Dumple Soup (Chicken Soup with Dumplings)

Dumple Soup

Although many of us dread this time of year with the cold winds and grey skies, one advantage is that we do tend to make and eat a lot more soups.  I like to have several containers of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, so when colds and flu strikes, you can quickly alleviate someone’s suffering. The health benefits of real, homemade chicken stock are many, so save all your chicken cuttings and scraps, place in ziplocs in the freezer until you have a couple of pounds of chicken bones, etc.  and then cook off some stock – simmer on the stove for about 6 hours, strain and place into containers and freeze. Believe me, when it’s YOU who has the cold, it’s really great.

I’ve included a basic chicken soup recipe (for my less experienced readers), although many of you will want to use your own tried and true formula.  The dumplings, which are so delicious and comforting are a delight whether you’re sick or not. It’s a basic choux pastry dough, but instead of baking it, you are going to plop it into your soup.  Once you make it, you’ll understand why this old-fashioned soup never goes out of style.

Chicken Soup

1 medium onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup cooked chicken, diced

3/4 tsp poultry seasoning

6 cups chicken broth

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, celery and carrot, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or so.  Reduce heat if it starts to smoke or veggies are browning too quickly.  Add poultry seasoning, stir. Add chicken stock and chicken and cook until vegetable mixture is tender – about 15 minutes.  Add lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning.

Dumplings

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Directions

In medium saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil.  Remove from heat, and quickly dump in flour and stir vigorously until dough comes away from sides of pot. Transfer to stand mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully, until it has a satiny sheen before adding the next egg. (Eggs can be mixed by hand in the pot, but you will get a really sore arm). When all eggs are incorporated, drop by teaspoonful into simmering chicken soup. Work quickly and drop in all your dumplings, then cover pot. Bring soup to a boil and cook dumplings until they are quite expanded.  The lid will probably be lifting off the pot. At that point, turn off your soup and let it cool a bit. Enjoy. So good. I like to add some extra salt to my dumplings when serving.

bring water, butter and salt to a boil.

when butter is melted, remove from heat.

dump flour in, stirring until dough pulls away from sides of pot

when dough pulls away from sides of pot, transfer to stand mixture

add eggs, one at a time, mixing well until dough has satiny sheen.

when all the eggs are incorporated, you are ready to make dumplings

using 2 teaspoons, scoop and drop heaping teaspoons of dough into soup

when lid starts to raise off of pot, turn heat off, and let cool for a few minutes

dumplings will look like this after they calm down.

wicked

 

 

 

Asian Lemon Chicken

Asian Lemon Chicken

Here is an easy and fairly quick recipe for lemon chicken — the addition of soya sauce, toasted sesame oil and ground coriander give it some Asian flair.  Follow the steps and you will have a decent meal on the table in about 40 minutes. We enjoyed this with some basmati rice and a green salad.  Stir fried veggies would be perfect alongside instead of salad.

A critical step is in the preparation of the chicken. Preparing it “cutlet” style (as described below) makes all the difference.  Your surface area is doubled, meaning that you’ve got that much more area for flavour in every bite. So try to master that technique – it works well with chicken parmesan and my other lemon chicken recipe – a traditional picatta recipe which will be published here soon.

Asian Lemon Chicken

adapted from Chatelaine magazine

serves 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

mixture #1

zest of one lemon

2  tsp ground coriander

1  tsp chili flakes (optional)

1  tsp salt

mixture #2

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

mixture #3

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp water

2 tsp soya sauce

Directions

Mix together each ‘mixture’ as outlined above.

Prepare Chicken Breasts:

Place one chicken breast on cutting board. Using a sharp knife (a fileting knife is ideal) and pressing your hand on top of breast to keep it in place, slice chicken breast in half horizontally, being careful to ensure you don’t cut your hand.  Continue with remaining chicken breasts until all are sliced.

Place 2 pieces of chicken on cutting board;  cover with plastic wrap and pound gently until evenly flattened. Continue until all pieces are flattened then place them in a medium sized bowl and coat with spice mixture #1.  Your flattened chicken pieces can now be referred to as “cutlets”.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with about 2 tsp of vegetable oil.  When pan is hot, place 4 of the chicken cutlets in pan and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a  bowl while you cook the remaining 4 pieces.  Add  browned chicken and any accumulated juices back into the pan and pour in mixture #2. Turn heat to medium and let chicken simmer for 10 minutes.

Move chicken to the sides of the pan, making an opening in the center of the pan juices and pour in mixture #3. Stir until thickened, lowering heat if necessary and sauce is evenly mixed. Serve and enjoy.

slice chicken breast horizontally, using a SHARP knife. (a dull knife is a waste of time)

pound your meat (gently, for gawd's sakes)

Mixture #1 - spices - coat chicken pieces

brown chicken, 4 pieces at a time. Brown. So it has flavour.

after chicken is browned, add in Mixture #2, continue cooking.

pour in Mixture #3, stirring until thickened.

 

 

 

 

Glazed Mini Pumpkin Scones

pumpkin mini scones

see how hard I work for you guys?

Oh, ma gah. I had some leftover canned pumpkin and wanted to make some pumpkin pie flavoured scones.  I was thinking about the pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks.  I also made them ‘mini’ instead of huge.  They turned out tender and delicious and actually too good– I’ll be giving them away to avoid eating any more. (although I’ve eaten another one while writing this post – awesome with a cup of tea).

If you’ve never made biscuits or scones, you will quickly realize how easy they are to make.  A gentle hand and not overworking your dough is key.

I would use leftover butternut squash or sweet potatoes in this recipe as well.  Feel free to add pecans to your batter…make them your own.

From start to finish (taking the scones out of the oven) – 30 minutes….that’s pretty fast.  Wait for them to cool before glazing, then allow glaze to harden.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

makes 18 mini scones

adapted from Baking: From My House to Yours

2  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 large egg

Glaze

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2-3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchement or a silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Drop in butter cubes and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized and smaller (various sizes).  I squeeze the butter with my fingertips, and as soon as I feel the greasiness of the butter, I drop it back in the flour, and look for another piece to squeeze. Do that until you can’t really pick up any pieces and that should be fine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together pumpkin, cream and egg. Whisk until well blended.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and gently stir with a spatula until it is combined and forms a dough. If it seems quite sticky, add a little more flour.  It should be a nice soft dough.

Place dough on a floured counter and split into 3 equal pieces.  Form into discs approximately 1 inch thick. Cut each disc into 6 wedges. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned and tops seem just firm. Cool.

Mix up glaze and spread onto scones. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Allow glaze to harden. ENJOY.

mix flour, spices, salt and sugar together

toss butter cubes in flour mixture

mix wet ingredients together, add to flour mixture

form dough into 3 discs, cut into wedges

place wedges on baking sheet

YUM YUM YUM

Dining in Vancouver- Part 1 “Vij’s”

outside Vij's restaurant

Hello, readers! Sorry so long with no new post — I was visiting family in Vancouver and while we were there we had some fabulous meals.  I did do a bit of research – mostly through Tripadvisor prior to our trip — but not all of our meals were based on reviews.  Overall, we were pleased with the quality and flavours of our food and the service we received.  The venues we chose were not bargain prices; for example, on average a meal for 4 adults would be $150-$175 plus tip.  My personal attitude is — regardless of the price of the food (even a $5 sandwich),  I resent paying for it if it is crap.  We used to own  a restaurant and  our philosophy was to make the customer happier when they left than when they arrived and pleased to pay their bill.  On this trip, much more so than many others, we were pleased with our food and level of service.

Our first evening we went to Vij’s Indian restaurant in Vancouver. You may be familiar with Vij – having seen him on television promoting his cookbooks or doing a cooking spot on local tv.  He and his wife are both from India and they have become well known for their restaurants, cookbooks, spice mixes and ready-made foods.   Having noticed that Vij’s  was rated the #2 restaurant in Vancouver, I knew we should try it.

We arrived 15 minutes before opening and were welcomed in to the first seating of the night (no reservations).  We were immediately served cold water as we sat down, and within a minute, offered a cup of hot chai. So soothing and delicious after a long day of flying.  As we reviewed the menu, serving staff continually circulated throughout the restaurant, offering us complimentary delicious nibbles and appetizers.  I loved the concept!  Very welcoming.  I was further delighted as Vij himself approached our table to ask if we had any questions and to take our order.  Cool, eh? How many famous chefs come up to your table and take your order? It was great to discuss the various dishes and their ingredients with Vij. Our order consisted of a chick pea appetizer, followed by three curries -Prawns in coconut and fenugreek masala,  Goat curry with lightly spiced vegetables and Chicken with roasted garlic and cashews in a tangy tomato curry – all different sauces with distinct flavours. Further happiness ensued.  The curries started out mild and built to a crescendo of intense heat as the meal progressed.   This is how curry is meant to be –beautifully spiced, perfect (hot!) spiciness, balanced flavours.  The naan bread was hot, thin and maleable.

I had a delicious ginger-lemon beverage which was so refreshing– it tied in nicely with my meal. I will try to recreate that drink.  When it was time to leave, after a traditional Indian dessert of fried dough in a sugar syrup flavoured with cardamom,  our server graciously packed up our leftover curries and put in some extra rice. Believe me, the next day for lunch – we had another pleasure-fest slurping this down.

I can confidently say Vij’s was an excellent eating experience.  In today’s world of food snobbery and pretentiousness in restaurants,  Vij’s emphasis on making guests feel welcome and comfortable added greatly to our enjoyment of the experience.  One of their cookbooks is definitely on my wish list.

chickpea curry appetizer with naan

Prawn curry with coconut

goat curry with spiced vegetables

Chicken curry with cashews

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

If you looking for something different to do with all that squash you’ve been buying at the farmer’s market….and you like to play with your food, definitely give this recipe a try.   It’s very comforting and yummy on a gloomy, chilly fall day.  We enjoyed this as a side dish for a dinner party, but it could easily be served as a main dish with a salad for a ‘meatless’ meal.   It does take a bit of time, but it makes quite a bit of gnocchi – enough to freeze. I would say this recipe makes enough gnocchi to serve as a side dish for 2 meals for 4 people.   I made this recipe with butter/onion/sage leaves which goes really well with the squash. All those fall flavours and a little fresh nutmeg mixed into the dough…mmmm.  I was lucky enough to be able to pilfer some fresh sage from Cathy’s (of Dragonfly Herbs) garden – and at this time of year, fresh sage is available in the grocery stores.  *Also, the reason I chose buttercup squash over butternut is due to water content. I found  butternut squash too moist – you want the potato and squash as dry as possible so you aren’t adding tons of flour.*

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

makes about 140 gnochhi, maybe more

1 2lb buttercup squash (not butternut)

1 medium potato

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (approx)

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1 egg yolk

to finish:
1/4 cup of butter

1 small onion or shallot, finely diced

5-6 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

1/3 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. Split squash in half and place cut side down on baking sheet. Wash and place potato on baking sheet. Bake  for 45 minutes until squash is aromatic and tender (fork will easily pierce). If the potato isn’t cooked through, continue cooking in oven, or finish cooking in microwave for a few minutes.

Turn squash right side up and let cool until you can handle it with your hands. Scrape out flesh into bowl, and mash. Peel potato and grate into squash, combine. Add salt and mix.

Combine flour, nutmeg and pepper. Place flour on clean countertop and form a well. Place squash/potato mixture in well and place egg yolk on top. Mix egg yolk into squash with clean hands, and then slowly start incorporating flour into squash….gradually mixing it in with your hands until you have a soft dough that is not too wet. Do this gently — all the flour doesn’t need to be incorporated. You want a dough that can be easily rolled into ‘ropes’ without falling apart, but also you want it to be tender, not tough and hard.

Cut dough into 6-8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and cut into bite-size pieces. Use your own judgement. (see picture) Keep pieces separated on a lightly floured pan and cover with a clean tea towel.

*At this point you can freeze them, then once they are frozen solid, put them in portions in ziploc bags.

Bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Place gnocchi into pot. Stir gently. When gnocchi rises to the top, continue to cook for about 30 seconds or so more. Meanwhile, heat large non-stick pan to medium. Melt butter, add onion or shallot and saute, about 5 minutes. Add sage leaves and saute briefly. Using slotted spoon, drain gnocchi and add to butter/onion mixture. Toss to coat. Put into serving dish and top with cheese.

*you can also put some ridges on your gnocchi with a fork and boil, then serve with tomato sauce and cheese. Go crazy, the world is your oyster.

split and clean your squash (approx 2lb total) (1 kg)

mash cooked squash, grate potato (potato ricer is best)

make well in flour mixture, put squash mixture in middle, mix in yolk, then flour

divide your soft dough into portions

roll dough portions into ropes

cut ropes into bite size pieces "gnocchi"

add gnocchi to boiling salted water....wait until they float

saute onions...then add sage leaves, then saute gnocchi

Freakish delish

can also be done with a nice tomato sauce