Fair and Square

One of our favorite types of food these days is ramen. No, not the 10/$1.00 packs that come in all sorts of flavors, like chicken, oriental, and beef, but the actual kind that you are given in a restaurant, in a gigantic bowl filled to the brim with steaming hot broth, ramen noodles, pork (or fried chicken. fried chicken!), and all sorts of other ingredients that have me salivating right this second.

We’ve tried a handful of spots in the city over the past few months, and every time I’m feeling the need for some warm comfort food my mind goes straight to ramen. I can’t get enough of it.

Of course, while waiting for said ramen to make its appearance at the table, it’s never a bad idea to have an appetizer or three. Many of these ramen joints make killer meat skewers, but often times all I want is a freakin’ potsticker. Something about a little sheet of dough enveloping a bite of meat and veggies, and then steamed and served alongside some sort of amazing dipping sauce makes me so amazingly happy. So happy that I could likely eat a couple orders of them and call it a night, if it weren’t for the ramen making its way to the table.

But when you’re home, that’s another story. I’ve eaten potstickers only quite a few times.

Potstickers are those little treats that look so damn hard to make, but are in all reality, probably one of the easiest dishes to throw together, minus the time. You toss the filling into a food processor, which means your initial chopping skills really don’t matter all that much, as long as things are similarly butchered to smithereens. You put the filling onto pre-made wrappers. You fold them (which is what people think is so dang hard. It isn’t.), and then you steam them. The sauce is nothing but a handful of ingredients whisked together (and for that, there are thousands of choices, but I’m a fan of a spicy peanut sauce, I am). Then you’re ready to chow down.

Sure, they look intricate. And sure, it might take some precision and a little patience, but there isn’t much that can go wrong, even if the wonton shapes aren’t winning beauty pageants. Either way, what results are little pockets of delightful goodness that you, I promise, won’t be able to resist.

You can even take them to a potluck if you want. And when that potluck gets canceled without your knowledge, you can smile a little on the inside, because they just turned into lunch, which means you can eat like, 10 of them, instead of 2. That’s what I call winning – fair and square.

Shrimp & Ginger Potstickers w/ Spicy Peanut Sauce
makes 24 potstickers – 4 servings as a meal, 12 as an appetizer

time commitment: 1 hour

printable version

ingredients
potstickers
3/4 c Napa cabbage, shredded
1/3 c scallions, chopped (+ more for garnish, optional)
1/4 c carrots, julienned
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 T low sodium soy sauce
2 t fresh ginger, minced
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb shrimp, cooked
sriracha, optional but totally not optional
24 small wonton wrappers
2 T cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 T canola oil, divided
1 c water, divided

sauce
1/4 c water
1/4 c reduced fat peanut butter
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 T chile paste w/ garlic (sambal oelek)
1/2 t sugar

instructions
combine 1st 10 ingredients (sriracha to your liking) into food processor and pulse ~4 times, or until coarsely chopped and mixed together.

working with 1 wrapper at a time, spoon 1 1/2 t of filling into the center. wet the edges of the wonton with a small brush and bring opposite corners together, pinching to seal. place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch/arrowroot powder.

heat 1 1/2 t canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 potstickers to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. slowly add 1/2 c water, cover and cook for 4 minutes. uncover and cook 3 more minutes, until the liquid evaporates. Repeat again with remaining oil, potstickers, and water.

prepare sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and whisking until mixed.

serve potstickers with peanut sauce, garnishing with green onions, if desired.

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Fashionably Late Party Tricks

edamame wontons

One. More. Day. I’m slowly trudging through one nightmare of a week. Things would be much better around these parts if the threat of impending snow wasn’t littered through the morning news, if the construction crew across Michigan Ave could take a few days off (just for me – why is that so impossible to arrange?), if some youngin’ didn’t hit me (well, not me, my car) while we were trying to park for the Weezer show, or if I weren’t forcing myself to eat like a rabbit all week. Yeah, a rabbit. I suppose rabbits don’t eat lean cuisines, but either way I’ve found myself nibbling every little morsel of food with the ferocity of those little critters – making sure I’m tasting each and every bite, because let’s be honest – there aren’t many bites in those lil’ boxes.

edamame

So let’s recap – I’m hungry. I want to bake some cookies or make fudge or maybe even another loaf of pumpkin cranberry bread. Shoot – give me cassoulet or chili – something warm and hearty and I’d shut the hell up. But as I remind myself that the week is almost over and it’s almost time for me to reward myself with some of the above, I also remind myself that I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe because my pants stopped fitting. Or because I busted through them. That wouldn’t be pretty. No sir.

wonton step1

Shoot – I’d wrestle a kitten for those pretzels I made the other day. And yes, the freezer stash was also among the casualties this past weekend. But in making those pretzels, eating them and then re-eating them this past weekend, I reminded myself just how much I love appetizers, and I definitely don’t make enough of them. Truth be told, even the ones I make somehow never make their debut here, and that’s a cryin’ shame. Well, for you it is. I get to eat them either way.

wonton step2



But I do occasionally make appetizers. Especially when we have company, as they’re sure to impress. Like these little morsels of delight. Aren’t they just the cutest? Little nibbly pretty envelopes of edamame, so cute I could pinch them in two. I made these in September, and I forgot about them. Can you believe this?! But thankfully, I remembered – partially due to my self-induced hunger and the need to continue that torture by perusing all of my old food photos. But also thanks to the pretzels for reminding me how heavenly appetizers can be. Better late than never, right?

wonton step3

 

So, thank you pretzels. Thank you, edamame and your salty, toasty dipping sauce. Thank you week for almost being over so that I can make more appetizers and cookies. The question is, what do I make?

wonton step4

 

Edamame & Ginger Wonton Ravioli with Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Serves 4, makes about 32 wontons

 

printable recipe

Ok, so first I’ll apologize for being late on sharing this recipe. I should have, but I was a little bit more excited about finishing culinary school – my bad! But, this should not keep you from making this for an upcoming party, as they are sure to dazzle your guests. Plus, they taste good! Who doesn’t love edamame, right? And the dipping sauce? drinkable..

 

ingredients
wonton ravioli
2 2/3 c shelled edamame
2 T coarsely chopped ginger
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 t fresh  lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
About 32 dumpling or wonton wrappers

dipping sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 t chopped garlic
1 t chopped ginger
1 t chopped scallions
1 t toasted sesame oil
1/2 t honey

instructions
puree edamame in food processor; add in ginger, cilantro, garlic clove and lime juice. season with salt and pepper, to taste. add more lime juice if mixture appears too dry.

place ~1 rounded t of mixture in the center of each wrapper. brush wonton lightly with water to moisten. fold one corner of wrapper onto other corner, making a triangle shape. fold all three sides of triangle inward to make an envelope. keep wontons folded as they’re being made so as not to dry up.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. boil in 2 batches until tender, about 2-3 minutes each. remove with slotted spoon.

whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.