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Holiday Traditions: Sara Moulton

PBS is celebrating the holidays by sharing some of the favorite traditions, memories and recipes that make all of our holidays so very important and special. Each day we will highlight a new story from some of your favorite personalities.

Sara Moulton, host of Sara’s Weeknight Meals, remembers her family holiday traditions, both old and new.

There are several holiday traditions that have been in the family since I was a kid. My Dad has always read “Eloise at Christmastime,” on Christmas Eve in place of “the Night Before Christmas”and he still does now even though the youngest of the six grandchildren is 12 and the oldest, my daughter, is 25. He also makes scrambled eggs the right way (slowly on very low heat) in a huge cast iron skillet for Christmas breakfast and my brother in law, John, makes popovers to go with them. Oysters on the half shell are a must at some point during the holiday as is a whole wheel of Stilton to go with salad (My sister is an anglophile).

But the newest tradition, invented by my niece Katie, age 24 and nephew, Peter, age 21 is the Christmas Eve appetizer competition. We share a farmhouse in Massachusetts with my aunt and uncle and their kids and their kid’s kids and now there are so many of us we have to switch off being at the farm. One year my uncle’s family gets it and the next year we get it. But we always touch base with each other and several years ago we started this new Christmas Eve tradition. We compete to see who is making the greatest number of appetizers. There is no prize, there is no judge. It really makes no sense. But everyone, in both families loves to eat and we have quite a few amazing cooks, including my cousin Josh who is also a professional chef. I think we might be up to 20 appetizers some of which my niece and nephew start preparing right after Thanksgiving and pop in the freezer.

Many of our hors d’oeuvres come from my first cookbook, supplemented by Gourmet Magazine recipes and others we have all picked up along the way. There are always baby egg rolls (recipe below), something with smoked salmon, mushroom rolls, dates stuffed with parmesan wrapped in bacon and baked, and raw oysters on the half shell. We eat them in place of dinner and call the other team frequently to find out how they are doing and what they are making. And taunt them. Again, I am not really sure what is the point but I love eating this way. So many tastes in one evening!

Sara Moulton is the host of Sara’s Weeknight Meals, which is distributed by American Public Television.

Baby Egg Rolls

No Recipe Photo Available

Sara Moulton shares her baby egg rolls recipe with dipping sauce from her cooking show, Sara's Weeknight Meals. This Chinese recipe is a great appetizer.

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Ingredients

  • For the egg rolls:
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • one 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • one 1/2 –pound boneless pork chop cut into thin strips
  • 2 scallions, white and 1 inch of the green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 large red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 30 square wonton wrappers
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

  1. Make the egg rolls: Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the pork and stir until it turns white, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside. Add the scallions, carrot and red pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, stock and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the skillet and let the contents of the skillet cool to room temperature. You should have about 2 cups.
  2. Lay the wrappers flat on a work surface. Brush the edges lightly with water. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the filling and roll into a cylinder, tucking the in the sides and pressing the edges to seal. (The egg rolls can be frozen at this point.) Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until almost smoking. Working in batches, add the rolls and cook, turning often with tongs, until golden brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
  3. Make the dipping sauce: Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir well and serve on the side with the rolls.

Yield: Makes 30 egg rolls