Weekend Cooking Experiment

We’ve been doing a decent amount of cooking recently. A couple of months ago we realized that our cooking experiments had hit somehow of a slump. It seemed that we were always making the same recipes, ones that are either easy to start with or which we’ve mastered because we’ve tried them so many times.

So we made a decision. We were going to step it up. So one Saturday morning we took out our cookbooks, spread them across our dining table and poured over them, trying to determine what to make. And of course, we also consulted Chef Google.

Our cooking experimentation started with Parmesan crisps with goat’s cheese mousse. IMG_9314And pan fried foie gras with fig mostarda.

IMG_9321There was also a fantastic duck a l’orange.

IMG_20150525_201652And when we had a burger craving, we decided to make our own brioche buns.

IMG_9378There was even a dessert experiment with rum and espresso panna cotta and brownie fingers, a take on the Italian caffee e biscotti.

IMG_9214This weekend we decided to attempt a new recipe, one that we’ve been wanting to make for a while. It’s not fancy but takes a while to prepare. And since the weather was quite drab, it was the perfect weekend to stay home and cook up a storm. The dish is Xiao Long Bao, aka soup dumplings.

The first step was to make the broth, which is probably the easiest part. The recipe we were following calls for chicken backs. Well, there’s not really anywhere to easily buy chicken backs, at least not that we know of. But M&S does sell small whole chickens at £7 for two. It was a good excuse to try out our butchering skills. We put the two carcasses and wings together with a big slab of bacon and aromatics in a pot and simmered it for two hours, until our flat was filled with the aroma of delicious stock. Then we strained the broth into two containers and refrigerated them overnight.

We also had to make a slight change to the filling and used chicken instead of shrimp since one of us is allergic to seafood. The filling is easy to make, just put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse. We prepared it while waiting for the broth to simmer and put it in the fridge, ready for when we want to start making the dumplings.

The following day the broth had taken a somewhat jellified consistency, which is what you need it to be. That’s how you get the soup in the dumplings after all. We mixed a cup of broth with the filling and started the long process of making the dumplings. It took a while, and the first few weren’t exactly perfect, but we soon got the hang of it and while it still took us forever, they started to look like real dumplings.

IMG_9484Of course while appearances do count, what’s important is that they taste good. And they did. The best thing is that since we have some jellied broth left, it will be easier to make them next time.

IMG_9485

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