My friend Raffaella comes from a huge family and fondly recalls making dumplings with her sisters growing up. (Her brothers just ate them.) Dumplings are a great way to use up veggies that don’t look fresh anymore. Minced inside a dumpling, they come back to life! I’ve provided a couple of ideas here, but as with so many recipes, the filling is up to you. If you mess up and it comes out bland, just dip the dumpling in soy sauce or chile sauce and you’ll still be happy. Or if you’ve made peanut sauce or spice oil lately dip in those.
If budget allows and you want to save time, see whether your grocery store has pre-made dumpling wrappers, usually in the freezer section or Asian aisle. They come round or square and might be called gyoza or wonton wrappers, but any will work.
Poutine isn’t an everyday meal, but it’s a favorite. Since I don’t like deep-frying at home, I bake the fries; they still get crispy without the fuss of frying. Montreal-style poutine is made with vegetable gravy, as in this recipe, but you can also make your favorite beef or turkey gravy. Of course, proper poutine uses cheese curds, and if you can find them do use those, but fresh mozzarella works for me. It has the same spongy quality, just maybe with a little less squeak. This recipe does come out a little more expensive than you would think because of the fresh mozzarella. If you use less or skip the cheese entirely, you can cut the price in half.
When the weather turns cool, I only want to eat warm, flavorful food—in comes roasted vegetables season. Roasting is easy, it warms up the kitchen, and it makes the house smell like the holidays. If you’re uncertain how to prepare a new vegetable, you usually can’t go wrong with roasting— most things end up sweeter, with nice crunchy bits. If you roast a bunch of vegetables at the beginning of the week, you can eat them throughout the week in various ways: with eggs at breakfast, folded into an omelette, as a side dish, in a taco or sandwich, on toast, or with any grain.
I had planned to share this lovely warm barley salad I made last week with you guys, but since I got back from Texas, one thing has dominated my thoughts: queso.
Queso; that gooey, warm dip made mostly of cheese with a little chili and tomato for extra flavor. Northern friends might call it nacho cheese. The Texan version is ubiquitous at Tex Mex places, parties, and on every appetizer menu. The key to a good Texan queso is to use processed cheese or velveeta. There really is no other way to get that particularly gooey, creamy texture.