Saturday, 30 June 2007
Well, pear, to be precise. When I read about Johanna's challenge for the June edition of the "Waiter, there's something in my..."-event, I was very happy. I had always wanted to make fruit-filled dumplings (you didn't expect me to make savoury ones, right?) but for some reason never got around to do it. And regarding the chilly temperature this past month here in Sydney, my dumplings couldn't be wintery enough.
The only problem: Plums or apricots are just not in season right now and I didn't want to shell out almost six dollars for a tiny punnet of strawberries (it's still a mystery to me that those always seem to be in season in some part of Australia). However, the pear season is in full swing right now so that was settled eventually. In the beginning I had dreamed of some wonderfully complicated filling like pot roasted pears but in order to get dinner ready at a reasonable time, I simply used big chunks of a very ripe packham pear. With a salad as a starter, these pear dumplings are a substantial meal - and when you only eat two dumplings each, it's no overindulgence. However, I don't want to stop anyone...
Special thanks to my boyfriend who first sneered at the idea of a sweet main meal but then helped me taking really good photos: It was his idea to picture the steam and to let it "snow". Needless to say, he ended up liking these dumplings a lot... The cooking time was just right to get sweet and soft pear centres without overcooking them. The fried breadcrumbs added texture and a nice contrast to the soft but still firm dumpling dough. Can't help it, I want more...
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
6-8 tbsp milk
1 large, ripe packham pear, peeled, cored, and cut into six chunks
about 3 litres of salted water
2 tbsp poppy seeds
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of mixed spice
icing sugar for dusting
Cream the butter, add egg yolks, ricotta, flour, and salt, mixing well.
If your ricotta is rather stiff like mine, you'll end up with a crumbly mixture. Add milk by the tablespoon until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. It will still be rather stiff. If your ricotta is soft, omit the milk.
Shape the dough into a thick roll and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the pear.
Boil the salted water. Cut the chilled dough roll into 6-8 slices (depending on how big your dumplings are). Flatten each pieces until it's big enough to be wrapped around the pear chunks. Make sure to pinch the seams well (which is a bit easier using naturally round fruit).
Carefully put the dumplings into the water and let it come to a boil. Then let the dumplings simmer for about ten minutes. They are ready when floating. Note: Make sure to stir once or twice to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Otherwise they won't float when ready...
In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan. Add bread cumbs, poppy seeds, and spices. Fry until crisp, stirring frequently.
Turn the cooked dumplings in the breadcrumbs and sprinkle with lots of icing sugar.
Adapted from Hedwig Maria Stuber: Ich helf Dir kochen
Makes 6 large dumplings or 8 smaller ones when using smaller fruit. After an entre, serve 2-3 large dumplings per person as main course. As dessert, this is enough for four people.
If you have leftovers, freeze the dumplings and the breadcrumbs seperately. To thaw the dumplings, put into cold water and let come to a boil or use a microwave.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
This time however, I had resolved to make Deinin's bread rolls who got the original recipe from Anne. I followed Deinin's adaptations to the letter (apart from accidentally watering down the egg wash resulting in lighter colour) and was rewarded with very tasty, chewy rolls. Half of them got eaten the same evening. The rolls were not overly crunchy but had very pleasing rustic appearance and a good, hearty bite. The other half got devoured the next morning - and miraculously, these rolls hadn't deteriorated at all! I reckon it's due to the butter they contain making for softer rolls with an obviously longer shelf life. I will definitely make them again!
PS: The only thing I wondered about was how Deinin got them big enough to fill them with Caesar's Salad. While having a nice size, mine would not have been up to that task. But maybe I suffer from a streak of bad lack regarding the whole rising business - as I said, I'm still chewing on my last loaf...
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
Another day with another adventure in the grocery store: Doing my daily shopping for one once during the morning, I noticed lots of shop assistants around, filling up the shelves and generally being very busy. I contemplated the possibility to ask for something I've been searching for quite a while - semolina. It looks like I've never grown out of this childhood treat that always comes in handy when I want some quickly cooked lunch that should also satisfy my sweet tooth while not being completely unhealthy. I go through a lot of that stuff.
However, stocking up on it proved to be a bit of a problem. In the supermarket next to our first flat in
Now living closer to the central business district, I could choose between two supermarkets but hadn’t found any semolina – despite having asked for it several times. This morning, after hesitating for a little while, I decided to give it another go and approached one of the shop assistants.
"Excuse me, could you please tell me where to find semolina?” I said in my nicest I-don’t-want-to-cause-any-hassle-voice.
His answer was short: "What's that?"
"Ahem, something like cracked wheat?!" Being at a loss for words, it was the quickest reply I could think of, knowing that it wasn’t quite correct. Have you ever had to explain what semolina actually is??
The shop assistant decided to take the reasonable way and took me to a colleague hoping that he would know more about it.
“Do you know where to find semolina?” – still with my nicest I-don’t-want-to-cause-any-hassle-voice.
“What’s that?” Haven’t I heard that one before? After providing my non-appropriate explanation again, the shop assistant led me to the cereal aisle. Standing in front of the boxed breakfast with no semolina whatsoever, I realised that he had just understood the word “wheat”.
And home I went without my beloved semolina.
Okay, just to be fair to the guild of shop assistants, I should mention that shortly after this memorable encounter, I finally got some semolina. In another shop, another shop assistant proved to be exceptionally helpful: She pointed one semolina brand in the health food section and another one next to the chocolate chips – sold out unfortunately.
Semolina Pudding with Rhubarb Compote
I have to admit that I never use a recipe when making this. Using the rule of thumb, I pour some semolina into the milk. If you add the semolina to the cold milk, you’ll never end up with lumps. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil, adding more milk if necessary (it will get stiffer while cooling down). Sweeten to your liking, add a pinch of salt, some vanilla sugar, and dust with cinnamon if desired.
Serve with your favourite fruit compote. I like to caramelize some sugar before adding the fruit. Stir to coat with caramel and depending on the juiciness of your fruits add a little water. Cook until you reach the desired consistency.
This is the ratio for semolina pudding one of my trusted old-style German cookbooks presents (serves 4):
1 litre of milk (low-fat works fine but whole milk tastes better)
To make the pudding bit richer, add up to 40g of butter, two egg yolks, and two egg whites beaten until stiff.