Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

For this month's International Incident Party by Jeroxie (with me as a co-host since it's my birthday month!) we're featuring dishes of nostalgia.

Abstract definitely fits with my personality, and since food is such a major part of my life, a dish immediately sprang to mind: Chicken & Dumplings.

If I could say one item from my life that has always brought with it happiness and fond memories, it is chicken & dumplings. From the time I was a child, until the present, this classic dish warms my stomach and soul every time I am able to savor a bite. It tends to appear when things are calm and peaceful, allowing me to appreciate the little things of the moment and reflect upon all the blessings I have in my life.

My siblings and I grew up on this dish, and it's one of the few I believe we have each mastered in our way. I prefer the strips of dumplings my middle sister is known for, to the common dumpling "balls" of dropping the dough into the soup. My youngest sister is known for her spice mixtures, and can turn any classic recipe into her own. And our brother is a master at eating this soup, although he can wield a spatula in his own right when he feels up to it (and he is healing from his surgery, albeit slowly).

Although chicken & dumplings are usually served with just onion, celery, and carrots, I love vegetables and add many more of my favorites that happen to be on hand. It helps individualize the soup and create a heartiness that can stand up to the thick dumplings. The soup is more satisfying and is a lovely personal touch to experiment with your favorite vegetable sampling. Enough recipes exist for practically every cook, with differences that range from how to cook the chicken, to which seasonings should accompany the dish. Chicken & dumplings is a classic for many people, so start experimenting and create new memories with potential nostalgia for your loved ones, too.

Chicken & Dumplings

3 lbs. farm-raised, organic, whole chicken (roasting instructions)
16 cups filtered water
1 large onion, medium chopped
6 large celery stalks, medium chopped
6 medium carrots, peeled and medium chopped
1 large leek, medium chopped
2 medium bell peppers, medium chopped
10 large crimini mushrooms, medium chopped
1/4 cup raw milk
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp dried thyme

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup raw milk

After roasting the chicken and removing it from the oven, allow it to rest while you prepare the water. In a very large soup pot, add 16 cups water and bring it to a low boil. While the water is heating, remove as much meat from the chicken bones as possible; set aside. Add the chicken bones and skin to the water and cook for 45 min.

During this time, prepare your vegetables and set aside in a large bowl. Once the simple stock is finished cooking, use tongs and a spider to remove all the chicken bones and skin. Then add the vegetables, as well as the raw milk through dried thyme. Cook over medium-high heat for 30 min.

Prepare your dumplings by mixing together the flour through raw milk in a medium bowl. Liberally flour your working surface and roll out the dumplings to cut into rectangles.

Add to the soup one at a time, ensuring none stick together. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 min. Serve with fresh parsley if desired.

~Yields 8-10 servings.

~Original by Brie.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


These past two weeks, I'm beginning to feel like myself again. My pain is starting to subside, as I'm not uber cautious of any movement I make, unlike the first two months after the accident. My desire to cook has returned, although it's still slow going. My photos are blurry when I attempt to lean down towards the stove to get a photo of the food cooking, and I do not yet have the energy to set up a more beautiful final shot. I can tell I'm out of practice, but I wasn't in a rush to perfect being a food blogger just yet anyway.

My meals have consisted of sandwiches, raw fruits and vegetables, and hot meals from New Leaf Market mostly while I've been unable to cook. I snuck in a few meals from our new Chipotle restaurant a few times, since I had never eaten there before they opened a shop here. I've had to make do with what I could get my hands on since I'm at the mercy of people who are willing to give me a ride, whether it be to the doctor's office or grocery shopping. I've never been without a car, and Tallahassee is not set up to be a walking city - nor have I been in any condition to go perusing around on foot. It's nice, however, not having to worry about the gas crisis at the moment, but assuming I'll have a new vehicle within the next few months, the issue might be worse at that point. Maybe I can convert my new car to run off of vegetable oil, since powering a car is about the only thing that gunk is good for.

I made moussaka a few days ago, one of the first dishes I've successfully made since December with little effort. The casserole dish allowed most of the cooking to be done while I sat and waited, so not being on my feet for long was helpful. This recipe is a blend of Middle Eastern and Greek traditions, and the addition of cinnamon is what makes this dish seem exotic. I think one of my favorite aspects of this dish, besides the wonderful flavors, is the tradition of allowing it to reach room temperature before serving. I normally do this with nearly all of my foods just as a personal preference, so to see it recommended for a dish is a treat.

Moussaka a group of familiar palate tastes, just in a neater package.


olive oil
2 extra large russet potatoes
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
8 large mushrooms, medium sliced
1 lb ground beef or lamb
15oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raw milk
2 eggs

Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry. Use a mandoline on 1/4" setting, and slice each potato.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil and place 1/4 potato slices into the pan without overcrowding. Cook for 2 1/2 min on both sides. Remove from the pan, add more oil, and repeat until all potatoes are cooked. (Slice an extra potato to cook if you know you'll be snacking on the pieces - I did!)

Add the chopped garlic through mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 min, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

Next add the ground beef or lamb and cook for 10-12 min until fully cooked.

Add the tomato sauce through cinnamon, stir well, and turn off the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350*F. In an ungreased 13"x9" glass pan, add half the potato slices overlapping.

Next spoon in the cooked mixture and spread evenly.

Then add the remaining potato slices, also overlapping. Finally, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, then pour evenly over the casserole. Bake for 35 min. (Optional: After 30 min, remove the casserole and add 1 cup shredded cheese evenly, then finish baking.)

Remove from the oven and allow the moussaka to rest before serving, traditionally to room temperature. Optional toppings of Greek yogurt and fresh herbs, if desired.

~Yields 4-6 servings.

~Adapted from Cooking Light.