Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rice Paper Experimentation

Three Ladies Brand
This is my new secret weapon. I buy it at a local Asian food market. The son of the owners has celiac disease, so they have a good handle on what products they get in really are gluten free. This is one of them. 

The first thing I made with these little rice paper wonders was a typical, meat and vegetable stuffed spring roll type of dish. It took a little bit of time to get a feel for how they work, but I have it now. Though I enjoyed the flavors of the vegetables and meat, I didn't care for the frying of those. I may not have had the oil hot enough, because the final rolls were very greasy.

Next I worked on a gluten and dairy-free enchilada. 

Before I cooked them, they reminded me of how poor Frodo looked in the Peter Jackson film after Shelob had wrapped him up.
This would be where Sam Gamgee gives
Mr. Frodo up for dead and takes the ring.
My problem with enchiladas is that I find the sauce to be too strong without the mellowing effect of cheese and sour cream. I have a friend who uses tofu products when she makes them for her husband who can't have dairy, but as I have mentioned before, I prefer not to eat much soy. 

So this time, I added a little bit of Healthy Top* (because it was what I had on hand) and some almond milk. It was too sweet. I need to try some of the unsweetened Mimic Creme instead.

A couple of the tricks to making the rice paper work for you is to work with one sheet at a time, soaking it in hot tap water for several seconds (probably 6-10 seconds). This makes them more pliable and less likely to tear.

This dish is the perfect size,
but the water cools to quickly.
You will want a perfectly flat
plate to work on; this was
emphasized by the lady
at the Asian market.
I like this shallow dish because it is flat and the perfect size, but the water tends to cool off quickly and for some reason it must be hot or it doesn't work.

When I assembled the enchiladas, I carefully placed the refried beans on the paper, to avoid tearing and then piled on the rest of the toppings.

The sauce really was too sweet, but I think if I can tone it down, I may be able to get this recipe to work. We will see though; I don't know if it is worth it. Sometimes I find it is better to just come up with new foods rather than try to develop No  Gluten, No Dairy, No Eggs, No Kidding substitutes. I love enchiladas, but I am thinking the cheese is just too integral an ingredient for them to be satisfactory without it. If I could stand Daiya cheese, it might work, but I just don't like that stuff.

The next thing I made with the rice paper was dessert. I made two kinds. For the first I made a cherry pie filling with water-packed, canned cherries, Healthy Top & cornstarch. For the second I used fresh, thinly sliced apples, Healthy Top, vanilla, pure maple syrup and cinnamon. After the fillings were wrapped in the rice paper, I placed them in a glass baking dish that had been lightly sprayed with Olive Oil Pam (yes, I do know there is some soy in there) and then brushed the top with a little more maple syrup. I baked these at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and sprinkled them with powdered sugar before serving them. 

While they are baking, it is important to watch them closely to make sure they don't burn. I had a single, apple fruit roll in a separate casserole dish and the bottom burned. The cherry pie filling broke out of the rice paper and spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish, and none of the fruit roll thingies** burned at all. This is a pleasant dish. The one thing you should be aware of is that where several layers of the rice paper are sealed together it tends to be tough. Sarah (of the SARAH BAKES AGAIN label) recommended using two sheets of rice paper and sealing the edges instead. This is a possibility, but they would need to be assembled in the baking dish, as it would be difficult to transfer them from the work surface to the baking dish. 

I keep my opened carton of Healthy
Top tucked into a ziplock bag
in the refrigerator.
I made them for the day of our Thanksgiving Dinner at church, so I didn't get a picture of them fresh. The only one I did take a picture had been refrigerated a couple of days and that photo doesn't look too appetizing. It still tasted good though!

*In both of the recipes I posted here I used the Healthy Top straight from the carton. I haven't even tried to whip it yet.  
**I can't decide what to call them, Spring Fruit Rolls? Maybe.

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