About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Jan

Jan is a serious home cook who loves to read recipes and then do her own thing. Her focus is ingredient driven comfort food, often with an Italian influence. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about food and travels (next trip to Italy: May/June of 2012) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Kim

Kim joins us after being our permanent sub on the Pomodori e Vino project. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think or The Amy Foundation.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

Our Subs

About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Amy

Amy is a teacher in suburban Boston with far too many cookbooks, her Grandmother's meat grinder and canning jars, and a new Wolf stove. She appreciates cuisines from around the world, with a particular fondness for French, Moroccan, Italian, Vietnamese, and Indian cooking. Tweaking her cooking and eating habits resulted long-lasting weight loss and health benefits, proving that living well still tastes good. An old hobby is knitting; and a newer one is canning preserves. Read more from Amy on her blog, Destination Anywhere.

« Seasonal List of Featured Ingredients | Main | Proscuitto-Wrapped Salmon with Plum Salsa »

Plum Stuffed Steamed Buns

By Deborah


Week One, and I've already realized how foolhardy it is to expect to create a completely new recipe. The Flavor Bible's subtitle is "The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs". Likely, the people who make their living being creative with food have tested any combination that I may think is my own inspired thought.

I'm a visual person. My approach when I'm looking for inspiration is to pull everything out of the pantry that qualified as a complimentary ingredient; dump it all on the counter; and stare at the pile. Then as ideas begin to bubble, I'll start putting away anything that doesn't fit.

I reviewed the complimentary flavors for plums and found a pantry full of eligible spices. Many more than should be sharing space in one dish. Then there were lemons, butter, candied orange peel, hazelnuts, red wine, fresh ginger, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, & prosciutto. The honey, hazelnuts, allspice, ginger, vanilla and bay leaves all went back into the pantry.


My mind wondered through some of my favorite plum applications and one of them was homemade Thai plum sauce. That Asian drift led me to steamed buns. So instead of the traditional pork stuffing, why not steamed buns stuffed with a spiced plum sauce mixed with prosciutto? The prosciutto would cut the sweetness enough to allow steamed buns to be an appetizer instead of dessert.

The first thing I did was start a spiced red wine reduction, simmering all of the following ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat until the liquid is reduced by 1/2:

1 c - dry red wine
1 T - chopped candied ORANGE peel
1 - 4" CINNAMON stick crushed
5 - green cardamom pods crushed
1 t - freshly grated nutmeg
3 - whole cloves
2 - sage leaves
1 - 4" sprig thyme
1/2 t - fresh ground black pepper
juice of 2 LEMONS


While wine is reducing prepare ingredients for plum/prosciutto mixture.

24 - Italian Prune PLUMS, diced w/skin on and stones removed
1/3 lb - prosciutto in a single 1/4" thick slice.
1 T - unsalted butter
1/3 c - lightly packed brown SUGAR
1/2 t - kosher salt
grated peel and juice of one small LEMON

1) Trim the fat away from the prosciutto & reserve.
2) Dice Prosciutto into 1/4" cubes.
3) Render fat in a hot pan, remove whatever didn't melt, add butter.


4) Caramelize prosciutto in melted fat & butter. Remove prosciutto and drain well on paper towel.


5) Add diced plums, brown sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice to the fat that remains in pan.
6) Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
7) Once pulp begins to separate from the peel use a fine mesh strainer to remove all solids from wine reduction and add to plum mixture. Continue to cook, stirring frequently.
8) In a food processor, pulse drained, cooled pieces of caramelized prosciutto into a coarse meal. then add to plum mixture. Continue to cook mixture down to the consistency of a very thick jam, then remove from heat and cool completely.


Having the advantage of some great resources in St. Louis for international foods, I elected to let someone else do a little of the work for me. Instead of making my steamed bun dough from scratch, I used two boxes of Tippy Salapao Mix - enough for 24 steamed buns.


However, if you need to make yours from scratch, you can do an internet search and find several great recipes. Here's one I found: http://www.annathered.com/2009/03/26/how-to-make-steamed-pork-bun-dough-with-yeast/

So, follow the directions on the package or the recipe for scratch. When you are ready to assemble buns, you will need to have small squares of parchment cut and ready to hold the buns while they steam.

Lay a flattened piece of dough on a parchment square and put a heaping teaspoon of plum/prosciutto mixture in the center.


Cup the edges up around the filling; pinch the top edges together; and give it a final little twist.

Bring enough water to boil in a wok to not quite touch the bottom shelf of the steamer. Place half the buns on the bottom shelf and half on the top. Cover and steam for about 15 minutes.


Serve immediately.

I've decided to report the results of each week with the following grading method:

Home Run (will follow the exact recipe next time); Good (but will make some minor changes next time) & Flop (need to start from scratch).

I've graded my first week's effort Good. I will make this again. But, I'll do three things differently.

1) I used prosciutto because it was listed as a complimentary flavor. I now realize that it doesn't lend itself well to caramelization the way pancetta would have. Next time, pancetta and adjust the salt.

2) With that much work on the filling, I should really put the effort into making my own dough from scratch.

3) Spice adjustment - more black pepper.

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Comments (11)

Deborah-Congratulations on a first great post. Your creation looks and sounds delicious. I'll have to try this. A+ for creativity.

Wow! I am impressed - your very first recipe, and it sounds delicious!

I got my book yesterday, so I am going to follow along and try to create a few dishes too.

Deborah responds:
Thanks, Nancy. We want lots of people to cook along with us. When you do, be sure to come to our comments and post a link so we can go see what you did.


Looks yummy, Deborah. Now I want some Thai Food!


I will eat a plum today and toast to your first recipe!! It's as plum-fancy as I get!!

I'm happy and honored to follow along again with your wonderful and talented group!!!


Deborah responds:
Ah, Mindy. I LOVE YOU!

Off to a great start!


Show off. LOL Save one for me next time.

Deborah responds: UMmmm, Irene. You KNOW that you will be cooking along with us sometimes. And that will make Steve very happy. Just post your results on your FB page.


How ingenious. And industrious. Looks luscious! And fun. Happy cooking - I'll enjoy following along, too!

Deborah responds: Thanks, Terry. But don't just follow along, we want you to pop in once in a while with your own creation. OK?

This looks so great...love the colors and the thought of all of those flavors. Also love process photos!

I blogged this week on the PLUMS, so here is my post for Plum Ice Cream and Plum Cookies. http://grandmaskitchentable.typepad.com/grandmas_kitchen_table/2011/10/flavors-plums-plum-ice-cream-and-plum-cookies.html Thanks for encouraging us to blog along with the group!


I am just catching up with this, but I am so impressed with this post! It made me want to run out and buy a steamer immediately! I can't wait to read these every morning again. You all are so awesome!!!

Deborah responds:

You'd better keep track, Beth. After all, you and Amy are subs, you know. And you can borrow my steamer any time you like. I was in the store this afternoon stocking up on San Marzanos. Place was hoppin'.

Ray Anne:

I have been caught up in my busy season - and am playing hooky to catch up on the blog. I am already in awe!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 2, 2011 1:02 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Seasonal List of Featured Ingredients.

The next post in this blog is Proscuitto-Wrapped Salmon with Plum Salsa.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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