Happy Friday! I’m so excited today because I’m kicking off my very first recurring blog series: Finger Food Fridays. Through my weekly posts, I’ll be introducing you to all my favorite finger foods (which I refer to more affectionately as “picking foods”) and the TGIF liquid refreshments that accompany them. These are my go-to comfort foods–recipes that reflect what I enjoy cooking, eating and serving to my family and friends at the end of a hectic week. The spread is broad. Great fun to make. More fun to eat. Mainly simple. Occasionally ambitious. Always interesting. Best of all, each dish can be eaten with your fingers. Forget the forks, knives and formalities. Finger Food Fridays are all about casual eating and entertaining. What’s more, each finger food can multitask as an appetizer or party-pleaser (or parade provision for all my readers reveling in Mardi Gras right now). Make one or mix and match several of these versatile recipes to suit your mood or the occasion.
I’m kicking off the series with my Cajun Egg Rolls with Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce. I’ve given these classic Chinese snacks a jazzy New Orleans twist by filling them full of andouille sausage and sweet Gulf shrimp. This recipe is super-easy to make, but requires a good bit of prep time. So in keeping with my Finger Food Fridays mantra of hassle-free cooking, eating and hanging out, I prepared a big batch of these guys last weekend and stuck them in the freezer. Today, all I’ll have to do is grab them out of the freezer, drop them in a pot of hot oil and throw together the dipping sauce. I’m rounding out this Finger Food Friday meal with a couple of Jockamo IPAs (Abita Brewing Co., Abita Springs, LA), because I love the way hoppy, citrusy and slightly bitter American IPAs taste with spicy food. My hubby, on the other hand, will be enjoying his Cajun Egg Rolls with Miller Lite, because that’s what he likes to drink with everything! And for the kids, well tonight I’m letting them splurge on Shirley Temples with extra cherry juice. I thought that would be the perfect beverage since they love the drink and because I’m pretty sure red signifies luck in Chinese culture.
Egg rolls are great fun to make, especially once you get the hang of rolling them. My recipe includes step-by-step instructions (as does the back of the egg roll package). But if you want a truly authentic voice to guide you through the process, head on over to Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen where she share’s her mother’s secrets to preparing the best Chinese egg rolls.
I hope you’ll pencil Finger Food Fridays into your weekly schedule. Let it be a gentle and tasty reminder to unwind and enjoy yourself, your family and your friends over lots of exciting and delicious picking food. Until next week …
Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce Recipe
1 12-ounce jar orange marmalade
4 tablespoons Creole or brown, grainy mustard
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Recipe for sauce adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.
Cajun Egg Rolls Recipe
1/2 pound andouille sausage, chopped
1/2 pound small shrimp (about 51-60 count), peeled and chopped
1 16-ounce package coleslaw salad mix
1 14-ounce can bean sprouts, drained and rinsed
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tablespoon Creole or brown, grainy mustard
1 tablespoon ginger puree*
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
20 (6 1/2 square) egg roll wrappers
Canola or peanut oil for frying
FOR EGG ROLL FILLING: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add andouille; saute until brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until pink, 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add coleslaw, bean sprouts and green onions; cook until coleslaw begins to wilt, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in Creole mustard, ginger puree, Creole seasoning and salt. Cover pan; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until coleslaw is tender, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat, drain excess moisture from pan and allow filling to cool. (Filling may need to be drained a second time once cooled.)
ASSEMBLY: Line a large baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Set aside. Remove egg roll wrappers from packaging; cover stack with a damp paper towel to prevent drying. Working with one wrapper at a time, follow these easy steps until all of the egg rolls have been prepared …
–Place wrapper on work surface with one corner of diamond closest to you and brush edges of wrapper with water (to help seal it)
–Place 1/3 cup filling close to bottom corner of wrapper
–Fold bottom corner over filling and tightly tuck corner under filling
–Fold in sides of wrapper
–Continue tightly rolling wrapper until closed
–Press to seal
–Place egg roll on lined baking sheet seem-side down (do not allow egg rolls to touch or they will stick to one another and possibly tear)
–Cover prepared egg rolls with damp paper towels to keep moist
FRYING: Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large skillet or electric fryer. Gently lower 2-3 egg rolls into hot oil; fry until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on wire rack or paper towels. Repeat process with remaining egg rolls. Serve warm with Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce. Makes approximately 20 egg rolls.
DO-AHEAD TIPS: The sauce can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated. The egg roll filling can also be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble. Uncooked egg rolls can be frozen for several months. Simply flash-freeze by placing them in the freezer on a lined baking sheet about a half-inch apart. When they get hard, about 30-45 minutes later, transfer them to a resealable freezer bag and quickly place the bag in the freezer. Frozen egg rolls can be fried without thawing.
*Ginger puree comes in a convenient tube that can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores (and it will keep for months in the fridge, unlike fresh ginger).