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Ornamental Magic

December 18, 2015

Busy days at our house - felt ornaments, salt ornaments,
felt & crystal ornaments, crystal and clay ornaments, straw stars,
and pine cone ornaments

Next week?  It's cookie time!!!

Servus!









Today's Special

December 10, 2015

First Week of Advent

December 9, 2015

This past weekend was a busy one indeed!  It was the first week of Advent, on December 6th it was St. Nicholas Day, and on December 8th it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Here in Austria, it was a four day weekend. The annual Christmas Market in Hall was busy as usual... many of the local crafts people and self made food purveryors were out in full force!  I wish I had taken more pictures but I was busy devouring a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts.




After the market, getting a Christmas tree was next on our list.  We have bought our last two trees from this same spot in Hall.  The seller is so nice... and the trees are too!  He remembered us again this year and gave ALL of the candy he had to the girls... stuffing their pockets full!  We shared a shot of some holiday schnapps (?) and he gave us a bouquet of these red berry plants.  Not sure what they are called... He even had real mistletoe for sale (which I had never seen in real until moving here...)!


 


Time to get the tree home!  




Once home, the tree was put up and we started making decorations for it.    We make ornaments for the tree each year... with the exception of the hand blown glass ornaments we got from New York City.  These were the start of our ornament collection.  Then, we had two sets of salt ornaments.  This year, we decided to make traditional straw ornaments (popular in the German and Swedish culture).  Here's a few quick tutorials here and here and here to get you started!

The two little pine cone men are supposed to be Saint Nicholas... a school project by El & Lil.




This weekend was big on holiday cheer - from the outings, to the activities, to the music - and it lasted the whole weekend... so, what better way to change it up than with a seasonal flip flop meal of BBQ chicken, homemade barbecue sauce with fish sauce (!), baked beans, and Bavarian potato salad?!  A total fusion meal of three cultures if I ever saw one!




Recipes:
* BBQ Sauce from My Humble Kitchen - Better than store bought over here, by far!

* BBQ Chicken from Bowl of Delicious - Because, sometimes a Southern girl craves barbecue wherever she is!!

* Bavarian Potato Salad from food.com - So much better than the one with mayonaise, IMO!

Servus!

Fresh & Fruity

December 4, 2015
Physalis, Pomogranate, Avocado, Orange, Cucumber & Bibb Lettuce Salad


Friendsgiving

December 3, 2015

Last week, it was Thanksgiving back home in the States.  Looking at all of the pictures from friends and family, it sure made me homesick.  I miss the collective good cheer that comes along this time of year... Everyone is frantic... getting the house in order... getting the kitchen stocked with all of the traditional staples.  Traffic, lines at the store, lines everywhere for that matter - all in chaos.  But, everyone takes it in stride, hopefully... because family members are coming home.

Here in the Alps, far away from the chaos,  I couldn't be with my family back home... but, I felt ready to share a bit of what America was celebrating on Thanksgiving with my European friends.  Inspired by this concept of 'Friendsgiving', I searched for all of the ingredients to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  


Ready, Set, Go!


We went to five different stores to find the quinntessential ingredients that make Thanksgiving, well, like Thanksgiving - pecans, green beans, fresh cranberries, sweet potatoes, regular ole potatoes, and a huge turkey.  

First item on the menu - dessert!  

As you can see from my picture above, I was successful in my search... missing only one thing - pumpkin puree!  So, no pumpkin pie this year!!  But, because I found fresh cranberries and because I love lemon curd, I decided to go fruitier this year and made Mini- Cranberry and Lemon Curd Tarts.

For the cranberry curd, I used this recipe from The New York Times.  My only comment on the finished product was that the color of the cranberry curd was not near as cranberry red as the original photo.  I used this same recipe (minus the straining and eggs) to make the Cranberry Sauce.  While you're stirring, here's a bit of history of the cranberry on the Thanksgiving table.




While the cranberry curd was cooling, I made a batch of lemon curd and some Pate Brisee from Michel Roux. 




It can not be a Thanksgiving dinner without sweet potatoes.  They smell sweet and lovely, are flexible in sweet or savory dishes, and are healthy for you!  This year, I chose this recipe from My Baking Addiction... because I don't like my sweet potato dish overly sweet (otherwise, I'd make them into a Sweet Potato Pie!) and I prefer my dish to be more of a balance of sweet and savory (so, I halved the sugar in this recipe).

My husband found pecans still in the shell at Munich's Viktualienmarkt, a foodie's heaven.  So, the pecans were freshly shelled and chopped and the brown sugar was direct from America... seriously dark and brown, this brown sugar from Dixie Crystal is the real deal.  Soft mashed potatoes topped with sugar, nuts, and spice - everything nice!




Don't know about you, but MY absolute must on the menu - Green Bean Casserole.  I love this stuff! I chose Smitten Kitchen's take on this comfort food.

This year, I figured out how to prep the green beans - getting them to the 'almost like out of a can' texture but still retaining the green bean color.  One year, I cooked them too long and the beans looked DOA (dead on arrival!). 

So, lately, I've noticed that if I steam/boil/saute green veggies in a shallow frying pan rather than a tall stock pot, the green color remains.  I'm guessing this is because the veggies lie over a wider area and the steam doesn't hang around for longer than necessary (like it does in my stock pans).  I am getting similar results when I do this with broccoli.  Yay for me!  I also use a bit of chicken stock as the cooking liquid because this gives the beans some taste... When the beans were done, I was eating them non-stop right out of the collander! 

Dusting the sliced onions, pre-fry, with flour was a good idea.  The golden slivers of onion were also light and crisp.  The mushroom sauce was easy peasy... I wanted more in the end, so I made another batch of the sauce without additional mushrooms.




Next up - stuffing.  For some, this is a must have item on the menu.  As a child, I didn't dig stuffing very much because it came with my most hated childhood vegetable - celery.  Good thing I've gotten over my distaste of celery... right after my first pregnancy.  Man, did my pregnancy put my taste buds on a loop de loop.  I even like green bell peppers (my other hated childhood vegetable) now!

I found this recipe from Bon Appetit - and none too soon!  I had been scouring the web looking for a good stuffing recipe.  There were some some made with corn bread, some with oysters, some with fruit, some with meat.  I liked the simplicity of BA's Simple Stuffing recipe... but, it was even a little too simple for me and I had to add in some kielbasa sausage.  The bread I used was two fold.  I used a bag of dried, pre-diced Kaisersemmel bread croutons (popular here in the Bavarian Alps for making Knödel) for mostly the bottom. And, I mixed in about eight slices of torn, day old Hüttenbrot, a thickly sliced sandwich bread, mostly on the top for that 'rustic' look.




Last, but not least... the turkey.  My husband ordered the turkey from a specialty shop in Viktualienmarkt.  It was huge! 19lbs!  It was farm-raised and organic... and it tasted like no other turkey I've ever tasted.  But, I'll get to that later.  First things, first.

I was a bit stressed at the thought of cooking a turkey for four (or more!) hours... which meant somehow doing all of the other dishes the day before.  But, I came across this genius idea from Mark Bitten.  Apparently, there was a way to cook turkey on the big day without having to monopolize all of precious oven real estate... and, I had done it before!  

So, with the help of my husband who cut out the back bone and flattened the sternum, I got all of the now 18 lbs of turkey flat onto a deep baking tray.  I didn't have a wire rack for the turkey to lay on... so, I chopped up a bunch of aromatics - carrot, leek, garlic - and used the veggies as the 'rack'.  I oiled down the bird with olive oil, salted it generously, and slathered herb butter under and on top of the skin.  Lastly, I made a woven blanket of bacon and covered the breasts.  Then, I set it aside to marinate for an hour while it came to room temperature.

The bacon comes from Tyler Florence's recipe - Maple-Roasted, (Bacon Wrapped) Turkey with Sage Butter.  I'd made this once before for a previous Thanksgiving in New York City.

One of the reasons why this method of butterflying the bird is genius is because with the neck bone and freshly removed back bone, I was able to brown them and toss them into the oven to roast with additional aromatics... getting a head start on collecting as much turkey drippings as possible so that I could make a most flavorfuly gravy!  And, the aroma!  Heavenly! 

The turkey tasted incredible.  Really.  Something was different about this turkey.  It wasn't dry at all.  It was so flavorful.  It tasted like a seriously good turkey.   Was it because it was a 'happy' turkey?  I think the recipe and preparation was only a small part of it... I think something else made this turkey turn out so good!




So, finally, a day later, my early preparations were finished, my turkey was resting, the gravy was finished, the casseroles warming in the oven, and my friends were arriving.  Freshly roasted chestnuts and prosecco were passed around the room.   Thirteen of us sat down to enjoy this Friendsgiving feast.  It was a great success... with tons of leftovers!




Additional items on the menu - a lovely Pomegranate and Physalis green salad and a Poppy Seed Mousse.  New to me were the Physalis fruit and the mousse.  Both were a delightful addition to the evening's menu!  Thank you, Tanja!

. . .



All of these years, I know how my mom felt as she hurried about the kitchen getting all of the many dishes ready... and I know how warm it made her heart feel to see all of her loved ones sitting down together to enjoy a special meal... because the people at her table that evening, like those at mine, were the people most near and dear to her.

Servus!



Saint Martin's Day (Apple Oatmeal Cookies)

November 23, 2015
On November 11th, it was St. Martin's Day here in Austria.  

St. Martin was a a knight during the Roman times.  Legends say that he saw a beggar freezing by the side of the road.  St. Martin then cut his coat in half with his sword and gave the half coat to the beggar and saved his life.  He is remembered as a patron for the poor and a friend of children.  His kind act is commemorated each year on St. Martins Day.

Children light lanterns and walk in procession around their schools or through town... the lanterns symbolizes the light that brings holiness into the darkness.  Traditionally, a goose is served (St. Martin's goose) on this day to celebrate the end of autum, of harvest time... and the beginning of Winter.


At school, El & Lil's class celebrated with a short procession to an outside area where they sang songs about St. Martin.  They even re-enacted the story of St. Martin cutting his coat in half for the freezing beggar.


Earlier in the day, the kids had a special St. Martin's lunch... They even made heart-shaped Lebkucken cookies from scratch!


. . .


Back home in the kitchen, I had a few sad looking apples on the counter.  Not wanting to toss them out with the garbage, I found a yummy Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal cookie from Joy the Baker to make for the girls.

Taste tested and El & Lil approved!




Servus!


Sweet Tooth (The Best Chocolate Pudding)

November 18, 2015

[Credit:Demotix]

So, last week was not so great of a week.  It had Friday the 13th... a tooth extraction... earthquakes in Japan and Mexico... a funeral bombed in Baghdad... suicide bombings in Beirut... and terrorist attacks in Paris.  Not so great of a week for humanity, to say the least.  

I'm not going to go into how I am digesting all of this internally... as I'm sure everyone out there is, in their own way, trying to deal with how dark the world can be... sometimes it's hard to figure out the best foot forward... but, we do it.

I started this post for myself... before all of the death and mourning began... as a marker in my lifeline of the first adult tooth that had to bid adieu.  Makes me feel old... or that my teeth are starting to fall out (oh, the horror!).  I had traumatic memories of that time in my teens where I had all FOUR of my wisdom teeth removed in one sitting... and so, as a preventative measure, I needed something to take the edge off... (and, could be enjoyed without chewing!)

But, really... this sucky part of my week was a good excuse to record (and share!) a really good chocolate pudding recipe.... One that is such a breeze to pull together... and, also, tastes of chocolate with the intensity of a chocolate mousse (minus the egg whites!)  

Let me introduce you to 'The Best Chocolate Pudding' from Marc at norecipes.com.  Based in Tokyo, Marc is really passionate about all kinds of food... and his passion really shows through on his blog.  I like how he keeps things simple... and makes the ingredients the star!

The Best Chocolate Pudding

(click the link for a great step-by-step)

Ingredients:

2 C whole milk 
5 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
140 g chocolate
1/4 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract


Process:







By the end of fifteen minutes, I had three lovely pots of chocolate pudding to get me through the weekend... or for when I started feeling cranky about the cavernous space left bare by my now missing tooth.  I didn't have dark chocolate on hand... and thus, used a sweeter chocolate... which made the pudding a bit sweeter than intended (but, no complaints from me!).  I swirled some plain yogurt into the mix a few times... and I'm sure, had I had any heavy cream, I would have whipped up a batch to go with these chocolate beauties.

Now, what am I going to do with these five, leftover egg whites?

Servus!


Stir Crazy (Vietnamese Crepes aka Banh Xeo)

November 11, 2015
[Credit:Link]


The weather here in the Tyrolean Alps has been incredible.  It's been warm and sunny for days and days.  People are running around in shorts and T-shirts!  In America, we would definitely call this an 'Indian Summer'.  Here, it is called 'altweibersommer' or 'The Summer of Old Dames'.  All I know is that this year's summer was amazing... and it's been even more kind to leave us with an Indian Summer.  Next week, the temperatures drop and maybe this will be Summer's final farewell.

But, who am I kidding... We have been stuck at home indoors for the last four weeks because of those pesky little germs and bugs.  The girls have been tossing their colds back and forth to each other... and even once to me!  When we took El to the doctor's office she came back home with the always-welcome stomach virus.  Great.  

After a few days of that... and a little wave of the stomach bug to me... the girls were sick again with the same pesky (albeit mutated) cold again.  So, no... we haven't been able to enjoy much of the glorious weather... the girls been stuck inside... threatening mutiny... and we all have been going a little stir crazy watching all of this lovely weather pass us by!




But, as always,  El & Lil have been real troopers... finding fun things to do under every corner.  El drew a lovely portrait of the house we live in... and me... and Coco.  I believe Coco gained an extra pair of legs and has extra curly hair!

Inspired by Ella's drawing, I deconstructed and reconstructed the box of our new humidifier (congestion be gone!) into a pint-size Tyrolean residence. 




El & Lil got a pair of new teddy bears - snuggles!  And, Ella worked on her zebra drawings...




Dada got some new fangled headphones... which were immediately tested by Lil.



Music is big in our house.  There's always something playing in the background.   Music makes our days so much sweeter...  So, now that you understand why we are stir crazy, you can also understand why making Vietnamese Crepes (Banh Xeo) was just what the doctor ordered. 

. . .


Growing up, my mom would make these for special occasions.  They take a bit of preparation... the chopping and cutting and mixing... and in usual Vietnamese fashion, you have to make enough to feed an army.  You can't just make two crepes.  I think it's more about the fact that it's a little bit of a lot of things that together make a really fantastic big thing.

I found this recipe over at Hungry Huy.  I like everything about his blog... esp the photos! Yum!  Head back to his site for a great how-to for these babies.

The only thing I substituted was tapioca flour for his wheat flour.  That's it.  Everything else was spot on. 

 

So, I would definitely say to wrap these in a lettuce leaf and dip into nuoc mam (the quintessential Vietnamese condiment - goes with everything!)... and enjoy!  Not just any lettuce leaf - a soft green lettuce like Bibb or butter lettuce.  Don't go for the icebergs or the romaines... these crepes already have their crunch from the bean sprouts.

Nuoc mam is a thing of much complexity... and depending on who you ask, their mother probably makes it the best.  Some are more concentrated, some are more light... some are more sour, some more sweet.  So, you've got to try a lot of different recipes before you find what tastes best to you.  But, this is a good starting point... an adaptation of David Chang's Fish Sauce Vinagrette... 

After being stuck inside for weeks, these crepes were a symphony of sensory magic at the dinner table.  Starting at the stove with the scents of ingredients cooking away... the sizzling of the onions, shrimp, and pork... to the sound of the batter hitting the hot pan... 

Then, at the table, the crunchiness of the bean sprouts meets the soft middle bits of the crepe... the crispy edges of the crepe meet the savory filling... and all of this taste and texture is enhanced by the dipping sauce... which brings it all together into the most satisfying bite ever!

Servings-wise, I was able to make six crepes the first night... and nine crepes the second night.  If you have any leftovers, just pop them into oven to crisp them up again.   

Servus!

New Kids on the Block

November 4, 2015


So, I picked up a few goodies at the florist around the corner from my apartment.  I'm not one who can show any kind of self-control around a display of succulents... especially when they're on sale (or "Aktion!" as it is called here.)  I was so excited to bring some new life into my 'green' family.  They really did bring something fresh to my garden... and even gave me a bit of pep in my step!


The starburst shaped succulent is of the Echeveria family.  The plant with the pink flowers is the Sedum Sieboldii Dragon.

Getting these new plants inspired me to make a veggie quiche for dinner.  A quiche has been long overdue on the dinner table!  I went over to the grocery store to see what vegetables were quiche-worthy.  I decided on zucchini and mushrooms. 



Vegetable Quiche

* Adapted from this recipe by Celeste
* Pate Brisee from Michel Roux and this recipe


Ingredients:

pate brisee*
dijon mustard
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup + extra Milk
1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced thinly
2 handfuls of frozen peas
2 Tbsp speck, or bacon, diced
1 1/2C Gruyere or Emmenthaler, grated
1Tbsp flour
salt & pepper


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Roll out the chilled pate brisee to cover your quiche/pie pan.  Prick holes all over the bottom of the dough.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic.  Soften til translucent.

Add the speck/bacon.

Add the zucchini slices.  Cook until softened... about ten minutes.  Add the mushrooms and frozen peas... 

Brush a thin layer of Dijon mustard along the bottom of the pre-baked dough.

In a bowl, beat the three eggs and milk... and a pinch of salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour into the shredded cheese.

Pour the veggies into the tart pan.  Then layer the cheese over the veggies. 

Pour the egg/milk mixture into the pan.  If the liquid level seems a bit low, add some of the extra milk.  Too much liquid and the quiche runs the risk of being a bit soggy... so add slowly.

Pop into the oven and bake for approximately 50-60 minutes... or until nicely browned.

Remove the quiche from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes before slicing.  It can be served warm or at room temperature with a simple salad.

 

Simple Green Salad with Simple Lemon Vinaigrette

* Adapted from this recipe from Epicurious


Ingredients:

1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper

A few handfuls of mache salad
apple slices

Directions:

Toss everything into a small jar and shake with wild abandon.  Lightly drizzle over the salad and enjoy.  Where has this vinaigrette been all my life?  This recipe has moved to the top of My Favorite Vinaigrettes list.




I really enjoy looking at these new kids in my garden.  Oh, I forgot to mention Sempervium Tectorum. What a looker... and she even came with two chicks by her side!  Babies and me, make THREE!!  This is my favorite thing about succulents - how they easily propagate... oh, and how they can survive any kind of neglect.  They are true survivors!





After dinner, came die Nachspeise... or the dessert.  The husband's colleague was so kind to give us some fresh pears from his garden... unfortunately, I let them sit on the counter all weekend... and not being ones to stop living for any reason, the pears got a bit over ripe.  But, have no fear!  I decided to make the husband's favorite dessert with these pears - Pear Tatin.

Pear Tatin

* Adapted from this recipe from Sweet Gastronomy
* Pate Brisee from this recipe from Michel Roux

100g unsalted butter
250g sugar
8 ripe pears
splash of vanilla extract
pate brisee


Directions:

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Roll out the pate brisee to desired diameter to cover the oven proof pan.  Chill in the fridge until needed.  Luckily, I still had almost half of my pate brisee leftover from the quiche - score!

In a heat proof pan, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the sugar/butter mixture until it bubbles.  Stir it around with a wooden spoon.

At this point, add the fruit.  This step is to soften the fruit a bit (if your pears are a bit on the firm side).  I like the fruit to be soft but not mushy.  You want to be able to bite into something in the end.

For my over ripe pears, I took them out after a few short minutes, because if I continued, they would have, indeed, become mush.  And, because they were so ripe and juicy, I got more liquid than necessary in the pan.  If you also have too much liquid, separate out the fruit, and continue cooking the liquid at medium-high heat.  Keep cooking until you get to a nice saucy consistency and the color of maple syrup.  Ahh, the smell!!!

Arrange the fruit into a small oven proof pan and pour the caramelly goodness on top.  I used a second smaller cast iron pan because my pears reduced in size... and the original larger size just seemed like too much.  A smaller, more intimate size pan worked wonders! Pears with uniform slices would be appropriate here... so excuse my pears that look like scallops that were cut into random shapes.  Random because remember my pears were past their peak ripeness and had
a bit of bruising here and there.  So, what you see is what I could save that I thought was still edible and could survive a brutal beating in the pan AND the oven!



Take out the pre-rolled and chilled pate brisee and lay it on top of the pan.  Fold the edges under and tuck in.  Prick with a fork a few vent holes.

Toss into your preheated oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes...  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before flipping onto a plate.  Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.   Devour... and we did so quickly that I didn't even get a picture of the whole dessert.  But, who am I kidding, a corner of the crust broke off... but that didn't stop the madness.

A lovely dessert... and this time, I didn't use store bought puff pastry.  I did it the French way... and made my own pate brisee.  And, to be honest, I enjoyed it this way much more. 

. . .




Ahh, an inspiring day from the start to the finish!  Hope everyone is enjoying the Autumn season so far!  Servus!!

Falling (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

November 2, 2015


Hmmm, all around us the leaves are falling... and soon there will be no more.  I'm glad the grounds keepers have been slow to gather up the leaves just yet... it gives us a few more moments to, quite literally, embrace the sun's warm gifts.


El and Lil had a fun time throwing leaves around... and even Coco met a few other dogs for some sniffing and doggy gossiping.


We've been given a wonderful treat by Mother Nature the last week - above average warm temperatures and clear skies!  This weekend, all of this much needed Vitamin D from the sun gave me motivation to make a big batch of egg rolls.

Egg rolls are the quintessential Vietnamese party food.  Each and every occasion is the right time to put out a platter of freshly made egg rolls.  They are so easy to eat, enjoyed by everyone... "I'm really not in the mood for egg rolls" said no one ever!  And, they're like Lay's potato chips... you can't eat just one!!!

But, they are time consuming to make... it's better to roll these babies with someone else... but, if you're one who likes to actively meditate... then go it alone, like I did!

Vietnamese Egg Rolls

* adapted from Christine Ha's Mama's Egg Rolls
* makes about 100 small egg rolls

Ingredients:
  • 4 oz dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 3 oz dried bean thread noodles
  • 1 kg mixed ground pork and beef
  • 400 g shrimp, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 C fish sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Filipino egg roll wrapers
  • rice paper wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • peanut or canola oil

1. Soak the wood ear mushrooms in hot water for a few minutes.  Once they are tender, finely chop them up with a knife or throw them into a mini food chopper (as I did).

2.  Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for a few minutes.  Once tender, give them a whizz in the food chopper to get them roughly chopped - strands will be about 1-2 inches... or chop them by hand for the same effect.

3.  Into a large bowl, add all of the ingredients (ground, shrimp, aromatics, carrot, fish sauce, and eggs) and mix by hand until uniform consistency.  At this point, take a spoonful of the filling and fry up a test patty in a small frying pan.  This is a good step to take now to check how the filling will taste after cooking... you don't want to roll a ton only to find out upon serving that the egg rolls are too bland or too salty!

 

4.  For the Filipino wrappers, you will need the beaten egg.  I found only the large size wrapper (approximately 10"x10") so I decided to cut them in half on the diagonal.  Worked out just fine.
Lay each triangular wrapper onto a plate with the long edge facing away from you, pointy edge towards you.  Take a spoonful of filling and create a 3" long x 1/2" diameter log centered across the top edge.  Keep the diameter of the filling somewhat narrow - this helps ensure quick and fully cooked rolls! Fold the left side over, then the right side.  Then, carefully and tightly roll the fold and the filling down.  Use your finger and wet the corner with the egg mixture.  This is the glue that will keep your egg roll from unravelling in the hot oil.  So, don't forget this step!


5.  For the rice paper wrappers, no egg is needed.  The paper will be sticky after you wet it in hot water.  So, grab a large bowl and fill it with hot water.  Hot water from the tap will do just fine.  Dunk and roll each wrapper sheet in the water.  Lay it on a flat plate.  As before, take a spoonful of filling and create a 3" long x 1/2" diameter log centered along the top section of the wrapper... about an inch or two down from the top edge.  By now the wrapper should be very wet and sticky.  Fold the left side over, then the right side.  Then carefully and tightly roll down.

Note: this type of rice paper egg roll can be made up to a few hours in advance.  I waited about a half hour before frying mine.  You will notice that right after you roll one, the egg roll will be very wet.  You don't want to throw that wet bomb into a pot of hot oil right now.  Give it some time to rest and absorb all of the extra water.


6.  At this point, if you want to freeze any... you can freeze the Filipino wrapper egg rolls now.  Grab a few freezer friendly ziplock bags and place the eggrolls in a single layer in each bag.  Freeze until ready to use.  You do not even need to thaw them before frying.  Just heat up the oil and pop them directly into the oil.  Watch out for splatter.

Unfortunately, you can not pre-freeze the rice paper rolls.

7. Pour about two inches of oil into a heavy-bottom pan.  Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and deep fry in batches of 3-4 rolls until golden brown and crisp.  Don't over crowd the pan or the rolls (especially the rice paper rolls) will stick together.

I made both versions of the egg rolls this time around... partly because I didn't buy enough Filipino wrappers.  But, I remembered the rice paper versions and thus, made a big batch of those, too!


I fried the rice paper rolls first.  Right at first, big air pockets bubble up around the rolls and the egg rolls will gravitate towards one another and want to stick to each other.  Keep them apart until they get nice and crispy on the outside.  The color will still be white-ish.  Give it a few minutes at medium high heat to achive a tanner color.  You do not want these to be a dark brown color... they will have a slightly burnt taste (take it from me!).

Make sure the temperature hits around 350 degrees F.  If you start frying them at a lower temperature, they will never get that brownish tint.

I fried the Filipino wrapper ones last and they were finished in a flash.

Tastewise, the rice paper rolls were crisp on the outside and chewy/softish on the inside.  A bit sticky on the teeth when chewing, too.  I've had this version at many a restaurant and at home and I never experienced them this soft and chewy on the inside.  Maybe I wet the wrappers too long?  Maybe it was the brand?  I'm not sure...

The Filipino wrapper eggrolls were crispy throughout.  I prefer these because these are what I've grown up with at home... and, I can freeze a ton for later... because if you're gonna sit down and make egg rolls, you might as well make a lot to share... or not. :D

El & Lil definately favored the Filipino version.  And the husband?  Well, he loved them both because to him, it's the delicious filling that's the most important bit!

Serving wise, my mother would probably shake her disapproving head at me.  We are pretty minimalist in our house.  The girls eat them plain without any sauce.  I served slice cucumbers along side the egg rolls.  My husband loves the Thai chili sweet and sour sauce as a condiment.  I should have made a batch of Nuoc Mam to go with the egg rolls... but I was out of fish sauce... and took the lazy way out.  Thai chili sweet and sour sauce, it is!

If you have any leftovers, toss them into the oven to get them back to their old crispy selves!

Enjoy!

. . .


While you're rolling away, here's a few ladies who know a thing or two about 'Falling':