02/25/16

Qingjiao Rou Si

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Qingjiao Rou Si

(recipe from Effortless Bento)

200 g thinly sliced beef

salt and pepper

2 poblano peppers

200 g canned bamboo shoots, drained

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp mirin

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp potato starch

2 tsp water

Directions

  • Dust the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos, and then slice the peppers into matchsticks.
  • Slice the bamboo shoots into matchsticks as well.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, and sugar to make the sauce.

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  • Now that everything is prepared and in it’s place; put your wok over high heat, add the oil, and wait for it to warm up.
  • Stir fry the beef until it is browned.
  • Add in the poblano pepper and bamboo shoots, continue to stir fry. They don’t need long because they are cut so thin.

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  • Pour the sauce over the beef and vegetables, stirring to coat.
  • Dissolve the potato starch into the water and add it to the wok, letting it simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve hot!

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So tasty! I made this to pack into some bento lunches to take to work, but ended up eating it with rice at supper too. It’s a fairly pared down stir fry, so one could add in whatever extra veg or starch their heart desires, but there’s something to be said for the clarity of flavours and textures you get from sticking to just a couple of ingredients.

The recipe called for green bell peppers, but the green ones are my least liked of the bell peppers, so I substituted for poblano peppers instead. I don’t regret the decision at all, but if you want to use green bell peppers you certainly can!

 

02/18/16

Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

They say that the best bagels are made in New York, but I’ve also read that Montreal makes a pretty sublime one as well. I haven’t yet had the good fortune to make it to either of these places, so I can’t speak to the validity of these claims.

All I know is the everything spiced ones are my favourite.

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The recipe that follows is for an everything bagel spiced cheese ball that is great to bring along for a party!

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Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

(recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

6 oz cream cheese

2 Cups old cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp butter

15 chives, minced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp Worchestershire sauce (skip if you are serving to vegetarian friends)

5 cloves garlic

1 shallot

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions

  • In a food processor, process smooth the cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese and butter.
  • Add in the chives, salt, black pepper, and Worchestershire sauce (if using), pulsing to combine.
  • Get out a piece of cling film, and tip out the contents of the food processor onto it.
  • Gather the cling film up around the cheese, using your hands to shape it into a ball.
  • Pop the cheese ball into the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, so that it will hold it’s shape. In the meantime, you can prepare the everything spice!

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  • Thinly slice the shallot and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  • Shallow fry the sliced alliums in the oil until they turn crisp and just golden. Then scoop them out of the pan and set on paper towels to drain; they go from done to overdone quite quickly, so watch with care!
  • Mix together the crispy shallot and garlic pieces with the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Tada! Everything spice!
  • When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the cheese ball, and coat it in the everything spice. Delightful!

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  • Serve with crackers, or even more true to form, bagel chips!

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11/15/15

Hiking Trails and Root Vegetable Dumplings

I had an overnight trip to Kenora with work at few nights ago, and as is the trend, I had a mostly sleepless night. Luckily though, I had the good fortune of ending up in a hotel room that had a jacuzzi tub. And, less rare for a hotel room, cable! Who needs sleep when you can tilt the television on it’s stand and have a luxurious bubble bath and late night Food Network at the same time?  It was quite a treat! That’s what I call making lemonade out of lemons.

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In the morning, after some breakfast and a nice cup of tea, I still had a lot of morning to deal with before returning to work. So I explored downtown Kenora and went for a hike. Though it would have been just slightly nicer had I had the proper footwear with me for the 5 kilometers, it was really lovely to take in some beautiful Canadian Shield scenery and have some meditative mental quiet.

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And I saw a deer!

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I wish so hard that I lived alongside a body of water. It just feels so right.

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It was really nice to come home too! I missed Mr and Trooper the Wonder Puppy.

Root Vegetable Dumplings with Super Sauce

(Recipes adapted from Leanne Wong’s Dumplings All Day Wong)

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Dumplings

115 g carrots

115 g parsnips

115 g turnip

115 g beet

45 g leek

2 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp five spice powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 Tbsp honey

1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp corn starch

dumpling wrappers

1/2 Tbsp butter

1/2 Cup water

  • Peel the carrots, parsnips, turnip, and beet. Cut all of the peeled vegetables, as well as the leek into rough chunks of a size that will be manageable for a food processor.

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  • Pulse the vegetables in the food processor until they are reduced to a relatively uniform fine rubble.

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  • Heat a medium sized pot over high heat. Add the sesame oil, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds. Stir and let sizzle until delightfully fragrant (~1 minute).
  • Tip the root vegetable rubble into the pot and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until the allium smell from the leek goes from being raw and sharp to mellow and sweet.
  • Add to the vegetable all of the dry seasoning: five spice, cumin, allspice, pepper and salt. Stir to coat, and give the vegetables another minute to cook before adding in the rice wine, honey, and fish sauce.
  • Remove the pot from heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature. If you are in a rush, spread the filling out flat, on something like a cookie sheet. The greater the surface area there is, the faster it will lose it’s heat.
  • When cooled, sprinkle the cornstarch over and then stir it into the filling.
  • And then comes the pinching! Prepare your work surface by gathering together the filling, the dumpling wrappers, a tablespoon, a cookie sheet, and a small bowl of water (optional: you can also just use your fingertips to wet the edges of the dumpling wrappers, it depends what you like to do). These dumplings are done with with the puck-shaped fold.
    • Lay out a dumpling wrapper and scoop ~1 Tbsp of the filling onto the centre.
    • Wet the pastry brush (or your finger tip) with water, and then wipe it along the edge of the dumpling to moisten.
    • Fold one edge of the wrapper toward the centre of the filling, holding it in place with your thumb.
    • Continue folding the edges of the dumpling wrapper toward the first fold in small increments, overlapping and pressing down.
    • When the entire perimeter of the wrapper is folded down to the center, pinch the edges together to create a seal.
    • Give the dumpling a gentle squish between your palms so that it is more flat than round (like the shape of a hockey puck).
    • Put your finished dumpling onto the cookie sheet, and keep making more dumplings until you run out of filling!

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  • To cook: heat a wok or heavy bottom pan (either must have a lid) over high heat. Add 1 Tbsp of butter, tilting the pan once it melts to coat the cooking surface. Add a layer of dumplings, and cook until browned on the bottom before flipping and browning the other side. Pour in the 1/2 cup of water and clamp the lid over the dumplings to steam until the water is absorbed and the dumpling wrappers have cooked through.
  • Serve with Super Sauce! (See recipe below.)
  • Dumplings that you do not eat immediately can be frozen for later use! Just pop the cookie sheet of dumplings into the freezer, and once they have frozen they can be put into a bag or resealable container. This way they won’t freeze all stuck together.

Super Sauce

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6 Tbsp butter

1/2 Cup sour cream

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

  • Brown the butter.
  • Let the butter cool for a few minutes. It should still be quite liquid, not solidifying, but cool enough that it won’t make the sour cream separate.
  • Whisk together the brown butter, sour cream, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.
  • Serve to accompany the dumplings.

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These dumplings are really lovely. I always find root vegetables so homey, comforting, and soul warming, and having them make up a dumpling filling is a fun change up from the generally animal protein heavy fillings once tends to get with dumplings. Where the carrot, parsnip, turnip and beet are naturally sweet, there are the flavour counterpoints from the saline funk of fish sauce and the nuttiness of sesame oil. Balance is delicious.

When I read the recipe, I didn’t initially get very excited about the accompanying dipping sauce. The original recipe calls for crème fraîche where I ended up using sour cream, but I was dubious about dairy plus rice vinegar and soy sauce. It read really strange to me. But I was so wrong. It is really, really tasty. I will admit, my household is pretty brown butter friendly, as well as sour cream friendly, so we’ve been using this super dipping sauce on peirogi as well as these dumplings.

In the recipe book, it is recommended that the browned butter be left to cool until it just starts to set and resolidify. I found that adding the sour cream in at that temperature resulted in a sauce that was quite solid and chunky. I quite prefer the looser, dippable rather than scoopable sauce that resulted from not cooling the browned butter quite so much. But that’s just my two cents, of course.