a weekend in davis

So there I was, going 11 mph on the 80 through the East Bay (aaand then again into Fairfield) thinking “Oh lord, I’ve been so good, please let there be dumplings…”

More than I ever hoped for… Then Saturday, a warm, sunny trip to the Farmer’s Market. It’s first spring here in the Bay (and surrounding territory), the cherry trees are blooming and everything smells fresh. Except that at this particular moment it’s rainy and cold in SF, and Davis rarely smells truly fresh.

These guys will keep handing you delicious samples of different Afghani flatbreads and spreads until one of your shopping companions pulls you away from the stand.

Thoroughly addictive kettle corn. Its sweet salty scent beckons from down the block. What’s that, kettle corn? I hear you! Mama’s comin’!

Puppies (and former puppies) for adoption. So hard to resist…

At home, 8 lbs of baby back ribs from Bledsoe Pork were liberally salted and peppered, and given a generous garlic rubdown.

4 hours in the oven and a bath in an orange-cabernet vinegar glaze. Glorious.

Some very sassy arugula, tossed with gorgonzola and maple-chili glazed walnuts.

Oddly, and a little disturbingly, we happened upon some pretty decent tomatoes. I think they were from San Diego?

Penne with broccoli rabe, oyster and trumpet mushrooms.

Sunday morning, french toast.

Regrettably not pictured, because I forgot to take any pics: Sunday night, back home, pillowy soft Mi Abuelita Bonita green chili tortillas were wrapped around scrumptious black mole chicken, avocado, and crumbled queso fresco. Those tortillas appear to only be available in the Sacramento area and are the stuff of which dreams are made. Its only been a week and already I’m jonesing for my next fix…

arts and crafts

an original little miss haiku:

porky succulence
carefully wrapped and pleated
made the princess proud

From the Princess:

I love dumplings. People all over the world have discovered that little balls of doughs fried, steamed, boiled or baked and often times stuffed with savory and/or sweet fillings are the best. idea. ever. Over the years, I have encountered dumplings of all shapes and sizes but I can say that I have never met a dumpling that I did not like. I will eat dumplings until I bust – especially if they’re filled with shrimp and shaped to look like goldfish.

My passion for dumplings began in the small island nation of Japan, a nation home to a populace whose gastronomical capacity for tiny edibles is unrivaled. The most popular Japanese dumpling, the gyoza, is most often served alongside a steaming bowl of ramen noodles. But why fill up valuable dumpling space with noodles? Why not enjoy the dumpling as the crown jewel, the headliner of the meal? Well, first, it’s kind of a pain to make – seeing as each one of those suckers must be made by hand and thus the “time to construct vs time to consume” ratio is not very good. Second…there is no second!! Teach your friends, have a dumpling making party! Revel in how beautiful and orderly they look as you make rows and rows of dumplings!

At our house, Princess Mom would make platefuls of gyoza on special occasions or if she hadn’t seen me in a long time and felt a maternal need to make me happy. Gyoza, dipping sauce, and rice. The rice was really just there because, well, every meal had rice.

To make Princess Mom’s Japanese Gyoza

Combine and mix well with hands:

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 small head of green cabbage, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 cup chopped garlic chives
5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp potato starch

Note: Rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water, when they soften, squeeze excess water out of them and finely chop.

Spoon out a tbsp of the pork filling into the center of a round gyoza wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wrapper and carefully fold – pleating one side only. The water will help stick the dumpling wrapper together. They should look like above – Little Miss did a good job!

Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large deep frying pan. When oil is hot, start placing gyoza into the pan and fill the bottom of the pan with them – cram as many as you can without crushing them (they can be touching each other). Fry until the bottoms are browned, then with a lid ready in one hand, throw about 1/3-1/2 cup of water into the pan (the gyoza should be sitting in about 1/4 in of water) and immediately cover (it will be very steamy – oil and water no mixey). Wait about 5-10 min until all of the water is absorbed and dumplings are steamed. Take lid off and cook for another 1-2 min until bottoms are crispy again – dump them out into a big platter and gorge.

Dipping sauce can be made by mixing 2 parts soy sauce with one part rice vinegar and a drop or two of chili oil to taste!