Crab and Mushroom Wontons in Chili Oil

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Hi, friends! How was your weekend?? Reuben and I went out TWO nights in a row this weekend like actual young city living kids! And I don't even feel that crappy! On Saturday night we ventured over to my old hood, The Sunset District, and found a new favorite bar: Lawton Tap Room. It was small, cozy, and had the right balance of chill to rowdiness. The place also smelled like cuban sandwiches, which was definitely a plus. I also discovered the dangerous black magic that is alcoholic agua fresca. It's literally agua frescas that have been fermented for however long they need and then it comes out tasting like refreshing fruity sparkling water. It's insane and hard to believe that there is any alcohol in them, but after 3 of them you definitely start to believe it. We had intentions of trying to squeeze in a late night dinner at Outerlands, but instead of spending $130 on dinner we zipped back over to Inner Richmond only to find out that ALL the Taco Bells in the bay area close at 10pm. What happened to 4th meal?! So we settled on Jack in the Box and Subway for dinner. LOL. So young. So not cool. 

The next night we crossed the narrow sea, that is the San Francisco Bay, and went to a bluegrass concert in Berkeley. Reuben bought us tickets to see the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience! To be honest with you, I had no idea who David Grisman was before this. But Reuben really loves him and was so excited to see him live for the first time. I love seeing him all giddy! I'm normally the giddy one. He made sure to download all the important facts on me before we went. From what I absorbed, he is a bluegrass legend, was great friends with Jerry Garcia, and is also a Jewish man from New Jersey. Kindred sprits, Reuben and David : ) We arrived at the show early to snag essentially front row seats, but the theater only fit like 200 people so there wasn't a bad seat in the whole place. The average age of the audience was about 62, people brought their own dinners (the show started at 7pm), and people were knitting and reading as they waited for the show to start. It was so chill and civilized and I freaking loved it. I just kept people watching and imagining Reuben and I as cute and cool 62 year old concert going grandparents. It makes my heart swell just thinking about it.

Even though I had never really listened to David Grisman before, I still found myself so moved by the music. I cried 1.5 times because it was just so beautiful! And his son Samson dedicated the sweetest song on the planet to his wife in the audience and I couldn't handle it. No End of Love by John Hartford kills me... adding it to potential wedding songs. Overall, it was a pretty swell weekend. So old, So cool.

So what do wontons and bluegrass have in common? Nothing. Well, I don't know. I bet David Grisman and his band would love these wontons!

These wontons are inspired by an appetizer that my mom makes for family get togethers and potlucks. She makes these delicious crab and mushroom stuffed mushroom caps with melty muenster cheese on top. They're so good! I took her filling, removed the dairy, and adjusted it for optimal dumpling filling performance. Crab and mushrooms seem like an unlikely combo but the brininess of the crab works really well to balance the earthy mushrooms. You then wrap up the filling in a blanket of wonton skin, boil them, and then toss them in some spicy chili oil. I normally don't crave spicy food, but this definitely hit the spot with all the cold and rainy weather we've been getting. Plus they come together relatively quickly. I swear, wontons are the easiest dumplings to make. Once you venture into the world of pleats, crescents folds, and weird dumpling origami, you'll think folding wontons are easy too.

Happy wrapping!


Crab and Mushroom Wontons in Chili Oil

makes about 28 wontons

materials:

1/2 package of medium thickness square wonton wrappers
8 oz dungeness crab meat
8 white mushrooms - washed and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions (whites + greens)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg
1/2 tsp white pepper
salt

1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water

chili oil

steps:

Place your chopped mushrooms in a bowl and sprinkle in a little bit of salt (1/4 tsp). Give it a good mix and allow to sit for 5 to 8 minutes. The salt will draw out a lot of water from the mushrooms. Using a clean dish towel or paper towels, squeeze out any excess liquid from the mushrooms over the sink. Once the mushrooms are dry place them back in a dry bowl.

Add the crab, chopped green onions, oyster sauce, soy sauce, egg, white pepper, and a pinch of salt into the mushrooms. Give it a good mix until well combined. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to let the flavors marinate.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

While you wait for the water to bowl, let's wrap some wontons!

Mix cornstarch and water to create your wonton sealer.

Place a wonton wrapper in your non-dominant hand so that it is oriented like a diamond. Add about 1 tbsp of crab and mushroom filling into the center of the wrapper. Dab a little of the cornstarch and water mixture along the top 2 edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle. Press the edges tightly. With the long edge of the triangle facing towards your finger tips, use your middle finger to create a little indent in the center of the wonton. Dab the 2 ends of the wonton and fold them together so that they touch. Pinch the ends tightly and you've made a wonton! Place wontons on a lightly floured tray or plate and cover with a lightly tamp towel to prevent them from drying out.

Boil the wontons in batches of 8 to 9, you don't want to crowd your pot, for 4 to 5 minutes. They should float to the top when ready. Scoop them out of the water when ready and drain.

Toss with as much or as little chili oil as you like and enjoy!

Β 

Kale Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Yogurt Ranch Dressing

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(yawwwwwwwwwnnnnnn) Ah, sorry. That was rude. Gosh, being a real working person is exhausting. Despite how much I miss wearing soft pants everyday and binge watching Riverdale, I'm oddly happy to be back to work. I get a sort of high when I'm busy and buzzing around being productive. It feels good to conquer things again actually use some critical thinking skills! I'm sure that this weird appreciation for work will eventual wear off after my eyes hurt from reviewing construction drawings and organizing material samples. On the positive side, I have a bunch of really cool projects coming up this year! Did I tell you I'm designing a food truck?? Sort of. But I'll share more about that later.

Should we talk about salad now? I know it is pretty basic to post a salad as the first recipe of the new year, but why not start out on a healthy note before we digress into dumplings, pizza, and cupcakes? I'm going to be super honest with you, because we're friends. I'm not a huge fan of salads... well actually, I'm just really particular about salad... wait no! I have extremely high standards for salads. Yes, that sounds better. There is nothing sadder than a limp and boring salad. One of my biggest pet peeves is ordering a sandwich at a cafe and getting a side of some spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette. That is just not going to cut it for me.

A perfect salad needs to have these 3 factors:
1. A Flavorful Dressing
2. Crunchy Things
3. Greens With Integrity

This simple kale salad gets a big check mark on all three! A lot of times, I like to pile on the ingredients. Eggs. Apples. Bagel Croutons. Salty meat. Berries. Avocado. Nuts. But since we are just starting off the year and easing back into our normal routines, simple seemed best!

I would eat anything if it was covered in ranch dressing. Even the dreaded celery stick or maybe even a beet! πŸ˜  To help us feel better about drowning our food in ranch dressing, I made a healthier greek yogurt ranch dressing! This dressing is tangy, salty, packed full of herbs, and slightly spicy from cayenne. It's so good, I might never need to reach for the Hidden Valley ever again. That takes care of a flavorful dressing. Up next is the crunch. These chickpeas are addictively crunchy, salty, smokey, and spicy. I literally could have ate the entire tray of chickpeas. The perfect snack and topping to add some much needed texture to your salad. If you are really into chickpeas or want some extra to snack on, go on and double the recipe! You won't regret it. Greens like kale, chard, or collard greens are my go to when fixing a salad. I'm not really into spring mix or that iceberg/olive garden salad stuff. If I'm going to eat a salad, I want it to really count. It should feel like I'm eating an actual vegetable! Plus I love the chew and heartiness of darker greens.

Happy salad making and resolution keeping! Don't forget to check your teeth for stray green bits in the mirror afterwards.

Also, don't worry. There's going to be less salads and more dumplings and cakes in the near future!


Kale Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Yogurt Ranch Dressing

makes 1 big ass salad, serves 4

for the chickpeas:
1 15.5oz can of chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

for the dressing:
1 1/2 cup greek yogurt
3 tbsp white vinegar
3 garlic cloves grated
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped dill
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp water
dash of cayenne - optional

for the salad:
1 head of kale
paramesan

to make the chickpeas:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drain and towel dry the chickpeas. Add them to a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and a few good turns of black pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing half way through, until they are nice and crispy!

to make the dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together greek yogurt, white vinegar, garlic, parsley, chives, dill, salt, black pepper, water, and cayenne. Adjust seasonings to personal taste and add more water if you like your dressing thinner. Place in a airtight container and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes.

to assemble the salad:

De-stem the kale and cut into small bite sized pieces or ribbons. Wash and dry the kale. Massage the kale for a few minutes until tender. Toss with yogurt ranch dressing, pile on the chickpeas, and shower with an appropriate amount of parmesan cheese.

enjoy!

Shiitake Mushroom and Beef Noodle Soup

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Heyyyy! How was your holiday break? Have you gained 20 pounds from cookies? Do you feel rested and ready to take on 2018? I baked a billion cookies, a cake, and a dozen pineapple buns. Impressed my Grandma with my baking skills and she now believes I can actually cook. Watched Coco with my family and tried to not ugly cry in public the whole time (THE MOVIE WAS SO GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL). Started watching The Crown and got my brother hooked on Riverdale (it's so terrible but so good). It has been great!

I'm wrapping up my time at home and flying back to San Francisco tomorrow night. Leaving my parent's house is always so bittersweet. Whenever I go home I always feel like a part of me reverts back to my 18 year old self, which is good and bad. Back in San Francisco, I'm a real self-sufficient and independent adult that can take care of herself. But when I'm home, all of a sudden I melt into the couch and my mom takes care of everything for me! So grateful for her. As relaxing as my time at home has been, I'm ready to get back into my normal routine and to see Reuby again! I miss my tiny kitchen, too!

Since it is nearing the end of 2017, I guess it is a time for reflection and figuring out my resolutions. So here it goes...

1. Eat more vegetables and drink more water - Pretty basic, but after all the indulgence the last few weeks I'm contemplating going vegetarian for the month of January and sort of miss going to the gym... who am I?!!!

2. Cook more of the food that I love - that includes noodle soups, dumplings, and buns! I'm super proud of all the recipes I've cranked out this past year, but I feel like there was a severe shortage of noodles and dumplings. Gonna change that.

3. Don't let Instagram get to me - To be honest with you guys, I've been developing a lot of anxiety while scrolling through Instagram. It wasn't always this way. But lately, I feel myself comparing myself to other accounts, feeling insecure, and unsure of what I want to share with the world. I don't like feeling that way, so I just have to keep reminding myself that we all have our own story to share and that the point of Eat Cho Food is to cook food that I love! Resolution #2, ya know??

4. Visit my family more - It gets harder and harder to be away from my family each year that I am away. So I've been trying to squeeze in more trips home every year. I'll be working on a project in Chicago the next few months, so I'm hoping to make some weekend trips from Chicago to Cleveland work out! Need to bake some more buns with Cho Momma!

5. Connect - This is a constant resolution for me. But I always want to work on my connections with people. Reuben. My family. My friends. You. It's hard when people are scattered around the world, but it brings me a lot of joy to connect with a far away living friend, even if it is a short phone call!

For my last recipe of 2017, I'm sharing my favorite comfort food. Noodle soup. I crave it when I'm sick. When I'm sad. When I'm tired. When I feel like celebrating. Heck, all the time! My mom can make a mean noodle soup out of anything. The random ingredients left in our fridge. Or the leftover pot roast that needs to get eaten up. This noodle soup has a super rich and deep broth made up of shiitake mushrooms and beef. The mushroom broth is made by steeping dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water. You can get dried shiitake mushrooms at most asian supermarkets. If you're soaking mushrooms for a stir fry or a non soup dish, never throw away the broth, it's way to valuable to waste! Freeze and save it for the next time you need some quick soup! This noodle soup is nourishing and comforting. After all the cookies, cakes, and meaty feasts, this is the perfect simple bowl of food to start your new year off with!

Happy New Year!


Shiitake Mushroom and Beef Noodle Soup

serves 4

materials:

10-12 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 cups boiling hot water
4 cups beef broth
3 cloves garlic
1 small white onion
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper - or more to taste
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped green onions

1 package of rice noodles - prepared according to packaged directions. Leave noodles in a strainer and tossed with a bit of oil to keep the noodles from sticking.

1 ribeye steak
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp oil

* You can make this vegetarian by swapping out the beef broth for vegetable broth and the steak with tofu or bok choy. 

steps:

Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a heat proof container and pour boiling water over them. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged. Cover with a lid or plate and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the mushrooms to soften and steep to produce your mushroom broth.

Combine the steak with oyster sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, and oil in a bowl, container, or ziplock bag. give it a good mix and allow the steak to marinade for 20-30 minutes, while you prepare your soup.

Thinly slice the garlic cloves and chop the green onions. Peel and slice the white onion in half and then thinly slice into crescents. Set aside.

Once the mushrooms have soaked, remove the mushrooms and either cut them in half or leave them whole if they are small enough. You can also slice them if that is your preference. Strain the mushroom broth through a fine mesh sieve to catch any grit. Set aside the broth and the mushrooms.

Add the beef broth, mushroom broth, sliced garlic, white of the green onion, salt, white pepper and dark soy into a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the mushrooms and bring the heat down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust flavorings according.

To prepare your steak, add a bit of oil into a skillet and bring up to a medium high heat. Sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Cook for longer if you prefer your meat cooked more well. Remember that the heat of the soup will cook the steak a little more. Place the steak on a cutting board and allow to rest for 3 -5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak.

To assemble the noodle soup bowls add a bundle of cooked rice noodles into a bowl. Place a few slices of steak on top and ladle your soup over the noodles and steak, making sure the grab a few mushrooms. Garnish with the green onions and enjoy!