Party Snacks: Mostly Stuff Wrapped in Dough

About a week in advance of hosting, I made pork, shrimp, and pepper jiaozi, as well as zucchini-carrot-corn baozi.  Diced the zucchini and carrot into 1/4 inch cubes, then quickly saute with the corn in a bit of oil with minced garlic, ginger, and dash of Maggi seasoning.

I stuck the jiaozi and baozi in the freezer, and then deep fried the dumplings and pan fried the buns right as everyone was arriving. Making the skins is the hardest part, mixing about 2 1/2 cups of flour with about 3/4 cup water, and playing with that ratio until the right elastic-not-too-sticky texture forms. They’re best freshly cooked, so I got the assembly-heavy process out of the way early.

The night before, I made vegetarian (with and without cheese) empanadas and honey-chicken hand pies.

The empanada dough was the same as I’ve written about here, but instead of beef, pepper and cheese, I went with a black bean based filling. I had a bowl of chopped zucchini, carrot, corn and green pepper left from the vegetarian baozi. I added this bowl to a pot with 1 can of black beans (liquid mostly drained), salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander and chili powder. After letting that cook a bit, I added in two chopped tomatoes. Once the pot cooled, I assembled the empanadas, mixing in small cubes of cheese in about half of the filling. I made tiny empanadas, and only used about half the bean mixture. It was very liquidy after cooking, and every spoonful of filling had to be drained to prevent soggy dough. The rest of the pot, heated up with the cheese, made a very satisfying lunch.

I braised two chicken legs with butter and wafers of garlic inserted under the skin, interspersed with lemon wedges, garlic and chopped shallot in the baking dish. Rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with honey, then a dry white wine and a splash of cider vinegar about 1/2 inch deep. Popped into a 180C oven for 1 hour…the top skin is crackly and crispy and amazing, the meat is tender, juicy, moist and flavorful. Really, really excellent for a normal meal. But I cut up all the meat instead, and made the honey-cranberry-cider vinegar sauce, and added it to a roux of butter and flour to create a gravy. Mixed the shredded chicken in this.

Pastry dough: 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup butter, egg yolk, 1/2 cup water. A trick I recently came across, freeze the butter, then grate it, it makes it much easier to blend into the flour. Roll into a smooth, elastic ball, and chill for about 30 minutes. Roll out and cut circles that lined muffin cups with overlap. Filled with chicken, covered witha  top circle, and excess of bottom circle folded over to seal.

Both the empanadas and chicken pies brushed with an egg white + milk wash, and baked for 25 minutes at 190C, and best served warm, but they are still remarkably tasty room temperature.

The night before I also made falafel and tzatziki, baking the small balls in my mini muffin pan (I had a mini-brain storm at work when I realized mini muffin pan was perfect for this purpose). Instead of frying the falafel, I scooped little balls into oiled mini muffin tin, and baked for 15-20 minutes at 190F. Not quite as tasty as deep-fried, but still, a nice crunch on the outside is achieved, and its that much healthier. The muffin cups will need to be heavily oiled, not lightly, because the falafel sticks to the pan much worse than cake batter.

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