Sunday, November 20, 2011

My big fat cannoli from D'Amato's Italian Bakery

bigcannoli

Allow me to introduce you to the Big Cannoli from D'Amato's Italian Bakery in Chicago. It comprises one giant cannolo stuffed with 40 mini cannoli.

From the little scarecrows on top and the "Happy Thanksgiving" stick, you can probably tell that this is a Thanksgiving cannoli. But fear not, you can also get Christmas cannoli, birthday cannoli, or "My cannoli love cannot be appeased by just one measly cannolo. I require a ginormous cannoli stuffed with dozens of other cannoli."

I'm not saying I've eaten a whole one by myself, because that would be crazy. (I'm not necessarily saying that I haven't. Just that it would be crazy.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi

Sadly, I left China a couple days ago and am now back in Chicago. Before I left, though, Mrs. Zhao and Mr. Shi came over for another cooking lesson. This time we did jiaozi, or dumplings. I've cooked a lot of dumplings before, but this set was an interesting variation that was stuffed with a crisp filling of toasted sesame seeds, scrambled eggs and diced spring onions.

To start, make a standard batch of dumpling dough. Nick is at a Shang history conference at Rutgers this weekend. When he gets back, I'll put up a standard "dumpling dough" post that shows how to knead, roll and pinch dumplings. (I'm waiting for Nick because he's particularly gifted at kneading things. Also because it's difficult to photograph yourself while covered in flour.)

Until I get that up, the recipe is basically as follows:
250g flour
130-140g water

Put the flour in a bowl and slowly add the water in stages. Mix well until you have a very smooth ball. Then cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit for 15 minutes. When it's done setting, knead it again and roll it into a long piece. Then cut it into 32 equal pieces. Take those and roll them into balls with your hands and then discs with a rolling pin.

OK, now we can get on with the interesting part of this recipe: The filling.

1lb white sesame seeds
6 eggs
1/2lb small spring onions
1T table salt
1T 13 spice
1T dark soy sauce
MSG optional

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 01

Toast the sesame seeds on the stove until very lightly browned. You can just lay them in there and give them a toss every once and awhile while doing the rest of your prep work.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 02

Combine the eggs in a bowl and mix with chopsticks.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 04

Scramble the eggs in about two tablespoons of cooking oil.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 03

When the sesame seeds are toasted, crush them by rolling them with your pin.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 05

Mix the sesame seeds and scrambled eggs.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 06

Mince your greens, and add those to the mix.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 08

Add the salt, 13 spice, dark soy sauce, and then look around for the MSG. When you find there isn't any in the house, like Mrs. Zhao did, proceed without it.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 09

Mix the filling well.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 07

Take your dumpling dough chunks (see above) and roll them out into wrappers.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 10

Fill each one with about one rounded tablespoon of filling. Mrs. Zhao closes her dumplings in the casual way, by pinching it at the top, then squishing the sides together with both hands while holding the top closed with her thumbs.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 11

When complete, boil, steam or fry like any other jiaozi.

Sesame and Egg Jiaozi - 12

These are a great combination. I love spring onions, and the toasted sesame seeds give them a great scent and crunchy texture. As an afterthought, these things are actually vegetarian! Good to know.