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.
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!.
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!
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.
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?
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
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
From Australian Table magazine - Jan/Feb 2007
(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.
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.
From Australian Table magazine - October 2006
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.