DIY Dumplings

In an effort to switch up more normal stir-fry routine this week, I made my first attempt at steamed pot stickers. Always a favorite of mine and never left off the the take out order, pot stickers are Asian dumplings filled with meat or vegetables that are steamed and sometimes finished off pan-fried. I decided to forgo the extra pan-frying calories and just steam them. This first attempt turned out fantastic and with how easy they were to make, I might be making these when I am waiting for the rest of my take out to come to the door. You can buy wonton wrappers in the produce section of your market, usually they are by the herbs. They keep well and you can fill them with anything you would like. I have even filled them with sweet Nutella and fried them to make a fried ravioli dessert. You could easily also fill the wrappers with ricotta and herbs, fold over in a triangle and cook just like fresh pasta. The possibilities are really endless, so I hope you try this recipe and then experiment in your own kitchen with your extra wrappers!

Steamed Asian Dumplings
Forks & Amusement 2010
makes about 12 dumplings

For dipping sauce:
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 scallions, diced
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of garlic chili paste or other hot sauce

Whisk ingredients together and set aside

For dumplings:
vegetable oil for brushing the steamer
1/2 lb ground pork
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 scallions, diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
salt & pepper
1 egg lightly beaten in a small bowl
12 wonton wrappers

Turn on a steamer, or place a pot with a steamer basket on the stove with water. Brush the metal steamer with vegetable oil so dumplings will not stick. Bring water to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low.

Place the pork, garlic, sesame oil, scallion, ginger, soy sauce, pinch of salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl. Combine the ingredients well, but lightly, using a fork.

Place a wonton wrapper on a cutting board, brush the edges with the egg. Place a heaping teaspoon (almost double) of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. Bring all four corners of the wrapper up and seal each side together forming a little pillow. Repeat until you have used all of the meat mixture.
Place the dumplings in the steamer and cook for 10 minutes, or until the meat mixture is firm and cooked through. do not crowd the dumplings as they will stick to each other. I had to make it in two batches.

To serve, pour a little of the dipping sauce into a small serving bowl for each plate along with the hot dumplings.



Just like Mom Used to Make...

My obsession with pasta this last month has gone a little overboard. I have eaten pasta every day now for almost a month in some form or another. Not sure how it happened, but I guess with the change of season my tummy is just into the comfort of this Italian treat. I made this meatball recipe to see if I could go beyond my normal sauce routine and add a little Italian grandmother (not Italian, but I think I was in a former life!) to my daily plate of one of Italy's many culinary treasures. I wanted to keep it simple, but make sure to add a few extra ingredients to make it special. You can make the meatballs whatever size you would like and adjust the cooking time. Kids love mini ones and I have to say I do too.

Pasta & Meatballs
Forks & Amusement 2010
serves 4

3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/2 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped; plus a little extra garnish
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese; plus a little extra for garnish and passing
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like more heat)
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 1/2 lbs. ground meat - beef, veal, pork - any combination or just one of them; turkey for a lighter take
1 - 26oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 lb. box of your favorite dried pasta shape

Place a dry saute pan over high heat on the stove and add the pine nuts to it. Toast the pine nuts and shake the pan occasionally until they are slightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop

Place water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

Combine in a large bowl the pine nuts, parsley, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and bread crumbs. Add the meat to the bowl and GENTLY combine the meat into the mixture, you can use a fork or your hands, but try to not overwork, otherwise you will end up with tough meatballs.

Using your hands, gently roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place on a platter or plate. You should have 10-12 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil to just coat. Place the meatballs in the pan and brown, turning them so that the entire meatball gets browned on each side, about 10 minutes.

Pour the sauce into the pan, roll the meatballs in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes so meat balls are cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, drain and add to the sauce and meatballs. Stir to combine everything. Turn off heat and serve with extra cheese and parsley to garnish.



Chocolate Chip Chili

When I first saw this recipe was was very skeptical that it was going to be great AND stay somewhat true to what I think is tasty chili. When I did a bit more research I found that chocolate is actually an ingredient added to many meat dishes to give it a richness that you can not put your finger on, but appreciate. This chili was super easy to make and certainly was a great recipe that switches up my normal turkey chili recipe. This version is much meatier, bolder and has some unexpected flavors. It is much more rich, so serving this with a slaw of some sort would be perfect. It would also be spectacular with some tortillas or even in a burrito as leftovers. I make a lot of chili this time of year and this is a great one to keep in the arsenal to switch things up.

Choc Chip Chili
Nigella Lawson - The More the Merrier
serves 12

10 or 5 linked pairs chorizo sausage (not the salami sort), about 1 1/4 lb
3 1/4 lb boneless beef shank, cut into 3/4 inch cubes (stew meat could also be used, but will not be as tender)
3 onions, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 fresh long chili, seeded (could not find this, so I subbed in 2 teaspoons chili powder and a serrano chili)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
seeds from 3 cardamom pods (not a fan of this spice and I left out)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (I added a bit more to great results)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
4 - 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained
3 - 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup water (swished out in one of the diced tomato cans

Preheat oven 300 degrees (You could also use a slow cooker)

Finely chop, or process the onion, garlic and chili.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan (with a lid) or cast iron or enameled dutch oven and fry the onion, garlic and chile until soft, on low for about 10 minutes, then add the cardamom seeds (if using), cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.

Stir the oniony spiced mixture together and then add the chorizo, sliced into 1/4 inch coins, letting them ooze their paprika-orange oil.

Drop in the cubes of beef, turning them n the pan with the chorizo and onion mix, to brown the meat.

Stir in the tomato paste, ketchup, drained kidney beans, diced tomatoes and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the water and bring the chili to a boil.

Once it is started bubbling, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the chili and give it a good stir. Put on the lid and transfer to the oven.

Cook a this low heat for 3 hours. Once cooked it is best left overnight to improve the flavor.

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