June Daring Cooks challenge!

I will admit that I approached Jen‘s challenge – Chinese dumplings/potstickers –  with a bit of trepidation – first of all, because they looked a bit delicate and fiddly and I wasn’t sure how much patience I would have during the assembly process and, second of all, because there wasn’t a recipe given for a vegetarian filling and that scared me!

But, thank goodness for the forums where I used Shellyfish‘s idea of using mushrooms, white beans, green onions, and soy sauce. I didn’t use any sort of recipe (go me!) – I just dumped a container of baby portabello mushrooms in the food processor with a can of white beans, some grated fresh ginger, and a few splashes of soy sauce and then stirred in the chopped green onions. Super tasty!

I have to add my name to the list of people whose dough ended up on the dry side, but I gradually kneaded in a bit of water and eventually it all came together. I was pretty nervous about the assembly process – having to fold all those delicate little pleats, but, although I’m sure I could still use a bit practice to get them really picture-perfect, I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Jen has very thorough instructions (with lots of pictures!) on her blog which helped immensely.

Since I don’t have a steamer (though these ended up being so easy and so yummy that I’m totally going to have to get one to see what that’s like), the first time I made these, I went for the pan-frying method – a bit scary what with the spitting oil step – and they turned out very nicely, with a crispy bottom and a very tender filling.

It made quite a few potstickers (I still have the other half of the filling in my freezer to be made at a later date – probably sooner rather than later!) so I put the ones I hadn’t cooked in the fridge to have the next day when I tried boiling them. I was a little worried that they might be too mushy or might fall apart in the water, but they were just as tasty as the pan-fried ones.

For my dipping sauce, I used the given proportions of soy sauce and vinegar (2:1), but I didn’t have the garlic-chili paste, so I stirred in some grated ginger, garlic, and hot red pepper flakes and it was very tasty, too!

So, yes, a very successful Daring Cooks challenge – yay! Click on the logo at the top to see our temporary blogroll and lots of other tasty potstickers. 🙂

May Daring Cooks Challenge!

Yes, you read that correctly, this month marks the first EVER Daring Cooks challenge! Since I have more trouble with my cooking, I decided to sign up in order to challenge myself to try new techniques and just to make myself cook more, in general. I’m not sure how the vegetarian side of this will work – the Daring Bakers are very accommodating and the Daring Cooks seem to be no different, but, frankly, if a host decides they want to do a crown roast, I’m not sure how that’ll work. Maybe we’ll just get an entirely alternate challenge? Or it may be that I just don’t know that much about actual vegetarian cooking – meat-free cooking, I can do, just not actively vegetarian – and tofu can actually be sculpted into a cunnng replica of a crown roast…

But, at any rate, here is our first month’s challenge, hosted by the founders of the Daring Bakers themselves, Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice: Ricotta Gnocchi!

I ended up doing this in two days – letting them sit in the fridge overnight to set up a bit more. They were tasty – very cheesy – and not terribly difficult to make (though it was a bit frustrating having to work with such a moist, sticky ‘dough’), but I don’t know that I would make them again. I’ll freeze the ones I have left and enjoy them later, to be sure, but I think that might be it for me. (It doesn’t help that the sauce takes an entire stick of butter to make and I feel like I ate more than my fair share of it draped across my serving of gnocchi.)

The sauce was our main way of personalising these – the basic recipe given to us consisted of a stick of butter and a few teaspoons of water. I got rid of the water and added lemon, basil, and garlic to the butter – making a sort of pesto-type thing, I suppose – which was very tasty.

So, yes. Not a failure – quite the opposite I’d say (please forgive the bad photos – I had to use Edward since my mother has taken her camera on holiday with her – though they really serve to obscure the true, hideous shape of my gnocchi…) – just not something I’m entirely thrilled with.

I don’t think we have a Daring Cooks blogroll or icons yet, but click on the Daring Kitchen logo above to check out the website!