This would be a mistake if the book you skip over is "Katie Chin's Everyday Chinese Cookbook" (Tuttle Publishing, $24.95.)
Chin includes a couple of wow desserts--Chocolate-Raspberry Wontons (at the top) and Five-Spice Chocolate Cake (above). Three more with promise are Asian Pear Tart, Banana-Walnut Wontons and Lychee and Ginger Sorbet. I can personally praise the first two, because I tasted them when Chin signed books and gave a cooking demo at Melissa's Produce.
I couldn't stop eating the wontons with their fresh raspberry sauce and Nutella inside (recipe below). Others liked the unexpected taste of five spice in the cake.
The cookbook is about much more than sweets, though. It's Chin's tribute to her mother, Leeann Chin, who rose from a 50-cent an hour seamstress to become a successful caterer and then the power behind a restaurant chain.
Subtitled "101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother's Kitchen," the book is packed with warm memories and enticing recipes. Perhaps Chin has excelled because of her mother's strict coaching. "She was the toughest boss I ever had," she said. "She just wanted me to be the best." Leeann Chin died six years ago.
The recipes include classic dishes from her mother, favorites that Chin grew up with at the family home in Minneapolis, catering specialties and Chin's own creations. I don't know the source of the wontons. The spice cake came from a pastry chef friend.
Chin eventually moved to Hollywood, where her mother joined her to form Double Happiness Catering. Chin retired from that business but has just started another catering company, Wok Star.
For her demo, Chin showed how to make potstickers and Firecracker Shrimp (above), which she says is "one of the easiest recipes in the book." Worked out with her mother, it's shrimp wrapped in spring roll wrappers, fried and served with a dip of mayo and Sriracha sauce.
Chin's recipes are easy to follow, replete with cooking tips such as tenderizing beef with baking soda and water.
From "Katie Chin's Everyday Chinese Cookbook"
4 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup chopped fresh raspberries
2/3 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella
16 round dumpling wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
To make the sauce, place the 4 cups raspberries in a small saucepan. Crush the berries and add the water. Stir in the sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and press through a strainer. Set aside.
For the wontons, fold the 1/3 cup chopped raspberries into the chocolate-hazelnut spread until combined. Lay a dumpling wrapper on a clean work surface and brush the edges with egg. Place 1 scant tablespoon of the chocolate-hazelnut raspberry mixture in the center, then fold the wrapper in half over the filling, pressing the edges firmly to seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
In a wok or skillet, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Deep-fry the wontons until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Place on a paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Transfer to a platter and dust with confectioner's sugar, then drizzle with raspberry sauce. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
Photos by Barbara Hansen