Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gyoza otherwise known as Potstickers

Woah.  Where does the time go.  Poor neglected blog.  

On a discussion thread on another blog the talk turned to cooking and food.  Obviously on of my favorite topics.   Someone mentioned getting Potstickers from Costco.  Well....those are good and I do buy them as well, but NOTHING can beat some real home made Gyoza.  These are the Japanese version of Potstickers and the recipe is one that my Aunt brought back from the time her husband was stationed with the Air Force in the Orient for some time.  I've made these since the 1970's.   Yes.....they take a bit more work because you are creating them from scratch. Dough and filling.  Sure, you can use those won ton wrappers, but there is really no substitute for the real thing.   So.  Roll up your sleeves, dust off the rolling pin, get your meat grinder out and let's make Gyoza.


3 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water

Stir into the flour and salt the hot hot almost boiling water.  Knead the dough well until soft and shinny. Cover and let rest. At least an hour.   The longer it rest the more elastic the dough will be for rolling out.


1/2 lb ground pork.
1/2 of a package of frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed of moisture
1 tsp dry sherry or sake
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbs green onion finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
Optional: 1 tsp cornstarch
Optional: 3 tbsp finely chopped water chestnuts. Not traditional but good anyway.

Mix together the filling ingredients and set aside in fridge until ready to assemble


1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp hot chili oil

Heat the ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir until blended.  Do not boil.  Set aside to serve at room temperature.  If you are not going to use this within a few hours, refrigerate in a small jar.

ASSEMBLE AND COOK THE GYOZA/POTSTICKERS: Divide the dough into 1/3 for ease. Roll out on a floured board until very thin approx 1/4 or less thick. Use a 3" cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out rounds. Place 1 tbsp of filling in each circle. Form into a half circle pinching the edges together. Pleating the edges gives a nice look. Set the dumplings down seam side up creating a flat bottom. The assembled dumplings can be frozen at this time.* To cook: You need a heavy skillet with a lid. Heat 1 tsp of oil in bottom of pan. Set the dumplings seam side up and fry on med heat until slightly brown on the bottoms. add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and cover the pan. Turn heat to low and steam the dumplings for 10 to 15 minutes.   Repeat until you have cooked as many as you plan to eat  :-)

NOTES:  I grind my own pork using a pork shoulder steak to get a good mix of meat and fat.  You don't want to be too lean or it will crumble apart.   My tried and true cast iron skillet, that I got from my mother at least 40 years ago, is the best.  I only use cornstarch if it seems that the filling isn't holding together.  Too much cornstarch and you have a pasty tasting filling.


1/2 lb shrimp chopped fine. Don't use a grinder you will have shrimp mush
1/2 lb or less ground pork
1/2 cup finely shredded Napa Cabbage.  Regular cabbage can be used but it is much coarser.
1/4 cup minced green onion
 1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms
1 clove garlic finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Oyster sauce
Optional: 1 tsp cornstarch.

To freeze these guys once they are made, just put them on a cookie sheet or flat surface in the freezer.  Don't let them touch each other.  Once frozen, just pop them into some freezer or zip lock bags.   To cook frozen Gyoza, use the same procedure, but steam them a few minutes longer, watching to make sure the water doesn't completely boil away.....then you REALLY will have pot STICKERS.

Sorry....no photos for this recipe, but when I make it again, which is likely to be soon because I am now craving these, I will try to update with some pictures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chinese Shrimp Corn Soup

This is a refreshing and satisfying soup. Cheap and quick to make.  It can be a whole meal or to compliment some other Chinese dishes.  You can substitute the shrimp with chicken and other ingredients.  I'll make some suggestions and give some tips at the end of this post.  As usual, my free form cooking style makes it hard to exactly quantify how much of each ingredient.  Once you do this soup you will be able to adjust the amounts to suit yourself.

Makes 4 large servings. Not those itty bitty bowls that you get in a Chinese restaurant.

Chinese Shrimp Corn Soup

  • 4 to 5 cups of home made chicken broth or canned. (Home made is best because it will have some of the delicious chicken fat as well as other vegetable flavors.  But canned will work as well)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (about 2 shakes from the bottle or more if you like spicy)
  • 1/2 large onion cut into 1/2 or larger dice
  • Kernels cut from 2 or 3 ears of corn (cooked or fresh)
  • 6 (or so) whole water chestnuts coarsely chopped (not a fine dice) little more that 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach (I use the bagged kind so I just grab a handful)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with a 1/4 cup of water in a  small bowl.
  • 12 large shrimp: peeled, tails removed, deveined and cut into 1/2 inch or larger pieces.  (If you have smaller shrimp you can do them whole. About a double handful if you like a lot of shrimp)
  • 2 large eggs beaten in a small bowl
  • 2 green onions finely diced, green and all
  • dash of sesame oil.
Bring the broth, onions, pepper, red pepper to a boil and simmer until the onion is tender.  If you like you can set this aside for a while to allow the red peppers to really permeate the flavor.  Taste for salt and add if needed.

Bring broth to a simmer and add the corn.  Simmer until heated through. Add the water chestnuts and spinach and simmer until heated.   Stirring constantly add the cornstarch and water mixture. Stir until the soup is thickened.  If you like a less thick soup use the minimal amount of cornstarch.

Add the shrimp and again simmer until just heated and starting to turn pink.  You don't want to boil them and make the shrimp tough.  Better underdone now because it will continue to cook.

While stirring constantly, use a chopstick to feel like a real Chinese cook, slowly drizzle in the egg.  You want it to be like threads in the soup, not clumps of scrambled eggs.  Immediately!!! remove from the heat and stir in a dash or two of sesame oil. 

Serve in bowls with the green onions sprinkled on top.  Some people like to add soy sauce at the table.  But I think that overpowers the shrimp.  A sprinkle of sesame seeds is also a nice touch

NOTES:  Corn:  Now that it is corn on the cob season you can use fresh uncooked or leftover cooked corn.  Depending on the size of the corn 2 to 3 cobs should do it.  If you are using frozen corn about a cup. Dontch just love all the 'abouts' and 'approximatelys'  .  Cooking is art....you can't codify art.  Well, except for cakes where you do need to be precise.

Instead of shrimp and especially if you are making your own chicken broth, chop or shred up about a cup of cooked chicken meat.  I like to use about 1/2 cup frozen peas in place of the spinach when I'm using chicken.   A combination of shrimp and Lap Cheong sausages are really tasty.  Add the sausages first and let them cook and release their flavors.  Sliced mushrooms are good.

You can't go wrong or make big mistake with soup!!!! It is even better the next day when the flavors have time to party together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Black Bottom Cupcakes

For those chocolate lovers out there.  Chocolate cupcakes with a tasty cream cheese and chocolate chip filling.

Be sure to use cupcake papers when cooking as these babies will definitely stick to the pan no matter WHAT you do.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tbsp salad oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pre heat oven to 350.  Line 18 muffin tins with papers.

Beat the cream cheese, egg and sugar together until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.  If you don't like the extra chocolate overload, you can leave out the chips. 

Make batter.  In a medium bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt.  In a smaller
bowl or measuring cup mix the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.   Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Fill the paper cups 1/2 way with the batter.  Top each one with a heaping 1 tbps filling.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Bake for 25 minutes.   Let cool before eating as they will be very gooey in the middle with melted chocolate.

Super easy recipe.  I've made these from this recipe for over 40 years and have no idea where I got it fro originally.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Apple Upside Down Cake and The Perfect Moment

The other day I had a perfect moment in an already pretty good day. 
You know.... one of those moments when you realize that everything is GOOD. Despite what you hear, it can be good. Things are fine, peaceful, calm and happy. When you are suddenly thankful for the moment. For the small things that make life worthwhile. When everything somehow comes together to create that moment of perfection.

I was making this cake.  The rest of the perfect day post is at my other blog Dust Bunnies of the Mind.

Here is the recipe.  It turned out fabulous!!!   My husband is already requesting a repeat performance.

Apple Upside Down Cake
  • 8 tbsp butter softened (really soft)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large Golden Delicious apples
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal (Martha White is the best brand!)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 9 inch cake pan or spring form pan
  • parchment paper or waxed paper
Grease the sides of the cake pan.   Cut a 10 inch circle from the paper.  This will allow the paper to go up the sides of the pan and cling.  Fit the paper into the pan and butter or grease the paper.

Peel and core the apples and cut into thick wedges (about 1/2 inch in width).

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.   Put the cornmeal in a larger bowl, that you will be mixing the batter in.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together in another small bowl and set the 1/3 cup of milk on the counter to get a bit war.

I know!!! Lots of bowls and stuff to clean up later.  BUT. I  find that having everything pre measured and ready to go saves time and makes easier to do a new recipe.  I don't have to keep referring back to the instructions as often or make a mistake in measuring.  In addition having all the ingredients (eggs and milk) at room temperature when baking seems to make the cake or bread rise better.

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a frying pan on medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir for a few minutes. (Don't let it become caramel!!! Otherwise you will end up with candy when you put in the cooler apples. I found this out the hard way. ) Add the apples and toss in the butter sugar mixture and cover. Let cook on low heat for 5 mintues or so, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and gently stir and cook the apples for 5 to 8 minutes more letting the sugar syrup begin to thicken.   Cool slightly and place the apples and syrup in the lined cake pan, arranging them neatly.

Pre heat the oven to 350

Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and quickly stir and add the butter while the mixture is still hot.  Beat until well blended.  Add the eggs and beat again.  Stir in the flour alternating with the milk and beat well after each addition to make a smooth batter.

Pour over the apples .   Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester in the middle of the cake is clean.   Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the cake. I invert onto a plate and carefully remove the parchment.


Because I used apples from our own orchard, they were small.  Instead of taking time to try to quarter the peeled apples, I just stand them on end and slice them vertically near the core ending up with 4 pieces and a square core left over.  SO much easier.

The first attempt at the caramel turned into chunks of apple flavored candy and didn't coat the apples as the original recipe suggested.  Ah well.   The candy tastes pretty good and I made apple sauce with those apples.

I like a spring form pan instead of a cake pan.

It may take longer than 40 minutes in your oven depending on how your temperature is calibrated.  I know my stove and set the temperature to 375 for 45 minutes.  Just keep testing  :-)

MARTHA WHITE yellow cornmeal is the best for baking.  It is finely ground and makes the most fluffy.....not gritty.....cakes and corn bread.   I buy several bags at a time and keep them in the freezer.   A must for cornmeal, or polenta to keep the bugs at bay.      I also keep my flour, nuts, semolina and oatmeal in sealed packages in the freezer for the very same reason.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Defending Paula Deen

Big news!!!!  Earth shattering in fact....evidently, if you consider the amount coverage that this has been getting.  More important than the kudzu of deficits that are swallowing the earth's economies.  More devastating than Obama's gun running scheme. Fast and Furious.   Bigger than....well, you get the gist.
Paula Deen, the queen of butter and Southern Style comfort food, has diabetes and the food police are doing a happy happy joy dance.  AHA!!! That's what she gets for forcing all of her viewers to eat red velvet cake, fried chicken with gravy, macaroni and cheese and other such items that the food Nazi's despise.  

Serves her right!!  Right?  Right??  No.  Wrong.

People are attacking  Deen because she has diabetes, has continued with her show and is now endorsing a diabetes drug.   "Anthony Bourdain is .....mocking the butter-loving chef for poisoning Americans with unhealthy food ... and now trying to profit off of their illness."

She is POISONING us!!!  OMG!!!!.  Run for the hills.  Be sure to dodge all those buttermilk biscuits, hams and sweet potato casseroles while you are making your dash to safety.

In defense of Paula Deen.   Come on people! it is just a cooking show.  Not a diet plan.  She is showing you how to prepare certain dishes that are the hallmarks of a certain cooking style.   Nowhere and at no time does she say that you should eat all of these things every day, three times a day.    

If you don't have the common sense or self control to eat sensibly...well, I don't know what to tell you.   Maybe you shouldn't be allowed outside and you should let other people make your decisions for you.   Oh.....wait.....that is just what the Food Nazi's want to do.

They want to control every aspect of your culinary life by eliminating ingredients. Demonizing certain foods and certain companies that provide food.  Can we all say McDonald's....hmmmm?   The want to force their ideas of diet and food upon you.  

Now, I don't think you SHOULD eat a pound of butter or stuff your pie hole with pie until you are fat and diabetic.  But, it should be your choice.  Go ahead. Eat your life away.  

It should also be my/our choice to not have to pay for your self inflicted health condition.  This is why I strongly object to Obama Care and Socialized Medicine.  But.....that is a rant for another day.

Let me make a disclaimer.  The Dumbplumber (my hubby) has Type 2 diabetes.  It runs in his family and he was diagnosed about 10 years ago.  So, I know what it is like to change your diet and be aware of what you are eating.  

The keys to controlling diabetes are diet and exercise.  His condition is controlled by this and a minimal dose of oral medication.  Does this mean that we will never be able to enjoy a piece of cake or a favorite comfort food ever again?   Never have a cocktail or glass of wine?  Do we have to wear a dietary hair shirt and eat tofu daily?  

Of course not. 

I post many recipes on this cooking site that are certainly high fat, high sugar and would throw The Dumbplumber into a diabetic spiral if he ate them all at one time or more than just occasionally.   Leave Paula Deen alone.  She not only shows us how to make good food, she can now serve as an example on how to live a good life with diabetes.

We have learned that you CAN have your cake and eat it too.   Just in moderation.

(I have added a tag for Diabetic to use when posting foods or meal plans that fit into OUR Diabetic lifestyle. Your meal plans and foods should be adjusted for your own individual condition. )

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.....Revealed. Nailed it!!!!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits are heavenly.   People have been looking for the recipe for a long time and as the Red Lobster web site says......the recipe is a secret.

Sure....they tantalize with some tips  "we will share a couple of well-kept secrets for making our much-loved biscuit: do not over knead the dough and make sure you use baking soda as one of the ingredients."  

There are a lot of recipes out there that try to emulate the product.  Most use Bisquick or some version of that type of biscuit.  But.....they are wrong.

Reverse engineering the product, I realized that one of the main ingredients was missing from all of these recipes and that Red Lobster has been lying to us for years.  I don't blame them.....the biscuits are to die for.   What is the missing ingredient?   YEAST.  The texture of the rolls shows that they are clearly yeast raised, yet they do have the properties of baking soda and baking powder raised rolls.  

What type of rolls have these characteristics......Angel Biscuits....So I went back to one of my old cookbooks and brought out a recipe and tweaked.  Messing around in the kitchen, doing what I like to do.....cook.  I have nailed it.  

Here is now revealed the super secret recipe for Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Dust Bunny Queen


Cheddar Bay Biscuits

1 package of yeast or about 2 1/4 tsp
1/2 cup warm water   
4 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached all purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk (bring to room temperature)
1/2 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter
garlic powder
parsley flakes
kosher salt.

Mix the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside in a medium warm place while preparing the rest of the recipe.   I use yeast from a jar that I keep in the fridge and not packets, so I am guessing that the 2 1/4 tsp is the amount of a package.

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup.  Don't just dip or scoop it out because then you will have compacted flour.  You want it to be light and fluffy.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mix with a whisk to combine.

Cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. I just use my fingers to combine and lightly rub the mixture together between my palms.   Toss in the cheddar cheese and mix into the dry flour mixture with a spoon.  You might want more cheese, but be careful.  Too much cheese will make the biscuits heavy in texture.

Stir in the buttermilk and yeast water mixture with a wooden spoon until mixed. The buttermilk is better warm or room temperature than cold from the fridge.  You don't want to kill the yeast. Don't beat or over-mix otherwise it will be tough.  This must be what they mean by don't over knead.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Melt the butter and mix with about 1/4 tsp garlic powder or garlic granules and some parsley flakes and set aside.

Pre heat oven to 450.  Grease a cookie sheet or use cooking spray.  Drop by 1/3 cup measures onto the greased pan.  I just eyeballed it, so I'm guessing that it is about 1/3 cup.  I imagine that the cooks at Red Lobster use something like an ice cream scoop so that the biscuits are all the same size.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. ....or not if you don't want the extra salt.   Bake for 12 minutes or until nicely golden on top.  Brush with more butter while still warm if desired......I do!


You may need to experiment with the amount of flour since brands of flour differ in the amount of moisture that they have and you may end up with different textures of dough depending on the brand you are using and the time of year you are cooking.   No problems......just eat the mistakes and try again.

Next time I cook this I might use butter instead of shortening or even try lard.

Also I may use fresh garlic sauteed in the butter instead of dried garlic.

Fresh chives may be nice instead of dried parsley flakes.

My husband gets so irritated with me when I insist on tweaking the recipes.  I say...
Hey, if I wasn't tweaking the recipes you would have THIS ONE!!....Have another biscuit."

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Clam Chowder for a Snowy Day

As the weather has dramatically changed from a balmy Indian Summer, where the days are still in the mid 70 degrees and the nights dip to a crisp mid 30 degrees, to the normal October/November weather of sub freezing at night, snow and wind during the day......the mind drifts to soups, casseroles and stews.   Long slow cooking that keeps the house warm.  Long slow cooking that is also frugal and filling.

So today...

New England Style Clam Chowder

My soups are almost always in a free form style based on how much I have on hand and how many servings I want to end up with.  Soup, for some reason always ends up making way more than I need.  So instead of describing the recipe in,  about or approximately measures, I'll try to be a bit more precise.

3 small  (6.5 oz)cans of chopped clams (small cans because our store doesn't carry the large restaurant style and you want as many clams as you can in your chowder.  Otherwise, you might as well be making potato soup.)
3 to 4 slices of meaty bacon diced
4 to 6 small potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces (enough to make about 3 ro 4 cups  of diced potatoes.  Dang it! I wasn't going to give 'about' instructions)
1 cup of diced onion
1 stalk of diced celery
1 small carrot cut into small diced pieces (less than 1/2 inch.  You can leave off the carrots if you like or are a die hard traditionalist.  I like them)
Garlic or garlic granules  (Oh heck....about 1/2 tsp)
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half or better yet whipping cream)
3 tbsp flour 
2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp dried parsley
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot saute the bacon until moderately crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and leave the drippings in the stock pot.  Put in the onions and celery, salt, pepper and parsley.  Saute until soft and limp.  Add the flour and butter and stir, creating a roux.

Meanwhile drain the clams reserving the juice.  Add more water to equal 3 cups of juice and water.  Slowly stir into the onion, celery mixture.  Add the potatoes and carrots and let the soup simmer on low for about (darn it, I just can't help myself) 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are just beginning to be tender.  You don't want to cook them to mush or else you WILL have cream of potato soup with clams in it.

At this point, you can stop and put the soup in the fridge for later or just plow on.   Add the clams and simmer for a few more minutes.  Slowly add the milk and bring to a slow simmer stirring frequently for 10 minutes or just until warm and thickened.

If you feel the soup is too thin, you can take some of the hot liquid and mix with another tbsp of flour and then return to the pot to simmer.  Be careful, you are making soup. NOT wall paper paste.

Serve with fresh rolls, or garlic bread sticks and a crisp green salad.