May Charm City Cookbooking

May 6, 2009 at 6:44 am | Posted in Cookbooks, Dessert, Dinner | 6 Comments

This month Renee hosted and chose Beyond the Great Wall since she is going to China in a month or so! This cookbook had an amazingly vast array of recipes, much of them that I had no idea about!

I chose to make the Uighur pastries with Dandelion Greens and boy am I glad that I did! I would say that the two batches I fried up were finished off in less than 5 minutes! 😀 So after Friday night’s feast (see the rest below!) I realized that I definitely need to incorporate soy sauce, ginger and peanut oil into my repertoire more often!

Mmmm those greens were nice and bright and the onion added an extra zing. (see bottom for recipe).

Renee also made some pork fritters and the 2/3 soy sauce- 1/3 rice vinegar-ginger dipping sauce went perfectly with this too! Delicious fried goodness is a sure fire way to light my palate!

Julie made the Dai Chile-Fish Soup with Flavored Oil. I have never had a soup with fish chunks, and even though it was simple tilapia, it had a delightful healthy and spicy flavor!

Renee and Coralie double teamed on the main course. A spicy beef stir fry with onions and tomatoes and edamame with star anise flavoring. The beef was tasty and hearty, but unfortunately anise is one flavor that my palate will never come to appreciate so I neglected to finish my beans…

Lastly, Joanne went creative and made a matcha green tea shortbread with nigella seeds. Two ingredients that I have been intrigued about and produced a cool flavor combination. Too bad the bread had a dried out a bit too much, but the homemade caramel sauce and Rita’s custard helped with that!

Uigher Pastries With Pea Tendrils


1 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached, plus extra for surfaces
1/2 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/2 pound dandelion greens
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peanut oil for deep-frying (2 to 4 cups)

Make the dough an hour or more before you wish to fry the breads. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to mix. With the blade running, slowly add the lukewarm water through the feed tube until a ball of dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes, until smooth and elastic. Let rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 12 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the greens and stir with a wooden spoon to push them into the water so they are all immersed. Cook until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain well in a colander and let cool for a moment.

Place the greens on a cutting board and chop them with a cleaver or chef’s knife, chopping first in one direction at 1/4-inch intervals and then in the other direction until finely chopped (you should have a generous 1 cup chopped greens.) Place the greens in a bowl, add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and salt, and use a fork to blend well. Set aside. If you make the filing more than 20 minutes ahead, a little liquid will drain from it; pour this excess off and press the filling to squeeze out any remaining liquid before placing the filling in the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Cut it in half and set one half aside. Cut the other half into 6 equal pieces, by cutting it in half and then cutting each half in three pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between your lightly floured palms, then lightly flatten into a disk and flour both sides. Set aside while you shape the remaining dough, to give a total of 12 disks.

With your fingertips or a rolling pin, flatten one disk out to a 4-inch round. Repeat with 5 more dough disks. Place 1 slightly rounded tablespoon filling in the center of 1 round. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon shape and press the edges together to seal in the filling. To ensure that the seal holds, pinch all along the edge, twisting slightly with each pinch. Flatten the bread gently with the palm of your hand to push the filling out to the seam, and then set on a parchment-lined or lightly floured baking sheet or work surface. Repeat with the remaining rolled-out rounds, then repeat with the remaining 6 dough disks and filling. Set aside while you ready your deep-frying arrangement.

Place a large wok or deep pot on the stovetop (or use a deep fryer); make sure your wok or pot is stable. Pour in 1.5 to 2 inches of oil (3 inches or more if using a deep fryer) and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Put out a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer. To test the temperature of the oil, hold a wooden chopstick vertically in the oil, with the end touching the bottom of the pot. If bubbles come bubbnling up along the chopstick, the oil is at temperature. The oil should not be smoking; if it is, turn the heat down slightly and wait for a moment for it to cool, then test again with the chopstick. (A deep-fry thermometer should read 325 to 350 degrees.)

Slide one half-moon into the oil, wait a moment, and then slide in a second. The oil will bubble up around them. After about 30 seconds, use the slotted spoon or skimmer to gently turn them over. Continue to cook until they are a rich golden brown all over, 50 seconds to 1 minute. Lift them out of the oil, pausing to let excess oil drain off, then place on a plate or rack. Repeat with the remaining half-moons in batches until all are cooked.

Serve hot or warm!!



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  1. Fun stuff, the green tea shortbread was not so good, I don’t think it was because it was overcooked though, it was a shortbread so supposed to be crumbly, I just think it was very ODD!! That or beanpaste, next time I’m sticking to Renee’s ice cream.

  2. looks like it was worth the hangover!

  3. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… deep fried goodness!

  4. Waw,….the food looks excellent!! Very appealing & tasty looking! Yum!

  5. What a great idea and fun way to test recipes! It all looks delish!

  6. Everything looks fab!

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