest thing to look at. But they stayed together and tasted good, so I guess that is all that matters.

Spring Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
Very slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

For the Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup almond butter
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp. honey
2-5 Tbs. hot water

For the Spring Rolls:
6-8 rice paper rounds
1 cup hot water
1 sliced avocado
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup baby spinach
1 handful cilantro
1/3 cup firm tofu
Siracha for topping
The original recipe also added 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks. I'm not the biggest carrot fan, so I left those out.

First, combine the first 6 ingredients for the dipping sauce, and then slowly add the hot water by the Tablespoon, whisking as you go. Add the water to the desired thickness. The more water you add, the thinner the dipping sauce will be. Set aside.

To prepare the tofu, make sure you press the tofu dry first. Then cut into strips, brush the tofu with low sodium soy sauce, and place on the grill. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, just enough for it to get a little brown. Set aside.

Pour hot water into a shallow bowl or skillet. Submerge the rice paper, making sure all parts are under water, for about 15 seconds. Transfer to a plate or other slightly moistened surface.

In the middle of the rice paper add the tofu, avocado, green onions, cilantro, and spinach, in that order.

Fold the top and bottom sides of the paper over the toppings, then fold over the left side, tuck that side in, and roll it until the other side meets.

You can either serve it immediately, or keep it under a damp towel or plastic wrap and in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. It should last a few days.


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