Curried Shrimp Dumplings

I wish I could recount for you the first time I ever ate a dumpling.  It’s not that I fear it’s a boring story; no, quite sadly, I cannot recall my first experience with the little bundles of joy.

I can, however, remember the first time I ate dumplings that I made with my own hands.  Except for the skin of course…I’ve never been brave enough to make my own dumpling skins, not when I can buy them so cheaply at the local Asian supermarket.

Anyway, back to homemade dumplings.  Of course, I was in Taiwan, where my love for authentic Chinese food began.  I lived in an apartment with two other girls from my study abroad program, and each of us had a Taiwanese roommate.  Mine was named Alice.

Alice was a sweet, soft-spoken woman, who was always very patient with me, despite my constant questions about my new surroundings.  Since I was the only person in the without extended family living in the country (the other girls from the US were Asian-American), Alice and my other Taiwanese apartment-mates were amazing at making me feel welcome and eventually, at home.

One night, we decided to have an apartment bonding activity: dumpling making.  It was great fun, but let’s just say my first dumplings were not pretty, nor were they really edible, since I couldn’t get the pleats to stay together at first.  I managed to get a few to come out looking halfway decent, and I like to think they tasted better because I made them myself.  I am now a dumpling pleating pro, even though I turned these dumplings into little bundles.  They look so cute that way! Plus pleating a wonton wrapper is difficult.

These dumplings remind me of the curry dumplings I had in Taiwan.  I toned down the curry paste that the original recipe called for so that the shrimp wasn’t overpowered.  If you really want a bold curry taste, feel free to use more, up to 4 tsp.

Curried Shrimp Dumplings

Adapted from Everyday Food

Makes about 24 dumplings

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 scallions, thinly sliced

¾ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tsp red curry paste

1 tsp fish sauce

24 or so wonton wrappers

In a small skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.  Add ginger and scallions and cook, stirring, until scallions are slightly softened and mixture is fragrant, 2 minutes and remove from heat.  In a food processor, pulse shrimp until finely chopped.  Transfer to a bowl and add ginger mixture, curry paste and fish sauce; stir to combine.

Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place a heaping teaspoon of the shrimp mixture in the center.  With a wet finger, moisten all edges of the wrapper, then bring all four corners together, pinching at the top to seal.  Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.  Cover your completed dumplings with a kitchen towel while you work so they won’t dry out.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the other Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.  Add as many dumplings as you want to cook/will fit in the skillet, seam side up, and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 1 minute.  Add about ½ cup of water to the pan, cover, and let it cook until the water is almost completely evaporated and the dumplings are tender, about 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium if the dumplings are browning too quickly.  Once they are cooked through, transfer the dumplings to a serving plate and serve with your favorite dumpling sauces.  I like to make a dipping sauce that’s 3 parts soy sauce to 1 part sesame oil.  Luke prefers plain soy sauce.


Pork Vindaloo

Why must the Internet flood my RSS reader with so many posts about grilling?  Damn you Memorial Day weekend and your heralding of summer grill time.

I am angry, obviously, because I do not own a grill, and am ever so jealous of those delicious char marks being paraded before my eyes.  Someday I will have steaks and pork chops that bear that quintessential mark of outdoor eating, but not this day.  Not this weekend.

So I do want I can.  And since I had some pork leftover from my moo shu pork, I decided to make a curry of sorts.  A very tasty curry, if I may.

I’d been waiting to start using the curry paste I bought ages ago from a local Indian market, so finally hearing the top pop open was music to my ears.  The rich aroma emanating from that little jar was so overwhelming, it made me want to cry.  Or maybe that was the spices irritating my tear ducts.

Either way, this curry is fabulously simple.  I paired it with some of my leftover moo shu pancakes, but serving it with rice or noodles would be great too.

Pork Vindaloo

Adapted from Food Figure

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
a thumb sized piece of ginger, minced or shredded
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp red curry paste
1 cup diced tomatoes or 3/4 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1-2 cups water
2/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven or a large skillet with high sides, add oil and cook onions over medium heat.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to get some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the curry to reduce for several minutes or until desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt or sour cream. Serve beside or over your favorite rice, naan, noodles or on its own. Garnish with a few leafs of cilantro or parsley.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Today Luke and I have our final cake tasting.  Though the rivers of free cake will soon staunch their flows, I’ll be glad to have another thing crossed off our wedding prep list.

The whole process of wedding planning has been very smooth for us so far.  I’m sure things will get crazy as the date approaches, but we’re doing our best to get everything mapped out as early as possible.  Last night we also decided on what our wedding favors will be.  Getting it done!

Since days for making soups comfortably are starting to dwindle, I figured I’d post a stew while I still can.  Not that weather deters me from making what I want.  I’m churning that ice cream in winter, and hovering over that hot pot of stew in summer.  What can I say, my stomach is spoiled.

 Luckily, I was craving a hearty stew in the middle of February, and had a lonely sweet potato eyeballing me.

I was very surprised by how this stew turned out, because, well, it was supposed to be a soup.  I halved the original recipe, and maybe that threw things off, because what I got some more of a sweet potato lentil spread.  Which was awesome and delicious, and…interesting.  I ate it like hummus.  Definitely my best kitchen flop so far this year.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Makes about 6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup

1 cup chopped carrot, about 2 large

3 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato, about 1 1/2 lbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 cup dry red lentils

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan (at least 5 qt) over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot and sweet potato. Mix to coat with the olive oil and cook for 5 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add in the garlic, cayenne powder, and curry powder, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the lentils and mix until they are all coated, about 1 minute.

Add in the stock, and reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are tender and the lentils are cooked (exploded), about 15-20 mins. Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender, or puree in blender in batches.

Once it is all pureed, add in the cream and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the fresh lemon juice and serve.

Curry Roasted Chickpeas

There’s nothing like an early March snowstorm.  When March arrives, it seems spring can’t be too far away, and then winter reminds you that there’s no escape until at least May with a mighty snow-slap in the face.

Thanks for that.  I was hoping to make it until next winter before getting a new shovel, but Mother Nature’s is not helping.  So I’ll help myself by staying inside and making an awesome snack.

I love chickpeas.  Like, open a can, drain it, and eat them straight up with a fork.  That kind of love.  If it were up to me, chickpeas would find their way into a lot more of the dishes I make, but sadly, Luke does not share my love for garbanzos.  In fact, his feelings are quite the opposite.  Extreme sad face.

But I shall persevere.  Snowy days call for cooking something that makes your house smell great.  These chickpeas filled my apartment with scents reminiscent of the curry puff vendors in the street markets of Taiwan.  Which is a good thing, I promise.

Winter blues ain’t got nothing on these tasty morsels.

Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1 15 oz. can chickpeas

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

2 tsps cinnamon

½ tsp cayenne powder

2 tsps fresh grated ginger

2 tsps sea salt

 Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Toss the chickpeas in the oil, then put them into a bowl. Combine all the spices in a separate little bowl for your spice blend. Give it a good mix, then sprinkle it over the chickpeas, and toss to coat evenly.

Put the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and into the oven for about 30 minutes. About halfway through, give them a bit of a shake. At the end of the 30 minutes, taste! If they are still soft, back in they go! You want them to have just a little bit of a soft center. When they cool, they will crisp up more.

Keema Chicken Curry

I cannot apologize enough for the poor quality of the photos in this post.  It was a tasty dish, really, even if the photos don’t convey that very well.  I am working really hard to make sure that I shoot in natural light, because my apartment’s lighting is horrible for taking photos.  Especially at night.

But that’s when you eat dinner, so I’ve had to make do.  I’m starting to make dinner while it’s still light out, shoot it, then reheat it when I’m actually hungry/Luke gets home.  This may work out well, since I don’t cook (or do anything) really well when I’m hungry.  Luke calls me “Hanna,” which stands for hungry Anna because my personality changes so much under the influence of hunger.

I hope you never meet Hanna.  Apparently she is not a very nice person.  Anyway, another new initiative I’ve started is keeping a spreadsheet of recipes I want to make from the various food magazines I get.  This way, I don’t dog-ear something and then completely forget about it.  Plus, I can make notes on the spreadsheet to remind myself of spicing changes, or just the overall outcome.

I’ve also done it for my cookbooks, and it’s been working well, since it’s much easier to search an electronic document for an ingredient than an index, especially when some of the recipes the index takes me to might contain other things I don’t like.  Plus I’m on my computer all the time anyway…so it works out.

Keema Chicken Curry

Adapted from Food & Wine January 2012 Issue

Makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound ground chicken meat

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

One 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk

One 14oz can diced tomatoes, with their juices

In a large deep skillet, heat the oil.  Add the ground meat and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the lumps (my grandma recommended using a potato masher, which works well to get the big chunks apart, sadly I didn’t have this knowledge yet when I made this dish), until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry powder and season with salt and pepper.

Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the potato, broth, coconut milk, and the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender, about 15 minutes.  Serve over rice, with or without naan.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

Today marks another rite of passage for Luke and myself into our lives as adults, right up there with getting out own apartment, paying our own bills, and buying our first pet.  Yep, this is one heck of a milestone, our first company holiday party as a couple!  Wooohoooo!  Free food!  Ok, so I’m still a little ways from reaching full adulthood.

It’s really hard to take a good pic of curry.  Especially at night.  My cat bowl is cute though, right?

When Luke first told me about the party, my first thought was ‘What do I wear?’  Last night when I pondered over it a little more, I spotted the cute, double patterned knee-length dress I got at Kohl’s for $6 that totally makes me look like Zooey Deschanel.  Except for the hair…how I wish I had that girl’s hair.  Anyway, I realized very quickly that the dress would, under no circumstances, be appropriate.  I am going to be the youngest person at this party…do I really need my clothes to emphasize that?  Black dress it is.

Life is full of choices.  Wear the cute little hipstery dress or the long mature black one?  Cook something both Luke and I can enjoy, or be selfish and make something he won’t touch?  Oops, I went with the later on that one.

To be fair, the boy could just suck it up and eat sweet potato and chickpeas.  I mean, they are incredibly delicious after all.  Combine them with Indian spices, and you’ve got recipe gold.  I love curry, but can never order it in restaurants because I can’t take spicy food.  Making it at home though, gives you control over the level of heat, so if you’re a wimp like me, you can dial down the hot curry powder.  This is definitely a great one pot winter meal.  Throw it over some rice, or sop it up with some naan. Either way, it’s delicious!


Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

Adapted from Three Many Cooks

2-3 Tbs. Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, preferably green, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. sweet curry powder (I used all regular curry powder)
I Tbs. hot curry powder
I Tbs. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
A few dashes of cinnamon
1-2 cans of chickpeas (drained), or similar amount of cooked dried beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Chicken or vegetable broth
Black pepper

Set a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Saute onion, carrot and bell pepper until beginning to soften. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, and all the spices and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and enough stock to almost cover the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, and more spices if you’d like (keeping in mind the flavors will intensify as the liquid reduces). Simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to simmer until it has the consistency of a thick stew. Taste a chunk of sweet potato to make sure it’s done, and season to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary.