The Sunday family dinner with Carol and her family has become a regular thing. Carol always comes up with interesting and delicious things to cook. In general, she has also tried to make things that are relatively simple so that she and the family can spend most of Sunday on the beach or at one or another family activity. Still, that puts the pressure on me to come up with something that is easy and tasty – with the added requirement that it is not a repeat of one of our earlier menus. This last week my assignment was appetizer and dessert. For dessert I made a mixed berry galette. I have included the recipe in an earlier post, but I had never made it for our family dinners, so its inclusion seemed legitimate. Berry galette bakes up beautifully and has the fresh, sweet taste of spring (even though it’s winter) I have made the recipe a number of times. My most important insight is that you should bake the galette on a parchment or Silpat lined jelly roll pan and NOT a cookie sheet. No matter how hard you try to seal the crust around the berries, some of the juice well leak out. If you have no sides to the baking pan, they will spill into the oven creating a lot of smoke and a huge cleanup project.
For the appetizer, I was looking for something simple and tasty. There is a recipe for deep-fried cheese-filled wonton wrappers in our family cookbook which served as the beginning idea. A search of the internet revealed a large number of versions of filled wontons, baked or fried, lots of fillings, often centered on crab. Since some of the family have an aversion to crab (How is that possible?), that was out. One of our diners has a great affinity for goat cheese. That was in. I picked shrimp, spinach, and mushrooms as other good stuffing ingredients.
These wontons are basted in olive oil and baked rather than deep-fried. I’m not sure if that cuts back on the calories, but it makes one feel more righteous. Our family recipe just calls for the wonton wrapper to be folded over the filling into a triangle. That seems dull. This version pulls the corners of the wonton wrapper into a little pyramid that bakes up with a golden crust. They look difficult to make. Actually, they are just as easy as the boring triangles
There was enough filling for 40 to 60 individual baked wontons. At the end of the evening there were none left. I call that success.
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (may substitute softened cream cheese)
- ½ pound small (51-60/pound) shrimp (sometimes called salad shrimp), cleaned, peeled and cooked
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- salt and pepper
- Pulse the goat cheese in a food processor until smooth.
- Add the remaining ingredients and pulse only until combined, leaving shrimp bits to your liking.
- Set aside until ready to fill the wontons.
Mushroom and spinach filling
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 crimini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
- 4 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
- ½ cup goat cheese (may substitute softened cream cheese)
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon Pernod
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat
- Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is completely wilted.
- Pulse the mixture in the bowl of a food processor until the desired consistency.
- Add the goat cheese and pulse until well combined. Add Pernod and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Set aside until ready to fill the wontons
- 1 package of wonton wrappers (should have at least 60 wrappers)
- fillings as above
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- olive oil
- On a clean, dry surface, arrange wonton wrappers for filling.
- Place about 1½ teaspoons of filling in the center of each wrapper. Be careful not to overfill so that the wontons will stay sealed during baking.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined. With your finger, trace the outer edge of a wonton with the wash. Then, pull up adjacent corners of the wonton and press together. Repeat with the other corners to form a four-sided “tent”. Make sure that the edges are all well sealed.
- Repeat with the remaining wontons. Repeat the entire process until you have used up all the filling or have gotten tired.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the filled wontons so that they do not touch one another. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the wontons with more olive oil.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 400°F.
- Cool on a rack. Serve while still warm or later reheat in a 300°F oven for no more than 5 minutes. Makes about 40-60 wontons.