Friday, November 03, 2006

Rice Paper Wraps & Tofu Scramble, Oh My!

With everything going on as of late (stomach woes-getting better, kidney stones-blech, not so great, trips to various beachy getaways) I feel like I've been a whirlwind of traveling and trying to still have my me time in the kitchen. :) Here's a roundup...
Before we jetted off to the Keys, November's Veg Times greeted me at my mailbox and a yummy sounding recipe for Tempeh Bourgignon caught my eye. It called for a medium bodied Pinot Noir and, while I know what reds I like, I'm not well schooled in what cooks well. My version was good but not spectacular. If you have a red that you adore and love the way it tastes in food? try this recipe, I'm sure you'll love it. If not....ya take your chances like me.
I served it over quinoa with a side of braised leeks 'n carrots, a favorite simple veggie accompaniment at our house. They get this buttery taste using only a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt before letting them simmer. Mmmmm.
Another quick food fix before we left was what is now a favorite appetizer to sooo many of our meals now, rice paper wraps. These were filled with thinly sliced cucumber, carrot ribbons, green onion, a thin line of hoisin sauce (vegan, of course ;), and a great idea I had at the last minute.....chopped crystallized ginger! It gave it a tiny sweet crunch here and there and WOW! was that unexpected and good! I served them with two sauces (I can rarely commit to one). one is just a favorite ginger dressing mixed with a tiny bit of tamari, the other peanut butter, agave nectar, and tamari. The Cap'n favors the peanut version. Me? I'm torn!
As our last night at home for a while with lots to do, the wraps were easy to throw together while I thawed some spicy tempeh sausage tomato sauce we'd had leftover in the fridge.
Speaking of pasta, to use up the leftover white pasta I caved and bought for the Cap'n, I remembered a favorite of mine from my 'no time to cook' college days. I would make pasta, toss it with some butter and sour cream, garlic powder and salt and pepper. maybe add a veggie and YUM! Now, you see the pasta, a bit of Earth Balance, some Tofutti Better Than Sr. Crm., a huge handful of Hemp Seeds, some steamed broccoli with garlic, and a generous addition of nutritional yeast to make it extra creamy and yummy without adding too much of the EB or Tofutti. I'd forgotten all about this concoction, and love it even more now in it's vegan reappearance. Next time I wanna be lazy and make it tho, I'll be sure to switch back to a whole wheat pasta.

Once in the Keys I was glad I'd packed so much food (no pics, sorry) as there were limited items on many of the menus (inspired pasta dish here, interesting salad there). I brought along Dreena's Lemon Herb Tofu (which I snacked on heavily and then created onion pita sandwhiches with tomato, cucumber and agave mustard sauce after hitting a great little market, Fausto's), my newly concocted and much beloved Tempeh Stuffed Shrooms (great out of the oven, even better cold out of the 'fridge!), seitan and the fixings for seitan nuggets (our housemates were wowed and gobbled it all up, yay!), roasted pumpkin seeds, and lots of fruit.
On our last day there, tho, the Cap'n and I hit The Cafe. OMG, sooooo great! It's almost entirely vegetarian (they have some fish options) with lots of vegan options. I'd read on Happy Cow about their homemade veggie burger and just had to try it. It truly was amazing. Had the same vibe as the Sunshine Burgers I'm so fond of but bigger and more veggies in it. My only complaint is this: why would you serve something and tout it being vegan only to serve it with a side of sweet potato fries with NON VEGAN DIPPING SAUCE?! I thought this was really poorly done and made no sense. If you're gonna be vegan friendly? BE VEGAN FRIENDLY! Aside from their failing condiments (the fries didn't need any anyway!) this place is great and if you ever find yourself in the Keys The Cafe is a must stop.
Once home I had a hankering for some Tofu Scramble and, as I just gifted myself How it All Vegan, The Garden of Vegan, and La Dolce Vegan, I thought I'd try one of theirs! (I just love to try new ones and taste the subtle differences from one person's version of a tofu scramble to the next). I can't remember which one this is from. It's the Lazy Sunday Tofu Scramble. I really liked it. It's simple and a great place to start from. I could see adding a lot more veggies and being reeeally satisfied. Maybe mushrooms and broccoli. yum! Here it is all wrapped up with tomato and avacado for breakfast!
The next day I had the leftovers, open-faced, on some vegan rye toast with tomato and lots of extra nutritional yeast on top. so good!
I thought up a quick snack (not that I'm the first person to stumble across this one, but certainly glad I did!) when I realized that we had some rice cakes (plain, lightly salted) in the pantry and wanted to use up some Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese I forgot we had. I just spread some on the cakes and topped with blueberry jelly for me and strawberry jam for the Cap'n. What an easy sweet treat!
I seriously was not kidding about these rice paper rolls becoming a fast favorite. I think we've had them three or four times now. When we were fresh out of ginger and much of the fixings from before I settled on some with a ton of Boston (butter) lettuce, loads of thinly sliced mushrooms, a tiny stream of hoisin, and our tried and true dipping sauces. these were most excellent as well.

So good, in fact, they made yet another appearance last night (after hitting the grocery) as half our meal (this time with butter lettus, carrots, 'shrooms, cukes, avacado, hoisin, and green onion....the works!) the other half was a recipe from Native Foods (yes, I've been treating myself to more cookbooks's a sickness, I tell ya!) for Tempeh Pate. Now, I've seen plenty of recipes for such out there but never got around to making them. This book makes me want to try everything in it (and most of it is really basic) so I could resist no longer. THIS STUFF IS FANTASTIC! I highly recomment it. But don't be like me. Pay attention and, when you make the deglaze? use only 1/4 cup like she says on the tempeh..don't dump in the whole thing in not realizing that she meant for you to save some as you'll be making it again very soon. :) one word....sal-ty. and now I know.

Today, I couldn't resist making that tofu scramble again. I have the extra veggies but instead enjoyed it plain with some strawberries and toast. I thought there would be avacado. I was wrong...not quite ripe enough yet.

Just a note: I'd never worked with rice paper rolls myself and was a little daunted after buying them, but I found a great tip online (tho I cannot refind it to link to it). Here's the easy method:

*place a paper towel on the counter and spray with water from spray bottle until very damp.
*lay down one rice paper roll, spray liberally with water.
*top that with another paper towel, pat down, and spray that one with water.
*repeat until you've used all the rice papers you will need.
*pat them down to ensure they're getting sufficiently moistened.
*this will sit for about 15-25 min while you prep, but i tend to do it just before i'm going to use them.
*when ready to use, (I flip the whole mess over first as it works best that way for me) take one *paper towel that should have a rice paper stuck to it, place (rice paper down) on flat surface *like a cutting board or large plate.
*slowly and carefully peel back the paper towel, leaving only the rice paper.
*fill middle with desired ingredients.
*fold in sides.
*wrap up top and bottom and press to stick together.
*lay, seam side down, on serving plate and use damp paper towel to cover while wrapping remaining rolls.

I hope to get back into the groove of things and try a bunch of new stuff for the holidays! The stomach seems to be doing better but a pesky kidney stone is making me nuts and I'm fighting off a sniffly cold. Girl can't get a break! :) Looking forward to visiting your blogs again, I'm still having a hard time commenting on some. I think it may just be the beta ones.


Anonymous said...

Wow, all of your food looks so great - I love to visit your blog and see all the beautiful photographs! I haven't been brave enough to try the rolls - the rice paper kinda scares me. Yours look tasty and it's nice to know that normal, non-exotic ingredients work for the filling. And that tofu scramble sandwich has got me hungry:)
I've been eyeing that Native Foods cookbook but I think I am going to get Real Food Daily first. Do you have that one?
I feel ya on the stomach issues - I have had ulcerative colitis since 1999 and my vegan diet is so good for reducing the symptoms. Can you believe the doctors never recommended laying off the meat and dairy? And Shands doctors no less, they're supposed to be smart.
If you need someone (esp. a vegan) to talk to about stomach issues, you can email me. moonshinethreads at yahoo dot com
have a wonderful weekend!

laura k said...

Wow, what a post!!! Everything looks great! Thanks for sharing the method on the rice paper--I'm going to try it out. Your rolls just look too good.

Anonymous said...

I've never used the rice paper before but your rolls look so healthy and delicious. I'm just curious about how much time it takes you to make up a batch from beginning to end.

Candi said...

Hi!!! :) I'm so glad you are back! You were missed!!

So much good stuff here on your post. SO much!

I have not yet made spring rolls, but I really want to. Gaia had some really delicious looking ones, now these... I am just forced to make them! Lol! I know I'll love them, and thanks for the crystalized ginger tip! I have some that needs to be used for something, and I think it sounds great in the rolls!

All your foods look so good. THe tofu scramble, the pastas, and those cute rice cake snacks! (I never tried that!)

I hope you're rested from your trip! I am glad to hear your stomach is a little better. :)

Melissa said...

sour cream with pasta?!? I don't know why I didn't think of that. I love tofutti sour cream, and this will be a great way for me to use it!

I almost bought rice paper wraps today, but I was trying to stick to my budget and was already getting spring rolls. But those look great!

Dr. Melissa West said...

Holy Hannah! What a post. Love the rice paper combinations. Wish my grocery store sold more toffuti products... I think I would really like that cream cheese.

urban vegan said...

You are such a prolific chef. I don;t know what to say except "WOW."

We make pasta with broccoli quite often. We use orchiette (little ears).

Anonymous said...

My goodness, you're back ! And with fireworks too !

You are doing quite a number on my stomack there. Wow, triple Wows !
I don't know which dish makes me drool more LOL

I'm so happy your stomach is better :)

Nikk said...

Welcome back! Glad you didn't go hungry in your absence!

bazu said...

I hope you feel better! I'm sorry for your back-to-back health issues, but I'm sure you will bounce back. Good vibes coming to you from the north.

And your food, meanwhile, looks awesome.

Bon Joni said...

I got in... Hell-o it's me... Standing here in your kitchen, wishing I could have one of these wraps = TO GO!!! Time... Money... and Knowledge are not on my side, since Being a "VEGETABLE" is like being a NON SMOKER in my world! But I love the Vegan meals you have prepared for me... THANKS!
Keep up the good work, wioth love ALWAYS... MJ

Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! said...

thanks, guys! glad you all like the rice paper rolls.

i, too was intimidated by using them at first, but that method i posted is truly easy and works like a dream every time.

i like to prep everything but the avacado and peanut sauce. then prep the wrappers..then let those sit for a sec while i make the sauce (just pbutter, a little tamari, agave mustard, ginger, and red pepper, all to taste) and slice the avacado. then assemble.

it takes somewhere between 25-30 min from beginning to end, but i suppose that has a lot to do with what you want in 'em and how long it takes you to prep that. the wrappers take no time at all. just have a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle ready.

i cannot stress enough how much we love these or how many times we make 'em. in fact? i'm making them later with dinner. :)