Towards the East Feast

I have just realised that I haven’t actually posted since the non-conformist Christmas Pudding – I know a few of you were going to try it this year – did you?  How did you find it?  Yet again, I wasn’t disappointed and maybe that, plus a few extra glasses of wine added a few pounds to my weight but never mind, I enjoyed it, and it will come off again soon enough.

As I really only have one picture of the finished dish I made I thought I would show you the great Christmas present I bought for Mr K.  Some of you may remember me telling you that he was the glory cook in our house.  Well what better present than the obsessive chopping board.  Can you see how great it is – look at how tiny a fine brunoise is – seriously, I’m going to challenge him to that one!

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So, New Year means that I have to be somewhat healthier and get rid of the sluggish feeling of having over-eaten.  We thought that there will be quite a lot of oriental food as we have such a great oriental supermarket reasonably close to us and generally it is very healthy and tasty.  The recipe today was somewhat of an accident.  It was a Friday night, there was literally no food in the house.  When I went to the shop I found some pork mince that was reduced so it had to be that.  Some time ago I posted a recipe for some lovely dumplings – these were delicious, and I know lots of people continue to make them – they double up as a great snack, so initially I was going to make those.  On checking in the freezer there were no dumpling wrappers but I did have a cabbage in the fridge.

I have to apologise for the lack of pictures, this dish was really not supposed to be blogged, but as I carried on adding to it I realised it had serious potential.  So this one is for those of you who can’t get the dumpling wrappers.

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You need to make these babies by following the recipe in ‘Disasters and a Dumpling Delight’. Once you have made the dumplings stop and come back here as the following is what I then did:

Mix together 4 tsp miso paste with 4 tsp light soy sauce or to the thickness where you can brush it on the dumplings.  Brush the dumplings with the deliciously sweet and salty mixture and then fry them either on a griddle or in a pan, you can keep basting them with this and turning them until they are beautifully crusty and sticky.

Whilst you are cooking the dumplings cook some rice until only just cooked.  Separate leaves of the cabbage and cut out the thickest part of the stalk and blanch these.

All of the above can be done in advance and left to cook to reassemble and cook later if you want to.

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When you want to make these put a spoonful of the rice in the cabbage leaf, then a dumpling, and wrap up the parcel and secure with a skewer or toothpick.  Put these in a steamer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

When you open these up put on a little more soy and some fresh chilli – they are not delicate little parcels but they are amazingly good.

The miso paste is 5 syns per tsp if you are following Slimming World.  This may seem quite a lot but if you use the full 4 tsp you get a delicious sweetness on the crust and it is well worth it – and remember, this makes loads and loads of dumplings so the actual syns per person is really not many if you make them all into parcels – in fact we were eating them all weekend.

Disasters and a Dumpling Delight!

DSC_0481It was a bank holiday and half-term – this can only mean one thing in the UK – rain! Yep, lots of it. In fact, I don’t think it stopped raining for 24 hours. Still, advance warning of this meant I had a plan.

The plan was steamed dumplings, noodle dishes, pavlova’s and cheese. Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to make them all for one meal but realised it was a good excuse for getting some blog posts backed up.

This was not to be.

Most of the ingredients to be used for the noodle dishes were ‘liberated’ by Mr K as his family were coming over so he was cooking.

I bought everything to make the cheese and then realised I didn’t have any ‘starter’ and when I want to do something there is no time for waiting for the internet order to arrive, I must do it now! After lengthy searches it was clear this could be substituted with lemon juice or vinegar so all was saved – or not. The lemon juice didn’t work so after all of the ‘standing over the pot, heating it with thermometer in hand’, even after the rennet and calcium choride were added, nothing, still just hot milk. Then one of the children dropped something all over the floor, off I dashed with cloth (and possibly shouting a bit) I returned to find the milk boiling and after a quick stir realised it was burnt to the bottom of the pan. I consoled myself with the fact that I may well have been standing there for another hour hoping, just hoping it might still work so she did me a favour really. I have since ordered the starter (and much more of it than usual so next time I’m prepared).

The pavlova was the next day. I made it early in the morning so it had time to cool in the oven before we needed to switch it on again – how organised I was feeling. Thought I would try to make it a little more Slimming World friendly by using sweetener instead of sugar – this was NOT a success. In fact, a complete failure. It didn’t have any lightness when it went into the oven, there was no chewiness that you get when you add white vinegar and cornflour and when it came out and it looked like a large pancake. I will not be trying this again, I would rather make a proper pavlova and have less of it. It had to be rescued with a last minute chewy giant peanut cookie, topped with fromage frais and rasperries and the ‘pancake’ settled on top of this. Apparently it was delicious but I wasn’t going anywhere near a disaster like that on a plate, sob!

So to the triumphant dumplings. These were simple to make, the little hands in the house loved making different shapes and Baby K liked dipping her fingers in water so the older ones could seal the edges. They also rather liked eating them. I’m not sure I have ever seen a plate of food disappear as quickly. I also made a new discovery – Chinese dark vinegar. The recipe said I could use balsamic but when I went to get the wonton wrappers from my fab local oriental store I saw the vinegar and thought I would give it a go – and I am so pleased I did, it is lightly floral and not as ‘vinegary’ as any vinegars I normally use. It’s like using Chinese rice wine instead of white wine, there is no comparison. If you are able to get it then I highly recommend you do so. I can see it becoming a regular in our house.

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So, on a rainy day, with as many hands as fancy giving you some help give these a go, you won’t be disappointed. Be warned, they are addictive….

Tricky to syn these as there is not a lot of English writing on them but after looking in detail most will end up being 1 syn per dumpling wrapper as long as you steam them and the filling is free.

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Chinese Dumplings with Dipping Sauce – SYNS 1 per dumpling

  • Wonton Wrappers

Filling:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 5 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ½ thumb ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp five spice powder
  • fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 egg

Dipping Sauce:

  • ½ tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp Chinese dark vinegar
  • 1 spring onion, sliced

Place all ingredients for filling except wonton wrappers in bowl and using hands mix everything well, this will become slightly sticky and you may feel it is a little moist but this is fine.

Take small amount of filling and make into ball. Place in centre of wonton wrapper.

To wrap, go for it – my children had some very inventive ways of doing this (see above) but the trick is to make sure there is no air in them and make sure you put a little water all the way round so they seal properly. If in doubt place wonton in front of you like a diamond and seal over top of mixture to make a triangle (make sure there is no air in it). Then turn both sides into centre front and seal at front so it has little base to stand on.  Does that makes sense? see below.

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I steamed these for 5 minutes but you could poach them –the water shouldn’t be boiling so the wrappers don’t break.  Make sure you check one is cooked through also as the mixture went in raw.

While doing this make the dipping sauce by mixing everything together.

Serve and watch them fly off the plate.