Friday, February 26, 2010

Chocolate Shortbread Hearts

I almost forgot to tell you about the delicious Chocolate Shortbread Hearts that I made right before Valentine's Day. The only adjustments I made were that I didn't have Dutch processed cocoa powder so I did a substitute for that and I never buy salted butter so I had to substitute for that, too. I did some reading and found out that you can add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to substitute for the Dutch processed cocoa powder and add half a teaspoon of salt for each cup of butter to account for the extra salt in the salted butter. I also melted some white chocolate chips and dipped the hearts halfway into the white chocolate. The kids and adults loved these cookies!

Chocolate Shortbread Hearts


2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup salted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla


In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Stir with a whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla. Mix, scrape down bowl and mix again.

Add flour mixture and mix until combined.

Remove dough from the bowl and divide into 2 portions. Wrap each piece in clear film, forming a disk shape.

Refrigerate 2 or more hours.

Remove one disk from the refrigerator. (If dough is too hard, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 3 sheet pans with silpat or parchment paper.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thick, you do not want to use tons of flour and leave the beautiful dark dough whitish looking. The cookies also work if you like them rolled thinner.

Using a 3-inch heart cutter, cut as many hearts as you can from the dough, placing each on a prepared sheet pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool cookies right on the tray, or after 15 minutes, remove cookies to a wire rack.

I melted a cup of white chocolate chips in the microwave and dipped the cookies halfway in the white chocolate.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chinese New Year Celebration

This year we decided to celebrate Chinese New Year rather than Valentine's Day since they both fell on the same day. I was stuck inside for a long time with the two blizzards we had so I was anxious to do some cooking. I made pork dumplings with a soy-sesame dipping sauce, stir fry sesame beef with jasmine rice and napa cabbage salad. I bought some duck sauce, chinese noodles and fortune cookies to round out the meal. It turned out great. These recipes will stay on our menu!

I couldn't find round dumpling wrappers so I used square and made my dumplings triangular. They were great anyway.

Pork Dumplings
from Family Fun Magazine Feb. 2010


1/4 pound finely shredded Napa cabbage (about 2 cups)
1 egg white, lightly beaten1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup finely minced scallions
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
24 round dumpling wrappers or wonton skins

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch it for 1 minute. Drain the cabbage, rinse it immediately with cold water, then drain it again. Over a sink or bowl, squeeze small handfuls of the cabbage to release as much water as possible, then wrap it in two layers of paper towels and squeeze again. Wrap and squeeze the cabbage one more time, then set it aside.

2. Whisk together the egg white, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the cabbage, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Add the pork and stir in the filling until it is thoroughly combined.

3. Fill a small bowl with cool water. Lay 4 dumpling wrappers on a work surface, covering the remaining wrappers with a damp cloth.

4. Spoon 2 level teaspoons of the filling onto the center of each wrapper. Using your fingertip, moisten half of the outer edge of the wrappers with water.

5. Pick up each wrapper and bring the opposite edges together over the filling, forming a taco shape. Press the edges together, pinch a few pleats to seal the dumplings, then gently squeeze around the filling to eliminate any air pockets.

6. Transfer the stuffed dumplings to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper, spacing them so they don't touch. Keep them covered with a damp cloth while stuffing the remaining dumplings.

7. Refrigerate pork dumplings on a baking sheet covered in plastic wrap for up to 2 hours before cooking.

Cooking the Dumplings:

Steamed or Fried

For Steamed Dumplings:

1. In a Dutch oven or other large, lidded pan, place a lightly oiled metal steamer, or lettuce leaf-lined bamboo steamer, over an inch of water (make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the steamer).

2. Bring the water to a gentle boil. Arrange half the dumplings on the steamer, spacing them so that they don't touch. Cover the pan or bamboo steamer tightly.

3. Cook pork dumplings for about 8 minutes.

4. Transfer them to a plate and serve immediately, or keep them covered in a warm oven until the remaining dumplings are cooked.

For Pot Stickers:

1. Heat 1-1/2 teaspoons peanut (or vegetable) oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Arrange half the dumplings in the skillet and cook, without disturbing, until their sides are golden, about 2 minutes.

3. Add 1/4 cup water and immediately cover the pan, reducing the heat slightly. Cook pork dumplings for 5 minutes.

4. Uncover the pan and raise the heat again. Cook off any remaining water, shaking the pan a few times, and continue frying the dumplings until their sides become crispy, about 2 minutes more.

5. Transfer them to a plate and serve immediately, or keep them covered in a warm oven until the remaining dumplings are cooked.

Freezing the Extras: to save uncooked dumplings for another meal, arrange them on a cornstarch-dusted baking sheet, spacing them so they don't touch, and freeze them for at least two hours. They can then be transferred to a freezer bag and kept frozen for up to three months. Steam or pan fry dumplings directly from the freezer (do not thaw), adding 2 minutes to the fresh cooking time for each method.

Another option for dumplings from

Steamed Chinese Dumplings
Makes 42


12 oz lean ground beef
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1 Tbsp each minced garlic and ginger
1 Tbsp each lite soy sauce and rice wine vinegar
1 pkg (12 oz) wonton wrappers

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup each lite soy sauce and rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sliced scallions
1 tsp each minced ginger, dark sesame oil and sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Dumplings: put a steamer basket into a large nonstick skillet. Add just enough water to almost come up to the bottom of the basket. Line a baking sheet with foil or wax paper. Fill a small bowl with water.

2. Combine beef, water, chestnuts, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and vinegar in a bowl. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until blended.

3. Put 4 wonton wrappers on work surface. Place 1 heaping tsp beef mixture in center of each. Dip your finger in bowl of water and run it along edges of wrappers. Bring up 1 set of opposite corners of wrapper over filling and pinch to seal. Bring up other set of opposite corners of wrapper over filling and pinch to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.

4. Put as many dumplings as will fit in an even layer in steamer basket. Cover and steam 10 to 12 minutes until dough is tender and center is cooked through (you'll need to cut one open to check). Remove dumplings and repeat with remaining dumplings. (If the first batch cools off before serving, they can be reheated in microwave.)

5. Dipping sauce: Stir all ingredients in a small bowl until blended and sugar dissolves. Serve with dumplings.

Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce


1 garlic clove, halved
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced scallions

Rub the cut garlic over the sides and bottom of a small bowl. Place the garlic halves in the bowl, then add the vinegar and sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then whisk in the soy sauce, water, and sesame oil. Remove the garlic and pour the sauce into a small serving bowl (or 4 individual ones). Sprinkle with scallions. Makes 1/2 cup.

Some other ideas for dipping sauces:

1. Stir 1/4 cup each honey, rice vinegar and light soy sauce.
2. Mix 1/3 cup ketchup, 3 Tbsp Thai chili sauce and 2 Tbsp water.
3. Stir 1/3 cup orange marmalade, 1 Tbsp each rice vinegar and water, and 2 tsp grated ginger.
4. Mix 1/3 cup hoisin sauce and 2 Tbsp each rice vinegar and chopped scallions.

Sesame Beef
Serves 4


1 lb boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
8 oz sugar snap peas
1/3 cup stir-fry sauce
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tsp sesame oil

1. Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet. Put 2 Tbsp cornstarch into a large plastic zip top bag. Add steak and seal bag; shake to coat.

2. Add to skillet; stir-fry over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes until browned and just cooked through. Remove to a plate.

3. Add 2 tsp oil to skillet; heat. Add vegetables; stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender.

4. Add sauce to skillet; bring to a simmer. Add steak; toss to coat. Serve with rice. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, toasted peanuts or chopped cilantro, if desired.

Napa Cabbage Salad
Serves 6


1 head napa cabbage
1 bunch minced green onions
1/3 cup butter
1 (3 oz) package ramen noodles, broken
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce


1. Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a pot. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated 350 degree F oven, turning often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned, remove them from the oven.

4. Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.

5. Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.


The Creative Cook