Fried Shrimp Dumplings

December 20: National Fried Shrimp Day

Yum yum, dim sum! Fried shrimp dumplings with sweet mayonnaise dipping sauce are Islander’s favorite, among her other top choices of siu mai (pork hash), har gao and char siu so.

Dim sum is literally translated as “touch the heart”. It is not often that we eat at a dim sum restaurant, unless it is for a special occasion or when Phyllis S., our American Chinese friend visits us from San Antonio, Texas (she is a Hawaii ex-pat like Islander). Then we eat dim sum to our heart’s content!

Islander and Phyllis try to make dim sum, too. They make a lot of won ton, egg rolls, manapua (char siu bao), shrimp balls, fried shrimp dumplings, etc., and take home half of the work they do together so they can enjoy the food later with their families. This has become their friendly motto:

Even though we’re far apart…our dim sum will always “touch the heart”!

Make, cook and eat dim sum with a beloved friend, particularly fried shrimp dumplings on National Fried Shrimp Day.

Recipe

For the fried shrimp dumplings

  • 1 pound shrimp, uncooked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • round won ton wrappers
  • water for sealing the wrappers
  • oil for frying

Directions

Wash, dry, remove shells and devein the shrimp. Mince finely and place in a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg whites and olive oil.

Stir in the sesame oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything well, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop and ingredients to stick together.

Place the a tablespoon of filling in the center of a round won ton wrapper. Moisten finger from the water bowl and trace around the edges. Fold and pleat the edges.

Deep fry the shrimp in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with sweet mayonnaise dipping sauce or other favorite sauce (soy, chili or hot sauce).

For the mayonnaise dipping sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, milk and honey. Transfer to a dipping saucer and serve with hot fried shrimp dumpling.

Notes

  • Cover the won ton wrappers with a moist cloth or paper towel when not using to prevent them from drying out.
  • We hope Phyllis S. visits more often so we can eat dim sum every day while we are together!
  • Make dim sum for the lunar new year or for Asian-inspired tea parties.
  • Find other fried shrimp recipes on our blog for National Fried Shrimp Day.

Honey Scones

December 18: National “I Love Honey” Day

Our wedding anniversary this year happened to coincide with our Scottish clan society’s annual general meeting at which Islander had to present a major project (updating a 35- year-old publication). Although it was a working weekend for us, the appreciative event organizers tried to make our anniversary as memorable as possible. We got a blessing at the clan tent at the highland games in North Carolina (see Notes); the simple ceremony concluded with us drinking a wee dram of whisky from a quaich. At the banquet, Highlander wore his new kilt and Islander wore a tartan ribbon sash and, as advised by our chieftain’s wife, Lady G., a silk floral head wreath using the clan plant (bay laurel leaves), Scottish thistle and white heather (as shown in the photo above). Lady G. said thistles and heather grow all over Scotland but white heather is rare and special and symbolizes good luck in love and marriage.

We have incorporated Scottish heather honey in a scone recipe for National “I Love Honey” Day. Considered the “Rolls Royce” of honey, it made these honey scones the most fragrant out of the oven! But it cost nearly $12USD for a 4-ounce jar of Scottish heather honey. We have tried a few other honey (including organic Hawaiian honey and local Texas honey) for this recipe and they all work wonderfully well. But we wanted to use our prized heather honey for a special Scottish scone to remember our anniversary celebration and celebrate National “I Love Honey” Day.

Recipe

Adapted from “The Honey Book” by Lucille Recht Penner

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey (we used Scottish heather honey)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • milk

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter and mix until coarse and crumbly. In a mixing cup, blend the egg with honey. Stir it into the flour mixture.

Fold in the raisins. Make the dough into a disc and place onto a clean, well floured surface. Roll to ½ inch thickness. Cut into two-inch rounds. Place on a greased baking sheet at least an inch apart.

Brush milk on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are browned. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve warm with butter, clotted cream or jam.

Notes

  • North Carolina also has some good quality honey. There are many vendors selling them on the roadside. We especially love honey barbecue sauce on pork ribs!
  • Search our blog for other scones recipes.

Pecan Noodle Kugel

December 11:National Noodle Ring Day

Even though we lived in San Antonio, Texas, a predominantly Roman Catholic city, Islander befriended a Reformed Jew from the local cake club where they were both members. Charles M. served as chairman of the cake show and Islander was the web and graphic designer for the event. But we had moved to the Gulf Coast in the middle of the planning year and she was very sad to leave her brother and friends. So it made her happy to see Charles just a month after when he came into our new town for a cake class (which took place at a cake shop where meetings were held for the local cake club). Islander eventually became president of that cake club and travels back and forth to different cake shows in Texas throughout the year. Those familiar faces from cake clubs all over Texas make everyone feel connected……

…..Just like the pasta and pecan pieces in the noodle kugel dessert Charles mentioned that some of his fellow Jews would eat around this time of the year in celebration of Hanukkah. The noodles are bound by eggs and the native nuts stick together with a caramelized mixture in a ringed pan. This kugel-cake is different from the cakes that Charles and Islander decorate, but it is a sweet symbolism of far-away friends and family coming together to celebrate a special occasion. Pecan noodle kugel is great to make and serve on Jewish holidays and on National Noodle Ring Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Kosher Palette Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce package of wide egg noodles
  • 4-6 quarts water (to boil the noodles)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Generously coat a Bundt or ring pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, chopped pecans and brown sugar. Mix well.

Spoon the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan. Beat the eggs and mix with the noodles in the bowl. Stir in the white sugar and salt.

Add the cinnamon to the noodles and mix well. Fill the prepared pan with the noodle mixture over the brown sugar topping. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degree F for an hour.

Remove from the oven and let the kugel cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the edges with a spatula. Invert it onto a plate. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish blog readers and friends.

Snow Gentlemen and

Snowflake Cookies

snowflakecookies

December 4: National Cookie Day

‘Tis the season to be baking! As Christmas and the winter season approach, we made some snowflake cookies with bonus snow gentlemen (no top hat, just a cute little bowtie). The dough is flavored with festive crushed candy canes to give the cookies some crunch, color and coolness from the peppermints. Snowflake cookies and snow gentlemen would be picture perfect at holiday parties and be a scrumptious snack, especially on National Cookie Day and throughout the winter season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Sweetopia)

For the cookie dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup crushed candy cane/peppermint candies

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Fold in the crushed candy cane, being careful not to overmix of the dough will turn pink. Roll out dough out into a ball and divide in half. Flatten each ball into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper.

Use a rolling pin to roll to a thickness of ¼ inch. Stack the rolled dough on top of each other and refrigerate until firm (about an hour). Take out one of the flattened dough from the refrigerator. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet two-inches apart.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove hardened bits of candy from the edges and finish decorating.

For the snowflake fondant decorations

  • Powdered sugar or cornstarch (for dusting the work surface)
  • White fondant
  • Water
  • Luster dust (pearl and silver)

Directions

Dust a clean work surface with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some white fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/32 inch), being careful not to tear the fondant. It needs to be very thin so that the snowflake cookie stamp leaves a good impression. Dust a little powdered sugar or cornstarch on the cookie cutter to prevent the fondant designs from sticking. Cut out shapes and release with plunger. Keep covered in a plastic zipper top bag to prevent from drying out.

Brush water on a snowflake cookie. Press a matching fondant piece on top. Repeat with all other cookies. Dry brush some luster dust over the fondant. Store unstacked or between sheets of waxed/parchment paper or napkins.

For the snow gentlemen cookies

  • Powdered sugar or cornstarch (for dusting the work surface)
  • Fondant (white, black or dark chocolate, blue and orange)
  • Water

Directions

Dust a clean work surface with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some white fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/16 inch). Cut out snowperson shapes and keep covered in a plastic zipper top bag to prevent from drying out. Brush water on a snowperson cookie. Press the fondant piece on top, gently stretching to fit the edges as necessary. Repeat with all other cookies.

Knead some black or dark chocolate fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/16 inch). Use round tip #7 or #8 to punch out holes for the eyes and buttons. Dot a little water with a thin brush on the white fondant and position the eyes with a toothpick.

Dust the bowtie/ribbon mold with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some blue fondant until pliable. Press into the bowtie/ribbon mold. Flatten the back or trim away the excess. Unmold. Add a little water with a thin brush on the white fondant to position the bowtie. Finish adding the buttons in the same manner as the eyes.

Knead some orange fondant until pliable. Roll into a small ball. Shape into a cone/carrot and flatten the bottom. Attach to the white fondant with a little water. Store unstacked until ready to serve on a platter.

Notes

  • Highlander had gifted Islander with the mini snowflake cookie cutter plungers as a Christmas stocking stuffer last year. There were four snowflake designs (and other seasonal shapes) at Michael’s craft stores for $1 each.
  • Search our blog for other cookie recipes for holiday cookie swaps/exchanges and seasonal parties.

Meringue Ghosts

October 31: Halloween

Get into the Halloween spirit and make meringue ghosts! The meringues are easy to make and these delightful desserts are light and airy just like the ghosts. They are cute like Casper and are a festive and family-friendly food for Halloween.

If there are any leftovers, we mix the meringue ghosts with fruit (kiwi and strawberry) and whipped cream into pavlova parfaits. These simply sweet snacks can make a Halloween buffet look boo-tiful!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ – ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring, clear
  • Black tube icing

Directions

In a mixer bowl, place the egg whites and beat until frothy. Mix in the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar then vanilla while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a ½-inch wide round tip. Fill the bag with the meringue. Pipe ghosts on the prepared pan by building up then loosening pressure on the bag and pulling away the tip from the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F for an hour. Turn off the oven, do not open and leave at least six hours (best if overnight) to dry.

Remove from the oven when cooled and loosen the meringues from the parchment paper. Use a black tube icing with a small round tip to pipe in the ghost’s facial features (eyes and mouth). Store in tightly covered container until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make more meringues! Try the recipes for skeleton bones, kiwi pavlova and kisses.
  • We have tried using black edible marker pens but they do not leave a very strong ghost facial expression. We have also tried using black gel icing but they tend to be runny.
  • Search our blog for more Halloween recipes under the Theme Menus tab.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Rice Krispies Treats

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

We had a pumpkin-themed potluck at our culinary book club meeting this month. We brought pumpkin hummus (previous post) but had leftover canned pumpkin puree, so we added it with pumpkin pie spice to rice cereal treats and shaped them into petite pumpkins. These cute confections stood out at the pumpkin potluck and they quickly became a favorite because some club members were nostalgic about their childhood foods. The mixture could be pressed into a pan and cut into squares, but the pumpkin shapes made these more festive for our fall gathering. Pumpkin pie spice rice krispies treats are perfect for National Pumpkin Day and throughout the autumn season.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (see Notes to prevent soggy cereal)
  • 1 bag (10 ounces) marshmallows (use minis instead of jumbo for easier melting)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 cups rice cereal
  • Orange food coloring (we used Wilton brand orange gel paste food color)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Green fondant
  • Powdered sugar
  • Green tube frosting

Directions

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows and pumpkin puree.

Add the pumpkin pie spice. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cool, stir the rice cereal into the pumpkin-marshmallow mixture until well coated. If desired, add orange food coloring to enhance the color. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. Butter your hands well and shape the cereal mixture into rounds. Place onto waxed paper.

Break pretzel sticks in half. Insert into the cereal rounds. On a clean surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar, roll out a little bit of green fondant to 1/16-inch thick. Cut out fondant leaves.

Place fondant leaves on the rice cereal pumpkins (brush a small amount of water on the back of the leaves to make them stick to the treats). Use a small round tip to pipe tendrils from a tube of green frosting. Store in a tightly sealed container until ready to serve.

Notes

  • To prevent cereal treats from being “rice soggy” and make them stay as “rice krispies”, measure out the pumpkin puree and blot out excess moisture by pressing onto paper towels. Then add the puree into the marshmallows. Be sure to cool to room temperature to firm up the marshmallows a little bit more before mixing in the cereal.
  • Instead of rolling and cutting out fondant leaves, try piping them onto the treats by using green tube frosting using a leaf tip.
  • Search our blog for more pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Hummus

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

We posted a recipe for traditional hummus back on May 13 (National Hummus Day). As fall is in full swing, we added the ubiquitous seasonal squash to this hummus recipe. It is deliciously creamy and healthy and has that hue to match all the other glorious autumnal colors. We sprinkled toasted pumpkin seeds to reinforce the additional flavor and give this dish some contrasting texture. Served as a side dip with vegetables or pita bread/chips, this pumpkin hummus is perfect for National Pumpkin Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (from the can; save the rest for other recipes—see Notes)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • pumpkin seeds, toasted and shelled

Directions

Drain the chickpeas/garbanzo beans in a colander and rinse them. Measure out 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Place in a food processor with tahini.

Add the olive oil. Squeeze the lemon juice and sesame oil into the mixture. Add ground cumin.

Add minced garlic and salt to taste. Cover and pulse the ingredients in the food processor until creamy. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted and shelled pumpkin seeds. Serve with cut vegetables, pita bread or pita chips.

Notes

  • With the remaining pumpkin puree from the can, try these other pumpkin recipes: pumpkin pie spice rice cereal treats and pumpkin latte smoothie.
  • We have a small food processor, so we had to divide the ingredients in half and pulse them in sections before mixing everything together in one bowl.
  • Happy fall, y’all! It still feels like summer in South Texas. But we used to live in New Jersey and Illinois where we enjoyed the change of seasons, especially when the leaves turned to vibrant colors before they fell off the trees.