Homemade Soup Dumplings & Tonkotsu Ramen–Because We’re Insane…

Nov 2015 Fam Din

It’s been two weeks since Thanksgiving and I think I’ve finally recovered from the madness.

Just in time for 15 full days of holiday craziness with my family.

Pray for me.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

At the close of Thanksgiving and 15+ hours of shopping, we held our monthly Family Dinner. When we had chatted about potential menu options a few weeks prior, my seesters and I agreed that we wanted dishes that were low-key and stress-free since we would have been so wiped out from Thanksgiving.

So obviously, we chose a menu that took hours and hours of preparation, that needed to be started days in advance and was highly laborious.

Apparently our strategy was slightly flawed.

We never learn…..

But as always, we started with some cocktails….. Pomegranate-Raspberry Saketinis!

I muddled a bunch of fresh raspberries with pomegranates in a pitcher. Added sake, a few glugs of vodka, several splashes of Cointreau, some fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice and then topped it off with a bit of pomegranate-berry soda.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Then came the appetizers – Xiao Long Bao or “Shanghai Soup Dumplings”. Normally I would say that dumplings aren’t typically too difficult to make. In fact, I usually love making them and find the folding process rather relaxing.

Not these buggers! We’re all still traumatized!

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Xiao Long Bao are a Shanghainese dumpling with a very thin skin/wrapper. They’re filled with a variety of ground proteins and an aspic that once steamed, becomes soupy–thus the name Soup Dumplings! Dumplings and Soup all in one? BRILLIANT!

Seester T took the lead with these and man, did they take some prep work! Using The Woks of Life recipe, she started with the aspic. Vegans beware because essentially, it’s a natural meat gelatin.

Yes…as in J-E-L-L-O.

Pork bones and other porky bits are thrown into a pot with water and several aromatics. Everything simmers for a few hours and then is strained and chilled.

Voila—Aspic!

Nov 2015 Fam DinShe then made a ground pork filling and threw in some shrimp because surf and turf is always a good idea. Once done, the aspic was cubed up and folded into the filling.

Next, we enlisted our niece Nini to help out with the assembly. Seestrah made the dough according to The Woks of Life’s recipe and used my pasta roller to make thin sheets for the dumpling wrappers.

Remember when I said laborious? It definitely was!

Hand cranking out the sheets so that they were paper thin and then cutting them into perfect circles with a biscuit cutter. Nini then meticulously filled and folded the dumplings to ensure they were all sealed up tightly so that none of the soup would run out during the steaming process. It took about 3 hours for us to make the wrappers and fill them all. Granted, it was our very first time but I will never, NEVER take it for granted next time I have Xiao Long Bao. Those folks can make them in lighting speed!

The XLB had good flavor and paired well with the black vinegar sauce–plus they were fun to eat! If we do ever make them again (and let’s be honest, it’ll be a very LONG time in the future), I’d like to play around with the dough. It was pretty good but I think it could be even thinner, especially on the top where it all purses together so that it’s less dense and chewy.

But heck–for our first time, it was awesome!

Nov 2015 Fam DinFor the main dish, we chose Tonkotsu Ramen where we made everything but the menma and kamboko from scratch.  And if you’re keeping tally, that means the Tonkotsu Broth, Chasu, Ajitsuke Tamago, Mayu and Ramen Noodles—ALL HOMEMADE!

By chance do you recall when I said we wanted a low-fuss Family Dinner?

We’re insane.

A few days prior to Fam Din, Seestrah N started on the Tonkotsu broth because it needs hours upon hours of simmering.  She went with Marc’s route from No Recipe and pretty much followed it to the T.

On the day of Fam Din, she made the Chasu –braised pork belly from Nami at Just One Cookbook. She also threw in an extra few pieces of pork shoulder for some added protein. And let me tell you….that chasu was beautiful, unctuous, pork heaven.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

The night before Fam Din, I prepped Nami’s Ajitsuke Tamago (shoyu eggs) since it’s best to allow them to marinate overnight. They were really easy to make and would be great just atop some steamed rice.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

In addition to the Chasu and Ajitsuke Tamago, we topped our ramen bowls with:

  • Toasted Nori (seaweed) Strips
  • Menma (marinated bamboo shoots)
  • Kamboko (fish cake)
  • Kikurage (fresh wood ear mushrooms)
  • Scallions

I also made Mayu which is a black garlic oil that was drizzled on top of our bowls of ramen.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Now let’s talk a bit about my adventure with the homemade ramen noodles.

I spend a lot and I mean A LOT of time in the kitchen. As such, I’m pretty comfortable with baking breads, working with yeast dough and making pastas. I don’t have the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid but I’ve gotten by pretty well with my hand crank pasta roller over the years. So when I was nominated (was this because I’m the youngest!?) to make the noodles, I just went with it.

I did tons and tons of research and went with Marc’s ramen noodles as well. He was detailed in account and his pictures really captured the process. If you decide to give this recipe a try, note that he was not lying that this dough is extremely dry. You’ll likely want to keep adding water but just go with it and press it all together until it forms a ball. Trust me, it eventually does.

But here’s where I start to kick myself for attempting this method without an electric pasta machine/KitchenAid attachment. Before allowing the dough to rest for several hours, you have to run it through your pasta roller a few times so that it forms smooth rectangular sheets. Sounds easy right? Well I’m sure it would have been had I not used a hand crank roller with a dry dough. It was crumbling everywhere!

I was sweating bullets trying to shove the crumbling dough into the roller….Add the fact that I tripled the recipe and now you’ll have an idea why my biceps were on fire!

Nov 2015 Fam Din

When it came time to cut them into noodles, a piece of me cried inside knowing that my arms were going to get another work out since I would need to pass the dough through the roller several more times. Another wrench was thrown into the situation when the attachment blade that cuts the noodles got stuck. I ended up hand-cutting the noodles which wasn’t ideal since I couldn’t get it as thin as I had wanted to—but it got the job done.

Moral of the story? If you’re not a pro, use a KitchenAid pasta attachment or similar thing-a-ma-bob if you make fresh ramen noodles.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

But once assembled, we were all pretty darn proud of ourselves.

It tasted LEGIT! Like, TOO-LEGIT-TO-QUIT!

Every component had a role and although laborious, had a distinct purpose to the ramen.

Nov 2015 Fam DinAnd just like the Xiao Long Bao, I will never, never underestimate or take for granted the folks who make my ramen.

Heck–they’re freaking amazing in my book.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

After polishing off our noodles and a bit of kitchen clean up, we actually took off for a little more shopping. Why? Who knows….we were delirious.

But when we came home, we tucked right into dessert.

I had made a simple Matcha Mousse-Chocolate Tart. The base was made out of crushed Oreo Cookies and filled with a fluffy matcha mousse. We’re green tea monsters, so a light and matcha-filled dessert suited us just fine.

Nov 2015 Fam DinWas dinner easy and low maintenance?

HECK NO!

Did I perhaps lose a few months off my life from the stress?

WOULDN’T DOUBT IT!

Did my sis say she needed therapy because of the XLB?

YOU BET!

But were we happy with how things turned out over all?

ABSOLUTELY!

It was a true and deep Labor of Love.

And the cherry on top?

My Trojans whooped the Bruins that day and brought back home the Victory Bell!! Aren’t my kiddos adorable in their gear????❤

Total Proud Auntie.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Oh–in case you’re wondering, we went to Target and World Market after dinner/before dessert.

What did I pick up?

A few more additions to my ever growing Nutcracker collection. Priorities people, priorities.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pomegranate-Raspberry Sake-tinis
Appetizers: Pork & Shrimp Xiao Long Bao {Soup Dumplings}
Entrees: Tonkotsu Ramen with Chasu, Shoyu Egg, Menma, Kamaboko, Kikurage
Dessert: Matcha Mousse and Chocolate Tart

Day 2 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Pomegranate Lush

The Pomegranate Lush

My seester’s in-laws have an old tree that grows the sweetest pomegranates I’ve ever tasted. The seeds are sugary sweet with just a hint of tartness. And the color is an intense deep shade of burgundy. I love to throw these gems into salads, parfaits, desserts and most recently, to flavor vodka. Infused vodkas are super easy to make and add a great flavor and kick to cocktails.

To make pomegranate infused vodka, fill a mason jar (or other clean, resealable container) about 2/3 way up with pomegranate seeds. Top off the jar with vodka and use a wooden spoon to crush up the seeds a bit to help release some of the juices. Cap the jar and refrigerate for about 2 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.

Voila! Pomegranate infused vodka at your disposal.

The Pomegranate Lush

This boozy goodnes is perfect for holiday cocktails because of it’s gorgeous hue and it packs a devilish punch. The vodka goes down quite smooth since it’s so tasty which can be a dangerous combo.

For this little number I wanted to combine the flavored vodka with a little bubbly…it is the holidays after all. Which is why I’m calling this The Pomegranate Lush –booze on booze on booze🙂

Cheers!

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The Pomegranate Lush
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1½ ounces pomegranate infused vodka
dash of simple syrup
juice from 1 lime wedge
chilled sparkling wine

Pour the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice into a glass or champagne flute. Slowly fill the glass with the sparkling wine and enjoy!

Pomegranate Mojitos – A Super Cocktail!

Pomegranate Mojitos

Is it in poor taste that I’m starting off the week with a post on Cocktails?

Nah!!!!!!!!

Especially when the cocktails are these fab Pomegranate Mojitos! Mint + Pomegranate Juice + a little Booziness —how could that be bad?

Pomegranate Mojitos

And aren’t pomegranates a super food? So as far as cocktails go….you could think of this one as being somewhat “healthier” for you.

Yup. You’re welcome.
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Pomegranate Mojitos
Serves 1

Ingredients:

15-20 Fresh Mint Leave
½ lime, cut into small wedges
½ tablespoons sugar
2 ounces light rum
4 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces club soda
1-2 cups crushed ice

In a cocktail shaker, thoroughly muddle the mint leaves, lime wedges and sugar. Add rum, pomegranate juice and fill the shaker with ice. Vigorously shake for 20 seconds and strain the liquids into a tall glass filled with ice. Top off glass with club soda. Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves.

Pomegranate-Pear Tarts + Nambé GIVEAWAY

Pomegranate-Pear Tarts

If you are anything like me, you’re still finalizing what dishes you’ll be making for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I’ve got the desserts squared away but still need to commit to an appetizer or two……Baked Brie? Cheesy Mushroom Bread? Oh, the options…

But if you are in need of a dessert to wow your guests, you must try out these beautiful Pomegranate-Pear Tarts.

Pomegranate-Pear Tarts

You can use whatever types of pears you like but I find that either Bartletts or Anjous work out best. I also put a light honey-glaze to provide a little bit of sweetness and a sheen. As for the pomegranates, they added a great freshness and crunchy texture while giving a bit of tart flavor. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the tops with crushed pistachios.

Not only are these tarts eye-catching and delicious but they only take a few minutes to put together! Perfect for holiday entertaining when I always seem like I’m racing the clock.

And since this is a time for giving Thanks….our amazing friends at Nambe are giving us a chance to say THANK YOU to our readers with a giveaway!

One reader will have the chance to win this gorgeous Handled Tray !

How to Enter: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED…Thanks!

Leave a comment and tell us what the first thing you’ll serve using the Nambe Handled Tray

For extra chances to win, leave a separate comment for each indicating which of the below you did:

  1. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already Subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
  2. Like the Nambé Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like Nambé, leave a comment and let us know); or
  3. Like our Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like” us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  4. Follow @CulinaryChron on Twitter (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so).

The deadline to enter is Monday, November 26th at 5pm (PST) and the winner will be announced the next day.

THANKS so much Nambé and HAPPY THANKSGIVING FRIENDS!

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Pomegranate-Pear Tarts
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Bartlett or Bosc Pears, cored and sliced lengthwise to 1/8 inch width
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon warm water
¼ cup pomegranate arils
fresh whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the puff pastry to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the sheet into 4 equal squares.

Transfer the puff pastry to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving ample space in between each square.

Leaving a ½ inch border of the puff pastry around each square, shingle the pear slices so that all 4 pieces have been covered. Gently fold over the dough on each side of the squares and pinch the corners to seal.

In a small bowl, mix the honey and water together until combined. Brush the tops of the pear slices with the honey glaze. Transfer the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking.

Remove the tarts from the oven and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the tarts with the pomegranate arils and serve immediately with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

New Year’s Toast with a Cutie-Pom Cocktail

Cutie Pom Cocktail


2010 is quickly coming to a close…….and 2011 is quickly approaching.

Endings and New Beginnings.

And whether you’re giving immense thanks for 2010 or cannot wait for 2011 to start, I have a great cocktail for you to toast in the New Year with.

In California, you can’t really pass a market these days that aren’t stocked with “Cuties”. Cuties are a hybrid citrus–mixed between two types of mandarins. And with tons of little munchkins around in our family, Cuties are the perfect way to get their vitamins in during the chillier months. So when I began rummaging around the kitchen to concoct a New Year’s Cocktail, I found an abundance of Cuties and some leftover Pomegranate seeds.

Add some sugar, lime juice, and a few other kitchen staples—and BADA BING, BADA BOOM! Cocktail Time! Want to make a version for the kiddies or those who want to pass on the alcohol? Simply omit the vodka. These Cutie-Pom Cocktails are just as delish and refreshing without the “added kick”.

And with that Dear Friends…..Here’s to You and the Wonderful Foodventures that await in 2011!

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Cutie-Pom Cocktail

Ingredients:

2 Ounces Fresh Cuties Juice (or other Mandarins/Clementines)
1 Ounce Premium Vodka
1 Tablespoon Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 Ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar (or Simple Syrup)
2-3 Ounces Lemon Lime Soda
Crushed Ice

In a glass, muddle the pomegranate seeds with sugar. Add Cuties Juice, Lime Juice, Vodka and stir until all the liquids are incorporated. Fill the glass with crushed ice and top off with lemon lime soda. Garnish and enjoy!

Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

 

My siblings and I live all over the country so when we come home for Christmas, we try and squeeze in as much time with each other as possible. And of course when we’re together, there is always some type of cooking, eating, laughing….and sometimes even a little bickering. Hey—just because we’re older, we’re still siblings after all🙂

Before joining our extending family for dinner and presents on Christmas Eve, the siblings (sibs-in-laws, kids, and 4-legged furry kids) gathered for lunch. The menu included Peach Bellini Cocktails, Cosmopolitan Martinis, Lemon Bars, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Rosemary Bread, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, and a decadent Seafood Cioppino in honor of our Mom.

I thought this Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad would be a nice compliment to our lunch spread—-plus the green and red colors added a lovely festive touch. When I initially thought of making it, I had intended to use Bosc or Bartlett Pears. But when we had some juicy Asian Pears on hand, my sister suggested that they would be a nice alternative. You’ll also find that most pear salads will have walnuts in them. But since walnuts are my least favorite nuts, I swapped them out for one of my favorites—pistachios. Yum.

I think the end results was a bright dish that had great texture balance from the crunch of the pomegranates and pistachios to the creamy and slightly piquant flavor from the gorgonzola to the verdant essence from the greens.  As for the Pomegranate Vinaigrette, it brought together all of the components without overpowering them.

Would our Mom have enjoyed the meal? I have no doubt she would have loved it.

And I think she would be extra proud of us for eating our veggies.🙂

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Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

8 Cups Mixed Greens (ie. Arugula, Baby Spinach, Mâche, etc.)
2 Small Asian Pears, sliced paper thin
1/3 Cup Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
½ Cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/3 Cup Pistachio Nuts, roughly chopped

Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
½ Teaspoon Sugar
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste

Prepare Vinaigrette. In a small sauce pan or skillet, heat olive oil on low. Add shallots and cook until softened—about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Place pomegranate seeds in a small bowl. Using a fork, crush the seeds to allow the juices to come out. Add shallots, sugar, and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil from the shallots until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the greens onto a large platter. Place the pears over the greens and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and gorgonzola on top. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve immediately.

Pomegranate Margaritas

Pomegranate Margaritas

 

Antioxidants? Goodness for your body. Antioxidants in a Cocktail? Goodness All Around!

There’s so much I could write about regarding our Pomegranate Margaritas but I just don’t think it could do justice as if you just made them yourself. Tart, sweet, boozy….what could go wrong?

And let’s not forget how pretty the color is—particularly for the holidays!

Cheers Friends!🙂

 

Santa's Happy Hour
ps. Since the Big Guy will be pretty stressed over the next few days, one of these plus one of our Green Appletinis will make a FABULOUS Happy Hour for Santa!

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Pomegranate Margaritas
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 Ounces White Tequila
4 Ounces Pomegranate Juice
2 Ounces Cointreau
2 Ounce Fresh Lime Juice
Margarita Salt
Ice

Fill two margarita glasses with ice and rim with salt. Fill a large cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add all liquids and vigorously shake for 15 – 20 seconds. Pour into the glasses and garnish with sliced limes. Cheers!