Tag Archives: artisan food

A Feast of Dumplings

I woke up yesterday intending to make cheese. Then, somewhere between the shower and breakfast, I changed my mind. From some obscure corner of my brain, the idea of making home-made dumplings all of a sudden broke through. Mmmmm dumplings – I challenge you to find me a person who doesn’t like a good dumpling. Or, find me a culture that doesn’t have its own version: dumplings, gyoza, pot-stickers, kreplach, wontons, etc. etc. etc.

As usual, when I decide to make something I haven’t tried before, I resolve to make the whole thing from scratch. So, I had two tasks: the wrappers or “skins” and the filling.

Part I: Wonton Wrappers

I’ve seen the wonton wrappers or “skins” in the Asian grocery near my house but I wanted to make the wrappers by myself. Like most things, it turns out it’s a lot easier than you would think. All you need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • Water
  • Salt
Dumpling dough

Dumpling Dough

A found a good recipe at Petitchef.com

Basically, just add hot water to flour and mix it with chop-sticks and then knead it until it’s a silky ball. Then, let it sit and rest for an hour or so in a covered bowl. On the right is my dumpling dough just after basic kneading.

wonton wrappers

Finished Wonton Wrappers

Next, fashion a few logs or cylinders out of your dough and then roll out each “log” using a rolling pin or, if you don’t have one, you can use a long glass. Once the dough is rolled out as thin as possible, use a a glass to make circles of dough. Then peel out the circles and there you have your wonton wrappers.

On the left is my stack if finished wonton wrappers. (Don’t forget to sprinkle flour between them so they don’t stick!)

Part II: The Filling

Making Dumplings

Filling Dumplings

I decided to fill some of my dumplings with vegetables and some with shrimp and vegetables. I took my time finely mincing a small pot full of vegetables that included scallions, carrots, asparagus, sprouts and red peppers. I also added some finely minced fresh ginger. For the shrimp, I peeled and de-veeined about a half pound of medium shrimp and minced them as much as possible.

Then, the fun part – taking a small scoop of filling, I filled all of my dumplings and found interesting ways of closing them up – I made some round and some oval-shaped. The dough closes nicely just by pinching it together or you can slightly wet your fingers to ensure the dough is really closed.

Finished dumplings

Finished Dumplings

I ended up with about 25 delicious dumplings. To cook them, I went for a mix. I steamed some of them, boiled some of them and pan fried the rest. They were all good, but the boiled dumplings were too dough-ey. So, I pan-fried ’em for guests at the last minute.

To make the meal complete, I made an easy Miso soup with Shitake mushrooms- just boil some vegetable broth together with Shitake mushrooms. Remove from heat and then add fresh Miso to taste. Last, as a “salad,” I steamed Kale with tofu, red peppers ,and soy sauce.

All in all, a success! Now that I have dumplings “out of my system” I can get back to cheese….

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Brooklyn Chevre’

I’m back on track making cheese after a little hiatus. It was raining yesterday in Brooklyn so I decided to make some goat cheese. Chevre’, meaning goat in french, is technically the term for all goat cheese but we think of chevre’ as the soft, cream cheese like goat cheese we are often used to in the USA.


Goat's Milk

I decided to make chevre’ with dill and garlic. I bought a half gallon of pasteurized goat’s milk and used my chevre’ starter from New England Cheesemaking which I keep in the freezer.

At left is the goat’s milk right out of the bottle in a pot on my stove.

I heated it to around 80 degrees (fahrenheit), added the starter and a few tablespoons of dissolved vegetable rennet. Rennet helps to coagulate milk. Rennet is traditionally made from the stomach lining of an animal but I prefer the vegetable variety. If you want to learn more about rennet, check out this article.

After mixing the milk for a few minutes, I covered it and just let it set for around 12 hours, waiting for the curd to form. After 12 hours, I had a nice curd in the pot – the milk becomes a custard-y consistency and there was a little bit of clear liquid at the top.

Dill and Garlic

Next, I minced some dill and 1 garlic clove and mixed it all up with the curds. Then, I ladled the curds into a butter muslin (cheese cloth) that I lined inside of a colander. Last, I tied the four corners of the muslin together and fastened the whole “bag” to my kitchen faucet, handing over the sink.

I let the bag hang, draining slowly, over the sink, over night.

In the morning, I united the bag and here is what I got:

Finished Garlic and Dill Chevre

From half a gallon of goat’s milk, I ended up with one small tupperware carton of chevre’. It’s delicious, fresh and not too “goat-y.” It’s a great starter cheese for anyone interested in cheesemaking. I’m going to bring mine to a dinner party and we’ll eat it on crackers and bread with olives and fresh vegetables.

Avi's Brooklyn Chevre

In America, Chevre’ only became popular in the 1980s. Laua Chenel is known as the mother of American goat cheese. She pioneered artisan chevre’ production in California and reigned as the doyenne of American goat cheese for more than 20 years. As the NY Times reported, Chenel’s business was bought out by a larger company in 2006.

Last but not least, have a look at some great chevre’ recipe suggestions from this Chowhound page.

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