Spring Roll Modifications for a Cold Day…

I was inspired to use up some surplus rice paper after seeing The Kitchn’s Butternut Squash “Winter” Rolls with Spicy Cranberry Sauce recipe. The concept of using these typically cold summery rolls for a warm and hearty meal was just what I needed during San Fracisco’s second heavy storm of the season.

The Nitty Gritty…

The filling was just baked tofu and a saute of kale, garlic, onion and mushroom. I used vegetarian stir fry sauce to season the vegetables and added a couple drops of fish sauce. Tip: The rice paper is a bit salty so don’t add too much sauce to your saute

I sliced the tofu into rectangular shapes and baked it at 400 for about 20 minutes. You could also fry up the slices if you want something with more crunch and texture. I didn’t season this at all and didn’t feel like I needed to because my veggies were pretty salty.

Assemblage: Since the veggies and tofu were pretty warm I didn’t need to soak the rice paper for too long. This part really boils down to trial and error – just start with a small amount of filling and work your way up.

Versatile Tomatoes

Trader Joe’s is selling mini heirloom tomatoes for $3 – go get ’em!

Here’s what I did with mine: coat and toss in olive oil and some salt and pepper (add minced garlic and basil for more flavor)…

And then bake for an hour at 375 degrees and then another hour at 250. If your oven is as fickle as mine then check up on them periodically to make sure they’re not burning. I took these suckers out when the fatter ones were still a little juicy and added them (or what was left after snacking) to scrambled eggs. I’d like to try throwing them in my cheapy jarred marinara sauce next time.

Did you know…

Beet greens are edible.

They’re nowhere near as tasty as the beets themselves, but hey, use what you’ve got, right? I’m still struggling with how to cook these since they ‘re bitter and earthy – sauteing them with salt and pepper was not the answer. Maybe slow cooking them in a sauce would suck the flavor out of them and replace it with the saucy goodness. I’ll get back to you on this one but if you’ve got a method then please let me know!

A Genius Friend

I always like dishes that are both easy to make and easy to make look pretty (was that sentence right?). I went to a friend’s place for dinner one night and she busted out racks of these roasted little finger potatoes flavored with salt. I helped assemble them with a square of smoked salmon, a dash of sour cream and a pinch of dill – easy as hell. They were also pretty filling because potatoes have a nice tendency to sit in your gut like lead.

Healthy and to the Point.

Here’s a meal that’s pretty much protein and empty fillers with seaweed and green onion. It’s another one of those “foundation” meals where you can slap whatever else to accompany the block of tofu – eat it with noodles or rice (or by itself like I do), add a meat, some blanched and julienned veggies or whatever the hell you want and you’re set!

Pictured above is baked tofu (cut into cubes, bake at 400 for about 15 min.) on a bed of seaweed. I’ve also microwaved the tofu when I’m being super lazy. The tofu will expel a lot of water as you heat it so make sure to use a lipped bowl or tray and pad it up with a towel before putting your dish together.

Here’s the seaweed I used – I got it at a Korean market:
There are a bunch of different brands so just know that it should look like this up close:

Soak a tiny handful in hot water for about five minutes. It’s pretty bland, as is the tofu by itself, so make sure you have flavorful sauces ready to go – I’ve used plain just soy sauce, Sriracha, soba sauce and a mixture of soy sauce/rice vinegar/minced garlic/green onion.

Foundations – Polenta

To Polenta. You can be creamy and warm, cold and solid. Hmm, I don’t like where this is going. ANYWAYYYYS. Sunday I made a bunch of polenta and it’s lasting me all week. It’s cheap from bulk bins and takes very little time and effort to make. I find that it also heats really well in the ol’ lazy machine – the microwave. One of the nice things about polenta is that you could add whatever the hell topping you want. I caramelized an onion with some crimini mushrooms, garlic and leftover kale stems (the kale was weird but I wanted to use up whatever I had in the refrigerator). I once made this same topping minus the kale and with roasted cherry tomatoes instead and that was delicious.

Polenta – I doubled this simple recipe from Epicurious. Once the polenta thickened I added about a cup of milk, bit by bit, so it’d be extra creamy, and mixed in about a half cup of parmesan at the end. Add more salt if you’re not afraid of high blood pressure.

Anatomy of a bean bowl

Talk about l-a-z-y. Bean bowls are for when you are too tired or lazy to cook but don’t want to go out and buy. Bean bowls are also healthy, cheap and clean out the pipes. Yeah, I said that. No need to read it twice.

1. Take a can of beans and pour into a microwave safe bowl and heat for three minutes
2. While heating, chop up some roughage – I’ve used lettuce, purple cabbage and arugula. Chop/shred whatever else you want to put in there – I always use green onion and cheese in addition to the lettuce
3. Dump onto beans and top with salsa and hot sauce and crack some pepper. Done.