And now for something completely different (or not)

October 6, 2007 on 8:35 am | By | In Food Musings, Recipes | Comments Off on And now for something completely different (or not)

Deep fried egg rolls


Mmmmmm… Fried egg rolls.

I couldn’t resist — I just HAD to try the egg rolls again deep fried. For the filling, I kept the shiitake mushrooms and extra firm tofu for some oomph, but added shredded carrot, Napa Cabbage and green onions to the mix. And instead of Lapsang Souchong I sprinkled in a bit of freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns. I made a simple dipping sauce my mixing plum sauce, shoyu and red pepper flakes (I would have used Sriracha, but we were out. Who the heck is stealing things out of my pantry?)

I hate to admit it, but I liked the deep fried rolls better. The fillings were both winners, but I liked how crispy the deep fried ones got. And the more I think about it, I’m not so sure they’re any more caloric than the baked ones. Fried properly, the egg roll wrappers should form a protective layer upon hitting the oil so it doesn’t seep into the filling (they certainly didn’t taste oil-soaked). If you had seen the baking sheet after the baked egg rolls came out, you wouldn’t consider them to be “healthy” (I was quite generous brushing the butter/sesame oil mixture on). But unless you have a deep fryer (and even if you do), cleanup can be quite messy.

I served the egg rolls with a simple green salad of Napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, sliced green onions and cucumber in a dressing of yellow miso, wasabi, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and canola oil. Very light and fresh.

So day 5 of MFaM is behind us, and I can’t say we’ve felt deprived. In fact, my darling said he has more energy than he’s had in quite some time (I’ve heard that can happen when switching to an all-vegetable diet). It’s been difficult for me to tell given my cold (which appears to have finally left me). However, I have noticed my hunger pangs seem more frequent and severe. But again, it could be because my cold sapped my energy, so I would just nosh on small nibbles (and then be ravenous a short time later).

Considering we’re runners, we have to make sure we eat enough protein during this experiment. There’s no way we’d do this if we had to give up eggs and cheese (so no, there won’t be any VFaM posts — Vegan for a Month). A gal can only go so far, you know?

I’d like to end this post with a recipe for manicotti with made-from-scratch pasta crêpés (I had these for lunch yesterday). If you’ve only had manicotti with store-bought pasta tubes, you’re in for a real treat. These manicotti are incredibly light and tender, they practically melt in your mouth. This recipe has become one of my signature dishes, and I almost always make it the first time I cook for a client. I’ve included a recipe for quick marinara sauce (from Cook’s Illustrated), but you can certainly use your favorite store-bought sauce if you prefer.

Cheese & Spinach Manicotti
Serves 4-6

For Crêpés
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt

For Filling
1 pound ricotta
6 tablespoons parmesan, divided use
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 egg
5 ounces fresh spinach
salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste
Melted butter, for brushing crêpé pan

Quick Marinara
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

For crêpés, whisk water, flour and salt until smooth. Gently whisk in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Let sit for at least a half an hour so the crêpés won’t be tough.

Steam spinach until wilted, rinse under cold water and squeeze dry. Chop and add to bowl with ricotta, 2 tablespoons parmesan, mozzarella, parsley and egg. Mix well and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

For marinara, briefly pulse tomatoes in a food processor until somewhat smooth. Add oil, red pepper flakes, garlic and tomato paste to a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant and paste starts to turn a deep red. Add tomato puree and continue to cook until sauce is thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil. Set aside.

Heat crêpé pan over medium heat until hot (note: I use a French crêpé pan, No. 20, which produces 6″ crepes). Brush with melted butter. Gently stir batter with a spatula and pour in about 1/4″, swirling to evenly distribute. Cook until the top appears dry (you only cook on one side). Continue with remaining batter.

Spread some marinara sauce at the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish. Fill each crêpé with about 1/4 cup of filling, roll up and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Continue with the remaining crêpés. Spread more marinara sauce down the middle (you don’t want to cover the crêpés entirely) and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake manicotti, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Enjoy!

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