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Posts from the ‘What’s in Season: Winter’ Category

Not So Plump Dumpling

Dumplings with Winter Farmer's Market Veggies (and Siracha of Course)

Everyone loves a good dumpling, but if you’re just ordering from the Chinese place around the corner, chances are their veggie dumplings will be made with thick dough, and filled with little more than cabbage. This appitizer is suprisingly easy to make at home with store-bought wonton wrappers, and it’s possible you can even have a healthy, flavor-filled batch ready before take out could arrive at your door.

You can get pretty creative with how you stuff your dumplings, just decide if the ingredients need to be cooked prior to filling (steaming only takes about 5 minutes, and you want the filling to be soft… so if it won’t be soft (or for a protein, cooked) in 5 minutes give it a quick saute), and then give them a quick chop in the food processor. Even in the winter you can find amazing greens and root vegetables that are in season, and incredibly nutritious (and of course, delicious).

For my dumplings I used some of the amazing produce I got yesterday at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. I got Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farm. The Pioppini have a great peppery flavor, and are an excellent addition to stir-frys as well.

Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket

I also diced, and sautéed some Sweet Potato. I also quickly sautéed the Baby Bok Choy, even though it was super tender, I just wanted to make sure the bottoms of the leaves had no crunch in the dumpling.

Baby Bok Choy

While the ingredients cooked, I made a sauce based on a Mark Bittman recipe for Steamed Shrimp and Cilantro Shu Mai . A simple mixture of Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Rice Wine, Scallions, and Fresh Ginger this sauce will hold the ingredients together in the dumpling, as well as serve as a dipping sauce later.

I gave the cooked ingredients a quick pulse in the food processor along with a few tablespoons of the sauce.

Fill the won-ton wrappers with about a teaspoon of the mixture. Moisten the edges with water, fold in half to make a triangle, and crimp the edges just like a pie crust. To make a Shu-Mai shape, just gather the edges around the center instead of folding, pleating the edges, but leaving some filling exposed.

Steam for about 5 minutes (until wrapper is completely tender), or give a quick pan sear like I did.

For Sauce:

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 T Rice Wine
1 T Sesame oil
1 T Minced Ginger (or more… to taste)*
1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions (White only)

*To peel ginger try using a spoon, much easier!

Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandwich (After The Saturday Afternoon Farmer’s Market)

Just because I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks, certainly doesn’t mean that I have not been cooking, or eating (believe me!) I’ve moved on to level III of the Classic Culinary Arts program at the French Culinary Institute, and moved on from Chef Scott, to the infamous “Chef X.” Chef X has a more Gordon Ramsey-esque teaching still, and while we must remain almost completely silent throughout class, his thick accented voice has not problem carrying over our pots and pans, and knives chopping.

There is no debate it has been a tough couple of weeks so far, but Chef X keeps reinforcing something that at this point in the program people really need to figure out. As he sees it “if you cannot cook from your heart, than you shouldn’t be here.” While his criticism, rules, and yelling isn’t easy to deal with after working for 8 hours, I can say that I very quickly have had to lose my bad habits, and get organized, focused, and just COOK!

This means, that when I do have free times on the weekends, I have been doing a lot of cooking also. It’s been a great few weeks while friends had time off for the holidays to get together for some informal dinner parties. A few of my friends became vegetarians, and vegans, for their new year’s resolution, so this has been a fun opportunity to try some new dishes. There have been lots of seasonal salads, fresh pasta dishes, and winter produce such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes, kale, beets, and when available wild mushrooms.

This is my first full weekend back in the city for a few weeks, and after a couple of fun-filled nights with my friends, I dedicate this post to the very important weekend breakfast sandwich. The sandwich I made today made use of ingredients I purchased at the Union Square Farmer’s Market yesterday afternoon, and while it involves cheese, and just enough grease, it felt a little less guilty than your average Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, because of it’s fresh ingredients.

I got these wonderful Araucana blue chicken eggs from Lynnhaven farm at the market that I couldn’t wait to use. Here is the photo of the finished sandwich on Bread Alone sourdough bread, with a sweet potato shallot hashbrown, scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, and arugula, with the recipe to follow!

Ingredients
(Makes 2 Sandwiches)

For Hash Brown:
1 Large Sweet Potato
2 shallots
Fresh (or good quality dried) thyme

For Eggs:
Assorted Wild Mushrooms (Oyster, Maitake…)
3 Whole Eggs
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot Clothbound)

arugula
2 thick slices bread (toasted)
Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
Unsalted Butter

Sweet Potato Hash Brown
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Shred potato over a towel
-Season with salt and pepper and thyme
-Sweat shallots in a small saute pan with butter until some color develops
-In the towel, squeeze excess water out of potato.
-Remove shallots from pan, add to potatoes. Wipe pan clean and add a good amount of vegetable oil. Wait until ripples form in the oil, it is important that it’s very hot, or the potato will stick!
-Add potatoes and press down with spatula. Add more oil if necessary, pull hash brown up at edges to check color. When golden brown, flip. Brown other side, then top with few small pieces of butter, finish in oven.

For Rest of Sandwich:

-First cook mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of oil until golden brown. Season once color is achieved.
-I put my eggs with a little salt and pepper right in the same pan and scrambled. I scrambled them loosely and let them form and cook to the shape of the pan so it wouldn’t be as messy on the sandwich.
-Shred cheddar on top, place in oven until it melts.

To Assemble:
-Butter toast.
-Remove hashbrown from oven, cut in half, place on toast for,one each sandwich.
-Remove eggs from oven, cut in half, place one top of each hashbrown.
-Top with arugula, and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.
-Enjoy!

Dinner at John’s (the Winter Edition)

The days were just starting to get shorter,and the weather colder. I broke out my scarf, my gloves, and that is when it hit me. Maybe it was school, or work, whatever it was, I needed a break from the City. Going out to Shelter Island for the weekend is always proves to be a great escape, especially when you have a dinner party with a great group of friends planned.

I visit the Union Square farmer’s market weekly, and other outdoor markets like the New Amsterdam Market have a great selection of produce and other food items even during the colder months, which is also true for the farm stands on the East End. I didn’t get a chance to go while I was visiting, but the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market has moved indoors for the winter and runs on Saturdays at 34 Bay St. from 9am – 1pm as well. I took a Jitney in the afternoon and missed the market, but had access to another great local food that is in season… bay scallops! While my family usually purchases scallops from our neighbor who is a commercial fisherman, we went to Commander Cody’s on Shelter Island to pick up a couple of pounds for dinner.

Bay Scallops, Parsley Coulis, Fennel and Orange Slaw

Since I had already promised John I’d make Sweet Potato Gnocci for the meal, I thought the scallops would stand out better on their own as a first course. Scallops, especially fresh bay scallops, have a sweet and delicate flavor that can easily get lost among a starch, or a strong sauce. I like to serve them seared, without any batter or coating. I bring oil up to a med-high temperature in saute pan, and allow the scallops to develop a golden “crust” on both sides, and finish them with some butter, salt and pepper, off the heat. They cook extremely quickly, and it is important not to leave them over the flame for more than a few minutes at most, as they can become very chewy. I served them over a parsley coulis which added just a little zest without concealing the flavor of the scallops. See a quick recipe for the coulis at bottom of post.

Vanessa brought a really beautiful salad featuring some really spicy young arugala her mother grew. Borrowing a recipe from my favorite, Ina Garten, she added roasted butternut squash, roasted pecans, and a warm shallot-apple cider vinagrette. Instead of dried cranberries she tossed in some pomegrante seeds, which were tart, sweet, and a nice seasonal touch.

Sweet Potato Gnocci

The Sweet Potato Gnocci were a little intimidating, but I chose to use a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that featured ricotta cheese as an ingredient, as I recalled a Mark Bittman article earlier in the month stating the light fluffy texture of gnocci made just with the cheese. The dough was a bit difficult to work with, which made for some interesting looking gnocci– but they tasted really great, and that’s all that really matters, right?

Instead of Giada’s sweet sauce, I did a brown butter sauce with a little fried sage, pancetta, and because it was a dinner party at John’s, we had to incorporate some gently sautéed oyster mushrooms. Connor did a wonderful job of finishing the plate with just a little freshly grated parmesan cheese, a component which really tied all the flavors together. While extremely rich, this dish was excellent. The gnocci had a nice soft texture, and the sauce had really wonderful warming flavors that were so enjoyed on a cold winter night (the red wines John picked for the evening didn’t hurt either).

While we couldn’t sit out back on the porch and drink lovely pink gin cocktails, and look out at the water front– we stayed cozy inside and were full, happy, and warm. Winter is a great time for food, and so many ingredients are still in season to create hearty, and memorable meals.

Parsley Coulis:

Ingredients:
2 T oil
2 shallots (minced)
1 oz mushrooms (chopped finely)
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch parsley, stemmed
S & P
Lemon Juice

-Bring water to a boil in small sauce pot, add parsley for a few seconds, drain, and quickly place in ice bath. Drain on paper towels, squeeze out all excess moisture. (This step helps parsley retain vibrant color for finished sauce).

-Sweat the shallots and mushrooms in a pan with 2 T oil, without achieving color. Add 1/2 cup stock, cook until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat.

-Pour contents in food processor or blender, puree about a minute. Add parsley. Pour contents back into pan, season to taste. Keep warm for service.