At dinner in December, our January Babies (Seestrah T and Nini) were lamenting about how they felt like they get shortchanged for their bday Fam Din. Since their month comes right after the holidays where we are constantly feasting and living on the gluttonous side, they were under the belief that they “took one for the team” and only requested dishes that weren’t too laborious nor decadent when it came their turn.
We did have to quickly remind them that their previous dinners included dishes like Sous Vide Pork Belly Baos, Braised Short Ribs over Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi, Toasted Coconut Cake, French Onion Soup, Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake, Fresh Oysters and Dungeness Crab.
That doesn’t sound at all shabby! Am I right?
But if the Capricorns wanted to go B-I-G for their 2019 dinner, it was our duty to acquiesce to their requests and get to work. And boy did they know exactly what they wanted!
So much so that little Luna rolled up her sleeves and got down to work.
Big cousin Maya was so proud of her that she gave her a break to give her a quick back rub.
Um Maya….next month – you’re rubbing all of our feet!
January Fam Din happened to fall on the same day of the NFC and AFC Championship games. Needless to say, we were never far away from a tv.
After a quick update on the score and a selfie with Pops, I got to cooking Appetizer #1 requested by both Nini and T….
I assumed that I would be tasked with this dish but I wanted to ask if either of them had even tried duck dumplings before – because I sure as heck hadn’t!
Nope. They hadn’t either.
But the Capricorns felt that duck would be delicious inside a little dumpling so off to recipe testing I went. Lucky for me, we just had an epic Foodventure with Peking Duck – so I was feeling rather confident….sorta.
This was something that was going to take A LOT of time so I knew that I would have to prep everything before dinner and then cook the dumplings off that night.
After mulling it over for awhile, I decided that I wanted to sous vide duck thighs so that the meat would be nice and tender.
I first marinated the duck thighs overnight in lots of garlic, ginger, five spice, soy, Shaoxing wine and pepper. Then, I sous vide them for 12 hours – yes, 12 HOURS! Thigh meat can be tough so it takes some time.
Oh the things we do for family….
Okay…back to the dumplings.
After the duck was done, I shredded the meat and sauteed it with shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, shallots, scallions, garlic, ginger and a whole bunch of spices and aromatics.
Then it was time to assemble the bunch!
I chose to fold them in these pretty little crescent shapes with a twisted braid. I have to admit, they were fun to make.
And since I knew that Appetizer #2 would be steamed (SPOILER ALERT – there were 2 different dumplings!), I opted to pan fry these for a different texture with Nini’s assistance.
Pan Fried Duck Dumplings that we dunked in hot mustard, chili oil and black vinegar.
Yeah….I’ll be making these again.
This is what happens when I ask the girls to get ME a glass of Rosé.
Remember these little buggers I had suggested that y’all make for Lunar New Year?
Yup – they were developed for this Family Dinner.
Super decadent Steamed Crab Dumplings.
They went SUPER FAST that it made me feel like one of those dim sum cart ladies.
And then V and L were up to prep one of two main dishes.
Quick funny story.
A couple of days before dinner, V and L texted the group and asked for ideas of which dish should they make. It went something like this….
Us: Umm….V, you volunteered to make a crown roast of lamb.
V: Oh I did? Ok, cool.
Moral of the Story:
If you want one of your Sibbies to make a laborious dish for you, get them to agree to it after you’ve given them copious amounts of wine!
Lamb chops or even a single rack of lamb isn’t too complicated. But a crown is an entirely different ball game! It’s quite an undertaking.
Especially if you’re V who got crazily fixated on getting the bones as clean as possible. They had watched several tutorials that advised on doing so to achieve the most optimal appearance after roasting. Brother took it to heart and spent over an hour with several different knives cleaning them. Something that I would’ve been waaaayyy too lazy to do.
Suffice it to say that when he was done cleaning the lamb he promptly told Seester T that she owed him TWO dinners in return.
While V cleaned the racks, L took charge of grinding the dried porcini and spices that they used to rub on the lamb. She also made a bright and vibrant chimichurri to go along with it. My fav!
Once the lamb was rubbed down and seared, they used twine to tie the racks into the crown shape and threw them into the oven to roast.
Isn’t it spectacular??? They did such an awesome job!
Good thing they didn’t task me with cleaning those bones….
Crown Roast of Porcini-Crusted Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce.
And while the lamb rested, Seestrah T got working on her dish – Garlic Crab Noodles with Lump Crab
This picture does not do justice to how much crab went into this dish. You’ll just have to trust me…or watch the video and see!
We actually conspired to make this dish a few weeks back while we were enjoying a big ol’ plate of garlic noodles at EMC Restaurant. Yes….we think about food while consuming food. It’s called R&D.
Often we’ll have these buttery, umami-filled garlic noodles with jumbo shrimp or whole Dungeness Crabs. But we figured, why not with lump crab? Cuts out all of the messy work.
I think these two approved.
And of course we needed a pic of the Capricorns with the Crowns before V carved them into chops.
If you’ve never tried lamb before or are worried about gaminess, try chops that have been marinated in lots of herbs (I love the classic rosemary/garlic/lemon combo) or rubbed in dried porcini like this. Both methods reduce the gamey notes without losing the wonderful flavor that lamb has. The addition of bright sauces (like chimichurri) also assist with this.
How many photobombers can you count here?
With everything ready, it was time to gather at the table.
As always, someone doesn’t need to be told twice that it’s dinner time.
That face though… ❤
At this point, some of you may have started wondering —
“Wait! Rare lamb chops? What did they make for their munchkins to eat?”
Worry not, Friends….as you can see, they were just fine.
They INHALED the chops!
Straight up, CAVE-MUNCHKIN STATUS!
No princess bites here – and we love it. ❤
After we finished dinner we cleared the tables and cleaned up a bit. Considering all of the dumplings, lamb, noodles and crab, we definitely needed to chill out a bit before dessert was served.
There was some giant-jenga-madness.
And puppy TLC.
We also went outside to try and catch the Super Blood Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse but just as it was supposed to occur, a huge bank of clouds rolled in and covered the sky. But it didn’t stop us from belting out “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in our tone-deaf voices. Cooking is in our blood….well tuned singing is not.
So we went back inside and couch potato’ed it for a bit and did a little Instagramming.
And then miraculously, our dessert stomachs were telling us IT WAS TIME!
Big Seestrah N took the helm with both desserts that night.
N made T a Chocolate Decadence Cake that weighed nearly the weight of Leo and Luna…combined.
T really enjoys a traditional chocolate cake that is moist and chocolatey –check and check!
Nini surprisingly requested a Key Lime Pie — it’s one of my faves so no complaints here.
Her rationale was that she was so full the last time we made it during our fam din at the beach house, that she didn’t get to have any. So her Mama Bear lovingly made up for it.
And that was it!
Ok…so it was A LOT.
But we can undoubtedly say that the Capricorns were happy and full.
And next time they say anything about not getting their way for their fam din, I will quickly show them to this video.
I repeat – the things we do for family ❤
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Various Wines
Appetizers: Steamed Crab Dumplings, Pan Fried Duck Dumplings
Entree: Garlic Noodles with Lump Crab, Crown Roast of Porcini-Crusted Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce
Dessert: Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Decadence Cake