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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wonton (Chinese Dumplings)

I am always looking for recipes that I can make in quantity and store for days when I don't have much time. This is definitely one of them. In fact, this isn't just a large recipe, it's a HUGE recipe!

Yes, this recipes really does make about 150 wontons! But I did that on purpose. I won't lie.... making wonton is a lot of work. So, I buckle down and spend the better part of a day making a ton of them. Then, I freeze them for many many meals to come.

So, you must wonder... don't they get boring? I mean, especially for two people? At about 6 wontons per person per meal, that is 25 meals, or about 13 meals per person of the same thing.

But it doesn't have to be boring. Wonton can be cooked and served so many ways that they become a freezer staple.

Made about 150

For the Filling:
750 grams Ground Pork
500 grams Ground Chicken or Turkey
2 Egg Whites
1/3 cup Water
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Chinese Black Vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
2 1/2 tbsp Ginger, minced
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp White Pepper
2 cups Napa Cabbage, chopped (white and green parts)
1 cup Green Onion, chopped (white and green)

150 Wonton wrappers

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together all filling ingredients. Cover and place in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Once the filling has sat for about 45 minutes, I usually taste it, either by cooking a bit in a non-stick pan, or making 1 wonton just to check the seasoning. This is entirely optional, but if you are about to spend the time to make dozens of them, I just think it's better to double check that you are happy with the taste!

To fill the wontons, place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the centre of the wrapper. (You might feel that this doesn't look like a lot of filling, but do not add more! When you try to close the wonton, the filling will push out creating a mess!)

Brush all of the edges of the wrapper with water (I use my fingers by dipping them in a bowl of water, but you could also use a brush). The fold as desired. Here are the 2 folds that I prefer:
1. The basic triangle fold- bring 2 opposite corners together and press the wonton wrapper together around the filling, making sure to push out all the air.
2. The purse fold- bring all 4 corners to the centre and stick together, push all the air out, and press each set of edges together.

Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.

At this point, there are many directions you could take with these. You could cook them (either boiled, fried, or in soup), or you could freeze them for later.

To Boil or Steam
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the wonton into the water, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 4-6 minutes until the filling is cooked through. Remove the wonton from the water with a slotted spoon, trying to remove as much excess water as possible. Serve with Wonton Dipping Sauce.

To Fry
Heat a pot of oil or fryer to 350 degrees. Place the wonton in the oil in batches, being sure not to overcrowd. Fry for about 4-6 minutes until the wonton are golden. Great served with sweet and sour sauce, chili sauce, or wonton dipping sauce.

In Soup
Blanch the wonton for a couple of minutes in boiling water. Drain. Place the wonton in your soup broth and finish cooking. Spoon broth and wontons over shredded napa cabbage and cooked egg noddles. Drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with green onions.

To Freeze
To freeze, place the wax paper lined baking sheet with the wontons directly in the freezer. By freezing them first on the sheet, it will ensure that they freeze individually instead of sticking together. When they are completely frozen, place in a container or ziplock bag.

To cook from frozen, boil, fry, or place in soup just as above. Just note that they will take a couple extra minutes to cook.

Wonton Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Chinese Black Vinegar
1/2 tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Small Red Chili, seeded and chopped
1 tsp Sesame Oil

Just mix all the ingredients together! That's it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Proscuitto & Wild Rice Stuffed Chicken

As I have mentioned time and time again, I love dark meat. I just think it has more flavor. Having said that, although I made this recipe with chicken breasts, feel free to substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.

So, back to the chicken breasts. I am always looking for new ways to cook and add flavor to chicken. And this is the answer....Here is a simple method that is super easy and allows you to add whatever flavors you want to chicken, making it a great and exciting weekday chicken dish.

The basic principle is this... Pound out boneless chicken piece until it is a flat, blank canvas. Cover it with ingredients and flavors that inspire you. Roll it up. Stick it with a couple of toothpicks. Cook in a pan. Eat.

Oh, and I forgot the best part. This recipe is for 1. Or more if you like.

Proscuitto & Wild Rice Stuffed Chicken
Serves 1

1 Chicken breast
1/2 cup Cooked Wild and Brown Rice
1 tbsp Green Onion, sliced
1 tbsp Cream Cheese
2 slices Proscuitto, cut into pieces
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Place the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound until about 1/2 cm thin. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a small bowl, mix together rice, green onion, cream cheese and proscuitto. Spread the mixture onto the chicken breast. 

Roll the chicken breast and secure together with a couple of toothpicks

Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Sear the chicken breast roll on all sides until brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let cook for about 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the toothpicks, slice, and serve!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut butter is a love-hate thing. You either love it, or you hate it. I love it.

I love it on toast, apples, celery or just on a spoon. And I love it in cookies.

It's funny because I grew up loving peanut butter and have always just had it around. What I didn't realize, is that not everyone has a jar of peanut butter in their pantry growing up.

My husband had never eaten peanut butter until he met me. He was 24. He didn't really like it. At all. Then, one day, he started eating it and couldn't stop. And so started the loving relationship between my husband and peanut butter.

Oh, and I am sure the cookies helped....

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1/2 cup Margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky-- your preference)
1/3 cup White Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup White Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Salt
1/2 cup Rolled Oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into wet ingredients. Stir in rolled oats.

Roll dough into 1.5 inch balls and place on greased or lined baking sheets. Flatten with the back of a fork. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Four Bean Salad with Tangy Dressing

My mom used to make bean salad everytime we had company over. It was my least favorite dish. It was weird to eat a bowl of sweet and tart beans. Just didn't work for me.

Then my sister made it one night not too long ago. And it was fantastic. Hearty and filling with the tartness complementing the heaviness of the beans. I just couldn't stop eating it.

It's funny how dishes we remember as a child resurface in our adult lives. And it's amazing how our tastebuds change!

Four Bean Salad with Tangy Dressing
Serves 4-6

1 can Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Chick Peas, rinsed and drained
1 can Cut Wax Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Cut Green Beans, rinsed and drained
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Celery Seed
1 tbsp Mustard Dijon
Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl mix together all the salad ingredients.

In a seperate bowl, disolve the sugar in the vinegar. Add the other dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour the dressing onto the bean salad. Stir, cover, and refrigerate until service (the longer you refrigerate, the better this salad tastes, so I suggest you make it the night before).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

German Marble Cake and a BBQ Celebration!

Today was my husband's birthday celebration. Nothing dramatic... just a low key barbeque with family. But of course, food wise, nothing can be "low key." We needed to make a spread fit for celebration!

On the menu? Barbeqie pork ribs, thyme marinated chicken thighs, smokies, grilled vegetables, greek pasta salad, and some sangria to wash it all down.

Oh, and the cake. Decisions, decisions. Every year, my husband gets some kind of awesome cake. The most memorable had to be the "Turtle" cake, followed by the patriotic vanilla cake . This year, when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he said "A Marble Cake." At first, I was surprised, but then I remembered...

On my birthday last year, I was blessed by a German friend, Julia, who surprised me with a German marble cake for my birthday. My husband loved it so much, he ate about 3/4 of it. He ate it as it was, and then for breakfast, lunch, and every time in between until it was gone. And it left such a strong impression that when I asked him about his birthday cake, he didn't even hesitate before asking for this one.

I am not sure if I can ever replicate Julia's delicious cake, but here is my recipe, which complemented our barbeque celebration just perfectly!

German Marble Cake
Makes 1 cake

1 cup Butter, room temperature
1 cup Sugar
4 Large eggs, separated yolks and whites
1 cup Skim Milk
1 tsp Almond Extract
3 1/4 cups Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 pinch Salt
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
3 tbsp Triple Sec
Icing Sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt or fluted pan (like an angel food cake pan)and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, milk, and almond extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the butter and egg yolk mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter.

Move half of the batter into a separate bowl. Mix in the cocoa powder and triple sec.

Spoon the batter into the cake pan, alternating white and brown batter. Then swirl with a fork.

Bake for about 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Creamy Cilantro & Coconut Chicken

Here is an interesting dish.... creamy and comforting lifted up with the freshness of cilantro. Inspired by Thai flavours with the coconut milk and fish sauce, this dish is super easy to make and is a great alternative for those who do not like spicy dishes. Also, because of the light, fresh flavours, this dish would make a great summer main course.

If you prefer, you could make this delicious dish with a nice white fish like halibut or grouper. Just cut it into 1 1/2 inch cubes and instead of adding them at the beginning of the recipe, add them after you add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Let the fish cook in the sauce for about 5 minutes only.  Enjoy!

Creamy Cilantro & Coconut Chicken
Serves 2 generously

1/3 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Pinch of Rock Salt
2 tsp Vegetable Oil
400 grams Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast or Thigh, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 Medium Onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 can (14 oz) Coconut Milk
2 tbsp Fish Sauce

Place the cilantro, garlic and rock salt into a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes, then add the onions and cook until the onions just start to soften. Add the cilantro paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Let cook for about 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce thickens a little.
Serve over steamed rice or tossed with rice noodles.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Crispy Rice & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmm... cookies! So quick to make, and a big batch put in the freezer provides homemade goodies for a long time to come!

These cookies are a little twist on regular chocolate chip cookies because they have rice krispies in them as well. I love the addition of the rice krispies because they add an additional texture component and almost lighten the cookies.

Crispy Rice & Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 60 cookies

1 cup Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
2/3 cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 cups Chocolate Chips
4 cups Rice Krispies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking soda and salt and mix to incorporate. Fold in the chocolate chips and rice krispies.

Drop by spoonful onto the lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.