Tags: BBQ pork buns, Char Siu Bao, Char Siu Pork, Dough, Green Onions, Hoisin Sauce, Pork, Roast Pork, Soy Sauce
I’m in love with pork buns… especially the baked kind. I’ve been known to go out of my way just to stop at Asian bakeries to pick up varieties of their soft lovely buns..and there’s always at least two pork buns in the bag when I leave. There’s one in my town now, and I have to steer clear or else I’ll be buying bags of buns several times a week, resulting in one big bun, one in which I sit on.
Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles ! Sara chose awesome Cha Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Cha Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!
Hmmm..Cha Sui? I suppose that’s just another term for it? I always thought it was Char Siu, and Char Siu pork and I go way back – well. way back two years ago. I was actually going to recycle that photo of my Char Siu pork into this post, but once I made it again, I decided to get at least one shot to show I actually did make it again. It’s a beautiful thing. Ever pick the pieces of it out of your fried rice to eat individually?
So, I’ve made Char Siu pork before, and Char Siu Bao before – steamed and baked – with great success. I knew this was a challenge I couldn’t miss, not only because I’ve had great success with it, but because pork buns have gone up $1.25 since I last walked out of the local Asian bakery mentioned above.
On a whim, I decided to do something a little different with them this time. I gussied them up a bit with some Chinese characters for Love, Strength, Peace and Harmony. I mixed matcha powder with a little egg yolk, painted on the characters, let them dry, then egg washed and baked after rising. After one bun, I nixed LOVE.
The Chinese character for LOVE has too many lines and details for such a small area. It looked like scribble scrabble, so I let it fly solo. The LOVE is in the buns, baby.
As I painted each character on top of the buns…a memory came a stompin’, with high-heels no less, through every nook in my brain.
A few years ago, I decided to completely redo the breakfast nook at my parent’s house. Every time I was over there, I could hear the strains of 80’s synthesizers when we sat in that room. It was far past out-of-date – it was Boy George in long braided, mu mu drag…George Michael doing the jitterbug in day-glo, fingerless gloves, out-of-date.
I pulled up every tile of the black and white checkerboard floor, stripped as much of the bright blue paint off the walls (I know, sounds tacky, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t tacky in the 80’s), then sanded off the rest, sealing cracks and holes with compounds and putties, (add more sanding) and finally rolling and brushing on two coats of an Arabian sand color I thought was perfect.
I took down two doors, sanding off the burnished, worn stain, then sanding again, staining and shellac – finishing them off with shiny, bright new doorknobs. It was tough work for one
girl , umm..person..and I still have no idea how I managed it, but within a month, it was completed. I bought a pot rack and hung their pots and pans between the nook and the kitchen, then stood back and admired what I’d done. Trading Spaces? Pffft. Eat your hearts out, bitches.
Hmmm…one problem though..it needed art, a few paintings to tie it all up. Maybe one by me to sort of ‘sign’ my work on the room. Yeah, that sounded cool..really cool. I was cool for once in my life..I think.
I found a bunch of old acrylic paints and brushes in their basement (Yes, I used to draw and paint a bit – well, a lot), but no canvas, and it was too late to go out and get one. I walked around the house looking for something – anything..I needed to paint at that moment. I needed to put my final seal on the room before reveal day.
Out of the corner of my eye, there it sat, one of those vertical, ‘three in a row’ mallard prints that nobody, outside of Grizzly hunter man living in a log cabin, puts up on display (or so I thought). I pried open the wires holding everything together since I planned on using the back of this canvas for my painting. I was confused as to why there were so many layers to get to the canvas, and why was this cheap print numbered and signed? Was someone actually proud of painted mallards on a canvas set in ugly dark green cardboard frames?
I finally got to the back of the canvas, pulled it out, and started painting a kaleidoscope of colors to fit in, but ‘pop’ in the room. I’d already decided I was going to paint the black Chinese characters for Love, Health and Happiness on top of these colors because they’re so beautiful. After hiding it to dry for several hours, I came back and painstakingly painted on each character – using some computer print-outs as a reference. It turned out beautiful, and once it was fully dry, I put it back into the frame, minus the dark green cardboard cut-outs.
I hung it in the perfect place and beamed at my resourcefulness. Turning a cheap, factory made mallard painting into something beautiful! I couldn’t wait for them to see!
They loved the room – I was thrilled. They also loved my painting. After several compliments, my father asked..
“Where did you get the frame for it? I was given a numbered, signed painting by (insert name of famous mallard artist whose name escapes me at this moment) a few weeks ago as a gift for the holidays, in a frame very similar to that..it’s very expensive.”
Update: I know who it is now but absolutely refuse to name him in fear he will see this post via Google and read how I completely annihilated his work thinking it was cheap, worthless and ugly. Shudder.
I felt faint.
He saw my eyes and his face took a turn for the worse. His smile stretched into something between a grimace and a glower, almost as if someone had painted it on with a fine brush, in one deft stroke, not once slipping off track. In fact, I’d never seen it stretch that wide.
“You didn’t take that painting out of the frame, did you? If you did, show me where everything is so we can put it all back together, we’ll get another nice frame for your painting, ok?” He said with faux, hopeful cheer.
Now I’m going to throw up.
He saw my face turn a light shade of green. He knew.
I’m not going to get into details outside of some yelling and “Do you have any idea how much that painting is worth now and will be worth in several years??” “Do you have any idea how rare it is? Only 5 exist!” type of stuff.
To this day, my painting sits in a box in my parent’s basement, never seeing the light of day, err..room, again. He didn’t need to be reminded of it during his morning coffee for the rest of his life.
I get it.
OK..back to the pork buns! This was a good recipe and the dough was absolutely wonderful to work with. However, I made a few small changes. When I saw the recipe for the pork filling, I didn’t think there would be enough sauce to really moisten the pork, so I doubled it. Turns out I was right, as some mentioned the pork filling being dry after it was baked and/or steamed.
Second change..I wanted a lot of filling per bun, like the ones I get at my local bakery, so I made 9 buns instead of 12..no 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon amount here..just what I call a ‘heap’ aka whatever I can fit onto the dough-round and seal without leaking or tearing.
Third change – I let the buns rise for an hour before baking. This recipe eliminated a rise, for a thinner shell of bread. I like a little bready fluff around my pork filling. I also baked them at 350 F for 15 minutes, instead of 200 F for 15 minutes.
Finally, I sprinkled the top of the buns without the characters with a little bit of Maldon flake sea salt.
I’m also submitting these to Bread Baking Day #45, hosted by Cindy of Cindystar.
Green Eggs and Stacked Porkchiladas and a Chicken Enchilada Bake, PLUS the Winner of the Cookbook Giveaway!May 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Giveaway, Lunch, Pork, Vegetables | 50 Comments
Tags: Carnitas, Chicken Enchilada Bake, Daring Cooks, Enchiladas, Flour tortillas, Green Chile Sauce, Poached Eggs, Pork, Red Mole Sauce, Rick Bayless
..or shall I call these Pork and Eggchiladas? In this case, the pork is carnitas, braised, juicy chunks of pork shoulder, torn into irregular pieces, then crisped in the oven prior to serving. Sounds delicious, right? Well, let’s make it even more delicious and bathe it in Rick Bayless’ beautiful, rich, but uber involved, classic red mole sauce. Then we’ll stack it between homemade flour tortillas along with some queso fresco, cheddar and asadero cheeses melted into an amalgam of silky, stringy goo, and top it with a poached egg drizzled with green chile sauce and more mole. Tell me that doesn’t sound pretty amazing? Well, it was!
Yes, we’ve gone south of the border this month into beautiful and delicious Mexico with enchiladas! Cue blog checking lines…
Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.
Naturally, I didn’t follow the challenge word for word. Yes, as you read in the first paragraph, I stacked them. Yes, I made the green chile sauce provided to us by Barbara and Bunnee. However, as always, I have to complicate things..but it’s always in a good way, and this was no exception to the rule. I made Rick Bayless’ Classic Red Mole sauce. Granted, we were given the option to use any red and/or green chile sauce we wanted, but when traveling to Mexico through the eyes and minds of the Daring Cooks, who better to go to than Rick Bayless – seriously? I did make one minor change to his perfect recipe, and that was to add one roasted plum tomato along with the tomatillos. Hey, they’re relative..right? Right?
Some of the many ingredients in the classic red mole : Upper Left – Toasted sesame seeds, roasted tomatillos plus one tomato, almonds, golden raisins and garlic in the middle. Upper Right: Dried chiles. Lower Left – Mexican chocolate. Lower Right – Dark toast and spices.
First off, I’ve never made mole sauce before. Now I know why. This sauce contains a myriad of ingredients and loads of steps. I made the full recipe, which included a good amount of dried ancho, mulato and pasilla chiles, torn into flat pieces and fried prior to soaking. First off, I don’t know what kind of dried chile peppers Rick gets, but tearing them into ‘flat’ pieces for frying is just not entirely possible. Yes, you’ll get some flat pieces, but for the most part, since these peppers are shriveled to the maximum shrivel unit, most will curl when torn. This was a caveat when frying them..a small caveat, but kind of a pain in the tushy.
On the bright side, while tearing these peppers into pieces, for what seeemed like hours, it smelled like really good popcorn. Ever smell your pup’s paws or hot buttered white rice? That kind of ‘good’ popcorn smell. However, when sniffed close to the nose, it was back to spicy raisins, which is also pretty nice. That said..just because a hot pepper has been dried doesn’t mean the seeds are any less hot. Yes, I rubbed my eyes (staring back at you all with bulbous, red burning eyes).
Ready for basic asssembly. Upper Left – Carnitas. Upper Right – Flour tortillas. Lower left – Top to Bottom: Queso fresco, cheddar and asadero. Lower right – Red Mole and Green Chile sauces.
Does it sound like I’m complaining about this sauce? Yeah, I know it does..but I would make it again, and again and again. I would toast, fry, soak, mix, blend, strain, cook down etc..for eternity because it’s so.worth.it. Having said that, if you make this sauce, make sure you have a MEDIUM mesh strainer. I used a fine mesh strainer to push the chile and tomatillo mixtures and the final sauce through (although the recipe didn’t call for pushing the final sauce through..I wanted it super silky) and boy did I pay. It took at least an hour of my life and left me with a very sore wrist. The word STRAIN definitely covered both the noun and verb in this case – BUT, my mole was smoother than a baby’s bottom and like silk on the tongue. However, I took a photo of it straight out of the fridge. Why? Because I rushed this entry since it was late. Sometimes I just don’t think.
A few days later, I used the mole sauce to make the recipe almost as written..stacked/layered in a roasting pan, using chicken. Sort of like a chicken mole lasagna using flour tortillas. The photo stinks, but it was extraordinarily delicious and the pan was empty in minutes.
I suppose you could call my take on this month’s challenge Enchilada Benedict. You’ve got the pig, you’ve got the poached egg, and even though I didn’t, you could always mix some of the green chile sauce (which was also fabulous) into some Hollandaise sauce. When it comes to the ‘bread’ part, anything really goes – English muffins being the classic route, but why not cheesy flour tortillas filled with carnitas in mole? Instead of one big pan of cheesy, meaty, saucy stack, I made individual stacks, using a 3-inch round cookie cutter t0 cut circles from the flour tortillas. I think it was a much better podium for the creamy, little poached eggs.
To sum it this up..loved this challenge, as did everyone who gorged on it. Thank you for a delicious and fun challenge, Barbara and Bunnee! For the master recipe, click HERE. To see some other takes on this challenge, click on the links at the Daring Cooks Blogroll, HERE.
FINALLY, I didn’t forget, although I am a day late (a day late with this challenge too – sometimes life just gets in the way). the winner of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book! Random Integer chose number….
This corresponds to Becca of My Kitchen Quest. Congrats, Becca! I’ll send you an email ASAP and get the book right out to you as soon as I get your info!
Recipe from the Authentic Mexican Cookbook by Rick Bayless
Makes 12 tortillas
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, or a mixture of both
3/4 teaspoon salt
about 3/4 cup very warm water
1. Make the dough. Combine the flour and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers (like you would a pie dough), until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass. If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary). Place the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not as soft as most bread dough either.
2.Rest the dough. Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle.
4. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
5. Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Cook the other side 30 – 45 seconds until it also has brown splotches; don’t over cook the tortilla or it will become crisp.
6. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer or warm oven. Roll and cook the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.
Chicken Enchilada Bake
Red Mole Sauce and/or Green Chile Sauce – OR Mexican sauce(s) of your choice
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 flour tortillas from recipe above
6 ounces grated Monterey or Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
6 ounces Cheddar Cheese, grated
Chopped cilantro for garnish – optional
1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheeses.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.
4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
1 quart chicken or beef broth
2 cups chunky tomato salsa either prepared or homemade
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1- to 3-days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of the stock or broth, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Return pork chunks to pot and add broth or stock, salsa, bay leaves, chile powders, garlic, and enough water to make sure the pork is completely covered.
5. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 3 to 4 hours (or longer) until meat pulls apart easily. Add salt to taste if needed.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove meat from liquid in pot (discard the liquid) and spread the meat out in a roasting pan. Break the meat into small chunks. Roast meat for 15 to 20 minutes until brown and crispy.
7. Drizzle with classic red mole sauce, if desired.
Tags: Baby Back Ribs, Barbecue Ribs, Barbecue Sauce, BBQ Ribs, BBQ sauce, Dry Rub, POM Wonderful, pomegranate juice, Pork, Spicy
Before I begin, I’d like to mention that, regrettably, I had to skip this month’s Daring Cooks challenge. It’s a recipe called Rice with mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes, created by Jose Andres, and chosen/hosted by Olga of Las Cosas de Olga and Olgas Recipes. If you have some time and would like the recipe, please take a moment to check out some of the Daring Cook’s takes on and mouth watering photos of it by checking out the Daring Cooks Blogroll and clicking on the links to their blogs. BUT..HEY, I’ve got RIBS!
So…I was cleaning out my fridge last month, and suddenly..way in the back, a little ruby bottle appeared. WHAT? How did I not finish that 8-pack of Pomegranate juice that POM Wonderful sent me last February or March? I started to open it, ready to guzzle, but then, being an avid peruser/reader of food blogs, I recalled a recipe I saw a few months ago, created by the lovely couple at Fotocuisine, a food blog with, well..obviously, stunning and mouth-watering photographs.
He’s the chef, she’s the photographer – which is like peanut butter and jelly in the macrocosm of food blogs.
In any event, this was a recipe I was dying to tackle, and I remember thinking, ‘Damn, too bad I don’t have any of that POM Wonderful left!’. Well, apparently the people at POM Wonderful read my mind and sent their little ruby red fairy to deposit a bottle into my fridge with a flick of her wand.
The beginning of a beautiful BBQ sauce with the ‘elusive’ POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
I hadn’t made ribs in a while, and their recipe for grilled, oven braised POM Pomegranate Barbecue Ribs struck like lightning before the opening of the bottle hit my lips. I screwed the cap back on and placed it back in the fridge, knowing a trip to the market for some baby back ribs was inevitable. Just my luck, they happened to have some gorgeous baby backs on sale. I bought several racks, since I knew I was going to want to make this again..and again. ‘Highly intuitive’ was something that was always written about me by teachers back in the day. Too bad I don’t listen to my ‘intuition’ as often as I should have.
Well, my intuition was correct, these ribs are fabulous. I made a few changes to the dry rub (added some dried chile powders and herbs), BBQ sauce (added finely diced onions and reduced the cumin and lemon juice), and cooking time/temp, but nothing too drastic. The sauce was sweet, rich, slightly tart, and zesty, with a kick of heat (I increased the burn by seasoning it with the spicy dry rub). The meat was juicy and tender, sliding off the bone with each bite, almost melting on the tongue. I’m so glad I made these, and due to popular vote, I have to make them again…and again….and again…
Now, before I get to their recipe with my changes, I need to ‘veer’ off a bit. My camera broke. I guess it was looking for a little a little spark in its life. While uploading some photos this past Monday, there was a power surge, and the wire connected to it blew, little iridescent scintillas literally shocking me and sending some kind of electric sex up into the body of my camera. When I tried to take some photos on Tuesday, all I got was ERROR this, and ERROR that, the camera shuddering and beeping away every time I pressed the shutter button.
To add insult to injury, when I reached for the Canon manual to troubleshoot, my elbow knocked against my ONE good lens, and KABOOM, it hit the floor and cracked in half. Why? Why?
I carefully wrapped my critically injured camera and lens in bubble wrap, placed them gingerly in a cloth bag, and brought it to a local camera shop. The proprietor told me *sniff* they had to be sent away for repair, and he wasn’t quite sure they would *sniff* make it – aka it might not be worth the price to repair either of them. OH NO, what was I going to do? I asked if he had an XSi, XTi or XT I could rent until we received the final diagnosis. He did, but it didn’t have any X’s attached to it.
To put it simply, I could hear the faint heartbeat of the alternative/grunge rock movement coming from it.
Wellll, it was better than nothing, and I didn’t want to use my old, crappy point and shoot (see photos from May, June and July of ’08). Unfortunately, I also had to revert back to the lens that came with my camera, so since the tragic accident, the photos I’ve taken have been more than less than stellar. Remember, I have no natural light to begin with, so I need all the help I can get/afford when it comes to photographing my food.
The ribs with chile lime butter grilled corn on the cob
Thankfully, I made and photographed these ribs in July, so although nowhere near the perfection of Fotocuisine’s photos, they’re a lot better than what may soon be coming. On another note, I sort of tried to emulate some of the photos of the rib preparation and ingredients at Fotocuisine. HA! What was I thinking?
'Fall of the bone' tender, extremely moist, and chockful of flavor!
- 1 rack pork baby back ribs
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1¼ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1¼ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground coarsely
- 1½ teaspoons ancho powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 3 tablespoons dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Half a medium onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup honey **
- ½ of a cherry or jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
- 1 large lemon, juiced
- Some of the dry rub to taste or just salt and pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dry rub. Sprinkle on and rub into both sides of the ribs until well coated. If desired and/or you have the time, you could wrap the dry rubbed pork in plastic wrap, tightly, and let marinate in the fridge for several hours prior to cooking.
- In a medium to large sauce pan,combine the garlic, onions, tomato paste, dry mustard, cumin, pomegranate juice, molasses and honey.
- Whisk it while bringing it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and reduced by one third to one half. Squeeze/stir in the lemon juice.
- Add some of the dry rub OR salt and pepper to taste - NOT all three. Set aside until ready to baste.
- Preheat oven to 225 or 250 F. Heat a large grill pan, your outdoor grill or BBQ (bricks or coal) until very hot. Sear the ribs on both sides until you've got color, but that's it - don't go any further.
- Place the ribs on a foil lined sheet pan and paint/mop both sides, generously, with some of the sauce. Cover with another sheet of foil and place in the preheated oven. If using your grill or BBQ, apply the sauce to both sides until well coated, but wrap the ribs in foil and lower/close the cover of the BBQ or Grill.
- This is where I differ in cooking time and temp. I let these ribs go for anywhere from 2-4 hours (depending on the weight/thickness of the ribs) at 225 or 250 F, lifting up the foil covering the sheet pan and basting both sides of the ribs every 30 minutes with the sauce, then replacing the foil to cover the sheet pan. On a BBQ or Grill, you would unwrap and baste, then wrap again. 160 F means DONE, but you can go a bit further, just not too much. I didn't use a thermometer, I just went by taste and feel with a fork.
- When the ribs are done to your liking ('falling off the bone' tender is what you want), preheat your broiler, and let broil for about 2 to 5 minutes until bubbling and a deeper brown in color (of course you want those crispy bits!). **Cook down the remaining sauce for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Serve the ribs with the extra sauce on the side.
Have plenty of napkins and moist towelettes on hand, and enjoy these finger lickin' phenomenal ribs!
**If you like your BBQ sauce even sweeter, increase the honey. Less sweet, reduce it.
On a final note, I WILL be telling the story of the two women plus men ‘gym experience’ in my next entry..I promise! Also, I was incredibly flattered to receive this award from Lauren at Celiac Teen.
She’s a sweetheart of a girl, and her blog is one to check out, especially considering how she has to adjust her eating habits and cooking/baking due to Celiac Disease. She’s incredibly creative and has such a positive attitude! That said, now I have to pass this on to 13 people and in turn, you guys pass this on to 13 people. Spread the sentiment!
Jill at Jillicious Discoveries
Julia at Melanger to Mix
Marta at Just call me Marta
Juliana at Simple Recipes
Mandy at What the Fruitcake?!
Megan at Feasting on Art
Valerie at The Chocolate Bunny
Sophie at Sophies Foodiefiles
Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti
Isa at Eat My Cake Now
Laura at shore (house) chic.
Claire at Cooking is Medicine
Rose at The Bite Me Kitchen
Tags: 5-Spice, apples, caramel, Chinese, Daring Cooks, Dumplings, gyoza, Japanese, mousse, Pork, Potstickers, Shrimp
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 restaurant or Japanese restaurant (gyoza for the latter). Dumplings, whether they be steamed or fried (potstickers), filled with pork, shrimp, veggies or whatever suits your fancy. It doesn’t matter, 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 and 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 months 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 away. 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 aesthetics weren’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 in no time! Click 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, 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. Well…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 and had to use some store-bought 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 light and airy, it’s almost invisible to the naked eye.
This mousse by Ming Tsai is a must try..and it rhymes.
OK, 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 dump. It also refers to dumpling as the aforementioned poop that won’t flush no matter how many times you try (I thought those were called floaters?). Hmm..interesting “Hey, who left a dumpling in the toilet?”.
Sorry for the gross out, I’m really grasping here.
Dumpling, apparently, is also a term used to describe a chubby, dumpy 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.
Geeeez, 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, cheesy (you don’t taste the brie as cheese, it just adds a creamier texture) ice cream and more spicy caramel….
Let’s cut one open…
Mmmm…hot, crispy, sticky, gooey, full of spicy. caramelized 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 then 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, anyone remember the silly rumors about the meat they use in Chinese restaurants….?
5-Spice Caramel Apple Cinnamon Sugar Dumplings (‘Churro’Apple Dumplings)
3 cups cubed tart apples
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch or arrowroot
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder (optional..you can use just cinnamon and/or nutmeg/allspice etc)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
15-20 Homemade dumpling wrappers, linked above, or store bought gyoza or dumpling wrappers
Neutral oil such as vegetable or canola
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Powdered Sugar to top and look pretty (optional)
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Makes about 16-20 dumplings
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.