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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dinner at ours: Mushroom dumplings, spicy pork in pancakes and almond jelly

The previous weekend, while I was in the middle of Super Flu 08, my pal Jo came over. Before I had succumbed to Super Flu 08, I had invited her over for tech support and dinner. By the time Saturday rolled around I mistakenly thought that I was recovering so opted to keep the date. I felt strong enough to cook, but could barely taste anything. Cooking with no sense of taste was an interesting experience!

Because I had been feeling so crap during the week, I only decided on what to cook when I woke up on Saturday morning. I went for something relatively easy.

Mushroom dumplings

For starters, we had mushroom dumplings. I threw together a rough filling, and sat down to pleat the dumplings (recipe at the end of this post). I watched the video below to learn how to fold them - she works quickly so I watched it a LOT, over and over, until I had figured it out. Mine didn't look as good as hers, but I pretty much had the hang of it by the time I finished wrapping.... 50 dumplings later!.

Spicy pork in pancakes

After dumplings, we had spicy pork in pancakes (recipe below) which is eaten in the same way as peking duck. This was pretty good and I would definitely like to try it again when I'm not sick!

Lychee and ice cream with almond jelly

And for dessert, we had a Chinese restaurant special – canned lychees and ice cream! I had also made some almond jelly (recipe below), but because I couldn't taste anything, I added more almond essence than was desirable. Judging by the way Alastair recoiled when he tried it for me, it was a bit too intensely almond flavoured! So I only served a little bit of the jelly - thank goodness for the ice cream and canned lychees.

Blossom tea

And this is what we ended dinner with - flowering tea. I don't own a clear teapot, so here it's in a coffee plunger. Isn't it gorgeous?

Mushroom dumplings

Mushroom dumplings

Makes about 50 dumplings

1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
6 dried shitake mushrooms, stems removed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
220g can whole water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
300g mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt & pepper
500g packet of jiaozi wrappers

In a frying pan, cook the onion, garlic and ginger on medium heat for 5-190 minutes until soft and cooked through.

In a food processor, pulse the shitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and mushrooms until finely chopped. Tip into a bowl and add the chinese rice wine, soy sauce, egg and season well with salt and pepper. Mix together.

Place a small teaspoon of filling into the middle of each wrapper (don't add too much filling - it makes it hard to fold the dumplings). Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumplings.

Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add dumplings in a single layer (don't over crowd the pan) and cook for 1-2 minutes or until brown underneath. Add enough boiling water to come 1/4 way up the sides of the dumplings, then cover with a lid and cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until water has evaporated. Serve with dumpling vinegar and soy sauce.

Spicy pork in pancakes

Spicy Pork in Pancakes

From Australian Table magazine - Jan/Feb 2007

Serves 6-8

(Note: you end up with quite a lot of meat. I only cooked 1/3 of my meat and had more than enough to serve with one batch of pancakes. So you could either use less pork fillet, or make up more pancakes!)

1/3 cup (80ml) peanut oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
750g pork fillet, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 teaspoons sugar
16 Chinese pancakes (see below)
hoisin sauce, green onion, to serve

Heat half of the oil in a wok on medium. Cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes, until soft. Increase heat to high and cook pork in small batches for 2 minutes, until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add soy sauce, wine, sugar and 1 teaspoon ground pepper to same pan and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, until syrupy. Add pork and toss to heat through.

Top each pancake with hoisin sauce, green onion and pork and roll to enclose.

Chinese Pancakes

Makes 16

2 cups (300g) plain flour
3/4 cup (180ml) hot water
1 & 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

Sift flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in hot water a little at a time, stirring in flour until dough forms. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes, until elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Divide pancake dough into four. Roll out each piece to 5mm thick. Cut out 16 circles with a 7cm round cutter. Brush each with oil and press oiled surfaces together in pairs so they'll cook without colour. Roll out each pair to 10cm across.

Heat a lightly greased frying pan on low. Cook joined pancakes for 2 minutes each side, until cooked but not brown. Peel apart and stack on a warm plate.

Almond Jelly

From Australian Table magazine - October 2006

Serves 4

1 tablespoon gelatine
1/2 cup (125ml) boiling water
1 & 1/4 cups (310ml) milk
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Lightly spray ice cube trays with cooking oil spray. Combine gelatine and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Add boiling water and stir to dissolve gelatine. Stir in milk, sugar, and almond essence. Pour into prepared trays. Chill for 2 hours, until set.

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