Making Dumplings at Garden of Eve

Goodlifer: Making Dumplings at Garden of Eve

To me, the only thing that beats eating really good food is eating really good food that I cooked myself, using farm fresh ingredients grown mere steps from the stove. On a recent Sunday morning, I joined a small group at Garden of Eve farm in Riverhead, NY to learn the fine art of making dumplings. Our teacher, supper club cook and food blogger Cathy Erway, had set up a table of awesomely fresh, fragrant vegetables and herbs and I am sure we were all swooning at the sight of this bountiful table, still a bit scared that we would not be up for the task.

Cooking on a farm means veggies and eggs as fresh as can be, which really heightens the flavors of any meal.

Cooking on a farm means veggies as fresh as can be, which really heightens the flavors of any meal.

On the menu were three kinds of dumplings, Typical Chinese Vegetarian Dumplings, Zucchini, Leek & Feta Dumplings with Baslamic Vinegar and Sundried Tomato, Basil & Broccoli Dumplings with Lemon-Chive Aioli. Recipes are all below. Veggies were chopped finely, garlic and ginger microground; the smaller the pieces, the easier it is to shape the dumplings. Any excess moisture should be wrung out using a cheesecloth, because if the filling is too wet, the dumplings may get soggy and fall apart. We cheated by using pre-made dough rounds. While making your own dough is all good and virtuous, it is a very time-consuming process. It’s perfectly ok to be a bit lazy and pick up a pack or two of these in the refrigerated section of the nearest Asian market. Since this dough is fresh, the pre-made rounds should be used as soon as possible, and be kept in the fridge until then.

The veggies should all be mixed together in a large bowl, and chopped finely to make the dumplings easier to fold.

The veggies should all be mixed together in a large bowl, and chopped finely to make the dumplings easier to fold.

Cathy showing us her folding technique.

Folding technique demonstration, everyone eventually acquires their very own folding style but first we had to figure out how to make the darn things stay closed.

When all the ingredients were mixed well in the large mixing bowl it was time for the fun part, folding! After a demonstration (and a slow-mo repeat) we all got to jump right in and try it, with mixed success. I would like to think I picked it up fairly quickly and soon had a small army or slightly irregular, but oh-so-pretty little dumplings.

One of my dumpling masterpieces.

One of my dumpling masterpieces.

So, here’s how to: put the dough round in your palm, scoop about a tablespoon of filling in the middle (not too much and the thing won’t close), dab water around the edge with your fingers (this acts as the glue) then fold it together, holding the ends together at the top, kind of like a clutch. Then, on one side, start making folds on the top, four seemed like a good number for me in order to achieve the right crescent shape, but it doesn’t really matter as long as the dough holds together and does not fall over in the pan. When I put two male friends to work trying this at home a few days after the trip they asked why you don’t just smush it together instead of laboring over these delicate folds. Well, first of all it just doesn’t look pretty (still sort of a female argument that didn’t really convince my boys), but the main reason is that you want the dumplings to stand up in the pan so that they get crispy at the bottom. If they fall over, you’re stuck with a soggy uncrispy mess (literally since the sides may stick to the pan).

Place the dumplings around the pan, not too close since they will stick to eachother.

Place the dumplings around the pan, not too close since they will stick to eachother.

Hot, steamy dumplings!

Hot, steamy dumplings!

Cooking classmates around the table.

Cooking classmates around the table.

Using a non-stick pan is definitely recommended, I tried using my Le Creuset at home and the dumpling do not get nearly as crispy, although it needs to have a lid. Cover the bottom with oil, when it is hot, line up the dumplings in a circle, not too close since they will stick together. The bottoms basically get fried in the oil for a few minutes, about four should be good, but it totally depends, check the color, golden brown is good, dark brown is bad. When the bottoms look nice and crispy, pour water in the pan to cover about a quarter of the dumplings, then put the lid on the pan and let them steam for about 4-5 minutes, until the water has evaporated. There is a reason dumplings are sometimes referred to as potsticker, they do indeed stick to the pot (and each other), so remove gently. Serve hot, with a dipping sauce of your choice.

After one of our mixes was deemed too dry, we mixed bread crumbs with an egg and whisked it into the mix.

After one of our mixes was deemed too dry, we mixed bread crumbs with an egg and whisked it into the mix.

One of our recipes included feta cheese, crumble it in the bag to avoid messy fingers.

One of our recipes included feta cheese, crumble it in the bag to avoid messy fingers.

Cathy Erway has a blog called Not Eating Out in NY, and why would you when you can make your very own dumplings?

Cathy Erway has a blog called Not Eating Out in NY, and why would you when you can make your very own dumplings?

Our dumplings were delicious, and after making three different kinds, everyone was fairly stuffed. The leftover ingredients were divvied up between us and I think it’s safe to say that all my fellow cooking classmates left more excited about dumplings than ever before.

Before heading home to the city (and Long Island weekend traffic) we had a special treat in store for us. Farm apprentice Melissa took us to Garden of Eve’s beach house less than ten minutes away, a wonderful cabin perched atop a green hill, with a wooden staircase leading right onto the sand below. The waves were crashing and the beach was filled with as many round smooth rocks as with sand. It was a moment of divine relaxation, and I dozed off to sleep for a, the big city seeming very far away.

View from the beach house. A perfect way to veg out after consuming one too many dumplings.

View from the beach house. A perfect way to veg out after consuming one too many dumplings.

Typical Chinese Vegetarian Dumplings
(makes about 15)
15 round dumpling wrappers
2 cups shredded napa cabbage, squeezed or pressed to release water (see below)
½ cup shredded carrots
1 cup firm seasoned tofu, minced
2-3 scallions, both green and white parts, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and black pepper to taste

Release enough liquid from the shredded cabbage by squeezing in handfuls firmly for a few minutes. Alternately, you can place cabbage in a colander or wrap it in cheesecloth and place something heavy on top of it; let it sit for 15 minutes to drain.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the dumpling wrappers. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Follow directions for folding and pan-frying dumplings. Serve with soy sauce mixed with a splash of rice vinegar if desired.

Zucchini, Leek and Feta Dumplings with Balsamic Vinegar
(makes about 15)
15 round dumpling wrappers
about 1 ½ cups zucchini, summer squash, or a mixture of both, shredded with a box grater
1 cup finely chopped leeks, white and lighter green parts
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, tarragon or thyme, finely chopped
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients aside from the dumpling wrappers. Follow directions for folding and pan-frying dumplings. Serve with some good Balsamic vinegar.

Sundried Tomato, Basil and Broccoli Dumplings
(makes about 15)
¼ cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, patted dry and finely chopped
¼ or more packed fresh basil leaves, rolled up and finely sliced into chiffonades
1 ½ cups broccoli crowns, finely chopped
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients aside from the dumpling wrappers. Follow directions for folding and pan-frying dumplings. Serve with lemon-chive aioli (recipe below).

Lemon-Chive Aioli
1 clove garlic
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or substitute half-vegetable/canola oil and half-olive oil)
1 teaspoon or slightly more fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
pinch of salt

Finely mince and pulverize the garlic clove by smashing against a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife several times. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic with the egg yolk and beat with a whisk. While beating rapidly, slowly add a couple drops of the oil. Continue to drizzle in the oil very slowly while beating until mixture thickens and turns lighter. Add the lemon juice, mustard and salt to taste.

Visit Not Eating Out in NY for more of Cathy’s yummy recipes, visit the farm’s site to sign up for cooking classes at Garden of Eve and check out more photos on Flickr.

Top photo by Sergio Baradat

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. How delicious, what a great way to spend a day, my kind of fun!

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