Sunday, March 20, 2016

Potato Challenge - Potato Filled Spring Rolls

The theme for this Monday will be "Spring" - as in "light, healthy and/or indicative of a new start" (Brad, 2016).

My dish will be neither, but it will be a potato dish!  Instead of making a healthy dish, I will interpret the theme literally, because - according to Google - there is such a thing as a potato filled spring roll. Who knew?

You don't believe me? Check this out: Grand Lux Cafe Copy Cat Spring Rolls and Loaded Baked Potato Spring Rolls.  The latter was apparently inspired by the same restaurant as the former. Maybe this spring roll is more of an outlier than it is a "thing".

Either way, this sounds like something I need to try, especially because I have never made a spring roll before - also, because it involves potatoes.

To make Monday night dinner potluck happen for me usually takes a little planning.  I work until 5 pm; dinner is at 7 pm.  That means that I have to get home (sometimes by bus), make the dish and be ready to feed 10-15 at the potluck within 2 hours.  That does not sound bad unless you realize that I often arrive at home after 6 PM - thanks to the bus schedule - and then need to leave my house by 6:45 PM to make it to the other house by 7 PM. Luckily, I also often (=usually) catch a ride home (with my daughter) and a ride to dinner (from a friend) so it's really just the cooking that's up to me..

Still, I usually try to make a dry run on Sundays - and prep as much as I can to make Monday's dish run smoothly.

Today is Sunday - time to try the spring rolls.

I found frozen spring roll dough at a local Chinese store - and I figured I'd wing the filling, which contains potatoes (steamed and peeled), chopped green onions, heavy cream, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, cilantro and shredded cheese. I divided the potato mass and added bacon to one half thereby maintaining the other half as "vegetarian". You can find the recipe below.  However, the measurements are approximate since everything was pretty much added "to taste" and to maintain a shape that can be formed into a mass to be covered by the spring roll dough. We're not talking creamy mashed potatoes here.  You should be able to shape this mass at least a little bit.

After rolling my first spring rolls I fried them at 350 degree F in my deep fryer for about 3 minutes each. Take out and drain on a paper towel.  They were better than I expected, if I say so myself.

Alas, I forgot to take a picture.  Hang on....  gotta make some more.

Look, it's a spring roll - and it does not taste half bad.

3 pounds potatoes, steamed and peeled
1/2 pint heavy cream
30 spring roll pastry wrappers
water (for sealing rolls)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb sliced bacon, baked until crispy then drained and chopped
6 scallions sliced
salt and pepper to taste

For the dipping sauce
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp chopped garlic (more, if you're among friends)
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
pinch of salt

Cook the potatoes. (I steamed them in my steamer, that I love!) Peel and mash with a potato masher.
Then add the heavy cream, shredded cheese and sliced scallions to the mash.
Cook the bacon until crisp. (I bake my bacon in the oven: 400 degrees F for 20 min turning once.) Cut cooked bacon into small pieces.
Divided the potato mash into 2 parts, adding bacon only to one part to accommodate vegetarians.
The potato mix should be cooled down before wrapping. At this point, the potato mix can also go into the fridge over night.
To assemble the rolls, place a spring roll wrapper on a diagonal and put 1-2 Tb of the potato mix close to one side.  Roll the wrapper tightly around the mash 1 turn, then fold in the sides creating a straight piece of wrapper.  Then roll tightly until almost to the end. Wet the last piece of wrapper with water to allow it to seal.
I fried the rolls - 3 at a time - in the deep fryer.  Then drained them on paper towels.

Update and "Postmortem"

I prepared the potato mash for Monday's spring rolls on Sunday night.  It stored beautifully in the fridge.  The dipping sauce was definitely better the next day after the flavors had a chance to mix.

I assembled and deep fried the spring rolls after work.  That went much faster than expected, so I ended up having to keep them warm for a while.  I sat them on paper towels and put them in the oven in hopes that they would stay crispy.

At the dinner, the potato spring rolls and dipping sauce were well received.  I served them as an appetizer and they went FAST!

By the time we managed to take a picture, the potato bacon spring rolls were gone. These are the vegetarian rolls.

Still, I was not thrilled with the consistency they had at the time they were being served.  Unfortunately, maybe because I kept them warm in the oven until dinner time, they had completely lost their crunch by the time they were served.

The next day I tried my luck at spring rolls again - real spring rolls this time.  I did this partially, because I still had a few spring roll wrappers and some Chinese cabbage available, but in large part it was because I wanted to see how the crunchiness of the spring roll could be preserved.

After some googling - and an attempt of my own - I found that your best bet for preserving the crunchiness of spring rolls that won't be eaten immediately is probably to let the spring rolls completely cool on a drying rack.  Then reheat them in a toaster oven.  I don't know, if that's still true after they are put in the fridge over night.  We didn't have any leftover spring rolls that could have actually made it into the  fridge....

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