Hubs had seriously set his hopes on Kung Pao for New Year's Eve. I had suggested keeping it low-key and inviting a few friends over to play board games (and sip a few cocktails) and to keep it super easy by picking up take-out. That was the plan, but someone...Mother Nature? Old Man Winter? the meteorologist at the local television station?...had other plans. Snow blew and temperatures dropped. The wind was icy with chills well below zero. As I repeatedly shoveled the ever drifting snow on the patio so the pups could find their way outside, I knew that all plans for the evening were off.
At that point, I should have defrosted some shrimp and made Kung Pao Shrimp for our quiet night at home alone, but I didn't. I had been clearing FoodNetwork programming off of my DVR and had just seen Anne Burrell make a lamb stew. That was seriously tempting me, and a blizzardy, cold day seemed perfect for it.
I browned the cubes of lamb and sauteed the onion, celery, carrots, and turnips. Added a mixture of stout and broth to the pot and simmered it all slowly with some tomato paste and herbs. The house felt warm, and comfy, and safe, as the aromas wafted from the kitchen and the snow drifted outside. But, ladling the stew over plates of egg noodles and dipping crusty bread into the sauce wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped. Hubs' craving for Chinese food had left us unsettled and even the Pear and Pecan Tart that I served drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream didn't really please us...although it is very good and I wish that someone would take the leftovers away. NOW. Please. Thank you.
So...tonight I made Steamed Dumplings...and Egg Rolls...and Crab Rangoon. I hadn't intended to make the egg rolls and crab rangoon, but was trying to ease Hubs' sad, puppy dog face because he still wasn't getting Kung Pao. (We will have to go out for that soon...probably the first night that he doesn't have a meeting which requires him to rush home from the farm with just enough time to shower, gobble dinner in one gulp, and leave again....maybe Wednesday?) Of course, we both love.love.love egg rolls and the sweetness of cream cheese and crab fried inside crisp wontons. Tonight's dinner additions were not a chore.
And, it won't be a chore tomorrow when I drop a few of the extra dumplings into steaming broth with some fresh, green veggies and make a dumpling soup to savor for lunch. I am hoping that it will be as good as the Samurai Soup that I made last winter. That recipe was from Rachael Ray and was so super easy that it couldn't be considered a chore, either. The hardest part for me was forming the wonton wrappers around the meatballs. Mine weren't the half-moons that the recipe suggested, but were instead little bundles. Aesthetics aside, the soup was delicious. I may not have Kung Pao On My Plate, but I would love some Samurai Soup in my bowl.
(adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1/2 pound baby bok choy
1/2 pound ground pork (I used a pork sausage blend because that is what I had on hand.)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (BEST TIP EVER: Keep your ginger root in the freezer; pull out & grate with microplane as you need it; no need to peel and it keeps almost forever.)
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
40 wonton wrappers
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Halve the bok choy lengthwise and then again crosswise. Separate the white and green portions.
In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the white bok choy portions for 1 minute; add the green portions and cook until wilted.
Drain; rinse with cold water; squeeze dry with some (sturdy) paper toweling or a clean dish towel.
Finely chop the bok choy and place in a mixing bowl.
Stir in the pork, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, honey, and sesame oil.
Mix well to combine.
Arrange 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface and top each with a teaspoon of the pork mixture.
Moisten the edges and pull the wrappers up over the pork mixture.
Make half-moon, if you can; otherwise, just pull the wrappers into a bundle and press to seal the edges.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth, water, and remaining soy sauce to a boil.
Cover and lower heat to keep warm.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the dumplings, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to bowls.
Add the snow peas to the hot broth; cook for 1 minute.
Ladle over the dumplings.
Drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil or add garlic chili paste, if desired. (Serves 8)