This week, Les Petits Chefs had the privilege of working with Chef Vanessa Yeung, Chef/ Partner of Aphrodite Cooks. Vanessa’s culinary journey began as a cook in catering companies in and around the Toronto area. Desiring a deeper knowledge and understanding of food, she applied to the Stratford Chefs School.
Vanessa graduated with the Award of Culinary Excellence and a prestigious apprenticeship at one of Canada’s top restaurants, Scaramouche. It was there she honed her skills and her palate, to understand that sometimes simplicity is the road to perfection. After her time as a research and development chef at one of Canada’s largest food manufacturing companies, Vanessa felt her true calling was catering and providing personal chef services. She has catered to the Hospital for Sick Children, York University, University of Toronto and the Credit Union of Ontario. Vanessa has also worked as a private chef to some of Toronto’s most prestigious professional athletes. If you live in or near Toronto, check out the schedule for the cooking classes at Aphrodite Cooks. I first met Vanessa when I sat in on a day at the kids’ cooking classes at Nella Cucina last summer and right away, I knew she would make an excellent guest chef for my little guys.
The boys were excited to make dumplings with Vanessa – she certainly picked fabulous recipes to keep many little hands busy! Under Vanessa’s calm and gentle guidance, we made Vegetarian Soi Gau “Water Dumplings” and Ginger Chicken Potstickers.
I love the way the boys just dive in there and tackle any task that is given to them. I think we can learn a lot from their attitude – there’s never “I can’t do it”, it’s always “What’s next?”
Yup, we’re getting VERY good at mincing garlic!
The boys worked with some unusual (to them) ingredients this week – bamboo shoots and water chestnuts.
And we watched as the greens magically dwindled to nothing…
The boys made adjustments to the recipes based on the fact that I couldn’t get a hold of all the ingredients necessary and ended up making triangular vegetable dumplings instead of little bundles. They worked just as well.
Meanwhile, over at “Team Chicken”, the boys enjoyed the “gross” factor of the raw chicken….
But did a SPECTACULAR job assembling the potstickers…
Aren’t these amazing???
Meanwhile, over in “Team Gluten Free”, Vanessa showed Will how to make his own dumpling dough using tapioca flour. Again, I am so impressed with what a great job he did!
Totally professional looking dim sum dumplings!!!
And the taste? I only got a nibble at a couple of the chicken potstickers but they were really really good. As in, I need to try these at home. Not sure I can assemble them as professionally as the boys but I can try!
Chef Vanessa has kindly agreed to share the recipe for the vegetable water dumplings with you all – I highly recommend you make these. If you have kids, get them involved too!
2 cups Gai Lan leaves, shredded
2 1⁄2 cups Nappa Cabbage, shredded
3 green onions sliced
1⁄4 cup bamboo shoots, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package of wonton wrappers
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄4 cup water
- Heat a wok or sauté pan with vegetable oil.
- Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add all the vegetables and stir together until vegetables wilt.
- Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
- Remove from wok or pan and allow mixture to cool.
- To form dumplings mix cornstarch and water together, this will be the glue that will seal the dumplings.
- Take one wonton wrapper and place about 1 teaspoon of the vegetable mixture.
- Dip your finger in the cornstarch and water mixture and run it around the edges of the square.
- Gather all edges of the wrapper and bring them together into a bundle.
- Place finished dumplings on a baking sheet.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Add a few of the dumplings at a time. They will pop up to surface when they are cooked.
- Remove from pot with a slotted spoon.
- Enjoy while warm and serve with chili sauce or soy sauce.