My intended submission to the MLFB pie challenge was an adaption of this Five-Spice Apple Quince pie recipe from Epicurious. I wanted to make it into mini pies with a new crust recipe I'm working on that is partially whole wheat. That plan fell flat when I found my stored quince were becoming mealy. I went ahead and used them anyway but I was further disappointed that the quince flavor completely overwhelmed the amount of spice called for in the original recipe. Even when I doubled the spice, it wasn't noticeable. The resulting hand pies were edible but nothing special. So I went in an entirely different direction...
In my food blog browsing, I saw a recipe for a Vietnamese-inspired summer roll salad. Experimenting with this recipe seemed like a great idea for our "Summer in January" get together. I've made summer rolls several times and love them but making them is a labor intensive process. The pie version is more like a rice paper decorated salad. I liked that I could keep the same flavors as a summer roll with a lot less work. It felt like tapping my inner Sandra Lee, an amusing change of pace for me. To warn you, this recipe is definitely still a work in progress. I think there might be a better vegetable combination and the tofu could easily be substituted with shrimp or other protein. For a vegan version, you could season the vinegar or lime juice with a little sugar and salt and eliminate the fish sauce. Here's what I did for Saturday's get together.
Vegetable Summer Roll Pie
Inspired by Hey what's for dinner mom?
Makes enough for 10-12 servings, fills a 10-inch deep dish pie plate
9-10 6-inch rice papers, less if using larger papers
1 jicama, about the size of two fists together
2 medium carrots
1 1/2 cups snow peas
10 ounces of firm fresh tofu
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (If I had it I would have used lime juice instead.)
1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, to taste (nam-pla or nuoc-mam)
a small bunch of mint, washed and dried
spray oil (I really like Spectrum grape seed oil spray. It gives the cleanest taste.)
cashew butter sauce (recipe follows)
-Trim, peel and finely julienne the jicama and carrots, I used a mandoline. Trim the stem ends from the snow peas, stack and thinly slice on the bias. Thinly slice (chiffonade) some of the mint to get ~2 tablespoons of sliced mint. Set aside the vegetables and mint in separate piles.
-Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slabs. Heat a skillet or griddle. After the griddle is hot, spray with oil and lay the tofu in a single layer. Lightly brown the tofu on both sides then remove.
-Bring out your pie plate and fill another pie plate (or large bowl) with a inch or two of hot water. One by one soften the rice papers in the hot water and cover the bottom of the pie plate. I worked in an overlapping flower pattern and used 5 papers to line the bottom of the dish.
-In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar (or lime juice) and fish sauce. Toss the jicama in this dressing and remove, giving a little shake to remove excess dressing. Place the jicama in a layer in the lined pie plate and sprinkle evenly with the sliced mint.
-Toss the carrots in the fish sauce dressing and again remove shaking off excess dressing. Place the carrots in a layer on top of the mint and jicama.
-Place the sliced snow peas as the final vegetable layer. I would suggest not dressing them because they are more likely to get soggy and limp. I only dressed the jicama and carrots.
-Cut the cooked slabs of tofu into halves or quarters and spread a small amount of cashew sauce on one side. Place the sauce side down in a layer in the pie. Get as decorative as you'd like, this is the part that will show through the top rice paper.
-When all the tofu is placed, lay whole mint leaves over the top. Use as many as you'd like.
-Soften a sheet of rice paper and carefully place it over the center of the pie. Soften more sheets, cut them in half and cover the edges, rolling the edges from the bottom layer of rice paper together with the top layer pieces until the top is covered.
-Chill until serving then slice into wedges and serve with additional cashew sauce on the side.
Cashew Butter Sauce
My slight changes to this recipe from Steamy Kitchen
Makes ~3/4 cup
2 teaspoons neutral oil
3 cloves garlic, finely grated or pressed (a microplane is great for this)
1/2 to 1 whole Thai bird chile, seeded and finely minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons roasted cashew butter
a splash of fish sauce
1/4-1/3 cup water
-Cook the garlic and chile in the oil until fragrant.
-Add the hoisin, cashew butter and fish sauce to the garlic oil. Stir over low heat, the warmth will soften the fats in the cashew butter and help it incorporate easier.
-Add enough water to make a thick mayonnaise consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more fish sauce for salt and more chile for more heat.
-Store extra sauce in a jar in the refrigerator.
*Random pie related link If you were the baker would this bother you?