Katie: I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have people making me such delicious food, whether it was Dad’s homemade applesauce, Matt’s cinnamon rolls made from scratch, or Mom’s decadent desserts! I was treated again this weekend to a great meal and a nice break from studying for finals. Ken made this maple glazed salmon and sweet potato latkes. The maple flavoring was wonderful with the salmon, and the latkes were a great accompaniment. And he didn’t even let me do the dishes!
Katie: While we had summer-like weather here last weekend, it has now cooled down to more typical spring weather. So while I had been considering making a recipe for Tequila Lime Shrimp, my thoughts on cooking shifted along with the temperature. Instead, I decided to try some fresh spring rolls. I’m not sure if I’d ever eaten them before, let alone made them, but I was inspired by the descriptions and pictures here and here.
I found rice paper at an Asian grocery store, along with some other interesting and inexpensive ingredients. I made small portions of three different sauces to accompany the spring rolls: an Asian peanut butter sauce, a soy sauce mixture, and a mango sauce. I prepared julliened carrots and sweets potatoes with fresh ginger, but left the rest of the vegetables raw. The process of making the spring rolls was kind of like a science experiment. The rice paper turns soft shortly after contacting water, so we could make them pretty quickly.
These turned out well and were fun to make! Spring rolls are usually described as an appetizer, but they can easily be served as a main course, depending on how many you make. This was a meal that I think would be fun to make with guests too. And since hardly any cooking is involved, they would be good for hot summer days too.
Fresh Spring Rolls (adapted from My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories)
- rice paper (I found 1 pound for 1.50 Euros at an Asian food store)
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 2 small sweet potatoes, julienned
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 squeeze of fresh lemon
- an assortment of fresh vegetables of your choice, diced or julienned (I used a red bell pepper, a red cabbage, bean sprouts, a cucumber, and green onions)
- shrimp (optional; I used some small river crabs)
- sauces of your choice (I substituted peanut butter in this recipe for Almond Butter Dipping Sauce; combined soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds for a second sauce; and used my mango dressing for a third sauce)
- Prepare sauces and set aside.
- Put the olive oil, agave syrup, and ginger in a skillet over medium heat and cook just slightly. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix with sesame seeds and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Fill a shallow dish a little larger than the rice paper with warm water. (I used the my frying pan lid.)
- Place one wrap in the water until it becomes soft and pliable (about 3o seconds).
- Remove the wrap carefully and transfer to a clean working surface.
- Fill with vegetables. Fold top, then sides, then bottom to close.
- Top with sauce and enjoy!
Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Lunch
Tagged Asian, bean sprouts, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, ginger, rice paper, soy sauce, sweet potatoes
Matthew: This dish is what results when I’m not quite sure what I want for dinner. First, I head to the Willy Street Co-op and look for vegetables that look good. This week, I found some golden beets. I supplemented those with a sweet potato and some turnips. At home, I roasted all the veggies with some olive oil and then thought about making them more exciting. I hadn’t made a curry in a while, so I used some hot curry spices and tossed in a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes. I was going to eat it with brown rice, but I ran out of time and found some french green lentils instead. It’s not anything spectacular, but it’s a good, healthy dinner.
Katie: Now that pumpkin season is sadly coming to an end, I’ve moved on to another source of Vitamin A: sweet potatoes. We bought a bunch of sweet potatoes when we saw them on sale at the grocery store, and I’ve been looking for different ways of using them. I don’t think I’ve ever had shepherd’s pie before, but this recipe for Winter Vegetable Pot Pie sounded interesting. It’s basically a pot pie base made with roasted vegetables and topped with mashed sweet potatoes. I wasn’t quite sure how the apple juice would work with the other flavors, but it turned out really good! The base would probably also be good topped with a more typical pot pie biscuit topping. Here’s how I made it:
Sweet Potato Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from the McCormick website)
- 1 pound sweet potatoes (I used 3)
- 1 cup apple juice, divided
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 6-7 cups cubed winter vegetables (I used orange carrots, yellow carrots, parsnips, red potatoes, and celery), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper for an hour or until they are tender when pierced with a fork and are caramelizing. Remove from oven and cool. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Toss chopped vegetables (excluding mushrooms and onions) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown.
- Peel sweet potatoes and mash with 1/4 cup apple juice, butter, and nutmeg until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat and saute the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a skillet until soft. Set aside.
- Mix vegetable broth, remaining 3/4 cup apple juice, cornstarch, garlic salt, mustard, thyme and in large skillet with wire whisk until well blended. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 2 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, onions, and mushrooms; stir gently. Pour into a glass casserole dish. Top with mashed sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sweet potato topping starts to brown.
Katie: Just because we don’t have the last Thursday and Friday in November off here in Germany doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Thanksgiving a little. Although it was sad not being able to celebrate with my family, I tried a few different new recipes to bring the feeling of Thanksgiving to our home. Here’s what I made:
- turkey cutlets seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried thyme (definitely not comparable to real roasted turkey, but I’m not sure if German ovens are even big enough to fit a turkey)
- Cranberry Sauce (cooking it with a cinnamon stick added a nice flavor)
- Mashed Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes (they were really thick, so I added some water and apple cider which worked well)
- Roasted Applesauce (I’ve never made applesauce in the oven before, but it was really good)
- Stuffin’ Cups (stuffing made in a muffin pan)
The only thing missing was a pumpkin pie… I might just have a pumpkin hidden somewhere to still make one. 🙂 I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!
Matthew: I’m getting my wisdom teeth out in a couple weeks, so I wanted to start making some soups and freezing portions of them so that I could just pull them out of the freezer to eat when the time comes. I’ve never made soup out of sweet potatoes before, but when I searched for roasted sweet potato soup, I found this recipe that sounded good. It’s a fairly fast recipe to make and can be done in stages. By roasting the potatoes ahead of time, the soup gets a nice, carmelized flavor. The rosemary is a great addition, making the soup smell wonderful.