Appetizers & Snacks

Aunt Jen’s Chicken Ginger Dumplings

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

It seems most people that cook a fair amount have a signature dish. It may not even be their own recipe and it certainly doesn’t have to be fancy, but when you tingle with anticipation knowing what they will bring to every dinner party, family outing or potluck, then you have discovered their signature dish.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

There are quite a few members of my family with multiple signature dishes. One of these talented people is my Aunt Jen. Everything she makes is delicious, but one of her party appetizers that always gets everyone into a mad feeding frenzy is her chicken dumplings.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

As with any dumpling, the filling is where this recipe stands out. Bursting with tender ground chicken and a punch of flavor from the ginger and scallions these bites are perfectly paired with any soy sauce based dipping sauce you have on hand.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

The second best part of these dumplings, because you can’t compete with the taste, is that other than the time involved, creating these smash party bites is a quite simple process.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Throw together the filling in a food processor, stuff and enclose the pre-made wrappers and steam. Then eat of course. Or share if you’re nice like my Aunt Jen.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & MochaChicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Aunt Jen's Chicken Ginger Dumplings
 
Yield: 6-8 appetizer servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 scallions, white and green separate, chopped
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 package wonton wrappers, about 40-50 wrappers
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. If you are going to cook them right away then prepare a steamer basket by lining with a round piece of parchment paper. This will keep the dumplings from sticking while they cook. I’ve read that you can also use a small plate, but I’ve never tried it.
  2. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and white parts of the scallions until fragrant and the onions are slightly translucent.
  3. Combine the chicken and sautéed vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  4. Place the processed chicken mixture into a medium mixing bowl then add the green parts of the scallions, the soy sauce, the remaining 1½ tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and cilantro, if using. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fill a small bowl or cup with warm water and set aside. Make sure wonton wrappers not in use are covered so they don’t dry out. To fill the dumplings place a teaspoon of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Use your finger to rub some water onto the edge of the wrapper to help it seal together. When folding in half bring two corners together to create a large triangle, making sure to squeeze out any air. Tightly pinch with your fingers to seal. To create the shape in these images bring the two opposite points of the triangle together and pinch. Lay the sealed dumplings on the baking sheet while you are making the rest.
  6. If you are cooking the dumplings right away steam them in a single layer on the parchment paper lined steamer basket for 12 minutes. Once they are cooked you can sauté them in sesame oil for a couple minutes on each side if desired. Serve with soy sauce. If you are freezing them for later place the baking sheet in the freezer until they have frozen individually before moving them all to a large freezer bag. To cook from frozen steam for at least 20 minutes. Whether you are cooking right away or freezing the dumplings for later work in batches so they aren’t sitting out for too long. This might cause them to dry out and lose their seal.

 

Crisp Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus

My brother gave me one of the most thoughtful Christmas gifts last year: a copy of this beautiful Tasting Colorado cookbook. Every recipe is a popular dish from a Colorado restaurant, covering everything from fluffy biscuits to local mouthwatering steak. Not only did I wish I could stuff my face into every picture and eat the contents, but I’ve actually been to a few of the restaurants!

Although he’s a Boston native, Colorado stole my brother’s heart 10 years ago and he’s lived there ever since. I get a chance to visit him once or twice a year and for those of you who have never been add it to your bucket list. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there.

While flipping through the cookbook and mopping drool from my mouth I was so excited to stumble upon this recipe from the restaurant Six89. Six89 closed in 2012 and their gnocchi salad disappeared along with it. Until now.

I cannot properly express in words the deliciousness of this dish. The crispy gnocchi together with the savory shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and nutty Parmesan is enough to have you going back for more. But when you add the shallot vinaigrette and leafy greens this meal becomes irresistible.

You can certainly use store-bought gnocchi to make this dish, but I highly recommend taking the extra time to tackle homemade gnocchi to experience the full potential of each mouthwatering bite.

Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
Ingredients
for the gnocchi
  • 2 cups gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups asparagus, blanched and cut into 1” pieces
for the vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 4 cups baby field greens
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan, for serving
Directions
  1. Boil the gnocchi in a medium saucepan until they float to the top and are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the gnocchi until crispy and lightly browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium then add the shallots and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the asparagus slices and sauté until warmed through then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
for the vinaigrette
  1. Combine the shallots, mustard, oregano and white wine vinegar. Whisk together well with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the gnocchi with 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Plate the gnocchi.
  2. Toss the baby field greens with some of the vinaigrette and place over the gnocchi. Top each plate with a generous serving of fresh grated Parmesan.

Recipe from Tasting Colorado:  Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State.

Smoked Salmon Dip

This smoked salmon dip is the perfect conclusion to my Mother’s Day tribute posts. My stepmom is the one who told me about this Barefoot Contessa recipe, my grandma and I end up discussing our love for bagels with lox on a weekly basis and my mom is the one who first got me to try smoked salmon.

Although I was a picky eater as a child there were a few things I loved that most kids my age would not have gone near. Thanks to my mom I had an affinity for smoked salmon, crab cakes and grossing kids out at my lunch table with my liverwurst sandwiches.

My mom would sit down next to me with some odd food and say that she wasn’t going to tell what it was until I tried it. It wasn’t that my curiosity would get the better of me, although I’m sure that was part of it. I had complete trust and faith in my mom that if she thought I should try something then I would like it, and she was always right.

My first taste of smoked salmon came in the form of smoked salmon cream cheese and my mom’s favorite quickly became a favorite of mine. We lost my mom to breast cancer when I was eight years old. I think about her everyday and know she is here with me licking her lips looking at these smoked salmon dip pictures. My mom was an amazingly thoughtful, selfless and kindhearted woman who touched the lives of all her family and friends. She also had a great sense of humor, a fondness for lists and a love of food, so I know we would have been two peas in a pod.

So happy Mother’s Day to all my moms! I would not be who I am today without each and every one of you, and I love you all.

Smoked Salmon Dip
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • Pepper
Directions
  1. In stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and mustard. Season with pepper.
  3. Mix in the smoked salmon and chill until serving. I kept the smoked salmon chunks larger because I wanted to really taste it, but you can chop it as small or large you would like. Serve on slices of crusty bread, crackers, or toasted egg bagels. Optional toppings include capers and chopped scallions.

Recipe slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa.

Crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus has always been one of my favorite vegetables, even when I was a picky little kid. Everyone always loves the tops, which for some reason are my least favorite part. My dad doesn’t like the stems so sometimes we swap. Just like how Matt’s favorite Starburst are the red and orange, while mine are the yellow and pink. You can’t force these things. Only fate can cause the food stars to perfectly align.

My favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast them. It is incredibly simple and I am all about ease of preparation, especially on weeknights, but more importantly roast asparagus are delicious. They are tender, yet crunchy, have a slight char, and they soak up all the flavor from the olive oil and seasonings.

You might be nodding your head and thinking, “Yeah, roast asparagus are the best! They are so tasty there’s nothing in the world that could make them taste even more awesome!” But, my friends, you need to go one step further.

Prosciutto. Salty, delicate prosciutto makes everything better. Especially when it’s blanketing a spear of roast asparagus. I’ve had prosciutto wrapped asparagus a variety of ways, but I’m really digging this crispy version. The prosciutto is wrapped on the raw asparagus before being broiled to crispy perfection.

Served warm or cold, these are right on par for your next gathering this spring. Easy to make and so tasty everyone will be fighting over vegetables. What’s better than that?

Crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Place an oven rack about 5-6 inches below the heating element then preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet then toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Wrap each stalk of asparagus with a slice of prosciutto. Take 1 piece of prosciutto and wrap it tightly around the asparagus stalk in an upward spiral starting at the bottom of the stalk. Repeat for the rest of the asparagus.
  4. Spread the wrapped asparagus out on the baking sheet so that none of them are touching each other. Broil the asparagus for 3 minutes, flip the asparagus, then broil for 3 more minutes. The prosciutto should be crisped and lightly browned.

Recipe from CHOW.

Sun-dried Tomato and Smoked Paprika Deviled Eggs with Crispy Shallots

Deviled eggs have long been one of my favorite snacks for a gathering. They are perfect for every occasion: Christmas, Fourth of July, birthdays… who doesn’t like birthday eggs? However they seem to be most closely associated with Easter because of all the extra hard boiled eggs people tend to have after dyeing them, so I thought it was only fitting to post a deviled egg recipe in time for the holiday. These aren’t any old plain Jane deviled eggs. No, sir, these are jazzed up and pack a punch. Who knew deviled eggs could smack your tastebuds so hard? These are sun-dried tomato and smoked paprika deviled eggs with crispy shallots.

I knew I wanted to post a variation of deviled eggs for Easter, but I didn’t know which way to lean. Smoked salmon or bacon? Avocado or goat cheese? The possibilities went on and you all know how I feel about possibilities. Hint: I love them! The answer came to me in the form of a little plastic baggie. No it’s not what you think… I was high on excitement over the little sample of smoked paprika my friend brought me one morning. I had never cooked with smoked paprika before, but I could smell it from four feet away and was tingling with anticipation.

If you haven’t experienced smoked paprika before, it’s like regular paprika on steroids with an injection of smoke flavor. I tried thinking about what additional flavors would pair well and came across one of my favorite ingredient combinations in my pantry: sun-dried tomatoes and shallots. I had made a delicious sun-dried tomato mayonnaise a few months ago, which I will hopefully be sharing on Lemon & Mocha soon, and thought the technique would work perfectly for the deviled eggs.

Well it did and they were so tasty that I didn’t even share any. Except with Matt, he was all over these bad boys. Oh, and I almost forgot the crispy shallots! They are such an easy addition, but make a world of difference with their added texture. Lightly frying them up mellows their flavor and I definitely made extras to nibble on while I was cooking.

So if you’re looking for something full of flavor to liven up your traditional Easter brunch, your plain Jane birthday eggs or your late night rager snack spread, these deviled eggs will have everyone asking for more.

Sun-dried Tomato Deviled Eggs with Crispy Shallots
 
Yield: 12 deviled eggs
Ingredients
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons julienned sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 6 hardboiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus additional for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Slice the shallot into very thin rings.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot place a small handful of the sliced shallots into the sauté pan and let fry. Once the shallots are crispy, but not burned, about 2-3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Repeat until all the shallot slices are crispy.
  3. Combine the boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes and let them soak for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, carefully slice the hardboiled eggs lengthwise and place the egg yolks in a food processor. When the sun-dried tomatoes are done soaking drain them and place them in the food processor with the egg yolks. Add the mayonnaise and smoked paprika. Puree the mixture until smooth then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Evenly spoon the mixture into the empty egg whites or fill a pastry bag with the egg mixture and pipe evenly into the empty egg whites. Dust with some additional smoked paprika before serving.