Monday, 14 March 2011

Pork Potsticker Dumplings

The other day I got a sudden strong urge to make Chinese dumplings. I don't know where this came from but I thought it would be worth a try! I found a great tutorial that broke down the process enough for me to feel like this might be achievable.

As you can dumplings didn't turn out very beautiful. But, they tasted great and it was a fun experience making them!

Pork Potsticker Dumplings


For the pork filling:
1 lb. ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks of green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp cornstarch

For the dough:
4 cups plain flour
1 cup warm water
Extra flour for the work surface

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix throughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour with 1/2 cup water and stir until the water is absorbed. Continue adding water one spoonful at a time and mixing throughly until the dough pulls away from sides of the bowl. You want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Knead the dough about 20 times then cover with a damp towel for 15min. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2-2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press your palm down on each piece to form a flat circle. With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break whilst cooking. Leave the centres a little thicker than teh edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each wrapper, leaving about a 1/2 inch margin. Fold the two ends of the dough together and pinch them tight. Move about 1/4 of the way down from the centre adn create a fold in the edge of the dough closest to you, fold it down and pinch it tight. Create a pleat in the dough. Repeat this 2-3 more times. When you get to the end, poke the end in and pinch shut.

Turn the dumpling around so the pleats face away from you and pleat toward the centre on the same side as the previously made pleats. The whole thing should curve into a concave crescent shape. Poke the end in and pinch the folds tightly to ensure the dumpling is sealed. A little water can be helpful in getting the pleats to stick together.

Lightly oil a cast iron skillet. Place dumplings in the pan, leaving a little space between each. Place over medium heat and fry 3-4 min. They will stick to the pan- DO NOT move them or the dumplings will rip.

Add about 1/2 cup of water and immediately cover the pan with a lid. This will steam the dumplings. Cook for 7-9 min.

Remove the lid and cook off any remaining water. Once dry, the dumplings will easily release themselves from the pan. At this point, if desired drizzle the dumplings with soy sauce and fry for 30-60 seconds to form a slightly salty, caramelised crust. Promplty removed the dumplings from the pan and serve.

Makes about 80 dumplings.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes

I can't even remember how long I've been on the quest for the perfect cupcake recipe. At times, it seems like it's an impossible mission. But, as a homesick Texan living in London, I have to keep trying!

This recipe is by far the best I have ever come up with. It's based on a recipe that I've posted before with some key changes. There's a few things I love about this recipe. First, it's super fast and easy to make the batter. Second (and more importantly) it makes a light, moist, tender cupcake with the perfect vanilla flavour (a rare thing, in my opinion). Third, it really is the perfect reminder of home and is the best cure for homesickness....or maybe that's just the sugar-high?

Vanilla Cupcakes (Makes a little more than 30 cupcakes)

1 3/4 cup (280g) cake flour
1 1/2 cup (200g) plain flour
1 3/4 cup (440g) sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (8oz) butter, room temparture, cut into 1 in. cubes.
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325*F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined. Add butter in small pieces until just coated with flour.

Add eggs one at a time.

In a large measuring jug, whisk together milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition. Beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a
cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, 17-20min.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting

2 1/4 cup (18oz) butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp double cream
4 1/2-5 1/4 (500g-600g) cup icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tsp vanilla (to taste)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

Beat butter on medium high speed until pale (2 min).

Reduce speed and add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After every 2 additions, beat on high speed for 10 seconds and then return to a medium speed. The whole process should take 5 minutes. I highly encourage tasting this frosting as you add the sugar-there is a fine line between yummy frosting and tooth-hurting sweet frosting.

Add the vanilla and salt to taste. Beat until smooth.

Add the cream and beat.

Seriously....the best. cupcakes. ever.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

The February 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe adn Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I'm not really a fan of Panna Cotta. I much prefer carby desserts over dairy desserts. Saying that, I did actually like this quite a lot. The Panna Cotta was very smooth and creamy. I added scrapings from a vanilla bean to give it a little more vanilla flavour. The seeds sank to the bottom but you could still taste the vanilla throughout. Overall this recipe was simple and quick and tasty. The Florentine cookies were very good. I think I made mine a little too big but they were still yummy! I added cinnamon to mine which gave them a really nice flavour.

Panna Cotta

1 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp unflavoured powdered gelatin (or 4 sheets)
3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Scrapings from a vanilla pod (optional)


Pour the milk into a cold bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over it. Let stand 5 min until softened.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat until hot, but not boiling-about 5 min. Whisk a few times as it heats.

Add the cream, honey, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Make sure the mixture doesn't boil. Continue to heat and stir constantly until the sugar and honey dissolve (5-7min).

Remove from heat, allow to sit for a few mins to cool slightly. Pour into glasses or ramekins.

Refrigerate at least 6hrs or overnight.

Strawberry Gelee
1 cup strawberries, rinsed and chopped
1/2 Tbsp water
1/3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 sheet of gelatin

Place sheet of gelatin in very cold water to soften for 5-10min.

Combine strawberries, sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until strawberries are slightly softened.

Press strawberry mixture through a fine sieve. Drain geltin sheet and add to the strawberry mixture. Mix well.

Cool strawberry gelee until it is at room temperature. Pour onto Panna Cotta and refrigerate until set.

This recipe was adapted from the Laduree Sucre Cookbook

Florentine Cookies

2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup plain flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375*F. Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

Add the oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Drop a small tablespoon full of dough, three inches apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon or a spatula.

Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 min, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen Florentines.