Sunday, September 20, 2009
I am sitting here writing this post wearing a black veil. Yes, gentle readers, we have had a death in the family. An unexpected and violent death. Farewell, my dear and faithful friend. You left us too soon.
Friday morning, I was sitting in the kitchen, scouring my cookbooks for a recipe (an edible one) that would make fast work of the leftover cabbage in the refrigerator. Suddenly, BLAMMO!! My trusty Kitchen Aid diswasher, a mere 4 years old, exploded. In a flash of hot water, foam and smoke, the front of it literally blew open mid-cycle.
Thank goodness Miss M. wasn't anywhere near that thing. It wasn't just the threat of burns I was worried about: the front door to that dishwasher has got to weigh more than 20 pounds. Little Miss Bright Eyes Would have been toast.
So nobody was harmed. That's the good news. The bad news? The service technician cannot come out until Monday, and if a new part is needed, I might not have a dishwasher for a week or so. This is dire news indeed.
Scoff if you like. I know, I know, the demise of a dishwasher is not the end of the world. There are actually mutants on this planet who do not own dishwashers at all. There are also freakazoids on the planet like my mother, who own dishwashers but rarely use them, because they enjoy doing dishes by hand.
However, I am not one of those mutants or freakazoids. I need my dishwasher to function. I hate doing dishes. And I cook a lot. And I have little turdlets in my house who think it's sacrilege to use the same cup twice for a stinking cup of water. This is BAD.
So, what does a girl without a dishwasher do? Well, she breaks down and does dishes by hand, naturally.
But what if, after that first 40 minute ordeal, the girl decides that she is far, far, too lazy for this by-hand crap?
My Mother Planet Earth, I apologize. I know the Recycling Gods have placed me on the highest rung of their shit list. But I was desperate, I tell you. I sheepishly purchased my paper/plastic crutches Friday afternoon and yes, I do feel dirty.
The second level of fallout from the Deceased Dishwasher Ordeal came in the form of meal planning. As in, I had to scrap my original menu plan because no genius has yet to come up with disposable saucepans. This required some ingenuity on my part: How could I feed the troops using as few pots and pans possible?
Bless you, grill. Bless you, panini maker. And bless you Cheater Summer Rolls, which only require the quick boiling of rice noodles.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls are one of my favorite things to make when it's too hot to cook. And they're wicked fun to assemble and eat. I decided to really cheat this time, however, because I couldn't be bothered to marinate and grill meat for the filling. Instead, I remembered seeing a recipe a while back (God knows where) where rare roast beef from the deli replaced the traditional grilled meat in summer rolls.
Viola! Cheater Summer Rolls were born.
Cheater Summer Rolls
-large rice paper rounds*
-butter lettuce or soft red leaf lettuce
-rice noodles, cooked, drained, and tossed with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (I had chinese noodles on hand, so I cooked and used those)
-rare deli roast beef from the deli, thinly sliced (tofu or cooked shrimp work, too)
-any or all of the following: marinated slices of cucumber, radish, carrot**
-Mint leaves and/or Thai basil leaves
Mound all ingredients except for rice paper rounds on a large platter. In a large bowl of warm water, soak the rice papers, one at a time, until just pliable (about 30 seconds). Place the softened rice paper on the counter and layer with any or all of the options on the platter (just down the middle of the wrapper). It's a good idea to lay down the lettuce first, as it will prevent the wrappers from ripping/ingredients from falling out.
Be careful not to overstuff your rolls. After layering on ingredients, roll the ends and sides of the rice paper up, egg-roll style. Roll them tightly! Use some muscle!
Cover completed rolls with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Or, as we do, just take turns making rolls and immediately eating them, working as you go.
Serve with dipping sauce and Sriracha on the side.
*You can find rice papers in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
**I make a simple marinade of 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and a dash of crushed red pepper. I toss thinly sliced cucumber, radish or carrot with the marinade and put the veggies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or longer.
***The dipping sauce is a traditional Vietnamese condiment. Don't fear the fish sauce!! I know it sounds scary but when mixed with the other stuff, all you really taste is salt. If you do fear fish sauce, however, you can dip the rolls into hoisin sauce thinned with a little rice vinegar or hot water instead.
Dipping sauce (nuoc cham):
1/4 cup fish sauce (in Asian section of supermarket)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced
2 small serrano or red chiles, sliced
These were a hit! It's especially nice because the kiddos can pick and choose what they put in their rolls. Let's just say that radish never makes it to the little ones' lips, and no, they don't use the dipping sauce. However, Awesome Stepkid R. loves the dipping sauce, so you never know!
If you are less slothful than me, and want to do the spring rolls the way they SHOULD be done, I encourage you to check out this post from Jen at userealbutter. Jen is a friend, a terrific cook and a kick-ass photographer. This girl knows her stuff and, unlike me, NEVER does anything half-assed.
Prepare for more half-assed, low-effort dinners from this lame broad until the Saga of the Exploding Dishwasher is over.