Wednesday, I purchased the ultimate tool in smart cooking. Something the husband had been complaining about the price of, something he kept telling me we didn’t have the counter space for, something that we really, really needed. It’s the thing EVERY chef has, amateur or professional.

The scale. Sorry about the blurriness, I think I’m drinking too much coffee.

What made me break down and finally buy such a thing when I’d apparently getting along without it?

Cat food.

Pistou is getting fat. Soon Dumpling will be, if she continues to eat the way she is. They needed to have their food intake monitored (just like I do). And we all know how important a good scale is to proper baking and even a proper diet. Yes, cup are alright, ounces are OK, but grams are precise. I’m a convert to the metric system.

Apparently Chinese New Year is sometime around now? Sorry to my Asian friends but I’ve never paid much attention Chinese New Year. I have enough to keep track of being of Jewish-descent and living in a Roman-influenced world. Honestly, I don’t need another calendar to keep track of.

I could say that I made these spring rolls in honor of the Chinese New Year but that would be a lie. I made them because I wanted to, because for some inexplicable reason I went out on Monday and bought rice paper.

I made three different rolls. Here’s a list of the ingredients for all three in no particular order.

  • Cabbage
  • carrots
  • onion
  • peanuts
  • smoked tofu
  • diced chicken
  • avocado
  • radish
  • bell pepper
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • ground garlic
  • ground ginger
  • rice paper wrappers
  • chopped basil (I used frozen, but fresh is best)

Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, it’s super easy to prepare.

Steam the carrots, cabbage and pepper. You can steam the tofu too if you like. Or marinate it along side the chicken in soy sauce. Dice your onion, slice your avocado, etc.

I’m not going to give you the measurements of what I used, because it would be a little strange as I made two dumplings with veggies and tofu, two with chicken, cabbage, and onion and two with veggies, chicken, and avocado slices. There was far more cabbage than anything else. You can arrange them however you like.

I overstuffed these, as I have a tendency to do, so we had with 6 dumplings (3 each) and 1 left over filled with random veggies. This really doesn’t pose a problem – who doesn’t love overstuffed stuff? – except that the a few of the rolls fell apart in the steamer. Live and learn.

With a blend of sesame oil and soy sauce on the side these were a lovely dinner treat. The husband declared them a success, even enjoying the one with smoked tofu. The lightly steamed vegetables allowed for a soft crunch, heavy on the flavor of carrots and cabbage which I honestly find comforting during these cold winter days. What makes these “spring rolls” for me is the addition of basil. I know it’s common in Asian foods, but I have often found that combining winter vegetables like cabbage and carrots with basil – which is strictly a summer thing here and near impossible to find in winter – fuses the flavors of the two opposing seasons. This way, you’re eating your way to spring, long sunny days, and warm(er) weather.

It was 56 degrees here on Wednesday. Also, spring rolls are really hard to photograph.