Second edition of the ‘rounDtable cooking and brainstorming workshop with my team Fulfillment was another success, in my honest and completely biased opinion. The topic was all about feeling fulfilled and I sure was at the end of the day, so this should count for something…
We gathered to fill some dough with goodness and to discuss (how) do we feel fulfilled in life. For this workshop I wanted a smaller group of people, so they can all get to do the manual work. Team Fulfillment came in ready to use the muscles and learn new recipes despite the storm Dennis that shook the country that day.
On the day we have made:
Common for all three is that the dough is very specific and that you can fill it with anything you want. I will give you more suggestions with the recipes below. And of course, it goes for any filled dough: try not to eat them immediately after cooking! They may seem cool, but the filling is BURNING HOT! Something my team Fulfillment learned the hard way. Instead take a moment (for them to cool down completely) and reflect on how satisfied you are for making all this from scratch!
This time I made sure I make a schedule and follow it to have some time to eat, enjoy and discuss. We had a special guest to lead the discussion about what it means to be fulfilled in life and how to reach it. Ewa Domagalska is the Founder of “This Is Happiness” Coaching and a Certified Coach and DISC trainer. If anyone would like to increase their self-knowledge, effectiveness, and fulfillment levels in life they can get more information here and book a 30 min Complimentary Clarity Call.
Baking, or any dough making is an exact science. It is based on the fact that gluten proteins from flour do not dissolve in water but they form chemical bonds with it, changing the shape to become elastic. On the contrary, gluten-free flour (such as corn flour) makes a watery dough and can’t be kneaded. If any kind of fat is added it shortens the gluten-water chemical bonds and makes the dough more flaky (such as pastry dough). A perfect proportion of ingredients is needed for the chemistry behind it to work. Of course you can tweak the proportions a bit, as long as you know what the result would be. For example, if you add more liquids, it may be too sticky to knead, but you will get more moist and fluffy results – such as donuts. The same way, if you add more flour, you will get a harder, crumbly dough – such as cookie dough. If you add more oil or butter you will get flakier dough – such as puff pastry. Of course if you overdo it, all three can end up being a disaster, but there is a certain window where you can experiment.
I heard a lot of people saying they don’t make dough because of the need for such precise measures, when they like to cook by approximation. I hope to show you that here, although you do need the precise measures as I explained, you can easily switch to the measures that suit you. If you don’t like grams or ounces, switch to spoons or cups, making your life much easier. This is why I give you all measures in the recipes with cups and spoons, just so you realize how easy it can get. And you can find a nice cheat sheet to have in the kitchen to help you convert the measurements.
And even if you follow all correct measures, depending on the humidity of your flour, temperature of the ingredients, water quality, you can get slightly different results so you will need to add more flour or more water as you go.
In general, when making the dough I like to take a big sieve and put all dry ingredients through it. It gets rid of any lumps and any foreign objects that may be in the flour (you would be amazed what are all the things I found in flour), leaving the soft and airy dry ingredients. Then in a separate bowl I mix all wet ingredients. Then I add half of the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well and then add the rest gradually. This way you can control the consistency and how liquidy you want it and you can always add more flour if needed. Other way around, if you add all the flour you get a very hard dough and if you need to add more liquids it is very difficult! I mix everything with a wooden spoon until it combines and I get to the kneading stage. Then I leave it for some time to rest (in a warm place if it needs to grow with yeast, or in the fridge if it needs to cool down for the buttery dough). Then I transfer the dough to the working surface and knead it until I get a nice and smooth dough.
Don’t be afraid of the dough, pull up your sleeves, get the muscles working and let’s do this!
tbsp – tablespoon; tsp – teaspoon
To start the workshop and fill ourselves with some goodness, at the very beginning I have made a spicy tea that is perfect for fighting the cold, boosting the immunity and your energy. For this you need to cook for 1h: 2 litres of water with 20 peppercorns, 20 cloves, 20 crushed cardamom beans, 2cm fresh turmeric and 5 cm fresh ginger in slices. You can drink it the whole day hot or cold with some lemon juice and a bit of honey. It is very spicy, fresh and delicious!
Empanadas, from Latin American cultures, are a type of baked or fried pastry filled with meat, cheese, corn, or other ingredients. From Spanish it literally translates to “enbreaded“, meaning wrapped or coated in bread. Many different varieties exist in the world but it is believed that it originates from Galicia, Spain. A special dipping sauce goes with it to complete the taste. We made vegan, vegetarian and meat versions. Here I give you recipes that we made, but there are so many other options! You can make savory and sweet empanadas, add your favourite meat, cheese, pie filling, chocolate, fruit… whatever you want! It is great for parties and when you need a harthy dish for yourself. You can make it in advance and freeze both the dough and the filling, even the whole assembled empanada. Then when you want it, just pop them frozen in the oven and they will soon be ready! Experiment, get creative and let us know how it went!
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl mix the melted butter (or oil) and water. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mix, and then the rest gradually. Mix well, cover and chill for 30 minutes. When the dough is cold, transfer it to the working surface and start kneading with your hands until it is easy to handle and not sticky. If it gets sticky just add a bit of masa harina or flour. Spread the dough with a rolling pin (if you don’t have one use empty clean wine bottle) into a thin layer (5mm) and cut out round shapes with a glass.
While the dough is resting, use a large pan to cook the onion and garlic with some oil. When the onions become translucent, add the diced red and green bell pepper, corn and diced potatoes. Cook for another five minutes stirring occasionally. Make a mix of all spices and add it to the mix. In a small bowl add tomato paste, a cup of hot water and a vegetarian soup cube. Mix to dissolve the cube and add to the pan. Mix thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes, until the mixture is soft. Try and add spices by taste. Allow the filling to cool before stuffing the empanadas.
At the last stage of cooking the vegan filling, add the beef and chorizo sausage. Cook until the meat changes color to dark brown. It may not be completely done at this stage, but it will continue to cook in the oven.
When you have your dough cut out and the filling cooked, you are ready to assemble the empanada. Prepare a baking tray with some parchment paper if you want to bake them. This way is healthier and equally delicious. You can also fry them, in this case heat up a pot with frying oil. Hold the round dough on your palm and add a spoonful of the filling. Close the dough in half like a book to make a half-moon empanada. Pinch the rim with your fingers and make sure you don’t break the dough and that the filling is tightly packed. Put the empanada on the side on a tray and crimp the edge so that it is closed well. You can make any shape actually.
Whisk an egg and a bit of water to create the egg wash. For the vegan version, melt some coconut oil. Brush each empanada liberally with the wash and bake in a preheated 250°C oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are frying them, you don’t need the wash, but you should put them in boiling oil until golden brown and crunchy. Serve with your dipping sauce of choice.
We made this creamy parsley sauce but you can use tomato sauce for the vegan version. There are so many possibilities so just be creative. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the spices accordingly. Store in a container in the fridge until ready to use. This sauce can be used for dressings, as a dipping sauce for many different things and as a meat marinade.
Dumplings are another variety of filled dough, commonly made by chinese families for Chinese New Years Eve. We made vegan and meat versions. They can be fried, cooked or steamed. Soy and vinegar sauce is again the indispensable addition for the full experience. Like empanadas, they can be premade and frozen to be used immediately when you want them.
I usually buy frozen dough wrappers in a Chinese supermarket, ready to be filled. You can get it for less than 3 euros for 50 wrappers, which makes the whole process much easier! You just need to defrost them, fill and cook. But as I do like to make things from scratch, when I have time, I make my own dough.
For this you need to put the flour in a bowl and add salt. Make a well in the middle, add a bit of water and start mixing with a wooden spoon. While mixing add water in the steady flow.
Use the cold water for the dough if you plan to boil your dumplings. If you want to make steamed or fried dumplings, you can use boiled hot water for the dough. When you can’t mix it anymore with a spoon, get your hands working. It has to be soft and smooth dough. When you achieve this, leave it aside to rest for 30 minutes and make the filling. To make the wrappers, take a piece of the dough and spread it very thinly (3mm) on a floured surface, using a rolling pin. Cut out round shapes with a glass.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Mix meat, garlic, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. You wrap the raw meat you don’t need to cook it first.
Take a wrapper in your hand and wet the edge all around with your finger and some water. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle, pack it tightly and close the wrapper in half. Press the edges against each other to close firmly. To make sure they don’t open, take the edge and make ruffles, pressing them some more. You can also make a drop or sack shape.
Warm the water, vinegar and soy sauce in a saucepan. In a small bowl mix sesame oil, seeds and chili flakes. Pour hot sauce over and mix.
Traditional Serbian desert – a plum dumpling is a potato-based dough filled with a whole plum and then cooked in water and coated in breadcrumbs. It is served with creme fraiche and sugar on the side. A perfect sour-sweet combination. In general it has just a bit of sugar and the idea is that you add sugar at the side of your plate, as much as you personally like. If you use apricots instead, which are naturally sweeter, you may not need to use any extra sugar.
Cook the peeled and diced potato with salt, drain the water and mash it. Add beaten egg and oil and mix well. Add 2 cups of flour, one by one and mix. The dough is now still sticky but this is ok.
Take the pits out of the plums trying to keep the halves together. Put a cube (or 1 tsp) of sugar in each plum. You can use other meaty whole fruits such as apricots, small peaches, figs, but you may want to skip the sugar then… You can even make any type of fruity or creamy sauce, freeze it in ice cubes and use them as the filling. While you cook the dumpling it will defrost and you get a nice oozing effect when you cut through it. Hungry yet?
Melt the butter in a pan (or coconut oil) and add breadcrumbs. Constantly stirring, fry the breadcrumbs until they become golden brown. Use the low heat as they burn easily. Turn off the heat and add the sugar. You can also add cookie crumbles, ground nuts such as pistachio, almonds and hazelnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla seeds… anything you like that will complement the filling.
Put a big pot of water to boil. When you have the dough, filling and coating ready, you can start assembling. Put some flour in one hand and put a big spoonful of the dough. Then put the flour in the other hand and press it gently to form a flat circle on your palm. As soon as you feel it is getting sticky, sprinkle more flour. Don’t press hard or knead the dough, just try to flatten it as much as possible. When it becomes the size of your palm, put one plum in the middle and coat it all around. Again, use flour on your hands when it becomes sticky. Make sure you cover the whole plum and close all gaps to make a ball. Then you can gently lower your dumpling to the bottom of the boiling pot using a big spoon. Once the dumpling starts floating on the surface, it is ready and you can take a big spoon with holes to grab it and transfer to the pan with breadcrumbs. While hot it is very gentle, so make sure you move it around slowly with two spoons until it is completely covered in breadcrumbs. Then transfer to a plate and let cool. Repeat for all the plums. If you have dough left you can refrigerate or freeze it and have it ready for the next time.
To me it always happens that I either end up without enough dough or without enough filling. This time we had a lot of veggies chopped, a lot of empanada filling and some potato dough left. I like to use it all and recycle for other recipes to reduce waste so I will share with you how.
When you are making a dish like this where you have to make more than 20,30 pieces, you ought to learn how to do it. So my team Fulfillment really had a chance to get good at it. I hope that now they feel confident to make it again. We finally prepared everything and sat down to eat and discuss our topic. Our discussion host, Ewa actually already got them talking while we were packing those dumplings and empanadas. This turned out to be very smart as we didn’t focus on the anxiety of talking to strangers about personal stuff, but while focusing on making a perfect dumpling, it came out naturally. I was amazed to see how easy people opened up about how happy and fulfilled they feel, why yes, why not and all the details that lead them to score themselves a 5 on a scale from 1 to 10, or a 9.
A few things that were said made me really think and reflect on. Like how you always tend to feel more passionate about negative feelings than positive ones. This leads you to always realize you are unhappy about something which bothers you no matter what you do, while you do not realize you feel happy or content in a given moment. One person suggested that in order to feel fulfilled you first need to know what you aim for. You need to set your goals, however abstract they seem, and to feel fulfilled when you reach them. On her birthday she writes down her goals and thinks about previous ones, and so far this has worked out for her very well. On the other hand, one argument was that you may feel like a failure every time you don’t manage to accomplish something big. Is it then better to set small, achievable goals for yourself? There is something in the human psyche that makes you feel good when you check things off of your list, no matter how insignificant they are.
Ewa pointed out that you should shift your perception to the things that made you reach 5 on the scale, as opposed to 1, and not on the things that didn’t make it a 9. One is for sure, no two dumplings are the same, they are beautifully unique just as people are. We all come from different families, different backgrounds, cultures, we have different experiences and think about things with different brains. So one thing you can do to feel better today is to stop comparing yourself to others, but to compare yourself from today with yourself from yesterday.
I challenge you to:
First person to share a selfie with their version of one of these three dishes, gets a present from me!
This workshop is all about spicing things up!
Do you want to learn how to spice up a dull plate? To add flavor without adding calories? Learn how to make chili sauce, salad dressings, desserts utilizing the beautiful variety of spices and herbs! Why pay a lot for fancy oils and herb mixes when you can grow and make your own?
Do you think you will love your partner forever? Do you want to? Do you know how to spice up a dull relationship? Do you want to share?
A lot of questions that need answers!
Join us for the next edition of ‘rounDtable cooking and brainstorming workshops and let’s try to answer them together!