Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!

I want to try something a bit different this year. I'll try to do some live blogging as we're (Lucy, Richard, and I) putting together our Christmas eve feast. The approximate time will be noted in brackets using 24-hour clock. I'll stop once I run out of counter space and/or when our family arrives. Follow me on twitter: @teafortwo_c

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicken Cilantro Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Soup, Mangoes with Yogurt and Granola

For our last dinner party before VN and KN went on vacation, we decided to make some chicken dumplings and chicken noodle soup from scratch. For dessert, we'd keep it simple and have mango yogurt parfaits.

Since perfecting the dumpling skins and the fry-steam-fry method of making pot stickers, I wanted to change things up and play around with the filling. Actually, since perfecting the dumplings skins, I never made them for VN to try. This was my opportunity.

On Friay night, VN made a pot of chicken soup by simmering chicken legs, onions, celery, carrots, peppercorns, and salt. She had the soup on a gentle simmer almost all day Saturday, too!

I planned to make pot stickers from scratch and turn half of the dumpling skin dough into homemade noodles. All-purpose flour, sugar, and hot water was mixed and kneaded together until the dough was slightly tacky to the touch. I'm not sure what the exact ratio of flour to water was. I just added the water by feel. The slightly tacky dough didn't need any flour when we rolled them out onto the table. The dough was set aside and I focused my attention to the filling.

The dumpling filling consisted of cilantro, ginger, medium tofu, and ground chicken. It was seasoned with oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. I dropped a spoonful of the filling into the simmering soup and then gave it a taste. I adjusted the seasoning and then, when I was happy with the taste, we began to roll out the dumpling skins.

Flattened gnocchi anyone?


The dumpling skin was split in half. Half of it was rolled out and meticulously cut by VN to make the noodles.

The other half was turned into dumplings. KN didn't do too well at wrapping the dumplings at first, but she got the hang of it after a few. No problem, the dumplings were still edible.

I cooked the first batch of dumplings, as we continued to make more dumplings. After I removed the lid off the pan, I relied on my ears to know when the dumplings were ready to be removed from the pan. I waited until I heard crisp sizzles. That told me that the wasn't a lot of water content on the bottoms of the dumplings, hence, crisp bottoms.


Tada! I was quite proud of these when I flipped them out onto the plate. Another success in the books.

The filling was a play on some cilantro beef dumplings I had in Montreal. I was amazed at how addictive the cilantro made the dumplings. I mean, the cilantro, chicken, ginger, and oyster sauce was well balanced. After a few bites, the ginger was broken up by the fresh cilantro. When the dumplings were a bit salty from over dipping into the red vinegar-soy sauce mix, the cilantro saved the day. I'll definitely use cilantro in dumpling fillings in the future.

Macro shot fail.

As we snacked on the hot dumplings, we began cooking the noodles in salted boiling water. The noodles turned out perfectly, in my opinion. They were slightly chewy (QQ, as the Taiwanese describe) and had just enough bite. VN and KN rinsed the noodles in cold water while they cooked the rest of the noodles in batches. I cooked another batch of dumplings while they finished cooking the noodles.


The chicken, which VN shredded from the chicken soup on Friday night, was taken out of the fridge and reheated in the soup. The soup was brought to a simmer. The noodles were divided among three mugs. We had enough noodles leftovers for two more servings. The shredded chicken and dark super concentrated chicken soup were ladled into the mugs of noodles. Each of the mugs of homemade chicken noodle soup was topped with cilantro. KN added a dollop of Sriracha hot sauce.

For dessert, we kept it simple with having yogurt, honey, granola, and freshly diced mangoes. It was a healthy dessert that finished off the night wonderfully.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Leftover Broth? HK Breakfast!

We had leftover soup from Phnom Penh noodles one morning last month. There wasn't enough soup to soak half a package of rice noodles and finish it, so I thought about making some pasta and turning the soup into a Hong Kong-style breakfast.

Our house didn't have any macaroni, so I just slightly over-cooked some rotini. When you have pasta in soup, Lucy and I think that the pasta has to be past al dente or else it doesn't feel right. Soup is supposed to be easy to eat, right? Also, Mom used to make us macaroni in chicken soup as an after school snack, but by the time we got home and ate it, the macaroni was bloated. Ah, childhood.


Anyway, the pasta was drained and then added to the simmering leftover soup. We had a few over-easy eggs and toast made. And to complete the HK-style breakfast, we made cups of strong HK milk tea. As I was enjoying the yummy breakfast, I couldn't help but reminisce about our trip we took to asia last year. Good times!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Lasagna

We've all had bad experiences with lasagna; the bland lasagna at the cafeteria, the undercooked lasagna at a pot luck, the lasagna that was overloaded with too many ingredients. We all wished that we could snap our fingers and turn the not-so-homey lasagna into something amazing.


It doesn't take much to make a great lasagna. You can actually make a great lasagna with just a simple meat sauce (ground beef, onions, tomato sauce), cooked lasagna pasta, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese. That's how Mom used to make her lasagnas and we loved it! Simply remarkable.

When it was my turn to make lasagna, I wanted to change it up a bit. It began with the sauce: I sautéed onions with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then I browned the ground beef until it was just about to be fully cooked. I added two cans of seasoned tomato sauce and then stirred everything together. Some calabrese salami was mixed in as well. Once the sauce simmered for five minutes, I gave the sauce a taste and adjusted the seasonings with soy sauce, Cool Runnings all purpose seasoning, sugar, and black pepper.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Italian Sausage Hash

After reading blogs and watching food shows, I've come across something called hash. No, not that hash. I mean, the hash made by chopping and cooking a variety of ingredients together. That's quite the description, huh? Okay, let me be more specific. What I saw was potatoes, corned beef, and onions being cooked together on a griddle. Seemed easy enough.

Earlier last month, I began scavenging for some breakfast/brunch one morning and found a package of italian sausage meat. Bingo.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Teasers: Pho, Stir-Fried Rice Noodles, Greek Food

There are a few great restaurants in Ottawa that I'd like to tell you about. Unfortunately there are no photos. I didn't have Lucy's camera on me and my cell phone's camera is terrible. I'll share more details about these places once I get some photos.


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