2011 China

As China is a country with a vast and varied territory. The one food that best reflects this country may be the “dumplings”. Dumplings with meat and vegetable fillings, is a traditional Chinese Food. However, there are great differences in various regions in ways of making dumplings or even serving them. Chinese dumplings may be round or crescent-shaped, boiled or pan-fried. The filling may be sweet or savory; vegetarian or filled with meat and vegetables. Here are few varieties:
Jiaozi – Crescent shaped dumplings with pleated edges are normally filled with meat or vegetables, although you’ll occasionally find recipes calling for more unusual ingredients such as shrimp and even winter melon. The filling ingredients are enclosed in a flour and water dough that is thicker than a wonton wrapper. The dumplings are frequently boiled, although they may also be pan-fried.
Gow gee- Cantonese version of the Mandarin jiaozi. However, gow gee recipes frequently call for the dumplings to be cooked by steaming or deep-frying instead of boiling. Wonton wrappers are an acceptable substitute for dumpling skins in most gow gee recipes.
Siu Mai(pronounced “Shu My,”)- Mild tasting steamed dumplings recognizable by their cup or basket shape, with the filling sticking out at the top. The dumpling is so soft and puffy. Traditionally they are filled with pork, although shrimp or prawns are also used. Siu Mai are normally made with round skins. Round (gyoza) wrappers ( or square wonton wrappers) cut into circles can be used.
Potstickers or Guotie- Potsticker dumplings are pan-fried on the bottom and then steamed. It’s traditional to flip them over before serving so that the browned, pan-fried side is on top.
Har Gow (Har Gau)- Plump snacks filled with shrimp and bamboo shoots with a smooth, shiny skin that is nearly translucent. The secret to the dough is wheat starch, available in Asian markets – you won’t get the same result using a flour and water dough or wonton wrappers.
char siu bao – steamed buns with roast pork
har gao- shrimp dumplings with the translucent skin.
Wu Gok- a type of taro turnover
Have a Dim Sum (literally meaning “to touch your heart,”) dinner with your friends. Dim sum consists of a variety of dumplings that you can experience. And to really enjoy we recommend that you buy a variety at our local Asian market. It will be something different from what we know as the usual Chinese food.

2010 Paris and Provance
Our first culinary trip was to the food mecca of Paris. Paris is debatably the number one dining capital in the world. Dining options run the scope from Michelin-starred restaurants of haute cuisine to the equally charming Parisian bistro. A culinary walking tour was a great start. You sample the mouth watering selection of macaroons at Laduree as well as fine chocolates. Compare chocolates by buying something at Pierre Hermes and Michel Clusizel. There is also the Maille shop devoted to mustard. Mustard is a versatile condiment. Try it in cheese and egg dishes. Here is a quick and easy hors d’oeuvre. You need to use a good mustard and now we are partial to the many flavors of Maille.
Mustard Batons

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed.
Flour for rolling
½ cup Dijon (or other flavorful) mustard
1 large egg
Poppy seed or toasted sesame seed for topping (Optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 cooking sheets with silicone pads. Roll 1 sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Spread a ¼ cup of mustard over the lower half of the dough stopping a ¼ inch from the sides and bottom. Fold the top over. With a pizza cutter cut strips 1 inch wide and then cut in half. Chill or freeze while you prepare the second batch. Lightly beat the egg with a little water and brush on top. Sprinkle seeds on top if you desire. Bake 8 minutes and then rotate the pan or until strips are puffed and golden. Remove and serve.

Provence cuisine was fresh and earthy. A dish that was new to us was a Pissaladiere that is a type of onion pie or pastry. It can be served as a starter or pair with a salad for a light meal. Here is our simplified version:
Use your favorite pie dough or even puff pastry. Roll out and place in a shallow pie pan.

1 Tbl. Olive oil
1Tbl. Butter
2 onions (halved and thinly sliced)
¼ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. anchovy paste
¼ gruyere cheese grated
Salt and pepper
Nicoise olives halved for topping (Optional)

Place olive oil and butter in a large non-stick skillet and heat over low heat. Once the butter melts add onion slices. Cook onions until soft and golden. This can take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once done add spice, anchovy paste and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Place in pie shell and bake in 425 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes or until dough is golden. Top with olives. Can serve warm or at room temperature.

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