Monday, July 26, 2010

Spring Onion Dumplings

Over the weekend I woke up in a sneezing frenzy in the early hours of morning. It was just getting bright with the sun waking up and I just couldn't get back to sleep. Too much restless tossing and turning and I had to get out of bed. Now I don't really get up that early if it can be helped but at 4.40am I found myself completely awake. What should I do? Hhmmm maybe I should make something for breakfast? 

It was an early start but I got myself into the kitchen and put my apron on... "cooking mode" switched ON. So having this cold wasn't too bad I did felt some how energised with the cold medication and I was ready to get creative in the kitchen. 

So what should I cook for breakfast this morning? A stable item on the breakfast menu has always been something with eggs so it was scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. The kids would like that. Next thing up was bread, nice thickly sliced bread and just so right for french toast. I make it simple with nothing much but some eggs and sugar and it always turns out well but I think it has to do with the type of bread you use. I buy this Japanese cut English bread from this local bakery called Strawberry Cake House and it is the best here in Kota Kinabalu. I don't know what they put in it but even my family from Sydney love it. 

With the french toast and scrambled eggs down I still had time to make something else for breakfast as it was only 5.30am. Okay what would it be? Dumplings! I knew I had some spring onions in the veg keeper back in the fridge. A bit of chopped spring onions in the dough and some in the filling and that should be fine for breakfast dumpings.

Spring Onion Dumplings

1 1/3 cup plain flour
3 tbsp cold water
6 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
200 g chicken mince
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp rice wine
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp corn flour
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp chicken stock powder
small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, finely grated

1. Using a mixing bowl, add the flour and gradually mix in the hot and cold water. Combine well until it forms a dough. It might need some additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and let it rest while you make the filling.
2. In another bowl, add all the ingredients for the filling and mix until it is all combined. Set it aside.
3. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface and roll it into a rope and divide into 1 inch portions. Using a rolling pin, roll the portions into a roughly 10 cm circle. Repeat with all the dough. 
4. Place about 1 tsp of filling into the dough and seal the edges and gently fold the edges.  Place them standing up on a plate and set aside for frying.
5.Using a wok, heat up about 2-3 tbsp of oil and arrange the dumplings standing up so that the base will brown. Once the bottom of the dumplings have browned, add water till it reaches halfway up the dumplings, cover and boil off the water. You might have to cook the dumplings in 2 batches but just repeat the frying and boiling process. Serve with garlic soy sauce.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "Other" Cocoa Powder.....Black Cocoa Powder/Black Onyx Cocoa Powder

I've been searching for some inspiration to get me back into a cooking mood and I think I've found it in the "other" cocoa powder.... Black Cocoa Powder or otherwise known as Black Onyx Cocoa Powder. It's super dark, really dark and almost black or charcoal like in colour and gives that something special when you're making that super rich chocolate cake or a real chocolatey double chocolate cookie. 

Black Cocoa/Black Onyx Cocoa Powder and Dutch Cocoa Powder in the background

I was doing some shopping at our local baking shop looking around for some cocoa powder and I came across this small packet of black cocoa powder. I had never heard of it before but then it occurred to me that this was the secret to the famous dark rich almost black colour to the "Oreo" cookies that the kids love to eat.... I always wondered how they got it so dark and now I knew how.

I found out that there are actually three types of cocoa powder; natural, dutch and black onyx. It all comes down to how they process the cocoa bean and how they treat it with alkali to neutralise the natural bittersweet taste in the cocoa powder. In the natural cocoa powder there is no alkali use to process the beans and the taste is much stronger and bittersweet. This flavour of the cocoa is usually used in the traditional Mexican dishes and baking where the taste is more intense and acidic. Dutch cocoa powder is usually used in things like chocolate drinks and it is processed using an alkali, giving it a milder taste but less bitter and it is more reddish in colour. Black cocoa powder is processed to the extreme with alkali and this gives it that almost black colour. It has an intense cocoa flavour but it has less cocoa fat in it so it can be drier when used so it is often recommended to use a 50/50 mixture of black and dutch cocoa to give it more fat content so that when you use it for baking it doesn't get too dry.... interesting!

Anyway I thought I'd give it a try today by baking some Chocolate Chip Cookies and transform them into Super Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies with a bit of help from my new discovery, the Black Cocoa Powder! I used as recommended a 50/50 mixture of the black and dutch cocoa powder and it produced a really intense black chocolate brown colour. I must admit I was a little startled by the colour when I was mixing it in and I was happy I didn't try to use just the black cocoa powder on it's own. Could you imagine how intense the colour would have been! .... It's is pretty surprising when you take it out of the packet because it actually looks like charcoal dust but it looks and smells like regular cocoa powder just the colour is something to get use to. 

Super Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

150 g butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp black cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp dutch cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1. Cream the butter, sugar and egg. Add both the cocoa powders and mix until smooth. 
2. Roughly chop up the dark chocolate into small pieces and add them into the mix. The colour is really intense when you mix it into the mixture and it almost looks like mud.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add it gradually into the mixture to form a dough.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C. Using a dinner spoon, scoop out half a spoonful onto a baking tray and allow for room to spread. Bake for 12 mins and allow to cool. It can be a bit difficult to see if the biscuit is baked because of the intense colour but it will eventually cool and harden. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

World Cup ... 4 more years to go.

We cheered, we cried, we booed, we rejoiced and we ate! The FIFA World Cup is finally over and although none of my favourite teams didn't win, we all had a good time watching the game. 

Australia got out early in the game. England left too but not without trying. Holland came so close..... Another 4 more years to go and we'll be up again at the midnight hour watching with anticipation for the game to begin again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pizza Swirls

I was talking to my mum last night about ideas for school snacks and she was telling me about these great mini pizza snacks that she's been buying at the local bakery. They're not your ordinary mini pizzas but little swirls of pizza and they come in all sorts of fillings. Apparently they are so popular that they sell out by 10 am and if you want to guarantee getting some you have to place an order. 

Can you imagine that, all sold out by 10 am? .... When mum told that I just knew I had to make them for the kids and I'm sure they would be a hit too. 
We don't normally have pizza for lunch but I was pretty sure the kids would love a surprise when they open up their lunch boxes to find some pizza swirls. Pepperoni and cheese filling! I knew I had some wholemeal bread dough in the cupboard so instead of making bread today I used it to make the base of the pizza. Rolled it out into a rectangular shape and topped it off with some tomato puree, beef pepperoni, cheddar cheese and rolled it back up like a swiss roll. I then carefully cut it into slices and laid it out on a sprinkling of cornmeal.

Oh the kids absolutely loved it! They must have though ...Wow, mum is actually encouraging us to eat pizza at school and for lunch too!!! I really don't mind as long as it's from home and I know it's healthy. I'm thinking of making a ham and chicken pizza swirl for  next week's school menu!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mango Lo Mai Chi (Mango Glutinous Rice Balls)

As some of you already know I'm a little bit of a World Cup fan and I'm very pleased to say that Holland won in their Brazil vs Holland game. So hooray for Holland!!! Now who will be the winner of the Argentine vs Germany game tonight?.....

Let celebrate the win with these yummy chilled Mango Glutinous Rice Balls or otherwise known as Lo Mai Chi. They are these little soft balls of glutinous rice covered with a nice coating of dessicated coconut and hidden within it is a piece of sweet mango.

Mango Lo Mai Chi

2 ripe firm mangoes ( I used manila mangoes)
2 tbsp rice flour
220 g glutinous rice flour
110 g sugar
200 ml coconut milk
desiccated coconut for coating 

1. Peel the skin of the mangoes and cut the mango into small cubes about 2cm. Place the mangoes into the fridge to chill.
2. Combine the rice flour, glutinous flour, sugar and coconut milk in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.
3. Prepare a shallow plate for steaming with some oil to coat the plate so that the mixture does not stick. Pour the mixture into the plate. 
4. Use a wok for steaming the glutinous mixture. Pour enough water in the wok for steaming and place a steaming tray in the wok. Cover the wok and bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, place the shallow plate into the wok and steam for about 30 mins. To test when the mixture is cooked, use a wooden satay stick or a chopstick and place it into the dough and if it doesn't stick to the chopstick then it is ready.
5. Remove the plate when the dough is cooked and let it rest for about 10 mins. 
6. Prepare about 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut into a plate for coating. You will need more but just gradually add more when required. Using a spatula, scoop out about 1 1/2 tsbp of the dough and using plastic oiled gloves, gently roll the dough into a ball and flatten with your fingers it out into a 6-8 cm circle. The dough can be very sticky and hot so that is why you need to use oiled plastic gloves so that it does stick. 
7. Place 1 piece of the chilled mango into the centre of the dough and carefully pinch together the edges and mold it into a ball. Roll the glutinous rice ball into the desiccated coconut and place it onto a piece of greaseproof paper or a cupcake paper. Repeat the steps and place all the Lo Mai Chi into a container and chill in the fridge and it will be ready once it has cooled down.


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