Showing posts with label dumplings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dumplings. Show all posts

Sunday, October 21, 2012

For the Love of a Good Dumpling

A warm welcome to Melissa Bourbon Ramirez today. She's giving away The Lola Cruz Christmas Story for free right now, so if you have an e-reader, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Details are just below the recipe.

And now Melissa!

I love visiting Mystery Lover’s Kitchen.  It’s one of the best blogs out there and it’s so much fun to be part of it!  I’ve been here a handful of times, each time-sharing a favorite family recipe:

Pumpkin bread:

My passion for mahi mahi with strawberry cilantro salsa:

Spanish rice:

Today I thought about discussing the merits of fried okra, but I fear it is a regional thing and there’s something a lot of people don’t like about the slimy vegetable, so I nixed that idea.

I also considered caramel corn, a recipe which, like Sheila’s Home Ec Pizza, came from my high school home ec class and is still something I make several times a year, particularly during the holidays, and which my family goes gaga over.  But I’m angling for another invite back to Mystery Lover’s Kitchen to share this recipe as fall settles in so I’m going to keep it under my hat for now.  We’ll see if they bite. 

Which leads me to dumplings.

Today I want to share with you my love of these little balls of goodness.  A good dumpling is like nothing else.  Did you know there are whole entire websites devoted to nothing but the dumpling?  It’s true.  And fascinating to read about the lengths dumpling fanatics will go to in their search for the perfect dumpling.

I’m not quite so fanatical as all that, but I do love me a good dumplin’, as we say in the South.

Let me interject for a moment to say that while we now live in North Texas, we’re from California, home of dim sum (2nd home, actually, after, you know, China). Dim sum is Chinese breakfast and while I’ve heard they have some good places in Dallas, we’ve not found them.  So we have truly been on a dumpling adventure since our little Podunk town does not have a Chinese restaurant, let alone dim sum.

My son is another dumpling fanatic.  We started our dumpling adventure together by making gluten free pot stickers (he has celiac disease, so we’re always experimenting with different non-gluten flours).  We’ve become very good at our dumpling making, getting much more ambitious.  And when I say much more, I mean by leaps and bounds.  The steamed dumpling and a variety of fillings to tickle everyone’s taste buds have now eclipsed the simple pot sticker with the ready-made wrappers. 

Making dumplings is surprisingly easy.  What got complicated for us when we made them recently is that we decided to make 5 kinds.  That’s what happens when you have a vegetarian child, another with celiac, yet another with type 1 diabetes, and some meat-eaters, all in the same household. 

But even meeting everyone’s tastes and needs, our dumpling-making extravaganza is always a huge success.  The greatest thing about a dumpling adventure is knowing that the gluten free steamed dumplings are gluten free by nature.  They’re made of white rice flour and tapioca starch and are JUST like the ones in the dim sum restaurants we love so much.   That’s a bonus for my son who hates to be different.

This time around, we made gluten free pork and gluten free shrimp dumplings.  We made pork dumplings and shrimp dumplings with ready-made wonton wrappers.  And we made vegetarian dumplings with bean sprouts, scallions, nappa cabbage, and ginger.

The recipes were from this awesome website all about... DUMPLINGS! (

I’m including the basic Shrimp Paste filling here for you, courtesy of Andrea Nguyen and her Asian Dumpling Tips website.  You can use the ready-made wonton wrappers or get adventurous, like we did, with the steamed dumpling dough.  Either way, enjoy!

 Basic Dim Sum Shrimp Paste 

Makes 1 cup

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (6 1/2 ounces net weight)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Scant 1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion, white and green parts

2 tablespoons minced bamboo shoot

1 1/2 teaspoons minced pork fatback or canola oil

So, if you have an hour... or three... try your own dumpling extravaganza.  You won’t be sorry.

To get everyone in the holiday spirit, The Lola Cruz Christmas Story, is now free!  Get a taste of Lola for the holidays on your Kindle, Nook, or whatever eReader you use!
A Lola Cruz Christmas:


Barnes & Noble:



About Deadly Patterns

Bliss, Texas, is gearing up for its annual Winter Wonderland festival, but when a mysterious Scrooge ends the merriment with murder, it’ll take more than a ghost from Christmas past to set things right.

Designing a holiday fashion show set in the town’s most prominent historic mansion seems like a job tailor made for dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy. But with the mansion’s restoration still in progress and threatening weather on the horizon, she’s feeling on pins and needles more than reveling in holiday cheer.

Having volunteered to play Santa in this year’s festival, Dan Lee Chrisson was ready to move on after his divorce—until Bliss became his final resting place. Discovering his body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. She’ll need plenty of help from friends and even her late great-grandmother’s spirited sleuthing if she’s to have a ghost of a chance of catching a killer who’s just jumped to the top of the naughty list….


About Sacrifice of Passion
Texas rancher, Vic Vargas, finds himself facing more than his stubbornly silent son when the chupacabra, a supposedly mythical blood‐sucking beast, starts killing his livestock—and stalking Delaney West, the town’s newly returned veterinary assistant, the sensual woman who ran from the altar and broke his heart twelve years earlier.

Reluctantly, he seeks her help to get to the bottom of the disturbing animal mutilations, only to have her break through to his sullen son...and rekindle the love he’d thought was lost forever. But her refusal to share a terrible secret sends her running straight into the lair of the chupacabra, plunging her back into her worst nightmare, and forcing them both to confront the wrongs of the past—in order to stay alive for the future they desperately want.

Also available from Melissa Bourbon Ramirez: Bare Naked Lola

Going undercover is second nature for Private Investigator Lola Cruz, but she’s out of her league when the case of a murdered Royals Courtside Dancer leads her to a local nudist resort. Parading around the sidelines of Sacramento’s professional basketball scene in a barely-there cheerleading outfit is one thing—but parading around in nothing but smile? If she has any chance of hiding this from her traditional family and on-again/off-again boyfriend Jack, she’s going to have a lot more than her duct tape bra and killer dance moves to keep under wraps….

About Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense titles.

Visit Melissa at her website | Twitter Page | Facebook Home | Goodreads | and Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dumpling Dipping Sauce for Year of the Dragon from Cleo Coyle

Okay, let's get this out of the way right now. I do not make my own dumplings. I mean, are you kidding? I live in New York City, land of Chinese take-out. Despite cooking a handful of Chinese-inspired dishes at home, when it comes to dumplings, I leave it to the professionals. 

With New York's Chinatown only a subway ride away, Marc and I have enjoyed Chinese food, culture, and New Years' celebrations for years. I'll tell you a secret, too. Our favorite little hole-in-the-wall dumpling paradise can be found on Mosco Street. Blink and you'll miss it. Mosco is really more of an alley in Chinatown, but it's home to this little joint...

To find this dumpling shop yourself, simply locate Mosco Street in Chinatown and stroll down it. The street is so small, you can't miss this shop, which serves delicious street food. (See Mosco Street on Google Maps by clicking here. See our snack of fried dumplings and pork buns below...)

Dumplings really are a budget-friendly comfort food. So if you're looking for a change-up from pizza or fries, give dumplings a try this week because eating dumplings is a long-standing tradition for the Chinese New Year, and we've just entered the Year of the Dragon!

Yesterday marked the first day of the Lunar New Year and according to the Chinese zodiac, we said goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit and hello to the mighty and powerful Dragon. 

Have you ever wondered why the Dragon leads the street parades during Chinese New Year celebrations? It's for a very good reason: The Chinese say the Dragon leaves wealth and prosperity in his path--a much better prospect than following the NYPD's horses, wouldn't you say? :)


To see a short montage of the Lunar New Year
opening ceremonies in New York's Chinatown,
click the arrow in the window below...

There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. The year you were born dictates your sign, and the Year of the Dragon is considered the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.

Which animal sign you were born under? The signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat/Ram/Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig/Boar. 

A very detailed zodiac chart, showing which years fall under which signs, can be found at this link: When you jump to the site, click on each animal to read its characteristics. The charts include compatibility predictions and warnings. (...and if you have a spouse, do take those with a grain of salt!)

Because eating dumplings is a tradition for the Lunar New Year, I decided to share a few simple tips with you today for getting the best out of your take-out or (frozen grocery store) dumpling snacking.

Tip #1 - For making frozen at home or reheating take-out dumplings, you don't need a bamboo steamer. I use an inexpensive ($9) stainless steel collapsible basket that can be placed in any pot. This is a great little kitchen gadget that I often use to steam veggies. I'm sure most of you have seen one of these baskets; but for anyone who hasn't, click here to learn more or purchase.

Tip #2 - Line your steamer with leaves of cabbage, spinach, or another leafy green. (The leaves you see in my photos are from baby bok choy.) They impart a lovely, subtle flavor as the dumpling steams. They also keep the dumpling bottoms from sticking and provide an attractive serving base. As you see in my photos, I transferred the leaves from the steamer to the plate for a prettier presentation.

Tip #3 - If you’re using straight soy sauce to dip your dumplings, let me assure you that there is a much tastier option. Many Chinese and Japanese dipping sauces blend soy sauce (or tamari*) with other ingredients to create a flavorful eating experience. The ingredients in this one are easily found in American grocery stores, so the next time you pick up a package of frozen dumplings or call for take-out, try my recipe and…

Eat with Dragon joy!  
~ Cleo 

*Tamari [tuh-MAH-ree] is similar to soy sauce but thicker and darker. It is more mellow than soy sauce and tends to have a smoother, more complex flavor.

Cleo Coyle, who married
a Dragon, is the author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s
Dipping Sauce

Also delicious with egg rolls, 
fried shrimp, chicken nuggets, 
tempura, sushi, and sashimi 

To download this recipe in a PDF form that you can print, save, or share, click here!


¼ cup water

¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari* - scroll up for more info)

2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice (fresh is best!)

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 green onion (scallion)

Directions: Stir together first four ingredients. Be sure the sugar dissolves. Slice the green onion into the mixture. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Optional extras for added flavor:  
A splash of sesame oil; a bit of ginger (freshly grated); a splash of your favorite drinking wine or Japanese sake (or, if you can find it, Chinese Shaoxing rice wine).

Basic ratio for smaller or larger batches:  1 part water + 1-½ part soy sauce + ½ part lime or lemon juice + ½ part sugar + 1 green onion (scallion) 

May this 
Year of the Dragon
bring you the four
blessings of the East:
wealth, virtue, harmony,
and long life!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.