…Wonton! All joking aside, dumplings are a beloved staple across cultures, from wontons to kreplach to ravioli. For the purposes of this list, we’re defining dumplings as dough wrapped around some sort of filling, with the whole package meant to be consumed in a few bites. So matzo balls and gnocchi are out, for now.
Dumplings of all varieties are something I should make at home all the time but don’t – the process of dough + filling seems more complex than it really is. Here’s hoping the recipes below inspire you towards at-home dumpling greatness.
by Fuchsia Dunlop
In this recipe, you can choose to start by making your own simple dough for wonton wrappers, or use storebought. The wrappers are filled with baby bok choy and ground pork seasoned with sesame oil and rice wine, then the little bundles are steamed for a few minutes before serving. I like these dumplings because the shape is easy to create for even the beginning dumpling-maker, which is why I happily made trays of them during my first dumpling-making experience in college, while my roommate graduated to more complicated shapes.
A remarkable number of people believe that Cinco de Mayo is somehow connected to the Mexican Revolution, Mexican Independence Day, or the Day of the Dead (not naming names, but someone I polled actually said that.), it is in fact a holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. It’s celebrated regionally in Mexico, but widely in the U.S. as a celebration of Mexican heritage, cheerfully co-opted by many with no heritage at all but a sincere love of margaritas and guacamole.
Cinco de Mayo is also a good opportunity to start using some early summer produce and to explore the full richness that is Mexican cuisine.
by Christopher Idone
Before there was anything frozen, peach or rimmed in raw sugar, there was this. Christopher Idone’s classic margarita relies on real lime, a dignified splash of triple sec and a chilled cocktail shaker. I’d be proud to serve this to anyone, with only the fresh salsa and tomatillo guacamole below, or as a start to an taco- and pepper-laden feast. Practice this technique of rolling the rim of the glass in a dish filled with salt – the same technique applies to making a michelada, my other favorite summertime beverage.
Warm weather always makes me start to crave seafood. I envision sitting on the sidewalk slurping down fresh oysters with cucumber-related cocktails. Steaming crab meat drenched with butter and eaten by hand, cooked in a giant pot in a rented beach house in New Jersey. Tilapia filets and fresh-made blueberry pie for a late dinner on the back porch. My mother’s favorite dinner for company, shrimp and clams tossed with just-cooked angel hair pasta and fresh tomatoes and good olive oil.
The recipes below can provide inspiration for all sorts of seafood flavor pairings. Meat can serve as a textural counterpoint to flaky light fish, while sweet in-season fruit echoes plump, juicy shellfish. Tell us about your favorites, and enjoy the results!
by Barbara Kafka
This bright springtime stew combines shellfish with cod and seasonal veggies like asparagus and peas for a colorful and healthy meal. Use fresh tarragon here – the flavor intensity of fresh herbs in your finished dish is worth lingering in the produce aisle at the grocery store. If you choose to include the penne or other pasta, it’s recommended to have it alongside when serving, tossed gently with olive oil, rather than adding it to the soup.
I learned that Peter Workman had died while I was at the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference in San Francisco, surrounded by cookbook authors, publishers, editors, and agents, who were all devastated to learn about the loss of this beloved publisher and friend. We at Cookstr are especially aware of the indelible contributions Peter made to the worlds of food, publishing, the places those intersect, and far beyond – his daughter Katie is Cookstr’s founding editor-in-chief, and we interact with the incredible library of Workman-published recipe content every day in Cookstr’s recipe library.
But hearing so many passionate tributes and personal memories at IACP and back here in New York demonstrated time and again just how much Peter was loved and how great an effect his work has had on so many. From the legendary authors he worked with, to his publishing colleagues, to the readers who devoured the books he brought into the world, his legacy is immense. Peter Workman changed the world of cookbooks for all of us, and in doing so, he changed our lives.
“We all made him food. Sometimes he wanted to eat it, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he would take a bite, sometimes he would eat a real meal, sometimes he would just smile and shrug.
“The night before Christmas he was back in the hospital and I told him I would bring dinner the next night, and asked him what he wanted. He didn’t know. I suggested chicken soup, noodle pudding – unchallenging, gentle foods. “How about prime rib?” suggested a visiting friend. “Oh, yes, and Yorkshire pudding!” he said. And the next night he ate it, our family sitting in a shitty windowless conference/supply room with hideously bright fluorescent lights and the occasional nurse popping into the room for a fresh bandage or catheter.
“Towards the end when he wasn’t eating much at all, I cut a paper thin sliver of pear and handed it to him. He ate it very slowly. His nurse and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, a silent tiny triumph. I handed him another transparent slice. Then another. One hour later, the pear was eaten. It was the most beautiful core of fruit I have ever seen.”
As the very first stalks of asparagus and fresh green peas begin to appear at the farmers market, it’s a joy to transform them into colorful, nourishing meals that herald the beginning of spring. And while I know we’re still looking mostly at root vegetables in large swaths of the country, I can’t help but start to salivate over bright green produce swirled into bowls of fresh pasta and served alongside simple, hearty proteins.
Fresh herbs, too, make a vast difference in the quality of many of these dishes, so don’t forget to grab a few lush bunches of mint, parsley, cilantro and basil at the market.
by Jamie Oliver
“This is such a simple, clean and delicious risotto. When buying asparagus, have a look around because there are lots of varieties available now – purple-tipped, white, thin straggly Japanese, wild Spanish and dozens of good locally grown English. In this recipe the stalks are finely sliced to an inch below the tips – this will give you lots of flavour from the stalks and you’ll then have those whole beautiful tips as a bit of a prize! There are variations on this risotto that I love to do, like sprinkling in a little picked crab or lobster meat or fresh, peeled prawns or sliced scallops – all of these work particularly well with asparagus if you fancy a little upgrade. (If you do decide to add any of these seafood suggestions then reduce your Parmesan by half.)” – Jamie Oliver
As a broad category, cheese in some form is likely to make its way into nearly all declarations of ideal last suppers and favorite foods. It’s a textural delight, hitting points from creamy (a warm baked goat cheese or brie) to chewy (halloumi) to light-as-air ricotta and, of course, stringy, melty mozzarella.
With the exception of the vegan and lactose free among us, we all have a few standbys – I tend to sprinkle a few tablespoons of Gorgonzola over almost every salad, and knife-sharp Cheddar can liven up anything from a ripe pear to a bowl of vegetarian chili. The below recipes aim to widen those horizons, creating combinations of taste that encourage you to rediscover that dairy delight.
by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner
Feta cheese, mixed into the dough for these crunchy snacks, adds a richness to the flavor that’s enhanced when the tops of the squares are browned in the oven. Poppy seeds (which happen to be, full disclosure, my favorite addition to any savory baked good) add some textural and visual variety. It might seem a bit counterintuitive or overly DIY to bake your own guilty pleasure snack foods, but it’s nice to savor the crunch of personal accomplishment while you’re mindlessly tossing back crackers and watching Netflix.
When I was very young, it was an Easter tradition to visit the Easter Bunny at the local mall, as ingrained as Santa at Christmastime (and with less anxiety about meeting strangers, as a giant rabbit seemed worlds more approachable). In one particular preschool year’s exchange, caught on grainy video, I bring the Easter Bunny a daffodil and politely shake her hand before being scooped up into her furry lap and asked “So, what would you like in your Easter basket?”
“Chili beans!” I announced proudly, to a blank bunny stare. “Do you mean jelly beans?” No, I did not. In fact, I was pretty unclear on what exactly a jelly bean was. I was raised in a notably candy-free environment, but my lifelong love of legumes blossomed early. In this menu, that tradition is preserved in a centerpiece of lamb with white beans, flanked with plenty of dishes to celebrate the onset of spring.
by Sophie Dahl
This succulent, bright green soup is just the thing to jolt you out of winter’s creamy casseroles and one-pot dinners and into warmer weather, while the velvety pureed texture still lands it firmly in comfort food territory. Garlic, basil, zucchini: it’s the equivalent of opening the windows wide and letting the springtime air in. Pine nuts and Parmesan in the fresh pesto add umami oomph.
It can be served warm or cold, and makes an excellent first course to Easter brunch.