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February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Stuffed Buns;Rich Pastries

Vegetable and Tofu Bun Filling, p.101

Another savory stuffing recipe for the baked or steamed buns, this one different and delicious! This is an intensely-flavoured vegetarian version with satisfying hits of umami in every bite. The filling consists of pressed tofu, scallion, carrots, mushrooms (white, but I bet shiitakes would be divine) and cabbage seasoned with a healthy dose of white or black pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Quite a contrast to the other filling recipes in this book, and can hold its own amongst the meatier versions.

about 15 hours ago
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
1

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Filled Pastas;Thin Skins

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! I will definitely be jumping back into these ones. I am having quite a wonderful time making the filled goodies within the pages of your book!

1 day ago
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Filled Pastas;Thin Skins

Shanghai Soup Dumplings - Xiaolongbao p.59

Nothing like a culinary beating to kill the dumpling zen (and ego!). Or at least stomp on it a little...

The main reason why these were so troublesome was unfortunately completely my own fault. I was making these sans red meat (using smoked turkey leg in place of the ham in the stock) and used ground chicken for the filling, which was way too wet and sticky to work with properly. I should have used the more firm and dry ground turkey. The filling kept adhering to my thumbs as I was attempting to pleat, and no way no how was I able to push the meat mixture beneath the skins. I ended up dipping my thumb in oil to prevent sticking, but this raised another problem--the dough wouldn't stick to itself. Sigh. It wasn't until I was nearing the final batch of dumplings that I realized I had been putting too much filling within; yet another detail adding to the dumpling funk and pleating misadventure.
I did manage to get a few to work out rather well, although after steaming it appeared that most of the precious liquid leaked out of mysterious holes, leaving my beautiful little satchels sad and deflated. There was still a bit of soup left within a few pockets, at least. The flavour of the dumplings that actually worked out were absolutely wonderful, and are reason enough to convince me to give these another shot.

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Stuffed Buns;Rich Pastries

Panfried Pork and Scallion Mini Buns-- Shengjian Baozi, pg.105

Up next in the ongoing dumpling feast at Casa Allegra are these fabulous textured buns.
The filling consists of ground pork, ginger, chinese chives, white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and water, and unlike the other buns in this section, the filling goes into the dough raw. I followed qianning's lead with sesame oil and stock.
I cooked up half a batch and had the other half waiting when I had to leave the house before I could get around to cooking them, so into the freezer they had to go. I let them thaw and rise a bit more before cooking, and while my dough was decidedly more sticky for it, if I had planned ahead and dusted them with flour they would have been okay. The lovely pleats had disappeared with this method, though. There aren't any instructions for freezing with this recipe--I wonder what the best way to do this would be, if any? Perhaps next time I'll experiment with freezing the already-cooked buns.
Anyway, these are delightful--a lovely mix of soft and crispy. I will never tire of the pork/ginger/scallion combination, so of course the filling was a big hit. These definitely are a little greasier than the other buns, but make for an excellent addition to the dumpling spread.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition!

Has anyone ever cooked out of Dim Sum:the Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Leong Blonder? It appears to have solid reviews on Amazon but I rarely trust those. Would love some insight.

Mar 27, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Stuffed Buns;Rich Pastries

Baked Filled Buns (with Char Siu filling), p.97

I made two batches of these swell buns during a dumpling bonanza using the char siu pork filling, and a variation using the recipe for the marinade with chicken thighs (which was also quite tasty!). The filling is simple:diced meat, scallions, shaoxing wine, and cornstarch in a seasoning of sugar, white pepper, soy and oyster sauce, and water cooked to a cohesive mass.

This eggy, sweet-ish dough is another great recipe to work with, and by following the instructions I was able to get the perfect filling-to-dough ratio with no leftovers of either. The buns cooked up perfectly round and golden and looked pretty darned good! They tasted just as great. I may cut back on the sugar in either the dough or the filling next time if using that combination again, since both already had some sweetness to it, but these were just excellent and were very well received. I will be making these again.

Mar 26, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
2

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Stuffed Buns;Rich Pastries

Steamed Filled Buns (with Char Siu filling) p.95

I spent a lazy afternoon making various filled buns that culminated in a delightful feast of dough-encased treasures. These were the first to disappear.

The easy char siu filling is made up with diced pork, scallions, shaoxing wine, and cornstarch, and seasoned with sugar, white pepper, soy and oyster sauce and cooked to an easily-heaped mass. I had made a batch of char siu pork from the recipe on p.224, and as an experiment, a batch of chicken thighs marinated in the same ingredients so that a non-red meat eating friend could also partake in testing these little treats. The chicken turned out beautifully, and although perhaps a tad untraditional, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Working with the dough recipe in the book was a real pleasure. I loved the detailed and accurate instructions that help the cook throughout the process. I made 32 small buns for each filling, and by the end I was becoming rather adept at measuring, rolling, and filling. The dough was so soft and forgiving, and pleating was much fun--in fact, I found myself grinning with nerdy giddiness from start to finish, and wish I could spend the rest of my days pleating dumplings.

The end product was just as wonderful to eat as it was to make. The enticing soft steamed bread contrasted the savoury and sweet filling and was so irresistible that the buns were gobbled up in no time and I barely have any left over. I can't wait to make these again!

(For those of you who avoid pork, I can fully attest that this recipe is perfectly lovely made with the chicken and I urge you to make it posthaste!)

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Filled Pastas;Thin Skins

Vegetable and Pork Wontons in Spicy Oil, p.72

I somehow found myself preparing this recipe around dinnertime on a weeknight--the hazards of reading this cookbook with an insatiable dumpling appetite! This was fabulous, and completely worth the endless whingeing I had to endure from the famished offspring as I prepared the meal.

The delicious filling consists of tender leafy greens (boy choy) blanched, chopped, and squeezed dry along with a small amount of ground pork. I made two batches, one with pork and one with ground chicken. The filling is seasoned with minced ginger, scallions, white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and sesame oil.
The wonton skins were easy to make, but a bit time-consuming, using a pasta roller and a ruler to cut to perfect-ish 3" squares. My pasta roller doesn't fit on the edge of my counter top and so I ended up dragging an end table into the kitchen to work at, to my detriment. A ribbon of dough at eye level is irresistible to a curious toddler -- not so much to his crouching (and grouching) mother.

After finally rolling and cutting the beautiful wonton wrappers,the dumplings are filled and gently boiled. While cooking, the sauce is made: chile oil, canola oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and cilantro. This is tossed with the steaming dumplings and served immediately.

These glorious little treasures took hours to make and sheer minutes to devour. They slid down the throat easily, pleasingly, and before I could blink they were gone. They were absolutely fantastic! The filling was hearty and gingery, the dough tender, the sauce salty-spicy and luscious. I will definitely be making and eating these again.

Tried and True Recipes from David Thompson's "Thai Food"

Not going to echo what has already been said here, but I would like to direct you to the nifty chart on page 137 where Thompson lists quantities for ingredients. This chart came in mighty handy for me last week when I was making a quadruple batch of this very recipe and was working with monstrous shallots and coriander root shreds.

Mar 24, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

March 2015 COTM Adjunct Thread: Cooking from other Korean Books and Web sites

Spicy Pork Stir-Fry, The Kimchi Chronicles

Okay, so this may only be a Korean-inspired dish in what already is a pretty fusion-heavy cookbook, but it was really delicious.

Sliced pork is marinated in a mix of soy sauce, gochujang, rice wine, gochugaru, sugar, along with minced garlic, green onions, onion, and ginger. This is stir-fried with julienned carrot, shiitake mushrooms, red pepper, and snap peas and served with rice. I added extra veggies as I usually do, and there was still plenty of flavour to go around.
This was a very nice dish--a little salty, a little sweet (you sugar-averse folk would probably find it a bit too much) with the perfect amount of heat. The lovely sauce permeated the tender pork and just barely dressed the vibrant veggies. We very much enjoyed this meal and I will be copying this recipe down to make again.

ETA online recipe: http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-reci...

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Sections 1 & 2

Aw, shucks! Thanks, fellow food-enthusiasts!

Mar 23, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

March 2015 COTM Adjunct Thread: Cooking from other Korean Books and Web sites

Corn Fritters - The Korean Table

https://books.google.ca/books?id=OsfZ...

This pre-dinner snack was originally going to be asparagus fritters, but the members in my household managed to foil that plan mid-way through execution by stealing the blanched vegetable from the counter top when my back was turned (the jerks!). So I deferred to the recipe right underneath, which happened to be these super easy and delicious corn fritters.

Corn kernels are mixed with miso, flour and water, pan-fried until golden on either side, and served with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce. While the author instructs to gently press the corn dry, I was perhaps a touch overzealous in that regard since the batter was very thick and rather difficult to spread into rounds. Nothing a little extra water couldn't fix. I added a bit of black pepper to the mix and thought a handful of green onion slices wouldn't be amiss, but this was a lovely snack to have. Everyone enjoyed it and I had a hard time keeping up with the demand. The miso added a lovely savoury-salty depth to the corn and I I now dream of grilled miso-glazed corn in the summer. It was a big hit for something so simple.

March 2015 COTM Adjunct Thread: Cooking from other Korean Books and Web sites

Dumpling Soup - A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes

Made these without the soup part yesterday and they were a delight!

The dumplings consist of ground beef or pork (pork in this case) blanched and squeezed bean sprouts, salted and drained napa cabbage and kimchi, along with bean curd, onion, green onion, soy sauce and plenty of sesame oil, garlic, and black pepper.

This cookbook doesn't have the greatest instructions and often fails to note all the ingredients in the proper sections, so one has to thoroughly read the directions before starting, but it is part of this book's charm. It helps that I have a few Korean cookbooks out from the library and could use them to refer to when needing a bit more help.

Anyway, I preferred the flavour and texture in this recipe to Hepinstall's. The bean sprouts gave a welcome crunch and there was more seasoning in the mix, making this dumpling delicious both with and without dipping sauce. I would like to try a couple more mandu recipes to see where this one stands but this version is pretty swell indeed.

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Sections 1 & 2

Stuffed Dumplings - Mandu, pg.90

A hankering for dumplings led me to try a couple of mandu recipes last night, and as always, they were a pleasure to make and to eat.

This recipe uses ground chicken as the main meat, though the recipe indicates pork can be used instead. The filling also contains blanched and squeezed-dry oyster or shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, kimchi, bean curd, and pickled hot green pepper. To this is added egg, rice wine, garlic, green onion whites, sesame oil, ginger juice, and s&p.

I didn't have any fresh shiitakes so used up some wilting criminis and supplemented with a couple of rehydrated dried shiitakes. I also hadn't made the pickled peppers required for the recipe so did a lazy version and cooked a pepper with a bit of vinegar, garlic, honey, and salt to at least try to replicate the flavour. I'll just use a regular tinned pickled jalapenos next time if I am caught without. The recipe also includes instructions for making the wrappers but I used pre-made skins. Perhaps less forgiving than home-made but also a bit less work. I do need to work on my pleating skills. It's been a while and it took a bit to get a groove in. Didn't help that the wrappers were terribly misshapen and tore easily. Home-made it is next time!

Hepinstall includes instructions for steam-cooking, pan-frying and boiling the dumplings. I couldn't decide on just one so did all three! The steamed dumplings were the least-enjoyed--strange since I usually gravitate towards that method the most. The skin was a little too tough and chewy this way, at least with my lame wrappers. We served these with a soy-vinegar sauce spiked with ginger and chile oil. The dumplings were lovely--I have yet to meet one I don't like, but I did prefer the other batch I made, which contained more sesame, garlic, pepper, and kimchi.

In search of cilantro roots - Winnipeg

Thanks! It really is maddening that they are so difficult to locate in these parts. I've tried growing them but always seem to harvest too late and the roots have already gone woody.
Good to know that the produce is fine to bring across the border-I'm never certain what is allowed so never try! This is another reason I need to head to Minneapolis...I'll add it to The List.

Mar 20, 2015
Allegra_K in Prairie Provinces

April 2015 COTM: Nomination Thread

Yucatan seems delightful! But I already have too many expensive books waiting in line for purchase. Have you cooked from it yet?

I would also be keen to cook from THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE. (do I have too many nominations to my name? There are many excellent options-it's hard to choose!)

Mar 15, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

In search of cilantro roots - Winnipeg

If any of you lovely people ever come across cilantro with roots attached anytime in the future, would you be so kind as to alert me to the exciting news? I have been searching for eight years and -save for farmers market special requests- have only come across it once. About two years ago I stumbled upon it in Superstore and bought an armload full to stock up. I am now officially out and hope to replenish, if at all possible.
Thanks a bunch!

Mar 15, 2015
Allegra_K in Prairie Provinces

April 2015 COTM: Nomination Thread

PLEASE TO THE TABLE, please! I just bought a used copy today. The prices seem to have been coming down substantially lately.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition!

......and I just pulled the trigger on Please to the Table, another title that has been on my wish list for too long. I have been feeling a desperate urge to own it since my library discarded their lone copy without telling me!

Korean Home Cooking by Soon Young Chung may have also made its way into my cart. Since I was there and all.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition!

I had been coveting the False Tongues book for years, but the price was always ridiculous. So it sat and gathered virtual dust in my amazon wishlist as well. I also noticed the massive drop in value, and after a bit of clicking discovered that it had been reprinted about a year ago. This is good news for more than just me, I gather! (I will also beam hearty re-issue vibes into the universe towards Von Bremzen's Please to the Table for the same reasons cited above!)

Oh She Glows was one of the websites that kept me sane while I was on the most hilariously depressing restricted diet imaginable for months on end -my baby had more allergies than I wished to count- and I actually ended up enjoying some of her recipes. However, I don't think I can ever look at a bag of nutritional yeast or eat a mouthful of quinoa flakes again without retreating to a corner and curling up in the fetal position, so I am (sort-of but not really) sad to say that I will not be purchasing that book!

April 2015 COTM: Nomination Thread

I'd be very happy to cook from THE NEW SPANISH TABLE. I've made a few recipes in there that have been repeated a number of times but haven't gotten around to more in-depth exploration.

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Sections 1 & 2

Allspice sauce, p 28

This thick sauce contains soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, green onion (whites and light green bits only), garlic, toasted sesame seeds, walnuts, sesame oil, s&p, and kochugaru. Super easy to throw all together in a jar, and keeps for a week.

I agree with milgwimper about this one. The sauce was too sweet and thick and even with all the lovely ingredients, it lacked....something. The walnuts seemed out of place and added an unpleasant background note. I made the sauce along with the vinegar soy sauce and we kept dipping into both at once, so I suppose it really did need some form of acid to even out the heavy richness of this sauce. I wouldn't make this one again.

Mar 07, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
1

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Sections 1 & 2

Kimchi Soup - Kimchiguk, p. 67

This was an easy and surprisingly flavourful soup-stew that had the tastebuds tingling all night.

Pork slices go into a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, minced garlic, green onion, ginger juice, sugar, and sesame oil and languish together while the rest of the ingredients get prepped. When ready, the meat is cooked with slivered shiitake mushrooms and minced garlic. Soybean sprouts (mung for me), green onion, and kimchi get mixed into the pot and wilted before adding chicken stock. The lot is simmered for a while longer to blend flavours, then diced tofu is added and within a few more minutes of bubbling, extra green onions are tossed in and the dish is complete.
The variations mention that the cook can substitute beef or chicken for the pork, so I used beef. I didn't realize until typing this review up that the recipe called for sesame oil--that could explain why I thought something was missing from the final product! The toasty oil would definitely round out the flavours of this lovely soup. I also added in a large handful of fresh napa cabbage because while I was prepping the veggies I had a pint-sized "helper" sneak into the fridge and shred the cruciferous vegetable all over the floor. At least he chose the correct piece of produce, haha. My soup was slightly more vegetable-heavy than called for but it was very welcome when we were scraping the pot clean.

While this was very nice and comforting as written, I wouldn't mind upping the beef for next time or perhaps using beef stock, or even adding dried shiitakes for a bit more depth in the broth. Perhaps all three! It was pleasantly spicy but not overwhelmingly so, although the author mentions one can rinse their kimchi if looking for milder flavours. I will definitely be making kimchi soup again--it was quite a taste explosion of familiar-yet-different flavours, using ingredients I mostly have on hand. We all enjoyed it over piles of rice. I may even try with some fresh wheat noodles for next time.

March 2015 COTM Adjunct Thread: Cooking from other Korean Books and Web sites

This looks fantastic! Well done.

Mar 07, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

March 2015 COTM Announcement: Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen

The book also contains a recipe for chapchae sweet potato noodles, as well as soba recipes (buckwheat is technically a seed!)....

I hope my enthusiastic attempt at helping isn't off-putting. I can empathize with you very well, as I was recently on a no-fun diet for nearly a year after discovering my baby was allergic to everything delicious. I became desperate for anything resembling real food and scoured the internet for recipes or alternative ingredients that were "safe".

Digressions aside, I do hope that you find something that you can make within the pages! I love reading about your culinary adventures.

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Section 3

Great, thanks for the tips--I thought of adding some rice flour to the blend as I had seen it in other recipes. I will try that next time.
How thin should the pancakes be? Mine were probably around 1/2".

Mar 03, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Section 3

Summer Squash Pancakes, p.160

This delicately-flavoured yet hefty-sized pancake was a great kick-off to this month's exciting cookbook selection.

Julienned summer squash is salted and wrung out of as much moisture as possible, and then mixed with garlic, hot red and green peppers (I used a mix of fresno, jalapeno and bell) and scallops. Ice water, flour, and an egg are gently stirred into the blend. The batter is divided into two batches and cooked in a hot oiled skillet on both sides until golden and crispy around the edges. Once done, it is cut to wedges or squares and sprinkled with parsley (?!) "or other decorative green" and served with either the vinegar soy sauce or the allspice sauce (both recipes on p.28).

The recipe does not state how large the pancakes should be, but I got mine to about 7-8" and I could have flattened them more. They never became very crispy, or at least the texture never remained crisp for very long before softening up to a floppy disc. Perhaps it would have been more crisp had I made them larger, or maybe I was unsuccessful with the initial moisture-squeezing of the zucchini. Even so, these were very nice indeed. The subtle flavours of the squash played nicely with the sweet scallops and I wonder if crunchiness would have detracted from the final picture, anyway. The pancake itself was a sight to behold: a light, pillowy wheel streaked with green and mottled brown that tantalized the diners.

This makes a lovely light starter to any Korean meal, or a meal in itself if paired with other pancakes, as I had done. I didn't even get a chance to remove them from the cutting board before they were gone.

Photo clockwise from top: Squash pancakes, potato pancakes (page opposite) and kimchi pancakes (p.162)

March 2015 COTM: GROWING UP IN A KOREAN KITCHEN - Sections 1 & 2

A beautiful sight.

Mar 01, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

March 2015 COTM Announcement: Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen

Yes, I would LOVE an adjunct thread, I have the library's entire Korean collection sitting in my living room.
You are inspiring me to start my own kimchi! I'm very much looking forward to March eating.

Feb 23, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
1

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Well, it looks fantastic and makes me want to cook it anyway!

Feb 22, 2015
Allegra_K in Home Cooking