Mushroom Dumplings (Pot Stickers)

One of the few perks of being a teacher is that we have a chunk of time off in the summer. (There’s that whole “shaping young minds” part that’s cool as well.)  I utilized my free time this summer hanging out with Joey and Tyler, getting back into shape, and cooking lots and lots of food.

One thing I wanted to learn was how to make dumplings with the beautiful pleats.  So, I headed over to the coast and spent the day with Julie.  I got a one-on-one dumpling tutorial, and in return, I showed her how to make yeast donuts.

After learning how to make them, I’ve been on a dumpling binge.  I’ve made them with chicken. I’ve made them with pork.  I’ve made multiple batches with mushroom in my efforts to develop this recipe.  I tried the small, square wrappers that are available at most supermarkets. I tried the larger, thicker ones found at Asian markets.  You can see the difference in size and thickness of the two different wrappers.

I like the larger ones because they’re quicker to fill.  However, their quality can be inconsistent, which can be frustrating.  The smaller ones are the perfect one-bite size, and taste great steamed as well as pan fried.

One vital tip for making these dumplings: Don’t try to put too much filling in.  It will look like a very small amount compared to the size of the wrapper, but this is correct.  If you try to put too much in, the filling will ooze out as you are pleating the edges.  Just a word of warning.

adapted from Julie’s recipe.

Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Yield: 30-40 large dumplings; 60-70 small dumplings

Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Ingredients

3 Tbs olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ c shredded carrot
1¼ c shredded cabbage
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha
⅛ tsp black pepper
1 green onion, light and dark green part thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook until all liquid has left the mushrooms, about 8-10 minutes. If there is still liquid left in the pan, carefully drain it out. Add the carrot and cabbage and cook another 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, black pepper, and green onion.
  2. Set up a wrapping station. Have filling, wrappers (if you’re using square wrappers, cut them into circles), a small bowl of water, and a clean paper towel nearby. Keep extra wrappers covered with a damp paper towel.
  3. Place a small amount of filling (about 1 tsp for small, 2 tsp for large) in the center of the wrapper. Dip your index finger in the water and wet the top edge of the wrapper. Dry fingers on the paper towel. Pleat the edges to crimp closed (see video ). Place finished dumpling on a baking tray. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  4. For potstickers: Heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Add 8-10 dumplings (don’t overcrowd the pan) and brown on bottom side, about 4 minutes. Add ¼ c water and reduce heat to medium. Cover pan and let potstickers cook another 3 minutes. Remove lid from pan and if any water then continue cooking until water has evaporated. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Notes

Wrappers come in packages of 50.

http://kokocooks.com/2013/08/vegetarian-mushroom-dumplings/

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Crunchy Asparagus Rolls

I’m kind of a quiet person.  I don’t think anyone would ever accuse me of “oversharing.”  It’s not the most conducive personality toward self-promotion in the blogging world, but it’s how I am.  I constantly ask myself the question, “How much should I share with my readers?” I have a personal blog where I post lots of stories and pictures about family life.  I feel like this blog should focus more on the food and recipes.

So, in a break from my reserved self, I want to share this story with you.

Very recently, I was pregnant.  Then, heartbreakingly, I wasn’t.  It wasn’t the first time.  Or even the second.  I didn’t realize it would be so difficult to have another child. At first, I couldn’t even talk to my family about it.  Eventually, I told a few friends, and trusted that they would discreetly pass the information along to others.  In private, I cried a lot.  At work, I focused on connecting with my students, doing well on an important evaluation, and getting through the day.  I neglected this blog and social media for a bit.  I gave my son extra hugs and kisses.

For the three months that I was pregnant, I craved all the foods that I was supposed to avoid – hot dogs, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and sushi.  Oh, sushi.  How I missed you.  One of my favorite sushi restaurants served the best crunchy asparagus roll.  I started making them at home to satisfy my sushi craving.  It wasn’t the same as my beloved spicy tuna kobachi, but the toasted seaweed-seasoned rice-crunchy exterior combination took enough of the edge off the craving.

original recipe

Crunchy Asparagus Rolls

Crunchy Asparagus Rolls

Ingredients

Rice
3 cups water
2 cups sushi rice
1/2 c rice vinegar
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
Asparagus
12 asparagus spears, trimmed
1/2 c flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c panko crumbs
Oil for frying
Rolls
4 sheets toasted nori
Wasabi paste

Instructions

  1. For the rice: heat water and rice in a saucepan until boiling, stirring a few times. Turn heat to low, cover, and let cook until water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer rice to a wide bowl. With a rubber spatula, fan rice out to cover the entire inside surface of the bowl. Let the rice sit for a minute to cool off, then gently bring rice back together in the center of the bowl. Repeat fanning process 4-5 more times until rice has cooled to room temperature. Sprinkle rice vinegar, sugar, and salt over the rice and gently stir to evenly distribute.
  3. While the rice is cooking and cooling, prepare the asparagus. Blanch asparagus spears in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove spears from boiling water and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking process. Lay on a clean towel to dry.
  4. Set up a dredging station with three shallow dishes; place flour in first one, egg in the second, and panko crumbs in the third. Coat asparagus in the flour, then the egg, then roll in the panko. Place on a baking sheet. Pour enough oil in a cast iron skillet (or something wide enough to hold the asparagus) to make a 1-inch layer. Heat to 350 degrees and fry asparagus in batches until browned on all sides, about 1-2 minutes total. Place fried asparagus spears on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  5. Assemble the rolls: lay one sheet of toasted nori on a rolling mat (optional.) Carefully spread rice in a thin, even layer over the nori, leaving a 1/2 inch of the far edge of the nori bare. Gently pat the rice flat. Place three asparagus spears on the rice, and roll the nori, starting with the edge closest to you. Gently press the roll together as you roll. Cut the sushi roll into 6-8 even pieces. Serve with a dollop of wasabi.
http://kokocooks.com/2013/05/crunchy-asparagus-rolls/

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Crispy Brussels Sprouts

 

I think I have a problem. It involves submerging food in very hot oil and frying it.  I’ve evolved past donuts and onto vegetables.  What’s wrong with me?  I took a perfectly healthy vegetable and made it much less healthy (but darn tasty!)  The sprouts don’t have any breading, because the outer leaves of the sprouts crisp up and act as a coating.  We first made this dish as part of our Thanksgiving dinner, and were pleasantly surprised by how well they turned out.  They are now my preferred method for eating brussels sprouts, although I may need to curb this deep frying kick I’m currently on.  I brought them to a potluck, and I think I converted someone to liking brussels sprouts!

crispy brussels sprouts

original recipe

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

1 lb brussels sprouts
Oil for deep frying
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs panko crumbs
½ Tbs olive oil

Instructions

  1. Trim the stem and quarter each brussels sprout.
  2. Heat oil to 350°F. Gently add half the sprouts to the oil. The oil will vigorously bubble up as soon as the sprouts come in contact with it, so be careful (I used a wire scoop with a handle for this part to keep a safe distance) . The oil will drop several degrees (40-50°), but that’s okay. Fry sprouts until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with half the garlic powder and ¼ of the salt. Repeat process with remaining sprouts, sprinkling that batch with the remaining garlic powder and another ¼ of the salt. Transfer sprouts to a bowl and toss with lemon juice.
  3. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add panko crumbs and toast until browned, stirring frequently. Stir in the remaining salt. Sprinkle toasted panko crumbs to the sprouts and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/12/crispy-brussels-sprouts/

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Zucchini Pie

Usually about this time of year, zucchini is everywhere. It’s on sale at the grovery store, gracing farmer’s market tables, and surprise gifts from neighbors who have an abundant crop.  My favorite way to eat it is sauteed in olive oil and garlic, with a little bit of Parmesan cheese grated on top. My second favorite way is in this pie.

 

The first time I had this pie, a friend made it for a dinner party.  I asked her where she got the recipe from, and she showed me the book.  I immediately went out and bought it. The recipes and photos are a bit dated, but this pie is worth the price of the book.  I feel like I’m getting a hefty serving of vegetables (along with cheese) when I eat it.

 

 

adapted from Classic Home Cooking, by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler

Zucchini Pie

Zucchini Pie

Ingredients

2 lbs zucchini (about 4 medium)
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbs pesto sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs chopped fresh dill
Salt and black pepper
10 sheets of phyllo dough
4 Tbs butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grate the zucchini onto a few sheets of paper towels. Let sit for 10 minutes to soak up excess moisture.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, pesto, garlic, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the zucchini. Spray an 8x8” baking pan with non-stick spray. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
  3. Working one sheet at a time, place phyllo on top of the zucchini mixture, lining it up so that two edges hang over. Butter the surface of the phyllo with a pastry brush. Fold the excess phyllo over back onto itself. Butter top surface again. (One side of phyllo should still hang over the pan.) Repeat with remaining sheets of phyllo. Make sure top sheet of phyllo is well buttered. Cut a few slits through the phyllo sheets.
  4. Bake pie for 30-35 minutes, until pastry is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let the pie sit for 15 minutes before serving.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/08/zucchini-pie/

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Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

 

Last week, the lovely Julie of The Little Kitchen invited me for Bunko night. I had never played Bunko, so it was a new experience. The party was also a 1,000 Cooks For The Cure event. We all brought an appetizer, Julie made some killer smoked salmon rangoons and delicious cupcakes. I would like to send a special thanks to Katie, who carpooled with me. It made the hour drive to and from the party much more interesting, and I got to drive her new Prius as well! Sweet ride.

 

For my part, I brought guacamole stuffed cherry tomatoes. I saw a picture of stuffed cherry tomatoes in an old W-S cookbook, but they were stuffed with chopped olives. All I could think about when seeing that picture was this one scene from Sex and the City. So I opted to fill the tomatoes with guac. The melon baller was infinitely useful when I had to hollow out the tomatoes. And I added mango to the guacamole at the request of fellow blogger Kelly. Here’s a picture of the four of us (me, Katie, Julie, Kelly) at the party.  P.S., I won at Bunko!

 

original recipe

Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

50 cherry tomatoes, about 3-4 lbs
For guacamole
3 ripe avocados
Juice from 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro
1 mango, small dice
Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. For each cherry tomato, slice off the top, and slice a teeny bit off the bottom (to give the tomato stability.) Using a melon baller, scoop the insides out of the tomatoes. Place tomatoes upside down on a few layers of paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, scoop the flesh out of the avocados into a medium bowl. Stir in the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and mango. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon guacamole into a zipper seal plastic bag. Snip one of the bottom corners off the bag.
  3. Turn tomatoes over and place onto a serving plate. Pipe the guacamole into each tomato. Serve immediately.

Notes

Make sure the mango is diced small enough to fit through the opening of the piping bag.

http://kokocooks.com/2012/08/guacamole-stuffed-cherry-tomatoes/

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Eggplant Parmesan

 

My son has a natural disinclination for anything remotely resembling a vegetable. My ingenious husband refers to this dish as “dinosaur eggs,” and suddenly my son is more inclined to try it. It still takes some coaxing (and maybe a little bribery), but I’m just happy that he eats at least one vegetable dish.

Whenever I make eggplant parmesan, I remember something a friend said to me: “The secret to a good eggplant parmesan is to use just a little bit of sauce.”  He then gave a ten minute lecture on the importance of not drowning the eggplant.  I see his point.  If you use too much sauce in the baking process, the eggplant turns soggy.  I found that if I follow my friend’s advice, the eggplant maintains its crispy texture achieved in the browning process.
original recipe

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

1 large eggplant
1 ½ c flour
4 eggs
1 ½ c dried bread crumbs
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
4 Tbs olive oil
24 oz. jar marinara sauce
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Cooked spaghetti

Instructions

  1. Peel the skin off the eggplant using a vegetable peeler. Line up three shallow dishes (I used pie plates) and place flour in one, cracked eggs in second, and bread crumbs in the third. Beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are mixed. Mix in the salt, garlic powder, and oregano to the bread crumbs.
  2. Slice the eggplant horizontally into roughly ¼” discs. Coat the eggplant with the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, saute the eggplant until browned on each side. Add 1 Tbs olive oil before browning each batch of eggplant. Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon a little bit of marinara sauce into a large casserole dish, just enough to cover the bottom. Place a single layer of eggplant on in the casserole dish. Spoon a very thin layer of sauce over the eggplant. slices. Sprinkle with some cheese. Continue layering eggplant, sauce, and cheese in the dish until all eggplant slices are used. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking another 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve with spaghetti.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/07/eggplant-parmesan/

 

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Kimchi Fried Rice

Happy Lunar New Year! I’m not a very superstitious person, which is good since this is not an ideal dish for the new year celebration. Typically, food is eaten whole (whole fish, whole duck, etc…), and this dish requires a good deal of chopping. It could totally be adapted so you there is minimal chopping, but it would definitely not taste the same. Nevertheless, I’ve been loving this rice ever since I first made it. In fact, I had to make a second batch the very next day because we ate all of the first within 24 hours. It is especially good as a late night snack.

original recipe

Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi Fried Rice

Ingredients

4 Tbs peanut oil
4 eggs
1 large onion, diced
1 c kimchi, chopped, plus a little of the liquid
6 c cooked rice
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
¼ c chopped green onion

Instructions

  1. Heat a wok (or a skillet) over medium heat.
  2. Add 1 Tbs of oil and fry the eggs to desired consistency. Set eggs on a plate.
  3. Turn heat up to high and add remaining oil. Heat oil until almost smoking. Add onion, and stir fry until beginning to crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the kimchi and kimchi liquid and stir fry another minute. Add rice, and stir fry another few minutes. Break up the clumps of rice as it cooks.
  4. Remove wok from heat and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onion. Stir thoroughly to combine. Divide rice into bowls. Top with a fried egg and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/01/kimchi-fried-rice/

 

 

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Tomato and Apple Soup

Mmmmm….soup. Cold weather makes me crave it, along with spicy food, freshly baked bread, and hearty stews (all of which will be posted soon.) My blogging friend Branny is holding her second Souper Bowl charity event, donating the proceeds to the ASPCA. Want to join? Make a soup, write a post about it, dedicate it to a pet, and email Branny.


I’m dedicating this post to my cat Sienna. We found out this past year that she has kidney disease. One of her kidneys doesn’t function, so we are doing what we can to keep the other one in tip-top shape. She is my couch buddy, snuggling up when I fall asleep there every night. Here she is, trying to smuggle herself to Europe in our luggage. Here’s to having her in our family another year!

by Stephani Izard
as seen in In Style, January 2012

Tomato and Apple Soup

Tomato and Apple Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbs butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
½ c tomato paste
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs sambal oelek
½ c dry white wine
28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (with liquid)
4 c apple cider
½ c heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large stockpot. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add the apples, Dijon mustard, sambal oelek, and wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by about half, 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cider and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer covered for an hour. Remove pot from heat.
  4. Puree soup in batches in a blender (or in the pot with an immersion blender) until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/01/tomato-and-apple-soup/

 

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Arugula and Goat Cheese Pierogies


I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday! Did you spend time with friends and family? Did you get any cool cooking-related gifts? Did you eat too many cookies? My answer is “yes” to all those.


Every Christmas, we eat a big Polish dinner. This used to take place on Christmas Eve, but since Hubs and I are so busy on that day, we have moved the dinner to Christmas Day. I try to make a new filling each year, and this time I went with arugula and goat cheese. I’ve heard great things about these pierogies, and they didn’t disappoint. The pepperiness from the arugula blended well with the tangy goat cheese and sweetness from the onions.


adapted from The Veselka Cookbook
by Tom Birchard and Natalie Danford

Arugula and Goat Cheese Pierogies

Arugula and Goat Cheese Pierogies

These pierogies are best eaten fresh. The arugula loses its vibrancy and some of its flavor when reheated.

Ingredients

1 Tbs butter
¼ c chopped onion
5 oz arugula, chopped
8 oz. goat cheese
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
Salt and pepper
Half a recipe for pierogi dough

Instructions

  1. Heat butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Place onions in a large bowl. Mix in the arugula, goat cheese, and cream cheese. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Make the pierogi dough according to the instructions. Cut out into rounds about 4” in diameter. Stuff rounds with about 2 Tbs of arugula filling. Lightly wet the edges of the rounds and pinch closed. Drop pierogies in boiling water and cook about 4-5 minutes. Drain and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/12/arugula-and-goat-cheese-pierogies/

 

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Eat To The Beat: “If I Had A Million Dollars” Mac and Cheese

Elly Says Opa is celebrating her 5 year blogiversary by bringing back the Eat To The Beat event. Congratulations, Elly! The concept is simple: create a dish inspired by a song. Or a singer. Or a band. Love it! The marriage of two of my passions: music and food. Is there a song that inspires a food idea in you? Come join in the fun!


For this event, I made Moroccan Spiced Macaroni and Cheese in honor of one of my favorite bands, Barenaked Ladies. When I was young(er), foolish(er) and had more free time, I would follow the band around for part of their tour – usually for 3 or 4 shows at a time. I made signs on posterboard to hold up at the concerts. I even flew to Scotland and caught a few shows there. Yeah, I geeked out majorly for them.

One of their most enduring songs is “If I Had A Million Dollars.” It was one of the first songs they wrote (back in the late 80’s), and they sing it at every. single. performance. There’s a line that goes, “If I had a million dollars…we wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinner…” Kraft dinner = Canadian for Kraft Mac and Cheese. Fans used to throw boxes of mac and cheese onto the stage. Sometimes the boxes were open, and dried pasta and orange powder would rain down onto the band. Other times the boxes were closed, and the band members had to dodge flying missiles with sharp corners. They now have fans donate the boxes of mac and cheese to a local food bank.


While this version of mac and cheese may not be million-dollar worthy – no lobster, or truffle, or other high end ingredients – it is certainly an improvement from the stuff in a box. We have dubbed this recipe, “crack mac,” because it is so addictive. Pecorino romano cheese is pretty salty, which I why I don’t season the dish until after adding the cheese. And the mac tastes even better leftover – that is, if you can control yourself enough to have some leftover. (I usually can’t.)

adapted from Macaroni & Cheese
by Marlena Spieler

Eat To The Beat: “If I Had A Million Dollars” Mac and Cheese

Eat To The Beat: “If I Had A Million Dollars” Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

Moroccan Seasoning
5 green onions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp ancho chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fresh lemon zest, chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh mint
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh cilantro
6 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
Pasta
16 oz small tubular pasta, such as elbow or ditalini
6 oz pecorino romano cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine green onions, garlic, paprika, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, lemon zest, parsley, mint, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Mash together with butter, forming a paste. Set aside. Can be made a few hours ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, saving about ¼ c of cooking water. Toss the hot pasta with the cooking water and herbed butter. Sprinkle about half the cheese on the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/11/eat-to-the-beat-if-i-had-a-million-dollars-mac-and-cheese/

Combine green onions, garlic, paprika, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, lemon zest, parsley, mint, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Mash together with butter, forming a paste. Set aside. Can be made a few hours ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator.

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, saving about ¼ c of cooking water. Toss the hot pasta with the cooking water and herbed butter. Sprinkle about half the cheese on the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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