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Crispy & Juicy Chinese Pork Dumplings March 22, 2010

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Asian Dishes.
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I’ve always loved dumplings, and I owe that pleasure to my mother’s delicious cooking. When I was a child, she used to cook home-made dumplings on special occasions, and give Chinese cooking lessons. I always used to help her make the dumplings, and I suggest that you tackle this dish with one of your friends or loved ones as well. It is very labor intensive, and can demoralize you if it is your first time making it alone. Towards the end of this recipe, I was hungry, tired and dying for a bite of that delicious, juicy and crispy goodness. The dumplings were finally cooked at 9:30 PM, I was so happy that I managed to persevere through the hard work. This is a lot of work, but the reward is so tasty, you will definitely make it again.

The reason this recipe yields 40-45 dumplings is because you can actually freeze some of the dumplings in the freezer that you do not eat right away. I managed to eat 24 with my lovely sous-chef, but you might not be as hungry, and that’s fine! Just put the uncooked dumplings in a ziplock bag, and place in the freezer for later.

As far as dipping sauces go, there are plenty of variations people use. I have listed a recipe for a basic dipping sauce,  just mix the ingredients below and enjoy. You can either change this recipe or just use plain soy sauce if you prefer.

You will need for the filling (Yields approximately 40-45 dumplings)
2 cups of blanched and finely chopped cabbage
1 pound of ground pork
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 cup of finely chopped spring onion
Liquid chicken broth in a can or carton

You will need for dough
2.5 cups of flour
2/3 cup of boiling water, and 1/3 of cold water

You will need for dipping sauce (just combine ingredients and enjoy)
6 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
Some finely chopped spring onion
Some red pepper flakes

1. Prepare an ice bath for the cabbage. Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add some ice

Prepare ice bath for cabbage

2. Bring some water in a medium pot to a boil, and place approximately 10-12 leaves of cabbage, and boil for 1 minute

Boil cabbage for 1 minute

3. Place cabbage into the ice bath until cool

Cool the cabbage in the ice bath

4. Chop the cabbage as thinly as you can, and place 2 cups of it into a medium bowl for the filling.

Chop cabbage as thinly as you can

5. Chop 1/2 cup of fresh onions (comes out to approximately 4 sprigs), and place into the same bowl for the filling

Chop the fresh onions

6. Use a garlic press to mash 2 cloves of garlic into the bowl with the dumpling filling. Also add 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger to the bowl

Use garlic press to mash garlic

7. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oi, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce to the dumpling filling bowl

Add sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce

8. Finally, add 1 pound of ground pork to the bowl and mix with your hands. To recap, you should mix 2 cups of cabbage, 1/2 cup of fresh onion, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 2 cloves of mashed garlic, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce in the bowl.Let this rest for an hour in the fridge, covered with cling film

Mix ingredients and let rest for an hour in fridge

9. Now it is time to make the dough. Place 2.5 cups of flour in a bowl using a sifter (to make sure it is not clumpy), and separate a hole in the middle with your hands

Sift flour in a bowl, and separate a hole in middle

10. Boil some water in a kettle, and slowly pour 2/3 cup of boiling water in the middle of the bowl. Stir with a fork, and add an additional 1/3 cup of cold water to the bowl

Add 2/3 cup boiling water, and 1/3 cold water and mix

11.  Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. Now place a damp cloth over it (to make sure it does not get crunchy), and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes

Knead dough for 4-5 minutes, place in fridge with damp cloth over it

12. Once the dough and filling have rested in the fridge, separate a walnut sized piece of dough. Use a flat surface with plenty of flour.

Use a walnut sized piece of dough at a time

13. Feel free to sprinkle more flour if rolling the dough gets tough or sticky. Roll the dough until it is thin

Use rolling-pin to flatten dough

14. Use a cup or glass to cut a circular piece of dough, from which we will make a dumpling

Use a cup or glass to cut a circular piece of dough

15. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle, and fold shut

Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle

16. Pinch the edges of the dumpling to seal it shut. Use some water to close it shut if the flour is making it not seal. Repeat this process until you have used up all the filling and dough. Make sure to keep a damp cloth and a large serving platter handy. Place the prepared dumplings on the serving platter and cover with a damp cloth. If you leave it in open air, it will get dry and crispy, we don’t want that!

Pinch edges with your fingers and shape it

17. Heat a pan with some vegetable oil in it over medium-high heat. Place 6-7 dumplings in the pan, and brown the bottom of the dumplings (should take 1 minute!)

Place 6-7 dumplings on a non-stick pan with hot vegetable oil

18. This part can get quite tricky, and you need to be very careful. Pour 1/4 cup of chicken stock into the pan and quickly cover with a lid. If you do not cover quickly, the oil will spatter everywhere and you might burn yourself! Please be careful!

Pour 1/4 cup of chicken stock or water in the pan, and quickly cover with a lid

19.Uncover the dumplings after 2 minutes, and cook for 2 more minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated, and the dumplings start browning and getting crispy

Cook for 2 more minutes uncovered, until liquid evaporates

20. Serve with soy or dipping sauce and enjoy!

Serve with soy or dipping sauce!

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God Bless a Chickpea & Home-Made Hummus March 15, 2010

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Middle Eastern.
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I had to reference one of my all time favorite TV shows “Friends” before starting this recipe. George Clooney said it best: “God BlessĀ  a Chickpea”. Versatile and incredibly flavorful, there is almost no limitation to what you can do with chickpeas. Especially in Turkish cuisine, numerous dishes include chickpeas as a central ingredient. I will call a few family friends, and borrow another delicious chickpea recipe in the near future. Stay Tuned!

Meanwhile, let’s get to the recipe at hand. In recent years, I have seen an explosion of hummus brands in the USA. Known as a healthy snack, companies have not missed the opportunity to capitalize on the healthy trends that are emerging in US cities. But why purchase something that it so easy to make at home? If you have a food processor, chickpeas and tahini paste, you can make your own version of hummus in a matter of minutes. Another reason to keep these ingredients handy at home.

To accompany the perfect home-made hummus, I will also show you how to make home made pita chips. Again, you can come up with sweet variations for this (cinnamon and sugar), but I will show you how to make plain ones, which we can use for dipping into the hummus. With this recipe, your parties will be a hit!

You will need

1 can of chickpeas (approximately 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon of sumac
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 clove of garlic (mashed)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of tahini
1/4 cup of water
1/6 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (add more depending on your taste)
1/4 cup of parsley
Store bought pita bread

1. Wash the chickpeas in a strainer, and place them into the food processor

Wash chickpeas and place into food processor

2. Peel a garlic clove and use a garlic press to mash the 1 clove of garlic into the food processor. Use a garlic press, otherwise you might get chunks of garlic in your hummus!

Peel garlic and mash it into the food processor

3. Add 2 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt to taste ( I add approximately 1/6th of a teaspoon), and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. I also add 1/2 teaspoon of sumac, which is a red colored spice which adds a sour taste.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the food processor

4. Blend ingredients using the food processor!

Blend ingredients!

5. To make the pita chips, cut the pita bread into small triangles

Cut pita bread into small triangles

6.On a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes on top of the pita triangles. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes

7. Serve with the hummus! Enjoy!

Garnish with pine nuts and some sumac. You can also drizzle some more olive oil.