There's nothing quite like Christmas time to place some merriment and child-like joy into our hearts and to bring us together like the beautiful human-kind family that we are.
Our hearts become softened, our souls become brighter and more aware, and we look for ways to bring some cheer, love and wonder to each other in order to remind ourselves that we're all wonderfully connected, and that each flavor and color that we individually bring makes for the most divinely delicious bite there is.
In a world that at times can seem more conducive to us being separate and going about things “alone”, there's something about this time of year that whispers into our hearts and souls that we do our best work, show our most spectacular colors, when we come together to strengthen this notion of “love”.
When we're willing to be unified, and rolled together into one brilliant family, then each one of us brings that specifically-flavored element to the mix that makes for the most flavorful and delectable experience, and that's the most special thing we could ever hope for.
When the savory, the tangy, the smoky-sweet, and the crispy get rolled together, then the flavor is unlike anything else; it offers us a taste of the exceptional, a taste of the “extra” special.
So as we enjoy with all of our hearts these awe-filled-yet-fleeting moments of the holiday season, may we yearn to come together and to mix and mingle our flavors in order that something spectacular and delicious may come from it.
May our holiday wishes be filled with not only the desires for material warmth, comfort and plenty, but may they also be filled with hopes for abundant connection, for generous sharing, and for copious amounts of joy that can be found in our willingness to be rolled together into something extra special.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Crispy Garlic Chicken and Spinach Egg Rolls with Gouda Cheese, Served with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa for Dipping
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes about 20
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, minced very finely
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• Peanut or canola oil, plus more for frying
• 2 cups fresh, baby spinach leaves, chopped
• 1 tablespoons chopped, flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 3 tablespoons water
• 10 egg roll (or “spring roll”) skins, cut in half on the bias to create 20 triangles (*see note below)
• 1 ¼ cup grated gouda cheese
• Roasted Red Pepper Salsa (recipe below)
(*The skins purchased from an Asian market are the best for these, as they are very thin and yield a really crispy result; you can find them in the refrigerated section, and the size is about 8x8, or a large square. But if you don't have an Asian market nearby, you can typically find skins at your local grocery store in the refrigerated section where they keep the tofu and fresh ramen noodles, etc.)
TIP: These are perfect made the day before, and placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet then wrapped tightly with plastic wrap so they don't dry out, and kept in the fridge overnight; then, just fry when you're ready to serve!
-Add your minced chicken to a medium-size bowl, and to it add the 2 garlic cloves and a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper; toss to coat.
-Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in a little of the oil; once the pan is hot, add in the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes; using a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken out of the pan, leaving the juices behind, and spoon into a paper towel-lined plate or bowl to cool completely.
-Once the minced chicken has completely cooled, add it to a large bowl; then add in the chopped spinach, parsley, cilantro, parmesan and the pinch of red pepper flakes, plus a tiny drizzle of oil, and mix to combine well; taste to check if any additional salt or pepper is needed.
-Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it nearby.
-Whisk together the cornstarch and the water to create a slurry, as you will use this to seal your egg rolls closed; set aside.
-To roll your egg rolls, take a triangle (half of an egg roll skin) and place it in front of you with the point facing upward.
-Place 2 tablespoons of your chicken filling in the center along the bottom part of your triangle, and shape it into a log shape; sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of the cheese over that.
-Next, fold the bottom left corner toward the center, then the right corner, making what looks like a little envelope; then, roll upwards as tightly as you can, and tuck as you go (try not to leave any air gaps or bubbles,); then dab the top corner with a little cornstarch slurry and seal.
-Place the egg rolls on the parchment-lined baking sheet, keeping them covered with a piece of plastic wrap so they don't dry out, and repeat until all are rolled.
-Heat about 3 cups of the oil in a small pot or sauce pan, and bring up to 350°; then, carefully add about 3 egg rolls at a time to the hot oil, and fry for about 4 minutes; drain on a wire rack to maintain crispness.
-Serve while hot with chilled Roasted Red Pepper Salsa.
Roasted Red Pepper Salsa Ingredients:
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced and fire-roasted tomatoes
• ¼ cup roughly chopped roasted red peppers (good quality, from a jar)
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 tablespoon parsley
• 1 tablespoon cilantro
-Place all ingredients up to and including the cilantro into the bowl of a food processor, and add in a couple of good pinches of salt; process until smooth, then check to see if any additional salt is needed.
-Serve chilled or room temp.