Category Archives: Recipes – lunchbox ideas

Truffle Pate and Beef Dumplings


Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

What’s your favourite dumpling flavours? For me it’s always been pork and chives as that’s what mum makes at home. When we go out for dinners though, we will get a variety: pork and cabbage, beef and onion etc but I’ve not made any with beef at home… Until this week!

This truffle and beef flavour is based on a yum cha dish – steamed beef mince balls with coriander – which is one of my favourite dishes to have at any yum char place. The truffle pate I’ve added is of course non-traditional, but it’s rather magical as the earthiness of truffle works so well in this recipe. We couldn’t get enough of them when I trialled the recipe in the weekend.

Pan-fried and then steamed; this is the perfect way of cooking these dumplings. The left overs went into my daughter’s lunch box the next day.

Definitely making more of these for the freezer, as part of our meal prep solutions.

What other flavours of dumplings have you tried? Let me know in comments!

Ingredients:
Dumplings

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • ginger, 5cm long, grated
  • 1 egg, size 7
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mirin (or Chinese wine)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp potato starch
  • 2 Tbsp truffle pate
  • 2 tsp black pepper, grounded
  • 60 sheets (1 pack) dumpling wrapper


Vinegar-soy Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grate the garlic and ginger with a micropane and add to ground mince. Add all the ingredients in and stir to mix thoroughly.
  2. Add Truffle pate and mix well.
  3. In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumplings. They are more pliable when rested i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.
  4. Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper lightly.
  5. Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
  6. Hold the dumpling in your left hand, like holding a taco.
  7. With your right index and middle fingers, flex the dough towards the left to form one pleat.
  8. Press the dough down together against your left thumb, which is just supporting the other side of the dumpling.
  9. Repeat 5 times. (There’s a short video on my Insta highlights, under “Savoury recipes” .)

Here are 2 ways of cooking dumplings, both delicious! The pan-fried way produces dumplings that have more bite in the wrapper which we quite enjoy.

If you aren’t ready to cook them all, you can freeze them in trays. Just dust with plenty of flour to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the tray or box. Once frozen, you can store them in sealed bags too. Cook from frozen, never defrost!


For boiled dumplings:

Fill half of a large pot or saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. (note not to fill over two-thirds of the pot as you will be adding more water later on.) Add 1 tsp salt to the water and add 30 dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.
When the water returns to a boil, pour in half a cup of cold water and wait for it to return to a boil. At this point, you add a second half cup of cold water. This is repeated until you have added water three times in total and the water has returned to a full boil. The dumplings are ready! Repeat to cook the rest of the dumplings, if not freezing for later.

Pan fried dumplings:

Heat a large pan with 2 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place dumplings in, flat bottoms down, in a circular pattern. Cook on medium high for 1-2 minutes till the bottom is nicely crisp. Pour in hot water that goes to a third of the height of the dumplings. Note: it will bubble like mad! Cover with lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated too quickly. Once the water has evaporated, a lattice skin will form on the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat, and carefully place a plate over the dumplings. Flip the pan while holding the plate with the other hand so that the cooked dumplings are transferred over to the plate entirely, without breaking the lattice skin. (Imagine flipping an upside down cake on a plate) If flipping isn’t an option, just remove dumplings with tongs.

For the vinegar-soy dipping sauce, mix ingredients together and serve alongside warm dumplings.

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Easy Bagels


Bagels

Bagels

Bagels

As the markets are now closed due to the COVID19 lockdown, we haven’t been able to enjoy some of our favourite products for weeks. Specialty dumplings, sauerkraut, gozleme… and also bagels. I happen to have high grade flour, peacefully bought before the lockdown, so I set to work over Easter.

These didn’t require much work at all, and turned out pretty fun as well. Each proof was only a measly 20 minutes and a tiny amount of yeast was called for. Try make them bigger (into 6) or smaller (into 10) and that will serve as lunch or for snacking. A pretty good lockdown recipe I would say, considering how flour and yeast are such a hard-to-come-by-commodity at the moment.

I’ve played with 2 types of toppings here, a homemade ‘everything’ topping and one for the onion and cheese lovers. Feel free to scale up for future bagel action.

Ingredients

Makes 8

Dough

  • 3/4 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 240ml water, luke warm
  • 450g bread flour (also known as High Grade flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Bi carb soak

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • Large pot of water

Everything bagel sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Cheese sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add luke warm water and yeast and set aside.
  2. Add flour, salt, olive oil and maple syrup to a standmixer bowl. Add in the warm water with yeast. Mix together and then knead with a dough hock attachment for 5 minutes. The dough should be springy to the touch.
  3. Remove dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and cover with an oiled cling film. Leave to proof in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  4. Push a hole with your fingers through the middle of each ball, stretching as you go. This forms a dough ring.
  5. Cover with oiled cling film and let them proof for another 20 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  7. Into a large pot of gently boiling water, add the baking soda.
  8. Place bagels, 3 at a time, into the bi carb soak. Cook each side for a minute. Remove and drain on a cooling rack.
  9. Sprinkle the bagel toppings on the bagels, pressing them in if you need to. Alternatively, you can place the sprinkle ingredients in a shallow bowl and dip the bagels in. You’ll need to beware of the heat though.
  10. Repeat until all bagels have had a soak and toppings added.
  11. Place bagels on a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 225C and bake for another 6 minutes.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with cream cheese, salted butter for breakfast or as a snack. These are freezable too!

Bagels

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped mini sponge cakes 紙包蛋糕


Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

After having regular checkups at the Orthodontist in the past 2 years, J’s finally ready to be fitted with braces. With that, we need to have a think about our meals with her new requirements in mind.

Soft foods, easy to eat. No super crunchy or hard to chew things that will risk breaking the brackets glued to her teeth. This is especially for the few days straight after each 6-8 weekly checkup where they adjust the individual brackets, and when her gums will be a bit swollen.

We talked about the different things we can have in her lunch box, and this easy sponge cake came up in the conversation. Soft and pillowy, this is perfect for her.

This one is a nod to my childhood, where fancy buttercream or fondant cakes weren’t prevalent, with a good sponge cake being the absolute gold standard for all occasions. Specifically, layered sponge cakes dressed up with whipped cream and seasonal fruits (think about all the mango cream sponges and berries and cream cakes!) They are still popular in Hong Kong, and very much part of the food cultural fabric.

To make those cakes you can easily use this recipe and bake it in a normal cake pan, add whipped cream along with seasonal fruits. Easy. We’ve made after-school-snack-portions here with tall moulds, just like the ones in my childhood days, and you can also use other baking tins, just find something that is quite tall and deep. Perfect lunch box item – sans cream of course!

Ingredients:

Makes 8

  • 55g unsalted butter, melted (Lewis Road Creamery)
  • 60ml milk
  • 100g low gluten flour
  • 5 eggs (size 7)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 80g caster sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Separate egg yolks and whites into 2 separate bowls.
  3. In a large bowl, place melted butter and milk together, whisk lightly.
  4. Add sifted flour, vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter mixture. Mix well, ensuring there are no lumps.
  5. Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar. Continue whisking, then slowly rain in the sugar. Whisk until the whites form stiff peaks.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the flour batter to loosen up the mixture. Fold in 1/3 of the beaten whites into the batter, then the second third and then the last of the whites.
  7. Pour into lined cake tins, only filling 2/3s of the pan (it will rise quite a lot) and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and keep in an air tight container.

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Spring onion pancakes


Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

Sometimes we just crave simple food that brings back memories. For a simple meal, we often make rice congee and have stir fry noodles with it. The rice congee would take some time to prepare, in order for the rice grains to break down enough to be creamy. While that’s going, I can also prepare Spring Onion pancakes to go with the meal. They do not resemble the western pancakes though, as these are not light or fluffy. Instead, they are chewy and most definitely savoury in taste (you can also make sweet versions with red bean paste filling, another stunner!).

By bringing back this oldie, I’m creating memories with my daughter too. J loves rolling these out, and have recently discovered via the Woks of Life a shortcut to these crispy delights: using round store-bought wonton pastry, create 6 layer stacks of pastry, oil, salt and spring onions. Roll these out and pan fry on a dry pan. Super quick and I hope that she will remember these and make them in the future, be it traditional way or the shortcut!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil for the pancakes
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Rice bran oil for the pan

Dough Instructions

  1. Mix flour with water until it forms a smooth dough. Knead by doubling the dough over and pressing it down repeatedly, until the dough is shiny, smooth and very elastic. Coat this ball of dough lightly in oil and put it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the spring onion. (I use both the green tops and the white parts.) Set them on your work surface along with a small bowl of salt.
  3. Time to roll out the dough – Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out one part of the dough on the board. Roll until it is a thin rectangle at least 20 x 15 cm.
  4. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with sesame oil, then sprinkle it evenly with chopped spring onions and salt.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  5. Starting from the long end, roll the dough up tightly, creating one long log of rolled-up dough.
  6. Cut the dough log into two equal parts.
  7. Take one of these halves, coil into a round dough disc. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes and ideally longer, while you repeat this process with the rest of the dough.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  8. With you hands, press down a rolled dough disc into a flat, smooth, round pancake. Flatten it further by rolling with a rolling pin.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  9. Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  10. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Place the pancake dough in the dry pan and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  11. Flip the pancake over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the pancake dough rolls.

To Serve
Cut the pancake into wedges with a sharp knife, and serve immediately. Serve with your usual dumpling sauce (soy and vinegar).

Recipe Notes
Oils: This recipe calls for oil in two different places: Once to make the filling, and once to fry the pancakes. For the filling, any neutral oil will do, but tasters (and I!) prefer sesame oil.

Make-Ahead Tip: If you would like to make a few pancakes but save the rest for later, you can save the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer. Just make sure the dough is oiled and well-covered. You can also roll out individual pancakes and stack them between well-oiled layers of baking paper.

Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

Swedish seed cracker “KNÄCKEBRÖD”


knäckebröd – literally knäcke to break and bröd, bread.

I have them for breakfast with butter, tomato, cottage cheese and loads of pepper. I can totally see these on the next party platter with the best Chicken and Sage Terrine by L’authentic, smoked salmon or salmon gravlax and cream cheese. That’s if I manage to keep some for home after my husband tried them and said he’s taking them to work! They are so easy to make and so easy to make flavour variety too.

This version takes a bit longer to make (baking time) compared to another recipe I sometimes make, without oats and less water. I prefer this one more, as it creates crackers with less uniformity and texture, giving it more personality.

Ingredients
  • 220 g flour
  • 220 g rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 100 g sunflower seeds
  • 100 g sesame seeds
  • 75 g chia seeds
  • 70 g pumpkin seeds
  • 700 ml water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 130C.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and add the liquids. It should have a porridge-like consistency.
  3. Line 3 cookie sheets with baking paper and pour the mixture onto the sheets.
  4. With a large spoon, spread the mixture as thin as possible (like 2-3mm) and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove sheets from oven and slide the baking paper onto a chopping board. Cut each sheet of cracker into rectangular pieces – small cracker size (for dipping) or larger rectangles (for serving). Having different sizes are good! Put back in the oven and bake for 1-2 hours until they are golden and crisp.