Tax season is officially over! I can breathe again!
This past Sunday called for something not overly involved with just a hint of extravagance. My inspiration came from a package of spring roll papers that I found in a supermarket uptown. As spring is slowly but surely beginning to show it’s lovely face I decided that my own version of spring rolls would be a good way to further coax the season into bloom… so far it hasn’t really worked – it seems to be ten degrees colder today than it was yesterday – but the spring rolls were scrumptious!
I’ve dubbed them Cuban Spring Rolls because I used black beans, lime, and cilantro, which appear more in Cuban dishes than Asian.
Here’s my recipe:
Cuban Spring Rolls:
For the Black Beans:
4 cloves of garlic – mi nced
1 onion – chopped up pretty small
1 can of black beans – rinsed and drained
2 limes – juice from two, zest from one
1 beef bullion cube
½ cup of water
Handful of fresh cilantro – roughly chopped
Other Roll Stuffers:
Spring roll wrappers – these are made from rice, so gluten free!
1 pint of cherry tomatoes – cut in half lengthwise
1 pint of Alfalfa Sprouts
1 Bunch of watercress
1 Avocado – pitted and sliced
2 Scallions – sliced at an angel (hold it as though you are going to make rings, angle the knife 45’ across the top and make slices all the way down)
In a medium saucepan sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they start to turn translucent. Add the beans, water, limejuice, bullion cube, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes – checking and stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When it has thickened and come together well turn off the heat and toss in the lime zest and cilantro.
Prepare all of your ingredients on the counter in an assembly line – the order doesn’t really matter, but I started with the beans.
To prepare your Spring roll wrappers, boil some wa ter and pour about a cup into a wide, shallow bowl. Working one at a time, place a wrapper into the hot water. Carefully poke the wrapper until it is softened – the package that I used has a textured pattern printed on each wrapper and once I couldn’t feel the texture anymore it was ready to use, about three minutes for each wrapper. If it seems to be taking forever you may need to re-boil the water.
Place a wrapper on your work surface – I just used a plate – gently dab off any extra water with a paper towel. Place about a tablespoon of the beans two inches off the bottom of the wrapper – don’t go to the edges, as you need to fold them over. Place a small amount of each of your other ingredients in close overlapping rows with the beans – see the picture. Now you’re ready to start folding. This is only really tricky for the first few; once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy.
I’m sure you can find instructions online of how to fold, but basically you want to bring the bottom flap all the way over the stuffing and fold the edge under. Then you fold in from each side and gently roll the rest off the way up. If your wrappers soaked properly then this will all be easier as they will stick together, if they aren’t sticking you get a chef snack and try soaking the wrappers for longer on the next one. I also found that the access water was preventing mine from sticking, so whipping the water off is an important step.
Of course we couldn’t just have spring rolls. So in keeping with the light flavors theme we had pan-fried Swordfish. Really easy, really quick, and really elegant!
Have your fishmonger cut however many steaks you need for your dinner – about a half pound each is plenty. Salt and pepper each side. In a skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Do the water pop test (wet the tips of your fingers and, standing back, flick the water into the oil. If it pops and starts sizzling then your pan is hot enough) carefully place your fish into the oil – it will splash a bit so be careful. Now DON’T TOUCH IT! Just let it brown off for about 4 minutes. The goal is to only flip the fish once, when you can just see the bottom edges start to brown. Once flipped cook for another four minutes.
That’s it. Squeeze some lemon over the top or serve with lemon wedges.
The adventure ingredient this week was dandelion. It’s very hardy, tangy, and robust. I actually found it to be almost too bitter. So I served it as a salad with arugula, sunflower seeds, and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate helps to balance the bitterness that dark greens tend to have – some people love this, I can taste the health and when mixed with the fruit I loved them too, but some bites did make me feel like reverting to my little kid days of hiding Veggies in napkins.
Two cloves of garlic – minced
1 large tsp of whole seed mustard
3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper – about 5 turns of a grinder
In a jar with a lid combine all ingredients close the jar and shake the heck out of it! You can tell when it has emulsified when you stop shaking and it doesn’t separate again.
Next week is Easter, so Saturday will be the new Sunday, and I will be trying my hand at some new versions family Holiday traditions! I’m thinking Braised lamb with minted quinoa salad, and Meringue “Easter Eggs” for dessert. Until Next week…