Since the quarantine started, I have been cooking a lot more and am looking to start up this series again. I am devoting this post to dumplings because I have been making a batch of them every week so that we always have some in the freezer. They can be eaten at anytime of the day and we usually have them boiled or pan fried – depends on who’s cooking them.
I choose to make dumplings because they are a part of my childhood and I have fond memories of making them with family. Also, they’re easy to make since I use a store bought wrapper instead of rolling my own out. I choose to do this because the amount of time vs. quantity doesn’t always make sense, especially if I’m making up to 60-70 each time. The wrappers can be found in the fridge section at your local Chinese grocery store. Be sure to get the round ones, not the square ones – they’re for wontons.
It might take some time to find a brand that you like. I look for ones that aren’t too pliable or thick because they make it harder to close or are too thin and will break or tear when cooking. Take some time to experiment with store bought ones as well as making your own.
I focus my efforts on the filling and it consists of the following four main ingredients:
Ground meator alternative: I usually use ground pork. If that’s not your jam, you can use other meats – beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, etc. Any kind of mushroom can be used as a meat alternative.
Something green: We usually have some sort of choy or leafy greens in the fridge so this varies week to week. You can try bok choy, gai lan (sometimes known as Chinese broccoli), Napa cabbage, green cabbage, collard greens, etc. Check out your local Asian grocery store and see what they have.
Something crunchy: water chestnuts add a wonderful bite to the filling (I chop up the canned ones). You can use chopped celery, broccoli stems, choy stems, etc.
Carrot: grated carrot is something I always add because it gives the filling moisture, colour and additional crunch.
Along with the above, I use the following seasonings to flavour the filling (these are a staple in our kitchen):
Pepper: Either ground black or white pepper works
Liquid: Water chestnut water from can or just room temperature water
Cornstarch: to help bind the meat together
Yields ~65-75 depending on dumpling wrappers used
2-2.5 lbs of ground pork
1 medium carrot, grated
3 large leaves of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 can of water chestnuts, diced and reserve water*
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn starch
1 package of dumpling wrappers (circle ones)
*Note: if you don’t like the water chestnut water, use 1/4 cup of water instead
Making the dumplings
Combine grated carrot, thinly sliced Napa cabbage, diced water chestnuts in a large bowl. Salt and pepper to your taste. Push to one side.
Add ground pork to other side of large bowl and season separately with water chestnut water, soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch, salt and pepper. As you mix the pork with seasonings, it should turn into a paste texture. Once you get to this texture, mix in the vegetables – I do this by using my hand and turning the bowl. *Note: as per my mom, try to only mix in one direction.
Once the meat and vegetables are combined, set that aside and create your assembly line. Fill a small plate or bowl with some water (this will be used to seal the wrappers). Cut open the package of dumpling wrappers. A plate or baking tray to put your finished dumplings.
To wrap, place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the dumpling wrapper – don’t overfill it, otherwise you won’t be able to seal it. Dip your finger in the water dish and run your finger along the edge of the wrapper and fold in half. Starting from one edge, pinch the two sides together and place on plate or baking tray. It will look like a half moon.
Once your plate or baking tray is full, place in freezer and allow dumplings to freeze completely (around 3-4 hours). Transfer to a freezer bag and will last for a while (not sure how long since they’re usually gone within 1-2 weeks).
Cooking the dumplings
Pan frying (my favourite way to eat them): 1. Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add in 1 tbsp vegetable oil and wait for it to heat up. 2. Add frozen dumplings to pan. Fry each side for 1-2 minutes until slightly golden brown. 3. Add 1/4 cup of tap water to the frying pan and place a lid to create a tight seal. Let dumplings steam for 5-8 minutes (most of the water will have evaporated). 4. Take lid off and flip dumplings once more to crisp up both sides. Serve with dipping sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and chili oil) and sides such as slightly pickled cucumbers or kimchi – totally optional.
Boiling: 1. Boil a pot of water and once water is boiling, add in desired amount of dumplings. 2. Bring water to a boil again and turn down to medium heat. Cook for another 7-10 minutes to ensure filling is fully cooked. 3. Serve with boiled choy and dipping sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and chili oil).
It’s a been a long while since I’ve last posted – lots has happened in my personal life that caused me to take a hiatus (heartbreak does something to a gal and so does plenty of travel). Now that it’s a new year and January is almost over – it’s time to get back on track. Instead of making new years resolutions, I’m ready to make some lifestyle changes for the better – more to come on this.
I’ve been cooking lots still and wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to in the kitchen today. Simple lunch foods since my stove is broken (need to order a new one).
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and haven’t had the chance to sit down and blog. My busy season at work has started and September is only going to get busier since we have four events and I’ll be on the road for at least three of them. With so much on my mind, I didn’t really want to think about what I was going to be cooking this week so I went grocery shopping and went with what my body wanted. Meals this week include: fried rice with roasted veggies (and steak – not pictured because I’m going to make it fresh for dinner), zucchini patties with tzatziki and potato salad (because that’s what I’m craving). Keeping it super simple this week. Happy cooking 🙂
2 zucchinis, grated
2 inch block of cheese (I used Gouda), finely diced
1 egg or flax substitute (ground flax seed mixed with water, 1:1)
2 tablespoon cilantro, thinly sliced
2 sprigs green onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon super hot spicy chili flakes
Grate zucchini and add some salt to it and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Wring out the water from the zucchini and place in medium sized bowl
Finely dice cheese of your choice. I find that the cheese melts better when diced instead of grated
Mix all ingredients together and form into patty shape. You can use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to mold it and keep consistent sizing
Please molded patties into the fridge for 30 minutes so that it can firm up
When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350F and bake for 10 minutes and then flip them for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated or diced
2 cups plain yogurt (I used PC lactose free yogurt)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and then either grate or dice it – depending on your preference
Combine yogurt, garlic and lemon juice with cucumber. Mix and place in fridge or use immediately
Serve with your favourite veggie sticks or with zucchini patties
I wasn’t feel well last week so didn’t end up doing a lot of grocery shopping. I also noticed that the freezer was starting to fill out so decided to do another pantry/freezer clean out (read about my first one here) to make way for other foods. The medley of meals this week include:
steak with mushrooms, onions, green beans and mushroom burger mix (saute the mushrooms and onions after the steak, it smells and tastes amazing!)
basting and cooking the steak in butter is heavenly
mushroom burger mix with tuna cakes (I still have so many cans of tuna left!),
Mix 2 cans of tuna with 2 eggs, chopped green onion, salt and pepper, bread crumbs, crushed red chili pepper flakes. Mold into 1/4 cup sizes and bake in oven for 22 mins.
With it being a long weekend, I spent most of the time outdoors and with friends and family – very much needed. Also, the weather has been really nice so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but there’s no shorter way to do meal preps. To avoid being too hot in the kitchen, I did everything in batches and in the oven so I wouldn’t have to stand over the stove. For this week, I made: baked porkchops with roasted veggies, Napa cabbage slaw, carrot soup, tofu “jerky” and mushroom barley burger mix (I defrosted it and broke it up in a pot and mixed with collard greens).
5 porkchops, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Pre-heat oven at 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse the porkchops and pat dry with paper towel.
Mix salt, pepper and brown sugar together. Massage into the pork on both sides – get it right in there.
Bake for 15 minutes and flip over for another 15 minutes.
Open and drain a package of tofu. Pat the tofu dry with paper towel or a cloth towel.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a shallow, flat pan (I use a Pyrex dish).
Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch thick slices and place into marinade. Set aside in fridge for at least 2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place marinated tofu slices on a single layer and set the marinade aside.
Put in oven for 15 minutes. Then remove and flip. Bast with more marinade on each piece and put back in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip once more and bast with more marinade and put back in oven for 5 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy on its own or in a salad.
Napa Cabbage Slaw
1/2 medium Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
6 leaves kale, thinly sliced
4 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
Tofu jerky marinade
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Rinse and dry Napa Cabbage and kale leaves. Thinly slice them and put them in a large container.
Thinly slice the green onion, can include white bit if you like (I do).
Mix the lime juice with the leftover tofu jerky marinade. Toss with salad when ready to eat.
After spending most of the weekend outside at festivals (T&T Waterfront Night Market and Rib Fest at Fort York Garrison), meals for this week were pretty simple and full of vegetables. Eggplant rollatini (lasagna rolls with eggplant instead of pasta sheets), cauliflower salad, and kale salad with avocado dressing. I haven’t been eating as much red meat lately to the point where my iron count was too low to donate blood this weekend – so I got some turkey and made meatballs. Recipe links are below. Happy cooking 🙂
Now that I’m done my travelling for this summer, it’s back to cooking and eating better. Vacation took a toll of my body – who can resist having seafood everyday in Halifax? The inspiration for this week’s menu came from having dinner with a friend and her talking about wanting to cook in larger batches so she wouldn’t have to cook everyday. We got talking and I was telling her that there are many ways to cook in larger quantities in a more efficient manner, such as using a slowcooker or baking multiple items in the oven at the same time. This allows for you to complete other tasks without having to stand at the stove top and have to keep an eye on things.
I chose a Nicoise salad because it’s packed with vegetables and protein. Also, it’s easy to store it all in a jar and take it to work. I made the dressing and stored the tuna separately so that it wouldn’t make the salad too wet and last longer. I had frozen salmon in the freezer so it was easy to pair it with roasted vegetables. I was craving green things this week so that’s what I got.
For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the salad:
5 large eggs, sliced
15 fingerling potatoes, sliced
3 handfuls green beans
2 5-ounce cans tuna packed in oil, drained
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 green pepper, sliced
3 cups salad greens (I got to use some greens from my balcony garden!!)
Kale and greens from my balcony garden
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, minced garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the oil, and whisk continuously until the dressing is emulsified.
Cook the eggs, potatoes and green beans.
Slice the potatoes and eggs into 1/2 inch slices.
Assemble the jar in the following order:
Serve with dressing and mix with tuna.
Baked Salmon and Roasted Vegetables
4 frozen salmon, defrost and pat dry
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
500g cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 green pepper, sliced
4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven at 350F.
Defrost the salmon overnight in the fridge or in the microwave.
Chop up the zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms and green pepper.
Place in a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Put the vegetable pan into the oven for 30 minutes.
Spread the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper over the salmon fillets.
Put the salmon pan into the oven with 15 minutes left on the vegetables.
Portion out the salmon and vegetables into containers.
Since it was Canada Day long weekend, I decided to stock up on veggies and take my time to put together some meals for this upcoming week. I’m also going on vacation so only have to make six meals (lunches/dinners) since breakfast is always steel cut oats. Since I had more time to shop, I visited my local farmer’s market, supermarket and produce store to get all my vegetables.
I was inspired by a friend’s meal this week to try and make a collard greens wrap and just my luck, they were really fresh at the farmer’s market so I went for it and made a chicken hummus collard greens wrap. To go with the wraps, I paired it with a potato salad and some cabbage/carrot slaw. As well, summer vegetables looked really good so made a simple veggie bake to go with the baked chicken breast.
Chicken Hummus Collard Greens Wrap
1 chicken breast, baked and shredded
12 collard leaves
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
8 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
Hummus, store bought or homemade (mine was homemade)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp canola oil
Trim the white ends of the collard leaves as well as try to pare down the rib so that it’s flush with the leaf thickness.
Simmer 2 inches of water in a large pan with salt and lemon juice. When it starts to simmer, turn heat down and place your first leaf in the water. Submerge for 30 secs and remove from water. Set aside on top of paper or kitchen towel to dry. Repeat for all leaves.
Heat the pan with the canola oil and place the cut asparagus and pepper into it. Toss until asparagus is cooked yet firm.
To assemble, place 2 leaves overlapping with the stems away from each other. Layer hummus, chicken, carrot and asparagus onto the leaves. Roll like a burrito with tucking in the sides as you roll. Repeat until all rolls are done. Then enjoy!!
6 baby red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 English cucumber, de-seeded and diced
1 stalk green onion, diced
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp hummus
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil the potatoes until soft yet firm. About 15 mins. Rinse and run under cold water to cool.
Mix together the carrots, cucumber, potato, green onion, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, hummus, salt and pepper.
Place in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. It just tastes better cold!
Summer Veggie Bake
2 small zucchinis, sliced in rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in rounds
1 baby summer squash, de-seeded and sliced
9 stalks of asparagus, trimmed
1 stalk leek, washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 450F.
Cut up the leek and wash it thoroughly. Here is a great Youtube video on how to wash it – I had to look it up.
Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and put leek slices into the pan and saute until soft. Add the garlic for an additional minute.
Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil into your baking dish (mine’s a 2 qt) and spread around with paper towel until lightly coated. Place sauteed leeks on the bottom of the dish.
Layer tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, alternating slices. Place asparagus in between the rows.
Drizzle the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper over veggies.
Put in oven and bake for 45 mins or until veggies are soft. Serve with baked chicken breast.
I have been eyeing this mushroom burger from Host the Toast for a while and never really got to making it. I saw cremini mushrooms on sale this week and jumped on the idea of creating this delicious veggie burger. There were a couple of changes to the recipe depending on what I had in my kitchen as well as being baked in the oven instead of fried on the stove top.
1 ½ cups hulled barley, cooked
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, rinsed and roughly chopped
5 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ cup old cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cups panko bread crumbs, or as needed
Cook the barley according to package and set aside.
Pre-heat the oven for 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the meantime, chop up the onion, garlic, cremini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.
Saute the mushrooms, add the onion and then the garlic until all soft.
Put mushroom mixture in a food processor with half of the cooked barley. Pulse until mixed and has a paste-like consistency still with some chunks of mushroom.
In a large bowl, combine the processed mushroom mix with the remaining barley, old cheddar cheese, basil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and eggs.
Place mixture in fridge for 30 minutes. When ready to cook, pull it out from the fridge and add the panko bread crumbs a little at a time until the mixture is sticky but not wet. Shape the patties by placing mixture into a ½-cup dry measuring cup and flipping it over onto your baking tray. Flatten the patty with the back of the cup.
Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip over and bake for additional 10 minutes.
Pair it with your favourite bun and toppings.
I had it with a crusty Kaiser, slaw, cucumber and spicy mayo! Happy cooking 🙂
After a couple of days in Montreal, I have a new found appreciation for the flavours that butter brings to a dish. I stayed with some friends of mine and when we cooked, butter was often the first and last thing in the pan. The aromas that melted butter produces is truly heavenly.
Having been on the road and visiting my parents for Father’s Day, it was an easy decision to make a simple and delicious dish – baby potatoes, red peppers, green and red onion all sauteed in butter as well as sauteed zucchini sticks with the cilantro sauce from last week. I paired it all with meatloaf I had in the freezer.
Realizing that it wasn’t going to be enough food, I went and got more vegetables and made a stir-fry. Tossed everything together and a meal was done 🙂