Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inside-out Spring Rolls

Inside-out Spring Rolls

I really love Vietnamese spring rolls (the raw kind—though the fried ones are good too of course) but it takes forever to roll enough, at least for a family my size! So this is my way to get the fresh tanginess of spring rolls without the work. It's basically the spring roll fillings, chopped small and served on top of rice or soba (the Asian buckwheat noodles). The recipe is very adaptable and is really just a framework—use whatever vegetables sound good to you, and vary the sauce to your taste. I never measure when I make it, but I've tried to estimate what I usually use. It seems like a long list of ingredients, but it's very easy to put together. The only hitch is that the tofu needs to be prepared ahead of time.


1 block firm or extra-firm tofu (14 oz), cut into 4-6 strips

Marinade/sauce (all amounts approximate):

2 cloves garlic, minced/pressed

large chunk fresh ginger, chopped small or grated (about a TBS, grated?)

1/8 tsp Sriracha or other “hot” stuff

1 TBS sesame oil

juice of 1 lime and/or 1 tbs rice vinegar

1 TBS brown sugar

about ½ cup soy sauce

2-3 TBS peanut butter

water—a few TBS

Vegetables—prepare some or all of these, according to your taste:

2-3 carrots, grated

1 cucumber, chopped

2-3 green onions, sliced


cilantro, chopped (lots!)

spinach, chopped (a fair amount)

fresh basil, if desired, to taste

fresh mint, if desired, to taste

rice or soba, prepared normally

To make the baked tofu:

Several hours before the meal, prepare the marinade by mixing all the marinade ingredients except the peanut butter and water in a baking pan large enough to hold all the strips of tofu laid flat (I like to use a glass baking dish). Taste the marinade to make sure you like the mix of flavors; it can be infinitely varied. Marinate the tofu for an hour or so, flipping a few times. Pour off the marinade into a bowl and save it to make the base of the sauce later. Bake the tofu at 300-325 degrees for about 2 hours, flipping it every 45 minutes or so, until it is well-browned and a bit dried. This isn't exact—just when you like the texture, take it out. Transfer the tofu to a plate, and refrigerate until later. (You basically are partially dehydrating the tofu by baking it long and slow—for more info you can go to this blog post, from which I learned this technique. Tofu prepared this way can be used in many different ways or just eaten by itself—it's delicious!)

To make the sauce:

Warm the peanut butter in a small bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to make it easier to combine with the other things. Gradually stir in some of the reserved marinade. Add the peanut butter mixture to the rest of the marinade and stir till combined—it may take some time to fully incorporate the peanut butter. Taste, and adjust; usually I add some water because the marinade itself is very concentrated, with all the soy sauce. You want a thick but pourable sauce. Refrigerate until serving time.

To serve:

Prepare the rice or soba. (If using soba, run cold water over the cooked noodles to cool them.) Toss together all the vegetables in a large serving bowl. Add the chilled tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces. On each person's plate put rice or soba, with a large scoop of the vegetable mixture on top, and a few spoonfuls of the sauce drizzled over everything. Enjoy!

Quinoa salad with black beans, avocado, and cumin-lime dressing

Quinoa salad with black beans, avocado, and cumin-lime dressing

Christina is the one who found this salad--she brought it to trapeza a few weeks ago. I've never liked quinoa before, but I really love this salad! It's fresh and flavorful and very healthy. Quinoa is a "grain" (not technically a grain, actually) native to South America that is very high in protein and other important nutrients--it's actually a complete protein, which makes it wonderful for fasting! Here is the original post where Christina found the recipe: http://www.eating-for-england.com/quinoa-salad-beans-avocado/.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Avocado and Cumin-Lime Dressing

serves 4-6

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed (it's very small, so use a very fine mesh strainer)

1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

1 3/4 cup water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tbsp olive oil

salt, to taste

1/2 red onion, diced, or a few green onions, sliced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

large handful cilantro, diced

1 avocado, chopped into chunks (2 avocados would be great)

tomatoes in bite-sized pieces—3 Romas, a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, etc.

Warm the olive/coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. To make the dressing, mix together the garlic, lime juice, cumin, olive oil, and salt.

When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then stir in the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients and gently stir; adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm, room-temperature, or cold.

Leftovers are great—but it might be better to add the avocado and tomatoes at serving time.

Artoklasia (Litia bread)


This is the bread we bless at Litia at festal Vespers and usually distribute after the Gospel at Matins. One recipe makes 15 loaves, which is enough for 3 services (5 loaves per service). You can make 15 equal loaves, or graduate the sets in size according to the likely attendance at each service—10 medium sized, 5 a bit larger, or something--just make sure there are 3 sets of 5 evenly-sized loaves.

2 scant tablespoons yeast
½ cup warm water
¾ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups warm water
¼ cup neutral oil (canola, etc.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 ½ to 6 cups flour

In a big bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the ½ cup water. Add sugar and salt and stir; let sit a few minutes until the yeast is active. Add the rest of the water, the oil, the cinnamon, and 3 cups flour. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add remaining flour, ¼ cup or so at a time, until the dough is soft but firm. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (less than 5 minutes in a stand mixer), adding flour if too sticky.

Divide dough into 15 equal parts (or 16 if it's easier, and you'll just have one extra to munch on) and shape into smooth balls. Place on greased pans, not too close together. Let rise for 15 minutes to half an hour, then bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on racks.

When completely cool, put 5 loaves each in 2 freezer bags labeled with the date and store in the church freezer. The third set will be brought to church to be used fresh.