Monday, January 29, 2018

Edamame Dumplings


I've made a lot of dumplings over the years. They've ranged in styles and methods quite significantly. I've made them with homemade wrappers as well as store-bought. I've made meat fillings, seafood fillings, and veggie fillings. And I've loved them all.

I love the extra-chewy texture of a slightly thicker homemade dumpling wrapper, but I equally love the convenience and speed of using store-bought wrappers from my local Chinese market. I enjoy a juicy, unctuous meat filling just as much as I enjoy a lighter, more colorful veggie version.

It's really difficult to pick a favorite dumpling recipe, next to impossible actually, but in general I've enjoyed the vegetable filled versions just a bit more than the rest. Maybe it's because they're a bit unexpected, or maybe subconsciously I think I'm being "healthy."

These edamame dumplings are probably the easiest veggie dumpling I've ever made. In fact, they are probably the easiest dumpling recipe in general I've tried because all the ingredients just get dumped into a food processor. Simple as that!

They are also incredibly delicious, filled with creamy pureed edamame, with some larger chunks for texture, and infused with vibrant freshness from a whole lot of lemon zest and lemon juice.

I usually pleat my dumplings once I seal them, but this time I wanted to make simple half-moons, and instead of sitting them upright I laid them flat on their sides to have a bit more surface area for crisping in the pan. They did take up more room in the pan, so I had to cook smaller batches, but the overall effect was worth it.

I served these brightly-flavored edamame dumplings with a toasted sesame-soy dipping sauce, a nice compliment which balances the tartness of the lemon with a salty and nutty accent.

These dumplings are crazy easy to make, so there's no excuse not to try them! I've made them in the past for a family party, and they were a huge hit. This time around I made sure to freeze most of them so I can enjoy them whenever the mood strikes.

Edamame Dumplings
Makes about 45 dumplings
(Adapted from Hey There, Dumpling!)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1 pound (455 g) frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 pound/455 g) package round dumpling wrappers
Toasted Sesame-Soy Dip (recipe follows)

In a food processor, combine the oil, soy sauce, chile flakes, and two-thirds of the edamame and puree until smooth. Add the remaining edamame and pulse just until coarsely chopped.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and zest the lemons directly into the mixture, then squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Stir well with a rubber spatula until evenly mixed. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice.

Take out five wrappers and cover the rest with a damp dowel. Lay out the five wrappers like ducks in a row. Wet 1/2 inch of the rim of each wrapper. Scoop a level tablespoon of filling into the center of each wrapper, shaping it elongated like a football to make it easier to fold. Fold the wrapper in half like a taco and pinch the edges at the top center. Continue folding the dumpling using your preferred folding method.

At this point, the dumplings can either be cooked immediately, covered and refrigerated for up to a couple hours, or frozen.

To pan-fry the dumplings, use a medium or large nonstick skillet (or cook two batches at the same time using two pans). Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil for a medium skillet and 2 tablespoons for a large one. Place the dumplings 1 at a time, sealed edges up, in a winding circle pattern. The dumplings can touch. Medium skillets will generally fit 12 to 14 dumplings, large skillets will fit 16 to 18 dumplings. Fry the dumplings for 1 to 2 minutes until they are golden or light brown on the bottom.

Holding the lid close to the skillet to lessen splatter, use a measuring cup to add water to a depth of roughly 1/4 inch (about 1/3 cup water). The water will immediately sputter and boil vigorously, Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, lower the heat to medium, and let the water bubble away for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is mostly gone. When you hear sizzling noises, remove the lid as most of the water is now gone. Let the dumplings fry for another 1 or 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown and crisp. Turn off the heat and wait until the sizzling stops before using a spatula to transfer dumplings to a serving plate. Display them with their bottoms facing up so they remain crisp.(Alternatively you may steam these dumplings in a bamboo steamer basket lined with parchment paper or cabbage leaves.)

Serve dumplings with the Toasted Sesame-Soy Dip.

Toasted Sesame-Soy Dip
Makes about 1/2 cup
(From Hey There, Dumpling!)

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. If you have time, cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight. Pick out the garlic and throw it away before serving. The dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Walt Disney World: Morimoto Asia


Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, formerly known as Downtown Disney, has completely transformed in the past couple of years. The most noticeable development has been the addition of many exciting restaurants featuring all different types of cuisines. There's something for everyone!

The number of have-to-try restaurants at Disney Springs has surpassed my own ability to visit often enough to try them all! If only I lived closer.

When my family traveled to Orlando back in December for our Very Merrytime Disney Cruise I headed straight to Disney Springs for lunch after checking into our resort. I had made a reservation in advance at Morimoto Asia, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's contribution to this newly developing culinary epicenter on Disney property.

My server at lunch was Hien, and he was fantastic. Truly knowledgeable, helpful, and courteous. He made a point to tell me about the themeing of Morimoto Asia, because just like everything else at Disney there's more thoughtful planning and detail than you'd expect at a regular restaurant.

Looking at the Morimoto Asia building you'll notice the sign on top reads Springs Bottling Co. Supposedly, this space was once used as a bottling factory, and even has some of the old gears and bottles from the factory as some of the decor in the upstairs area, where there's a bar and lounge, as well as a sushi bar.

One of the most prominent aesthetic pieces throughout the space has to be the chandeliers. They are quite stunning from every angle whether you're downstairs, upstairs, or somewhere in between.

There's also a pretty great open kitchen (well, it's behind glass, but it's open as far as I'm concerned), and if you're lucky enough to be seated nearby, you'll have a really nice view of these Peking ducks. Don't they look delicious?!

Now that we've learned a bit about the themeing and decor at Morimoto Asia, let's take a peek at the menus. First up is the drink menu.

Since this was the first meal of my well-deserved vacation, I knew I wanted to start it off right with a cocktail. I asked Hien for some suggestions, and went with one of the highlights he pointed out, the Sparkling Belvedere. This combination of Belvedere vodka, yuzu juice, Calpico (a creamy Japanese soft drink), cranberry juice, and Moet sparkling rose is delicately sweet, refreshing, and light with a bit of dryness from the Champagne. I definitely made a good choice.

Here's a look at the food menu.

I was actually dining alone. Some of my family with annual passes went to the parks, while the rest of the family was on a later flight. I saved my park money, and came to Morimoto instead. The only problem with dining alone is that when you're a foodie like me, and want to try a bunch of different things, it's tough because there aren't others to share with (and I don't like wasting food or money by ordering more than I can eat). I sucked it up, and ordered an appetizer and entree all for myself though because there was no way I was coming here without trying at least a couple dishes.

I had my eye on the Kanikama Rangoon, which is the Morimoto version of crab rangoon. They are shaped like thin, long spring rolls instead of the standard triangular shape, and the wrapper is a lighter, crispier spring roll wrapper. The filling is a combination of imitation crab and blue crab, cream cheese, and a little spicy mayo. It's served with an apricot sweet chili sauce.

These rangoons are pretty crabby, so if you like crab you'll like these. They are the OPPOSITE of your neighborhood Chinese restaurant crab rangoons which are typically super heavy on the cream cheese, and wrapped in a thick, doughy shell. These are way more refined and crab-forward.

Although there were a lot of top contenders, I only had eyes for one entree on the menu, the Singapore Laksa Noodles.

The laksa broth was amazing! Mine was piping hot, creamy, and spicy, but not too spicy. There were all different textures and flavors in the bowl, from the crispy wontons to the soy-marinated hard-boiled egg with it's soft but not-runny yolk. Rice noodles and chicken meatballs rounded out the rest of the soup. The meatballs were juicy, but kind of meh in flavor. They got flavor from the broth, but that was about it. With that said, even the under-seasoned meatballs didn't detract from the out-of-this-world experience eating this wonderful laksa.

This meal for one turned out to be quite pricey, but it was what I expected. With a cocktail, an appetizer, and an entree, this wasn't going to be a bargain by any means, but I don't have a single complaint, and I'd do it again. The laksa was outstanding, and the rangoons were a revelation compared to every other rangoon I've ever tasted. And let's definitely not forget the amazing cocktail to start it all. Along with attentive service and beautiful surroundings I'd be happy to return to Morimoto Asia whenever the opportunity arises.

Morimoto Asia
1600 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 939-6686

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Pear Ginger Oatmeal Crumb Pie


Happy New Year, Mission: Food readers! I hope all of you had a wonderful winter holiday season, and I hope you're all able to stick to whatever resolutions you have come up with for the new year.

Last April I came up with a resolution of sorts to bake at least 1 pie every month for the rest of the year. With the exception of November when I got the flu the week of Thanksgiving, throwing off my pie-making game, I stuck to my goal, and baked over a dozen sweet and savory pies throughout the year! I am continuing the resolution for 2018 as well, because pie making and eating bring joy to my life, and these days I will take joy in any form I can find it. And pie form is the best form.

I baked a couple of pies for Christmas to make up for my lack of pies at Thanksgiving. My favorite of the two, the Pear Ginger Oatmeal Crumb Pie, is actually one I would consider to be one of my top four sweet pies, which is saying a lot. The other pies at the top of my list include Hummingbird PiePeppermint Mousse Black Bottom Pie, and Blueberry Nectarine Pie. These are the pies I fantasize about making and eating year round.

This Pear Ginger Oatmeal Pie pretty much kicks any apple pie's butt, in my opinion. Although I love apple pie it lacks excitement for me. It's just kind of Plain Jane even when it's jazzed up a bit (no offense, apple, but you've had your time in the spotlight). Pear is a nice twist to a fall/winter fruit for pie making. In this particular case, thinly sliced pears make for a very delicate, not too sweet filling which is nicely complimented with a crumbly oat topping.

I actually ordered this pie when I visited Magpie in Philadelphia in the fall of 2016. Later, when I purchased the Magpie cookbook I added it to my list of recipes to try. May I be so bold as to say that I prefer the pie I made to the one I purchased at Magpie! I liked the pie at Magpie, but I LOVED the one I baked.

One of the differences is that they leave the skin on the pears at Magpie, but I peeled my pears which yielded a less rustic filling. It was simply more refined and delicate in texture and flavor. I just preferred it that way. It was stunning.

Ginger is the other key ingredient in the filling. It comes in the form of finely diced candied/ crystallized ginger, which is much less assertive than the fresh version. There is also ground ginger in the topping. This gives the pie just that hint of ginger flavor without overpowering the pears.

I'd also like to add that the Magpie pie crust recipe is one of my favorites. I typically prefer making the all-butter crust from Four & Twenty Blackbirds when I am making pie dough by hand, but if I'm willing to lug out the food processor, Magpie's recipe is the bomb.

It's mostly butter with just a bit of shortening (I use Spectrum non-hydrogenated organic shortening), but both fats are cubed and frozen and then blitzed in the food processor, yielding nice crumbs without overworking or overheating the fats. Each fat offers something special to the dough, so using a combination of the two is a nice way to go. I like leaning more on the butter which offers the bulk of the flavor here, while the shortening plays a supporting role with its flakiness and structure.

Perfect, flaky, golden pie crust

This pie certainly made our White Christmas even more festive and delicious. It was incredibly popular at our family gathering, and I will most definitely be making it again and again!

Pear Ginger Oatmeal Crumb Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
(From Magpie)

Oatmeal Crumb:
1 cup (80 g) rolled oats, divided
1/2 cup (62 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (96 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons (71 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust, chilled overnight
2 1/2 pounds (1132 g) firm, ripe, unpeeled Bartlett pears, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick (I used 3 pounds of peeled Bartlett pears, to make up the difference in weight for the discarded skin)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup (63 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch (I added an extra teaspoon as well to ensure a nicely set filling for my juicy pears)
2 tablespoons minced candied/crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon fine salt

For the oatmeal crumb: Use a food processor to grind 3/4 cup of the oats, pulsing the machine until the oats resemble coarse cornmeal. Add the flour, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and pulse 5 times to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup whole oats.

Add the melted butter and blend with a fork or your fingers until the butter is incorporated and  the mixture gathers into small clumps. Set the bowl in the refrigerator and chill the crumb for 15 minutes before topping your pie.

For the pie: Lightly flour a smooth work surface and a rolling pin.

Take a chilled disk of dough out of the fridge. Give it a couple of firm squeezes just to say hello, then unwrap it and set it on the floured work surface.

Set the pin crosswise on the dough and press down firmly, making a nice deep channel across the full width of the disk. Turn the disk 180 degrees and repeat, making a second indentation, forming a plus sign.

Use your rolling pin to press down each of the wedges, turning the dough 45 degrees each time. This will give you the beginnings of a thick circle.

Now, rolling from the center outward and rotating the dough a quarter turn to maintain a circular shape, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle with an even thickness of ¼ inch.

Set your 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan alongside the circle of dough. Brush off any loose flour, carefully fold the dough circle in half, transfer it to the pan, and unfold.

At this point, the dough will be lying across rather than fitted into the pan. Now, without stretching the dough, set the dough down into the pan so that it is flush up against the sides and bottom. The best way to do this is to gingerly lift the dough and gently shift it around so that it settles into the pan bit by bit. Use a very light touch to help cozy it in.

To flute the edge, fold the overhang under to form a 1-inch wall that rests on the lip of the pan with the seam slightly below the pan’s top edge. Go around the edge of the pan and use a very light touch to firm up the wall to an even thickness from the bottom to the top and all the way around. Flute the edge of the crust at about 1-inch intervals, pressing from the inside with the knuckle of your index finger while supporting on the outside with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. Don’t pinch the dough, you want the flute to look like a thick rope.

Transfer the crust to the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling. Alternatively, at this point the crust can be covered tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or double-wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months (defrost overnight in the refrigerator before filling and baking or prebaking, or at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. (I actually pre-heated my baking sheet in the oven until ready to bake the pie).

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, candied ginger, and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the pears and toss to coat the fruit and moisten the sugar and cornstarch so that no dry white streaks remain.

Retrieve the prepared pie shell from the refrigerator and set the pan on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Scoop the filling into the shell and top with the oatmeal crumb, spreading evenly and completely covering the fruit.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pie 25 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the topping is golden and the juices bubble up through the crumb (all of my pies bake longer than recipes suggest--mine baked an extra 25 minutes beyond, a total of 55 minutes at the lower temperature--but just look for the signs and don't count on the timer to always be right). Tent the top with foil if it starts to over-brown.

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the pie cool and set, uncovered, at room temperature, overnight (or up to 3 days) before slicing and serving (mine cooled about 4-6 hours, which was plenty of time for it to set while retaining its flaky crust; I also dusted mine with confectioners' sugar before serving).


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