Sunday, 15 February 2015

Beef and onion fried dumplings

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Beef and onion fried dumplings - Steph's Kitchen


With Chinese new year fast approaching, I want to share with you a Friday night favourite in our house: Fried beef and onion dumplings.

I didn't try dumplings until I moved to Melbourne, where Mr Steph soon introduced me to a little place we have no idea the name of in China town. It is simply known as "the dumpling place with the red door". This is no joke. We honestly walk down the alleyway looking for the red door we know and love!

Every now and then we'd be at home and would have a hankering for dumplings but we didn't want to drive into the city to have them. The area we've recently moved to is great, but not so great for Asian cuisine. It's all just Indian and Italian. We did find one place a suburb over which was OK, however it just wasn't the same.

I started off with an Indonesian dumpling recipe, carting one of my work friends off with me into an Asian grocer to help me find the ingredients and make sure I was translating the recipe correctly. I soon became a little more brave and started visiting on my own, hoping I was picking the right things off the shelves.

Over time I created my own dumpling recipe. This recipe uses your everyday beef mince - so don't stress about having to mince your own. It also uses ingredients that you can find in most supermarkets. However, I would check out your local Asian grocer as they have a much wider range to choose from. I use gyoza dumpling wrappers as I found they work much better than wonton wrappers. But if you have the nack for them, you can simply use wonton wrappers instead. I haven't found a grocery store that sells gyoza dumpling wrappers yet, so you may have to visit the Asian grocer for it.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer to start with. These are by no means traditional, so if you have a traditional or family recipe I'm apologising a head of time.

 

Beef and onion fried dumplings

Serves 4 (approx. 35 dumplings)

Gyoza dumpling wrappers
500g beef mince
1 heaped Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 tsp kecap manis
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 onion, finely diced and fried until golden brown.

1. Add all your ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix the mixture for around five minutes until well combined. The reason I mix for so long - and with my hands - is that it starts to bring out the fat in the mince, creating more like a sausage mince than mince. This gives the dumpling a smoother texture, and ensures it won't be too "mincy" and turn out more like a rissole. The longer you can work the mince the better. You are looking for a smooth, sausage meat looking mixture.

2. Now onto putting the dumplings together. I've had a look a several YouTube videos for this, but I couldn't work out what they were doing. Anyway, this is my imperfect (most likely lazy) way of doing it.

How to make your dumplings - Steph's Kitchen

Add in a teaspoon of mixture into the middle of the gyoza wrapper. Dip your finger into some water and run it around the edge of the wrapper, making sure you go all the way round and right to the edge. Bring up both sides of the wrapper and press together. The water will help them stick. If they are not quite sticking, dab a little more water on the edges. Using your fingers, pin the edges of the dough together until it looks almost like crinkle cut. I like to use three fingers for this: Two on one side of the dumpling and one on the other. I then pinch the dough together to give it that wavy, crinkle look. I usually do this once on each side and in the middle.

3. Continue until you have no more dumpling mixture.

4. Now, onto steaming the dumplings. If you don't have a bamboo steamer like me, simply use a steel colander over a large pot of water.

Fill up the pot at least half way (making sure the colander sits out of the water), and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat slightly so that it'll gently bubble away while you're cooking your dumplings.

The dumpling production line - Steph's Kitchen
The dumpling production line!
Sprinkle a little bit of water into the bottom of the colander (just to stop the dumplings from sticking to the bottom), and place in as many dumplings as you can - making sure they aren't touching each other. If they are too close you'll have a group of dumplings instead.

Cook the dumplings until the dough starts to go slightly transparent and you can see the brown of the mince showing through. Remove from the "steamer" and place on a plate with some baking paper on the bottom. Again, this is going to stop those naughty little dumplings from sticking to your plate.

Depending how good you are at multiple tasking, you can start to fry up your dumplings while still steaming. But it's ready up to you and also how many dumplings you can steam at a time. I can steam six dumplings at a time in my colander, and usually wait until I have about twelve before I start frying them up.

5. Next, we are going to pan fry our dumplings until they have some gorgeous dumplings. If you prefer steamed dumplings simply skip this step.

Drizzle in a generous amount of vegetable oil, making sure it coats the bottom of your pan by at least a millimetre. Heat up the pan and then place your dumplings in side down. Fry until golden, then turn to fry the other side.

6. Eat your dumplings!

My little cutie Bunny trying to make me share ...


My favourite dipping sauce is a mix of kecap manis and soy sauce. Mr Steph loves chilli oil, which you can get from your local Asian grocer.

Enjoy!
Steph xo

 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tandoori chicken pizza

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Tandoori chicken pizza - Steph's Kitchen


Growing up in a very English household, I didn't experience too much Indian food other than the occasional curry. I've made tandoori chicken in kitchens I've worked in before, but I was never really interested enough to make it at home until a friend of ours made some for us last year.

If you haven't had traditional Indian before, you're missing out! Using yoghurt, tandoori paste and additional spices, he changed my perspective completely. It might have been that he marinated it almost all day before cooking the chicken, or just the fact that adding in the extra spices brought out the flavour ten-fold - but Mr Steph and I still talk about that meal.

From that moment I've had a little bit of a soft spot for tandoori chicken. After Mr Steph loved a tandoori chicken pizza he ordered a few months ago, I decided to recreate it at home one night. It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing, so it's by no means traditional but more my twist according to what I had in the fridge.

During our pizza making, I also perfected how to make crispy pizza base like that of a wood-fire pizza. Tips on how to do this is in the recipe below!

Tandoori pizza up close and personal - Steph's Kitchen

Tandoori chicken pizza.

Makes two thin crust pizzas

For the tandoori chicken

2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips
2 heaped Tbsp mild tandoori paste
1/3 cup sour cream

For the pizza dough

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp yeast
2/3 cup warm water

For the pizza sauce

1/2 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp minced garlic

For the pizza topping

1 1/2 cups  grated cheese
Small handful of baby spinach (around 25 - 30g)

For the garlic sauce (my twist on the traditional)

1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1. Mix the tandoori paste and sour cream together, tossing the chicken pieces through until they are well coated. Pop the chicken in the fridge to marinate. I like to marinate it for at least 40 mins (while my dough is rising), but if you're short on time 15 mins or none at all is fine.

2. Next, onto the dough. Add the flour, salt and yeast to a medium sized bowl, creating a well in the centre for the liquids. Pour in the oil and slowly add your water. I usually add in half the water and start mixing, slowly adding more bit by bit. I find it easier this way as sometimes you don't need all the water. You're looking for the dough to be slightly sticky but not wet.

3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's smooth (around 3 - 5 mins). Place the dough in a greased bowl (using spray oil or spreading a drizzle of oil around the edges), cover the bowl with cling wrap and tea towel, and place in a warm draft-free place. Allow to rise for 40 mins or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Divide the dough in half, roughly kneading it for 30 or so seconds before thinly rolling out each base - aiming for no more than 3mm. Place each base onto a large sheet of baking paper, large enough for the base with a little bit extra handing over for you to easy hold.

5. Turn your oven on to 180 C / 350 F and place the pizza trays in to heat up with the oven. I've found this is the trick to having that crispy, wood-fire like base.

6. Cook the tandoori chicken on a medium heat until cooked through and the chicken appears dark in places. Try not to cook the chicken any higher than medium as otherwise the tandoori coating will simply burn before the chicken is cooked.

7. Mix up the pizza sauce and spread thinly across both bases. Avoid having it too think as you don't want the pizza to be all sauce!

8. Sprinkle a small amount of your cheese on the bottom, followed by spinach, chicken and then the rest of the cheese. You'll notice that the cheese is quite sparse, but this is the way it should be. The key is to have a small amount of toppings.

Tandoori pizza ready for the oven - Steph's Kitchen


9. Take the pizza trays out of the oven one at a time, and, using the sides of the baking paper, carefully place the pizza (still on top of the baking paper) onto the tray. Slip the pizza back into the oven  and cook for 10 mins, then careful slip the pizza off the paper and onto the tray for another 5 - 10 mins until the cheese and edges are nice and crispy.

10. Mix the garlic sauce ingredients together, drizzling it over the top of the pizza just before serving. Again, definitely not traditional, but it goes together so well!

Enjoy!
Steph xo


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Four easy ways to jazz up the simple pancake

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Everyone loves a good pancake. However, maple syrup and butter can get a bit boring after a while! With today being International Pancake Day, here's four ways to make your next pancake a little more interesting.



Flavour with your favourite spread

You can easily put a twist on your usual pancake batter by adding a sweet spread like peanut butter, Nutella or chocolate spread, or your favourite jam. If you're not sure how much spread to add, start by mixing a couple of tablespoons to your mixture then taste to see how much more you need or would like. If you're a Nutella lover, you'll love my Nutella pancakes to take the guess work out of it.

Spreads are also great to simply spread over each pancake. A favourite combination for us lately is cream cheese and strawberry jam. Delicious and easy!



Add a spiced twist

Sweet spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg are a great addition to your batter. For those that like to bake, you'd also know these are spices are often found together in recipes. They are also the signature spices in apple pie. I often like to change my white sugar in recipes with brown sugar and add a little cinnamon, just like in my Apple Pie Pancakes.



Go fruity

No, I'm not saying add some sliced fruit (even though this is good!) but get inspired to create a topping with fruit. Create a simple berry compote with mixed berries, pitted cherries or strawberries, using fresh or frozen fruit. For those worried, compote is pretty much just a fruit sauce made with fruit, water and sugar. My PB and J pancakes use a strawberry compote on top for the jelly or jam component.

Another easy idea is stewing up some fruit such as apples or peaches with some spices, water and sugar. Nutmeg and peaches go great together, and cinnamon and apples are perfect partners. I use stewed apples for my Apple Pie pancakes.

Bananas are another great pancake fruit. We love to fry ours off in a generous amount of butter before sprinkling them with brown sugar and cinnamon, creating bananas in a sort of caramel sauce you can drizzle over your pancakes. Bacon goes great with caramelised bananas as well.


Sauce it up

Yes, you could simply add an ice cream topping - but I'm referring to adding sauces such as a chocolate, Nutella or even butterscotch that you make yourself. Trust me, it's so much better! 

If making a sauce sounds a little daunting, try my Nutella pouring sauce or butterscotch sauce. You'll surprise yourself with how easily you'll throw it together.


Steph xo

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