Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Cheryl’s Cold Thai Rice Paper Rolls

First:  Thanks to everyone who entered the Desserts without Compromise giveaway over the weekend!  I’m delighted by the positive response and will be announcing the winners later today (once I choose the names).  If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, the introductory sale is on until the end of the month–you can purchase either ebook at a discount, or save even more if you buy the package of both together! Check here for details.

And now, before I get to today’s recipe, I thought it would be a good time to paraphrase Oprah (because, really, is there ever a bad time to paraphrase Oprah?).  And this is what I want to say: 

Mothers, I Salute You.

As someone who has never had the experience of motherhood, I can only guess at what it is like.  But this past weekend, I had a teeny glimpse.  You see, after an ostensibly normal Friday, the HH and I were sitting enjoying dinner (a fabulous raw kale salad with tangy dill dressing) when Elsie limped into the room.  Well, perhaps “limped” isn’t quite the correct term; it was more like “writhed in or agony” or “seized with exquisite pain.”  You see, the poor furry girl appeared to have lost the entire use of her back leg–she could  not even touch the tip of her paw to the floor, her leg hanging like a cracked branch on a lightning-struck tree as she hobbled over to where we were (pain or not, she wasn’t going to miss out on post-prandial leftovers) on three legs.

How had this happened?  More importantly, how had I let this happen?  I was racked with guilt.  Had I overtaxed her with our extra-long walk that afternoon? Had she stepped on a piece of rusty metal when romping in the pond with Chaser?  Had I somehow missed a shard of broken glass on the sidewalk?

But it wasn’t my guilt that I associate with motherhood, no, no!  It was the heart-wrenching, excruciating torment I experienced at watching my beloved girl suffer.  The helplessness to relieve her pain felt unbearable. It was like the anticipation of knowing your finger is headed right toward the whirring blade of the meat slicer as you slide uncontrollably across the floor. Like having to walk across a vat of deadly scorpions. Like being forced to watch every single  Julia Roberts film ever made, in a sadistic marathon session without any intermission (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating; the Julia Roberts thing isn’t quite the same degree of torture as the other two.  I mean, you can still live without a finger, right?) 

I felt so bad for the poor thing, in fact, that I badgered the HH into carrying her up and down the stairs every time she had to go outside, for the remainder of the day. All this while Elsie, oblivious to the pathos of her situation, soldiered on as if she had always had only three good legs. I, on the other hand, was a whimpering mess.  And so, I reiterate: Mothers, I Salute You.

(In the end, we rushed her to the vet first thing Saturday morning and found out she had somehow torn a ligament.  Two weeks of pillow rest should repair it.  Now we just have to convince Chaser to leave her alone that long.)

She may be stoic, but poor Elsie does seem a bit depressed about it all, too:

“Sigh.  Mum, why do I have to stay here at home while Chaser gets to go play in the rain? And why am I so accident-prone?”

I decided to stay indoors and keep my furry Girl company while the HH took Chaser for a trail-walk.  Thinking about how to use up the last of our mint (and contribute another dish to this month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, which continues until the end of the month) led me to Thai rice paper rolls.

Many moons ago  during our first year as a couple, the HH and I took a Thai cooking class together.  How do I know it was our first year together?  The HH agreed to take a cooking class with me.  (A guy is never more willing to do “chick” things than during the first few months of a relationship).  Anyway, we made a whole bunch of stuff I’ll probably never eat again–Coconut, Ginger and Chicken soup; Red Curry Chicken; Pad Thai–but one thing I do remember is the raw rice paper spring rolls.  Man, were they good.  And the beauty of the dish was that (a) they were incredibly quick and easy to make; and (b) you could fill them with pretty much anything you liked.

I was transported back to the memory of that evening a few days ago when I came upon Cheryl’s post on these tasty rolls. I decided immediately to concoct the rolls again and, in the process, “adopt” Cheryl (whose blog is Gluten Free Goodness, full of healthy GF recipes and Cheryl’s upbeat approach to better health) for the monthly Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event. The event asks you to choose a GF blogger and reproduce at least one of their recipes. This month, Shirley of Gluten Free Easily is the host.

I did my rolls ever so slightly differently from Cheryl’s, omitting both the napa cabbage and the sprouts, and using rice vermicelli as a filler instead.  But really, you could add pretty much any chopped veggies or fillers you like (my favorite combo would be strips of tofu, shredded carrot, red pepper, rice vermicelli, with a touch of cilantro, basil and mint) as long as they can be cut into matchsticks or grated and rolled into the wraps. 

As Cheryl points out, the method is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it.  I found that setting out all the ingredients and a bowl of warm water before starting the process was essential for success.  I dipped my rice paper wrappers for only about 8 seconds, then allowed excess water to drip off before rolling them. The wrappers then absorbed a bit more of the surface water as they were being rolled, resulting in a final texture that was perfect.  

I also figured out how to create pretty patterns with the cilantro, mint or basil leaves; simply lay them down first against the wrappers, then top with your rice vermicelli before piling on the other ingredients.  This creates a white “background” for the leaves.  Easy, and impressive!  These would make great appetizers or a first course for a Thai meal.

For Cheryl’s original recipe and method, see her post here.  I served mine with an almond-butter based dipping sauce, based on the one from the ReBar restaurant (recipe here), using almond butter instead of peanut butter, Bragg’s instead of soy sauce, and stevia instead of honey.

Thanks, Cheryl, for the inspiration!  The rolls made a satisfying, simple and speedy lunch. (“Mum, you know it’s not nice to mention ‘speedy’ when I’m pillow-ridden like this. But I’d be happy to help you clean up that almond sauce, if you like.”)

Last Year at this Time: Grain-Free Coconut Flour Biscuits

Two Years Ago: Kitchen Sink Kitchari (an Anti-Candida Stew)

© 2010

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  1. hope elsie’s leg is doing better! scrumptious rolls 🙂

  2. Oh no–poor Elsie! I hope she is doing okay. I know what you mean about hating to see your pets in pain. My dog died the week before last (sniff, sniff), and I seriously feel like I lost a family member! Elsie is lucky to have you to care for her 🙂

    It is still ridiculously hot and humid here, so thank you for the reminder of spring rolls! I have had rice paper in my cupboard for ages…I need to put it to good use!


    • Courtney–that is so awful! I’m so, so sorry to hear that and can’t even imagine how terrible you must feel. I can’t even think about Elsie getting older without tearing up! Hope you have lots of family and friends around to lean on. And sending hugs your way!

      • Thanks, Ricki. I am still really upset about it and still cry when I see dogs that look like her, lol. I am such a sap! Hopefully you won’t have to deal with anything similar any time soon…take good care of Elsie and I hope she feels better soon!


  3. Those remind me of one of my best memories from that year I had a French flatmate. He had learned how to make Spring rolls from his Vietnamese godmother, and one day he set out to show me how easy it was. In the process, he ended up making a delicious batch of Spring rolls for us to share. Yum! I’ve been meaning to make some myself ever since, and have yet to do so. (isn’t that what happens way too often? *sigh*) Now, though, you’ve got me craving them something fierce, so rice paper has been added to my grocery list and Spring rolls will soon be mine!

    • I hadn’t eaten these in a long time, either–and now I think I’ll be craving them again tomorrow! Considering how quickly they come together and how tasty they are, I don’t know why I waited so long. 😉

  4. Get well soon, Elsie!

    Ricki, I completely understand what it feels like to be the worried mommy of an injured or ill fur child!

  5. I love cold rolls! They make such a great work lunch too, because the rice paper doesn’t really get soggy. I like to put mango in mine, but I really love all variations- especially dipped in almond butter “peanut” sauce. Mmmmmmmmmm.

    • Mmm, mango sounds like a great addition (now I’m wishing I could have some. . . ). I do the “almond butter” trick as well–now I’ve come to enjoy that sauce even more than the original peanut one!

  6. Poor puppy! I know exactly what that feels like when your fur baby is injured or sick and you feel just helpless. In my case I actually am a cat vet, but in the face of one of my girls being unwell, I turn into a basket case worried mother! I am glad that Elise is on the mend, I hope sh eis being good about her rest!

    • I can imagine that your patients and your own fur babies are two completely different stories! We’re making sure she doesn’t walk too much, or even play with Chaser–though I can tell she’s feeling better, as the latter is getting harder and harder to accomplish. 😉

  7. Oooh these look yummy. I love salad rolls! I’ll have to give these a try. I hope your pup is on the mend. Ringo has a limp right now and it breaks my heart to leave for a run without him. Poor puppy dogs.

  8. They really do capture our hearts, don’t they? And how cute is the name Ringo for a pup??

  9. I first made these when I started blogging – thanks for a reminder to try these again – I love the leaves against the wrapper

    and yes I understand the helplessness of watching a child writhe in pain – I often curse nature for making teething so painful – hope elsie has a speedy recovery

  10. Poor baby Elsie! Sending positive thoughts of healing to your household, along with wishes for a speedy recovery! Good thing she’s got a stellar Dog Mom to care for her.

  11. Awwww…that look of suffering patience is enough to melt any heart! Hope she heals quickly and well.

  12. Aww, I hope Elsie gets better soon! And these rice paper rolls – yum! I love making these. So perfect for a sweltering hot day. Great job!

  13. Oh, poor Elsie! When my younger boy cat was a kitten he sprained his pinkie toe and limped around by walking on his wrist. He was prescribed limited movement, too- try keeping a 4 month old cat from jumping around! We had to quarantine him and our other cat at the time to our bedroom to limit their jumping about. It was terrible for all of us.

    My heart goes out to you and your maternal pain for Elsie. While me heart is there, could you give it a rice paper roll for the trip back? 😉

  14. Those look great! And what an adorable dog.

    I’ve been looking to cut back the amount of wheat in my diet, so I’m going to make these. Put a little tofu inside and voila! An easily portable, protein-packed lunch.

  15. Any idea where/how I can buy rice paper wrappers? I don’t think they sell them at Winn-Dixie and I looked for them in the small Asian grocery here but couldn’t find them.


  16. I certainly hope Elsie is feeling better soon, she is so beautiful! These rice paper rolls look like a great, light summer meal. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Jodye, and thanks for your comment. And Elsie thanks you, too. (“Yes, Mum, you know how much I rely on the kindness of strangers.“)

  17. Poor Elsie. I hope you’ll keep us updated about her progress. I love spring rolls and yours look beautiful, but really, Elsie’s comfort and happiness is most important. Give her a gentle hug from me.

  18. Poor baby. Hope she’s back to normal soon.
    And I am so honored for the adoption! Can’t believe I’ve been asleep behind the wheel and missed it. They look beautiful.

  19. Aw poor Elsie!! I hope she has a speedy recovery. I love salad rolls but for some reason am scared to make them at home.


  1. […] style, and my Daring Baker semi success on Petit Fours, too.  And Ricki adopted me, and made my Thai Style Summer Rolls.  Check out the round-up, hosted by Shirley of Gluten-free Easily […]

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