Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Delancey

I have a fading memory of my uncle making dumplings (餃子). I don’t remember where or when the family gathering was and I don’t recall eating them but there is a faint image of his nimble fingers deftly pleating the wrapper, patiently making dozens for the dinner party. An exchange of emails with my father confirmed my uncle’s dumpling skills.

The lovely Kimberly was my companion at the Handmade Asian Dumplings class at The Pantry at Delancey. I had intended on snacking on a Jersey salad at Delancey prior to the cooking class but had forgotten the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead we perched on the azure stools on the deck at The Pantry and chatted.

Located behind Delancey, The Pantry has a herbs and vegetables garden.

A custom made timber table is the centrepiece. The space is practical and welcoming, a celebration of countryside kitchen and communal dining.

Blushed tulips in a mason jar, bottles of olive oil in a vintage crate and local jams, preserves and jellies (Deluxe Foods) were some of the provisions for sale.

Dumplings mise en place prepared by the volunteers.

A glass of sparkling Rosé was a refreshing apéritif.

We munched on crispy wonton skins and spongy tofu cubes (豆腐泡) as appetisers.

In America via Malaysia and Australia, Kathleen Khoo was our teacher. She was an affable lady with an cheerful persona. On the menu were ‘water dumplings’ (水餃), Japanese gyoza, deep fried wonton (炸雲吞) and siu mai (燒賣).

Kathleen demonstrated how to make a basic dough and an egg dough. ‘Just like pasta’, a dumpling dough is formed with flour, water, egg and a pinch of salt. Once combined, the dough was kneaded quickly and firmly until silky and pliable. The dough was then rested before flattening into wrappers.

We paired up to make a basic dough and an egg dough.

Kathleen explained some of the Asian ingredients such as shredding only the green parts of the Napa cabbage as the whites have a high water content.

A tray of condiments included hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), mirin, sake, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil (芝麻油) and Shaoxing wine (紹興酒). A splash is enough as the condiments are pungent.

As our dough rested, we emptied the various containers of the mise en place and stirred the components together for each of the fillings.

You can buy packets of dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores and supermarkets but it is easy, economical and healthier to make fresh ones.

Water dumpling wrappers can be made in a tortilla press. We learnt to do it by hand with a narrow rolling pin. The egg dough was rolled in a pasta machine.

Being organised is essential to successful dumplings. The surface should be lightly floured, spoons or chopsticks to portion out the fillings, corn starch for dusting the wrappers, a basin of water to seal the dumplings, and cotton tea towels to cover the wrappers and dumplings to prevent them from drying out. The rested dough was rolled into a sausage shape and cut into inch wide lumps.

A vibrant green, sprigs of coriander were roughly chopped as garnish.

Sauces in earthy shades were poured.

My first handmade dumpling!

The water dumplings were crescent parcels of minced pork, shredded Napa cabbage, aromatics and seasoning. They were boiled, tossed in a store bought spicy dumpling sauce and adorned with coriander. Thick and doughy, the slippery dumplings were meaty.

The crimped edges of the Japanese gyoza were fun to make. These sturdy morsels of minced pork and prawn chunks were seared in a non-stick pan and steamed in stock. Golden bottomed and translucent, the juicy and robust gyoza was my favourite.

Wontons were folded into nurse’s caps, deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I prefer wontons boiled in a broth ladled over noodles.

Siu mai, an open dumpling that is a staple dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶), were a dexterous challenge. Traditionally made with twelve pleats, I maxed out at seven! The siu mai were plump bites laced with the distinct flavours of shiitake mushrooms.

Bunches of Chinese cabbage were quartered and steamed as a side. The first bamboo basket was too wilted but the second was just cooked, the stalks crunchy and the leaves tender.

Dumpling making is the perfect rainy weekend activity!

I’m an expert at booking tickets. I note the on sale details on my calendar and I’m on the website at the precise time to click ‘purchase’. Thanks to this quirk I have learnt to brine and roast chicken, knead and throw pizza dough, bake macarons, and pleat dumplings at The Pantry at Delancey.

Co-owners Brandi and Olaiya send a remainder email several days before the cooking class and the one for macarons recommended dinner prior. It was the perfect opportunity to dine at Delancey!

On a residential street in Ballard adjacent to Honoré Artisan Bakery, Delancey occupies two simply decorated rooms.

I was seated at the counter with a view of the custom made wood fire oven.

A row of lights above the counter were inverted cylindrical Weck jars.

The ornate silverware was engraved with an elegant cursive ‘D’.

Each setting was spaced with a votive candle, and dainty glass bowls of chilli and sea salt flakes.

Chef Brandon Pettit cooks every pizza at Delancey. An assistant stretches the dough and tops the wooden paddle with ingredients. Brandon then slides the pizza into the wood fire oven. As I was eating alone, I observed the dexterous pair in harmony.

I ordered the crimini mushroom pizza with olive oil, onion, mozzarella and thyme. Thin slices of crimini mushrooms were intertwined with slivers of onions and molten splotches of mozzarella. The textured crust had charred blisters, and was both crispy and chewy.

Each bite was a joyful union of flavours, the bread and toppings waltzed in time and sang in tune. After the pizza class with Brandon and being recommended by just about every Seattleite I know, I’m a Delancey convert.

I caressed my flat foil package of leftover pizza home for supper the same night.

Sydney has more than seven times the population of Seattle but sometimes it feels like both cities have the same volume of traffic. It was gridlock en route to The Pantry at Delancey‘s Back to the Basics cooking class on a weeknight. I slowly inched towards Ballard, anxious about being on time. I noted a reminder on my calendar several months ago for the release of their winter schedule and reserved a spot for this class and the coveted Great Pizza at Home with Delancey owner and chef Brandon Pettit.

Located at the back of Delancey, The Pantry has a stepped garden entrance. The patio would be lovely during summer for post class al fresco dining.

Decorated in a neutral white, the kitchen shimmered in glossy tiles and brushed stainless steel.

A bookshelf is laden with classic and contemporary cookbooks.

In a nook illuminated by tealight candles, I love this rustic honeydew sideboard stacked with ceramic crockery, serveware and linen.

Salvaged metal shelves displayed goods for sale including olive oils, salts, cooking chocolates, jams, granola and Weck jars.

At the heart of The Pantry is the communal table where groups gather to learn, cook and eat.

I tied my apron and settled into an azure stool. I sipped a complimentary glass of wine while flipping through the recipe booklet.

Brandi Henderson and Olaiya Land briefed us on The Pantry as a ‘community space’ and detailed the sequence of the evening.

First was homemade butter. Butter is simply churned cream. We huddled over the KitchenAid to watch the progression from cream to butter. The ‘super pioneer style’ butter was drained and rinsed of residual buttermilk.

Brandi and Olaiya waxed poetic about the flavour profiles of creams, some have grassy notes and others are sweet with hints of caramel. Homemade butter cannot be used for baking due to its varying moisture content.

Murmurs of appreciation echoed through the room as we nibbled on the thick smear of homemade butter on fresh bread.

Next was roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary. I’ve roasted beef, lamb and pork but never chicken. I consider this a fundamental cooking skill and Olaiya was an excellent teacher. The chickens were soaked in a heavily seasoned brine for at least eight hours. Brining reduces the risk of overcooking, infuses the aromatics and tenderises the meat.

Mustard seeds, water, salt and vinegar were ground to a paste in a food processor for homemade mustard. We sampled this mustard and one made two months ago. The new mustard was too pungent for my palate. Mustards mature with age and the two month old was still sharp but more balanced.

We assisted in the preparation of the roasted winter vegetables, and roasted beet and arugula salad with hazelnuts. Gargantuan beets were halved and wrapped in aluminium foil.

I despise eating Brussels sprouts but I was okay with peeling and cutting them.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips were chopped into similar sized chunks for even cooking. The onions were sliced with the grain to maintain its shape. The winter vegetables were loosely scattered on a sheet pan so they would roast and not steam.

Brandi is the pastry chef at Delancey and desserts are her specialty. She whisked the ingredients together for a bittersweet chocolate sauce.

Brandi also demonstrated how to make vanilla ice cream. A split vanilla bean was steeped in milk, cream, sugar and salt, and tempered with egg yolks. The French custard was stirred, chilled and churned in an ice cream maker.

Olaiya expertly emulsified a vinaigrette for the salad. She recommended tasting the dressing for mouthfeel and adjusting the acidity with additional sugar.

We were warmed by the heat of the oven and the perfumed air whetted our appetite. The chickens were rotated and rested. Brined chicken retains a pink hue. Cut into the thigh and if the juices are clear, it is ready.

Tossed with toasted hazelnuts and crumbled Bleu d’Auvergne, and drizzled with the piquant vinaigrette, the roasted beet and arugula salad was a delicious and seasonal first course.

The highlight of the meal was the beautiful birds. The blushed portions were succulent and the charred lemon had an intense citrus tone.

Despite my aversion to Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, I ate one of each. I chewed fast and they were caramelised. All the vegetables were well roasted.

Dessert was a sundae of homemade vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce sprinkled with salt flakes. The savoury flecks were a contrast to the sweet and creamy sundae.

I lingered a while afterwards and chatted with Brandi. She lived in my beloved Sydney for six months and we exchanged anecdotes about the Emerald City.

I purchased a container of Maldon sea salt and returned home happy with the tips on improving my basic skills.


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