Springtime in October

October 4, 2007 on 7:39 pm | By | In Food Musings | 3 Comments

Veggie springrollsBefore I get to the spring rolls, I just have to say I have the best husband there is. Not only did he dash out for some sesame oil just as I was starting my food prep (HOW I managed to run out, I’ll never know), he also saved our house from collapsing in a fiery heap.

You see, our humble abode was built in 1906 (by drunken carpenters, according to my darling). Although we eventually hope to tear the thing down some day and rebuild (believe me — given the cost of homes in Seattle, that would be the most inexpensive way to go, especially if we want to stay in our neighborhood), for now we’re happy with the status quo. Sure, we’ve done a few small remodeling jobs — a little paint here, some new flooring there — but we’d rather save up until we can afford a tear down.

However, lately the house has started to show its age. We’ve known from the start the wiring was wonky — we can’t run the dishwasher and our toaster oven at the same time without a circuit breaking — but said breaker has started to sputter and heat up considerably, emitting a weird smell. My darling has always joked our house problems would be solved with “a can of gas and a drifter,” but once fire seemed a foreseeable risk, the joke was no longer funny.

Things came to a head today as another circuit breaker cut out once we turned on the heat. We could no longer ignore the problem. But my darling, putting himself at considerable risk, managed to swap out two of the aging circuits, thus saving the house — and us — from certain demise. My hero! (Given his bravery I could probably even forgive him should he decide to sneak a burger).

But back to the spring rolls.

I was intrigued by Heidi’s recipe for a couple of reasons: she bakes hers, and claims they’re even better than fried. But she also infuses the filling and the dipping sauce with an unusual ingredient: Lapsang Souchong tea that’s been ground fine. My darling loves this tea (he says it smells like a smoked saddle), so we always have it in our pantry.

The filling consists of sautéed mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini and shiitake), extra firm tofu, spinach, shallots, shoyu and garlic, with a sprinkling of the ground tea. For the dipping sauce, you mix mango chutney, a bit of apple cider vinegar and more of the ground tea to taste.

Heidi’s recipe calls for the rolls to be baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (you turn them halfway through), but I found they needed a longer bake to get golden and crispy. The sides touching the baking sheet get the most brown; in the future I would turn them three times so they’re evenly browned (a couple of the sides were still a bit chewy). So I can’t say I liked them better than deep fried, but I’m sure they were much healthier. But the taste? My oh my! The mushrooms have such an intense flavor/mouth-feel, you don’t miss the meat. These are definitely a keeper!

A couple of notes on ingredients: I used Trader Joe’s high protein, super firm organic tofu, and it’s definitely the most firm tofu I’ve ever worked with. In fact, I couldn’t crumble it — I had to dice it up. It’s also rather dry, so it will be perfect for frying (Heidi has a noodle recipe with fried tofu that I’m looking forward to trying). Normally I need to blot the tofu dry with several layers of paper towel before I can fry it. For the mango chutney, I used Patak’s Major Grey chutney, which you can find at Whole Foods. They also make a hot mango chutney, but the Major Grey also has a nice kick to it.

So there you have it — another successful vegetarian recipe. I still have a bunch of egg roll wrappers, so tomorrow I think I’ll make up my own recipe and try deep frying it to see if the taste is worth the effort. Stay tuned!


  1. Congrats to your hubby for saving the house!

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — October 5, 2007 #

  2. Betsy,

    Just wondering if you are able to turn on both ovens without blowing a circuit. If I have my regular oven on and the mini oven on at say 400, I blow a circuit. My house was built in 1998 by the great grandsons of your drunken carpenters!

    Comment by Kitchen Bitch Lisa — October 6, 2007 #

  3. I’m don’t think we ever tried that. Normally I just use my toaster oven when I don’t feel like using my regular one. But I also believe it’s on a different circuit (I think we’ve used the dishwasher and regular oven at the same time).

    Comment by ovens2betsy — October 6, 2007 #

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