Dumpling Month Part 2 – spring vegetable and mushroom

Vegan

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Are you guys ready for the second instalment of dumpling month?! I know I’m ready. This time round I tried to channel my absolute favourite dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant. Every time we go there I go a little bit cray cray over them. They’re full of vegetables and mushrooms, which makes them kind of…meaty? That sounds gross, but you know what I mean. They’re hearty!

This time did the moneybag shape, which worked well and was super easy to store and steam. Plus it was faster than the crimping method in last week’s spinach and tofu dumplings, which was helpful. I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe to use a mix of seasonal vegetables, so you can kind of add what you like to these. I used a mix of fresh pea, cabbage, spinach, mushroom and tofu. This time round I lightly stir-fried the vegetables first before putting them in the dumplings. This made the flavours much more intense and tasty so I will definitely keep doing this step.

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For the sake of experiment (code for laziness) this time round I didn’t make my own dough, I bought some pre-made dim sum squares from the local Asian grocer. It did save a lot of time, but the dough was really hard to work with. Any moisture that got on them would disintegrate it into pieces. They did steam fine, but I think they would be too delicate for pot stickers. If you know any good brands for dumpling wrappers let me know in the comments!

This week I’m going to Splendour in The Grass music festival, so I may be a little slow with comments and questions. My third dumpling recipe will be going up some time in the week though and it’s my favourite by far! So make sure you check it out 🙂 I’m loving all the dumpling suggestions I’ve been getting so keep telling me your favourite flavours! May dumpling month never end!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Poppyseed Cake (gluten free)
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Spring Vegetable and Mushroom Dumplings: Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 30 dumplings
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup finely shredded wombok (Chinese cabbage)
1 cup finely shredded English Spinach
1/2 cup baby peas (frozen ok)
3 large flat mushrooms, chopped finely
100g (3.5 ounces) firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black vinegar

1 quantity dumpling dough or 30 bought wrappers
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In a hot wok, fry the shallots, garlic and ginger in the oils until transparent. Add in the mushrooms and tofu and stir fry until slightly brown. Throw in the greens and just slightly cook. Pour off any excess liquid that comes out in the cooking process and discard.

Once the mix has cooled a little, use a spoon to put a small amount (about 3cm, 2 inches) of mixture in the centre of the wrapper. slightly wet (not too much!) the edges with a bit of water and fold the dumpling over towards you, in half. Press down the edges. Slightly wet one edge of the dumpling and fold over the front, pressing it together with the other side. Keep on a plate with baking paper whilst you make the rest of the dumplings.

To cook, place each dumpling about 1cm apart from each other in a steamer. Steam for about 5 minutes, until the skin is shiny and translucent in places. If you freeze them first you will need to cook them for longer. Enjoy! Serve with chilli and vinegar
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Dumpling Month part 1 – spinach and tofu (vegan)

Vegan
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You may or may not already know this, but I have a mild (to moderate) obsession with dumplings. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be some form of dumpling. And when I say probably, I mean definitely. The challenge would be what type of dumpling. Preferably a selection. A ‘mezze’ of dumplings, covering all the best flavours.

I think 50% of why I like dumplings is the fact that I drown them in vinegar and chilli oil. Sometimes the dumpling is more a doughy, vegetable filled vehicle transporting dumpling condiments to my mouth. When my friend told me she only ever used soy sauce as a dipping sauce, I literally stopped eating mid-bite. What?! What are dumplings without vinegar and chilli?! I shudder at the thought.
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Considering my healthy love for dumplings, recently I felt a building pressure to make my own. But I was so nervous! For some reason I thought dumplings were one of the hardest things to make, ever. reserved for the realm of highly talented chefs working in restaurants.

But when I saw these beautiful dumplings and these I felt slightly reassured that it could indeed be done at home. Commence the Sugar and Cinnamon dumpling month. That’s right, this whole month I’m going to explore the impossible, magical world of dumpling making and hopefully come out with some life-time skills and a whole freezer-full of dumplings, ready to get in my belly.
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To kick off I made the simplest dumplings, that also happen to be my favourite. I made the classic flour and boiling water dumpling dough, with a classic mixed veggie and tofu filling. I actually managed to crimp my dumplings. Yes, they look a little funky. I didn’t have to worry about finding which ones were perfect for my photos, because not a single one came out perfect. They each had their own lopsided, floury charm that just could not be tamed.

I definitely recommend making these with a friend. Otherwise the rolling and cutting of the dough can take a really long time and it may even dry out a little before you finish filling them all. I watched this video before I started and it was really helpful seeing how to actually do it in action. I definitely did not make a video of myself shaping dumplings because I am highly uncoordinated and my dumplings came out looking like little trolls, but maybe one day I will be dumpling GIF quality.

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I’m so excited about how these turned out! They were so yummy. Just as I went to cook them I realised our steamer has mysteriously gone missing, so I had to make do with boiling a few and pan-frying a few. Both worked well, but I think steaming would be the ultimate here. Post-stickers are always lots of fun, but I might save that challenge for the next instalment of dumpling fun.

You can always buy wonton wrappers as well, but the dough is super easy to make. And the dumplings come out tasting so fresh and soft and just uuugh. Amazing. If you don’t have vinegar and chilli, go out and buy some. Seriously! You will not regret it 🙂

One Year AgoHummingbird Maple Cake
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Vegetarian Dumplings: Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 30
For the dough:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup boiling water (plus a few teaspoons extra, in case)

Put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk well to get out any lumps. Boil the water (measuring it after in case some is lost as steam) and pour in a trickling, continuous stream into the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go until a crumbly dough forms.

Turn the dough out on to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough comes together. You may need to add a pinch more of water or flour to reach a soft, usable consistency. Put the dough into a sealed container for at least fifteen minutes (no longer than 2 hours) to let is rest before filling.

Cut the dough into four even pieces, and place all but one back in the container. Roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8 inch thickness (not too thin or they will fall apart as they cook) and cut with a cookie cutter into rounds. Lightly flour the rounds and keep on a plate covered in baking paper until ready to use.
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For the filling:
1 cup shredded English spinach
0.5 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/2 a carrot, grated
175g (6 oz) firm tofu, chopped into tiny pieces
60g mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 stalk green onion, finely diced

To make the filling, mix all the ingredients well until combined. Holding a dumpling wrapper in your hand, use a dessert spoon to put about half a spoonful of filling into the middle of the wrapper. Use your fingers to hold up the sides kind of like you are holding a taco. Use your thumb and other hand to crimp the side closest to you against the opposite side, closing the end. Push the filling in a little further to get in as much as possible (this gets easier as you get a feel for it. No one likes an under-filled dumpling!)

Continue to crimp the side closest to you against the other half of the dumpling, completely enclosing the filling and sealing off the end. Complete the rest of the dumplings. Store on a plate covered with baking paper and try to stop them touching, to prevent sticking. You can either freeze them straight away on the plate and then store them in a ziplock bag, or steam/boil them for about 5 minutes until tender and cooked through. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.
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Brown Rice Hippie Sushi (vegan, gluten free)

Vegan, Gluten Free, Low Fat

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When I eat this sushi I feel like a spiritual nature loving Buddha. It’s so green and crunchy and ‘healthy’ tasting. I know that can be a bad thing (wheat grass shots I’m looking at you) but here it’s a super yummy thing. It’s one of those meals where you feel like you just undid the entire week of bad eating that came before (I’m sorry tub of ice cream for destroying you).

It took me so long to get my sushi making skills up to scratch. The first time I tried my level of failure was actually ridiculous. There was probably an entire cup of rice I was trying to squeeze on the one roll. I ended up just throwing it in a bowl and eating it like a sad sushi salad. I think I’ve got it pretty much perfect now! And you can customise this recipe to make it as fancy or as simple as you want.
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I can’t believe how easy it is to make if you actually know what you’re doing. This morning I was on major struggle street (way waaay too much lolly water last night). I was so wobbly taking an overhead shot I literally almost dropped my camera on the avocado. That would have just been too much to handle. But I still managed! I brought a huge plate of sushi to my friend’s lunch and felt like a sushi superstar.

A few key points I have gathered on the way to perfect sushi status: The rice should be brown. It is so much more flavoursome and textured than white rice. Sorry generations of skilled Japanese chefs, I’m going to have to pull rank on you with this one. My tastebuds would like to officially make brown rice sushi the next big thing.
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When putting the rice on the seaweed, leave a generous gap on either edge so that you can properly seal it. Make sure you push your rice right to the other edges, otherwise you’ll lose filling from either end. It will be so sooo sad when you cut it and end up with a deconstructed seaweed bowl.

Use thinly sliced very fresh veggies like carrot, cucumber, lettuce, radish, shallot, whatever you like eating really. But don’t put too much filling! AND DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE OUT THE AVOCADO. It’s so wrong on so many levels. You don’t need to include the teriyaki tofu, but it adds some protein as well as a sweet flavour. You could always replace it with egg or fish if that is your thing.

And make sure to serve your sushi with lots of wasabi and pickled ginger! I know wasabi is a bit unnecessary with vegetarian sushi, but it makes it so much nicer so once again Lil the Queen of Sushi would like to publicly announce the importance of wasabi and override those that disagree.

One Year Ago: Banana Layer Cake with Maple Icing

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Healthy Brown Rice Sushi Rolls
Makes enough for 6-8 large rolls
1 packet dried nori sheets
3 cups brown rice
pinch of salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 carrot, julienned
1 large cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 large handful of lettuce, chopped in strips
1 large ripe avocado
250g (1/2 pound) of firm tofu
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey or agave syrup for vegan
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 TBSP chilli oil
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Cook the rice according to packet instructions or using the absorbing method, in a pot with 5 cups of water and the salt, covered, for about half an hour until dry. Take the lid off and stir through the vinegar, then spoon in to a bowl and mix it around to let the heat escape. Chop all the greens and set aside. Chop up the tofu in to matchsticks and pour over the marinade ingredients. Fry in the chilli oil until crispy and set aside.

To roll the sushi, make sure the rice is quite cool otherwise the seaweed will crinkle up around it and make it hard to roll. Place a sheet on the bamboo matt (you can roll it if you want by hand). Spoon about 4 tbsp of brown rice in to the centre of the seaweed and use the spoon to spread it evenly across the middle in a wide strip, leaving a gap on each horizontal edge. On the edge closest to you, lay a strip of each vegetable, a thin strip of avocado and the tofu. Grab the edge of matt closest to you and firmly, with no hesitation, roll the matt over to encompass all the fillings and then continue to roll and tighten with your hands as you go. Chop into 5-6 pieces and repeat. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger, as soon as possible.
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Creamy Vegan Mango Pudding

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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 Yay it’s officially my first mango post of the season! And my first mango post ever! I’ve already made mango sorbet three times this spring. I haven’t posted about it, because I keep on eating it before I have a chance to photograph it. One day my friends. I made this mango pudding as a little experiment with an ingredient I hadn’t tried before in the land of vegan mousses and puddings. And guess what! It was as creamy and smooth as the chocolate and peanut butter mousse made with avocados. It was thick and comforting, like the rice pudding from the other week. And it tasted of nothing but delicious sweet mango. The perfect mousse for summer! And guess what else? Each cup, which is about 220g of pudding, not a piddly little cup, is only 140 calories. 

What is the secret you ask? Silken tofu! I’ve heard of silken tofu in desserts before but never really given it a try. Now I really want to try making a silken tofu chocolate pie. And about a billion other silken tofu combinations some of which will probably taste horrendous. My favourite dish ever in the world at a restaurant is teriyaki silken tofu. Oh my gosh. I’m obsessed with it! So I originally bought the tofu to try and recreate that. Then my brain caught up to me and I realised that was very unlikely to happen, considering my inability to cut silken tofu without turning into mush. (Is there some kind of secret?!?! Please someone enlighten me!)IMG_7513

The other day my friend and I, after I will admit, quite a night on the town, really felt like a froyo. We went to a self-serve place (bad idea) and I bought half a kilo of yogurt with mango pearls on top. An entire pound is not a laughing matter. I have never eaten so much yogurt in one sitting and NEVER had the same tummy ache the next day like that night! It was worth every mangoey bite though, and it inspired me! Mango was the best idea for this pudding because it made it go yellow like those mango sago puddings you get at yum cha! And they pour the little bowl of condensed milk on top and put the slices of mango on for you. Bless their little yum cha souls. While I was eating this I thought how good it would be to get some of those mango pearls and put them on top! I don’t even know where you get them, but that would be delicious. As long as you don’t eat a whole pound though!

I found the basic recipe for this incredibly simple combination at Fresh Tastes. Really you can almost guess what goes into it, there’s only three ingredients. I think you could take this pudding in any direction you really wanted, maybe with banana and coconut on top, or honey and berries. Mango worked great because it’s such a substantial and sweet fruit. I added some agave syrup mainly to get rid of the slight soy taste of the tofu. I think you could do this with any strong flavour, like some coconut milk if you’re making a fruit dessert, or peanut butter if it’s more chocolatey. Oh my gosh. Peanut butter pudding! Caramel pudding! So many different puddings that I have to try it isn’t even funny! I seriously want to make this mango pudding into a layer in a multi-layered fruit trifle. It might just happen. This may be the beginning of a pudding phase. 

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Vegan Mango Pudding: Adapted from here

300g (10.5 ounces) silken tofu

120g (3/4 cup, 4.3 ounces) mango, sliced (about half a large mango)

2-3 tsp agave nectar, depending on your tastes. 

 

Blend all the ingredients together until completely smooth. Divide into glasses and chill until completely cold and set. Serves 2-3. The recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled though. 

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