Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Crab Rangoon Wonton Cups

I know that I’m not alone when I say that I love Crab Rangoon. I do. I love it. But, in the past, whenever I’ve gotten a taste for it, I’ve had to go out to my favorite Chinese restaurant. I’ve tried to make it home, but that can be a bit tedious. Filling those wraps, folding them, and then deep frying them is a lot of work, not to mention messy, and we won’t even talk about the lingering aroma it leaves in the house. Ugh.

If you like Crab Rangoon as much as I do, then you are really going to appreciate this recipe. These are baked. In addition, there is no tedious folding of the wonton wrappers, you just shove them into muffin cups, bake them, fill them, bake them again, and you have the most delicious, creamy Crab Rangoon filling, inside a satisfyingly crunchy shell. The filling and wonton cups can be made the day ahead of serving. When guests arrive, simply fill and bake.

If you prefer not to bother with the wonton wrappers, the filling can also be spread on top of English muffin halves, broiled, and quartered, yielding wonderful creamy crab toasts. Want to go carb-less? Spoon the filling into mushrooms and broil. Delicious!
Crab Rangoon Wonton Cups

Melissa’s wonton wrappers
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 can lump crabmeat, drained
2 scallions, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spray 12-well muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Place one wonton wrapper into each well, and bake for 10 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients, beating with a hand mixer until blended.

Divide filling among baked wonton shells; bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes. Top with sliced scallions, if desired. Serve with sweet-and-sour sauce or hot mustard, optional.

Makes 12.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chinese New Year Tablescape

You don’t need the excuse of Chinese New Year to set a festive and fun Chinese themed table. Whether you’re enjoying a meal of Chinese delivery, or have whipped together something on your own, this fun table will add much to your dining experience.
It’s really not difficult to do. I used fabric remnants for the table covering, made my own napkins to match, and grabbed white and red dishes to use to set the table.
A few Chinese props like these chopsticks and fans add to the fun, fortune cookies make dessert something to look forward to, as well as these fresh lychees
Dinner will be quite an experience with a table like this one.
The centerpiece need not be fussy, number two son, Andrew, loaned me his dragon teapot and teacup set to use at center, and a few Chinese carry out containers (that I always keep on hand to share leftovers with friends) add to the fun.
The glassware I made myself for an Asian theme anniversary party I had for my parents years ago. You can read about them here.
My mother is visiting at this table as well; the crystal knife rests are used here as rests for chopsticks. These are vintage, and add sparkle and fun to the table, not to mention a practical place to put chopsticks!
I hope I’ve given you some ideas with this table. It doesn’t have to be an occasion for you to do the same.
White chargers and red plates - Pier 1
Bamboo flatware - Crate and Barrel
White lotus bowls -
White soup spoons - Crate and Barrel
Chopsticks -
Folding Chinese fans -
Chinese Takeout Boxes -
Lychees -
Melissa’s Produce
  Vintage crystal knife/chopstick rests - my mom

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’re not familiar with Marion Grasby, she is a Thai-Australian cook, television presenter, cookbook author, food writer, and the owner and creator of the Marion’s Kitchen Asian product line. She makes the preparation of Asian food look easy. Essentially, it is, but it’s also very time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I didn’t. I watched Marion make a delicious looking wonton soup in a video that lasted about 15 minutes. This morning I made that soup; it took me three hours, and afterwards I had to have a nap. But the soup is delicious, and most importantly, authentic tasting, thanks to Marion’s Asian chicken stock that is a serious game changer. When I finally sat down to enjoy my soup this afternoon, I could not believe that I had made something that tasted of restaurant quality.

I got the idea to make wonton soup because Chinese New Year will be celebrated at week’s end, and I like to be authentic. Any celebration that involves Chinese food is right up my alley. This doesn’t need to take you as long as it took me, because you can make the components ahead of time, something I strongly recommend. I chose to do mine all at once, and I will not do that again.


Here is Marion’s recipe with a few of my adaptations. For one, I used Melissa’s Produce’s wonton wrappers, that may be a little smaller than the norm. I like the smaller ones, because it allows a better filling-to-wonton-wrap ratio, as well as allowing for adding more wontons per bowl of soup. I also changed her directions a little bit to reflect a more American understanding of things, and I cut back on the amount of chicken that she used because I wanted equal parts shrimp and chicken in my wontons.

Try this for yourself, but do yourself a favor and make your stock one day, your wontons another day (they can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed into a Ziploc bag so they’re
there anytime you need them), and then making a nice hot bowl of delicious wonton soup will be a breeze.

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

Slightly adapted from Marion Grasby

3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1-1/2” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 bone-in chicken thighs
4 whole star anise
6 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blanched bok choy, to serve
Cooked noodles, to serve

4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken, partially frozen, minced in processor
¼ cup finely sliced scallions
1 tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 oz. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, roughly chopped

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, peppercorns, and ginger into a rough paste. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat and fry the paste for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning, until golden brown. Add the star anise, chicken stock, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken thighs from stock; allow to cool; slightly. Remove meat from bones, chop, and set aside to include in soup.

In the meantime, make the wonton filling. Place the ground chicken, scallions, sesame oil, salt, pepper, water, and cornstarch into a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined and sticky. Then stir in the shrimp.

To form the wontons, place a tablespoon of the mixture onto the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten edges with water and fold in half diagonally, and then bring one corner of the wonton to the center to meet the other. Repeat with remaining filling mixture.
Divide bok choy, chicken meat, and noodles among serving bowls.
Cook wontons in boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and divide wontons among serving bowls. Strain the stock and ladle over the top.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chocolate Fondue for Two

If you’re thinking about ending your Valentine meal with anything other than chocolate, think again. Chocolate is the quintessential Valentine’s Day dessert, and this easy and delicious Chocolate Fondue for Two is the answer. It stirs together in minutes, can be made ahead, served quite elegantly with a glass of champagne, and you can get as creative as you like with the dippers. Nothing says I love you like this sinfully delicious dessert.
Chocolate Fondue for Two

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 14-oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons Kahlúa
¼ teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk; stir in espresso powder. Cook and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and Kahlúa.
Serve warm in your favorite fondue pot. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.
Suggested Dippers:
Pound cake cubes, Amaretto Cherries, orange sections, melons balls, pineapple chunks, strawberries, banana slices, apple wedges, Melissa’s Red Muscato or interestingly shaped Sweet Sapphire Grapes, pear slices, and Plush Puffs marshmallows.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Parmesan Roasted Fioretto Cauliflower

If you haven’t tried Fioretto Flowering Cauliflower, you are in for a real treat. It’s a delightful vegetable, a pleasing combination of broccoli and cauliflower -- sweet, mildly grassy, and tender. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and is excellent in stir fry and tempura. Today I am giving you an easy recipe that the entire family will enjoy.
This recipe provides your children with an opportunity to get involved in meal prep. It has been my experience that children love to be involved in cooking, and enjoy the meal most when they’ve taken part in its creation.

This is enormously easy to put together, smells delicious when cooking, and is wonderfully crunchy and flavorful. I was so enamored with this dish, that one night I had it for dinner. DINNER! That’s right, as my main dish. I am not kidding you; I started eating it and just couldn’t stop! I paired it with a crusty roll slathered with whipped chive butter, and a nice glass of Riesling. I can tell you, I was a happy girl.

If you’re disinclined to have a vegetable as an entrée, this makes a wonderful side dish with fish, chicken, or a nice medium rare fillet mignon. If you’re looking to dazzle your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, or please yourself and your family on any day, give this recipe a try. Let the kids put it together!
Parmesan Roasted Fioretto Cauliflower*

1 10-oz. pkg. Melissa’s Fioretto Flowering Cauliflower
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425° F. Cover the bottom of a baking pan with foil, spray with Pam; set aside.

Rinse cauliflower and pat dry. Place into the bottom of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, and drizzle with olive oil. Seal bag; shake to coat.
Add remaining ingredients, in order, seal bag once again, leaving plenty of air inside. Shake until the cauliflower is coated, and no coating ingredients remain in bag.
Empty cauliflower onto foil-lined baking sheet, and place into the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove to a serving dish and serve warm, as is, or drizzled with hollandaise.
*This recipe works equally well with standard cauliflower, broccoli, or a combination of the two.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Nostalgic Valentine's Day Table

When I set out to create a Valentine’s Day table this year, I had no idea how emotional the experience would be. 
In assembling the various components that I had set aside for my table, I came across an envelope that my dad had given to me years ago. 
It contained a wide variety of things that my mother had saved from past Valentine’s Days, including all of the cards that we had sent her. We knew that she liked the old-fashioned kind, so that’s what we tended to buy and send. 
She even saved a computer-generated one that my dad made from back in the 80’s when we did that sort of thing, as well as one featuring the Rugrats that my son had sent her back in 1996. 
The red cardboard cupids (along with doilies and hearts that I did not use) graced her tables annually. 
All of the ephemera on this table once belonged to my mother.
As I got out the fabric that I intended to use as a tablecloth, I realized that this had once belonged to her too, purchased, I assume, in 2002 as that was the date on the selvage
Today marks the five-year anniversary of her passing, and that makes this all the more bittersweet.
I’ll provide no more commentary, just photos of the table, followed by a list of sources.
Miss you, mom!

Carved wooden chargers – Pier One Imports
Cranberry red dinner plates - Pier One Imports
Ikat heart napkins - Pottery Barn
Heart-shaped salad plates -
Eiffel tower wine glasses - La Rochere
Mugs –
Maison Versailles “Amelie”
Flatware - Target
Red Pitcher - Fiestaware
Small heart dishes - Amazon

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