It’s been way too long…
Seriously. Where have you been?
I actually have no idea where the time went in the last few weeks. It is only a few more days until Christmas. I am a bit stunned. It felt like Thanksgiving (the one in October) was just last weekend. My Little was still 1 ¾ (the quarter years count at this age) and not ALMOST two. And it was still acceptable to be pushing tulip and garlic bulbs alike into the muddy dirt.
Poof. Merry Christmas.
Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, it really is not a mystery as to where the time went. It went to here and there, to important stuff and not so important stuff, to loved ones and to myself. A big part also did go to a place inside void of much inspiration or desire to cook, bake, write or shoot pretty food. Its food bank time.
As soon as December hits, it feels as though along with the heartwarming thoughtfulness that exudes from human kind, comes with it an all too great many of stories of those who are suffering. Food banks need more help than ever. Too many people are hungry. At a time when people are asking for canned beans, I found it hard to style a pretty plate of Spiced Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars.
So many of my family holiday memories (both old and new) revolve around the ritual of food. Whether it’s the fun, interactive meal on Christmas Eve (Awesome family-version of Chopped last year. Better luck this year Mr. sixtyone45.) to the fresh from the oven Christmas day breakfast French-toast-soaked-casserole-type-thingy to a whole day of the aroma of turkey, veggies, stuffings and pies simmering away. It’s always too much. Each individual one and as a whole. We are blessed beyond belief.
So for the past couple weeks I have had a hard time reconciling putting pretty food on display here and coming up with the desire and motivation to do so. It somehow felt boastful or gluttonous. But ultimately I know that we all do what we can, when we can. Last night we did what has become our tradition of what I wouldn’t call charity, rather just being a citizen to my community, and I think it gave me personal closure on at least doing something. I believe in both the power of small contributions to the big, and big contributions to the small. It all matters.
So these bright and light rice paper wraps are what I believe to be the perfect levity to what tends to be a heavy season. (I think my spoon stood upright in my new favorite eggnog.) The original inspiration called for pork and plum. I chose chicken and apple. They are light, refreshing, crisp and once you get the first few practice ones out of the way…pretty simple.
It’s great to be back here...
…it really has been too long.
Chicken & Apple Fresh Salad Rolls
1 lb lean, cooked chicken (I prefer to steam mine if I am using breast meat or tenders) 2 T Bragg seasoning (or low sodium soy sauce) 8 romaine lettuce leaves 6 scallions (green onions), julienned ½ English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced ½ Red Gala Apple, seeded, cut in half and sliced thinly (see pic above) 8 Rice Paper wrappers
1 T Sesame Oil 1 tsp dried ginger (or 1 T fresh grated) 1 tsp sesame seeds 2 tsp Bragg Seasoning (or low sodium soy sauce) ½ tsp Agave Nectar
Note: These rice paper wrappers can definitely be tricky. I recommend trying a few practice ones to get the exact soak time right. I found about a 20 second soak time in warm water worked best but I think each brand likely dictates its own consistency.
1. Make the dipping sauce first, to give it time to chill out. With a small fork in a small bowl, whisk all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Set aside and adjust seasonings if desired after its chilled out for a while.
2. Pour the soy sauce over the chicken and let it hang out while you prepare the wraps.
3. Prep the lettuce by washing it, drying it and tearing or chopping it into about six inch lengths. I like the crunch of the centre stems but you can remove and just use the lettuce. Set aside.
4. Prepare the green onions by washing and thinly slicing into, again, about six to eight inch lengths very thinly.
5. Slice and prep the apple as per the pictures above. Add a dash of lemon juice if you think it will be sitting out in the air (or alternatively soak in a bowl of ice cold water)
6. Now, the rice wraps. Fill a large, shallow dish with hot water. Place the rice paper in the water, working with one at a time, for about 20 to 30 seconds. Until soft. Transfer direct to the counter top and pat dry with clean paper towel. (as opposed to a dirty one). Slightly off center, lay down some lettuce leaves, onion, apple and chicken. I put the apple on top for the colour of the skin to pop. Fold up each end, then one side and roll. Repeat with each wrapper.
7. Either slice in half, or leave them whole and serve immediately with dipping sauce. Store well over night in an airtight container.