Traveler Bill Test Kitchen: Dim Sims

While Traveler Nell is away in her homeland I have had a lot of time to fill up, as well as I have been left to fend for myself. I decided to mash these two problems together to form one solution… Make myself Dim Sims.

Dim sims, or “Dimmies” are Chinese dumplings for the the Australian palate.  They are a particular favorite of Traveler Nell.  And while there are countless varieties her preference is for the Pork, Prawn and Cabbage.

In all honesty we have been planning on trying to home-make these for some time.  In fact, a while back when we found ourselves in Chinatown, we picked up a package of wonton wrappers.  Knowing that I had these in my pantry I decided to put them together this weekend.

With Traveler Nell out of town I had to determine a mix for the filling.  I opted for this recipe as a starting off point.

So this past Sunday night I ventured into the fray.  Essentially tripling the recipe, it ended up looking like this…


The Filling Mix for the dumplings. Ground pork, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, fresh ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, eggs and corn starch.

After making the filling I pulled out the wrappers…

They were stale.

And moldy.

So needless to say I was disappointed.  I had over a kilo of filling and nowhere to put it.  While on lunch the next day I went to a local hippy foods establishment and grabbed a couple packages of egg roll wrappers. Then, as soon as I got home, the steamer was set to HIGH and I set to assembling.

A dim sim is supposed to be larger than a typical dumpling.  That said, my dimmies were extremely generously filled.  After I had three ready I placed them in the steamer.


Raw dumpling in the steamer basket

Let me take a break from the blog to do a little algebra

Raw Pork + Raw Shrimp = Bad News

That in mind I made sure to steam them for a generous 15 (closer to 20) minutes. Nerdishly I took the internal temperature of the dumplings before opening them up. The all registered around170° F. (75° Celsius)


Serving suggestion, with low sodium soy sauce.

The first one out was opened in the kitchen for examination. I wanted to double check the doneness and give it a try.  It met my (admittedly low) bar of edibility.  I put the remaining two on the plate with the low sodium soy sauce and allowed them to cool as I wrapped the remainder, prepping them for the freezer.


With one of the dumplings cut open


Detail of the cooked filling.

I was amazed how easy it was to put these Dim Sims together. It was ridiculously simple (As long as you have wrappers!) and I will not hesitate to make these again. I’ll probably try to make them a skosh smaller as I only got a dozen dumplings out of my supersized adaptation.

Joey’s List: Home Made Pizza

Jenelle and I are expecting our first child next February. In July we found out our baby Joey was diagnosed with a severe Neural Tube Defect and is not expected to live more than a day. To celebrate her all too brief life Jenelle and I are keeping a list of experiences she would have had if she wasn’t expected to leave us so soon.

Joey’s List: Home Made Pizza

I love pizza.  I acknowledge this isn’t a very controversial position.  That said, I am certain at some point I would have taught Joey how to make home made pizza.

During Jenelle and my 2012 trip to Rome we visited the Coliseum and it was there I found a round book, entirely in Italian, giving 50 pizza recipes.  I wanted to buy this book…I’m talking REALLY wanted to buy it.  But Jenelle made some excellent points…namely it was in Italian, so on the shelf it remained.

It was a few weeks after we got back that I received a mystery package at work.  Inside was this.


Conveniently translated into English by the good people at Readers Digest.  I’ve have the book for a year now and this is the first time I have used the recipe for the dough, which was amazingly simple.

1 cup of warm water divided.
1/2 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
2 cups of Bread Flour plus more for the counter
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

In a measuring cup add the yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water, put aside until frothy – 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add the yeast mixture along with the oil if using into flour and stir.  Add the second half cup of warm water gradually until you have a sticky cohesive dough.  Turn onto the counter and knead for 8-10 minutes until a smooth ball that does not stick to your hands or the counter.

Place in a large oiled bowl and let rise covered for an hour. Turn your oven to it’s highest non-broil setting (500°F) and shape your dough into a disk.  Add whatever topping you prefer; we used ham and pineapple on one (a VERY popular pie in Australia) and the leftover ham on the second.

They turned out pretty good.  I cannot wait to try the recipe again.

Here I am, kneading the pizza dough.

The first pizza was a ham and pineapple pie as that is a popular flavor in Australia a favorite of Jenelle. Obviously I approve.

The second pizza I made…mostly cheese with a smidge of black forest ham.

Here is the Hawaiian pizza, close up.

Such is my dedication to the craft that I found myself with this mild burn at the base of my thumb.

Joey’s List: Flapjacks with Mumma and Dad

If you’ve been reading this blog you’re probably aware that Jenelle and I have made list of foods and experiences that we want to share with our daughter Josephine Martha in the brief window of opportunity we will have with her.  Turns out I actually missed one of them in my original post…and it is just about my favorite breakfast food…

Pancakes. Continue reading

Hanging Around II: For the Birds. #blogjune

Previously I posted about the Hudson River Illustrations that my in-laws gifted me this Spring. Today it’s all about the birds.

Every time I have visited Australia I have marveled at the wildlife, particularly the birds.  Having been raised in Upstate NY in the 80’s the most exotic bird we encountered in our backyard was a cardinal or bluejay.  But in ordinary locations I’d see the most marvelous birds.

My in-laws noticed my fascination and sent me a set of Jeremy Boot illustrated cards.  They just sat around until we found ourselves with an extra Ikea frame that fit three of the four cards.  (Sorry Cockatoos!)






Pain de Me! UPDATE

A few weeks back I lamented the loss of my Kitchenaid and my failure to produce a loaf of Pain de Mie.

Rather than sit on my rump waiting for the world to right itself I decided to take the bull by the horns, let go of those horns, exit the paddock with said bull, and make a loaf of my regular Farmhouse white in the pan. I think I did ok.


The corners are not well defined at the top but the crumb was tight. Here it is in comparison to my typical bread loaves.

It is a great freezing loaf and as a square slice fits nicely into any nook available.

20130124-163437.jpgAnd having eaten a grilled cheese sandwich made with this break I will personally vouch for it’s freezer stability.


Double Decker Twice as Nice

Last year Traveler Nell and I took a Grand European Tour, visiting some of the great Capitals of the continent. You can read all about is in her excellent blog at

I am posting a couple videos I took while there. This one is from when we rode around while in our last stop, London.

Double Decker Ride thru London from Traveler Bill on Vimeo.

Hockey Night in Brooklyn

With the long holiday weekend Traveler Nell and I are spending our Saturday doing chores. (“Spring” cleaning in advance our Rome trip and in-law visits from Australia!)

In addition to the laundry I have been organizing our kitchen.


I found myself procrastinating as our spice collection attested.
I’m guessing it was because A) the lockout shortened NHL season hits the ice tonight and the NY Rangers are playing my Boston Bruins. And B) I am eagerly awaiting for my “new” MacBook to finish set-up. Here I have merged the two time sinks.

Here is a quick video taken right after the first goal of the game.

Goaaaaal from Traveler Bill on Vimeo.

An Apple a Day…

PC’s have been my computer since my first home personal computer in 1999. Then I met Traveler Nell. Since them I have gone from a generic .mp3 player to an iPod. From Treo’s and Blackberrys to iPhone4s and 5s. And now from PC to Macs.

Let me back up a bit. About three years ago I replaced my desktop computer with a reasonably priced HP laptop from PC Richards and Sons on 23rd Street in NYC. It has performed adequately since then although it has to be tethered to a cord due to a documented battery issue with the model I have, thereby negating the portability aspect of the laptop. But lately it has been sluggish and I am certain it is not long for this world. Rather than buy me a new computer, as explained in Traveler Nell’s blog last night, I would be taking her year-old MacBook and she would upgrade slightly as she uses her computer far more than I use mine.

I wasn’t expecting a seamless transition, but it wasn’t supposed to go like this. I get Nellie’s new MacBookPro home (I am taking her immaculately cared for 2011 model) and Nellie noticed something right away. See if you can catch it in the video below.

Apple Exchange from Traveler Bill on Vimeo.

In the greater scheme of things this is not a tragedy. We are still going to get a nifty piece of upgraded aluminum (or aluminium for those inclined toward the British spelling of words) that will be Streets Ahead of the pc (which now means Piece of Crap) I currently use.

Traveler Bill Test Kitchen: Skillet Cookie

My sweetie Traveler Nell and I love to cook, and we also love quirky kitchen items and kitschy foods. All these things came together with the Skillet Cookie! I can’t even remember where we got this thing it was in our cabinet so long.
(Update: In searching for the instructions online I found that it is offered at Walmart.)
(Update 2: At 6:20 Traveler Nell remembered this was actually a gift from her Auntie Joan of Easton, PA)

I made dinner recently and decided to surprise her with this looooooong overdue treat. The package came with a cast iron skillet (and instructions to “season” your pan); a bag of sugar, flour, (probably salt) and chemical leaveners and a small sachet of “chocolate” chips. To this I added an insane amount of butter, an egg and vanilla. Beat all that together and heat at 375°F.

Cookie in a Skillet from Traveler Bill on Vimeo.

It wasn’t terrible though I would have preferred one of Traveler Nell’s chocolate chip cookies be in the pan. It should have stayed in another minute or three, and a scoop of ice cream would have gone a long way toward improving it overall.

Traveler Bill’s Test Kitchen: GINGERSNAPS

Whenever you order anything from King Arthur Flour they will always include a card with one of their recipes as well as a discount code for your next order.  Usually I see these and simply think it would be a good idea to make them.  Then I saw GINGERSNAPS!


The recipe is too good to be true.

  1. Deceptively simple instructions.
  2. The ingredients needed were all in out kitchen. (Except as it turns out Molasses.  A quick trip to the Associated remedied that.)
  3. All the tools necessary were available and functioning.

So here, in photographic (and motion picture) form…

Traveler Bill’s Test Kitchen: King Arthur Flour’s Gingersnap Recipe


Five ounces of shortening


Weighed out, of course.


7 ounces of granulated sugar.
(Also on display, Traveler Nell’s penchant for labeled Tupperware.)


A half teaspoon of salt.


Two tablespoons baking soda…


Oops…that was supposed to be two TEASpoons.
Lets, go back a couple steps.


Ok, Sugar, Salt and Baking Soda…back to the recipe.


A large Egg


A third cup of molasses…aw crap…it’s spilling.  Let me dump it here.


(Ok this is adding the molasses two steps too early…what harm could come?)


Nine and 7/8ths oz. of KAF All Purpos Unbleached Flour


One to two teaspoons of ground ginger.  I opted for about one and a half.


A half teaspoon of ground glove.


A teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Now last Christmas Traveler Nell made an authentic English Christmas pudding that called for what would have been a $100 of ingredients if bought locally.  Luckily I married a savvy shopper.  Sourcing online she found all the necessary items at  She got a huge bag of cinnamon sticks for a ridiculously low price and we have been searching for recipes to grind our own cinnamon since.


My former coffee grinder with the broken sticks.


Give the ground spice a little strain so there are no large pieces in the dough.


Take a teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon and add to the other spices.


Put another teaspoon in a bowl.


Along with a quarter cup of sugar for the coating.


Now, in a large bowl beat the shortening, sugar and salt until combined. (Remember, the molasses was added early in error.)


Then beat in the egg…THEN the molasses.20130106-225220.jpg

Oh yeah, I’m supposed to pre-heat the oven to 375° F


This (I am assuming) is what the batter should look like at this point.20130106-225234.jpg


Add the flour and spices and beat until you get a smooth but fairly stiff dough.20130106-225249.jpg

Scoop a teaspoon of the dough and coat it in the cinnamon sugar.  (My cookie scoop was too large and I ended up using a table teaspoon for portioning.)


Arrange 1.5 in. (3 cm) apart on a baking sheet that has been greased or covered with parchment paper.Put them into the 375 oven for 11-13 minutes.

Ginger Snap in a Snap from Traveler Bill on Vimeo.
Here is a time-lapse film of a batch of ginger snaps cooking.


Slide the parchment out of the pan and cool on a rack. Just try to not eat any of the snaps out of the oven. ( At this I did not succeed.)


After four and a half dozen I decided I was done rolling dough and made one massive snap.


Which was delicious!

I would definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who likes a Gingersnap.  Next time I am thinking of using fresh ginger instead of or in addition to the ground stuff.  I think this will give the cookies an authentic kick.  Otherwise this is as foolproof a recipe as you can find (as I have shown with my multiple errors).  Typically I am not that error-prone when baking.