Homemade Eggrolls

 Egg rolls with Sweet and Sour Pork

There used to be a fabulous Chinese restaurant in Mansfield called Bethel’s.  It was house in an old Long John Silver’s (I think) and the whole building had been painted pepto bismal pink.  It’s still there on Lexington Avenue, but it’s closed.  Of all the Asian eateries that I have been to, they had the best eggrolls, hands down.  I say this because I am an egg roll freak!  I love them… particularily when they are vegetarian.  There’s something about biting into one and finding a tiny little shrimp.  I don’t like it.  Egg rolls are very simple to make, and the fillings are very forgiving.  Like I said, I like mine vegetarian, but you could always add diced pork, mini shrimp, beef or chicken to yours.

Eggroll outline:

  • 3 parts cabbage, shredded
  • 1 part carrot, shredded
  • 1 part onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 parts bean sprouts, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • neutral oil (like canola)
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • melted butter (if baking)

Once all the veggies have been shredded, heat a large skillet to about a medium temperature and cover the bottom with oil.  (I once did this with ghee, but the flavor was off.  You need to use a neutral oil in my opinion.)  Add in the cabbage and allow it to cook on its own for a while.  The bulk of the cabbage can be a bit bit overwhelming at first, so let it cook down before adding in the rest of the veg and garlic.  Stir it fairly often so the bottom doesn’t get too brown.  Instead of adding more oil, I often use a vegetable stock or water to keep things from burning.  Once everything is tender, add your salt and pepper and taste to make sure it’s what you want.  Depending on what kind of a sauce you plan to serve with your egg rolls, you will want to season the filling accordingly.  

Now comes the fun part.  Allow the filling to cool a bit before you start working with the wrappers so you don’t burn your fingers.  I tend to use the Nasoya brand of wrappers, but I also have some from a specialty store in my freezer that are much larger, but the same basic thing.  Choose a clean surface and lay one wrapper out in front of you so that it looks more like a diamond and not a square.  Place a large scoop of your filling on the upper third of the wrapper and fold the top over.  Then, fold the right and left sides in, bunching all three corners under the filling.  Roll the whole wrap over so that it’s a neat little package and then seal the corner with a dab of water.  Set aside and finish filling the others.  This recipe will fill an entire package of wraps depending on the size of your cabbage.  If you have too much filling, freeze it!  

There are 2 methods of cooking for you to choose from.  You can either brush the tops of your egg rolls with melted butter (so they brown and crisp up) and bake them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or you can fry them.  I have a deep fryer that I use when I’m feeling brave and we turn the heat all the way up to 375 so the oil is good and hot, then we put in a few egg rolls at a time and fry until golden brown.  Either method turns out wonderful eggs rolls, but I tend to bake them more often than not.  It should also be noted that once they are cooled, they can be frozen for up to 6 months.  I just run them through the microwave for about 2 minutes and they are just a wonderful snack!

Minestrone

Today it is cold outside.  And foggy.  And dreary.  While I am anxious for the spring-like weather to finally appear (and stay), I am grateful for these last few times I will be able to make a big pot of soup before the warmer weather comes and it’s too hot to eat soup.  For lunch today, I had a bowl of Minestrone.  This one of my favorite soups, second only to a simple cream of tomato.  I may like this soup as much as I do because it is tomato based, not broth-based like many of the recipes I’ve tried.  A bonus for me with this recipe is that I could also hand my son a bowl and let him go to town.  Most of the soup wound up on the floor, but he was especially intrigued by the noodles.  And I was thrilled to have finally found some alphabet noodles!

What I love about this soup is that I don’t know if I have ever tasted the same bowl in front of me.  My mother made it differently than my Nonnie who made it differently from her sister-in-law.  In Italy, if you were to ever see the word “minestrone” on a menu based on the etymology of the word, you would expect to see a hearty stew.  It is argued that the minestrone was created from the need to use up leftovers, while others believe that it was based on what was local and in season.  Typically speaking, I have a base recipe and then add or omit ingredients based on what I have on hand or what looks good to me at the time.  Because I use so many beans in my recipe, it is the perfect vegetarian soup to feed my husband.  And if he doesn’t make a comment about the absence of meat, I am in business!

My Minestrone:

– 4 cups tomato juice

– 2 cups water

– 2 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth)

– 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

– 2 cups frozen, french-cut green beans

– 1 cup small pasta ( I used alphabet pasta, but if you were to use say, an elbow noodle you’d want more)

– 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans

– 3 stalks of celery, sliced

– 2 carrots, sliced into rounds

– 1 small onion, diced

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– salt and pepper to taste

The first thing is to find a stockpot that will comfortably fit 2 quarts of liquid, plus all the veggies.  I put in all the liquids and the fresh veggies that will take the longest to cook and the spices.  Bring the pot to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.  Then reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender.  Add in the pasta and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.  Add in all the beans, warm through and serve with a nice, crusty bread.