If you step into my little living room, you’ll see that my bookshelf is filled with rows of cookbooks. You’ll probably also notice rows of science fiction paperbacks and tomes on British history. I have nothing to do with that. Blame it on the hubs.
I keep cookbooks there partly for show. Don’t lie, some of you display certain books on your bookshelf to show off to guests, right? But the main reason why I keep cookbooks around is because I find them very therapeutic. Some people meditate to calm the mind. I like to look at more photos of food.
I have been cooking my way through a lot of cookbooks lately:
- Katie’s lovely Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Maple Syrup – try that maple spiced pecans recipe!
- Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem – that’s another thing checked off on my 2015 food resolutions
- Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel
For those of you who are not familiar with Heidi Swanson, she’s someone who makes vegetarian cooking cool. The flavor combinations in her recipes are always spot on, and her recipes make even the most carnivorous eaters forget about meat for a day. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes!
In her most recent cookbook, Near & Far, Heidi has a spring rolls recipe featuring a delicious ginger onion paste that reminded me of a Chinese ginger scallion oil. There is a popular Cantonese poached chicken dish that is always paired with ginger scallion oil. That oil, in my opinion, the best part. But never would I have thought to use that same oil to flavor spring rolls! Heidi’s a genius.
For my spring rolls, I modified Heidi’s recipe a bit. I added red curry and tamarind paste to give the tofu more tang. Also, the ginger onion paste I’m sharing here is closer to the traditional Chinese version, which does not use shallots. Finally, I decided to use fresh vegetables instead of cooked mushrooms to give the spring rolls more pop in color. You know that I love color in my food!
Alright, enough talking, let’s get to the cooking!
MASTER LISA’S MISTAKES + COOKING NOTES
- Handling the oil: First and foremost, HEAT THE OIL! I completely forgot this step during one of my test runs, which was a bad mistake. Second, most recipes suggest pouring the minced ginger/garlic/onion mixture into the saucepan with the oil, but I did the exact opposite. I placed my ginger mixture into a ceramic bowl and poured the hot oil into the bowl. The spices are so delicate, and I don’t want to run the risk of frying them in the saucepan. Finally, when you drain the oil from the ginger mixture, be sure to save it! It will be amazing for stir fries.
- Use an oil with a neutral flavor: You’re not going to want to use your olive oil for this one! I used safflower oil, but you can always use something else.
- Prepping ahead: You can marinade the tofu overnight to get more flavor into it. Also, you can prep the ginger onion paste a day ahead, but make sure that it is served at room temperature.
- Keep your work surface wet: Make sure that the surface you are using to wrap your spring rolls is constantly damp. Wet rice wrappers will stick to dry surfaces like glue, and it can quickly turn your spring roll making experience into a nightmare. Be sure to sprinkle water onto your surface after each completed spring roll.
COMFORT IN A MUG E-BOOK + READER SURVEY
As I announced on my blog last week, I’m writing an e-book! For those of you who are interested in getting updates on Comfort in a Mug, please sign up here. I’m also looking for recipe testers! Let me know if you are interested. Finally, I would love for you to fill out my reader survey! It will help me figure out how to make my blog better for you, and it will only take a minute!
Disclosure: The links to the cookbooks are affiliate links.