"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Chicken and Dumplings

    Absolutely perfect weather. For pneumonia… Cool to cold, bit of damp, and just enough sunshine / warmth to make think you can tough it out with a light jacket. (GUESS WHAT? You can’t, you will get that most miserable of all things, a spring cold.)

    Time to fight back a bit, time for soup, chicken soup, and If I am going to take the time to do that, I’ll go Full Valhalla, and make dumplings as well.

    I always have chicken stock in the fridge, (unless one of the lair denizens have drank it straight. Yes, they do that. 3/4 cup of Stock, bit of pepper, a mushroom sliced, and into the microwave for 60 sec. A fast meal)

    From Wikipedia:

    Chicken and dumplings is a dish which consists of a chicken cooked in water, with the resulting chicken broth being used to cook the dumplings by boiling. A dumpling in this context is a biscuit dough, which is a mixture of flour, shortening, and liquid (water, milk, buttermilk, or chicken stock). The dumplings are either rolled out flat, dropped or formed into a ball.

    It is a popular comfort food dish, commonly found in the Southern and Midwestern United States, that is also attributed to being a French Canadian meal that originated during the Great Depression. Chicken and dumplings as a dish is prepared with a combination of boiled chicken meat, broth produced by boiling the chicken, multiple dumplings, and salt and pepper for seasoning. In some areas, this meal is known as chicken and sliders.

  • Dahl Bhat with Chicken

    The recent Winter Storm Stella has me going in an entirely different direction. Like straight up … As is straight up a mountain in the high Himalayas. When on thinks about what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Himalayas, gurka’s, Curry and rice

    Dhal (Lentil Curry) is usually a soup, this time made with our Asian chicken stock. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…

    One could forgot the rice and serve over orzo, or perhaps riced potatoes, or even just with a couple of slices of crusty ciabatta.

    Background

    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

  • Thai Chicken Stock

    As the great storm stella barrels down upon us, bringing heavy snow, high winds and low temperatures, I feel a need, a need for stock, chicken stock, rich, spicy, liquid gold for the production of good soups, gravies, noodles, just about anything. This is a twist on my standard stock that adds an Asian taste to the stock. This would be a natural for the Chicken and Coconut soup, or as the broth component of a chicken curry, or as a broth for Thai noodles, or as the liquid for Dhal …

    From Wikipedia:

    Stock is a flavored liquid preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. Making stocks involves simmering animal bones or meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, adding mirepoix or other aromatics for more flavor.

    Traditionally, stock is made by simmering various ingredients in water. A newer approach is to use a pressure cooker. The ingredients may include some or all of the following:

    Meat
    Leftover cooked meat, such as that remaining on poultry carcasses, is often used along with the bones of the bird or joint. Fresh meat makes a superior stock, and cuts rich in connective tissue such as shin or shoulder of beef or veal are commonly recommended, either alone or added in lower proportions to the remains of cooked poultry, to provide a richer and fresher-tasting stock. Quantities recommended are in the ratio of 1 part fresh meat to 2 parts water. Pork, although a popular base for stock in Chinese cuisine, is considered unsuitable for stock in European cooking due to its greasiness[citation needed](although 19th-century recipes for consomme and traditional aspic included slices of mild ham), and mutton was traditionally avoided due to the difficulty of avoiding the strong tallowy taint imparted from the fat.
    Bones
    Veal, beef, and chicken bones are most commonly used. The flavour of the stock comes from the cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. Connective tissue has collagen in it, which gets converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for longer than stock made from meat. Pressure cooking methods shorten the time necessary to extract the flavour from the bones.
    Mirepoix
    Mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables. Often, the less desirable parts of the vegetables that may not otherwise be eaten (such as carrot skins and celery cores and leaves) are used. The use of these parts is highly dependent upon the chef, as many do not appreciate the flavours that these portions impart.
    Herbs and spices
    The herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bag of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often placed in a sachet to make it easier to remove once the stock is cooked.

    I am known to reserve chicken bones from spatchcocked chickens for the purpose of reenforcing my stock. (The addition of chicken feet will also add to the gelatin content)

  • Cold Soup – Gazpacho

    Gazpacho

    Ambushed again by the green grocer. But, it is hot, and it is late spring, early summer.. Now I have some lovely tomatoes, cucumbers, all sorts of herbs, garlic, red onion, citrus and a flavored olive oil the owners wife made for me to try. Sounds like I am making Gazpacho.

    Background

    Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalucía. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its refreshing qualities.

    The soup has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain became a part of Andalucian cuisine, particularly Seville, stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar. Tomato was added to the recipe after it was brought to Europe after the Columbian Exchange which began in 1492. The dish remained popular with field hands as a way to cool off during the summer, and to use available ingredients (fresh vegetables and stale bread).

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  • Cream of Butternut Squash

    It is lab night and I need a good and fast meal, looking about the kitchen I find a butternut squash, a marvelous source of food value, and it has such wonderful rich and round tastes. The real issue is getting to all that flavor, it being so tightly locked into the husk. One way to do this is a long slow simmer into a wonderful thick, rich soup.

    Bisque is a thick, creamy, highly-seasoned soup of French origin, classically made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Also, creamy soups made from vegetables instead of seafood are sometimes called bisques. Bisque is a method of extracting every bit of flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup.

    Julia Child even remarked, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain.” Bisque are often thickened with rice, which can either be strained out, leaving behind the starch, or pureed upon the final stages.

    Bisque is also sometimes used to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood, in which the ingredients are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill. Common varieties include tomato, mushroom, and squash bisque

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  • Slow Cooker Black Beans

    bbsoup

    I do not do cold or wet very well and for the last several days of misery, I’ve been craving some hot, hearty, black bean soup. I love thick black bean soup, just about a stew, something that will stick to you and shield you from the icy talons of wind.

    Soups like this are mostly improvisations. The basic ingredients are the black beans, the smoked ham, the aromatics, and the spices. From there one can add or remove ingredients to meet your tastes or culinary requirements. (The ham / pork component can be replaced with dark meat chicken and liquid smoke, or the meat component can be dropped entirely and replaced with a heavy mirepoix or other aromatics.

    I know I’ve done a few bean posts over the last month, but they are easy to cook, fairly healthy, and very cost effective, one slow cooker of beans will feed the lair for several days, as opposed to a slow cooker of stew that will be consumed in less than a day.

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