Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chinese New Year Dumplings

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Happy Chinese New Year!

When I was a kid, my mother always made a Chinese New Year feast with all the "lucky" foods and my favorite was always dumplings. She'd hide a peanut, candy, or a quarter in a select number of the dumplings (yes, we'd bleach the quarter and then wrap it in saran wrap - which was always my job) and a select lucky few would eat these special dumplings. Whoever got a peanut would be blessed with good health, the candy symbolized love, and the money meant fortune. It was a fun tradition that I definitely intend to continue with our kids!

- Ground meat (I used a combo of ground pork and turkey. Shrimp is also a common filling)
- Vegetables (I used napa cabbage, but garlic chives, spinach, mushrooms, etc are all great options)
- Aromatics (Ginger, garlic, scallions, etc)
- Soy sauce
- Salt
- White pepper
- Sesame oil
- Dumpling wrappers

- Finely chop the napa cabbage, salt it and set it in a colander to get rid of the excess water. Once it's been wilted, rinse off the salt and drain it. You can also put it into the food processor and then use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the water.

- Finely dice or grate the aromatics.
- Mix the meat, veggies, aromatics, and seasonings together in large bowl.
- Take a dumpling wrapper, place about a tablespoon of filling in the center along with one of the little surprises if you want. If you're having trouble getting it closed, use less filling or more if you want plumper dumplings. You'll get better at folding them with practice.
- Wet one half of the edge of the wrapper with water, fold over to close it and if you can, pleat the edges like this.

- Repeat the previous step until you run out of filling or wrappers. At this point, you can freeze them to cook at a later time or cook them now.

- To cook, you can use one of the following methods:
  • Boil - Bring a pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop in the dumplings and give it a stir to keep them from sticking (there's no need to defrost them if they were frozen first) Bring it back up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add a cup of cold water and bring it up to a boil again. Repeat this again. The third time it comes up to a boil, the dumplings should be floating and cooked through.
  • Steam - Line a steamer basket with napa cabbage leaves. Put the dumplings into the steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes.
  • Pot stickers - Pour enough oil to coat the bottom of a non-stick pan. Line the dumplings in a single layer (my husband likes to make it pretty, while I just dump them in haphazardly). Add a cup of water and cover with the lid. Let it boil/steam until all the water is almost dry. Remove the lid and keep cooking until the bottoms are crispy. Flip them out of the pan.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Personally, I like black vinegar and soy. Enjoy and happy year of the tiger! Rawr :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Parmesan Bread Twists

I had leftover dough when making pizza, so I decided to make some parmesan breadsticks. They're fun for entertaining and easy to make. I did have some trouble keeping the bread from unraveling after twisting them, but in the end, I think they turned out okay.

- Pizza dough (you can use store bought or this recipe)
- Parmesan cheese
- Garlic powder
- Oregano or parsley or other herbs
- Salt
- Oil

- Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle. If you have trouble rolling it out because it keeps bouncing back, let the dough rest 10-15 minutes and try again.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese, garlic powder, herbs, and salt to taste on the bottom half of the rectangle.
- Fold the top half of dough over the part with the filling and using a knife or pizza cutter, cut it into ~3/4" strips.
- Twist each strip and place it on a lined baking sheet.
- Let them rest for about 20 minutes.
- Brush them with oil.
- Put them into a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they're golden brown.