St. Paddy’s Green-Bomb Cake

St. Paddy’s Day* deserves special cuisine considerations.  The Irish have done great things culinarily, like living off dairy and braised meats, and also cabbage and potatoes.  We have shepherd’s pie, soda bread, corned beef, and, my perpetual favorite, the full Irish breakfast, with rashers, bangers, black and white pudding, baked beans, tomatoes, toast, and fried potatoes and eggs if you want them.  (I do.)
Is Guinness cheese soup a true Irish dish?  I don’t know, but damned if it isn’t delicious.

We also have foods that are green.

So thank you, Irish folk and Irish fare, for giving us a delicious, vivid day in which to paint the town green, and our bellies with it 

I did my part with this beast of a cake. 

It’s green, it’s mean, it’s a four-layer calorie bomb machine.
It’s green velvet cake, green cheesecake, AND cream cheese frosting. 

Original recipe here, with the original beautiful turnout:

http://www.recipegirl.com/2012/03/05/green-velvet-cheesecake-cake/?crlt.pid=camp.2jePEwV0qkn1

And here’s mine.

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As one of my very lovely and considerate friends said, “It looks like something a drunk leprechaun would make.”  Thanks, dude.

I made this not only for March 17th festivities but also as an excuse to get my cooking supplies into my friends’ beautiful, large, spacious, recently redone, hardly ever used kitchen.  This place is gorgeous.  It’s got counter space running forever along two opposite walls.  It’s got tiled backsplashes snuggling between countertop and cabinet (backsplash, can’t you see I’d love you more? Come live with me instead!).  It’s got a mid-counter range, double sink, and: lo and behold a dishwasher.   Magic.**
I discovered the other night that this kitchen also has a hide-away island.  This island is on wheels, with two leaf foldouts, and lives underneath the countertop, looking for all the world like an ordinary drawer.  This kitchen literally has extra workspace living beneath workspace.  This is when I knew I would need to move in with a many-houred project and claim the kitchen as my own.  Sleeping bag under the kitchen table not required.

Back to the actual food, which is supposed to be the point of this post:
With my springform pan still occupied by the berry lemon PieCake, I set to work on the cheesecake layers, muttering prayers that ordinary pie pans would be up to the job.  The original cake has the cheesecake in one piece, but none of my pans had the room for that, so into two layers it went.  The cheesecake recipe was a breeze, although I might not bother with the water bath next time, seeing as how the cheesecake is going between two cakes.  With the cake I ran into some slight trouble, due to my not heeding the recipe’s call for an entire bottle of green food coloring, as I split the bottle between the cheesecake and cake.  My cake wasn’t as richly green as hers, but it did bake up noticeably green instead of the gross brown-green mess it looked like in batter form. 

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Check it out. It’s actually green.

I also only made one batch of cream cheese frosting.  Classic mistake.  Always use at least two bricks of cheese, two sticks of butter, and however much powdered sugar and vanilla you can get away with.  The result is that the cake, already topped with a cheesecake, was only frosted on the top (cream cheese on top of cheesecake!  What?!), between layers, and was naked on the sides.  This does make for a very beautiful, dramatic effect on some cakes.  This was not that cake. 

Nonetheless, people managed to look passed this messy construction and in the spirit of St. Paddy’s day, ate green food chock full of the dairy products the Irish so love.  I hope the McCormick in my family tree is proud.

 

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Me and my friend Win, who is wielding the knife and spatula.

*I read recently that the correct nick-name-ization of Patrick was Paddy, not Patty.  Dunno if it’s super true or not, but I like it just the same. 

**Or science.  I don’t care.  I just want a dishwasher. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pi Day PieCake

Happy Yesterday-Was-Pi-Day, everybody!

Yes, March 14, aka 3.14, is a day worth celebrating.  Pi gives us many things, and I remember all of them because I did very well in my high school geometry class.  I remember circles.  I remember 3.14.   …and that’s all, right?
Anyway, Pi Day also gives us something even more exciting than huge mathematical advances that will be a part of human life and understanding forevermore.

Pi Day gives us the PieCake.

Equal to the Turducken, PieCake is a pieception* of epic pastry proportions.  It is literally a pie inside of a cake.  And this Pi Day, we had two.

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Cherry pie

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Cherry pie inside a chocolate cake

For any PieCake, basically take any pie you want and and put it inside any cake you want.  The trick is to bake the pie completely and let it cool to room temperature.  Then you put about a third of the cake batter recipe into your cake pan, nestle in the pie, and finish pouring the cake batter over it, letting it drip down the sides of the pie and filling in the area.  I recommend using a springform pan to fit in the most batter without overflow.  I also recommend using disposable pie tins, as I had to cut the tin off the pie to keep the pie whole.

For the first PieCake, we had a cherry pie inside a chocolate cake with luscious chocolate frosting.
For the second, a blackberry-raspberry pie inside of a lemon cake with lemon buttercream frosting.
Yeah.

My friend Madison came over Wednesday night to help make the pies.  This was a smart move.  People, PieCake is more than the sum of its parts in many ways, and one of those ways is the time it takes to create.  You’d think that making two pies and two cakes would be the same amount of time as two PieCakes, but you, like I, would be wrong.  PieCakes take your whole entire life to finish.  Or at least a full day.

On Pi Day Eve, we made one cherry pie and one blackberry-raspberry pie.  And man, they were gorgeous.  We followed recipes from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which in my family is known colloquially as The Red Checkered Cookbook.  I also whipped up the chocolate cake batter that night, using a recipe that’s been in my family for centuries (read: decades) that we call Mormon Chocolate Cake.

The cake isn’t actually Mormon, but it came to my family through a Mormon couple, and the title stuck.

This cake is what my husband always describes as “the best cake you’ll ever have.”  And it’s true.

Here’s the recipe (thanks, Mom!):

1) Mix together:
2 c. flour

2 c. sugar
1 ½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt

2) Bring to boil in saucepan:
2 sticks butter or margarine

1/3 c. cocoa
1 c. water

3) Pour liquid over dry ingredients

4) Add:
¾ cup vinegar (can substitute ¾ cup milk with 1 T. vinegar)
2 beaten eggs

1 t. vanilla
½ to ¾ c. chocolate chips

Mix together (will be soupy) & pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes at 350 (check with toothpick).  Cool to room temperature.  Frost.

Frosting

1) Bring to boil:
¾ stick butter or margarine
3 T. milk
3 – 5 T. cocoa

2) Add:  1 t. vanilla

3) Remove from stove and add enough powered sugar (about 2 c.) to reach spreading consistency.  Note:  If not a good consistency, add a touch more milk and continue to stir.  Add a little more powdered sugar (and milk, if necessary) until you’re good.

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Blackberry-raspberry pie with amputated crusts…which, yeah, became breakfast.

I let the batter sit in the fridge overnight while our pies cooled to room temperature.  The next day I just let it warm back up while I worked on the pies.
Because 8 ¾” pies don’t fit into a typical springform pan.  Although I was hoping for the stunning vision of a complete pie, fluted edge and all, boldly announcing itself through each slice of cake, it wasn’t to be.  I cut the crusts off each pie using a serrated knife, and nestled the amputated pie into the springform after greasing-flouring-parchmenting-greasing-flouring the pan and laying the batter foundation.  (With dark cakes, use cocoa powder to coat the pan; with light cakes, use flour).  The cherry went first.  (I only own one springform pan.)   

          

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Drowning my pie in chocolate cake batter.

Mormon Chocolate Cake is only supposed to take 25-30 minutes, as stated above, but this is not the case for PieCake.  I checked it after 30 and every 10 minutes after that with a long knife.  Originally I thought it was finished after about 45 minutes.  I pulled it out, let it cool, and when it was about room temperature, I unclasped the springform pan.

Immediately still-liquid batter started oozing all over my countertops, practically bleeding out of the cake as I yelled at it to stop.  Reforming the springform around it and cleaning it up with paper towels worked better than yelling, for reference.

It was around this time my husband called to ask how everything was going, and I pretended like I was the combination of Oprah and Martha Stewart incarnate instead of telling the truth.  Oops.

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Finally, a baked PieCake!

So for another half an hour or so this piestrosity went into the oven, and the second time I took it out, it was actually baked.

Total time was around an hour and fifteen minutes.

While this one baked, I worked on my raspberry-blackberry lemon PieCake.  I used this recipe for the cake:

http://www.misshomemade.com/lemoncakerecipe.html

I also used the lemon buttercream frosting on this page, although I forewent the milk in lieu of extra lemon juice.

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Pre-baked raspberry-blackberry lemon PieCake!

The second PieCake went more smoothly than the first, mostly because I gave it plenty of time and made sure to check the bottom layer of cake thoroughly with my knife.  I did get a little impatient though, as I was delivering these PieCakes to the Geology department office, and was already half an hour later than I thought I’d be due to the extra baking time, so my lemon cake wasn’t cooled enough when I frosted it.  But leaving it in the springform with slightly melty frosting worked pretty well for transporting it in my car, especially since I only have one cake carrier.

PieCakes, might I modestly say, are a success with hungry scientists, and probably any other reasonable human as well.  When feeding geologists, expect many comparisons to subduction zones and magma chambers and the like.

Results:
Both were delicious.  One of my geo people expressed what I had been feeling when he said, “This lives up to all my expectations.”
The cherry chocolate cake held its form perfectly, with the pie clearly defined within the cake.  The berry lemon cake was still warm, as was the frosting, and when we cut into it, the filling and frosting oozed out together, which gave it an appearance like a lava cake, or like baked brie.  Not as striking as the other PieCake, but still appealing in its own way.

While I was baking these, I have to admit (especially around the time of the oozing batter fiasco) I thought I’d never make a PieCake again.  But sometime around when I dug into my second helping, I thought, “Well, maybe only once a week.”

Or at least once a year for Pi Day.

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Super messy blackberry-raspberry lemon PieCake. Kinda like baked Brie. But so, so tasty.

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A piece of cherry chocolate PieCake left over

*Thanks for the term, Winjamin!

Posted in The Butter Ballad | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lettuce and Egg Breakfast Bake

 

ImageDid you know that you can cook lettuce?

Not just grilled romaine, either.  Although that does make one of the best salads ever.
Lettuce can work just like spinach.  I love this because the husband is allergic to spinach, which cuts down my options for making awesome creamy casseroles and frittatas and saag paneer.  Eggs baked over a layer of lightly sautéed spinach and doused with cheese is one of my favorite breakfast foods.  And now I can make it to share!

(Cooked lettuce is also particularly great when you have a head of lettuce sitting uneaten in your crisper drawer and you just can’t make one. more. salad, rare as that may be.)

Here’s the recipe I used to start:

http://www.manilaspoon.com/2012/12/baked-spinach-and-eggs.html

The only ingredients she uses are spinach, eggs, feta, and salt and pepper.

I used red leaf lettuce, eggs, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and a dash of Parmesan.
The cottage cheese is great for adding creaminess without going overboard on fat, and the cream cheese is great for adding fat.  Tasty, tasty fat.  Parmesan just tweaks in a bit of edge and saltiness.

I also added the last bit of mushroom gravy I had in the fridge, which lent a meatiness to my meal, but it’s not central to the recipe.

This recipe works well for one person if you aren’t making any other items (like toast or a country-fried steak) and for two if you are.

Ingredients

8 or 9 leaves of lettuce (red, green, just not iceberg)
2 eggs
¼ cup cottage cheese
¼ cup reduced fat cream cheese
Dash of Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and somewhat dry your lettuce leaves.  Heat a big pot over medium heat; add the leaves and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes until wilted.  Red lettuce keeps a bit of crunch even after sautéing,which I like.

Put this into an oven-safe container, either a medium-sized ramekin or a smallish frying pan.

Crack the eggs over the spinach.  Toss the cottage cheese over the dish, and pinch off bits of the cream cheese and evenly space them.  Shake a dash of Parmesan over everything.  (If you also happen to have mushroom gravy you’d like to add, I heated that in the same pan I used to sauté the lettuce and poured it on before cracking the eggs.)

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-16 minutes.  12 minutes for runny yolks, 16 for hard disks.

Voila!  You’ve cooked lettuce, and it’s delicious!  You’ve also avoided endangering your husband.  Good job.

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Yup, that’s lettuce in there.

Calories: 404
Carbs: 13 g
Fat: 28 g
Protein: 25 g

Posted in Breakfast, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Super Bowl Game Plan

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Oh em gee, the Super Bowl is almost here!

We’re not too big on sports in my household.  In fact, one year, my smart and educated husband called this game the Super Ball for almost the entire season.  (No, not on purpose.)
BUT.
The Super Bowl is not really about football.  We know this.  The game is about commercials and snacks, and snacks and commercials.  For whatever reason, he-man sports and the watching thereof incite people to eat foods they would normally snub, for either health or foodie reasons.  Reuben sandwich dip, bacon-cheddar jalapenos, whiskey weenies, and ANYTHING with the words “buffalo chicken” become these glorified, pedestaled, you’re-crazy-not-to-have-them foods for several hours one Sunday a year.
And I am so excited for that.
The Super Bowl can be just like any other appetizer party, but everything has to have a little more oomph in it.  A little more cheese, more bacon, more goop.  Other than that, use your usual finger-food strategies to feed the crowd and provide enough food entertainment to get everyone though the football parts.

Here’s my game plan.
For appetizers, I like to balance out the hot and chilled, savory and sweet, light and heavy.  For a mixed or unfamiliar crowd, at least one option has to be substantial and vegan. It’s kind of a cop out to serve platters of stuffed meatballs and candied Brie in all their protein-y, flavorful goodness and then have crudité for the vegans with no vegan-friendly dip.  But not everything can be super labor-intensive OR expensive, either.  It’s a balance.
Here’s an example of what my starting lineup (football jokes!!) would look like:

Menu:
Pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce (vinegar and sweet)
Crudité with chickpea dip and pita
Pears slices with cream cheese and cranberry sauce
Champagne and fresh fruit Jell-O (backup: mini popcorn balls)
Fudge squares

I served this to a group of geology people last year.
The savory and heavy were the pulled pork sliders and BBQ sauce, the light and chilled were the pear slices, the substantially vegan was the crudité with chickpea dip. Sweet was champagne Jell-O and fudge squares.  A backup is always a good plan, too, like the popcorn balls in case the Jell-O fell apart.

I like to make as much of my foods as I can, but I also like not taking three days to prepare for one party*. I made the pulled pork and the BBQ sauce, but I bought the slider buns.  I made the crudité and dip, but bought the pita.  I made the cranberry sauce, but definitely did not make my own cream cheese.  I also made the desserts.  (Fudge recipe to come later!)   I spent a day in the kitchen, but that length of time feels right to me, so I wasn’t overwhelmed or feel like I slacked off (which is not a problem—and nor should it be—for many people when they stop by the grocery store and stock up on pre-sliced celery sticks, I realize, but it’s one that I have).

For this Super Bowl Sunday, I won’t be hosting the festivities (no cable!) and so likely won’t make five appetizers to bring to the party.  But I’ll make a couple to pass, and I’ll try to stick to the basic ideas of balance in flavors and options.

Or maybe I’ll just brew up a big old pot of buffalo cheddar beer dip with bacon sticks for dipping.  That play might be a winner, too.

*Actually, I would love to, but, you know, responsibilities.

Posted in Appetizers | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

Homemade Caesar salad for dinner last night, and it is my favorite and I will eat a bowl of this every day forever.  Seriously, I could eat the dressing with a spoon.  Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but when I was whipping it up, I tested it using one of the stems of a lettuce leaf (the middle part that we usually don’t use) and ended up dipping and eating the entire stem.

This is how to make it:

Ingredients
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 skin-on chicken thigh
1 tsp rosemary
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup cheese (Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, or Monterey Jack)
¼ cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/8 full-fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce

Serves 2

Start with a defrosted chicken thigh.
You might actually start with trying to defrost two chicken thighs.  Because you don’t have a microwave, you will put them in a bowl still in their plastic freezer baggies and run water over them until they’re no longer frozen.  When they should be just about defrosted, pick up one of the bags and scream, because the chicken thigh is a dark orange color and completely disintegrated and runny.  Then realize you mistakenly grabbed a baggie of pumpkin puree from the freezer, and your chicken hasn’t liquefied.  Decide to continue making chicken Caesar salad for two with only one chicken thigh.
Now heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and preheat your oven to 350.  While that’s heating, dust your chicken on both sides with a bit of rosemary and some salt and pepper.  When the pan is ready, put your thigh skin-side down in the pan and let it sizzle for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  If you’re using an oven-safe pan, put the whole thing in the oven.  If not, transfer the thigh to an oven-safe dish, still skin-side down.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until juices run clear.
In the meantime, wash and dry your Romaine head. Tear into medium-sized sections and divide evenly between two plates.

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This is what your chicken breast should look like when it’s done.

Now for the dressing.
I’ve made Caesar dressing the classic way before—anchovy filets, egg yolk, all of that.  This is much nicer to make because it has no raw egg and I don’t have to open a tin of anchovies.
Take your Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce and mix well.  Taste it.  If you want more tang, add more mayo.  More zest, more lemon juice.  Saltier, more soy sauce.   The Greek yogurt is just for a creamy texture, so use more or less depending on how fluid you like your dressings. For a really thick sauce, don’t use the olive oil.  I just added it in as a thinning agent and to counter some of the lemon juice.  The proportions above are pretty true to what I did, and I thought it was perfect.

Once your chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board and let it cool slightly.   Leave all of the chicken drippings and olive oil in the pan, and add a tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter is completely melted and foaming, add your breadcrumbs.  Breadcrumbs are awesome to make!  They get all woolly-looking and puffed up like a roux.  Which I guess this kind of is, but with crumbs instead of flour.  If they’re too damp, add more breadcrumbs until the oil and butter are completely soaked up and the crumbs are a dark toasty color (dark brown is good; black is burned).  Toss or stir the crumbs in the pan every so often to prevent too much clumping.  You don’t need to toss constantly, so use this time to grate your cheese of choice.  Once the breadcrumbs are done, take the pan off the heat.

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Breadcrumbs!

To assemble, slice the chicken and lay it out over the lettuce (or butcher it again.  Either one.  As long as it’s in bite-sized pieces).  Sprinkle your breadcrumbs and cheese on the lettuce, and finish with a big whopping drizzle of the dressing.  Serve to your husband and yourself.  Have him call the dressing “better than real Caesar dressing,” where “real” means both bottled AND the classic recipe.
Make again tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the whole chicken-breadcrumbs-dressing salad because I started eating it immediately.

Health up: instead of breadcrumbs, use toasted bread chunks with a drizzle of olive oil. Toasted seeds work well for crunch, too. Forego the cheese, or use an especially flavorful variety and use less of it. Chicken breast is okay instead of thigh, too, or removing the skin from the thigh.

Veganize: raw avocado instead of chicken; olive oil instead of mayo; soft tofu or vegan yogurt instead of Greek yogurt (or even pureed and watered-down garbanzo beans); salt your lettuce leaves instead of using cheese.

Per serving:
Calories: 520
Carbs: 34 g
Fat: 31 g
Protein: 29 g
Fiber: 8 g

Posted in Dinner | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Super Fruity Baked Molasses Oatmeal!

You know what’s impressive?  Getting in 1.5-2 servings of fruits at your first meal of the day!

Now, I’m a veggie person.  I love fruit, sure—the sweetness, the portability, the plump texture—but I feel like I can do more with vegetables.  I can make them spicy or savory or crunchy or roasty or creamy.  They go well with every single meal of the day, and frankly, they’re even easier to fit into snacks for me.  Fruit with dinner is possible, but it’s usually a compote or bake, like whole cranberry sauce or baked apples.  And cranberry sauce doesn’t go well with vegetarian enchiladas or red bean steamed buns.

Anyway, I fit one banana and half of an apple into my breakfast this morning, so I’m almost set for the day, fruit-wise.  It’s a good feeling.

Here’s how I did it: I made an oatmeal bake.I’ve read several articles for oatmeal bakes, and they usually say things like, “It’s like eating a cookie for breakfast!”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of eating a cookie as my breakfast.  I might have one in the morning if it’s around, but I won’t call it my breakfast.  Breakfast is supposed to be the right way to start your day, and I’m not going to kill that by having refined sugars and simple carbs and empty calories and all the other exploding, blowing up, kaboom apocalypse things like that.
So I made my own oatmeal bake, and it is not like a cookie.  It is tasty and fun and vitalicious and warm. It is a good breakfast.

Recipe for two:

2/3 cup oats (I use rolled.  You use what you have.)
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon
1 T molasses
1 egg
½ cup milk plus extra for garnish
2 bananas, sliced
1 apple, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 350.  I promise you’ll be done with your prep by the time it’s ready.
Prep a medium-sized, ovenproof saucepan with a thin coat of butter, then combine the oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in the pan. Give those a good stir.  Then whisk in the molasses, egg and milk.  Make sure everything is well combined.  Next, layer on the banana and apple slices.  I did a pattern, but honestly, just dump everything in if you like.

Once the oven is preheated, stick the pot into the oven and let it bake for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how puffy and done you like your bakes. Less time for more stickiness, more time for more shape holding.
When it’s done, run a spatula around the edges of the pot to release the bake, then tip it upside down over a large plate or bowl for an upside-down cake style, then divvy up the portions.  It should fall out pretty nicely.  If you don’t care about the shape or pattern, ladle it out into two bowls.  Pour some milk over the portions for a nice porridge effect.  Voila!

This recipe is sweet, and the bananas caramelize nicely while baking.  The milk and egg add good proteins to the dish as well, and it’s all vegetarian! If you’re only doing one portion, I recommend leaving out the egg, or using a half-egg portion of eggbeaters.  It won’t puff up as nicely without the egg, even with extra baking powder and a touch of oil, but the egg tends to congeal and act like a baked egg instead of an ingredient.  Regardless, it’s still tasty and fun and vitalicious and warm.

How do you all get your fruit in each day?  Are you a fruit person or a vegetable person, like I am?

Posted in Breakfast | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Himalayan Dumplings for a Potluck

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Last night as I was just deciding to get into the kitchen and make ourselves some dinner, I got a text from a friend of ours inviting us over for a potluck meal.  She and her roommate were making tasty chicken and veggie stir fry with rice.  So the appetizer/side dish was up to me.  Now, I’ve got a ton of appetizer recipes saved for any occasion—TV-and-nosh session, cocktail party, theme party—but none that really seem to go with stir-fry.  It’s a meal by itself.  That’s kind of the point.  You don’t have to make anything to go with it.

But! Luckily I had pinned (saved to Pinterest, for those who don’t know) a Himalayan dumpling recipe from ecurry.com, and the recipe only lookedlike it’d take about an hour.  Also, like a ton of fun.

This is the recipe I used:

http://www.ecurry.com/blog/starters-snacks/momo-the-himalayan-dumplings/

We had all the ingredients on hand, which is just so exciting when you’re both pumped for a recipe and short on time, so right after finishing our texts I got right down to business.

People.  When you are excited for dumplings, and you alsohave never made dumplings before, and you have a pseudo deadline for making these, even when you have all the ingredients on hand, just know that you will be dealing with these tiny, chubby monsters for far longer than is reasonable.  Especially when you need to thaw out a pound of ground meat (I used beef) and don’t have a microwave.  Even when you do the defrost-while-cooking stovetop method.  Especially when between scraping and crumbling chunks of hard beef you need to mince onions and grate ginger and chop cilantro and dissect Thai chilies to extract the seeds and not get juice in your eyes.   And then when you get every filling ingredient in a big glass bowl and the dough is ready, you still need to shape the little demons.  (Yeah, they went from cute to spiteful right quick.)

Another word of advice.  Although the original recipe’s method of shaping the dough might result in tastier, more attractive, and more authentic Himalayan dumplings, you do not—and I did not—need to roll out inch-wide balls of dough and then flatten each one individually.  I started with that method, but about five balls in realized I have both a rolling pin and a biscuit cutter, and so I spread out the entire dough mass onto my biggest cutting board and went to town with the pin.   After few circles were made, I enlisted the husband to help fill the dough pockets and seal them.  They sealed really well, with none of the fork-cinching hullabaloo I’ve heard about with some dumplings.  Our fingertips worked just fine.  I found that cupping a dough circle in my palm with the middle of the circle over the place where my palm meets my fingers was the easiest method; after I lay down a spoonful of filling, I simply closed my hand and the edges of the dough met up pretty evenly.

Of course, about a fourth of the way through filling we realized we were to be at the potluck in about five minutes, so we packed up our dough, filling, and uncooked dumplings to finish at our friends’ house.   We (read: I) were not frustrated at all at this point, and very rationally packed up our formed dumplings in individual squares of parchment paper so that the outsides didn’t stick to each other and we didn’t have a giant, inseparable glob of sticky dough with pockets of ground beef and minced roots to contend with once we arrived at the potluck.

Except that’s not at all what we did, and we did have to deal with the dough mass upon arrival, meaning we dumped it all on a baking sheet and decided to kill it—er, cook it—in the oven.

The rest of the dumpling making was a great deal of fun.  I wandered from the kitchen to the living room scene with pads of dough in my palms, shaping and stretching, muttering about the little suckers under my breath.  We steamed them and ate them.  They were flavorful, and toothsome, and so nicely portable, which works well at an informal potluck.  I like them with soy sauce.

Here’s what I did differently from ecurry.com:

  1. Beef instead of chicken or pork
  2. Rolling out the dough and then cutting circles instead of shaping circles one by one
  3. Instead of using a steamer, we MacGyver’d a contraption using a large pot with tin foil laid over it, snuggled the foil around the edges, and poked through substantial holes.  We put squares of wax paper underneath each dumpling, although I’d use parchment paper if you have it, so they wouldn’t stick.  It works perfectly well.  We’ve done it for steamed buns multiple times.
  4. Skipped the dipping sauce, although it looks delicious and I’ll make it next time if I have time.

There you have it, folks: how to half-make Himalayan dumplings to serve late at a party.  In the end, they turned out, and I really like the idea of the dumpling wrapper: just flour and enough water to get the flour to stick.  The result was chewy and not overwhelming in flavor, letting the filling shine. I’m looking forward to making this dough regularly, and stuffing it with whatever we have in the fridge, or mixing it up geography-wise and filling it with potatoes and cheese for more of a pierogi deal.  It seems like a fun concept to play with, which is what I like cooking to be about.

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