Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks share with Sweet Melissa Sundays!

I LOVED both recipes: The homemade dumplings/pot stickers for the Daring Cooks chosen by Jen with use real butter AND Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Almonds for Sweet Melissa Sundays chosen by Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets found at Sweet Melissa Sunday's site. Both are recipes my family will do again and again. The cookies part of the blog,with pictures, is posted towards the end of this posting.

Accomplishment is the feeling a person gets when looking at a recipe, pacing a little in the kitchen, looking at the recipe again (as if getting acquainted for the very first time), telling his or herself "it's okay, you can do this", truly convincing his or herself this isn't really that hard if you take the recipe apart in steps, then finally saying: "Okay, I'm doing this!".

When I looked at the Daring Cooks recipe for dumplings/pot stickers chosen by Jen from use real butter, the recipe did not look very hard...until I looked closer and saw the real challenge, making my own dumpling/pot sticker skins. Flour and water; meaning consistency of dough is extremely important. Okay, the food processor it is and clicking onto the link Jen posted in the recipe (here) ended up being indispensable! The printer zipped along, printing out the first 19 pages of the 41 pages available and I went to work.

Before I go ANY FURTHER: I need to post an acknowledge for my hubby. He made the dipping sauce. We did not have chili garlic paste when I decided to jump in and make the dumplings...starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 11:30 p.m. and he improvised, doing a delicious job of it. We did have fresh garlic to dice and chili oil.

Each step of creating the skins was fun because I was not looking for absolute perfection. This is a first time trip. Enjoying the process is just as important when adding to new memories. In Jen's dialog, she talked about each person having an experience in the kitchen that triggers a person's cooking passion. I was a tomboy growing up, and did not learn anything about the kitchen until I was around 17 years old. My parents were health nuts and did not allow sweets in the house. Grandma use to bring boxes of apples from their apple tree each year to share. One day, I decided to try baking an apple pie by a recipe in a cookbook. The pie turned out great and from that day, I was hooked! Grandma used to try and teach me odds and ends when my grandparents came to visit but nothing had really caught my enthusiasm until that day. I also learned we could have sweets that I made when I found out that apple pie was one of my parents favorites to nibble on =). Now to continue with the recipe:

The flour was fluffed before measuring, and water was added to the processor. I was happy with the consistency and feel. Not dry and yet not sticky. When cutting the logs into 3/4" pieces and pressing into little circles, I did forget to swipe the little circles through flour to keep them from sticking to each other. After I figured out my problem, each one was only stuck in one little spot, I promptly pryed them apart and swiped each. The other "almost" problem was again swiping the bottoms of the pot stickers in flour before placing on the plate. I remembered half way through the process and was lucky enough to not have any sticking at that time. Yay!

The filling was delicious "but" when I make these again, I will not put in as much ginger. I think some flavors are an acquired taste for us and we were not used to that much of a gingery flavor. Overall, Delicious! I can not wait to make another batch and when I do, I will start earlier in the day because the process is a long one and Jen did state to take breaks along the way ~ you will get tired!

I followed the recipe for the skins and shrimp filling to a "T" because Jen and her family have been making these for a long time, their family is all over a great filling. This being a first for my family, I wanted to experience how to do the dumplings/pot stickers and I have to say: WE ARE HOOKED!

BIG HUGS and THANK YOU! Daring Cooks and Jen with use real butter.
The process goes a little like this:

Choose a filling; choose a dough; choose a cooking process.

Special Equipment: A rolling pin - preferably not tapered. (see blog pictures for the type I use).

Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes - longer if peeling and de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling and wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Pot stickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling - 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot.

Chinese Dumplings/Pot stickers

pork filling:

1 lb (450g) ground pork

4 large Napa cabbage leaves,

minced3 stalks green onions, minced

7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried - rehydrated and rinsed carefully)

1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced

1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced

3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce

2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil

2 tbsp (16g) corn starch


shrimp filling:

1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped

1/2 lb (225g) ground pork

3 stalks green onions, minced

1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced

1 cup (142g) water chestnuts, minced

1 tsp (5g) salt

3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil

2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches - or just halve the filling recipe)

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (113g) warm water

flour for work surface

dipping sauce:

2 parts soy sauce

1 part vinegar (red wine or black)

a few drops of sesame oil

chili garlic paste (optional)

minced ginger (optional)

minced garlic (optional)

minced green onion (optional)

sugar (optional)

Make the dough, Method 1: (The one I used)

Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2:
In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods:

Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). 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 during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.
To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of Napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (pot stickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in Ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.
To serve: Serve dumplings or pot stickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

Sweet Melissa Sundays Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Almonds.
Thank you Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets; posting will be found at SMS along with a list of all the great bakers and their blog sites making up SMS for everyone to check out. The chocolate and almond cookies are fabulous! Prebaking the almonds makes such a HUGE difference in flavor. I had no idea. I love the directions including when a person can put the dough in the freezer to bake later. Having a back-up of goodies ready to go in the freezer is such a huge help for me in the spring and summer months. I would so much rather be out digging in the dirt and playing with my flowers then being in a hot kitchen during these times of the year.

I know this posting is crazy long but sharing how wonderful these cookies truly are is important to me.
I left large chunks of almonds to get a real nut influence.

The chocolate chunks I will cut a little smaller next time but not by much. The amount of chocolate to almond nuts was perfect but slicing the log was a little difficult but the sharpness of my blade could have had something to do with it. I am still learning how to get a sharp blade. One side is extremely sharp and I keep messing up on the other side. Feels more like a butter knife.

I am glad to have the foresight, this time, to look at the recipe all the way through before starting. Twice in the refrigerator worked for me because I could make the cookies and finish in stages.
Since Ashley's 18th Birthday is today, I am still running around this morning, getting a HUGE bouquet of ballons and picking up a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. She is getting a princess on the top along with writing stating how much we love her. She will always be my little princess!
The cookies sliced okay but I did have large chunks of chocolate to contend with =).

I loved the aroma in the kitchen and when the cookies came out of the oven, they were perfect! What a great recipe and one I want to try with hazelnuts next time. Just to try but the almonds are a diffinant keeper. Thank you Lorelei!


Jen Yu said...

Wow! You are a pleating pro now!! :) Your dumplings look fantastic and I just want to say that you can put anything you want in your filling so definitely go forth and play with it. I can't tell you how proud I am of all the Daring Cooks and how expertly they tackled this challenge. Kudos!

Sarah said...

Your cookies look deicious! So glad this was a winner for you!

Sarah said...

sorry, delicious :)

Hornedfroggy said...

Awesome! I loved these dumplings... and the cookies!! :) Great job on both!

margot said...

What an ambitious project to start at 9 PM, but they look absolutely divine and it sounds like they were a big hit.

Your cookies look great too! I also appreciate recipes that you can make in stages, sometimes it's hard to set aside a big chunk of time for baking.

Emile Zola@life said...

wah, your 1st time dumplings done very well, I can't imagine it done by a Western lady, good job.
This is my daughter favorite, everytime I use the frozen "wantan" skin to replace the home made dough, and never try to make my own dough for the dumpling skin, I think I need to give it a try..
I would like to give you a tip, you may add few drops of Chinese wine into filing to further enchance the taste.

Emile Zola@life said...

sorry, forgot about the cookies, they look great, I definitely will give a try in one day.

Emile Zola@life said...

me again, just went thru the cookie recipe, may I know what is the AP flour?

Flourchild said...

YOur pot stickers look wonderful and the cookies are so tasty looking. I just shared some of the cookies with my friend and one of them could not stop eating them. He ate about7! We then went to watch Star Trek at the movies and he could not even eat any popcorn cus of the cookies!
Your pictures are so good! I have truly missed your posts so it's nice to see you more often!

Deborah said...

Wow - 41 pages!! Your dumplings look perfect, and your cookies are making me wish I had a sweet treat to end the night with!

Mermaid Sweets said...

Your cookies look amazing, glad you liked them. And I wish I had a pot sticker right now.

karen said...

Your dumplings & cookies look fantastic!

Andrea said...

Dumplings a chocolate chip cookies, a delicious match! ;-) Your dumplings look great!

The Bahens said...

I'm now officially kicking myself for not joining the Daring Cooks early-on. I probably would have gotten to choose a recipe, which would have been awesome!! Your potstickers look amazing! I love potstickers, so I'll definitely have to try it some time. And the cookies were fabulous! I think I ate so many toasted almonds that my cookies were a little lacking!

Tracey said...

I'm glad you liked the cookies! They were one of my favorites - definitely a go-to recipe for me.