Friday, November 30, 2012

Gluten Free Spring Rolls

I found myself in a bit of a dilemma recently. I've had cravings for those large fried Spring Rolls. I never eat them normally but pregnancy is changing that!

The problem with Spring Rolls however, is they are full of gluten. I am not friends with gluten, or rather, it is not friends with my body. It likes to make me feel irritable, sore in my ligaments and gives me piercing headaches. So my dilemma became the occasional torture session while eating Spring Rolls.

That was no fun, so I went in search of gluten free spring rolls I could make at home.

Served with a side of "bubble and squeak"

Oh yes, these were really delicious. Made with rice paper wrappers I avoided the gluten in regular pastry. These don't have the same texture as normal Spring Rolls, but the filling still gave me that tang I was craving.

This recipe doesn't use meat at all and still tasted great!

Onto the recipe.

1/2 head sugarloaf cabbage - shredded
2 carrots grated
1 onion finely diced
1 bunch fresh coriander chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
approx 1 cup vermecilli (rice noodles)
pinch ground white pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tabs gluten free soy sauce
2 teas rice wine (check to make sure it's gluten free)
oil for frying
{1 pkt rice wrappers}

~ substitute apple cider vinegar if no rice wine~

Prep fresh ingredients

I like to cook my filling a day ahead, because it can take about 4 hours before frying those lovely morsels. Most of that is fridge time, because you need the wrappers to dry after rolling. They are very tacky otherwise.

I made my filling in a wok. Turn up the hotplate to high and drizzle wok with a little oil. Fry onion (stirring) until transparent and slightly caramelised, but not burnt. Keep adding oil if it starts sticking to the base. Add garlic and ginger and stir.

Caramelised onion, garlic and ginger

Next add  your shredded cabbage, carrots, and stir with tongs until cooked a little. Add your gluten free soy sauce, rice wine (or apple cider vinegar) and both types of pepper. When nearly ready, add chopped coriander and stir through.

 Adding fresh coriander

The last stage is to add your vermecilli (rice noodles) and you need to prepare them at least 10 minutes before hand. I cut my vegetables then put the kettle on to boil, so I could add the water to the vermecilli in a bowl. Strain water out when you're ready to use. Add the vermecilli to your cabbage and it should look like this...

Finished filling

Let cool then refrigerate for rolling in rice paper wrappers the next day. I found my rice papers in the local Woolworths, but I'm sure other supermarkets or Asian grocery stores would stock them also. I got about 20 wrappers in the packet, and it turned out to be plenty for three people, including leftovers for lunch the next day.

Products made with rice are generally gluten free

Time for the fun part! Get a bowl of warm to hot water (I used a big metal mixing bowl) and dunk a single wrapper into the water. Depending how hot it is, depends how long you leave it in the water. I found a quick dip on both sides is all I needed at first, but as the water cooled, it needed slightly longer. You then stretch the wrapper on a plate gently and fill with about a tablespoon of filling.

Fold up the end...

Then fold in both long sides of the wrapper...

Roll tightly until you have neat rolls and place on a clean plate. I had a larger plate filled, but these were the last three. You don't want your rolls touching one another because they're now going to be put in the fridge for a few hours (uncovered) to dry out a little.

When it comes to frying, use a frying pan and turn your heat up until oil is ready. I used olive oil. You then turn your heat down to medium, as rice wrappers are quick to cook. Use tongs to place rolls in the hot oil. Only fry about three at a time, because they'll wobble around at first and threaten to touch one another. Once they do touch, you're going to end up with a split wrapper when you try to turn them, and cabbage will go through your oil.

My first batch did this, but when I reduced the numbers down to three, it went amazingly well. And that's it! Best eaten fresh but still lovely the next day.

Friday, November 9, 2012


So I went to my dating ultrasound yesterday. Nothing flash, but everything is happening as expected - perfect heart beat and development. Picture below:

Click to enlarge

Due date is expected around 31 May 2013, give or take. They say I'm presently 10 weeks and 6 days. So it's kind of real now. Our newest member of the family has officially made it to the blog.

Sarah joined us at the ultrasound, and Dave said it was the first time we got to see each other with the four of us. I didn't think of it like that. I was too busy trying to figure out the parts! No sexing done at this stage, so still a mystery.

In case you cannot make out the picture, the baby's head is the big round thing! They still look like a little tadpole, but they'll be growing pretty quickly. It's amazing how this whole process works.

Friday, November 2, 2012

$avvy meals

Ever had the problem of eating roast chicken one night, and whatever is left manages to find it's way to the back of the fridge? I'm always looking for ways to use leftover roast chicken, because it's so hard to pull off the meat once chilled.

I think I may have found the answer in soup! Chicken noodle would seem the most obvious choice, but I'm not a big noodle fan any more. I also had a large pumpkin I needed to use, so decided to make chicken-pumpkin soup instead.

Stockpot, frame and meat

I just placed the roast chicken frame in a stock pot and covered it (almost) with water. I also chucked in a couple of chopped shallots. I then boiled for about an hour which was plenty to get the flavour out. Do remember though, stock made from a roasted chicken frame won't be as subtle in flavour, as the marrow in the bone has already been cooked out.

Once you're satisfied with your stock though, take the frame out and set aside to cool. The meat will fall off and makes it so much easier to remove. Even though we ate most of the chicken the night before (breast, legs and wings) a remarkable amount of meat still came off the frame.

Soft chicken meat

Below is how much of the chicken frame was left after pulling the meat off. Not much, and not too smelly to put in the bin (wrapped in newspaper) either.

Stripped chicken frame

While the frame was on to boil, I cut and roasted the pumpkin in a moderate oven. It caramelises the flesh, and makes it sweeter. Once cooked, set aside the pumpkin to cool a little, then scoop out the flesh from the skin, and place in the cooked stock.

Yummy, dry roasted pumpkin

I also had those few remaining roast vegetables from the night before. They were placed in the stock too. Potatoes and pumpkin. I reckon if you had leftover swede or turnip, it would taste great too!

Leftover vegetables from the night before

I then used my Bamix (stick blender) to puree it together. I then put the chicken meat back in and added a can of corn kernels. Although I *loved* the chunky sweet-corn in my soup, both David and Sarah said they would prefer it softer. So maybe add a can of creamed corn instead, if you don't want chunky kernels.

The spices I used were cayenne pepper (gave it a subtle bight) cumin, salt and white pepper and a lovely splash of Worcestershire sauce too. You can also add cream to the mix if you want, but we tend to add it after serving.

The chicken stock makes this a very filling soup!

This is the finished soup, minus the cream as I hadn't poured it yet. It was so delicious! Being pregnant and having awful reactions to meat for some bizarre reason, I found this soup a lovely compromise. I seem to be able to eat small amounts of lean meat, but nothing with fat. Cooking out the bones gave me a great boost of much needed protein, without the nausea!

My chicken-pumpkin soup - I'm having another bowl for dinner tonight! Out of one roast chicken and some vegetables, I was able to feed a family of three, three hearty meals. I'm very happy with that. No more roast chicken, hiding in the back of the fridge from now on!