Da Jie making dumplings at Mushu 01

Chinese New Year Resolutions- Less Telly More Dumplings

New year’s resolutions are something I like the idea of, although I’ve never been inclined to depend on a 1/1/20xx date to start new positive habits, or stop old negative ones.

Nevertheless, by a carefully considered combination of masochism and sheer terror, I have been dragging myself to the gym regularly for the past few weeks, starting on that most memorable of dates, the 24th of January.

Anyhow, it was in this spirit of “watch less telly, do more cool stuff” that I hastily typed “Yesssssss Dumplings!!!” and hit ‘send’ as fast as I could in response to an email from esteemed blogger and compulsive shutterbug TikiChris. A last minute cancellation meant that there was an opportunity to take part in a Qype event involving the making and eating of these delectable Chinese delicacies.

So, a mere 2 hours later I’ve arrived to fill the space at one of London’s newer wooden trestle tables for Mushu’s Dumpling workshop – ready to be filled to bursting, much like the dumplings we ended up constructing.

relaxed restaurant

Set deceptively close to both Great Portland Street and Warren Street Tube stations, this is a relaxed open-kitchen gem of a place that not only serves dumplings (made on site!) but also has a spot of sushi and the sort of atmosphere a solo diner wouldn’t feel out of place in.

Thus began our workshop, where (after we washed our hands) we were introduced to “Da jiě” (Big Sister) the Dumpling Deity, who simultaneously encouraged and corrected us while effortlessly making thirty or so dumplings at lightning speed. We watched, hypnotised, before commencing our own slightly slower efforts. Of course it was impossible for us to duplicate the dumpling dexterity on display, but still fun – and we were prepared to eat the results, no matter what they looked like.

We found out that dumplings needed to be squished from the ends a bit after we crimped them to make them look like fat purses filled with money – all eight of us thoroughly enjoyed this activity and knew they didn’t look quite right – not that we minded.

During the workshop, we were given enough information to feel quite confident about attempting to make our own dumplings. I’ve reproduced an attempt at the recipe below – but can make no guarantees about accuracy, or what you want to fill them with, sadly. Any thoughts, please reply in the comments 🙂

I’ll also upload some pictures to Flickr (edit: link here) which should also help anyone who actually wants to have a go at cooking them.

Dumplings at Mushu 04

So, once we were sufficiently covered in flour, Big Sister boiled our questionable bundles while the friendly owner told us they’d settled on boiling rather than steaming those particular ones to keep the dumplings moist and juicy. We were so eager for our first taste, our experimental parcels had already disappeared into our bellies by the time they’d brought us the dipping sauce. Oh well. We’d managed to take pictures first, though (as most of the attendees were that way inclined).

Miso Glazed Aubergine

After the workshop, we were treated to a selection of dishes from the menu including other meaty dumplings that I didn’t try, but the biggest surprise of the evening went to a miso-slicked roasted aubergine which I proclaimed “Auber-genius” among the obligatory groans.

I would definitely return here on a paying visit and take the opportunity to try more of the veggie-friendly dishes on offer.  And if there’s any moral to this strange story, perhaps it’s that saying “yes” to a cryptic email ends up with being dumped in the right place at the right time a few hours after a spontaneous reply. I found myself in great company, and smiled and laughed a lot more that evening than if I went home and watched the telly. I’m even going to try making dumplings the next weekend I find myself in the kitchen (although I may have to prepare for the session Dexter-style).

So, even if I don’t manage to watch less TV, I’ll definitely aim to go out with good people more –  if this is how the Year of the Rabbit’s set to continue, I’m resolving to make the most of it.

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Make the filling first. For the dough, mix together normal flour in a 2:1 ratio with water, leave to rest for 1 hour, roll out in small circles with a dimple in the middle, stuff in filling, crimp the edges, then boil gently in a big pan of water until dumpling floats to top. That sounds a lot easier than it’s going to be, however, and I’m pretty sure that when I try it, my kitchen will look like I’ve attempted to cover every possible surface in dumpling elements.

If you are a dumpling filling expert, please leave some mini-recipes in the comments- thanks!

Expanded upon from my restaurant review on QypeMushu – Fitzrovia

from Clunk to Funk – Cisco Re-invent the Router

super routerI was absolutely fascinated the day I went to see Linksys/Cisco launch their new router.  After failing to get there on time due to 

1) not leaving on time – my fault,

2) getting off at Paddington Station instead of Lancaster Gate   – also my fault    and 

3) realising that there are, in fact, no less than 3 different Craven Hill Gardens dotted around a 100m radius   – hmm, possibly not my fault that London is a ridiculous maze designed to rob anyone of their navigational ability and/or their will to live…

– but, let’s face it, it’s probably my fault for not knowing that in advance and planning for it accordingly. 

from brain to paperNo matter; I turned up late, frazzled and thinking how on earth I’d be able to write something interesting about a new router, after all, if you have broadband, you probably know all about routers, boring boring boring snore.

But no! Wake up!!  Thank goodness this wasn’t a crusty presentation about connecting your laptop up to the “Interweb” and the wonders of wireless networking.  After all, it turns out most of us do that anyway, and we don’t need to be told about it – in fact, a recent YouGov poll showed that 54% of UK women who were surveyed were already surfing wirelessly, gaming wirelessly and printer-sharing (oh yeah, baby, we’re officially living in the digital age).

Instead, we were told the story of how a new router design was formulated, including making it work better without those big aerials – paralleling the disappearance of mobile phone antennae – and (mynearly there favourite part of the presentation) being treated to a sneak peek at concept sketches, the sort of thing consumers never get to see…  asking nicely resulted in being provided with a couple of these pics to show on the blog!

I don’t think I realised just how much work is involved in re-designing a device that already exists – and I’ve been working in the tech and gadget industry for years.

Yes, the electronics business has finally realised that us tech consumers are getting more savvy – we realise that something can look good and work properly at the same time – it’s the i-concept we’re locking in to and Linksys/Cisco have fully commited to this with their new router.  Here’s hoping that the trend for making functional things look good will continue to roll out across the industry – after all, the technology is finally around to back up the aesthetics, and I, for one, will welcome the change.

By the way, there’s some new software called LELA that comes with this router – it’s also been developed to be more intuitive… I’ll get to play with that in a few weeks’ time, and report back accordingly. 


Well, I’m off to China soon, hopefully I’ll be able to update this blog whilst I’m there – depending on whether I can get a sim card with data, I may even be able to Flickr some pics onto the web using Shozu, recommended by my nokia-picture-blogging pal BlackPhoebe– it’s exciting and daunting at the same time – can’t wait.

Until I go away, though, there’s a completely bonkers schedule to wade through… I’ve got a packed out telly-heavy weekend, with a selection of choice graveyard shifts ranging from midnight Friday night through to midnight Saturday night (and a few in between to guarantee the desired amount of sleep deprivation).  

Happily, I’ll be arriving at QVC in good time for the shows, as

 1) I’ll leave in good time,

2) I’ll get off at the correct station, and not somewhere miles away, and

3) I’ve been to QVC UK about a bazillion times before, so it would be really, really dense to end up at the wrong QVC even though there are a few different studios (like the one in Philadelphia, USA, for example),

– but,let’s face it, anyone could mix up “flight BA169” with “district line”, after all, they almost rhyme…

Food 2.0, Lightscribe

As I’m taking part in Food 2.0 this Sunday, I went to do a little research at a place in London called Vanilla Black, perhaps one of my favourite places to eat an unsuitable amount of food.  Here’s the first part of the review I posted:

Gasp!! Gourmet Vegetarian food that even carnivores are satisfied by? Tasty veggie delights that your tongue will treasure for weeks to come? Vanilla Black is out-of-the-way in Chancery Lane, but only 3 mins walk from the tube – a blessing if you’re bored with fighting through Soho and fancy a change. This destinational eaterie is a heavenly escape from the usual bland veggie options that I’ve become resigned to…. check out the rest here:   Vanilla Black

I’m partnered with the lovely Tiara Diamond and we are planning a vegetarian feast of fabulous flavours.  We spent quite some time going through what we ate and didn’t eat – turns out that both of us have a fear of raisins as well as a startling amount of “no-go” food areas.  After writing out a “hate list” followed by a “love list” we decided upon Mushroom Menage on Summer Rosti with Fresh Asparagus as a main course, followed by Toffee Apple Meringue pie.  The starter will be a tricolore salad with Honeyed Balsamic Dressing. It’s going to be mad because I’ll have just finished a 24-hour stint on telly, and will be ravenous.


Burn, Baby, BurnMeanwhile, I got a lovely Lacie Lightscribe drive to play with in the post today, installed like a dream on my Mac, it’s almost enough for me to consider defecting from Vista, all this plug-and-play business… but I must confess, it’s weird not having that right-click for tweakage.  I’m very clearly straddling two camps here, as it were.

This drive is both PC and Mac compatible so happily I don’t have to choose yet.  Now I must fight the temptation to lightscribe a naughty word on to a disc with a laser.  Just like old times – I just remembered programming my ZX Spectrum to “speak” words that were typed in – this was many years ago – and a Derek and Clive sketch was chosen as the ultimate test of skill … but what would you expect from a Red Dwarf fan?*


*only the first 4 series though.