Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.
But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend and I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.
Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.
Take a look…
ROCKING HORSE HILL
Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.
When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.
But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.
A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.
Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.
And now for something slurpalicious.
My Leetle Dumpling…
I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.
I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.
They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.
With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.
Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.
Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.
No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.
I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.
It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.
Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!
I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.
So here it is. Enjoy!
12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)
60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped
3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cornflour
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents
1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too
6 thick slices of fresh ginger
1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour
1 tablespoon ketjap manis
Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.
Peel and devein your king prawns.
Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.
Note: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.
Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.
Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.
Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.
Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.
Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.
When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.
Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.
Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.
And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!
All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?
Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!
What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!
If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.
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