Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Testing, Tasting, Feasting

While things are sluggish here on the blog, my real life is a bit of a whirlwind (by my standards anyway) as I meet up with friends, attend social engagements, do some summer cleaning and try not to trip up on the miles of yarn I have managed to tangle myself into.

Last night, I got to feast at a wonderful potluck in honor of a visiting food blogger. Alanna is hosting Pille of Nami-Nami, here all the way from Estonia, and invited a few of the local bloggers over for a get-together. It was so nice to see Pille in person (I have been reading her blog for years) and learn a little bit about Estonian food (she gave me a little cookbook of Estonian recipes, and I can't wait to try some of them). Having attended a few food blogger gatherings, I can tell you for a fact that they provide the sort of feast that money can't buy. Bloggers whip up their most impressive and flavorful dishes and everyone wins, except maybe my waistline. and I happily stuffed myself with pizza, barbecued beans, home-made bread with strawberry butter, 7-layer salad, a tres leche cupcake and cherry cobbler, to name just a few treats. I was in piggy heaven!

My contribution to the potluck: a platter of these summer rolls. They are perfect potluck fare, being light, portable, refreshing, and suitably vegetable-stuffed to assuage any guilt over the other richer offerings. They also seem to fit more dietary needs than most other dishes, being vegan, relatively low-carb (I think) and gluten-free.

This time around, I changed the way I cooked the tofu for these rolls. Instead of pan-frying them, I was inspired by the sesame baked tofu recipe on Pro Bono Baker and decided to marinate and bake the tofu instead.
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Here's how I baked mine:
1. Take one block of extra-firm tofu. Drain away the water and pat the tofu dry as much as possible. Slice the tofu horizontally into 4 equal slices.
2. In a baking dish (I used a Pyrex 9x13 inch), mix together ¼ C tamari (or soy sauce), 1 T brown sugar, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and 2 t ginger garlic paste.
3. Dip the tofu slices in the marinade, turning a couple of times to coat them thoroughly. Cover the baking dish and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the tofu in the same dish (uncovered) for 30 minutes, then flip over and bake again for 30 minutes more.
5. Slice the tofu into matchsticks for these rolls, or use them in any other dish. The baked tofu makes for an irresistible snack just by itself...absolutely flavorful.

To jazz things up just a little bit, I took along a trio of dipping sauces for the summer rolls. With one small saucepan and a few condiments stocked in the pantry, these flavorful and versatile sauce came together in no time.
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1. Orange Marmalade dipping sauce from Simply Recipes. Simply whisk together equal parts orange marmalade (I used one with thick strips of delightfully bitter orange peel), rice wine vinegar, season with ginger and minced garlic and some salt to taste and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes. My addition: a hefty pinch of red chilli flakes. Because everything tastes better with a hefty pinch of red chilli flakes! This sauce has a nice balance of sweet, tangy and pleasantly bitter tastes. I suspect it would taste even better with some fried stuff, like breaded fried tofu :D

2. Cooked Chilli Garlic sauce from Viet World Kitchen. This one could not be simpler. I simply placed 7 red jalapeno peppers (stems and seeds removed), 5-6 cloves of garlic, a bit of sugar and salt in the food processor and minced everything up. Then I drizzled in regular white vinegar into the food processor and let the stuff blend into a paste. Then the paste is simmered for a few minutes to take the edge off the garlic. This sauce is simple, tasty and makes the kitchen smell so appetizing.

3. Cashew Butter dipping sauce from Closet Cooking. Here, garlic is sauteed in a bit of oil. Then, I added some cashew butter (nothing but cashews ground into a fine paste), hoisin sauce, sambal oelek (chilli sauce) and salt, along with some water to thin down the sauce, and simmered it for a couple of minutes. So creamy and delicious!

Now, I am willing to bet that these summer rolls are sold as street food in Vietnam. With all this inspiration from fellow bloggers, this post goes to Coffee's Monthly Blog Patrol, hosted this month by Sia with the wonderful theme, Street Food.

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I am so thrilled and honored and a little giddy that Zlamushka of Burnt Mouth has announced the second round of her event Tried and Tested (T&T) and the blog for this month is this little one right here- One Hot Stove !!


I have known Z since she participated in the A-Z of Indian vegetables, cooking up okra for the very first time. Since then, I have been an avid reader of her blog, admiring such posts as the spice collection she made for her sister, homemade tofu and her overall knowledge of Chinese cuisine. Her Spoonful of Christmas round-up is a wonderful resource for anyone in search of gift ideas from the kitchen.

The premise of the T&T event is that each month, participating bloggers try recipes from one particular blog. I am excited and nervous and hoping that the recipes I have typed out will actually work in your kitchen! Please know that many of the recipes posted here have been adapted from cookbooks, websites, other blogs and from the food that I ate growing up, so those are the sources that I give credit to. All errors in the recipes that you may catch are, of course, all mine! Please read Zlamushka's announcement for complete details. I do request anyone participating to please refrain from copying recipes word for word; simply write them in your own words if you want to have the complete recipe on your post. Of course, it might be easier to simply link to the recipe, as Zlamushka suggests.

By the way, Z has invited all non-bloggers to send in entries too, so please go ahead and try and taste to your heart's content! I'll be back on the weekend. Have a good week, everyone.

30 comments:

  1. orange marmalade dipping sauce? sheer genius!! nupur, one of the pics on your spring rolls post doesn't display.

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  2. Wish i was there in the bloggers meeting. You descibing what you ate there make me drool.

    I woudn't mind at all for beeing in that kind of piggie heaven for a day :-)

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  3. Delighted that OHS was chosen - your recipes and instructions have ALWAYS worked for me!

    Bestest,

    Smita

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  4. Wish I was part of that piggy heaven.. sounds delicious. I've been meaning to give your summer rolls a try for quie some time now. Baked tofu looks gorgeous.. thanks for the detailed steps.

    You can be sure that all your recipes for the T&T will be a hit, I say that with much confidence because I've tried so many of your recipes and they've always resulted in great results! :)

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  5. nupur, it cant get better than this:) i cant wait to try those summer rolls . thank u nupur for this superb entry and i will eagerly wait for some more entries as u mentioned:)

    PS: i got ur mail. thank u:)

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  6. Summer rolls sound fabulous!! Sounds like you had a great time! :)

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  7. Your blogger get-together sounds like such fun, and how lucky you are to get to meet the fabulous Pille!

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  8. lovely post Nupur! Congrats! u're blog rocks...:-)
    Love thos dipping sauces, they look delish! Those summer rolls are gorgeous looking!

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  9. I would love to keep you company in the piggie heaven :-D. Great summer rolls and the most amazing dipping sauces! I gotta' try the orange marmalade one! And i know it will be delish! Few days back i tried to whip up a hot sauce from apple jam (home made, a present from a friend)and it worked like magic. Red chilli flakes would take it several notches higher!

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  10. Yeay, you have lovely recipe! I'll definitely try to take part in this T&T! :D

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  11. Are you kidding? I would have tried 80% of your index recipes. They ahve never failed me. Wish I had clicked 'em.

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  12. It sounds like such a fun party. I just posted baked tofu today, so now I'm adding your recipe and also Gemma's to my links!

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  13. I've been curious about baked tofu for some time now - I see it ready-made in the grocery store and it looks like it has a firmer texture, which I think I would prefer. I have a feeling those wonderful dipping sauces would make it even easier to eat :)

    Congrats to you on being selected for the T&T event, but the real winners will be all those sampling your wonderful recipes!

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  14. Nupur, I am soooo flattered to read this many beautiful words about me and my blog (blushed cheeks). I am sure, this month will be a blast, believe it or not, I already have 3 submissions :-)

    To the recipe part, I encourage bloggers to link to your posts instead of re-writing the recipes. Mention it maybe as an option?

    I adore the dips. I have bookmarked them all and I think I know what I am cooking for T&T soon ;-)

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  15. I recently got some rice roll wrappers, your selection of sauces will go perfectly with them :)

    I already tried your ragda patties recipe (adapted) 2 days ago, so officially I already have a tried and tasted recipe :)

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  16. Nupur - I'm so glad your blog was chosen on Z - I actually went through all your posts from the beginning and have bookmarked several. Your Blog Rocks!

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  17. Bee, I did notice about that pic, and it is fixed now :)

    Happy Cook, Well, round up some food bloggers near where you live and feast away :) or come to St. Louis and feast with us!

    Smita, Thank you :)

    Laavanya, This time of year is the perfect time to try these summer rolls! I'm glad to know that some of the recipes here have worked in your hands :)

    Sia, Street food is something I could eat at every meal, so I'm looking forward to making more of it! Thank you for choosing this theme.

    Kalai, We did have a wonderful time :)

    Lydia, Yes, it was so nice to see her in person, and she did a little show and tell with some really interesting pantry ingredients from Estonia!

    Latha, the dipping sauces and summer rolls make a really nice combination...a nice mix of health and taste ;)

    Musical, Ooh...the apple jam hot sauce sounds incredible! I love spicy fruit creations :) The orange marmalade one is ready in a couple of minutes and is so delicious.

    Maninas, I sure hope you will participate, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you make :)

    Suganya, Thank you, my dear :)

    Kalyn, I just saw your bakes tofu, and it looks delicious! The party was fun...wish you were there!

    Cathy, I have tried the ready-made baked tofu a couple of times and honestly did not like it at all. But this batch was so delicious, and the baking firms up the tofu a great deal. You have to try this- I think you will like it!

    Zlamushka, I did mention the link too...just edited the post :) I hope everyone has fun participating this month!

    Nandita, You got the wrappers? Can't wait to see your version of these summer rolls! I made some without the tofu and with some mint and mango instead, and those were good too. One can get totally whacky and creative with these rolls.

    Arundathi, Can't wait to see what you end up making :) Thank you for the sweet words!

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  18. Nupur,
    Those dipping sauces sound and look absolutely delicious. Can't wait to try them all. These rolls sure are guilt-free. I use rice vermicelli for the filling along with veggies and tofu - they really soak up the dipping sauce and also make the rolls very filling. And I use thai basil instead of mint. Your sauces are tempting me to make these rolls soon.

    Mamatha

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  19. Love ur dipping sauce, posted yest my summer rolls too :) I love the marmalade dipping and ur spring roll too

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  20. Hi Nupur!

    I'm flattered that you found some inspiration on my site. In turn I am inspired by your summer rolls. I will have to try them soon!

    Gemma

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  21. Oye, those dipping sauces look fantastic. I can almost smell the orangey one.

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  22. Good post.Presentation was wonderful.

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  23. The sauces look fantastic!
    I'm so jealous that you are meeting other bloggers... I have never met another person who blogs...I'm not sure what that says about me... Or, maybe, about where I live..

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  24. I love your recipes, Nupur..the orange marmalade sauce sounds divine!

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  25. Wow!! A feat you had at bloggers meet... Incredible! Wish i was there too :-) Piggy heaven sounds great....we can all enjoy for a day or two.. dont worry on waist line, we r there with u on that :-)
    These dipping sauces look delicious! Wish i could get a little lick....

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  26. your sauces look so effortless and delicious

    will try and participate in the tried and tasted - have already checked out your index - hope to have time to make one of those interesting looking dishes!

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  27. Mamatha, rice vermicelli is something I have been wanting to add to these rolls for ages, but still have not got around to buying the stuff! Thanks for reminding me...I am going to put it on the shopping list right away.
    I also have some lime basil growing in a little pot and hope to include it in the next batch of rolls! Have a good weekend :)

    Cham, I'll have to go and check out your summer rolls too!

    Gemma, How are you doing?! You have to try these summer rolls...especially when it starts getting really hot in Chicago :)

    TheCooker, yes, the orangey one is a treat. I am sure your kids will love it too.

    Shankarkotkar, Thank you!

    Katiez, So true, some locations are "denser" in bloggers than others. And I am very lucky that there are wonderful bloggers here who organize events where we can meet up.

    Enjay, Well, the recipes are all from other bloggers (and not mine at all) but totally worth trying!

    Seema, I wish you were here too! Ah, the timing was not right. At this time, I definitely would have had time to plan some get-togethers for us! Oh well. Hope you all are doing great!

    Johanna, The sauces are truly easy-breezy!

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  28. Just today i made something from ur blog...will be posting next week

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  29. The dipping sauces look amazing! as do the rolls in your original post. You must have a lot of fun catching up with fellow bloggers - ah the pleasures of blogging!

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  30. A little late, but with the travelling and jetlag things happen.. It was so nice to finally meet you in person, dear Nupur!
    And your spring rolls where delicious! Now I'll know what to do with those rice papers I've got in my cupboard :)

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