27 June 2009

The Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart... er... Pudding

When this challenge was announced on the first of the month, I wasn't too excited. I had never heard of a Bakewell Tart and just reading the recipe didn't really peak my interest. What's worse, though, is Jonathan too keen on trying this either. I almost decided just not to participate this month, but when I went to the Daring Kitchen forum again today and looked at everyone else's completed challenges, I knew I had to make it. It came down to the wire, but I finished and I'm glad I did.

(Pulled the pan from the oven at 11:35 pm, on the day of the reveal.)

Because I finished this challenge in such a hurry, there are several things I would have done differently if I would have spent more time. First, I would have made sure that the butter was really frozen before I grated it for the shell dough (by the way, I think grating the butter for pie crusts, etc. is a great idea,) I would have trimmed the crust around the edges (I really didn't think about that one the recipe told me to and everything,) and, of course, I would have started earlier.

The frangipane.

Even though I started late I still decided to make my own jam since Lincoln and I went strawberry picking this week and we had a bunch on hand. I only made enough for this recipe, but it came out pretty well. I watched this video, which really helped since I had never made jam before. I'm pretty sure I will try that again (it was so fast!)

The tart came out very well, all things considered. It was delicious, as well as being relatively quick and easy. I don't think Jonathan is a big fan, however, so we'll see if I make it again. I think there is plenty of room for improvisation in this recipe that could yield some fun results, so maybe I'll try some variation of this on some future dessert Wednesday.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Spiced Up Spice Rack


Is it silly I am so excited about this? We got this spice rack for our wedding and it came pre-filled with twenty herbes and spices. This was great, except in the three years since we've been married I had never used almost half the jars and I had a cupboard jammed full of the herbes and spices I actually do use. Yesterday I finally got around to clearing out all the spices I don't use and filling the jars with the ones I do. It was also pretty fun making the new labels. Thank you Mod Podge! (I love that stuff...)

15 June 2009

The Daring Cooks: Potstickers

This month's Daring Cooks challenge was Chinese dumplings/potstickers (aka gyoza in Japanese), hosted by Jen of Use Real Butter.

I was so excited when I found out this was going to be my first Daring Cooks challenge. I love potstickers, but I'm not sure I would have ever thought, "Oh I should try to make that..." But am I ever glad I did make them! The process turned out to be relatively easy (although time consuming) thanks to Jen's thorough and clear step-by-step instructions on her blog.

Here is the wrapper dough:

It was a little dry at first, so I added some extra water and then it was GREAT to work with. It rolled out so easily (oops, I forgot to take a picture of the unfilled wrappers...) and was so simple to make. I used a basic pork and cabbage filling to stuff the dumplings.

Here are some of the pleated dumplings. This was also easier than I imagined it being. Once I got the hang of assembling the dumplings, things started to go a lot faster.

I decided to make potstickers (as opposed to dumplings which would be boiled or steamed) and here is where I messed up.

You're supposed to fry the dumplings in a little vegetable oil then, when they're golden brown, add some water, cover the pan, and let the water cook off. I added too much vegetable oil in the beginning, so I thought there was water in the pan longer then there actually was (I could see the extra oil in the bottom of the pan and thought it was water.) As a result, my potstickers got a little... extra brown...

...But they were still delicious! The recipe makes a bunch and they freeze very well. Here are the extras ready for the freezer.

I will definitely be making these again. Probably this week. I love that it makes so many and we can just have them ready in the freezer for a quick meal! I have noticed several other people have made dessert dumplings and deep-fried them, which I am also looking forward to trying. I'm thinking stuffing them with apples or berries and cream cheese or something like that...

Here's the original recipe:

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling
1 lb ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried - rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp corn starch


shrimp filling
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb ground pork
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
1 cup water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp corn starch

Note: you will want to double this for the amount of filling listed - I just tend to use leftover pork filling for soup meatballs. A single batch will yield about 40 dumplings depending on size.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
flour for worksurface

dipping sauce
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images above).

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface and steam for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

13 June 2009

Lincoln's Three Month Pictures

(Is everyone impressed by the amount of posts over the last two days?!)

Here are a few of Lincoln's three month pictures. Jeremiah and Kariah did an amazing job with them! So even though he's actually was actually about three and a half months before they were able to take them, it was worth the wait. Sears has nothing on them!

There are a ton more of these pictures. I think they took almost a thousand, but these are just some of my favorites!

Lincoln Goes to Washington

Last week Lincoln and I took a little trip to Washington State to visit family and friends. This was Lincoln's first time on a plane and he did an excellent job. I got so many compliments from people who said they didn't even know there was a baby on the plane!

We flew from Syracuse to Seattle and then took a Southwest flight from Seattle to Spokane. There was a huge gap in between the flight times, though, so my grandma and cousin Amy came to keep us company at the airport.

We decided we wanted to surprise Jonathan's family, so we didn't tell them we were coming. When we got to their house, I left Lincoln on the doorstep, rang the doorbell, and ran. I should have filmed Chantal's reaction, but I didn't think about it. It was pretty funny.

Lincoln met several people for the first time while he was there, and visited some he had already met.
I was a little shocked by how big and... person-like Selena is! Jonathan's family laughed at me when I said, "She can talk and everything!" To be fair, she's eight, but I see her so infrequently I was a little shocked! It was so fun, though, when Sasha, Selena, Lincoln, and I got to spend a little time together at the mall.

Lincoln thought his Uncle Jeremiah was SO funny. He was laughing so much when he was sitting on Jeremiah's chest like this. It's still new to hear him laugh, so we were all loving it!

Lacey drove in for a quick visit... I cannot believe it had been three years since I'd seen her! It was so much fun getting to hang out and catch up for a little bit!

Sunday Lincoln went on his first road trip when Kariah, Jeremiah, Lincoln, and I drove to Seattle. He did an excellent job in the car too... he's just a good little traveler!

We spent Monday in Federal Way with Grandma. It was sort of fun parading Lincoln around and I think Grandma enjoyed it too.

We had a little trouble getting home. We were re-routed and then delayed for several hours, but Lincoln handled it like a champ. His mother, however, was a little upset... next time Daddy is coming with us!

12 June 2009

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

Lincoln rolled over today! I didn't catch the first time on video, but here is the second one. I was a little distracted by the TV so it takes me a second to react...