Category Archives: Appetizers

Daring Cooks #2


It’s the second installment of The Daring Cooks! Our host this month was Jen from use real butter, what recipe did she choose? Well, she thought it might be a good time for us to try our hand at something that looks daunting, but is actually pretty straightforward.

The Challenge: Chinese dumplings/potstickers (aka gyoza in Japanese)


Jen tells us, “It’s a basic concept: a filling inside a dough wrapper, sealed, & cooked. This delicious theme runs through many cultures & is among the more popular bites at Chinese restaurants – especially dim sum. The recipe I provide is based on my family recipe. There is a lot of wiggle room & I encourage you to explore. If you’ve made them before – great! Now try something different!” The process goes a little like this:1. Choose a filling 2. Choose a dough 3. Choose a cooking method (boil, steam, pan-fry)

We had to make our own wrappers, we were not allowed to use pre-made ones. Not too hard, just takes a little patience & practice. For the filling, she gave us a couple of choices, the most common being pork or shrimp. You can fill dumplings/potstickers with just about anything, even blueberries or alomondella. Jen also tells us, “You can make them with other ground meats (beef, chicken…) or vegetarian (tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, glass noodles, Chinese chives – oh yum!). The important thing to keep in mind is that the filling needs to “stick” to itself or else you will make your life incredibly miserable wrapping up filling that keeps falling apart. I think if I were to make vegetarian dumplings, I would sauté the cabbage & mash up the tofu for a better cohesiveness. It’s up to you how you want to fill your dumplings.”

Jen also tells us, “Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes – longer if peeling & de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling & wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. My parents can crank through it in 30 minutes when 1 person is rolling wrappers & the other is wrapping dumplings. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Potstickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling – 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot.”


You can find the original recipe here:

Here is my changes:

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
½ cup bamboo shoots, minced
¼ cup ginger root, minced
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP corn starch

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl & mix thoroughly.
  2. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or 2).


dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup warm water
flour for work surface

  1. In a large bowl mix flour with 1/3 cup of water & stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water 1 teaspoon at a time & mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
  2. Knead the dough about 20 strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
  3. Take the dough & form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 2“ wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 1” pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16“. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper & fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. I found it easier to pleat first, then fill. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.


dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part red wine vinegar
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)

dash mirin

  1. Stir together to combine.


To pan ‘fry’ (potstickers): Place dumplings in a dry frying pan. Heat on medium-high & ‘fry’ for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add ½ cup water & cover. Cook until the water has boiled away & then uncover & reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat & serve.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil & add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag & freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.


I chose to pan ‘fry’ mine. I actually made a similar recipe last year for Recipes To Rival

& I boiled those. Personally, I like them better pan ‘fried’. I will make these again, I always love some potstickers.


For dipping, I made the suggested dipping sauce, straight hoisin and a mixture of chinese mustard & soy sauce. Hubby’s fav was the suggested dipping sauce. The hoisin was too sweet, but I really liked the mustard mix, nice & spicy.

These do take a good chunk of time, but the more often you make it, the quicker it gets.


Recipes To Rival – May 2009

img_3274.jpgThis month the challenge was all about chickpeas. Our host this month was Lori from She chose Chickpea Fries and/or Falafel. She also reminds us that “beans have such benefits. They help reduce cholesterol, cost relatively little, offer more fiber in your diet & are environmentally friendly. By that I mean, people don’t realize that there is quite a cost in eating beef for instance. They are pretty heavy animals that have to be cargoed around to graze or be moved before & after slaughter. So for this reason it is quite expensive & detrimental to the environment.” She also challenged us to make pita bread to go along with our falafel, since I have made pita bread before, I decided not to do it, just to save time. If we made the fries, she wanted us to come up with a sauce to dip them in, which I forgot about & didn’t used a sauce at all. We also had the choice not to make the sauce or the pitas & make both the falafel & the chickpea fries, I went with that option. Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s wonderful creations:


Here are the recipes:
CHICKPEA FRIES by Mark Bittman, How To Cook Everything; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
neutral oil, like grapeseed, corn, for greasing and frying
1 cup chickpea flour, sifted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP water with 1 tsp ground flax seeds
Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish nutritional yeast

1. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with a rim & set aside. I used parchment paper. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour with a large pinch of salt & pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce to a gentle bubble, stir int he olive oil & cook for just a minute.
2. Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the prepared pan & spread into an even layer. Let cool for a few minutes & then cover loosely with parchment or plastic. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but up to a day, covered tightly, after it’s completely cool).
3. Put 1/8 to ¼” oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the chickpea flour mixture into 3 x ½” cutter. I just cut by hand, then baked on 375 for 15 minutes. Gently put batches of the fries into the hot oil, rotating them gently for even cooking & browning on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Drain the fries on paper towels & immediately sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper & a good dusting of Parmesan if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.
Falafel: Chickpea Patties Recipe by Madelain Farah, Lebanese Cuisine, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001
*  1 pound dried chickpeas
* 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, optional
* Salt and pepper, as needed
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
I baked mine

* 6 to 8 pitas, tops sliced open and lightly toasted
* Shredded lettuce, as needed
* Tomato wedges, as needed
* Sliced red onion, as needed
* Sliced cucumbers, as needed
* Tahini Sauce, recipe follows

1. Make the Falafel: Soak the chickpeas in cold water in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas & place them with the onion in the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Mix well. Process the mixture a second time. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls & deep-fry or pan-fry in hot oil.
3. Make the Sandwiches: Stuff the pitas with lettuce & nestle the falafel patties inside. Top with the rest of the ingredients & drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately.

Tahini Sauce: I cut the recipe in half
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Mash the garlic and salt together. Add the tahini, mixing well. The sauce will thicken. Gradually add the water, blending thoroughly. Then add the lemon juice. Blend well.

Note: This can be a thin or thick sauce, depending upon the use and preference. Simply adjust with lemon juice and water. This can be used with vegetables or in combination with other recipes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

TIPS from Lori: In regards to falafel, I have made it many times & it has always fallen apart on me. I usually end up putting an egg in it as a binder. This time I am not, come what may, because I know others have had success without egg. I will say if you do not want to go the deep fry route, you can place little mounds in a muffin tin & do it up in the oven at about 375F. But the oil really does something magical to them. Again, your choice. Don’t you just love all the choices this month?

You are not required to do Tahini Sauce, it is just a suggestion. Also the chickpea flour can be found at Indian Markets (called Besan there) & Italian Markets & Health Food Stores.


The fries were good & I usually love falafel, but this was not my favorite recipe. Hubby does not like falafel & this did not convert him. I actually liked the falafel better crumbled over a large salad. M-I-L really liked the fries!  I do love all things chickpeas & both of these were good, just not great.


Recipes To Rival December Challenge

Welcome to the December Challenge for Recipes to Rival! The Challenge this month is: Appetizers


Think Tapas, little nibbles, noshing, YUM! I have to admit that I was a little bummed & discouraged when I saw the challenge for this month. I guess I was a little tired &stretched a bit thin, so I wasn’t really thinking about how easy this challenge was to veganize. Thanks to all those on the boards that helped me out. Much thanks to our host this month for a great challenge: Temperance of High on the Hog & Jen of Delightful Delicacies.

We were given 3 choices of appetizers with the challenge of making 2 of them. Our options were 1)Gruyere Cheese Gougeres, 2)Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette, & 3) Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini. I think I saw all that cheese & the oysters & freaked out. I had bought my dad some vegan blue cheese for his birthday last year & it was over $9.00, not including shipping, so I didn’t think I could afford that just for this challenge. The only vegan cheese I can get here is mozzarella, cheddar, sour and cream, so, mozzarella it is.

These app’s came together really quick, even hubby liked the crostini (would only eat one piece of the Gougeres though). He actually ate 3 of them.


Here is where you can get the recipes:

Check out everyone’s efforts here:

Here is what I changed:

Gruyère Cheese Gougères ©‘The French Laundry Cookbook’ By Thomas Keller, November, 1999
Makes about 4 dozen gougères (I only made ¼ of the recipe)
Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don’t add the cheese, & the puff is a base for a dessert.
1 cup water
7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter Earth Balance
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs Ener-G Egg Replacer
1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces) Vegan Mozzarella
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (see Sources) or parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, & sugar & bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, & stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball & the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook & stir for a full 2 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle & beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs & continue to mix until completely combined & the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine & lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again &, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in ¾ cup of the Gruyère & adjust the seasoning with salt & white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8” plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2“ between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about ½ teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese & bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff & hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven & serve the gougères while hot.

Notes: These were good hot or cold. I did two diffrent sizes (Tablespoon & Teaspoon) & had a slight preference for the smaller ones. Feel free to try using a diffrent cheese, it makes a big difference in the taste. You can make them up in advance & stick them in the freezer, let them thaw for 10 minutes & then bake in oven as usual & you have warm fresh Gougères. I also thought that stuffing them would be a really good idea.
They turned out a little salty for me, I would cut back on the salt just a bit.

Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini:
a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each
olive oil omitted
mascarpone, for spreading (optional) soy cream cheese
any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled vegan mozzarella
freshly hulled walnuts
a few pears, peeled & sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned & crispy. You can broil them as well, if you prefer.
2. Remove from heat & spread each toast with some mascarpone.
3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast & add walnut pieces on top. Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.
4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven & top with a few cubes of pear. Serve soon after.

I tried it with the soy cream cheese & without it. Personally, I liked it better with it. This would taste great with the blue cheese & brie would be amazing! (For all you omnivores out there)

I liked the Gougeres, but I probably wouldn’t make them again. I would totally make the Crostini again though, they were great.