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Chef's Hat: Tips to try the ever-versatile egg roll

There are times when things don't come together as planned. That was what happened with this week's attempt at trying new recipes. What was originally going to be a column about spring rolls didn't quite work out.

The first problem arose when someone walked out of the house without her grocery list. But the basic items - green onions, peppers, mushrooms, spring roll wrappers - were easy enough to remember.

The second problem was harder to overcome. The original recipe I wanted to try called for thin, translucent spring roll wrappers. At the grocery store I went to, these were nowhere to be found. But there were plenty of egg roll wrappers. So a slight change had to be made and instead of making spring rolls, the recipe turned into egg rolls.

Although one of my cookbooks said spring rolls are light and refreshing and the Americanized egg rolls are doughy and heavy, I did not find that to be the case. If made properly, egg rolls can be light and refreshing, a great summertime dish, and they are actually quite easy to put together.

A couple of things I learned about making egg rolls. One, don't overfill the egg rolls. Put in a couple tablespoons of filling and roll them up tightly so they cook evenly and quickly. Two, if you need to reheat the egg rolls, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, just until they're warm. If you heat them in a microwave they will become mushy!

Remember to be flexible in your cooking. You might create a masterpiece that will become a family favorite. Happy Eating!

Chicken Egg Rolls

1 pound cooked chicken (chicken breast or leftover chicken - whatever you have on hand)

1 teaspoon jarred garlic

2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 green onions, sliced thin (white and green parts)

½ green, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced thin

½ cup mushrooms, sliced

1 carrot peeled and thinly sliced

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Egg roll wrappers

Canola or vegetable oil

In a medium sized bowl combine the chicken, peppers, mushrooms, onions and carrot. Toss lightly. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the garlic and soy sauce. Pour the garlic over the chicken mixture and lightly toss so ingredients are coated with the sauce.

Combine the egg with the water and beat until well mixed. Set aside.

Pour oil into a large skillet until there is about a quarter inch of oil in the bottom of the skillet. Heat to medium-high heat.

Place a wrapper on a plate with one end toward you. Place about two tablespoons of the filling into the egg wrapper. Fold in the sides of the wrapper and then roll up the egg wrapper. Brush a little of the egg mixture on the edge of the wrapper to seal it.

Place into the prepared pan. Fry in the hot oil about a minute and then turn the egg roll over. Continue frying until the egg roll is a light brown color, approximately 2 additional minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Continue wrapping mixture into the egg rolls and frying until all of the mixture is used up.

Serve with bottled or homemade sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

2/3 cup pineapple juice

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Place the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir until well combined and set aside.

Place a medium sized saucepan on the stove. Place the pineapple juice, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup and soy sauce in the pan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat.

Turn the heat down to low and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook just until the mixture becomes thickened, about two to three minutes.

Remove from heat and use immediately. Or let stand five minutes and then pour into an airtight container. This can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.

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