So I am a member of the Brooklyn Kitchen Book Club and this month’s book was Murder in the Kitchen by Alice B. Toklas. It was described as follows
“In this memoir-turned-cookbook, Alice B. Toklas describes her life with partner Gertrude Stein and their famed Paris salon, which entertained the great avant-garde and literary figures of their day. With dry wit and characteristic understatement Toklas ponders the ethics of killing a carp in her kitchen before stuffing it with chestnuts; decorating a fish to amuse Picasso at lunch; and, travelling across France during the First World War in an old delivery truck, gathering local recipes along the way. She includes a friend’s playful recipe for ‘Haschiche Fudge’, which promises ‘brilliant storms of laughter and ecstatic reveries’, much like her book.”
And I was sold. The book was a quick, easy and fascinating read. Now I want penguin to release their Great Foods series into a box set so I can get them all! The Brooklyn Kitchen hosts a potluck when the book club meets, and we are supposed to create a dish inspired by the book. After reading the recipe for Shallot and Cheese soup, I was reminded of the freakishly amazing French onion soup dumplings at Stanton Social and knew that was what I had to make.
I decided A – To try and make them healthier, i.e not dousing them in butter and cheese and frying them, and B – not have it take 24 hours. Traditional Chinese soup dumplings are made by making a gelatin of soup, and wrapping cubes of soup or meat jell-o, if you will, into wonton wrappers that are then steamed. They are amazing, and if you have not ever had them, hop to it. I intend to one day do these the fancy way, but for this recipe, I simply did not have the time, and I still managed to create something delicious, albeit different.
makes – 50 dumplings, and a quart of leftover soup (half the recipe if you don’t want leftover soup)
nutrition – not welcome here.
things you will need…
1 pack gyoza or wonton wrappers – i used wonton because they are easier and faster.
4 large onions*
3 red onions
5 cups of beef stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 block gruyere
1/2 stick of butter
1 pinch sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tb olive oil – i used truffle olive oil for added flavor, it was a smart move.
S & P to taste
Step 1 – Make French onion soup! Peel and chop your onions and sautee in olive oil on low heat for about 30 minutes, when they start to become clear, throw in a pinch of sugar to help the carmelization.
Step 2 – Add in your garlic, stock, wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat, cover partially, and let it cook for another 30 minutes, and add in fresh ground sea salt and pepper.
Step 3 – Drain the broth from your onions and reserve both in bowls. Grate your gruyere into yet another bowl and get out your wrappers.
Step 4 – Rub your stick of butter over the bottom of a pan. You want your dumplings to steam themselves while they bake, so you want the entire wrapper to be wet. (Usually with dumplings you just use the liquid to seal) Dunking the wrappers also infuses them with the soup flavor that you want. So make your dumplings as follows and work quickly. You want them to be as filled as below so you have room to close them.
Step 5 – After all of your dumplings are made, cut the remaining cold butter into small cubes and dot around the dumplings in the pan. Cover in grated gruyere cheese and put into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, should you be broiler-less as I am. When your cheese is burning, they are done!
I brought these to book club, and they were a hit, i ate them with bread and cheese, as well as the crustless spinach quiche my friend made. There was also amazing date bread, a peach and basil cobbler, an incredible peach and wine gelee, and of course, great wine and intelligent conversation. A wonderful evening, I invite everyone to join me next time! And maybe i’ll make the Haschiche Fudge recipe next….