Photo by John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com
We’re always looking for ways to get back to our food traditions, often influenced by ethnic or cultural heritage. From Poland to Tibet, from India to Hong Kong, dumplings are one of those foods that seem to cross national borders. For your dumplings’ filling, you have the opportunity to showcase what’s local and seasonal—if not from your own gardens, from your neighborhood, village or shire.
Our renewed interest in dumplings was inspired by a visit to the "Dumpling House,” a roadside attraction on the two-week-long Reedsburg Fermentation Fest that takes place every year in Wisconsin around the first couple weeks of October. Billed as a "live culture convergence” that celebrates all things fermented, the Reedsburg Fermentation Fest also embraces the culture of agriculture and the intersection of the arts and community, the latter of which is captured by the event’s 50-mile-long Farm/Art DTour, on which the Dumpling House was a featured stop.
The Dumpling House resulted from a collaboration between artists Emily Stover and Molly Balcom Raleigh, both from St. Paul, Minn. During the 10 days of Fermentation Fest, the Dumpling House included a sample kitchen in which participants made and then sampled steamed dumplings using locally sourced ingredients.
Making dumplings can be a fantastic way to get helping hands working together, especially if you have a family member who’s a kitchen novice or kids in need of a project. The tactile experience of making dough with the rhythmic rolling of the dumpling skins and hand-forming them around your filling can be great fun.
In their original proposal, Stover and Raleigh wrote: "The simple act of preparing food with friends is a powerful way to share history, build knowledge and foster strong relationships in a community of people. Working with food as a social medium, we often find ourselves sharing a table and sharing ideas for places where people connect through cooking.”
Here’s our version of farmstead dumplings, little pockets of dough filled with leeks, potatoes and some shredded cheese. We steam them, but they can also be fried or boiled. Using bread flour, which contains more gluten, makes working with the dough skins easier because it’s more flexible.
Recipe: Farmstead Potato Leek Dumplings
Yield: 24 dumplings
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup chopped leek
- 2 T. butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup brick, cheddar or havarti cheese, grated
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
Sift together flour and salt. Add boiling water to dry ingredients in small amounts at knead together until soft dough forms.
Set dough aside inside sealed plastic zipper-top bag at room temperature for 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours, before using.
In heavy, medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat, cook leek in butter and salt, covered and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Uncover, add garlic, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, until leeks are quite soft.
Peel and boil potatoes in medium-sized pot until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash. Stir in leeks, cheese and pepper.
Divide dough into 24 small, round balls. On a floured counter surface, roll out each dough ball to about 1/16 inch thick. Put rounded tablespoon of filling in center of each dumpling skin. Lightly brush wrapper with water, then fold in half (diagonally if square) and press to seal.
Place dumplings in steamer basket over boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes. Removing when outside skins are firm.
Serve immediately, with some soy sauce, ranch dressing or sour cream for dipping.
Savoring the good life,
<< More Farmstead Chef >>