Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons

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Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

I’m a PIG! At least that what my friend and co-worker Yanan tells me, and who knows the Chinese zodiac better than a person born and raised in China? It’s a lucky sign/animal Yanan tells me, but being called a pig certainly doesn’t have the best ring to it. However, I must confess I have been known to be a little piggish when it comes to food LOL! Today’s Crispy Wontons are inspired by Yanan and the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 12th.

Wontons wrapped three ways on a wooden cutting board demonstrating pork wontons for the Crispy Wontons recipe.

Yanan can make the best pork dumplings and steamed buns and has been my inspiration and guidance for this post. She is always willing to teach, lend a helping hand, and has a huge heart. I can say with some honesty that my wonton making has improved with her recommendations and practice from making this post. However, it will be some time, if ever, that I can proclaim to be a pro at Chinese cooking. I will at least say it is fun to practice!

Yanan and her family immigrated from China to Quebec, Canada in 1999. They had to learn French in a French-speaking province, find employment and make their way through endless challenges in a new country. Yanan was a teacher in China and already knew technical English, but learning Americanized English was a thing of its own. The slang, profanity and innuendoes still took some learning. The tones in the Chinese language are very prevalent when she is speaking English today. They provide a level of entertainment because her tone can change with each word, leaving you to wonder if she is being passionate, angry, or simply excited about something.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

From Quebec, Yanan and her family moved across the country to the province of Alberta. She found employment with the Correctional Service of Canada and eventually became a co-worker of mine. She is a joy to me, and I consider myself lucky to call her a friend. Happy New Year Yanan!

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.
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Crispy Wontons

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 52 wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese wine or sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers
  • as needed canola oil

Instructions

  • Line a large baking tray with parchment and fill a small bowl with cold water.
  • In a medium bowl add all ingredients except wrappers and canola oil. Mix gently until well combined.
  • Lay 8-10 wrappers on a flat surface. Place approximately 2 teaspoons of pork filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water using your fingertip. Fold the wrapper in half diagonally, pressing lightly on the edges to create a good seal. Dab both lower corners with water and bring both lower corners across and together pressing lightly to hold. It will look like a bishops hat. Place prepared wonton on the baking tray and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Keep the wrappers and prepared wontons covered with a clean damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
  • Attach a candy/high-temperature thermometer to the side of a large pot at least 9" in diameter. Add enough canola oil to come up a minimum of 3 inches. Heat oil to 350°F.
  • Carefully drop wontons into the hot oil, about 8-10 at a time depending on the size of your pot. Cook for 2 minutes per side until golden. Remove with a mesh/slotted scoop to a paper towel-lined tray. Repeat with remaining wontons, adjusting temperature as you go to maintain the 350°F.
  • Serve immediately with plum sauce, sweet chili sauce or a soy dipping sauce.

Notes

-Wontons can be shaped in a variety of different ways.  I like to use the simple folded triangle method which resembles a bishop's hat, however, any shape will work. Three varieties are shown in the post.
-Alternatively, you can use an electric deep fryer set at 350°F to cook the wontons.

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Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice

Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice

Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice

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Does that turkey you cooked keep on giving? With New Year’s celebrations just around the corner, it’s wise to tuck away a portion of that leftover turkey for my Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice. Chunks of turkey, shiitake mushrooms and shallots marry with cream cheese and topped with cranberry sauce and roasted chestnuts. It’s a wonderful combination tucked inside flaky and golden puff pastry. This Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice makes a lovely appetizer and can be made several hours ahead and baked when ready to serve.

A basket of chestnuts on a wooden board ready to be sliced for Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice.
Assesmbly of Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Roll on a parchment lined tray and egg wash on the side.

The roasted chestnuts are an added step but give a little sweetness and texture to this dish, plus the extra chestnuts are great to eat on their own or as part of an appetizer or dessert board. Roasted chestnuts are also great as a sweet puree used in other desserts or made into jam. Here’s a couple of ways to use up the extras from The Spruce Eats, that is if they make it that long.

Vegetarian and Vegan Roasted Chestnut Soup

Chestnut Stuffing

A golden baked Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice served whole on a wooden board garnished with fresh parsley.

I’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy year ahead! I look forward to creating and sharing great recipes with you. This blogging side hustle of mine is what keeps me sane some days, focusing my thoughts on delicious food and having fun with my passion. Have a Happy New Year and all the best in 2021.

Slices of Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice arranged on a grey plate with cranberry sauce and fresh thyme.

Slices of Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice arranged on a grey plate with cranberry sauce and fresh thyme.
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Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice

Course Appetizer
Keyword appetizer, chestnuts, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, entertaining, gruyere, leftover turkey, mushrooms, party food, puff pastry, sage, shiitake
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh chestnuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup cooked turkey, diced small
  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1/3 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 400°F.
  • Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer, meanwhile rinse chestnuts and cut a slit across the rounded side of the chestnut being careful not cut into the meat too much. It helps to lay the chestnut flat and use a sharp knife or a chestnut knife. Once the water is at a simmer drop in the chestnuts, cover and simmer on low for 10-12 minutes.
  • Drain chestnuts and arrange in a single layer on a baking tray with the cut side up. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with a kitchen towel and allow to cool enough to handle. Once cool split open the shell by prying apart at the cut seam to remove the outer shell and release the meaty chestnut.
  • Coarsely chop 10 chestnuts and save the remainder for another use. They are great eaten as they are or as a salad topper, in stuffing and many desserts.
  • Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and add shallots and mushrooms. Sauté until soft and moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl cream together cream cheese, sage, salt, pepper. Fold in the sautéed mushrooms, diced turkey and Gruyere cheese.
  • Lay the sheet of puff pastry on a sheet of parchment big enough for your baking tray. Roll pastry to a 12"x12" square (the original sheet will be 10"x10"). If using a block of puff pastry roll out to 12"x12".
  • Cut 1" wide fingers that are no more than 4" long down parallel sides of the pastry square, leaving an uncut center strip that is at least 4" wide (see photo).
  • Spread the turkey mixture evenly along the uncut center portion of the pastry sheet.
  • Spread evenly with cranberry sauce and top with chopped chestnuts.
  • Wrap the pastry by bringing the pastry fingers across the filling, alternating sides as you go and tucking or crimping the ends. It's okay to have a few spaces between fingers.
  • Using the parchment, move pastry to your baking tray.
  • In a small bowl whisk together egg and 1 tbsp of water. Brush the prepared pastry with egg wash and bake for 25-28 minutes on middle rack.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. The center will firm up a little as it cools making it easier to slice and eat.

Notes

-While chestnuts are boiling, baking and cooling you can assemble the pastry roll up until topping with chestnuts for optimal usage of time.
-The Turkey & Chestnut Pastry Slice can be prepped up to the egg wash, cover well and refrigerated up to 3 hours in advance.  When ready, brush with egg wash and bake.

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I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Cherry Salsa

Cherry Salsa

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Cherry Salsa tops three goat cheese crostini on a wooden serving board.

Cherry Salsa is sweet, spicy and delicious on goat cheese crostini, baked Brie, chicken cutlets or grilled meats. Simplicity is good and this quick and easy recipe can be ready for guests without much fuss. The dried cherries offer a nice texture to the salsa and the freshly chopped jalapenos, lime and vinegar balance the cherry jam. It’s so good!

Ingredients for Cherry Salsa arranged on and around a wooden cutting board with a bowl of dried cherries in the background.

My favourite way to eat this lovely Cherry Salsa is dabbed on crisp crostini smeared with goat cheese. The tang and creaminess of the goat cheese make it a great pairing with the salsa and the combo makes for an easy company friendly appetizer. Another great way to use Cherry Salsa is as a baked brie topping. Simply spoon the salsa onto your hot baked brie and serve with crisp crackers, crostini or crudites. I originally found this Cherry Salsa paired up pecan-crusted chicken wings. I’ve prepared pecan-crusted chicken cutlets in the past and thought this would also be a wonderful way to use the salsa in a main course. I was not disappointed as the crunchy, nutty cutlets beg for the sweet, spiciness that the salsa offers. The recipe for pecan-crusted chicken cutlets will be coming to the blog soon, so be sure to check back.

Looking for more company friendly appetizers?

Tomato Confit

Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce

Miso Shrimp

Author: Compelled to Cook, adapted from Food.com

Cherry Salsa tops three goat cheese crostini on a wooden serving board.
Cherry Salsa
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    1 cup 20 minutes
    Passive Time
    30+ minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    1 cup 20 minutes
    Passive Time
    30+ minutes
    Cherry Salsa tops three goat cheese crostini on a wooden serving board.
    Cherry Salsa
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      1 cup 20 minutes
      Passive Time
      30+ minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      1 cup 20 minutes
      Passive Time
      30+ minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: cup
      Instructions
      1. Chop dried cherries and combine with cherry jam in a mini food processor or blender. Pulse several times until cherries are about the size of a pea or smaller. Add remaining ingredients and pulse 2-3 times to combine.
      2. Scoop into a serving dish, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes to meld flavours. Use as a topping for crostini, baked brie, breaded chicken cutlets or grilled meats.
      Recipe Notes

      -I find there is a need to first chop the cherries before adding to the food processor because everything becomes too processed in the time it takes the dried cherries to break down.  By chopping the cherries first, the mixture retains most of its texture yet everything is combined.

      -If a food processor is not available, simply chop everything by hand and combine.

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      Affiliate Disclosure

      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce

      Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce

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      A tarragon infused cream sauce is one of my favourites.  It’s so good on chicken and plump, juicy scallops.  Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce makes a wonderful appetizer, first course or even an entrée served over mashed potatoes.   As with most seafood, the scallops cook in minutes for a quick dish that’s simple to prepare but looks and tastes much more elaborate.  Your guests will be impressed.

      Seared scallops in a stainless steel pan resting on a metal trivet in preparation for Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce

      The key to this dish is to make sure the scallops get a good sear. The sear not only adds depth of flavour but helps to seal in the juices from the scallops. This is achieved by making sure the scallops are dry by patting with a paper towel and also by using a hot pan with hot oil. The other very important thing is not to overcook the scallops.  Overcooked scallops are tough and rubbery and it takes no time at all to go from perfectly cooked to overdone.  So have all your ingredients and equipment ready before you start and be focused on the dish while cooking to ensure they are not only seared properly but cooked for only a couple of minutes per side.  In other words, there’s no room for a bathroom break once those scallops hit the pan.

      But don’t be put off by a smidge of fussiness, this dish is very simple and uses the basic technique of deglazing the pan after removing the scallops, adding heavy cream and tarragon and reducing to create a gloriously silky sauce that will have you wanting to lick your plate.  Enjoy!

      Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce arranged on a metal platter that sits on a table napkin.

      Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce arranged on a metal platter that sits on a table napkin.
      Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        4 appetizers 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        13-15 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        4 appetizers 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        13-15 minutes
        Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce arranged on a metal platter that sits on a table napkin.
        Scallops with Tarragon Cream Sauce
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          4 appetizers 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          13-15 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          4 appetizers 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          13-15 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: appetizers
          Instructions
          1. Pat scallops dry on both sides with a paper towel.
          2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add scallops and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side depending on size. Flip scallops and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
          3. Remove scallops to a plate and cover with foil.
          4. Over medium-high heat add wine to the pan and whisk to pick up any caramelized bits in the pan. Allow wine to reduce for 2-3 minutes.
          5. Whisk in heavy cream and tarragon and continue to reduce for about 5 minutes until sauce is reduced by half and has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper.
          6. Arrange scallops on a platter or serving dishes and drizzle each with a tablespoon of sauce. Serve immediately.
          Recipe Notes

          -makes about 3/4 cup of sauce.

          -you can use stainless steel, cast iron or non-stick skillets.  The key to a good sear is having the pan and oil hot and not overcrowding the scallops.

          -also delicious served as a main course over mashed potatoes.

          -makes 4 appetizer servings or 3 main-course servings.

          -using fresh tarragon is a must for this recipe.

           

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          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Mushroom Gruyere Tart

          Mushroom Gruyere Tart

          Need another meatless option for Lent? This recipe can easily be made without the bacon. Or perhaps you’re looking for an elevated appetizer for Easter, or you simply want a wonderful make-ahead option for other entertaining occasions. This gorgeous Mushroom Gruyere Tart has you covered.  Meaty mushrooms are smothered with cream cheese and herbs, topped with gruyere and baked in a puff pastry shell. 

          It’s a simple yet elegant pastry to add to your table whether as a main course item or appetizer. I quite like it for lunch served with a green salad. It’s one of my personal favourites because it uses everyday ingredients, is easy to prepare and can be made in advance and baked fresh when you’re ready.  It smells amazing when baking and the combination of crispy puff pastry and creamy mushrooms is oh so drool worthy. 

          Love mushrooms? You’ll want to check out these wonderful recipes.

          Mushroom Herb Rice

          Mushroom Lasagna

          Mushroom Bacon Risotto

          A baked Mushroom Gruyere Tart from Compelled to Cook is cut into wedges on a cutting board that is draped with a striped towel and scattered with mushrooms.
          Mushroom Gruyere Tart
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            8 appetizer wedges 40 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            25 minutes 2-3 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            8 appetizer wedges 40 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            25 minutes 2-3 minutes
            A baked Mushroom Gruyere Tart from Compelled to Cook is cut into wedges on a cutting board that is draped with a striped towel and scattered with mushrooms.
            Mushroom Gruyere Tart
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              8 appetizer wedges 40 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              25 minutes 2-3 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              8 appetizer wedges 40 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              25 minutes 2-3 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: appetizer wedges
              Instructions
              1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If using bacon, add to skillet and cook until crisp and fat has rendered. Scoop out the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but a tablespoon of fat.
              2. If not using bacon, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
              3. Add shallot and garlic and sauté, stirring often until starting to soften about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until most of the moisture has cooked out about 8-10 minutes.
              4. Add wine, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until the wine has cooked out about 3 minutes.
              5. Stir in cream cheese, 1/4 cup of Gruyere and bacon (if using).
              6. Preheat oven to 425℉ and lightly spray a 4 3/4"- 5 3/4" x 14" tart pan with removable bottom. Fit puff pastry into the tart pan and trim the top so it is level with the pan. You will need to cut the puff pastry sheet in two pieces to make it fit.
              7. Spread filling evenly into pastry shell and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of grated gruyere. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and filling is bubbly.
              8. Allow tart to rest for a couple of minutes prior to removing the outer pan. Cut into wedges, garnish with fresh thyme and serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              The tart can be assembled up to a day in advance and kept covered and chilled until ready to bake.

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              Affiliate Disclosure

              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com