With the advent of Daring Cooks, it seems every entry at this rate will either be a Daring Bakers or Daring Cooks entry, especially considering that the posting date between each is two weeks. Regardless, it’s cooking and baking, two of my favorite things in the world..so what’s to complain about, right? I’ll still squeeze in non-DB and DC creations because…
I FINALLY GOT INTO THE KITCHEN AND COOKED!
I still have trouble retrieving and transferring stuff since I need to hold onto a walker or cane, and I still have a ways to go before I’m scuttling around the kitchen like a headless chicken, but hey, it’s a start. Once I’m a headless chicken again, you’ll see a lot more entries since my need to cook or bake can strike at any time, whether it be 8 am or 4 am.
I have to thank my new physical therapist, Dorothy, for all of this, since she has me working that knee like a candy factory machine, not to mention sweating like a pig in (the) heat! This woman is a hot drill sergeant, but in a good way. She could make a killing in work-out videos.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this month’s Daring Cooks challenge is something I’ve had a love affair with years..something I never fail to order when it’s Chinese take-out night, or at any Chinese or Japanese restaurant (gyoza for the latter). Dumplings, whether they be steamed or fried (potstickers), filled with pork, shrimp, veggies, or whatever they have on the menu that looks good. All in all it doesn’t matter because I adore them any which way possible, and it’s always the first thing I dig into. I love that first bite, trying to catch the juices squirting out so I don’t lose one tiny drop. Sheer heaven.
Now, I’m a dumpling person in general, whether it be spaetzle, chicken with dumplings, matzo balls, gnocchi, gnudi..you name it, but Asian dumplings always send me over the moon.
5-Spice Caramel Apple
I’ve made homemade dumplings and potstickers before, but I always used the pre-made wonton or dumpling skins. For this month’s challenge, the challenge was to make the dough from scratch, knead it, let it rest, cut it, flatten it, roll it, fill it and pleat it. I’ve never been a great dumpling pleater; most of my dumplings end up looking like little packets of cellulite. But this challenge turned me into a decent dumpling pleater, and now dumpling making with homemade dough is another technique I can add to my list.
I messed the crimping up on the left side of the finished dumpling above, but it was sealed perfectly, so it wasn’t a major issue.
The host of this month’s challenge is jen yu from use real butter. The fact that she’s one tough cookie and tells it like it is, NO BS, endears me to her blog – not to mention her amazing recipes and stunning photography. Because of that, instead of posting the full recipe, with two fillings, and step-by-step dough making, rolling and pleating instructions, I’m going to send you over to the entry in her blog that covers it all. She’ll have you mastering dumplings in no time with her clear and concise instructions, along with (again) gorgeous photos that’ll turn you into a dumpling/potsticker Queen/King before you can say dumpling!
Click on jen yu’s amazing dumpling/potsticker recipe and instructions for the whole shebang of dumpling perfection, and then some. But, come back here to try my 5-spice apple filling!
Having said all that, since we were given creative freedom when it came to fillings, I will post or supply links to the fillings I used in my three dumpling preparations. I used jen’s delicious pork filling to make potstickers, and a fantastic recipe for Shrimp Mousse with White Truffle Oil by Ming Tsai, in which I added fresh chives from my little terrace garden, toasted sesame oil, and steamed them, serving them with a chili-garlic dipping sauce to add a little heat.
Of course, I had to make a dessert dumpling and deep fry it. I decided on a 5-spice caramel apple filling, which I served with a homemade Triple Cream Vanilla Brie Ice Cream. Geesh, with all the links to the recipes, it looks like the only recipe I’ll have to post is for my 5-spice caramel apple filling. Cool, less type and more room for my less than stellar photos!
Preparing to steam the shrimp mousse dumplings in the bamboo steamer. I ran out of homemade dumpling dough so I had to use some purchased dumpling wrappers which weren’t sticking that well, as you can see.
Although all three dumplings were spectacular, the shrimp mousse was so light and airy, that it was like biting into a delicious cloud of buttery, briny sea. If not for the truffle oil, chives and sesame oil, your palate might rise to your maxillary sinus as if you inhaled a bottle of Fizzy Lifting Drink. In fact, if you look at the cross-section photo in the chopsticks, you can barely see the filling against the steamed dough. Without the dabs of chili-garlic sauce/oil, you might not even see it at all. So delicate and fluffy (yes, fluffy), it’s almost invisible to the naked eye.
This mousse by Ming Tsai is a must try..and it rhymes.
Now I need to find some more things to talk about since this entry is more of a photo gallery than actual text entry, at this juncture. Let’s see, let’s see..OH, according to the Urban dictionary, there are many definitions for dumpling, some of which are quite a hoot. For instance, it can refer to someone who needs to take a poo. It also refers to dumpling as the aforementioned poo that won’t flush no matter how many times you try (I thought those were called floaters?). Interesting. “Hey, who left a dumpling in the toilet?”. Never heard that one..ever.
Sorry for the gross out; I’m really grasping here.
Dumpling, apparently, is also a term used to describe a chubby kid with an emo type of personality. Great, a pessimistic potsticker. If my dumpling cries, it just means my filling was too watery, although I do like ’em nice and fat.
Geeesh, where do they come up with this stuff?
To me and most, a dumpling is either a doughy, yummy treat, or a term of affection, so I’ll record those two into my ‘DUH-Urban’ Dictionary. Wait, is that the dessert bell I hear? Ding Ding Ding! I now present you with sweet, caramelly, spicy, deep fried goodness, along with a big, fat scoop of cool, creamy brie ice cream (trust me on this one, it just adds another level of creaminess, no strong cheese flavor) and more spicy caramel….
Let’s cut one open…
Mmmm…hot, crispy, sticky, gooey, and full of spiced caramel apples. This is a really fun take on your typical apple dumpling or fritter. I think all Chinese restaurants should add something like this to their dessert menu, along with the fortune cookies, almond cookies, green tea ice cream, and uhh, fried banana. What’s with the fried banana? How about wrapping those suckers up in some dumpling dough and frying them? Now that’s something I’d order!
In conclusion, this challenge was so enjoyable that I want to wrap, pleat, steam, fry etc, almost anything in a dumpling wrapper right now (watches kitty dash away with an extreme sense of urgency). Wow, does anyone remember the silly rumors about the meat they use in Chinese restaurants….?
Asian Dumpling and Potsticker Recipes
- 3 cups cubed tart apples
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch or arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder (optional..you can use just combo of cinnamon and/or nutmeg/allspice etc)
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 15-20 Homemade dumpling wrappers, linked above, or purchased gyoza or dumpling wrappers
- Neutral oil such as vegetable or canola
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Powdered Sugar to top and look pretty (optional)
- Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the cubed apples. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix. Add vanilla and cream. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8 minutes, to soften and caramelize apples.
- Fill each dumpling circle with about a tablespoon or a little less, making sure not to get the filling where you'll be sealing the wrapper. Seal dumplings with a little water or beaten egg. Stir together cinnamon and granulated sugar in a large bowl.
- Heat a pot filled with about 3-inches of neutral oil such as canola or vegetable oil to 375 F. Drop in dumplings, making sure not to crowd the pot, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown. Immediately remove with a strainer..shake off the oil and roll in cinnamon sugar. Top with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with ice cream and caramel sauce.
Don’t forget to check out some really amazing dumplings by the other Daring Cooks by clicking on the links to their blogs at the temporary Daring Cooks Blogroll.