Munchies feed for https://munchies.vice.comenTue, 18 Dec 2018 15:00:00 +0000<![CDATA[The Kitchen Gadgets We're Glad We Got This Year]]>, 18 Dec 2018 15:00:00 +0000Most of us here at MUNCHIES live in big cities with tiny apartments with even tinier kitchens and little-to-no storage space. So when we make an addition to our collection of kitchen gadgets, we’re acutely aware of how much shelf or cupboard real estate this new object might take up. We shop wisely. We pare down and get rid of the excess regularly. (If you want to know what we suggest is absolutely essential and what you can totally do without when you’re stocking up your kitchen for the first time, you can find that sage advice over here.) Suffice it to say that if we bought any new appliances, pots, pans, knives, or utensils of any sort this year, we did so with the utmost intention, after rigorous research and much forethought. Here are the best things the MUNCHIES staff bought for our kitchens in 2018, if you happen to be looking for a truly useful holiday gift for the home cook or baker in your life.

Benriner Japanese Vegetable Slicer

I eat a lot of salad. Like, a lot a lot. You wanna change the game on your salad? Stop staring at a bowl of balsamic-drenched spinach and avocado and feeling such fuckin' ennui, man? Get yourself a good mandoline. I finally grabbed a Benriner this year and now I eat beautiful piles of paper-thin fennel and stacks of crunchy cucumber slices every day. I flick some coins of watermelon radish on mâche rosettes like it's nothing and feel like the fanciest person alive. Best $35 a veggie-lover can drop. — Hilary Pollack, Senior Editor

Chef Gray Kunz Sauce Plating Spoons

Two words: Kunz spoons. — John Martin, Publisher

Good Grips OXO One-Stop-Chop Manual Food Processor

Makes for easy cleanup, minces/chops/purees with a simple twist, no plug or electricity needed. Dishwasher-safe and easy to store. — Amanda Catrini, Test Kitchen Director

KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper

My dad makes pesto every Saturday. Every. Single. Saturday. For years now, the tradition has been the same: Grocery shop at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, then come home and use some of those groceries to make a weekly batch of pesto in the heavy Cuisinart that has been blending pesto (and, less frequently, pie crust) since before I was born. The pesto is so perpetual that it’s possible the plastic Tupperware that we store it in has never been empty (or washed, come to think of it...). For the past six years of living in tiny New York apartments, I have tried to recreate our family pesto without a food processor. At first I used a blender, which, while useful for making milkshakes, produced a sorry pesto. I upgraded a little when I acquired an immersion blender but remain convinced that an actual food processor was simply too cumbersome for my essentially kitchen-less one-bedroom. Until, this year, in a stroke of inspired and yet entirely obvious gifting, my mother-in-law gave me a MINI food processor by KitchenAid (it's so cheap and comes in fun colors!). Duh, you might say. Hallelujah, my husband said. I’ve not quite gotten into the weekly tradition just yet but now I can make *real* Keyser pesto anytime I want. — Hannah Keyser, Associate Editor

Gourmia GMJ9970 Large Citrus Juicer

I got my dad a manual citrus juicer for his birthday and it’s the best. It’s cheap-ish, simple to use and clean and the OJ always has the perfect amount of pulp. Just make sure you're using Valencia oranges! — Ike Rofe, Associate Producer

Breville Bakery Chef Mixer

Ok, we got a new stand mixer this year for the test kitchen and couldn't love it more! It's from Breville, and has a light when it mixes so you can see into the bowl, a countdown timer (for maximum precision), 12 speeds, two bowls, and a partridge in a pear tree. — Farideh Sadeghin, Culinary Director

Dr. Meter High Accuracy pH Meter

I do a lot of home preserving. Tomatoes, tomato sauce, jam, pickles, applesauce, sauerkraut, stock, fruit leather, dried mushrooms and herbs—name the seasonal produce, I probably have it canned, frozen or dried somewhere in my kitchen. Yeah, I don’t know what apocalypse I’m stocking up for either, but when the fallout shelter’s full WE’LL JUST SEE WHO’LL BE LAUGHING THEN, HUH? Anyway, I can a lot of shit. And I’m pretty good at it at this point, but I’m still scared that I might not be doing it right. So when my partner and I decided to ferment hot sauce, we sprung for a fancy pH tester so we would know for sure if we’d gotten our stuff to a safe level of acidity to kill off all the bacteria to be able to give it to our friends and not worry we’d give them food poisoning. Saves me a lot of anxiety better spent on the current state of the world! — Danielle Wayda, Editorial Assistant

Pavoni Macaron Silicone Baking Mat

Oh, also, in a fit of familial affection, I agreed to do the entire dessert spread for my sister-in-law’s 70-person baby shower earlier this year, and the one special request she had was macarons. I, a large adult idiot who has never once made macarons in her goddamn life, said, “I can totally do that!” Cut to: me, in the aisles of Kerekes in Flatbush, thanking several deities that they had these magical silicone baking sheets with pre-drawn macaron circles so I wouldn’t screw them up. Plus, it’s useful for all of your other non-macaron related baking needs, too. — Danielle Wayda, Editorial Assistant

Smart Oven Pizzaiolo Pizza Oven

This is the best kitchen gadget I’ve seen used, but I need someone to buy it for me because it’s so expensive. But I swear it’s the best. In a former life, I hosted a gadget review show on the internet, where I came across everything from mac and cheese makers, and my favorite gadget of last year—a pancake robot. Those sound impractical and they admittedly are, and my pick this year may seem impractical to some as well, but the idea of getting wood-fired-pizza-oven-quality results on a countertop stove in the time it actually takes to make a real wood-fired pizza had my interest from the start. (My ever-skeptical interest.) To me, the best part of a gadget is when at first glance, you think, “No way,” and then you see it in action and the gadget responds with “way.” And after testing countless gadgets in aforementioned previous life, I had every preconceived doubt put to rest with the the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo Pizza Oven in a recent demo at the MUNCHIES test kitchen. It makes Neapolitan pizza in two to three minutes flat. Seriously. It’s real. It’s here and it fits on your countertop. Someone Santa this my way please, because it’s $800. — Clifford Endo Gulibert, Director of Video

Lloyd Pans Detroit Style Pizza Pan

After working on the Pizza Show episode about Detroit, I wanted to make Detroit-style deep dish. This pan does wonders. Because its walls are so high, I can add lots of toppings and cheese without anything spilling over the edge, plus the slight splay in the pan’s walls adds a caramelized cheese crust all around the outside of the pie. — Brad Barrett, Video Editor

Eddingtons Lemon Squeezer

I really love this lemon squeezer that I bought after Meriel Armitage of Club Mexicana recommended it to me on a shoot. She was turned onto hers when she saw a chef in Mexico City using one to squeeze fresh lime and lemon over huge bowls of guacamole. And they were right! It is just so insanely satisfying to jam half a lemon in there and press it down so that all the zingy, citrus-y juices gush out. Keep your Nutribullets and Vitamixes, I'm happy over here with my extremely analog lemon squisher. — Phoebe Hurst, UK Editor

Eggmaster Hand-Free Automatic Electric Vertical Nonstick Egg Cooker

I’m not necessarily sure this is the best, but it’s definitely the freakiest addition to our kitchen this year. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think this thing was real until I finally got around to ordering one via the Danish equivalent of eBay. Technically speaking, it’s a type of omelette machine, but it looks more like that scene from Alien when the beast starts growing out of John Hurt’s belly. The eggs cook inside a deep cylinder, and after a few minutes, a perfectly round omelette-stick rises out of the hole. I recommend whisking and seasoning the eggs before you drop it in the hole, if you want to avoid the slight note of burned rubber that intensifies the longer it takes to cook the eggs. — Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen, Editor, MUNCHIES Denmark

Old Stone Rectangular Pizza Stone

It’s great. I use it to make pizza from scratch, I use it for leftover pizza, I use it for frozen pizza when I can’t be bothered by the outside world, and it’s simple and inexpensive. — Cole Carbone, Video Editor

Brilliant Evolution Wireless LED Light Bar with Remote Control

You can’t cook with this gadget, but it’s definitely the best purchase I made for my kitchen this year. It's so nice to be able to see clearly when chopping, mixing, pouring, and measuring on the countertop right under my cabinets. And it makes your kitchen feel and look better. It's one of those things that I didn't know I needed. Just stick some of these under the cabinet and thank me later. — Peter Courtien, Associate Producer

F. Dick Pro-Dynamic Offset 7” Bread and Utility Knife

I realized a couple months ago that the serrated knife I've been loyally using and loving since culinary school had gotten beyond being sharpenable, and it was finally time to replace it. When I'm not being a baller about my knives, I like this German brand F. Dick, because it's affordable and reliable and also I'm a child (and it means "fat" in German, step off), but a similar brand if you're not down with the D is Victorinox. The little offset on the blade makes it easy to slice tomatoes or anything fussy without slamming your knuckles into the counter, and the sweet lil' teeth make quick work of crispy crusts or domed cake tops. — Rupa Bhattacharya, Editor-in-Chief

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

nep5zbMunchies StaffRupa Bhattacharyastaff picksgadgetsgift guideskitchen equipmentbest of 2018munchies gift guides
<![CDATA[I Will Die of Listeriosis Before I Wash the Outside of My Avocado]]>, 18 Dec 2018 13:00:00 +0000I have actual, clinical, anxiety that manifests as nagging fears about elaborate, highly specific scenarios that will maim or murder me (a.k.a. I read the news today, oh boy). To make matters even more fun, my brain interprets these fears as premonitions, which become increasingly real the more I worry about them. (This isn't funny, per se, but it is a little ridiculous. During a particularly dark stretch, I trashed a pound of pasta because I became convinced that I had insufficiently rinsed the pasta pot and now was going to be poisoned by chemicals from the soap residue.) I don't say this to make light of a very real mental health problem—for which, I assure you, I'm receiving adequate professional care—but it does serve as useful context for me to (hopefully not literally) die on the hill of refusing to wash the outer skin of my avocados.

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration published the results of a 14-month study from 2014 designed to measure the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in avocados (70 percent of the sample lot was imported, 30 percent domestic). Initial findings showed traces of L. monocytogenes on over 17 percent of avocado skins, which sounds bad. But: "Three months into the assignment, the FDA updated its approach to its Listeria monocytogenes testing to focus on the avocado pulp (i.e., the fruit’s edible portion), as opposed to its exterior, to better evaluate public health concerns associated with the pathogen, namely the extent to which it may be present in the part of the fruit that people eat."

The rate of contamination in the "part of the fruit that people eat"? About 0.2 percent—along with a slight added concern that the edge of the knife blade could potentially drag bacteria from the skin into the flesh.

So, how worried should we be about this? Cooking Light covered the study by writing "Why You Really Do Need to Wash Avocados Before Eating Them," and Quartz insisted, "Seriously, Wash Your Avocados Every Time" (despite stipulating that these stats have never manifested in a listeria outbreak tied to avocados). But personally—and please know I'm neither a doctor nor claiming that I talked to one for this piece, which is an act of openly biased opinion—I'm not going to worry about it at all.

For context: A 1996 study showed that about 5 percent of soft cheeses purchased in Italian grocery stores tested positive for L. monocytogenes—and I would love to eat soft cheeses from Italy. We've written about how caramel apples with sticks are prone to listeria contamination—and I ate a caramel apple on stick right here in the MUNCHIES office recently. A 2015 study found that 9.5 percent of deli meat samples here in the States tested positive for listeriaand I would never turn down a supermarket sample. And a 2017 overview of listeria studies regarding produce from grocery stores around the world showed a prevalence between 2 and 25 percent on unwashed vegetables in places like Korea, Brazil, and Greece—which is, of course, why you're supposed to wash them... but I've definitely chopped parsley (contamination rate: 5 percent) without a thorough cleaning first.

Listeria is dangerous—especially for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, infants, and pregnant women. In fact, the higher rates of contamination in those items is precisely why women who are pregnant are told to avoid things like soft cheeses, deli meats, and unpasteurized milk. Approximately 260 people die annually from listeriosis, primarily members of those at-risks groups. That's more than the number of people who die from getting struck by lightning (a record low of 16 in 2017) but much closer to that statistic than, say, the number of people killed annually in cars (which topped 40,000 last year). You can play this game for everything and anything, but there's only so many ways you can mitigate your exposure to risk before you run into a balloon-boy scenario.

Thankfully, I don't fall into any of those listeriosis-prone populations right now. And as soon as I finish writing this blog, I will forget all about the bacteria on the skin of my avocado. Not because the task of washing it would be so onerous (according to the FDA, " also recommends that consumers scrub firm produce [which includes avocados] with a clean produce brush, and then dry it with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present," which is a little much), but out of an unwillingness to live in fear of the zero-point-two-percent-chance that my produce might contain harmful bacteria. Because qualifying food by the potential threat it poses is a slippery slope towards catastrophizing everything, truly everything, that makes life worth living.

I will, however, abstain from licking the outside of avocados to claim them as my own from now on.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

kzvy8eHannah KeyserHealthFDAAvocadostudiesproduceListeria
<![CDATA[The Best Cookbooks We Cooked From, Drooled Over, and Actually Read This Year]]>, 18 Dec 2018 12:00:00 +0000

Every year, the fall brings a deluge of gorgeous cookbooks from renowned chefs and authors, with food styling and photography so artful that sometimes we’d rather leave them on the coffee table for party guests to look at than to actually cook out of because the prospect of getting them stained in the kitchen seems wrong. This year was no different, with a slew of tomes from some of our favorite restaurants, chefs, or cookbook authors that we’d been anticipating getting our hands on for months. Whether you’re giving or hoping to receive, the MUNCHIES staff rounded up our personal takes on the best cookbooks of 2018 that we think you should be adding to your personal cookbook collections. (And, of course, it goes without saying that if you’re looking to expand the horizons of your cannabis cooking skills, we’ve got you covered with our stunner of a collection, if we do say so ourselves, in Bong Appetit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed.)

Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

I have always been a fan of Ottolenghi's recipes due to his vibrant use of herbs and spices and emphasis on fresh, vegetable-forward dishes. This book spoke to me in particular because it highlighted the beauty of using simple technique and premiere ingredients to create wholly satisfying, unpretentious meals. I also appreciated the structure of the book—instead of lumping all of the recipes together under the "simple" umbrella, he categorizes them based on ingredient amount, time optimization, and work required in a handy outline. — Amanda Catrini, Test Kitchen Manager

Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, by Nik Sharma

Nik Sharma shares the stories and the recipes that have influenced his life as an immigrant living here in the US, ranging from curry leaf popcorn chicken to a date and tamarind loaf (and also an egg salad with toasted coriander that I keep meaning to try!). I might be partial because he is also a good friend, but this is a book I'll be cooking from well into 2019, and years to come. Did I mention how beautiful the photos are, too? Nik shot the entire thing himself. —Farideh Sadeghin, Culinary Director

Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories, by Naz Deravian

Naz Deravian tells the tale of her emigration from Iran to Italy, then Canada, and now LA where she currently resides, with food being the cornerstone in this book of beautiful stories centered around family and the home. Some of my favorite recipes? The tahcheen (a baked crispy rice dish jeweled with barberries) and the joojeh kabab (chicken! saffron!) and the stews… all the stews. You can smell the spices and herbs as soon as you open it. —Farideh Sadeghin, Culinary Director

Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes and Kitchen Secrets, by Najmieh Batmanglij

Growing up (and still, tbh), Najmieh's cookbook, Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, was always the one that my dad referenced, and now I do the same. When she put out this most recent book, I did back flips. It's not often that a new cookbook comes out that is packed with such detailed information about one of the oldest cuisines in the world. — Farideh Sadeghin, Culinary Director

A Very Serious Cookbook, from the Contra/Wildair guys. These guys’ restaurants are so great, and the way they organized the book is super novel. Also that they don't take the whole thing too seriously is refreshing. —John Martin, Publisher

It’s terrifying to go to your friends’ concerts or plays—and it’s terrifying to look at their books until you can be safely assured that everything’s ok and their work will be as good as you know they are in real life. My anxiety about A Very Serious Cookbook was struck down within the first 30 seconds of reading. Just like their restaurants, it’s fun, insightful, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is very, very good. — Clifford Endo Gulibert, Director of Video

A Burger To Believe In, by Chris Kronner. Even though my essay got cut, Chris still makes great burgers and this book was a winner for anyone who spends an inordinate amount of their time thinking about burgers. —John Martin, Publisher

Matty Matheson: A Cookbook, by none other than Matty Matheson. I'd probably get a real salty text message if I didn't put this one in here. Also, this is a book that I can actually cook out of and it's good hearty food. But when I read the recipes IT'S LIKE I’M BEING YELLED AT. — John Martin, Publisher

Japan: The Cookbook, by Nancy Singleton-Hachisu

Japan: The Cookbook is elegant, refined and dense. The book systematically breaks down Japanese cooking into its distinctive, delicious parts: soups, noodles, rices, pickles, one-pots, sweets, and vegetables. In the end, the cookbook provides over 400 recipes and an in-depth overview of the Japanese cooking tradition. — Ike Rofe, Associate Producer

Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious, by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook

I'm about to recommend a cookbook I haven't even cooked out of yet—but stay with me. A primary tenet of my personality is my strong, somewhat blind and borderline-aggressive belief that Philadelphia has the best restaurant scene. This platform became easier to defend when Michael Solomonov opened Zahav in 2008. He, along with Steven Cook, published a cookbook named after the restaurant in 2015, and this year they released Israeli Soul—which is full of authoritative recipes for a range of Israeli basics, as well as meditations on their cultural history and a guide to where to find those foods in Israel. When I got it, I sat down and read it—like actually read the words starting in the beginning and flipping page after page, like a book-book. I made a note of recipes to return to when I have time (and more counter space) but in an age when I'm more likely to turn to Google than my bookshelf for a recipe (sorry! that's just the truth) I love a cookbook that makes me want to learn more about the food I'm craving. — Hannah Keyser, Associate Editor

Sharp: The Definitive Guide to Knives, Knife Care, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs, by Josh Donald and Molly DeCoudreaux

This neat cookbook from San Francisco's wonderful knife shop Bernal Cutlery is all about selecting, caring for, and using fancy knives. For way too long I slummed it with dull trash knives that came in 12-piece sets, and figured that splurging on a decent santoku was something I'd get around to, you know, later. Well, I finally invested in a couple of great knives, and it has made all of the difference. Sharp is a thoughtful, user-friendly guide to decoding sharp stuff, and even includes some tasty-sounding recipes at the end from chefs such as Traci Des Jardins and Chris Kronner. — Hilary Pollack, Senior Editor

I Am a Filipino: And This Is How We Cook, by Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad

I, too, am Filipino, and there’s still a lot for me to learn. This book helps with that. Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad of New York’s Maharlika, Jeepney, and Tita Baby’s explore the breadth of Filipino food: from the dishes integral to my background, to dishes I’ve never explored (like those of the country’s southernmost island group), to more modern takes.

The book is a progression, showing that Filipino food isn’t static and modern iterations are just as legitimate as the foods of our ancestors. Beyond recipes alone, it’s a love letter to our culture and an acknowledgment that we are here: Our food is worth learning about, it’s worth the glossy pages and beautiful pictures, our food has a story—and even more importantly, our food has a future. — Bettina Makalintal, Staff Writer

The Green Roasting Tin, by Rukmini Iyer

I’ve got a few, so hold on here. The veggie follow-up to food stylist Rukmini Iyer’s hit one-tin recipe book, The Green Roasting Tin features 75 new vegetarian and vegan recipes. If you can chop stuff and put it in the oven, you’ll master pretty much all of these dishes, including sweet potato and mushroom polenta; harissa cauliflower steaks; and miso tofu with aubergine, which I was lucky enough to have Iyer cook for me on a visit to her home earlier this year. — Phoebe Hurst, UK Editor

Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen, by Yasmin Khan

Food writer Yasmin Khan travelled Palestine to cook with locals of all ages and backgrounds for her latest cookbook, explaining to MUNCHIES earlier this year: “This project in particular was everything: fun, frightening, joyful, stressful. But that’s the reality of what’s going on out there and I wanted to be true to what people of the region are experiencing, so I shared their stories.”

Which makes Zaitoun sound very worthy and not all that tasty—which couldn’t be further from the truth. The book spans the black olive groves of Burquin to plates of musaka’a eaten under a full moon in Ramallah, and sharing platters of fragrant sumac chicken. You’ll want to eat everything. — Phoebe Hurst, UK Editor

La Grotta Ices, by Kitty Travers

Vibrant scoops of passionfruit ice on retro tablecloths; hot-pink raspberry and fig leaf granita; technicolor apricots. The first cookbook from Kitty Travers, founder of London ice cream company La Grotta Ice, is almost as delicious to look at as her sorbets, granitas, and gelatos are to eat.

And, fun fact! After interviewing Travers about her new cookbook earlier this year, UK staff writer Ruby Lott-Lavigna bought an ice cream machine off Gumtree [editor’s note: like the British equivalent of Craigslist] and went *actual* foraging for fig leaves. You have been warned. — Phoebe Hurst, UK Editor

Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, by the Editors of MUNCHIES

I know, I know, I'm kind of tooting our own horn with this recommendation—but honestly guys, this is the only cookbook any weed enthusiast needs. And since I didn't participate in writing this gorgeous and absolutely beautifully edited publication, I can boast about it as much as I want to! It's still a free country, after all. At least if you live somewhere with legal weed.

The knowledge about cannabis and how you can extract its various terpenes and potency is incredibly vast in this book, and most importantly, it is explained in a way that even a cannabis cuisine noob like me gets it. This book is both about delicious, home cooked meals for you and the special stoner in your life as well as to educate the world on the positive and flavorful effects cannabis can have and to destigmatize its bad rep once and for all. — Katinka Oppeck, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany Editor

Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus, and Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers

I’m constantly in awe of how good of a person Julia Turshen seems to be. In the wake of the 2016 election, she crash-published Feed the Resistance, a pocket-sized tome full of protest-inspired dishes from those on the front lines of the struggle for justice, both past and present, with proceeds going to the ACLU. I bought copies for all of my friends for Christmas. She helped launch Equity At The Table (EATT), a database of women, people of color, and gender-nonconforming folks in the professional food space to help make kitchens, cookbook publishing companies, and food media mastheads reflect the diversity of the rest of the world. I follow her on Instagram and am inspired by her dedication to volunteering regularly at her local soup kitchen in upstate New York. In her newest book, Now & Again, I’m similarly inspired by her commitment to making the most out of every ounce of food in the home kitchen. I’m a fundamentally cheap-ass person, so the premise of making your leftovers count speaks to me on a very personal level. But the fact that all of the leftover ideas come from whole dinner party or holiday menus—because I love hosting a good dinner party—makes this book even more practical for me. This is for the home cook in your life who doesn’t care about making it pretty or precious—they just like to feed people. — Danielle Wayda, Editorial Assistant

Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse, by Frederic Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson

I'm not entirely sure of my capability to outlast an apocalypse—like, I'm probably looking at being in the second third of people up against the wall when the time comes. But that's probably why I love Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse as much as I do. The second book from the Montreal-based team is an ode to the pleasures of the outdoors and the rustic and the no-bullshit delicious, and includes primers on all the things you're going to need (or at least want) when the world crumbles around you. The recipes range from wildly impractical to only slightly so, and the writing is shot through with the Joe Beef team's characteristic wry humor. If you need me when the shit hits the fan, I'll be in my bunker, eating a platter-sized pastry shell piped full of whitefish salad and topped with artfully arranged sturgeon and decorative choux swans. — Rupa Bhattacharya, Editor-in-Chief

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

zmdknaMunchies StaffRupa Bhattacharyastaff picksgift guidesbest of 2018munchies gift guidesend of year round ups
<![CDATA[This Brussels Sprout and Chestnut Gnocchi Is Pure Christmas Joy]]>, 18 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000It’s hard to be innovative when it comes to Christmas food. During the festive season, we all become a little too attached to the traditional turkey and stuffing and mince pies to do anything truly “out there.” The restaurants or supermarkets that do try to be different can end up creating such monstrosities that frankly, they’re offensive to both Jesus and Santa.

However, when someone successfully creates a new Christmas dish that’s comforting, warming, and not objectively weird, it’s worth acknowledging. Which is why I’ve come to Pastaio, a fresh pasta restaurant in Central London, to try chef Stevie Parle’s chestnut, Brussels sprout, Fontina, and sage gnocchi. A dish so cosy and Christmassy that I want to wear it like a potato (?) jumper.

Alessio crumbles chestnuts and grates the Fontina cheese on the gnocchi.

After this brief potato hiatus, we get back to the dish:

“It's something you can make if you have quite an early Christmas lunch, and you want to have something late,” Parle continues. “If you're really hungover on Boxing Day, it's perfect because it's rich and works with leftovers. You could also definitely put bacon or pancetta in it, but I like to keep it veggie. I think there's enough going on that it didn't need it.”

Despite having Italian roots, this chestnut and Brussels sprouts gnocchi is proudly British—much like Pastaio itself. “We're a restaurant that is at least as British as it is Italian,” says Parle. “I actually think in Britain, we own pasta a bit now. It is a kind of national dish.”

“I think [the Brussel sprouts and chestnut gnocchi] really sums up that this is a British-Italian thing,” he concludes. “You know you wouldn't get this in Italy. I just don't even know if they have sprouts.”

Looking for clarification, Parle calls over Alessio.

"Hey, Alessio! Do you have sprouts in Italy? Or no?”

Alessio walks over, obligingly. "Yeah,” he tells us, “but for Christmas, we eat a lot of broccoli. It is because on the 24th of December we don't eat meat. We eat fish and vegetables. And if you're from Rome, there's a dish called fritto misto, and then broccoli fried, artichokes, potatoes, and cod. This is your main course.”

I jump in and ask Alessio what his Italian family would think of this dish.

"I don't think they'd like it," he laughs. “I'm sorry, but Chef [gesturing to Parle] knows my opinion.”

There we have it. Proof of a truly British (gnocchi) dish.

nep9vmRuby Lott-LavignaPhoebe HurstPastachristmasgnocchiItalianchestnutsSagefestiveBrussels sproutsPastaioSteve Parle
<![CDATA[Over 200 Pubs Will Refuse to Play Wham!'s 'Last Christmas' This Month]]>, 17 Dec 2018 11:00:00 +0000For some people, the Venn diagram of "most overplayed Christmas song" and "songs you never need to hear again" is uncomfortably close to a single circle. And while yes, we could just be patient and acknowledge that in a few weeks this too shall pass, I, for one, would be much more into the Christmas spirit were it not tied to a constant loop of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Apparently, for other people, that sentiment is targeted at Wham!’s bouncy 80s bop "Last Christmas." Earlier this week, the UK-based pub chain Fuller’s announced a ban of Wham!’s holiday hit in 231 of its locations, as reported by the Drinks Business. The ban will be in place until midnight on the 25th.

It's not that they necessarily hate the synthy holiday tune—rather, the ban is designed to aid participants of a decentralized online game called Whamageddon. The premise of the game is simple: Try to go as long as you can without hearing "Last Christmas."

Hearing the song puts a player out of the running and earns them one a spot in the halls of "Whamhalla" and the graveyard of the "Wham'd." Because it would be extremely easy to get Wham’d if all versions of “Last Christmas” counted, covers and remixes are fair game—if they happen to be playing Hilary Duff's 2002 take on the classic at your local Trader Joe's, feel free to bop along and live to play another day. The game can technically be played anywhere in the world, though it appears to be the most popular in the UK and Denmark.

"The incarnation we’ve put online on has been going on for a little more than ten years by now," wrote Thomas Mertz—who created the game along with two other friends—in an email to MUNCHIES. He added, "It was a matter of realising some ten odd years ago exactly how much airtime the song was getting. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good song. Buuuuut … too much of anything is too much. So we started 'running the gauntlet.'"

Though Mertz says that Whamaggedon is "not affiliated with anyone," he wrote that the UK station Absolute Radio have been "some cheeky buggers this year." Both this year and last, the station has done their part to make Whamageddon possible (by not featuring the song), which is why Fuller's is participating. Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s, told the Drinks Business, "We’re big fans of Absolute and we want to get behind this. We have removed 'Last Christmas' from all our playlists."

Despite participation by Fuller's and Absolute Radio, the challenge will likely still be pretty difficult: According to past week’s Billboard Hot 100, "Last Christmas" remains among the top ten most popular holiday songs. It’s currently number seven, bested only by crooner classics and, of course, Mariah Carey. (It's also a constant contender for covers: Google pulls up about 63,100,000 results, plus another 3 million remixes.)

The banning of the song takes away some of the appeal of the game, according to Mertz. "Some establishments here and there have said they would remove it. Most places we’ve encouraged them to keep it in. It’s not much of a survival game if the threat is removed," he wrote. "But I guess, as with all these viral things, a couple of enterprising SoMe managers saw an opportunity to ride a wave."

According to one Twitter user, a successful Whamageddon will involve some sneaky tricks, like only going to bars with live bands, muting all television commercials, and skipping soap operas entirely.

Elsewhere in the UK, the supermarket chain Tesco tweeted that they’d considered taking part in Whamageddon, but opted out. Instead, they implied that their stores will be Wham!-filled, adding that Tesco might be for “those who like to play on hard mode.”

While players won't win anything beyond bragging rights and glory, according to Mertz, Swaine told the Drinks Business that they're committed to doing their part to keep you holiday season Wham!-free. And that's a guarantee you can take to the tap—any revelers who get Wham'd in a Fuller's location will receive a beer on the house.

If you're taking part in Whamaggedon and haven't yet been Wham'd, good news: You can still listen to this banger pop punk "Last Christmas" cover or this surprisingly tight trap remix.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

gy73p7Bettina MakalintalHannah KeyserbarsWham!christmas musicBritish pubs
<![CDATA[Don't Question Bread Sauce, Just Bask in Its Beige Glory]]>, 17 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000 Welcome to #NotAnAd, where we post enthusiastically and without reservation about things we’re obsessed with from the world of food.

Bread sauce is one of those things that should have probably gone with the turn of the 20th century. The festive side dish, usually made with bread, milk, onion, and nutmeg, screams of something eaten in ye olden times in order to ward off bad spirits and heathen thoughts, filling ye stomaches on the Eve of Christmass at the humble, holy feast. Despite these archaic connotations and the fact that no one really understands why they feel drawn to a bowl of carby mush alongside delicious crunchy roasties or honey-glazed carrots, bread sauce remains a staple on Christmas Day for Brits.

There’s no denying bread sauce is strange. What you’re essentially doing is breaking down stale bread with liquid and some seasoning to make it edible again, which is horrible? It’s also very filling—what with it just being liquid bread—which becomes extremely inconvenient when you’re trying to inhale as much Christmas dinner as humanly possible despite your siblings telling you to “stop” and that they “think you’re going to hurt yourself.”

Everyone loves bread, even in a conceptually questionable form such as a goo.

So, what is it about the creamy mush that makes it work? It’s clearly not just a dogged commitment to tradition, or else we’d all be eating boar on the 25th of December. The essence of bread sauce’s greatness is in its simplicity: it’s unchallenging, simply spiced, and comforting. Compared to bacon and Brussels sprouts, a Coca-Cola-glazed ham, or rich beefy gravy, there’s something humble and uncomplex about this cute little side, and it’s basically the only dairy that grazes the Christmas table. Also, everyone loves bread, even in a conceptually questionable form such as a goo.

There’s also something comfortingly British about bread sauce. Not only is it a dish exclusive to the UK, but its beige meh-ness seems core to our culinary tradition. We are unfairly renowned for having a terrible food culture (which, obviously, if you’ve ever read this website before, you’ll know is wrong) but sometimes, when I’m eating a potato waffle, heating up some rice pudding, or spreading pungent Marmite on my toast, I am comforted by the variety of strangely shit foods we do still consume. Bread sauce taps into this. It’s not super flavoursome nor complex, which fits in with a tradition of stodgy—yet tasty—British foods.

The author's bread sauce (top right) on her Christmas dinner.

Which makes sense, seeing as bread sauce is really, really old. Bread sauce did, in fact, originate in medieval England, and is allegedly one of the few leftover “bread-thickened” sauces we still consume today. Instead of using animal fat or eggs to thicken sauces as we might in contemporary recipes, the people of medieval England would use leftover stale breadcrumbs as they were cheaper and more accessible. Consequently, one can estimate that we’ve have been eating our bread sauce alongside veg and meat for at least 1,700 years.

The enduring presence of bread sauce throughout history is another testament to its greatness. Despite literally hundreds of years of us refining our Christmas dinner—introducing the turkey in the 16th century, or more recently, phasing out things like custard on our dessert and drinking sherry and brandy—we still cannot ditch the creamy carb sauce. Every year, for over a thousand years, people across the country sit down to write a Christmas dinner menu, and think, huh yes, this year, again, I would like to squish some breadcrumbs into liquid form to eat alongside some meat wrapped in meat.

Despite its fundamental strangeness, bread sauce has existed for over a thousand years on our Christmas dinner table because it is delicious. Unlike almost every other thing that has existed for that long (racism, Jacob Rees-Mogg, climate change), it’s not something that we need to phase out for the good of the people. Bread sauce: pure, holy, special, gentle, and kind. Despite having eaten it only 12 to 25 times in my life, there’s no doubt bread sauce is one of the real heroes of the Christmas dinner table.

Just like the plague, torture, and exceptionally bloody conflicts, if it was good enough for medieval England, then it’s good enough for us.

8xpeezRuby Lott-LavignaPhoebe HurstTURKEYchristmasfestiveChristmas Dinnerroast potatoesnot an adBread sauceMedieval Food
<![CDATA[Massive Milk Chocolate Spill Leaves German Road Enrobed in Chocolate]]>, 14 Dec 2018 11:04:28 +0000Earlier this week, the streets of Westönnen, a small suburb of Werl in western Germany, went full Augustus Gloop when more than a metric ton of milk chocolate spilled out of a storage tank and immediately hardened into a delicious, impassable, 108-square-foot mess.

The spill appears to have been the result of a leaky tank valve at DreiMeister, a local chocolate manufacturer.

“That chocolate was supposed to go into our truffles, chocolate bars and chocolate coins,” Fabian Steiner, a spokesperson for DreiMeister, told MUNCHIES. He added that the amount lost shouldn’t ruin Christmas—while unfortunate, it’s a drop in the bucket for DreiMeister, who go through about 400 tons of chocolate per year.

The street remained closed for nearly two hours while approximately 25 firemen and a handful DreiMeister employees cleaned the street with hot water, a roofing torch, shovels, and “Muskelkraft” (German for elbow grease). “I think one of our neighbors must have called the fire department,” Steiner says, though he remains unclear on whether the firefighters ate any of the street chocolate: “They say no, but I’m not sure if you can trust that.”

In the end, DreiMeister resumed manufacturing activities on Wednesday morning and sent a big basket of chocolate to the fire department. In a statement on their website Werl’s finest wrote that, “Despite the heartbreaking incident, it is unlikely that a chocolate-free Christmas is imminent in Werl.”

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

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<![CDATA[When Christmas Dinner Comes with a Side of Rice and Peas]]>, 14 Dec 2018 10:44:57 +0000Britain’s ethnic minority population is steadily on the increase and over the past two decades, many different nationalities have chosen to call this island home. In 2017 alone, there were 3.7 million people residing in the UK who were born abroad but held British nationality.

Migration to any country creates a collision of cultures that often manifests itself in food. As a third-generation Brit of Jamaican heritage, I know this all too well, and it always becomes most apparent at Christmas, when we indulge in a British and Caribbean food fusion.

When I lived at home, Christmas Day started with a traditional English breakfast with a Jamaican twist. In addition to our beans, sausage, egg, and toast, my dad would add fried plantain and fried dumplings to our plates. And for Christmas dinner, alongside our turkey, stuffing, and roast potatoes, my mum adds rice and peas cooked with coconut milk and thyme, while I get to work on the macaroni and cheese pie.

Jini Reddy also has memories of food fusions at Christmas. Born in London to Indian parents who are from South Africa, she grew up in Quebec but moved back to the UK as an adult.

“These days, it’s my mother and myself at Christmas. My mum likes curry and I like a roast so we usually do both. We’re very hybrid here.” she tells me. “This year, the meat for the curry and the roast will be duck which we’ll have with roast potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts and stuffing. The curry is made with turmeric, onions, garlic, and ginger and we’ll usually have it with basmati rice.”

Also of Asian heritage is Harvinder Bhogal. With his mum and dad hailing from the Punjab region of India, Bhogal, who was born in London and practices Sikhism, says the Christmas frenzy we whip up in the UK was lost on his parents for years after they arrived here.

“When my parents came to this country, they were like, ‘Christmas? What is this?’”

Coming from a family of vegetarians who’ve never eaten meat, Bhogal’s Christmas dinners have certainly developed over the years. He’s gone from Indian food to pizza, “I think Pizza Hut was open or something,” to now what is as close to a traditional Christmas dinner as he’ll probably get.

“About ten to 15 years ago, you started to get meat substitutes on the market like Quorn and they’d have their own version of a roast, so it’s just evolved since then,” explains Bhogal. “We always get some kind of meat-based substitute, then we’ll just make loads of vegetables like roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts. My mum sometimes makes an Indian-style dish but it’s just about how creative we want to get.”

A British-Arab Christmas spread. Photo courtesy Petra Ayar Jahchan.

Someone who knows all about creativity is Petra Ayar Jahchan. As a Christian Arab who was born and raised in Lebanon, she and her family serve up a mini feast which she describes as an “absolutely delicious” selection of Middle Eastern dishes.

She explains: “There’s not a lot of turkeys in the Middle East so it tends to be a big roast chicken, which may sound boring to some but we use special rubs on the meat like seven spice and allspice. In certain parts of the Middle East, they may put cardamom with it so it tends to be quite fragrant.

“We always have side dishes, so things like stuffed vine leaves, hummus and baba ghanoush. You’ve got your tabbouleh which is a parsley salad typical of the Levant region, or the fattoush salad which is basically loads of vegetables with a bit of crispy bread and sumac which is a tangy herb.”

The table looks very different at Nigerian-born Tosin Adewumi’s house.

“Throughout the whole week of Christmas, people can come round at any time so it’s important that you always have food at home,” she says.

So, what do they typically serve?

“We usually have jollof rice which is a common Nigerian dish, fried fish, and plantain as well as meat stew which is normally quite spicy so there’s a lot of Scotch bonnet in my house,” Adewumi explains. “We also incorporate some traditional English food, so some years we’ll have turkey or chicken. Then there’s snack foods like fried yam which is called dundu in Nigeria, along with puff puff [sweet fried dough balls] which is something moreish you can eat throughout the day.”

“We also do a roast beef, occasionally. I’ve never touched a turkey either professionally or personally.”

In the lead-up to Christmas, it’s not just home-cooked meals that incorporate cultural twists. Restaurants famed for their international cuisines are also on board. Tonia Buxton, former host of the television show My Greek Kitchen, is a consultant for The Real Greek restaurants, and has included subtle nods to British cuisine in the brand’s 2018 Christmas menu.

“In order to keep the British feel to it, we made a turkey roll which is a dish made with a cranberry sauce,” she says. “I think people get fed up of the typical turkey, gravy, and stuffing and want to try something different.”

Jan Woroniecki, owner of London restaurants Baltic and Ognisko which both specialise in Polish and Baltic dishes, has a similar idea.

“Traditionally the Poles have 12 courses of fish and vegetables on December 24th which is a festival called wigilia,” he says. “We approach our set Christmas menus trying to keep some degree of authenticity but always keeping in mind the customers who are predominantly not Polish or Eastern European. Therefore they have to be a little bit safer than our normal menus might be. We do goose which is a more traditional, old English style of having Christmas dinner.”

Woroniecki adds, laughing: “We also do a roast beef, occasionally. I’ve never touched a turkey either professionally or personally.”

With talk of Brexit negotiations dominating every news outlet and a heightened awareness of intolerant attitudes towards multiculturalism in Britain, celebrating the beauty in cross-cultural food is probably more important now than ever before.

pa5vmvCarly Lewis-OduntanPhoebe HurstchristmasGreek Foodchristmas foodIdentityheritagenationalityNigerian foodChristmas cooking
<![CDATA[Nitza Villapol Taught Generations of Cubans How to Make Do and Eat Well]]>, 13 Dec 2018 17:57:24 +0000 “You probably have a counterfeit,” Sisi Colomina says. “Tell me which edition you have.”

I flip through my copy of Cocina Al Minuto to check what year the book was printed. I can’t seem to find it anywhere, which is a red flag. This particular edition—which Colomina is able to identify because “it has an hourglass on the cover, right?”—has been sitting on my parents’ shelf since before I can remember. Of all the cookbooks in our house, this is the only one that shows any wear and tear, and that’s probably true across all Cuban and Cuban-American households.

The reason for that is Nitza Villapol. Sisi Colomina is Villapol’s ex-daughter-in-law and keeper of her legacy. So I asked her about the book I’ve always associated with Cuban cooking: Cocina Al Minuto, or, roughly translated, Minute Kitchen. When I tell her what my copy looks like, she confirms that “yeah, that’s a counterfeit.” Although many immigrants left Cuba clutching their copies of Cocina Al Minuto, that didn’t stop unauthorized reprints from springing up all over Miami, for which Villapol never received royalties. Colomina says that dozens of editions of Villapol’s books were printed illegally in the United States—including my copy.

To say that Nitza Villapol wrote the most important Cuban cookbook would be to understate her influence. And yet, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the physical book itself. Her name doesn’t appear anywhere on the cover. There’s no picture of her, nor glowing foreword from another, more well-known chef extolling the virtues of Villapol’s cooking. She didn’t own a restaurant, and most of her writing is still only available in Spanish.

But she wrote The Book, this book. No other cookbook encompasses the spirit of Cuban cuisine better than Cocina Al Minuto because Villapol wrote it with a focus on the lived experience and actual eating habits of her readers. Her culinary career straddled pre- and post-communist Cuba, and she was adept at meeting the changing needs of her audience, continually adapting her recipes to meet the fluctuating political climate.

Villapol was born to Cuban exiles in New York in 1923, but was living in Cuba by age 11. She reportedly learned to cook by watching her mother, who focused on fast and easy food because she believed that women should spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. She studied nutrition in London and briefly taught Spanish, but after reading about Cuba’s very first television station launching in 1948, Villapol wrote a letter to the owner pitching an idea for a cooking show, and he accepted.

Although she had studied nutrition in school, Villapol wasn’t a chef, nor did she consider herself one. But Cocina Al Minuto (the book, which came later, was named after the show) ran on television for almost 50 years, airing its last broadcast in 1997. Throughout that time, Villapol showcased cuisines from around the world. For Villapol, Cuban cuisine wasn’t a set of recipes, but instead a necessary reaction to the unique amalgamation of historical influences and political circumstances facing Cuban people.

Flipping through the cookbook, you’ll see recipes for just about everything—not just traditional Cuban dishes, but also things like chow mein or borscht. When I tell Colomina that one of my favorite recipes from the book is for congri she explains that it’s a Haitian dish based on Creole traditions. Villapol was an expert on how external forces shaped Cuban cuisine, and even contributed to an UNESCO publication on Caribbean influences on Latin American cuisine. (Although she was notably critical of the American impact on Cuban diets, calling mayonnaise “an American invention to ruin food.”)

Most notably, Villapol was sensitive to the changing political climate of Cuba, releasing multiple editions of her book throughout her career and constantly revising her recipes. In the early 1950s, she published the first edition of Cocina Al Minuto with a focus on entertaining; at the time, Cuba was an escape for wealthy Americans and socialites. The recipes were miles away from the recipes we associate with Cuban cuisine today and those early editions of her book included advertisements for then-high-tech kitchen equipment—which also appeared in her television kitchen. That changed in 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power and implemented sweeping political changes, including the 1962 food rations that are still practiced today.

Villapol quickly changed the way she cooked to show a generation of Cubans how to adapt their favorite recipes when food was scarce. She could make a pudding without eggs. She could recreate your favorite hearty stew without meat. She was a proponent of using food scraps and leftover parts of the animal in all her dishes.

"I simply inverted the terms,” she said in Con Pura Magia Satisfechos, a short documentary about her life filmed in the 1980s. “Instead of asking me what ingredients were needed to make this or that recipe, I started by asking myself what were the recipes available with the available products.”

Villapol thought of herself as an educator above all else, and approached her show as a way to teach Cubans how to eat. “In a recorded interview that was done when she was older, her last words were that she wanted to be recognized as a teacher,” Colomina says. “She wasn't a cook who showed you a recipe. Her show was an educational show.”

Many articles, like this story from NPR, honor Villapol by calling her ‘the Cuban Julia Child,’ and it’s easy to see why. She was on TV for over 40 years, like Julia, making Cuban cuisine accessible to everyone. But the analogy doesn’t quite fit. “The difference is that Julia Child made it known that she made French food and brought it into the homes of North Americans and Nitza also adapted traditional international recipes…but for Nitza, her adaptation was systemic,” Colomina says.

According to Andres Oppenheimer’s book Castro’s Final Hour, Villapol would often consult with government officials about the specific rations that would be available to citizens and tailor her recipes to the week’s allowance. Nitza was incredibly intentional with the way she presented food and recipes, mimicking the needs of the country while still encouraging healthier eating habits. In this way, her show was less of a distraction from the political and economic realities of 20th century Cuba and more a necessary accompaniment to living within them.

Villapol went on to publish other books and articles, but is best remembered for Cocina Al Minuto, which she updated every few years—the two most notable editions coming out in 1954 and 1991 (in the 1954 version, almost half the chapters talk about different cocktails. In the 1991 version, there’s no mention of cocktails at all). When Cubans began fleeing the country in the 1960s, many brought their copies of Cocina Al Minuto as a way to stay connected to the home they were leaving behind.

Although the scope is expansive, individual recipes are sparse—most are just a list of ingredients and a few sentences on preparation, with room to explore and adapt based on what’s available. Villapol didn’t give her readers step-by-step instructions to recreate a precise dish, but instead left room for exploration, and more likely, a pathway to find flavor in scarcity.

Growing up, I used to find this frustrating. Looking over my copy of Cocina Al Minuto, I wonder if I’ll ever master the recipes I remember loving as a kid without a clear blueprint to recreate them. I used to agonize over the translation notes, adjustments, suggestions that my grandmother wrote in the margins and wind up making multiple grocery store trips for a single dish. But I realize that Villapol would probably find that sort of fussiness ridiculous, and insist that I have everything I need to make a hearty meal already in kitchen right now. After all, she inspired a generation of Cubans to be resourceful and to find not just sustenance, but nourishment, in whatever food was available to them. I hope I can do the same.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

bje33dAshley RodriguezHannah KeysercubaProfilecookbookTV chefCuban foodNitza Villapol
<![CDATA[Lumpiang Prito (Vegetarian Spring Rolls) Recipe]]>, 13 Dec 2018 14:24:13 +0000Servings: 4
Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 2 hours


for the wrappers:
2 ½ cups|315 grams all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour
1 teaspoon salt

for the filling:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup|110 grams diced white onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups|280 grams kamote or sweet potato matchsticks
2 cups|260 grams carrot matchsticks
1 cup|250 grams finely crumbled smoked or extra-firm tofu
2 cups|140 grams thinly sliced napa cabbage
6 cups|540 grams mung bean sprouts
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fish sauce (optional)
vegetable oil, for greasing and frying
sawsawan, for serving (optional)


1. Prepare the wrappers: In a large bowl, stir together both flours and the salt. Stir in 3½ cups (180 ml) water and, using your hands or two wooden spoons, work the dough by lifting and slapping it against the sides of the bowl until it is elastic and well mixed. (The batter should be a little lumpy; if it is too stiff, add water a tablespoon at a time.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. The next day, when you are ready to make the wrappers, remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up for about 30 minutes. Work the dough with two spoons in the same manner as the day before until the dough is smooth but still very sticky.

3. Heat a 10-inch (25 cm) skillet or crepe pan over low heat. Grab the ball of dough in your hand and, using a fast, circular motion, rub the dough all over the pan and remove it quickly, almost as if it were a rag you were using to clean the pan. (It is important to use low heat, because the batter won’t stick to the pan if it is too hot, and it’s important not to press down too hard when you smear the dough or you’ll end up with fewer wrappers that are too thick.) The dough should leave a perfectly thin layer on the pan; this is your wrapper. When the edges of the wrapper begin to lift up—in just a few seconds, normally—it is done. Remove it from the pan with your fingers or a spatula and set it aside on a plate. Repeat until you have used all the dough, stacking the wrappers on top of one another on the plate as you finish them. You should have at least 20 wrappers.

4. Make the filling: In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until it is just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the sweet potato and carrot to the skillet and cook until they just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the tofu and cabbage and cook until the cabbage is just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

6. Add the bean sprouts and ½ cup (120 ml) water. Cook, stirring almost continuously, for 5 minutes more.

7. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and season with fish sauce, if needed. Transfer the vegetables to a colander set over a bowl or in the sink and let the filling completely drain and cool before filling the wrappers.

8. Assemble the lumpia: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

9. Lay two wrappers out on a clean work surface, one on top of the other. Place 3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling in the center of the bottom wrapper and spread it out slightly horizontally into a rectangular shape. Fold up the bottom over the filling and roll it from the bottom up like a cigar. Place the lumpia on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

10. Meanwhile, fill a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot about halfway with vegetable oil and heat it over medium-high heat until it registers 350°F (175°C) on an instant-read thermometer or just begins to shimmer. Line a plate with paper towels and set it nearby.

11. Working in batches, add the lumpia to the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pot, and fry, flipping them every few minutes so they cook evenly on all sides, until they are golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Use tongs or a spider to transfer them to the paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining lumpia.

12. Serve them hot or at room temperature, with sawsawan, if you like.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

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