All posts by A_Boleyn

About A_Boleyn

Having come late to the kitchen, other than in an eating capacity, each new recipe I try is an exciting opportunity to enjoy the original and then make it my own.

Edited: Chicken and Dumplings (Trial #1)

Chicken and dumplings were on my bucket list … sort of. As in, I have wanted to make them, for some time, but I didn’t actually write them down on my ‘official’ bucket list.

Recently, someone posted a picture on FB and, since I had six chicken drumsticks thawing in the fridge, and all the other ingredients needed, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

The dish is a soup but I’ve seen a thickened version which is almost stew-like. I found a nice simple recipe online … and then I messed with it by deciding to thicken it with a ‘beurre manie’, a flour and butter paste. I combined a tablespoon each of the two until it formed a paste and stirred about a third of the mixture into my chicken soup. But then, I said what the heck and stirred in a bit more. At the end, I had added the entire thing. A bad move it turned out.

I had concerns about the dumpling part of this dish, too. There are two versions. A batter that’s scooped onto the top of the simmering soup and allowed to steam with the lid on until set. And a rolled out thick ‘noodle’ which cooks in the broth. You need both a big pot of soup stock for this latter version, and time to roll it out and cut it. Neither of which I had. So I went with the steamed batter version. At least this part of the dish turned out well. Another possible problem, along with thickening the soup too much, was my choice of cooking vessel. I used a large (11 inch diameter) saute pot which meant that the soup level was fairly shallow and the large surface area meant that a lot of the liquid evaporated even with the lid on.

While steaming the dumplings, I lost even more liquid to the dumplings, and the thickening soup stuck to the bottom of the pan and scorched. I couldn’t lift the lid but I shook the pan several times to free any dumplings. The dumplings didn’t stick … but the ‘soup’ did because by that point I had something that was more like the filling for chicken pot pie in density.

On the plus side, it was all edible. Even the scorched bits.

It was also saltier than I would have liked.

Oh well.

Chicken and Dumplings

NOTE: The recipe below doesn’t use a thickener for the soup.

Chicken and Dumplings – serves 3-4 people

Chicken Soup

2 tsp vegetable oil
6 chicken drumsticks
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled, medium dice
2 celery stalks, medium dice
1 clove garlic clove, peeled and smashed but still intact
4-5 cups chicken stock, divided (edited: increased from 3 cups)
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper to start)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp dried parsley

Over medium heat saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic clove until the onions start to caramelize on the edges. Remove the vegetables and brown the chicken drumsticks on both sides.

Return about half of the veggies to the pot (retain the rest of the veggies until the last 15 minutes so they’ll still have some texture), four cups of the chicken stock, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and parsley. Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes, turning the chicken at least once.

Remove the garlic clove and discard.

Remove the drumsticks to a large bowl and take the meat off the bones. Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Return the meat to the saute pan along with the reserved vegetables. Simmer for another 15 minutes. If the soup looks like it’s reduced too much, add the reserved cup of chicken stock.

Make the batter for the dumplings and spoon rounded teaspoonfuls over the top of the soup, leaving some space between the dumplings so they can swell during cooking.

Place the lid on tightly and steam for 15 minutes, shaking gently a few times to reduce the chance of scorching.

Dumplings – makes 12 dumplings, serves 3-4

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter or margarine

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley.

Cut in the butter.

Stir in the milk just until the flour is moistened.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls batter on top of chicken mixture. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. (I steamed them for the full 15 minutes.)

Serve the chicken and dumplings topped with additional chopped parsley.

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Pork Roast ChilaMigas with Red Kidney Refried Beans

A hearty ‘morning after’ breakfast full of protein and assembled from odds and ends. This is a combination of two classic Mexican dishes, chilaquiles and migas, so I called it “ChilaMigas”.

Breakfast Pork Roast ChilaMigas – serves 2

NOTE: amounts are estimates based on availability and hunger level

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup leftover pork roast, diced (use leftover pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken if you prefer)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup salsa, spicy or medium (or mild)
1 cup refried beans**
2 handfuls of corn tortillas, crushed lightly
handful shredded Monterey or Jalapeno Jack cheese (use cheddar if you prefer it)

For Garnish … use as many of these as you have or want
fresh cilantro or green onion tops, thinly sliced
diced tomatoes
diced avocados
feta cheese (use Cotija cheese if you have some)

** I used my own home made red kidney bean refried beans

In a small bowl, combine the eggs and the salsa. Reserve.

In a large non-stick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the leftover pork and brown a bit until heated through. Add the refried beans, stirring until warmed. Add the egg/salsa mixture and the crushed tortillas, stir and continue cooking until the eggs are almost set.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and let it melt a bit.

Serve in a bowl with your preferred garnishes on top. You can eat this with more corn tortillas or a fork as it’s a bit thick.

PS: A can/bottle of Corona or Dos Equis with a wedge of lime would be a perfect accompaniment.

Sourdough Thin Crust Pizza Dough

A recent request by someone on one of my FB groups for a thin crust pizza recipe got me thinking.

I’ve made a delicious thin crust pizza using sourdough tortillas as a base but, was it possible to use the sourdough starter directly to get similar results?

I used the Genius Kitchen recipe, with some minor adjustments posted below, for my first attempt.

Underside of the pizza crust on the metal baking sheet (not preheated)

Sourdough Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for 2 12 inch pizzas

1 1/2 cups (365 gm) fresh sourdough starter*
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus another 3-4 tbsp more for brushing the crust with before pre-baking and before topping
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (154 gm) all purpose flour**, more as needed

* If possible, make sure your starter has been freshly fed, 2-4 times if possible, before using it, if you’re keeping it in the fridge, like I am.
** Start with one cup of the flour if your starter is on the thick side

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mix together one cup of flour and the salt. Add the sourdough starter and the EVOO and stir together until it forms a homogeneous mixture. Gradually stir in more flour, as needed until the mixture starts to gather into a ball. Transfer onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead until you get a pizza dough consistency.

Cover your ball of dough with the bowl you used to make it in and let rest for 30 minutes, so it will be easier to roll out. (It won’t rise much, if at all, but will get a bit softer.)
Roll the dough out into a circle using the minimum amount of flour needed to prevent sticking.

Brush with extra virgin olive oil and use the tines of a fork to dock (prick all over the dough) to prevent excess bubbling up of the crust during prebaking.

Bake the crust for 5-7 minutes, depending on your oven’s performance. (I decided to pull the crust out after 5 min.)

Remove the crust from the oven and brush on a bit more oil to prevent the toppings from soaking into the crust and making it soggy.

Add the desired toppings and bake the pizza until the crust browns on the top and underside, and the cheese melts, ~10 minutes.

REVIEW: The dough was very tasty. I fed my starter with a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour early on in rehydrating it from dry, so the texture was nice and chewy. The dough could have been rolled out a bit thinner but the amount of dough used (260 gm) was pretty much spot on. I didn’t get dark brown spots on the edge of the crust, like in a wood burning pizza oven, but it was crispy enough on the underside for my taste, even without a pizza stone or preheat the baking sheet, a cheap black pan that’s more than 30 yrs old.

The second half of the pizza dough was baked without prebaking. The result: The crust was NOT as crispy without prebaking. Perhaps because the toppings were fully cooked after 10 minutes so the total baking time was only 10 minutes compared with the 15 minutes total for the prebaked crust. And, even though it was expected that baking the pizza with the toppings on (without prebaking or docking) would prevent the formation of bubbles, that was not the case. Four large bubbles developed during the 10 minute baking period. They deflated somewhat once the pizza was removed but did not disappear completely.

Boneless Pork Loin Roast

A simple recipe that will give you a moist and tender pork roast with minimal hands on time.

Pork Loin Roast with pan juices, quinoa, roast carrots and salad

Perfectly Moist Pork Loin Roast – serves 4-6

3 lb boneless pork loin roast
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of the oil, the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Stir together until you get a somewhat runny paste than can be brushed on the roast with a silicone brush. You may need to add some more oil.

Trim off as much of the fat as you wish from the pork. Cut slashes about 1/2 inch deep, and cross-hatches 1 inch apart into the pork. Brush the seasoning mixture on the bottom, ends, and top of the roast. Place in roasting pan fat side up.

Cook at 400 degrees for 10 min.

Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes per pound, or  until internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

NOTE: If you wish, you may add 1 inch cubes of potatoes and/or carrots to the roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with some salt. The pork juices will further flavour the vegetables.

Remove the pork roast and put a piece of foil loosely on top. Let the meat rest for 10 min before slicing to serve.

A couple of half inch thick slices will be plenty per person. If the vegetables need more time to become tender, return the roasting pan to the oven.

The Three P’s (Pineapple, Pizza and Pork) … Pineapple Ice Cream Topping

The cold weather has returned to south-western Ontario, breaking the streak of above average temperatures we’ve been enjoying. Another reason to stay in and cook. This weekend I made sourdough thin crust pizza dough, roasted a boneless pork loin and then made a pineapple ice cream topping/sauce.

After opening up a can of crushed pineapple to make a Pineapple Margarita, I was left with the pineapple (~ 1 1/3 cup) and the remaining pineapple juice (~1/3 cup). I had thawed a boneless pork loin and considered making a marinade and/or basting sauce for the roast using the pineapple. However, I woke up late, and then spent an hour shoveling the wet snow that had started falling yesterday and continued sporadically until earlier this morning. By the time I staggered into house, too tired to do more than put one foot in front of the other, to make my first cup of instant coffee, I had to change my plans.

A single scoop of ice cream in ice cream pedestal bowl from the 70’s

Pineapple Ice Cream Topping – makes ~ 1 1/2 cups of topping

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 can crushed pineapple (~1 1/3 cups)
1 tsp unsalted butter

Drain the pineapple juice and reserve the crushed pineapple.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, syrup and pineapple juice to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer the contents for 5 minutes. Add the drained pineapple and the butter and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Pour the pineapple topping into a scrupulously clean 2 cup glass jar and seal. Listen for the seal on the lid to pop as it cools. Once the jar has reached room temperature, refrigerate. Good for 1-2 weeks.

 

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke … Appetizer or Quinoa Bowl

I’ve been wanting to try this Hawaiian dish ever since I ran across mention of it in some readings I was doing for other Hawaiian cuisine … the classic or Spam loco moco, and Spam musubi come to mind. However, whenever I had had good quality ahi tuna on hand, I always ended up making something else. A month or two ago, I bought a one pound package of ahi tuna, individually vacuum packed in quarter pound portions. Today’s freezing cold and light snow seems a strange time to make something that’s native to Hawaii’s sun filled shores but it seemed to be perfect for me.

Some recipes use a lot of acid (lemon or lime juice) and marinate the raw tuna for a couple of hours, creating what is an essentially a ‘ceviche’ … where the fish is cooked by the acid. In this version, the pretty pink cubes of tuna are lightly dressed with the marinade and served as soon as possible. A half hour wait in the refrigerator, at most, is acceptable

Appetizer/Starter/First Course … if desired, place the tuna in a shallow bowl and eat with crunchy wonton wedges or tortilla chips

Light Lunch version Quinoa Bowl

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke – serves 4

1 pound sashimi/sushi grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
3-4 green onion tops, thinly sliced, reserve some for garnish

Dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1/2-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed (adjust the amount to your preference)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (black, white or mixed), plus more for garnish

Optional
1 tbsp dry wakame seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained and thinly sliced
1 tbsp dry hijiki seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained
togarashi (dry Japanese chile pepper mixture) or furikake (Japanese sushi rice seasoning)

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together. Taste and adjust the sweet/salt/tang level.

Place the tuna and green onions in a medium sized bowl. If using seaweed, add at this point.

Spoon the dressing over the top and toss gently. Divide among serving dishes.

For a pretty appetizer, spoon the tuna into champagne coupe glasses. Sprinkle the garnishes over the top … sesame seeds, more sliced green onion, togarashi etc.

For a light meal, place a half cup of cooked quinoa (or rice) in a bowl and top with the dressed tuna. Garnish.

February and Love and Loss

February is the shortest and, arguably, the coldest month of the year. Although it is now associated with love and romance and Valentine’s Day, with its pink and red themed hearts, seen everywhere in the western world, in ancient Rome, it was originally located at the end of the year and associated with death and purification.

 

In fact, its name is derived from the Latin word ‘februum’ a thing used in ritual purification. Check out the preceding link for more interesting information.

And for a moving song about love and loss and renewal, listen to Josh Groban’s “February Song”.

For me, February is my birth month and, though I used to get quite excited at the thought of another birthday, the magic is pretty much gone as the aches and pains of growing older (and better … yeah, not so much) become more evident.

 

I thought I’d do something special for myself this year to celebrate. I haven’t decided on what it’s going to be yet. All the best to my fellow February-ites.

Fasirt (Breaded Hungarian Hamburgers)

When I was growing up my mom would sometimes refer to something called fasirt. I don’t remember ever equating them with ‘regular’ hamburgers that she would make and bbq in the back yard, but there are many similarities between the two. I recently learned that there is a German/Austrian term, ‘faschiertes’, which refers to minced meat. Since we lived in Germany briefly before we came to Canada, it is possible that she conflated the two words. In any case, the term was vaguely familiar to me, but I didn’t know much more than the word itself.

Since joining a Hungarian food FB group, my memory has been jogged by references to this dish, among others, and I am discovering (or rediscovering) Hungarian cuisine. Note that I have yet to find a Romanian food FB group.

Today’s post shares one of the several versions of fasirt that I’ve run across. Pork is used exclusively in some recipes while a combination of pork and beef is used in others. I had one pound of lean ground beef and one pound of lean ground pork in my freezer. So that’s what I used. For a first effort, I was quite pleased with the results. I would recommend frying the patties just before serving, so you can enjoy the crispy outside and the moist, tender interior. Standing doesn’t affect the taste just the texture.

Fasirt Version # 1 – 1 lb 14 oz meat mixture, makes 15 2 oz patties

For the meat patties

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
3/4 tsp salt (1/2 tsp per pound)
1 tbsp sauteed diced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 oz bread (pulsed in food processor) plus 4 tbsp milk

For coating
~1 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs

In a small bowl, place the fresh bread crumbs and pour the milk over the top. Let the bread soak for about 15 min. Squeeze out any excess milk. (No excess milk found.)

Mix the patty ingredients together, divide into 2 oz portions, shape into balls and pat out into ~ 2 1/2 inch diameter patties. (NOTE: I didn’t over handle the meat mixture but the patties still rounded up a bit more than I wanted. You may want to pat the meat out to a 3 4 inch diameter.)

 

Lightly coat patties with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess crumbs.

 

In a large cast iron frying pan, heat vegetable oil to medium and then fry the patties about 2 min per side, or until the juices run clear and, if cut open, the center is no longer pink but still moist.

Serve the patties with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach or peas and pickles. Or just dip them in some yogurt based tzatziki.

Pineapple Margarita

In a recent back and forth on FB, pineapple margarita came up. Since I had all the ingredients, I made a half batch and distributed the drink among two champagne coupes.

Pineapple Margarita – serves 2

1/2 cup tequila
3 tbsp triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tsp sugar (add more to taste)
crushed ice

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice; shake vigorously until blended. Strain into margarita glasses.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream