a dumpling workshop

potstickers

I love dumplings. I love them, in all their variety and in any cuisine. I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like, from Eastern Europe to Asia. But Chinese dumplings are my favourite. Light, delicate and plump all at the same time, they are a work of art.

I’ve tried to make them in the past with wonton wrappers, but they’ve been a dismal failure, thin, broken and leaking filling. Tasty enough, but not a thing of beauty and not really worth the effort.

So it was a no brainer when I discovered a dumpling workshop run by Angie Chong of The Humble Dumpling that offered vegan options. I signed up in a flash. This isn’t an entirely vegan dumpling class but the dumpling fillings are prepared and cooked separately.

I’ve discovered that the secret to perfect dumplings is to make and hand roll the pastry. The other secret is to roll each dumpling wrapper individually by hand towards the centre, not the edges, which is the more typical way to roll pastry for example. This way they are thinner at the edges so that when they are sealed you don’t get a lump of thick dough.

The pastry is made from plain flour, tapioca starch, oil and hot water. It makes a soft but not sticky dough that handles easily. The fillings can be anything you like. I made one that had Chinese cabbage, bean thread noodles, spring onions, roasted pumpkin, carrot, coriander, ginger, garlic, taro, shiitake and wood ear fungus, bound with potato starch and seasoned with salt, soy, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Angie also kindly made me another one that had zucchini, walnuts and tofu with herbs and seasonings. I’m not going to write up the exact recipes because they belong to Angie (If you are in Melbourne you should do the class and you will get them). I will however write up the dough as there are plenty of dough recipes out there.

There were also some intriguing dumplings called Pearly Moons which are a sort of meatball rolled in sticky rice with no wrappers. Obviously I didn’t eat them, but I am going to try to create something like them using mushrooms and gluten flour. You’ll need to wait for some experimentation for those.

We ate the dumplings two ways, steamed in baskets and also done as pot stickers where the dumpling is fried on the bottom and then a small amount of water is poured in to steam the dumplings with the lid on, the water evaporated and the dumpling fried again. This leaves them with delicious crispy bottoms and delicate steamed tops.

I had a great time at the workshop and I would encourage anyone who loves dumplings to do it. It is small, friendly, held in Angie’s beautiful home and is a good combination of introduction to ingredients, technique and eating. It is very hands on, with plenty of laughter and friendly conversation as we sat round the kitchen table filling the wrappers and making beautifully pleated dumplings. And of course you get to sit down for lunch and eat them!

I cannot recommend the class highly enough. I’ve done a lot of cooking classes and this was one of my all time favourites. I went in as a complete novice and came out an excellent and confident dumpling maker.

 

chinese dumpling dough wrappers
 
author:
recipe type: chinese
cuisine: vegan
serves: 32
ingredients
  • 1¼ cups plain flour
  • ⅓ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tbs rice bran oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup boiling water slightly cooled
instructions
  1. Mix the flours and the salt together
  2. Add the oil to the water
  3. Pour most of the water into the flours mixing to combine
  4. Add as much water as needed to form ragged clumps of dough.
  5. Turn out onto a floured bench and knead until soft and smooth.
  6. Rest for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Don't cut the dough all at once or the dough will dry out. Use about ⅛ of the dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp cloth.
  8. Roll the ⅛ into a sausage and cut into 4 pieces.
  9. Flatten each piece slightly
  10. Roll each piece into a circle 8cm across.
  11. Do this by holding the edge of the dough and roll towards the CENTRE of the dough lightly and rotating slightly after each roll. Resist the temptation to press too hard at first or you will put the dough out of shape.

 

 

The Humble Dumpling

http://thehumbledumpling.com/

 

 

adventures with fresh pasta

fresh pasta

I love fresh pasta. It is light and soft but with a pleasing elasticity that holds it together and gives it some body. It is a completely different experience to eating dried pasta. Both are great, neither is superior to the other. They are just different.

When I bought my new Kitchen Aid mixer recently, I also bought a pasta roller attachment. Today was the first time I’d had a chance to try it out. It is far easier than rolling by hand, and it solves the problem of needing three hands – one to turn the handle, one to feed the pasta in and another to catch it!

kitchenaid with pasta roller

Most fresh pasta recipes call for eggs to be used. Clearly that wasn’t an option, so I did a bit of hunting on the internet and discovered that fresh pasta in the region of Puglia (the heel of the Italian boot) and other parts of southern Italy and Sardinia is not made with eggs, but just flour, water and sometimes oil.

Making fresh pasta is a messy business, my kitchen was covered in flour, but I think it is worth it. My first attempt was pretty good, though it looked a little pale and ghostly when it was cooked because there was no yellow colour from the egg. Apart from that the dough was great, even though I had rolled it a bit too thinly and slightly overcooked it in the blink of an eye.

The other half of the batch I rolled slightly thicker and watched it eagle-eyed as it cooked, wary of leaving it too long. Perfection.

I tossed it in a sauce I had simmering. It was made of olive oil, garlic, basil, zucchini and chopped fresh tomatoes from the garden, cooked until just softened and topped with some grated Vegusto Piquant. The sauce looks a strange brown colour because it is made from a mix of red, yellow, black and green tomatoes.

fresh pasta with tomato sauce

Next up I will be trying the fresh pasta in a lasagna and I’ll also have a go at colouring it with spinach and beetroot.

Stay tuned!

 

fresh pasta
 
prep time
cook time
total time
 
author:
recipe type: vegan
cuisine: Italian
serves: 2-3
ingredients
  • 190 grams of flour - a high protein specialty pasta flour works best, usually marked 00
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 70 mls of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • extra flour for dusting
instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a soft but not sticky ball. (I used the dough hook on my mixer, but you could do it in a food processor, or by hand.
  2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into two parts.
  4. Roll the dough starting at the thickest setting.
  5. Fold the dough into 4 lengthwise and rotate 90 degrees before putting the dough through again.
  6. Do this 3 or 4 times until the dough is coming out smoothly.
  7. Pass the dough through the roller adjusting the thickness on each pass until it is how you like it. I used the setting number 4 on my dough roller for the final pass.
  8. Dust with flour, fold in 4 lengthways, rotate 90 degrees and hand cut across the width. I cut mine about 1 cm so they were probably either narrow pappardelle or wide fettucine!
  9. Cook in LOTS of boiling salted water. Don't skimp on the pan size or it is likely to stick together. The pasta takes very little time to cook, I bring mine back to the boil and count to 10 then taste to see.

 

lunch with friends – the great souvlaki taste off

souvlaki

Last weekend I headed out of Melbourne to Kyneton to have lunch with some friends. We ate the most delicious food. We sat out in the garden underneath a beautiful large tree. Underneath the table, the chooks clucked and the dogs lounged, both of them hopeful for dropped morsels.

The lunch had been suggested months ago when I reviewed the Smith & Deli souvlaki. Jokingly (or perhaps not) a new friend who I had met at a party recently suggested I had to try hers. So months later, here we were assembled for the great souvlaki taste off.

Since then, she has opened a vegan food service called Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food.

This post was never intended to be a review of the business, but since I’ve tasted the food, I feel like people need to know about it. This is great vegan food.

I am happy to recommend her food based on my lunch as well as the food I ate at the party previously.

souvlaki ingredients

The souvlaki were delicious, served DIY style in pita with almond feta, tomatoes, salad and vegan tzatziki. It is a hard call as to the winning souvlaki, so I think I’m going to wimp out and call it a tie. They are equal but different.

I’m very fussy about my seitan and I think the texture on this one was utterly perfect and definitely the winner. Soft, chewy and crunchy all at the same time. And while it was deliciously seasoned, I’d probably give the edge to the S&D one for the chilli hit.  I’m being picky and being forced to critique them though. I’d happily eat both any time. Even on the same day.

We also had delicious vanilla slices with proper traditional passionfruit icing and HOT JAM DONUTS! Sorry for shouting but they were sensational. Call me a glutton, I ate three. I fear if there had been more I would have eaten them too! :)

A lovely day with friends.

 

Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food
https://www.facebook.com/1ethicalfinefood/

 

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