Vegetable Ginger Potstickers

 
Vegetable Pot Stickers

Chinese New Year is in full swing, and here in San Francisco it's truly a mammoth celebration right up until the last day on March 5. Our kids even had a day off from school last week in observance of the holiday, so I thought it would be fitting to prepare my version of pot stickers.

I decided on an entirely vegetarian version since I'm trying to get my youngest child to eat more vegetables, quite an undertaking since she's a bona fide carnivore on every level. She would eat meat piled on top of more meat if she could and I'm pretty sure she would devour an entire raccoon if presented the opportunity. In her own words: Asparagus? Disgusting. Cauliflower? So gross. Peas? Cue gagging sounds...

Out of frustration I resorted to what any parent would do. I lied and told her these were chicken pot stickers. Not my proudest moment but she did eat them all.

I've gone vegetarian with this recipe but you can add ground turkey, chicken, shrimp or pork. Serve as an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce, as a main course with grilled asparagus and jasmine rice, or add them to a fragrant vegetable or chicken broth for a light and healthy soup.


VEGETABLE GINGER POT STICKERS

makes 24

  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 2 c finely shredded & chopped napa cabbage
  • 1 c finely shredded & chopped carrots
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1/2 c silken tofu, drained & patted dry
  • 2 tbs plum sauce
  • 1 tbs chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh mint, chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 package round wonton skins
  • water for moistening & steaming wrappers
  • coconut oil for cooking (you can substitute canola oil)

In a large sauté pan heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add cabbage, carrots, scallions, garlic & ginger. Cook until vegetables are slightly wilted but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl add tofu, and with the tines of a fork smash up until pea sized. To tofu stir in plum sauce, chili sauce, hoisin, honey, herbs, zest and sesame seeds. Add this to vegetable mixture until fully combined. Refrigerate filling for one hour.

Lay wonton skins out one at a time and moisten edges with water using the tip of your finger. Fill each wrapper with 1 tbs of mixture, fold in half forming a semi-circle. Starting at one end, pinch edges closed with thumb and index finger. Continue until all skins are filled.

Heat 1 tbs coconut oil in large sauté pan over medium hight heat. Add 6 pot stickers at a time and cook until slightly browned on each side. Lower heat and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover to steam for 1-2 minutes. Repeat with remainder of pot stickers

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

 

Simple Bolognese Sauce

 
Garlic

When I was a child, Sunday dinners at my father's house were always quite interesting. Gather 12 or so Italian family members into a dining room, let them eat, let them drink and watch the sparks fly. I spent those afternoons observing...

I was sure Uncle Jim was in the Mob because he wore shiny shirts and had tattoos. Uncle Sonny and Aunt Anna were at odds because, well, just because. Cousin Christopher always had a new leggy girlfriend. One usually less bright than the other. There were heated arguments over who had the best ricotta pie recipe. It was fun to watch.

But the one thing we were all gathered there for was the food. My Dad was a fantastic cook, and his version a meat sauce or the "Sunday Gravy" as we called it was a simple tomato sauce with plenty of garlic and basil. The gravy was slow cooked for a least half a day with a couple of pork chops, meatballs or a braciole, then served over homemade egg pasta. It was my favorite meal as a kid.

I still prepare the Sunday gravy, but the bolognese sauce has made its way into my repitoire, becoming more popular with my kids. This is a great sauce for winter, although as I write this it's a balmy 66 degrees here in San Francisco. Serve over pasta or use it to make lasagna.

This sauce is pretty basic. Combine all of the ingredients, then just wait. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes. I prefer this the next day but if you want to, uncork a bottle of Chianti and yell at each other while it simmers away.


Organic Egg Pasta

Simple BOLOGNESE SAUCE

makes 6 cups

  • 1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 small carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2  28 oz cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor pulse onion, carrot, celery and garlic until finely diced. You can do this by hand as well.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat olive and butter over medium -high heat, add pancetta and cook until slightly browned, mix in vegetables and cook until softened. Add ground beef and cook until well browned and extra moisture has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. 

Pour in white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add tomatoes, milk,  1 c of broth and stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper. Serve over egg pasta.

 

Chocolate Chunk Espresso Cookies

 
double chocolate chunk cookies

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and there's no doubt most of you will be enjoying a bit of chocolate the days leading up to and on February 14th (I'm sure all while wearing something very sexy)

So what about me? Yes, there are the risqué undergarments, but I've never been over the top nuts about chocolate. I suppose you're asking what's wrong with me. Well, aside from the giant hump on my back and a creaky wooden leg, chocolate just isn't one of my crazy addictions. I do have others. Ahem.

I take exception with these chocolate cookies though.

They're super chocolatey, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. I would suggest buying the best quality chocolate you can find such as Valrhona or Scharffen Berger, but if you're on a tight budget and thinking about eating that tin of cat food for dinner, well just go ahead and buy the generic store brand chocolate. They'll still be pretty damn good.

Note: If you plan on serving these to children, feel free to omit the espresso powder to safeguard your sanity.

 

Valentine's Day

 CHOCOLATE CHUNK espresso COOKIES

makes 20 cookies

  • 1 3/4 c good quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 heaping tbs instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Melt 2/3 cup of chopped chocolate in a double boiler or microwave on low setting for 30-60 seconds. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, espresso powder and cinnamon until creamy. Add melted chocolate until incorporated. Beat in egg and vanilla, then add flour mixture and remaining chocolate chunks just until blended

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper. Flatten with fingertips for thinner cookies

Bake 12-14 minutes