Tag: cooking abroad

Crazy Dumplings II – Final Days!

Crazy Dumplings II – Final Days!

Hard to believe the Crazy Dumplings II Kickstarter campaign is almost over! There are only 4 days left for you to back Crazy Dumplings II and get some great backer rewards. So if you haven’t backed us already, what are you waiting for?

If you back, you’ll get a Thank You from me (along with a really awesome cookbook!) just like all these awesome people:

Just some of our awesome backer rewards!
Just some of our awesome backer rewards!

Heather Morgan, Kathleen Young Tejeda, Brendan Clougherty, Richard Telford, Erin Foster, João Paulo Bonatelli, Julia Jimenez, McCloud!, Joschka Schaffner, Jolene Schleicher, Florian Schupp, David Krouse, Holly Brown BSc Hons, SKDouglass, Alvin Vincent Leung, Shaunda L Bowman, Eric, John Rommel, Shelly Wright, Kerry, Jose C. Pombo, Andreas Clauss, Dan Pierson, Bob S., Hector Vega, Karren Orozco, Welmoed Sisson, Mike, Thomas Mögel, Alex Charles, Richard Glenn-Reller, Sara Chitown, Andrea L, Cesar De La Riva, Thuong Tran, SK, Gloria Salvetti, Tobias, Trisha Seaman, John Clayton, Elisha Alford, Skye Norton, Jason Graffius, The Thornton Bros., Alan Walendowski, Cole Whitney, James Hutton, Neville Isles, Nick Jardine, Jared Lovett, Angelica Garrison, Paul Arpaia, Catherine Croft, Anna Hoener, Amanda Miller, Gil Pettingell, Steven Cullity, Týna Dvořáková, Saruta, No one important, Joan T. Masters, Tanya Noreen, Chris Johnson, Eric White, Jessica Weinberg, Alison Radzun, Erin Day, Steve, Abby, Big Bad Boston, Scott Bain, Reece liddicoat, Jess, Anthony, Samantha Meyer, cheryl koval, Savannah Koolaidria Chasing Hawk, Keith Travis, Amanda Wallace, Matthew Pemble, R van Haften, Kevin Chan, Andrew, Viktor J., Kelley Ross, Ruediger Zapf, Jim Bryan, Bill Johnson, Andrew McCarthy, benoita74, Laura Beasley, Ian ‘Smurf’ Murphy, Michelle Wang, Nicole Prince, Seow Wan Yi, GloriousDelicious, Landan Smith, Rebecca Dominguez, Bryan Pace, Breeann Napotnik, Ahmed Mainul Bari, Jean Lee MC, BlackMagicM66, Kimberley Timmings, Steven Rychetnik, Marcus Reed, Angela Day, Benjamin Leow, Sarah, Rich Hussein Gibson, Gunnar Heide Aadland, Arnel, Tristan Hams, Daniel Connolly, montage hix, Julie Viens, ryan mucklin, Katt, Alana Wolfgang-Duran, Steve Eldridge, L. P., Leah Zelnick, and Breánna Hope.

In case you missed it, I have shared some interesting updates through the campaign as well. I got a little person in “Who Are the Two Americans in China?” and shared a recipe inspired by my recent trip to Vietnam in “It’s Over 9,000! Enjoy This Vietnamese-Inspired Dumpling!” Both of those updates are available to everyone, not just backers, so check them out and let me know what you think.

I’m so excited for how well this campaign has gone, and I can’t wait to collect the backer-submitted recipes (check out the $40 reward level!) and put the finishing touches on the book. But it’s not over yet! We still need all the support we can get during the final days, so please support us by backing Crazy Dumplings II: Even Dumplinger or by sharing the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to help us get the word out!

To back Crazy Dumplings II: Even Dumplinger on Kickstarter click here

To share Crazy Dumplings II: Even Dumplinger on Twitter click here

To share Crazy Dumplings II: Even Dumplinger on Facebook click here

Throwback Thursday – Learning to Cook

Throwback Thursday – Learning to Cook

CIMG3072As I’ve mentioned before on this blog and in my book, moving to China (especially to a rural area) meant having to relearn how to cook. At our first school, Lanjiang Zhizhong, three of our best students, Zoe, Arlene, and Jack, came over one night to help give me a crash course. Even 4 years later, fried potatoes, egg and tomato soup, and sliced carrots are staples around our house. I’ve come a long way since then, but they helped give me the foundations to start cooking again. CIMG3075

What about you? What struggles with cooking overseas have you had to deal with? How did you cope?

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Pumpkin Pie

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Pumpkin Pie

Hi everyone. Welcome to my sixth post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. I first wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. I followed up with how to make stuffing from scratch, how to make a delicious river of gravy, how to make mashed potatoes, and how to make drop biscuits. Today, we are going to round out your Thanksgiving feast with a pumpkin pie!

First off, I’m not going to talk about how to make the crust. This is for 2 reasons. 1) Crusts are hard to make but should not be hard to purchase. Even though “pie” is not popular in China, egg tarts are. So just use egg tart shells and make mini-pumpkin pies. 2) You can completely bypass the shell altogether by using dumpling wrappers! Why not bring a little China to your Thanksgiving dinner table?

We are going to make the pumpkin pie filling from scratch because pumpkins are usually easy to find and the pumpkin puree is not that hard to make.

dessert dumplingsWhat you need:

1 small pumpkin (1 cup pumpkin puree)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp allspice powder
½ tsp ginger powder
1 egg
6 oz evaporated milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
12 dumpling wrappers (made from scratch or purchased) or 12 egg tart shells
1 cup of oil for frying

Preparing the Pumpkin

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Don’t be afraid to scrape the sides and get all that stringy stuff out.
  2. Place the pumpkin into a steamer basket on the stove (you can cut the pieces smaller if they don’t quite fit). Steam pumpkin, covered, over high heat for 20-30 minutes or until it is soft.
  3. Scoop softened pumpkin meat out of the rind. Puree pumpkin meat in a blender until smooth.
  4. Done! You will only need 1 cup of puree for this recipe. If you have extra puree, you can freeze it and save it for future dumplings or increase the rest of the recipe to make lots of dumplings (not like they will go to waste since they will be eaten up so quickly!).

Making the pumpkin pie filling for dumplings or egg tart shells

  1. Mix together 1 cup of pumpkin puree with the sugar, spices, egg, and evaporated milk.
  2. For pumpkin pie dumplings:
    • Spoon mixture into dumpling wrappers and pinch closed. If the mixture is too runny to work with, put the mixture into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set up.
    • To fry dumplings, preheat oil for 30 seconds on high heat, then lower heat to medium. Cook dumplings on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. If you are using egg tart shells:
    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius)
    • Fill the shells about 3/4 of the way full with pumpkin pie filling.
    • Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden.
  4. Serve hot or chilled.

You can find the Pumpkin Pie Dumpling recipe, along with almost a hundred more, in my cookbook Crazy Dumplings, now available on Amazon! 

portrait cover trimmed

Dumplings. Wontons. Jiaozi. This remarkably simple food is found throughout Asia and in Chinese restaurants and kitchens around the world, but have you ever filled a dumpling wrapper with chicken? Lobster? North American Plains Bison? Hardly anyone has! The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook features over 100 recipes with some of the craziest and most delicious dumpling filling recipes you will ever see. From Chicken Taquito Dumplings to Timey-Wimey Dumplings to a dumpling for your dog, Crazy Dumplings will show you all the crazy things you can stuff into a dumpling wrapper for an easy meal or snack.

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Biscuits

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Biscuits

Hi everyone. Welcome to my fifth post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. I can’t believe how close Thanksgiving is getting! I’m going to have to move up the frequency of these posts to get done in time for the big day!

I first wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. I followed up with how to make stuffing from scratch and how to make a delicious river of gravy. Yesterday I explained how to make the best mashed potatoes ever. Today we are going to move on to fluffy biscuits!

Two important things: 1) We are going to make drop biscuits instead of the more traditional round, buttermilk biscuits because buttermilk biscuits simply have too many variables and require a lot of counter space, something many kitchens in China don’t have; and 2) biscuits require butter, so like I pointed out in the mashed potato recipe, these might not be possible for you or could require significant planning.

Biscuits

drop biscuitsDrop biscuits are super easy to make and a lot of fun. Make sure your hands are clean before starting this recipe because they are going to get messy!

Preheat your over to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) and lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup cold butter with your hands. Yes! Get your hands all up in there! You want to squeeze the butter together with the flour until the mixture resemble coarse cornmeal.

Once the flour/butter mix is done, add 1 cup of cold milk. Blend together with a spoon or fork. Drop batter on to the baking sheet by the spoonful. You should be able to get 12 biscuits out of this recipe. It’s OK if you need to add more batter to one biscuit or take some batter off of a few of them to make an extra one. Whatever! These biscuits are flexible and don’t have to look perfect.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Serve hot with honey, jam, or cranberry sauce.

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Mashed Potatoes

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Mashed Potatoes

Hi everyone. Welcome to my fourth post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. I first wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. I followed up with how to make stuffing from scratch and how to make a delicious river of gravy. Today, I’m going to explain how to make the best mashed potatoes ever!

Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Mashed PotatoesUnfortunately, mashed potatoes might cause trouble for some expats living abroad because milk products can be hard to find in some countries, like China. While you can sometimes find milk substitutes (sterilized milk and powdered milk can be used in place of American-style pasteurized milk), there really isn’t a substitute for butter (we will also come across this issue when making the biscuits). So if you are planning to make mashed potatoes, plan ahead and buy the butter online or in the nearest major city.

With this recipe, be flexible. Everyone likes their mashed potatoes a little different (more buttery, stiffer, extra salty, etc.) and depending on how many guests you have, your recipe might need to be adjusted.

As a general rule, you will want one potato per guest. You might adjust this if you have freaking huge potatoes or if you are making a lot of different sides, but it is a good rule of thumb and, really, who care if you make too much. Thanksgiving leftovers are the best.

Scrub, rinse, and rough peel your potatoes, by which I mean don’t worry about peeling the potatoes completely. Potato skins have their own distinct flavor and a lot of nutrients. Of course, you can completely peel them if you want or you could not peel them at all if you like a lot of potato skin in your mashed potatoes.

Uniformly chop your potatoes. They don’t have to be very small, but the pieces should be roughly the same size so they cook uniformly. Cover the chopped potatoes completely with water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and continue to boil the potatoes until they are all fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

After the potatoes are soft, drain completely. Return potatoes to the pot and use a fork or hand masher to start mashing the potatoes. Slowly add in 1 Tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup of milk per potato along with dashes of salt and pepper, mixing and tasting as you go. This way you can be sure to get the taste and texture the way you like it.

Serve warm.

Of course, this is just a simple recipe. You could use cream instead of milk if you have it, you can top it with chives, or you can add roasted garlic. Be flexible and make your potatoes your own!

 

 

 

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Gravy

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Gravy

Hi everyone. Welcome to my third post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. I first wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. I followed up with how to make stuffing from scratch. Today, I’m going to explain how to make a delicious gravy to top your turkey and stuffing with.

Gravy

turkeygravyYou have to top your turkey and stuffing with a river of gravy. If you want, you can mince and fry up the turkey giblets and add them to the gravy.

In a skillet or wok, heat up 1/4 cup of butter or oil. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour to form a roux. Let this cook for a minute to brown, but don’t let it burn. Slowly mix in 1-2 cups of turkey juices, depending on how thin you want your gravy, whisking as you go. You can also use chicken broth if you don’t have enough turkey juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next time, I’ll talk about mashed potatoes!

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Stuffing

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Stuffing

Hi everyone. Welcome to my second post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. Last time, I wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. Today, I’m going to talk about your turkey’s main squeeze, the stuffing!

The Stuffing

111710-hendricks-stuffing-400The perfect partner for turkey is stuffing. In a major metropolitan area, boxed stuffing is pretty easy to find. But if you live where it is hard to find or if the import stores run out, don’t worry – you can still make it from scratch.

Place 4 cups of bread into the refrigerator overnight to dry out (most recipes say leave it out on the counter, but in my experience, most Chinese kitchens are too humid for this and you’ll just end up with moldy bread). After the bread is dry, chop into 1 inch (2.5-cm) cubes.

In a skillet or wok, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil or butter. Add in 1 cup of diced celery and 1 cup of diced onions and sautee until they are slightly softened but still have some crunch. Add in 1 cup of turkey broth (if you don’t have enough, you can add in 1 cup of chicken broth or 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon). Stir until hot. Add in seasonings such as dried or fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and gently fold in breadcrumbs. The bread should be moist, but not soggy. You can add in more liquid as needed.

Transfer mixture to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes (this step is not necessary, but is recommended).

 

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Turkey

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Turkey

FOOD. It’s pretty much the main topic of conversation among expats and never more so than around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the worst times to be away from home, so many Americans do their best to recreate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for their new friends and family overseas. But cooking while living in a foreign country poses many challenges. Here are some tips and tricks for planning the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. Today,I’ll talk about getting set up and the turkey. Be sure to come back over the next few days as I also talk about how to make stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and finally, finish with a homemade pumpkin pie!

thanksgiving-party-webUtensils

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner requires some special kitchen utensils. You at least need a roasting pan. A baster is also good, as is aluminum foil. You will want to make sure you have enough serving plates, bakeware, flatware and a carving knife. The recipes will also require some special seasonings you probably don’t have in your spice rack such as cloves and rosemary. Sit down ahead of time and make a menu, a guest list and then a shopping list. Shop early. The import stores in Sea World have everything you need, but only a limited supply. Don’t wait until the last minute! If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area like Shenzhen, you can find many of these things on Taobao. Also, if you live in Shenzhen, Party Jumbo has some fun Turkey Day-themed plates and napkins

turkeyThe Turkey

The turkey is the most important part of Thanksgiving dinner. It really isn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey. However, turkeys are a new world animal and, unlike other new world foods, have not grown in popularity in China. If you live in a large metropolitan area, they are getting easier to find. Metro import supermarket usually has a few in stock, but not many. It is a good idea to get your turkey at least a week early before they run out. Of course, then you have the problem of storing it until you are ready to thaw it, which can be difficult if you have a small freezer, so plan accordingly.

If you can’t get a turkey, roasted duck or goose is an acceptable substitute.

If you are planning on roasting a turkey, though, be cautious of the size of your turkey. In America, we tend to choose our turkey based on pounds because we all have large enough ovens to handle almost any turkey. But in China, if you have an oven, most likely it is an oversized toaster oven, which still isn’t very big. Hot tip — pick your turkey based on inches instead of pounds! Measure the inside of your oven. Then, measure the turkeys at the store and pick one that fits in your oven.

Cooking the Turkey

Your turkey will need to thaw for several hours. Place your turkey in a sink full of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. It will need to thaw for 30 minutes for every pound.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Remove the turkey from the packaging. Reach into the turkey’s cavity and remove the giblet pack. Hot Tip — unlike American turkeys, Chinese turkeys also have their heads in the cavity, so just be prepared because it can be a shock the first time you pull one out.

Pat the turkey dry and place it breast side up in the roasting pan. Brush the turkey with a light layer of butter, oil, or mayonnaise. You can also season the turkey with garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasonings or whatever you like. Place the turkey in the oven, but make sure you can see the pop-out thermometer.

Your turkey will take 3-4 hours to cook, depending on the size. At about the two-hour mark, the turkey’s juices should start escaping and it should start browning on the top. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the turkey to keep it from browning too quickly. You can also start basting the turkey about every 30 minutes to redistribute the juices.

When the thermometer pops, your turkey is done. Remove it from the oven and let it set for 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Reserve the juices for the stuffing and the gravy.

Check back for more recipes to help you plan the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner!

Crazy Dumplings is here!

Crazy Dumplings is here!

print book cover

It’s here! It’s here! After more than a year of work, Crazy Dumplings is finally available on Amazon Kindle. It should be available in paperback from Amazon in a couple of days.

What is Crazy Dumplings? Dumplings are found throughout Asia and in Chinese restaurants and kitchens around the world, but have you ever filled a dumpling wrapper with chicken? Lobster? North American Plains Bison? Hardly anyone has! The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook features over 100 recipes with some of the craziest and most delicious dumpling filling recipes you will ever see. From Chicken Taquito Dumplings to Timey-Wimey Dumplings to a dumpling for your dog, Crazy Dumplings will show you all the crazy things you can stuff into a dumpling wrapper for an easy meal or snack.

Crazy Dumplings is my first cookbook, and it pre-sold over 400 copies on my Kickstarter campaign this summer. The recipes are fun, delicious, and unique. Be sure to get your copy today!

 

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Stir Fry Dumplings

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Stir Fry Dumplings

fbb567ef4ac6988e1d8252c098d8c1b5_largeThese were made for Kickstarter backer Jay Haney, who wanted something peanutty and vegetarian. My husband declared them “pretty good for vegetarian.” This recipe is really versatile. You can use whatever veggies you like; the ones listed here are just examples. You could even use frozen mixed vegetables and just mash them or chop them up smaller after they cook. All the ingredients have to be chopped up really small to go into the dumpling wrapper. This recipe also has a kick thanks to the chili garlic sauce. If you can’t find chili garlic sauce or don’t want it spicy, you can leave it out.

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Stir Fry Dumplings

½ cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups chopped vegetables (onion, broccoli florets, carrots, peas, mushrooms, eggplant)
12 dumpling wrappers

  1. In a sauce pan, whisk cornstarch into vegetable broth. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and chili garlic sauce and mix well.
  2. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Lower heat to low and keep stirring until sauce thickens. Set aside.
  3. In a wok, heat vegetable oil on medium heat. Add vegetables and water and cover. Let veggies steam until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix cooked veggies and half of the sauce mixture together in a bowl.
  5. Rinse out the wok so you can use it to fry the dumplings.
  6. Spoon veggie mixture into dumpling wrappers and pinch closed.
  7. To fry dumplings, preheat oil for 30 second on high heat, then lower heat to medium. Cook dumplings on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve hot with remaining sauce mixture.

We are in countdown mode on the Crazy Dumplings campaign now, only 13 days left! So jump over to Kickstarter and support me if you haven’t yet. 

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