Vegan Dumplings For A Health-filled New Year


vega_chinese_newyear_dumplings

Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year is the extra bit of horoscope magic we like to celebrate in our house. Years ahead full of health and prosperity are good things to strive for. Sitting down and folding dumplings as a family is pretty amazing too.
Other than a lot of dicing, the filling comes together pretty quickly to make a dinner full of dumplings. Folding isn’t too tough either. There are lots of folds varieties to choose from. An easy triangle, to more complicated pleats, but the trick is just to get the air out and seal the edges well.
For these I started with an off point triangle and to fancy them up, folded each of the lower corners up to make a bit of a lucky dragon type of shape.

Gong hei fat choy!

Vegan_dumplings

VEGAN DUMPLINGS

For The Filling:

1/2 Block Firm Tofu, pressed and finely diced (about 1 Cup)
3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted and finely diced (about 1/4 Cup)
1 Medium Carrot, finely grated
1 Cup Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Clove Garlic, finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Package Wonton Wrappers
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil, for frying
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil, for frying

Combine the filling ingredients together. To fill the dumplings, add about one teaspoon of the filling to one wrapper. Glide your finger along the edges of the wrapper to dampen the edges. Fold the dumpling into a triangle, working the air out and sealing the edges well. Fold the corners up to create a dragon fold, or bring them together and seal to create a more traditional wonton shape.
Collect the finished dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you’d like to freeze for later use, store in an airtight container.
To cook, add 1/4 cup of water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and add the dumplings, with space in between, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add 1 Tablespoon of sesame seed oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Loosen any dumplings, as necessary to get the oil under them, then leave them to fry for about another 3-5 minutes or until golden-crisp.

For The Dipping Sauce:

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sesame Seed Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds, optional

If using, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Once they begin to pop and brown, remove them from the heat.
Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Stir in the chopped cilantro and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 30 Dumplings

Rhubarb Compote


It’s springtime, and even though I might have a bad back, I’m a die-hard gardener.
Some of the most simple and rewarding treasures of a garden are the ones taken for granted. Possibly because they are so easy to grow they are often over-stepped. Take rhubarb, it’s one of the first things up and it doesn’t need any tinkering, thank goodness it’s so big and bright I get a red reminder to pick some and make something like this for breakfast. Although, I’m sure if you have leftovers, rhubarb is one of those great flavours that can pair really from sweet to savoury. Give it a try. Today I did with breakfast!

RHUBARB COMPOTE

2 Cups Chopped Rhubarb Stalks
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
4-5 Cardamom Pods
Small 1/2″ nub of Ginger, peeled and minced
Juice and Peel of one Tangelo (of course you could use an orange)
Pinch of salt

Add rhubarb, sugar, water and cardamom pods to a medium sized saucepan and bring it to a simmer.
Scrub your tangelo, then using a vegetable peeler, remove the outmost peel, leaving the bitter pith.
Add the juice, peel and a pinch of salt to the rhubarb and return it to a boil.
Reduce it to a rolling simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but not mushy and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
Set aside to cool then remove the cardamom pods, and the peels, if desired.

Baby Spinach Greens With Grilled Pears and Caramalized Onion Dressing


Of course this time of year just about any spring greens from the market will be great, but baby spinach is something I always have on hand.
Where it’s not exactly your throw it together tossed salad, the onions are pretty much low maintenance to caramelize and this dressing is worth the wait.


CARAMELIZED ONION DRESSING

1 Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Turn heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sliced onion to a sauté pan. Once they begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low, toss and add salt.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, sticky and golden; 20-30 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce slightly, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add onions along with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, maple syrup and water to a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth. (If your onion was large and you find that the mixture is too thick for your liking, you can add more water about 1 tablespoon at a time to thin.)
Taste and add additional salt if desired.
Serve from a squirt bottle, if you have one

Preheat the grill to medium.
Slice 2 bartlett pears into wedges and lay onto the grill, cooking for about 1 minute.
For the fancy-schmancy grill marks, rotate the pear slices 1 quarter turn, cooking for another minute.
Flip and repeat for the other side. Pears should be hot but not cooked through.
Toss greens, adding a handful of walnuts and dried cranberries. Top with the grilled pears and drizzle over prepared dressing.

Favourite Things Dinner


Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. It’s become a bit of a tradition and now her birthday dinner consists of her year’s list of favourite things. Apps, entrée, sides, beverage, heck, even the dinner music is chosen by said truly. Amazing thing is that the family lines up for it, listens to Raffi or Death Cab for Cutie and holds out their plates with a smile.

What was on the menu this year? We’ll pretty much the standard of the previous ones; Carrot sticks, chocolate soy milk, “Ringalos” (which were new for this year), strawberry shortcake and her BFF (bestest favourite forever): Mac and Cheese.

Since there are usually guest and family members for her birthday, this is of course the vegan version. I’ve seen dozens of version some which include cashews or tofu but I’d decided on a version that about as close to the real thing as you can get… just without the shredded cheese… or cream.

CHEESELESS MACARONI N’ CHEESE

250g Elbow Macaroni, about 1/2 Lb
1 Tablespoon Margarine, or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Cups Plain Soy Milk
2 bay leaves
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and broken with the side of a chef’s knife
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Tumeric Powder
Pinch Cayenne Pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Cook the pasta as to package directions to el dente.
Drain, rinse and set aside.
Warm the milk over a low heat and add the bay leaves and garlic.
In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine then sprinkle over the flour mixing well to combine and smooth to make a roux.
Strain the milk and whisk into the flour mixture.
Add the spices and salt, continuing to whisk occasionally to remove any chance of lumps until saucy thick and smooth.
Pour over drained pasta, stirring to coat.

Montréal, March Break, Maple Syrup & Madeleines.


Mmmm.

Hopefully this is the post worth waiting for. Since being whisked off for a quick French get away, I ate my way through all of Montréal’s renown food samples.


Squeaking a flight through a crazy snowstorm, even for Québec standards, safe at home I brought out my sack of goodness from a small approvisionnement de cuisine shop, still wet from the cookie sized snowflakes that were tumbling down around me. In it, my newly treasured Madeleine pan…

Madeleines are one of my most favourite things. Yes, Proust would be proud. I love these delightful tea cakes so much I named my first born after them. Really.

I couldn’t have been more excited while tredging my better half through this snowstorm to make it back to a little shop I’d originally peered through the window of as this recipe serendipitously came together.

You see, most of Northeastern Canada and U.S.A produces everyone’s supply of maple syrup, and it’s at this time of year, when the temperatures are at their crazy best that the maple sap begins flowing. Thankfully for where I’m at, Québec is one of the number one producers of the stuff – so imagine my pure delight, as I was picking up a few morning groceries, to discover Maple Flakes, even being Canadian I haven’t seen this stuff in the flesh and it hits me that these are where the French Petite Madeleine meets French Canadian. I have certainly found what I have been trying my hand at veganizing these “invasions of the senses” for.

MAPLE MADELIENES

1/4 Cup butter (or to make it vegan, lactose free margarine), melted
1/2 Frozen banana, thawed and pushed through a sieve to puree.
1/3 Cup Soy milk
3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted
1/4 Cup cornstarch, sifted
1/4 Cup Sugar,
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Sift dry ingredients together.
Add juice to the soy milk and let rest.
Melt butter/margarine and let cool.
Beat banana and sugar together until very smooth.
Add the soy milk and maple syrup and zest to the banana mixture and combine well.
Whisk in the melted butter then, gradually whisk in dry ingredients with the wet until combined.
Allow the batter to set for about an 1/2 hour in the fridge while you
evenly grease and lightly flour your Madeleine pan.
While the oven preheats to 375ºF, fill each shell 3/4 full with batter and let the batter rest in the pan, popping any bubbles that rise to the surface.
Bake until centers have puffed and the edges are crisp and browned; about 15 minutes.
Cool completely before drizzling over the glaze and sprinkling with maple flakes.

MAPLE GLAZE

1 Tablespoon Margarine
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Add the maple syrup and continue to heat until bubbling.
Whisk in the confectioners sugar until smooth.
Reduce heat but continue to simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and dip, dunk or drizzle, since the glaze will begin to harden and crystallize as it cools.

Spinach Pesto


I used to be one of those people who would see those enormous tubs of spinach, you know the ones that are at least a pound, and not imagine what sized family could possibly consume that much salad in a week. Seeing that baby spinach weighs a little more than air, that’s quite a bit of greens. However, since converting and making a “baby spinach only” vow, it’s on my weekly grocery list. I put handfuls of it into just about everything I cook that will take it; like soups, omelettes or pasta. The rest go into my every other daily salad or into this super mild and creamy staple: pesto.

SPINACH PESTO

2 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
Handful of Flat Leaf Parsley, about 1/2 cup
4 – 5 Large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Walnuts, lightly toasted
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pile everything but the oil into a food processor and combine well.
Using a spatula, scrape the sides then reattach the lid.
With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube one tablespoon at a time until everything is smooth but not oily. You may only end up using 2 tablespoons. (Use the remainder for topping the pesto, if you’re keeping it in the fridge.)

Pesto may be kept in a sealed container, topped with oil. Otherwise, it freezes very well in ice cube trays or flattened, in a ziploc bag, where you can break off desired amounts for soups, crustini or pasta for one.

Yields about 1 Cup.