Monday, May 10, 2010

much ado about dumplings

In case you haven't heard...
I'm obsessed with dumplings.

Potstickers, gnocchi, ravioli, spring rolls, spaetzle.
Chopsticks, hand-held, dipping sauces or pan sauces.

You name it. I'll eat them

For my birthday, my parents gave me the perfect reference full of my favorite lovely packaged delights:

The glory of this book is the variety, inventiveness and seasonality that makes you think far beyond the norm pork potsticker.
Dumplings are listed by monthly seasonality-- my favorite aspect of the book. Although I strive to write my own recipes and invent creative flavor combinations-- this is definitely a great source of inspiration!

Speaking of dumplings...some of my favorite dumpling recipes from Linguine and Dirty Martinis have included:

light & bright

creamy & chewy

salty & savory (shown)

spicy & tart

Recently, while brainstorming

Summer cocktail combinations

I concocted a refreshing, tart sangria-- almost too gorgeous to drink!

30 minute Sangria with Fresh Berries & Soaked Hibiscus Flowers

I served this sangria with a rustic flair-- complete with berry seeds, a floating hibiscus and all!
For an elegant twist, strain and combine with ice in a martini shaker to serve in a martini glass or highballs.
Cocktail ratio:
2 parts chilled dry red wine
1 part muddled berries
blueberries, raspberries and blackberries will do!
a sprinkle of sugar
Combine ingredients and chill for 30 minutes. Serve cold.

I recently had a sunny & bright lazy lunch on the patio at Tillman's Roadhouse: an eatery supporting local fish, meat, poultry and produce with housemade touches and whimsical reinventions of childhood favorites.

I sipped on an icy cool brew and thoroughly savored an artisan sirloin burger from Burgundy Pastures with local goats gouda, razor-thin purple onions and housemade pickles with lemon rind. On the side were perfectly seasoned kennebec fries with parmesan and housemade chipotle ketchup. Made-from-scratch garlic ranch was also a pleasant afterthought.

For dessert, we were surprised with a frozen smorgasbord, playfully deemed the "Ice Cream Truck" complete with a homemade raspberry lemon popsicle, lucky charms push pop, German chocolate cone and made-from-scratch ice cream sandwich. Delightful!

For a later joyful occasion, I decorated my apartment with banners, cards, bakery sweets and gifts for my boyfriend's birthday!

We celebrated on a gorgeous Sunday evening with a BBQ complete with his favorite made-from-scratch comfort foods.

I left grilling to the guys while I savored a margarita and quickly prepared this 5 minute side dish-- a perfect addition to grilled meats!

Goat Cheese Cream Corn with Fresh Thyme and Crushed Peppercorns

6 ears fresh corn (about 2 cups)
1/2 c red onion, chopped
2 T fresh thyme
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c crumbled goat cheese
1 T honey
1/2 t cayenne
salt and crushed peppercorns to taste

Saute onions with 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent. Add corn and thyme. Saute for a few minutes to soften and infuse fat.

Add cream, honey and cayenne and let reduce several minutes. Fold in goat cheese and add salt and peppercorns to taste. Serve hot.

Before the party, I spent my morning baking this festive cake to fulfill his favorite dessert: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I filled the layers with a tangy made-from-scratch curd and added espresso to the chocolate frosting for depth.

Butter Cake
with Fresh Blackberry Curd Filling
& Dark Chocolate Frosting


2 round springform cake pans
(I used 6 and 7 inch pans)
offset spatula
stand mixer

Butter Cake:
(Adapted from The Cake Bible All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake)
6 large egg yolks
1 c whole milk
2 and 1/4 t vanilla
3 c cake flour
1 and 1/2 c sugar
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
12 T unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour springform pans. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in stand mixture and mix for 30 seconds to evenly distribute. On a medium setting, beat butter and milk into dry mixture for approximately 1.5 minutes. Scrape down sides. Slowly add eggs and vanilla in three portions, beating 20 seconds after each addition.

Scrape batter into pans and smooth tops-- mixture should be about halfway full. Bake approximately 35 minutes for small cake and 50 minutes for large cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Set cakes on a cooling rack until cooled completely. While cakes are cooling, make the fresh blackberry curd.

Fresh Blackberry Curd:

Yields 2 cups.

8 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c fresh blackberry juice (I used a juicer to remove seeds)
2 T orange zest
12 T unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt

Combine egg yolks, blackberry juice, orange zest and sugar in a saucepan. Over medium high heat, cook mixture, whisking constantly, approximately 8-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and slowly add butter and salt, tablespoon by tablespoon, until melted and combined. Strain.

Chill curd with plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming. Make frosting.

Dark Chocolate Frosting:

Yields 4 cups.

24 ounces good semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t espresso powder
1/4 c confectioner's sugar
4 and 1/2 sticks butter
pinch salt

Beat butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and espresso powder with boiling water to form a paste. Add melted chocolate and cocoa paste to whipped butter. Beat 1-2 minutes until combined thouroughly.

To Assemble Cake:

Level off cooled cakes with a serrated knife.

Slice each cake horizontally into two equal layers with a serrated knife.

On serving platter or cake stand, assemble parchment paper beneath large cake bottom layer before icing.

Using an offset spatula to distribute filling and frosting, begin layering:

bottom layer of large cake
then blackberry curd,
top layer of large cake,
chocolate frosting to glue the next cake,
bottom layer of small cake,
blackberry curd then
top layer of small cake.

Using offset spatula, add "crumb coat" of frosting to the cake. Chill for 30 minutes.

Ice the cake. Dip spatula into ice water to keep frosting cool and smooth clumps with ease.
Remove parchment paper to display clean edges beneath cake.
Using a piping bag, pipe decorative borders around each layer
Decorate with candles or edible flowers as desired!

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