Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Almost Summer

It is hard to believe that school is almost over for the year.  Seven more days!  This year feels like it went by quickly, but especially these past couple months.  I am really ready for a vacation, so June 15th can't come soon enough.  Just imagining all those empty hours to fill with new recipes has me totally psyched!

I have been making a lot of different things lately.  First, I mentioned the overnight pull-apart cinnamon loaf on Sunday.  I made the dough Saturday night, and let it rise overnight in the fridge (which made me nervous: can yeast breads rise in a cold place?)  My doubts were erased after taking this baby out of the oven.  It was delicious, and looks so pretty on a platter.  It is very similar to monkey bread, but instead of little dough balls, the dough is in slices that can be pulled off (hence the name).  We devoured it with help from the Cormiers, and it was a hit.  This is a definite make-it-again kind of dessert.

Also on Sunday, I made pork and cabbage dumplings.  Mom had cut the recipe out of her Martha Stewart magazine and requested them for a while.  I went to two different grocery stores asking for ground pork, and I was told that there is none in Massachusetts right now.  I am not sure why, but I would not be interested in another bout with salmonella or food poisoning after the month I've had, so I decided to make chicken and cabbage dumplings instead.  Let me say a few things about these dumplings.  Number One: they are delicious.  You sear them and then steam them, so they get that perfect dumpling consistency.  The inside is really flavorful (with great things like scallions, chives, and sesame seeds, and the sauce that goes with them is amazing for only having 3 ingredients (pepper, soy sauce, and rice vinegar).  Number Two: they take a while to make.  I didn't even make my own wrappers since I was unable to find Korean wheat flour, but even so, it took me probably 2 1/2 hours.  And that was with Mom and Mark helping me once it was time to stuff, sear and steam.  Number Three: one weird thing is that the recipe seems to imply that you do not cook the pork (or chicken in our case) before stuffing the wrappers.  I refused to get salmonella again, so I cooked it.  I recommend doing the same. Most importantly, Number Four: in case you (like me) neglect to read the full recipe and notice how many dumplings this makes, the answer is that I ended up with ninety-six dumplings.  It was a ridiculous amount of both work and food.  Luckily I texted Pat that by accident, I had almost 100 dumplings, and he, Jay and Betsy showed up.  Mark, Nick and Alex were all here too, so almost all of them went.  They got rave reviews, and my mother even claims that they helped the Celtics win their playoff game.  Hopefully they can win again tonight without dumplings though, because I was not about to go through all that work on a weeknight!

Being a glutton for punishment, lastly on Sunday I made watermelon soup.  I'd gone grocery shopping and had no room in the refrigerator, mainly because there was a huge watermelon in there that had been there for a while.  I don't love watermelon (just the rind; I'm weird), but I figured there are more interesting ways to use one up than to cut it into pieces.  I did some Googling, and decided on a watermelon soup.  It was easy to make; I just had to simmer some ginger, brown sugar and lime juice and zest, and them add that with watermelon, mint and champagne to the blender.  I chose not to strain it, because I thought the watermelon pieces would make the soup better.  I had some that night before I chilled it, and it was pretty darn good.  Then, I forgot that it was probably not good to bring a cold coup with champagne in it to work, and had some for lunch yesterday.  I won't be doing that again.  Oops!

Lastly, last night I made dinner (it ended up being randomly just for me and Alex, but people have eaten the leftovers!)  I had picked up extra ground chicken Sunday, and wanted to make these Thai chicken burgers I saw on Pinterest.  I was intrigued because they are served with a peanut sauce and a mango salsa.  It took me a while to make the sauce, the salsa, and the burgers (my first experience making patties.... repulsive),  but I really liked them.  The peanut sauce was great (I accidentally added cilantro to it and would recommend that!) and I am a little in love with the mango salsa  (I obviously left out the sriracha and jalapenos).  And as far as burgers of any type go, they were pretty good, which means a lot coming from someone who mostly hates meat.

overnight pull-apart cinnamon loaf
watermelon soup
Thai chicken burgers with mango salsa

Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
MAKES 96 DUMPLINGS!!! (I didn't notice that part)


7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 cups thinly-sliced napa cabbage (about 1/2 head)
1  3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
2 cups thinly-sliced Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives(about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup thinly-chopped scallions (about 4, plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons finely-chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1  1/2 pounds ground pork (or chicken works fine too!)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper, divided
1/2 cup coy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 12-ounce packages of 3-inch round dumpling wrappers
1 large egg white

1.  Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat.  Saut cabbage, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and transfer to a large bowl.  Heat another tablespoon vegetable oil, and saute onion, stirring occasionally until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, add to bowl with cabbage, and let cool 5 minutes.  Process in a food processor until just coarsely chopped, and return to  bowl. 

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in pan over medium heat, and saute chives until just tender, about 1 minute.  Transfer to chopped cabbage mixture, and let cool.  Martha neglects to mention ever cooking the next ingredients, but I sauted them until the chicken was totally cooked.  I highly recommend doing the same.  Stir in scallions, garlic, pork, sesame seeds, sesame oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

3.  Stir together soy sauce, vinegar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon  pepper in a small bowl.  This is the dipping sauce; set aside.

4.  Working with 1 wrapper at a time, moisten edge with egg white, then place 2 teaspoons filling in center.  Fold in half to form a half-moon, press edge to seal tightly, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 


5.  Wipe out pan.  Working in batches and wiping out pan between each, heat 1tablespoon vegetable oil until shimmering and sear dumplings until browned, about 1 minute per side.  Add 1/4 cup water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Steam dumplings 2 minutes.  Transfer to a platter, and loosely tent with foil to keep warm.  Repeat with rest of dumplings.  Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds and serve with dipping sauce.

Serve to a very large and hungry crowd!

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