Monday, November 26, 2012

dessert gyoza

This post has been in the pipeline for the past year. Blame the delay on gluttony. This is a morsel best eaten hot, so the restraint required to delay gratification and take a photo is quite large.

For those pedants loving precise measurements, the joy of this recipe is that you can make a small batch of three or four (if you can restrain yourself) for some late night solo pleasure, or dozens for a large crowd. As only a teaspoon of filling per gyoza is needed, a little goes a very long way. You can whiz up a batch in a mini food processor (for this job a regular sized processor is way too large, unless you like A LOT of dessert) and store the leftovers in a jar in the fridge for later use.

While flour isn't exactly a health food, this recipe does incorporate wonderful antioxidant rich dark chocolate with the calcium (and other nutrient) abundance of figs and nuts. It's also vegan/dairy-free.

Chocolate gyoza

2 parts dark chocolate, at least 70% (For two people 40 grams of chocolate is enough)
1 part dried figs
1 part walnuts
Gyoza wrappers*
Coconut oil
Icing sugar (optional)

To the make the filling either finely chop the chocolate, fried figs and walnuts, or blitz in a mini food processor.

Take a gyoza wrapper; place a heaped teaspoon of filling mixture in the centre, run a little water around the outer few centimetres of the wrapper, fold and gently press together. You can crimp by hand or use one of those nifty cheap plastic gyoza presses from an Asian grocery store. Repeat until you have the desired number of gyoza.

Heat a frying pan on medium. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil (really this is the best oil for the job) and place as many gyoza as you can in the pan. It’s ok for them to snuggle up next to each other. Cook for about 3 minutes on the first side, flip over, then another 2 minutes on the other. Or til just golden.

Plate up. Dust with icing sugar if desired and eat while hot.


What do you like with your chocolate? I settled on figs and nuts to slightly mitigate the sweetness and bring a little more healthy goodness to the dessert.

But if you’re not a health freak you can spike pure chocolate with a little orange zest, a splash of liqueur, a smidgeon of sea salt or even black pepper.

* you can find gyoza wrappers in the fridge at most Asian grocery stores.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

finger food: mini frittatas in smoked salmon cups

It’s finger food season. These make a perfect mouthful and are quick and easy to make. There's a vego friendly version in the variations below.

Mini frittatas in smoked salmon cups
Makes about a dozen mini frittatas

6 slices smoked salmon
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh green herbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 200c.

Oil mini muffin tins well.

Line each hole with half a slice of good quality smoked salmon (I don’t like Australian salmon as it’s farmed, I’ve found a good source of smoked wild salmon from Scandinavia at Vic Markets).

Finely slice your herbs. Dill of course is ideal with salmon but it’s ok to improvise. The first batch was a combination of chives, garlic greens and parsley.

Beat eggs with a little water and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix through the chopped herbs. Pour into the salmon lined mini muffin tin holes.

Bake for 12 minutes, until cooked.

Run a knife carefully around the edge of each hole to loosen before removing. Tastes good hot or cold.


Double the quantities if using full-sized muffin tins. They make a good lunch or brunch item rather than finger food when larger.

Vegetarian: skip the salmon and add a little diced sun dried tomatoes or caramelised onions to the egg mix.

Experiment with different herbs. The green garlic tops were perfect.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

shopping local

Slowly over the course of this year, I’ve been changing my relationships with supermarkets.

For the record – I hate them. I do everything I can to avoid them. I don’t mind them so much in foreign cities (Russia! So much vodka!), where they double as anthropology lessons. But Melbourne supermarkets? Shoot me now.

Beyond the ethics of the evil duopoly my local big supermarket has some added annoyances including fluorescent lighting that gives me a migraine, an increasingly limited range of small brands, gold coin unlocking of trolleys, ticket parking (free but you still need to grab one) and replacing employees with self-serve checkouts.

I’ve always minimized my supermarket shopping by buying my fresh fruit, vegetables, deli foods and other goodies at Vic Markets, during my weekly pilgrimage. But there are still pesky things like toilet paper and cleaning products (even bicarb soda and white vinegar are best bought in bulk) that see me at the supermarket every couple of weeks.

Other than the months that the Significant Eater is here (he worships the Big C & W in the same way that I adore the market, providing a nifty division of labour) I keep my forays to the fluorescent palace to a minimum. Though this year, I’ve implemented an entirely different strategy that works perfectly for the weeks that I’m home alone.

Walk, shop locally and buy only what you can carry.

A mere 15 minutes wander away is a great local IGA. Time-wise, the walk is about the same as the drive/park/ticket/trolley rigmarole. They stock an amazing array of food that I’ve never seen at Coles or Woolies and have an impressive range of vegan/dairy-free/wheat-free/healthy items. Of course they also have the basics, including the eco brands that I like that the big guys have ceased stocking.

My spine's a bit dodgy. I can only carry a medium sized backpack and not load myself up with extra bags, so it’s great for reducing impulse buys. I can usually fit just one. But the upside is a free workout and time to relax during the walk. This is my favourite multi-tasking, even more so when it’s a seamless segue from breakfast at one of my favourite local cafes.

The walk/shop/carry model mightn’t work for you, especially if you shop for more than one or two, or if you don’t get your fresh produce elsewhere. But it’s certainly helping me minimize unnecessary purchases – and get fit at the same time.

Do you love your local? What stops you from shopping there more often?

More on stimulating the local economy and saving money on food.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

of activated almonds and food bloggers

I was here

When a certain vacuous puff piece in Fairfax shared the eating habits of an Australian chef/TVceleb.

And here

when social media went nuts about it.

So what's the deal with

#activatedalmonds and twitter evisceration?

Phil Lee (and Steve Cumper) sums up the backlash exquisitely, while some of us were off playing. And the conversation they've started reminds me why we still need food blogs (where people eat AND think, rather than just publishing pretty pictures of food)) in a time of contracted twitter sound bites.

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