Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vegetarian Spring Roll with Gluten-Free Option

It's chinese new year, Spring roll is a must have for a traditional chinese dinner. After spring roll is deep fried, the skin turns golden, the color and the shape of the spring roll represent a 'Gold bar'. For serving spring roll in chinese new year is to present 'Gold' to guests and wish all the guests to make more money in the coming year. And yes, everyone cares about money nowaday.. and chinese do cares about money way too much sometimes. In a more traditional chinese spring roll, the fillings aften contains pork and shrimp along with shredded vegetable. As for me, I opted for vegetarian version and tofu is used as potein. I have often bought my version of spring roll to potluck dinner and everyone often ask for the recipe. I am finally going to share it.

A typical spring roll wrapper is made with wheat; to make a Gluten-Free version, use vietnamese rice paper wrap instead. The Gluten-Free version is healthier since it's not fried. The fillings for both version is the same in exception of the wrapper. My version of the spring roll is really my version so I did not use the traditional ingredients that my mom would normally use in Hong Kong or my vietnamese friend would do in a more traditional vietnamese spring roll or summer roll.

People often think that it's time consuming to make spring roll. In reality, you will be surprised how easy it is. Preparation Time: 20-30 minutes, 1 hr of cooling time for fillings (optional but recommended)
Cook Time: 15 minutes

NOTE: It is the best to prepare the fillings early and let it cool and drained any liquid from the filling. The heat and the moisture will potentially break the wrapper. It is also important to fry the spring roll right after you wrapped it. In addition, the wrapper makes a lot of different in taste. If you are oversea, the wrapper that sell in supermarket tends to be thicker. If you have access to a oriental supermarket, get your wrapper from there instead, asian wrapper is much thinner so you don't taste too much flour. You can always find them in freezer section. So you will need to defrost it before using. Also, you can use any kind of vegetable for the fillings. But make sure to chop it up fine.

  • 1 package of spring roll wrapper or rice paper wrapper
  • 1 package of rainbow slaw or brocolli slaw (It can be found in salad session in supermarket)
  • 1 package of Tofu Cutlet or 5-spiced tofu or spice tofu or extra firm tofu - cut into 1" strip
  • 2 cups of bean sprouts
  • 1 package of Chinese Pickles Vegatable (Zhacai) or 1/2 cup of dill pickles - it's optional - cut into 1" strip
  • 2 tablespoon of Gluten-Free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chinese cooking wine or red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of  sesame seeds oil
  • 2 tablespoon of cooking oil, prefer olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar (dipping sauce)
  • 1 tablepoon of of GF soy sauce (dipping sauce)
  • some seseme seed oil (or hot oil if you prefer spicy)

  1. Heat Wok without any oil, cut the tofu and pickles into 1" strip and wash all vegatable and drained.
  2. When the wok is hot, cook bean sprouts and stir it until it heat through, about 2 minute. Note: Make sure to keep stirring to prevent stuck on the wok. Remove from wok and set aside.
  3. Put oil in the wok and gentle move the wok left and right to let the oil coats the bottom, put rainbow slaw and tofu and stir it for a minute, then add pickle and stir for another minute. 
  4. Add soy sauce, wine, salt, sugar, white pepper and stir it until the seasoning well blended into the vegetable; about 3-4 minutes. Make sure not to overcook the filling, you would like the vegetable still a little crunchy.
  5. Add the bean sprouts into the wok and stir until heat through about 1 minute or so. Taste the fillings and add more salt if necessory.
  6. Turn the heat off and add the sesame seed oil and stir the oil into the fillings.
  7. Put the fillings into a drainer and cool off.
Vegan Version:
  1. Pour Canola oil into wok, make sure there is enough to cover the spring roll when frying or use a deep fryer if you have one.
  2. Lay 1 spring roll wrapper in diamond shape on a flat plate, put 2 tablespoons of the fillings in the middle of the wrapper; make sure not to overstuff the wrapper, you would need to leave 1.5" on each sides in order to wrap the spring roll.
  3. Fold up the bottom of the wrapper. The bottom of the wrapper is the part that is closest to the filling. Fold this up over the filling and press down slightly.
  4. Fold both sides to the center so that the edge of both sides meet in the middle
  5. Hold the sides and roll the spring up until the other edge, use some water to bind the top close. Use more water if necessary to secure the side.
  6. Put the spring rolls into hot oil, make sure don't put too much spring roll in the wok at one time, make them in small batch. Fry the spring roll until it turn golden and dry it until some paper towel.
  7. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame seed oil in a dipping bowl and serve immediately.
Gluten Free Version:
  1. Fill a large shallow bowl with warm water, put rice paper into the shallow bowl one at a time; otherwise, they will stick together. When the rice paper is soft about 15 second, remove from bowl and drained the water.
  2. Lay the rice paper wrapper in a dry clean cloth and follow step 2 -5 above. You would not need to use water because rice paper is naturally stick together
  3. Combine dipping sauce and serve immediately. 
Happy Cooking!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!!!!

Happy Chinese New year everyone. This is the year of tiger... so this year is sort of my year since I am born on the year of tiger way back when. Anyway... I am going to my friend house for new year dinner later this evening and I am trying out some new recipes for cookies and other dishes. I will post them later when I got the Chance to post it. Above is a pictures of my Vegan Cookies Platter; it contains Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies and my sugar cookie. For those of you that are not chinese, the characters in the front said 'Happy New Year!'

Now the picture here is newer recipe for my favorite Gluten Free White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macademia Nuts. My other recipe is good but it's a little bit too runny when baking. I have modified the ingredient and I came up with a better version of the cookie. I will post it when I got a chance to write it down.

Now the pictures here is the my Gluten-Free and Vegan spring roll filling. I have made this for a long time and my neighbor always wanted the recipe. It is so easy that I am too afraid to give out my secret. But I am going to share it. In chinese tradition, pork and shrimp are often included in the fillings. I opted for vegetarian version. The wrapper skin is not typically used wheat flour. For Gluten-free version, I actually wrap my filling using rice paper and it is not deep fry. In a way, it is heavier.

Here is a closer look of my Vegan Double chocolate Chips Cookie. It's my daughter favorite now. She loves the cocoa powder in the dough.

I promise, all the recipes will be posted as soon as I get the chance too and again.. Happy Chinese New Year Everyone and stay healthy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trouble Eating Out.. Good or Bad?!?

Once my husband is forced to be in a gluten free diet... Eating out has been a major issue for him. It basically rule out most of his favorite restaurant. It was a sad day. Because of this eating out problem, we were force to cook at home more often than usual and has to constantly reminding myself not to use any gluten. It is a big adjustment but once you get into habit of it. It is not that bad.

So what is the good and what is the bad for not being able to eat out...

The good:
  1. Save money - Since you are not paying for restaurant food and service; often time, even though the restaurant serve gluten-free, they tend to be a little bit more expensive because the cost of the ingredients are often more expensive.
  2. Stay Healthy - By cooking at home, you are more awared of the ingredients that are involved making a dish. Often time, you can't really know what was in the dish even though they might seem gluten-free. 
  3. Be a better Cook - I have been doing a lot of research on gluten-free cooking and exploring and experimenting different recipes. By doing that, I am actually learning to be a better cook and learn to cook more variety. It's always a good thing.
The Bad:
  1. Cost Money - I know I mentioned above that 'Save Money' is a good thing. But the initial phase of getting the gluten-free ingredients does cost quite a bit of money. Imagine spends $20 on a bag of Xantham gum or different type of flour for example. The ingredient cost a quite a bit, but they do last awhile.
  2. Time Consuming - Even though I enjoy cooking now, however, it is time consuming expecially after a long day of work and need to prepare a meal that is not so much 'Out of the pantry'.
  3. Shopping Take Longer - Often time, you will need to go to health food store to get the gluten-free ingredients; luckily, most of the larger supermarket does carry gluten free item now. If you are not shopping in the gluten-free aisle, you will have to read every single label and make sure that there is no known and/or hidden gluten in it. That will cost sometime.
  4. Bye Bye Corona - This is extremely hard for my husband because he loves beer and Corona is his favorite. He is not a wine drinker so it's not easy for him to just switch. It was like the end of day when he found out that he could not have beer. He tried some gluten-free beer, it is just not the sample. Beer is not created equal afterall.
Sometimes, it is the idea of not being able to just simple going out and have a meal that it's difficult for a lot of people I talked to with Celiac Disease. But I think as long as being aware and smart about what you order, it will get easier.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raising a Allergy Child

Recently I read a good article about raising kids with Celiac Disease and the challege involved in it. The article was very well written and so close to my heart and I would like to share some of the strategy that I use to raise my kids, Kimi and Isaac, who has suffered severe food allergy.

1. To educate them early
It is very important to educate them as soon as they started to aware of their surrounding. As for Kimi, I started showing her picture books of different type of food. I would show her the picture of 'Cow Milk' and told her that she could have Milk, but has to be Kimi Milk (Rice Milk) but not 'Cow Milk'. As Kimi became toddler, I would show her the picture of 'Cow Milk' and asked her whether she can have them. Kimi would shake her head and told me, 'Kimi cannot have cow milk, but Kimi can have Kimi Milk.' When I asked her why she could not have cow milk, she would tell me that cow milk make her sick and itch (she has terrible ezcema along with the allergy. By educate them early, they will learn to protect themselves to some extend and help minimize any accident.

2. Teach them How to Handle Emergency
When the kids are a little bit older like around 4 years old, being a parents should start educate the kids how to handle emergency situation when they have a reaction. I always have Kimi to bring her benedryl when having a sleepover. I have a long talk with the other parents about my kids allergy and how to handle the situation when Kimi is having a reaction. I teach Kimi how to use Epi-pen. Kimi  learn early on if she did not know what to do when she has allergic reaction, it will have serious effect on her life.

3. Bring them Shopping
I know sometimes it not be a great idea to bring young kids to the store; however, I learnt that it's important to show them what the food look like that they could have and what they could not have. When the children are young, they would like to grab everything on the store and they are extremely visual. By teaching them what the food look like will help them to say 'NO' to people who offer them with food that they are allergic to.

4. Teach Them Always Ask Before Eating
I always told my kids not to be shamed asking the gredients on the food that they were being served even from me. Yes, even I made mistake sometimes. If my kids are in someone else house and not sure about certain ingredients, I told them to call before they eat anything.

5. Tell them They are not Strange
My Kimi has asked me whether she is a different because of her food allergy. Because of her allergy, her skin got irritated very easily. Kimi's skin would get so itchy that she would tear her skin off. It was a very tough period of time not only for her but also for me. I used to spend 20 minutes every morning and evening to put bandage on her hands, arms and legs so that she could not reach her open scar and to scratch them. I put long pants and sleeves shirt on her on hot summer day. Kids and adult would ask her why she got hurt so often; and I got fair amount of questioning stares from people when I was out with Kimi. I told Kimi all the time that she is not strange and everyone is unique in her/his own way. I told Kimi not to be afraid to explain to people what happen to her skin and arms if people ask. I told her she is just a normal kid and should act like a kid; a little bit of boo boo should not affect her ability to play at the playground with other kids. It is not healthy to make your kid to feel different because they cannot eat certain food or do certain activities. Educate them and keep telling them they are not strange is important. Provide as much love and attention you could possibly gift.

6. Cook Food that can Share as Family
Mealtime could be challeging in my household but it's not impossible. Instead of cooking different things for different members in the family. I tried to find recipe that would cater for the entire family and you will realized that it is actually not that difficult once you get into habit of it. For example, I will have beef stew; and instead of flour for the thickening agent, I will use corn starch. I will cook meatloaf and instead of egg for binding the meat together, I will use egg substitute. If I cook chicken as the potein for dinner, I would also make lamb for Kimi since she is allergic to chicken and she loves lamb chop. Every meal, I would cook starch and vegetables that everyone could have and share as family. I try not to cook a separate meal for Kimi and/or my husband because of their unique dietary needs. We are family and we are in it together.

There are a lot of resources and support group out there for people living with allergy so we are not alone. To me, just keep an open mind and deal with it one day at a time and be thankful that my family are happy and living a healthy life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gluten-Free White Chocolate Cheesecake with Orange Glaze

My husband and I love cheesecake and I wanted to create a cheesecake that both of us could really enjoy. The fact is that it's relative easy to keep a cheesecake gluten-free as long the crust of the cheesecake is gluten-free. If you have a favorite cheesecake recipe. You can easily adopt this recipe to use your own favorite fillings but with gluten-free crust.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes



  1. 5-7 Basic Gluten-Free Cookies (Refer to my White Chocolate Cookies or Basic Gluten-Free cookies recipe in the blog)

  2. 3 tablespoon of unsalted butter (melted)

  1. 2 (8 oz) package regular Cream Cheese - prefer full fat kind

  2. 1 cup of white chocolate chips

  3. 3/4 cup of sugar

  4. 3 eggs

  5. 1 tablespoon of orange zest

  6. 1/4 cup of Brown rice flour

  7. 1 teaspoon of GF vanilla extract

  8. 1/2 cup of sour cream
Orange Glaze: 

  1. 1 tablespoon of cornstarch

  2. 1/2 cup of orange juice

  3. 1/4 cup of water

  4. 1/4 cup of sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree, put the GF cookies in a ziploc bag and crash the cookie into small crumb. Combine crumb and butter in a bowl then press onto the bottom and a little bit of the side of the 9 inch round springform pan.

  2. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes until golden and cool while preparing the pie filling

  3. Put cream cheese and white chocolate into a glass bowl and microwave in medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture and continue for another 2 minutes or until the cream cheese and white chocolate is welled melted and blend.

  4. Add in sugar, brown rice flour, vanilla, and eggs (one at a time) until well blend.

  5. Add sour cream mix until the mixture is well blend

  6. Pour the filling over the crust and bake it for 30-35 minutes or until the center jiggles just slightly

  7. Remove from oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes

  8. In a small saucepan, combine suger and cornstarch, stir in orange juice and water.

  9. Cook until the mixture is clear and thickened, make sure to stir occassional. Cool the mixture to room temp. and spoon the mixture on top of the cool cheesecake.

  10. Use foil to cover the pan and chill for at least 8 hours before serving
Happy Baking!