Dumplings with Pork and chinese chives


I haven’t always made macarons. Believe it or not, I cook more savory dishes than sweet! When I feel stressed and in need to do something to relax, I make dumplings*. It’s quite therapeutic really, mixing ingredients and wrapping the little parcels of joy. I think it is the repetitive nature of the process, that calms me down and allows my thinking brain a rest.

Today J will demo for you how these are made.

Pork and Chinese chives filling
400g lean pork mince
100g fatty pork mince
1 large bunch of Chinese chives
1 egg
2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp shao xhing wine ( or sherry)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp sesame oil

wraps
1 packet of dumpling wrappers (60 pcs), these can be round or square shape.
Small bowl of water, for sealing
Extra flour, for dusting

Mix all of the filling ingredients together and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumpling. They are more pliable i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.

Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper.

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Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper.

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Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
Pinch the edges of the dumpling to seal it off (there are many ways of pinching the dumplings, however this is the easiest way, at least for J.)

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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 the 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!

Serve with chilli paste, soy sauce and/ or Chinese red vinegar.

* It is very possible that next time I feel like doing something repetitive, I will be making macarons!

Coffee macaron with chocolate coffee ganache


We love Moccona coffee and so I decided to make some macarons with it. I made some simple variations to my basic macaron recipe:

Macaron shells
150 g almond meal
140 g icing sugar
58 g egg whites (about 1.5 egg)
1 g meringue powder
150 g caster sugar
38 g water
2-3 drops of each of brown and yellow coloring gels
58 g egg whites extra

I substituted 10 g of icing sugar with 10g of Moccona coffee granules and sifted it in with the almond meal mix.

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Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.
Into a milk saucepan, put the caster sugar and water and dissolve the sugar over a low heat, stirring gently. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the saucepan to avoid any crystallization. Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Increase the heat and bring to the boil.
To make coffee-coloured shells, I added brown and yellow gel colourings to my Italian meringue. The amount depends on the strength of your gel, what depth of colour you desire and how it mixes with other ingredients. Practice is the only way to test it out. I scrapped 2-3 tiny balls out using a tooth pick.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, decrease the mixer speed to medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

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Add the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue folding the mixture to soften the meringue. To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 18 times.

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Perhaps it was the drier weather today, I only had to wait 20 minutes and a nice skin had already formed. I decorated some shells with cocoa nibs.

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I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 18 minutes. As I have 3 sheets in total, I decided to bake the first in by itself, and then the last two together to see if that changes the results. The macarons in the trays that were baked together were a little bit stickier than the single-sheet-baked ones. In fact, the tray closet to the bottom of the oven was profoundly so, and needed one more minute in the oven for a drier bottom. I think I will stick with baking them individually next time.

Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

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I paired this with a chocolate coffee ganache, and the recipe follows:

150g chocolate, chopped
150ml cream
2-3 tbsp Moccona coffee

Melt cream in a pot and pour over the chopped chocolate and coffee granules. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate melts. Mix till the ganache is smooth. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm for piping.

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These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the ganache to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months – just wrap a few of them (4 or 6) with cling film wraps and place them in a airtight box. Bring them out an hour before serving to allow them to return to room temperature. The moisture will cling to the cling film and not your macarons.

The taste reminds me of Tiramisu! Enjoy!

Matcha green tea macarons with chestnut puree ganache


Right, second go at making these green tea macarons.
There are a few things that I have done differently this time:

1) I have now grasped the amount of time needed for the egg whites to become foamy, and need to start whipping it very soon after I start the sugar syrup. I need to start whipping the egg whites and powdered egg white when the sugar syrup is around 35C for it to be ready right when the sugar syrup hits 118C.

2) I have to mix the egg whites and almond meal mixture “macronnage” much less than I have previously. Just when it loosens, stop.

3) Baked trays individually, to ensure sufficient heat circulation.

4) Baked for 18 mins instead of 16 mins.

5) Cooled baking paper on cool counter top for easy removal.

Results? Shiny hair-thin skin, decent foot, soft center that is not chewy when you bite in, success!

I paired this with a chocolate chestnut ganache, and the recipe follows:

100g chocolate, chopped
100ml cream
2-3 tbsp chestnut purée

Melt cream in a pot and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate melts. Mix in the chestnut purée till the ganache is smooth. Cool in the fridge for 10 minutes until firm for piping.

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One annoying thought: Efforts into perfecting my macarons & regaining my trim(mer) figure: is that mutually exclusive?
Well I certainly don’t hope so, and don’t think it will happen so long as I share the by-products around.

Macarons anyone?

Travel delays – epiphany


Firstly this is a rather long winded story but I had to write it out in such detail that those reading could understand my internal turmoil to appreciate my whole experience.

I had to fly to my Wellington head office today for meetings and had a pretty full on day. I was really looking forward to returning home but arrived to a chaotic scene at the airport boarding gates. Flights have been delayed due to bad weather and lots of passengers were queuing, waiting for the news.

The first announcement was that my flight has been delayed by 15 minutes. Well that’s not too bad I thought to myself, and went on to find my colleague who is booked on a later flight.

Next announcement came through and said that the inbound flight could not land and has been diverted! This means my flight has now been cancelled and I will have to rebook for a later available flight. I was told to proceed to the check-in counter and queue to do that. There are flights every 30 minutes for the next hour or two but lots of us are trying to do the same thing so I had better hurry.

As I ran down the stairs, a sudden thought flew into my head – ‘why not check if there are still seats on an earlier flight, which is still boarding because their inbound flight was delayed as well?’ I saw an airline staff and went up to him to enquire, he said he’ll let me jump the security check point queue and follow him to the gate to check how the flight’s looking. Another passenger was there too so the two of us stood there waiting anxiously. We got chatting and he said if there’s only one seat, I could go on first! That was so nice of him!

Minute by minute passed and we were still waiting for the last passengers to board to see if there were any seats left for us stand-byers. I kept praying that something will come up. My heart was absolutely pounding as I waited, and it dropped like a stone in the ocean when the last remaining passenger showed up after the door’s closed. The other passenger and I went ‘oh bugger’ – one of us will need to try and rebook.

The Air NZ staff had been so calm and collected throughout this – of course he had seen more of this than I had. In fact, this was my first flight cancellation!
He said don’t get too panicky yet….wait…and found two seats for us!! YIPPEE!!!

I got on, and ignored the looks of other passengers who might have thought I was a late boarder and was holding up the plane. The flight attendant looked at my hand written boarding pass, and said ‘oh 12 Alpha, somebody’s in it’ – WHAT????
Amazingly it was just a case of wrong seat and so I quickly made my way to my seat.

It took us a while to taxi out and waited in a plane queue for 15 minutes further. When it was our turn to take off, I couldn’t help but look out through the window. I had to see how bad the weather was.

As we climbed, our plane went through thick misty clouds that were so low no wonder planes couldn’t land. The moment our plane cut through the dark rain clouds, I saw a rainbow.
At that exact moment, I hear His voice saying ‘This is my covenant with you, remember? I will always look after you.’ Tears.

Next thing I saw was the bluest sky and brightest sun I have seen for days. Amazing!
See even when we are surrounded by darkness, misery, uncertainties, unhappiness, we need to remember that there is warmth and hope just beyond, all we need is to have faith and reach out to Him!

Ps. I later found out that the plane I got on was the last one out of Wellington for the night. So had I not listened to that voice and did what everybody else is doing (rebooking at the counter for a later flight) I would not have returned when I needed to.

Praise the Lord!

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Matcha Green Tea Macarons


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I could hardly wait for the weekend to arrive so that I could make another batch of macarons. This time using my newly acquired bag of green tea powder.
Hmmm the fresh grass smell that whiffs out when I open the foil bag…refreshing!

To make these I simply weighed out the ingredients for my macaron recipe, removed 2 tbsp of icing sugar, and added 2 tbsp of green tea powder. I also used green gel as well.

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These didn’t come out as crunchy and firm as I normally get them, perhaps it was the humid weather. The shells sunk a bit and were very fragile. Maybe I shouldn’t have followed some recipe’s advice of switching the pans midway…..however the taste hasn’t been affected so that’s ok!

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This only means one thing – there will be another trial next week!

A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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