Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pork and Kimchi Dumplings

I absolutely love potstickers.  Or are they dumplings?  Potstickers?  Who cares... they're tasty, bite-sized, and can be cooked from frozen!!

I was super-intimidated by this recipe because I am sooo bad at making dough.  Bread dough, pie dough, pizza dough.... name a dough, I've screwed it up. 

I was convinced it would fail.  But hey, I'm an academic scientist.... I'm getting very, very comfortable with the concept of failure :)

First, I made the dough.  EASIEST DOUGH RECIPE EVER.  Literally, flour + water = dumpling dough.  How could I screw this one up, you might ask?  Well, here's how - I can't leave anything alone... I decided to do half white flour, half whole wheat.  Why?  Obviously because I like screwing things up :)

But it worked anyway!! ...amazing....

Step 1: mix flour and water until a wet dough forms, knead it for 5min, let rest on the counter for 15min while you prepare the filling.

Step 2: Prepare filling.  Use whatever you want, just mix it together and add an egg.  I chose ground pork and kimchi (monster jar in the fridge!).  I also added some garlic, ginger, S&P.
Step 3: After dough has rested for the allotted 15min, divide in half.  Roll each half into a "snake" and cut into 12 pieces (kinda like making gnocchi).  Roll each piece into a ball, like so:

Step 4: Roll out each ball into a thin circle (maybe 3"?) and plop 1 tbsp of your filling in the middle.

Step 5: Bring one side over to the other and pinch the seam to seal the dumpling together.

Step 6: Last but never least!  Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over hight heat, add dumplings and fry until the bottoms are lightly browned.  Then, and here's the scary part, add about a 1/4 cup of water and cover the skillet to let the dumplings steam until the insides are cooked through.  Then (even scarier) take the lid off and finish browning the dumplings until golden brown and delicious.  Prepare to clean oil splatters off your range for days. 
I made a dipping sauce using low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, a splash of mirin (not necessary) and a splash of hot chili sesame oil (also not necessary, but I love the heat - regular sesame oil would be great too).

Whatever you don't cook right away can be frozen and tastes just as great straight out of the freezer into some hot oil.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cappellini alla Carbonara

Last night was one of those "what do I have in the fridge and pantry" dinners.  Turns out we had a TON of eggs leftover from the "Marathon Monday Brunch" so I thought I'd try my hand at Carbonara sauce.  I've never made it before but figured hell, I'm pretty good at this cooking thing, what's so tough about Carbonara? 

Carbonara is sometimes called "breakfast" pasta since it is made with bacon and eggs.  And cream.  And cheese.  I'd like to pretend that this was healthy since it's made with eggs but I doubt my dietitian friends would agree :)

First things first, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for your pasta and start slowly frying up some bacon.

Once you've rendered most of the fat, add some diced onion and garlic (I also added some red pepper here because I like my sauces to have a little kick).  Turn off the heat when its done so as not to burn the garlic.

In a seperate bowl, I cracked open and whisked together 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks.  I added roughly an equal volume of light cream, some cracked black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.  You'd be amazed at what a pinch of nutmeg can do for italian sauces!

When the water was at a nice boil I added my cappellini (angel hair).  You can use any pasta for this and I actually think that something with a little more heft, like linguini or bucatini, would be better.  Reed and I just happen to love the angel hair pasta.  Plus, it cooks super fast :)

Once the pasta was al dente I used some of the starchy cooking water to temper my egg/cream sauce.  People are usually scared to make carbonara because of the threat of scrambled eggs instead of a uniform sauce. Hence the tempering!  I added my tempered sauce to the bacon/onion mix in my skillet along with some fresh parsley.  I then added my hot pasta and mixed the whole mess together. For all of my germ-a-phobes: The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs so no worries on that end.  Plus, non-scrambled-eggs sauce!  A generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese seals the deal.

Wow I suck at taking pictures.....

I served this with salad and a nice Primitivo - a big, dry, red which you can read all about on my wine blog.

And yeah, we're young and broke and don't have matching plates or bowls... so sue us! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

I've Got Crabs!

So I was down at Haymarket on Saturday and along with buying the requisite produce I also stopped by the fish monger.  They were selling crabs!  I haven't had crabs in FOREVER!  So I got some... 3 decently sized guys for $5.  The guy bagged them for me and I happily walked back to the T with a thousand thoughts of what I was going to do with my veggies and crabs.

In case you are unaware, when you buy live crabs they are usually sitting on ice because it makes them sluggish (and less likely to run away and/or pinch someone).  HOWEVER, after about 10min on a warm train... my boys started to wake up!  Terrifying!  Its bad enough to smell like fish on the T, but when your grocery bag starts moving its a whole new ballgame.

To make the story even more hilarious, once I got home, I wasn't sure exactly what to do with them.  Do I put them in the fridge?  I don't want them to die!  Do I put them on ice?  Do I throw them right into the steamer?  How much water do I use?

Ring, Ring
Me: "Mom!  I need help!"
Mom: "Oh my god, what's wrong!?!?!"
Me: "Oh, sorry, didn't mean to freak you out... but I have crabs and I don't know what to do."

HAHAHAHAHAHA ...I totally meant to freak her out!

Anyway, Mom was very informative and after a couple of minutes I had my crabs steaming away in about 3 inches of water, vinegar, quartered lemons, and a bay leaf.  I sprinkled the little buggers with some Old Bay and set the timer for 15min.

Thank god 1) they don't scream like lobsters, 2) they didn't try to claw their way out of the pot, and 3) no one (except the crabs) got hurt during the ordeal.

While on the phone, Mom gave me her crab cake recipe.  It went a little something like this, "Do you have italian bread crumbs?  (yes) How many lbs of crab meat do you think you'll have?  (no clue!) Don't use too much bread crumbs.  Or egg.  One egg per pound of crab meat.  A little mayo.  (how much is a "little"?)  Maybe a splash of Worchestershire and OB. (that's Old Bay seasoning for those of you not from  the Chesapeake Bay area)" 

I then say, "what about herbs like parsley?"  I thought she was going to slap me through the phone... "NO, DON'T GO SCREWING IT UP WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN CRAB MEAT"

ok mom, you win... I followed your "recipe" and they turned out AMAZING.  I forsee buying more crabs this summer.

Fresh out of the oil (vegetable oil, for frying):
Plated dinner:

I also whipped up some tartar sauce with mayo, lemon juice, chopped up pickles, and some dill. (and no Katie, there is no cream of tartar in tartar sauce!) haha

Oh, and a note for next time: start picking the crabs earlier... we didn't end up eating until like 10pm!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brunch of Champions

Reed and I are golfing with his parents today down in Cohasset.  Its our first golf outing of the year!  We got lucky this year, we literally went straight from skiing in to golfing in 2 weeks flat.

For some fuel, I made some baked eggs in my new individual baking dishes.  This worked out really well for a couple reasons:

1) portioning was easy, and
2) Reed gave me the "sad" face when I pulled out the asparagus... so with the individual dishes, he didn't get any... sucks to be Reed 'cuz they were delicious.

I started by cooking up 3 slices of bacon (for flavor and fat), and when that was done I took them out plus most of the fat (left in about a tbsp) and added some mushrooms. 

Gave them a few minutes on their own, then added asparagus, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes.

 Cooked that until the asparagus was bright green then started the "individualizing" process.

Reed's (in back): mushrooms, bacon, sundried tomatoes
Mine (front): mushrooms, asparagus, sundried tomatoes

Made little wells to fit 2 eggs in each dish and topped the whole thing off with some chevre and shredded basil.


Baked those until the eggs were set (should have taken them out sooner... they were a bit overdone). 

Tasty though!  A great way to start the day and fuel up before spending the next 3+ hours WALKING the golf course.  Now if only I had a mimosa.....

Truffled Mushroom Gnocchi

I love truffle oil.

Katie bought some for me at Whole Foods and now I can't stop smelling it. I literally take the lid off nearly every day and just inhale. So, what is the first dish I'll actually use it for...

Truffled Mushroom Gnocchi

I basically adapted this from a recipe in Food & Wine magazine.  The differences are:

* made way more sauce, because Reed just looooves sauce and always asks for more
* used 3 mushroom varieties: cremini, enoki, and shitaki
* used store-bought gnocchi (so sue me, I work hard and just don't have time during the week to make gnocchi! We barely eat before 9pm as it is!)

This recipe is super-simple. Basically, I cooked a bunch of mushrooms, added cream, butter, thyme, and chicken stock (homemade!).  Let that thicken up some with the help of cornstarch.  Boil the gnocchi till they float, then add to the mushroom mixture.  Cooked those together for about 2-4min, then sprinkled a generous amount of parm on top and ran it under the broiler until the top was bubbly brown & delicious.

A little drizzle of truffle oil at the end makes this dish AMAZING! Tastes like you made a fancy meal and only takes about 30min.  If you can't find truffle oil at a store near you, there are plenty of on-line stores to order it from.  I imagine that I will be using it on popcorn next... or mashed potatoes... or french onion soup... or eggs... or I'll just pour it right in my mouth :)  Yeah, it's that good.

And one day i'll learn how to take better food photographs......

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's about time

I've talked about it enough. It's time to actually start this here food blog. I'm no gourmet, I've never taken a cooking class, I'm a CSA member, I was a vegetarian for 7 years, I now eat meat, I don't have a "favorite" food, and I rarely make the same thing twice.

AND (thank god) I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves to eat everything that I cook, and a wonderful mom who taught me to appreciate wholesome food and "real-life" recipes. By "real-life" I basically mean I don't tend to follow recipes at all, and I am more of a "cook-taste-season-repeat" type of cook than a "measure things" type of cook. The biggest problem with this is that my inability to properly measure ingredients makes me a TERRIBLE baker :)

Hey! Cut me some slack! I'm a scientist... I experiment! It's what I've been trained to do!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this blog. As mentioned, I'm terrible using or writing down the measurements I use in my cooking, so expect some "a pinch of this", "a little of that"... sorry! I'm sure you'll figure it out.... blame my mother :)

And in case you were wondering: Apicius is one of the oldest cookbooks in the world. It came to us via ancient Rome (me too! Well... sort of... and Sicily... but still! Just let me live my fantasy). I hope my apicius will give you some insight into my passion for food, wine, and entertaining. Mangia! ~Laura
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