Tofu Rice Paper Rolls

As usual, I have been making lots of Heidi Swanson recipes lately. I have had rice paper in my cupboard since the last time I made rice paper rolls from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Rice paper is a little tricky to work with at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty fun. The first time I made rolls, the first few were just awful. But now I seem to have a bit of muscle memory, as even my first rolls in this batch came out nicely.

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Rather than re-typing the recipe, I’ll just send you to Heidi’s original post, where she has in-depth instructions and a nice tutorial. I used maple syrup in place of brown sugar on the tofu, and sliced cucumbers instead of lettuce. She’s right – no dipping sauce is needed. They’re excellent as they are.

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Yogurt and Spelt Flour Biscuits

Ok, ok, I guess I’m a baker now. But I’d like to point out that I am strictly baking savory foods. I do not bake cakes or cupcakes or brownies. I’m afraid of those things – after all, Eric and I could barely keep ourselves from eating this entire batch of biscuits in one sitting; what would we do if it was cake?! We’d be much, much fatter, that’s for sure.

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When I wrote this post – two weeks ago – it was spring. I had quite the paragraph written about how glorious the weather had been. I wore shorts and flip flops to my scuba classes, and ran in a tank top and shorts for the first time.  I received my first bundle of ramps  and already whipped them into a great, earthy pistou – the French version of pesto that does not include nuts or cheese. Then last weekend came, and the 80-degree week gave way 40-degree, rainy nights. Sad. This week continues to get better, but the rain still can’t seem to stay away.

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Anyway, back to these biscuits. Wow, they are good. I think spelt flour might be my new favorite thing – the flavor is so light and it tastes and behaves much the same way as all-purpose flour, so most people won’t even know your biscuits have some nutritional value. They are best straight from the oven, split in half, and slathered with a little butter, but we ate them cold the next day and warmed up in the microwave, too. It all worked.

Yogurt and Spelt Flour Biscuits
adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (I used Earth Balance spread)
1 1/3 cups plain yogurt (Heidi calls out Greek yogurt; I did not have enough so used half Greek, half regular plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 450.

In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients and pulse until well mixed. Cut the butter into small chunks and spread over the top of the dry ingredients. Pulse until “the mixture resembles tiny pebbles on a sandy beach”. Then add the yogurt and pulse until pretty well combined. Don’t worry if it all doesn’t come together; dump the contents onto a clean, floured surface and knead together until all the flour is completely mixed in.

Press the dough into a large square that is approximately 3/4″ thick. Cut out 12 biscuits and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the crust turns golden. Serve immediately with a slab of butter and/or jam.


Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon

I don’t have many words tonight – there are many exciting things happening right now, but I’m not at liberty yet to share them on the internet. Soon, hopefully. I also have a ton of really tasty recipes to share – like my first ever loaf of bread! And a new soba noodle recipe. And more Vietnamese tastiness. In the meantime, enjoy this great recipe from the ever-reliable Heidi Swanson.

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I’ve seen many recipes for something similar, but not one has been as good as this. The secret is the creamy and crusty white beans. That, and in my particular case, really good bacon. I bought this great bacon from Whole Paycheck straight from their meat department – no plastic packaging, no nitrates or nitrites, and no preservatives. Just good ‘ol smoked pork belly with some bacon-y spices. I’m convinced that part of the reason these beans turned out so well was that the bacon was of such high quality.

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Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 large shallot, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems cut out and leaves cut into strips
salt and pepper

Saute the bacon over medium-high heat in a skillet, working in batches. When the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate lined with paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.

Make sure the beans are very dry, then place them in the bacon fat in a single layer, again working in batches. Let them sit for a minute or two, until the bottom of each bean is golden and crispy, then stir them and flip and let sit for another minute. When both batches are finished, toss in the rest of the beans and bacon.

Add the rest of the ingredients – garlic, shallot, and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes longer to wilt the kale and cook the shallot and garlic. Remove from heat and serve immediately.