We are so happy to have two weekends at home so we can partake in one of our favorite summertime rituals - Saturday at the South of the James Farmer's Market! We bike over early, head straight back to coffee from Blanchard's and then walk a straight shot across to our favorite bread-man, Norwood Cottage Bakery. By then we are starting to wake up and we take a tour of all the goods. We've never left without a full basket and then some. Come to think of it, we need to travel with backpacks to get everything home. Note to self...buy additional travel bags.
Anyway, one challenge I have is making sure I use every last drop of what I buy. It would be a shame to waste all that sweat equity the farmer's put in, week in and week out. This week I had an abundance of squash, mushrooms, onions and snow peas (already in my freezer) and it sounded like a good stir fry to me! One other thing was on my mind though - little pillows of heaven. I have an amazing friend by the name of Choo who has greatly contributed to my learning experiences in the kitchen. Her mother taught her how to make homemade dumplings and Choo has been gracious enough to teach all of us over the past few years. We love it so much that she, on occasion, will throw a Dumpling Party where about 10 girls crowd around her kitchen island to drink wine, stuff dumplings and well, have a ridiculously good time. So, thanks to Choo, I was able to use the same ingredients listed above to make dumplings for an appetizer.
Here's what I did for these:
Wonton wrappers (usually found near the fresh herbs or tofu or tempeh in the produce section)
Added to the food processor:
Baby bella mushrooms
Grated fresh ginger (I used about 1/4" of a knob)
I also added a tiny bit of rice wine vinegar since the mushrooms would soak it up and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
After the ingredients were pulsed, I dolloped a spoonful in the middle of the wonton wrapper. To seal, you dip your finger in water and run along the edges of the wonton, then fold. I did these like little envelopes by pinching the corners together but we usually fold over into a triangle shape. Just be sure to seal the edges tightly so the filling doesn't have a chance to escape. From here you can either steam them or get a nice crunchy exterior by pan frying in canola oil. Yuuuuummm. Choo makes the most amazing dumplings of all; sometimes pork, sometimes ground chicken, sometimes veggie for our Veggie friends. She might share those recipes if you're nice.
The other nice thing about having Choo as a friend is that it means you gain her parents as friends also. They are very thoughtful and when my husband and I were married, they gave us a rice maker for a wedding gift. I hadn't seen one before but as a person that never, EVER, is able to make rice on the stove without having to toss out the pan due to the ultimate rice burn, I am very thankful. The rice goes in with double the amount of liquid and you walk away. Done. Comes out delicious and fluffy everytime...even brown rice! So for this dinner, cook the rice first because it takes the longest. And then....
Beef strips for stir fry seasoned with salt, pepper and flour. Brown in a saute pan with a touch of canola oil but be sure not to over-cook. Move the beef to a plate to sit while sauteing the other ingredients in the same pan. Throw in quartered mushrooms, sliced squash, quartered onions with two turns of soy sauce (I use lite, reduced sodium so I can still feel my fingers in the morning), one turn rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp ground ginger, a pinch of red pepper flakes and one clove minced garlic. The flour from the beef should help the sauce to thicken but you can always add a little cornstarch to do the trick. Add the sugar snap peas last to heat through so they retain their color. Add the beef back in and toss all together. These quantities make enough for two servings so you can always play around with it for more sauce if you are a saucy kind of person.
Transfer the brown rice to two plates and divide the stir fry mixture over both. Top with fresh-cut scallions and sesame seeds. Quick and delicious!