For Sunday lunch this weekend there was a small Supper Club get-together for dim sum. After two hours of dumplings, pork and Asian beer we were all ready to sleep the rest of the afternoon away. We started with char siu pork, which was made in a rotisserie and tasted great (and made me covetous of the rotisserie – why do I not have one of these?) There was some sinus-clearing hot mustard and a homemade plum sauce to go with it.
I made my favorite hum bao recipe, stuffed with Sichuan-style pork and bean sprouts. We ate quite a lot of these.
There was a lettuce wrap filled with rice, oyster mushrooms and kimchi, with a black bean dipping sauce – a really nice, fresh presentation.
And sticky rice with water chestnuts, steamed in banana leaves (this course was almost forgotten entirely, we had so much other food).
I missed getting photos of the vegetable-tofu dumplings or the mushroom wontons, but there were also these lovely little spiced pork meatballs, coated in rice and steamed. They were fantastic – they made me wish I hadn’t eaten quite so many bao.
We’re going to have to do another dim sum party – we ate ourselves silly but barely scratched the surface of possible recipes. What shall we make next time?
What are the holidays for if not to take on elaborate cooking projects that involve plenty of butter? Exactly. This week I decided to try out a gnocchi recipe from Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s tome on bistro cooking. Instead of the more typical potato or ricotta gnocchi, this is a Parisian dumpling made from pâte à choux, the same dough that makes gougères and cream puffs. It was much easier than I expected, although we did have to walk down to the kitchen store for a pastry bag, as we didn’t appear to own one.
Once the gnocchi are cooked and chilled, you could use them lots of different ways, or freeze them for later. This particular recipe combines pan-fried herbed gnocchi with squash, fresh sage and shiitake mushrooms. Keller wants you to use butternut squash, which is certainly easy to work with, but you could use any sweet squash. We had delicatas and what I think are Carnival squash, or perhaps Little Dumpling, that we bought at the farmer’s market in October - I used a delicata. They’re very mild, but I like how they do in this sort of recipe.
We served our gnocchi with a simple pork chop and a very nice aged Italian wine. It was delicious and festive – I’d definitely recommend it for a holiday dinner. And since I’d made a full recipe, there were plenty of leftovers…
…which made a very, very fine breakfast with an egg on top. Mmmmm. Buttery.
More dumplings! This was a class on Lebanese home cooking, with a focus on festive dishes for the holidays. Nahla Gholam, one of the owners of the fabulous store Mediterranean Specialties in Bellingham, demonstrated three recipes: sheesh barak, beet salad and roasted seven-spice chicken.
Sheesh barak, lamb dumplings in yogurt soup, is a very old and traditional dish. It incorporates some of my favorite flavors in the whole world, so there was basically no chance I wouldn’t like it. Making the dumplings was a little tricky, but Nahla insisted it was almost impossible to mess them up (ha!). The dough was just flour and water and very stretchy, which helped us recover from our mistakes.
Last week at Gretchen’s we helped out with a class on Chinese cooking. Presented by Huiming Hsiao, the daughter of Taiwanese restauranteurs, the food was heavy on the pork, light on the vegetables, and extremely yummy. I’m hardly going to complain about too much pork. Besides, there was also chicken and shrimp.
Most of the food was served at once, but we started the guests off with a curried chicken skewer. Huiming brought the boneless chicken thighs pre-marinated in a lively blend of star anise, Sichuan pepper and curry, and all we had to do was skewer them and stick them in the oven.