Brown-bagging it! (Link Love)

I’ve less than a week until my summer job starts, which means going up to school everyday. (Hurray friends as coworkers! Boo, eating up my gas budget.)  It also means  bag lunches, lest I spend all my paychecks on fast food.  Not as satisfying and certainly not as healthy.  I’ve begun planning (porkbutt in the crockpot one busy Sunday can last for lunches all week-pulled pork sandwiches, pupusas, carnitas, chili) and stocking up (my freezer is packed!)  Another week, I’m planning on a big batch of fried rice, so I spent yesterday fiddling with my potstickers recipes.  I’m a sucker for Asian food, especially dumplings, and recently found  Its like heaven in a website.  Best of all, they’ve organized their recipes to include a gluten-free section.  I’ve been searching for authentic asian recipes for a while, knowing that many foods are already made without wheat ingredients, without needing any tampering and changing.

It was here that I found Bahn Xep Chay Dumplings.  I much prefer meat in my dumplings, but the dough looked promising.  Look at that picture!  Smooth, cohesive dough without any gluten?  I was beginning to think it was impossible.  But this dough worked perfectly, with the oil keeping it from being to sticky, it really did look and feel like playdough.   I used Kate Chan’s filling recipe from my last batch of potstickers and the flavors were lively and delicious against the dough’s simple background.  Once I learned the tricks for keeping the dough from cracking it was easy enough.

Bahn Xep Dough Tricks:

  • Always keep dough and finished dumplings under a damp papertowel
  • -Press these with a circular stamp or a tortilla press in between wax paper–I used one long strip folded in half over the dough.  **And, before I pressed the nub of dough flat, I ran wet fingertips over the surface, this was just enough water to keep to dough pliable.
  • -Release both sides of the dough from the wax paper before added the filling–pull the paper from one side, then flip the circle over (still on the wax paper) and pull the paper from that side as well.
  • -Place the filling just off of center in the circle, and then fold the dumpling together, pressing the edges together while still between the wax paper.  This helps fight against the cracking.
  • -While these won’t hold up to boiling, I dunked each dumpling individually into a pot of water before placing it in the steamer.  Make sure they don’t touch each other!   I prefer crispy dumplings, so I fried them up in a frying pan with a touch of canola oil after steaming.
  • -I fried the entire batch of dumplings before freezing, because I didn’t want the dumplings to stick together.

Prep for Potstickers.

I also tried my hand at Nicole Hunn’s Won Ton Wrappers.  I used my whole grain mix (quinoa, millet, sorghum, brown rice, oat, and corn flours + various starches, at the moment).  While I froze most to be used later, I still had a little dumpling filling left over, so I filled one or two of the wrappers and cooked those up (these stood up to boiling, then frying).  While still good, I don’t think whole-grain potstickers will be a fad catching on anytime soon.  Some inherent part of potsticker delight is biting into that slightly soft, doughy wrapping.  Even so, I could tell that these wrappers have great promise for raviolis (somehow, the wholegrain is more acceptable with Italian fillings) and egg rolls!  I can’t wait to wrap up a few of those. Not to mention all the lovely little quiche cups and sorts of fillings I can bake up in these.

In the meantime, I’ll keep stocking up for lunches for the next month.  I might get a few odd looks pulling rhubarb out of my lunchbag, but delicious lunches are well worth it!