Monday, January 16, 2017

Chicken and Dumpling Soup Conjures Childhood Memories

One of my fondest memories when visiting my grandparents was the aroma that wafted from their kitchen. Usually on weekends or holidays when we were visiting, my grandmother would make a chicken stock from the leftover chicken carcass. She would fill a large stockpot with water and seasonings and add chunks of onion, celery, carrots, parsley, and the carcass. The stock would simmer for most of the day. 

Most busy schedules don’t allow us the time to prepare chicken stock. When time is of the essence, I use Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth. It’s got that home-cooked, rich-tasting flavor, similar to my grandmother’s. This recipe is an adaptation from the soup my grandmother often prepared for our family.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup
4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup sliced celery
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
A few grindings of fresh black pepper

½ cup yellow corn flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Several grindings of fresh black pepper
⅛ cup water
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 egg

1.     In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the carrots, celery, parsley, and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and decrease heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
2.     Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When the water has boiled, decrease heat slightly; the water should be rumbling. Keep the water rumbling while you prepare the dumplings.
3.     In a medium bowl, combine the corn flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the water, oil, and egg, and whisk until mixture is fully combined. Shape mixture into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
4.     Add the dumplings one at a time to the rumbling water. When all the dumplings have been added, cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the dumplings and transfer them to the chicken soup. Serve immediately.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup Warms on Cold Winter Nights

      This simple and delicious, creamy, comfort food soup is perfect to serve on a cold winter’s night with slices of dark, hearty bread and a leafy green salad.

Creamy Cheddar and Potato Soup with Bacon 
6 servings

2 large potatoes, diced
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped onion
About 3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup milk
A few grindings of fresh black pepper
½ pound shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices crispy, cooked bacon, crumbled

1.     Place the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions in a large pot with just enough water to cover the medley. Add salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, decrease heat slightly and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes and vegetables are fork-tender. Add the chicken broth.
2.     In a food processor or blender, purée the soup in batches. Transfer the puréed batches into a large bowl. Add the milk to the last batch and season with pepper. Transfer all the puréed soup back into original large pot and stir to blend.
3.     Heat the soup over moderate heat and slowly stir in the cheese. When the cheese has melted, ladle the soup into 6 serving bowls and top each bowl with crumbled bacon.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Yes Please, For These Carrots and Peas

This is one of those recipes I’m always drawn to serving because it’s easy, colorful, crowd-pleasing and goes with almost any entrée.

8 servings

8 large carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup brandy
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F
2.     Place carrots in a 2-quart baking dish.
3.   In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sugar, salt and brandy and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Pour the mixture over the carrots.
4.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until carrots are tender.
5.     When carrots emerge from the oven, add the peas and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Simple Chili Comforts on Cold Nights

This crowd-pleasing hearty dish packs a lot of flavor with minimal preparation. In about one hour you can have a delicious pot of chili that tastes like it has been simmering for hours. Cornbread rounds out the chili perfectly. Serve the chili with sides of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and lots of freshly chopped white onion.

Simple Chili
6 servings

1 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cans (15 ounces each) kidney beans
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes
Sides of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and freshly chopped white onion

1.      In a large pot over moderate heat, cook the ground chuck. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Drain off fat. Stir in the chili powder, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, kidney beans, and tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil, decrease heat to medium-low and cook for 1 hour.
2.      Serve immediately and pass sides of sour cream, cheddar cheese, and chopped onion to your guests.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tart Cranberries Make a Sweet Cobbler Cake

When these garnet gems appear at the market, I love making this dessert, which is as much a cobbler as it is a cake, hence its name. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt.

Cranberry Cobbler Cake
8 servings 

1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries, washed
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup milk
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place berries in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Drop butter chunks into flour mixture. Cut in butter with two knives (making slicing motions) or use your fingertips to incorporate until the mixture is somewhat crumbly. Add milk and stir until fully combined. Dollop batter over cranberries (the batter is thick and more like a dough than batter); the final topping and the baking process will evenly distribute the batter.
      4.      In a medium bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Stir the mixture until the cornstarch has dissolved. Pour over the batter.
      5.      Bake cobbler/cake for 45–50 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm just as it is or with desired topping.