Welcome to My Kind of Food. Subscribe to my blog feed or sign up for email updates. (A confirmation email will be sent to your in-box prior to activation. )If you have any issues subscribing, please contact me at hungrygal@rogers.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What To Do With…. Fennel Seeds

Candy Spelling and I might be kindred spirits. The gossip mags tell me that Tori Spelling's mother has a wee bit of a problem. A shopping problem. I have one, too...when it comes to food. My husband can attest to this: We have a two drawers full of kitchen gadgets, a freezer full of summertime pesto, organic beef, and sustainable fish and a pantry full of grains and rices. But what I am most proud of is a cupboard filled with spices and herbs, sorted by regional cuisine. Because in what crazy world does sumac sit beside herbs de provence? :)

The most recent addition to my spice cabinet is a package of fennel seeds. My experience with fennel seeds is rather limited, while I have tasted fennel seeds in sausages and I have munched on them as I exited many an Indian restaurant, but I have never cooked with them. So I wasn’t really sure what I could do with them. Normally, when this happens,

I head downstairs and check my handy dandy reference guide, Culinary Artistry.

This book is a foodie's dream. It is organized by ingredient and provides a list of complementary flavours. If that wasn't enough, there are recipes from some of the world's most celebrated chefs to inspire you to the kitchen. There were two entries for fennel - one for the vegetable and one for the seed. Vegetable or seed - fennel does marry nicely with oranges, poultry, cabbage, and figs. I have listed somethings I would do with the seeds.

To extract the most flavour from them, toast and crush them to release their fragrance.

What To Do With... Fennel Seeds

1. Apple/Chicken Breakfast sausage patties - since I don't eat pork - I am always on the look out for breakfast "meat" substitutes. 1 lb ground chicken, 1 green apple grated, 1 tsp of crushed fennel seeds, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, 1 beaten egg. Form into small patties about 2 tablespoons worth. Fry over medium heat until done. (Could also be baked.)

2. Roasted carrots -(about 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins) with tossed 1 tbsp of orange juice with 1 tsp of toasted and crushed fennel seeds

3. Orange and Fennel Seed cookies – I just received this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookie of the Day feature this week. And it's a keeper. This recipe calls for aniseed, which is similar but different from fennel seed. So it was a perfect opportunity to test out this recipe. These cookies were absolutely delicious even with my few adjustments. (I processed the fennel seeds with the almonds to ensure they are super-fine and they took longer than 12 minutes to bake.)

We ate these very quickly. :(

4. Braised fennel - slice the vegetable fennel, white wine, onions, butter and fennel seeds. See #6

...Read more

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dumplings Made Easy

As I sat down to write this, I had contemplated titling this blog entry as, “Dumplings for Dummies” as a way to convey how simple they are to make. But then I began to wonder if you, dear reader, might feel slighted in some way should you attempt this recipe. It’s not really a recipe for dummies, it’s just really simple to make. My intention here is to de-mystify dumpling making with easy to find ingredients. So hence, dumplings made easy.

Dumplings are a Sunday morning thing for us. On several occasions, we have visited a little place in Chinatown, Mother’s Dumplings for fresh and delicious dumplings. But since we have moved to the other side of the city, we visit it less and less. For those lazy Sunday mornings when our only plan is to watch a couple hours of football in the afternoon, we make dumplings.

They are really easy to make and a great way to shake off the Sunday morning haze. Of course, we gladly eat them anytime of the day (and we have), but when we are not feeling like the usual breakfast fare, we think of dumplings.

Most of the ingredients are thinks we normally have in our fridge (except for maybe the dumpling wrappers) so it is really easy to whip together at a moment’s notice. I call it a master recipe because you can switch out the ingredients as you wish as long as you keep an eye on the proportions.

A word on folding dumplings. I was not born with the dexterity of a master dumpling maker. My mom pinches this and pulls that and with a twist of her wrist, she produces enviable perfect little dumplings. I, on the other hand, still make bunny ears to tie my shoelaces, so I don’t purport to provide you with the technique for perfect dumpling wrapping (I am quite certain you can google this if you're keen), but this is a great and very simple way to make dumplings.

Sunday Morning Dumplings (Master Recipe)

1 lb of extra lean ground beef / chicken (or mixture with minced raw shrimp)
2 stalks green onions, finely minced
1 thumb-sized ginger, finely grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp cooked vegetables, minced (examples: spinach, mushrooms, savoy cabbage, carrots)

1 package of Shanghai dumpling wrappers / wonton wrappers*

1. Mix all the ingredients together except for the last ingredients. Mix well to incorporate, but do not over mix. To check for seasoning, make a small meatball and drop into a pot of boiling water, when it floats to the surface and starts to bob around, remove it with a slotted spoon. When cool enough, taste the meatball and adjust your seasonings.
2. Fill a small dish with a little warm water.
3. Using a teaspoon, scoop the filling onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the water and wetting the edges of the half side of the wrapper. Fold into half with the wet edge affixed to the dry edge to form a triangle or semi-circle (depending on the shape of your wrapper.)

4. Place on a dry plate, cover with a damp towel.
5. Repeat as necessary, keeping the dumplings covered under the towel.
6. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, carefully drop dumplings in one by one in small batches (depending on the size of your pot – 6 -12.) Don't be tempted to add too many to the pot as it will lower the temperature of the water and will take longer to return the water to boiling temperature. Give the dumplings a quick stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the dumplings start to float to the top and the water is boiling again, scoop them out with a slotted soup into a deep bowl.
7. Serve with chilli soy dipping sauce (recipe below)

Alternatively, you can steam the dumplings. Lay down a leaf of cabbage over a steamer and place dumplings on top. Steam until the wrapper turns from opaque toward translucent.

To make pot stickers, heat oil in a large, deep fry pan and carefully add dumplings and cook until the outside is crisp and slightly brown. Add about ½ c of water to the pan. Partially cover and steam, until the water is evaporated and the bottom side is crisp.

Chilli Soy Dipping Sauce

This is a recipe I base on proportion:

1 part acid (malt vinegar, lime juice)
2 parts soy sauce
1 part chilli sauce (sriracha, chilli garlic sauce, whatever you have)
splash sesame oil

Mix together and serve with dumplings.

*dumpling wrappers are either round or square. (We have used wonton wrappers but they are much thinner and lend themselves better as part of a soup. If you are looking to make this, try to look for Shanghai dumpling wrappers. You can find dumpling wrappers in the grocery store, usually in the refrigerator section in the vegetable aisle in most grocery stores – at least in Toronto. Most Asian supermarkets will have them as well.)

...Read more
LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs