Beef and cabbage potstickers

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Oh, my mouth waters at the merest mention of potstickers!  Delicious, plump little morsels, steaming hot and so satisfying.  Their real name is Jiaozi, particularly popular during Chinese New Year.  In my house, we don’t wait for New Year.  They are popular year-round.

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I’ve been an enthusiastic consumer for many years now, but a recent convert to making my own.  I shied away from DIY potstickers, convinced they would be the kind of fiddly, tricky enterprise that leaves the cook hot, bothered, grumpy and worst of all, without a meal at the end of it.

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But trust me, they are quite simple and so rewarding.  I find making potstickers pleasantly meditative once I get into the swing of it, letting my thoughts wander while I shape and pinch the little parcels.

You will need:

  • Potsticker skins – any Asian grocery will have them
  • 150g cabbage, chopped finely
  • 250g minced beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • 1/2 t seasame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • Drop of sesame oil

Lightly cook the cabbage in boiling water, just until it is softened, so that it is not too aggressive in the final product.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, using your hands if you’re not too squeamish about it.

Hold a potsticker skin in your palm.  Dip your finger in water and run around the edges of the skin. Add one teaspoon of beef mixture to the top half of the skin and fold the other half over it, pressing the edges together.

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There is a special way to crimp the edges so they look pretty –  this fabulous video does a fantastic job of explaining the whole process;  if you want to skip to the crimping technique, it’s 5.05 minutes in.

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Once they are ready to cook, heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan.  And please, do use non-stick.  I have learned this the hard way.  There is nothing worse than potstickers who take their name far too literally, so well and truly stuck you can’t eat them.

Place the potstickers into the pan and leave for a minute or two, until they are just slightly browned on the bottom.  Pour 150 mls warm water into the pan, down the side.  Put a lid of the saucepan and let the potstickers steam until cooked, about six minutes.  Take the lid off and let the bottoms crisp up for about a minute.

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Combine the dipping sauce ingredients and serve with rice and steamed greens.

 

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Chocolate-espresso shortbread

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I was the happy competitor in a baking competition recently.  I say ‘happy’ because how could you ever not be happy when you have a genuine excuse to make sweet delicious treats several times over?  And the competition was for a great cause too…Good Bitches Baking  and their inaugural Mystery Box Challenge.

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I was delighted to find coffee and dark chocolate in the mystery box. I would be delighted to happen upon this combination anywhere, granted, but having the opportunity to make two of my favourite things into something even better?  Yippee is all I can say.

When in need of something sweet and decadent, shortbread is never too far from my thoughts.  I’m a self-confessed butter-lover (yes, I did eat it in slabs straight from the block as a child). Shortbread  may as well be a slab of butter that has been baked in an oven.

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You might think shortbread couldn’t be any better and perhaps, even, should not be messed with.  I’m sympathetic to this. There are few pleasures in life as scrumptious as a some buttery sweet shortbread and a hot drink, or during Christmas, a nip of single malt.

But do give this a go if you enjoy dark chocolate and coffee as much as I do…shortbread provides the perfect backdrop, and this can be whipped up without much bother.  The ground coffee beans add a lovely coffee punch, but leave out or reduce if you want a hint of coffee rather than a cup.

For 10-15 pieces, you will need:

  • 150g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 T espresso or strong coffee
  • 60g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 T ground coffee beans

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and cornflour together into the bowl with the butter and icing sugar mix.  Stir lightly until just combined.

Add the coffee, chocolate and coffee grounds. Use a spoon to combine into the other ingredients until the mixture starts to form a dough.

Turn out onto a floured baking tray and knead lightly.  Spread out into a circle or rectangle (up to you!) – it should be a lovely tan colour, like below.  Cut into bars and prick with a fork.

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Bake until slightly golden – about twenty minutes.