Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vietnamese summer rolls...

I've seen two recipes for Vietnamese summer rolls recently and thought about tackling them-- they seemed intimidating somehow, but as soon as Mark Bittman (The Minimalist column in the NY Times) described their preparation as basically like rolling up a burrito, I thought I could handle it. We have an Asian grocery store close to our house, and they had all the ingredients I'd never bought before-- including rice paper rolls (burrito-sized, comes in a round plastic box), rice vermicelli, and fish sauce... All much cheaper than in a regular grocery store.

I've made them several times now, along with a peanut sate dipping sauce I like (Bittman has another dipping sauce, included here, which is also good-- but I prefer peanut-y flavors). These are not difficult to make at all-- the recipe makes enough for a small dinner party (he says 4 servings), but you could also reduce it and just basically throw some things in a roll and it will be a delicious snack.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Two Dipping Sauces

16 6 inch rounds rice paper
8 leaves lettuce, washed, dried & torn
2 cups cooked rice vermicelli, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded peeled carrots
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
32 poached shrimp, split lengthwise (or slices pork)

Dip a rice paper round halfway into a bowl of very hot water for 2 seconds. Turn it and dip remaining section, then lay on DAMP TOWEL (important, or else it sticks). Put a little lettuce, rice, carrots, mint, basil, cilantro, and shrimp in the bottom third of the round. Roll up as if rolling a burrito, fold ends over before reaching the top, then roll up all the way.

Peanut Sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. red chili paste (also available at Asian groceries)
1 Tblsp. brown sugar
juice from one lime
1/4 cup hot water

Mix in food processor or blender, scraping down sides.

Bittman's dipping suace:

1/2 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 Tblsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. red chili paste
salt & pepper

Mix in a bowl with a fork...

Dip and enjoy!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Chipotle-lime Black bean hummus

I invented this recipe for Fourth of July and am feeling proud of myself...

Chipotle-lime Black Bean Hummus

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 generous tablespoons of tahini paste
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. cumin
3-4 canned chipotle peppers (use less if you like them less spicy)
salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, mix together all ingredients, and adjust seasonings. Take to a party and serve with tortilla chips. Divide recipe in half if it's just for two or three people.

My favorite place to get Middle Eastern ingredients here in Orlando is Abu Maher International Foods, on Hanging Moss Road off Forsyth, between Forsyth and 436. I've recommended them to a number of people. You can always buy tahini paste at Whole Foods or Publix, but it's somewhat more expensive, and Abu Maher also has other fun stuff like pita bread, dried apricots, full-fat yogurt, and spices...