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Chicken and Dumplings … with Rolled Noodles (Trial #2)

Rarely have I made a dish that was as satisfying in the preparation as it was in tasting the finished product.

Chicken and dumplings is a hearty comfort dish … a glorious chicken stew with a creamy texture filled with tender shredded chicken and vegetables. The ‘dumplings’ may be either drop biscuits, which I’ve made before, or rolled noodles. In both cases, the starch is added to the stew in the last 10-15 minutes and cooked. Achieving the perfect balance of dumplings/noodles and stew may be a challenge. On my first attempt I didn’t account for the amount of stock that would be absorbed by the dumplings during steaming. The result was unsatisfyingly dry even if the dish itself was delicious.

This trial was perfection. (I had extra stock in reserve, just in case.)

I started with a whole fresh Prime chicken, bought on sale at my local Freshco, and meant for roasting. After cutting the chicken into pieces, I used the two breasts, wing tips and the back for making the stock. The two legs and the wings were set aside for roasting.

The recipe I used was one I found on YouTube for “Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings”. It was based on an Emeril Lagasse recipe according to the accreditation given there. After reading the comments, I halved the amount of roux (1/4 cup butter and 1/3 cup flour) I added to the stew, because I didn’t want it to be overly thick to start with. And, since I knew there were going to be leftovers, I didn’t want the inevitable thickening to adversely affect the dish.

I rewrote the recipe and am sharing it here in case anyone has difficulties accessing the version on YouTube.

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings – serves 4-6
Adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe for chicken and dumplings.

For the chicken

2 split chicken breasts, on the bone with skin, about 3 lbs*
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 celery stalks, medium dice
3 carrots, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium dice**
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter***
2/3 cup AP flour***
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup frozen peas

* I used two split, bone in chicken breasts, the back and the tips of the two wings

** I didn’t have any onions so I used the white part of four green onions, sliced about 1/3 of an inch thick which gave me about 1/4 cup of onions.

*** I thought that the amount of roux used made the chicken and dumplings look too thick in the video so I reduced the butter to 1/4 cup and the flour to 1/3 cup.

Cooking the chicken

In a large pot or dutch oven, add in the chicken, water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a medium boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Don’t boil too hard, or too much water will evaporate. (NOTE: You can cover the pot and avoid the issue altogether.)

Prepare the vegetables and dumplings while this is happening.

For the dumplings

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk

Shredding the cooked chicken/adding the veggies

After the chicken has cooked for 45 minutes, remove it to a plate and let cool before shredding. Discard the skin and bones. Remove the bay leaves from the stock and discard.

Add in the chopped vegetables and cook for 10 minutes.

Making the dumplings

In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk and butter just until butter is melted. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the milk and butter mixture and stir with a fork just until combined. Dough should be soft. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead just a few times to make it come together. Don’t over knead or your noodles will be tough. Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thick and cut into 1″ strips and then into 3-4″ pieces. If you think you’ll be waiting for more than 5 minutes or so to add the noodles, cover them with a damp towel.

Making the roux

In a separate small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook over medium heat for a minute or so, stirring constantly to create a roux. Gradually add in about half a cup of stock at a time until you’ve thinned out the roux a bit.

Add roux mixture to the stock with the vegetables and whisk until no lumps remain. Add in the whipping cream and frozen peas.

Adding the dumplings

Bring the stew to a light boil and add in the dumplings, one by one. Stir gently, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until dumplings are tender and done.

Finishing up

Take the pot off the heat and add the shredded chicken back in. Stir to heat the chicken through, TASTE for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if needed, then serve.

As I placed the cherry red dutch oven on the kitchen table for serving, I wished that my small family was gathered around, empty bowls and spoons in hand, ready to dig in.

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (2018)

Happy Thanksgiving

 

I went a little overboard this year and bought a pre-cooked 5 kg honey-glazed spiral cut ham for my Thanksgiving meal. It cost me $22 CDN and I figure I’ll get at least ten meals out of it so it was definitely a good purchase, price wise.

I had a wonderful lie in this morning, and hadn’t done the math needed to figure out how long it would take to re-heat this monster, ahead of time. It turned out to be almost THREE HOURS, with the enclosed glaze being brushed on for the last half hour. Next time I’d up the temperature to AT LEAST 300 deg or even 325 deg, from the 275 deg F written on the wrappings, because, even after the maximum roasting time recommended, it was still only lukewarm inside. So I sliced off and reheated the portion I ate in the microwave. By this point, it was 6 pm. And I was VERY hungry.

The ham was tasty and moist, but the potato and onion gratin was the star of the show, in my opinion. I started out with this recipe, and then made some changes. Because I was starved, I served myself about one quarter of the dish and by the time I was finished, I was so full, that I almost didn’t have room for dessert.

ALMOST

Cause this was a great looking dessert.

I wanted to make some sort of seasonal fruit dessert for Thanksgiving, but all I had in the house were three apples (Red Delicious) in the crisper drawer, and some blueberries in the freezer. I decided on an apple crumble (with sliced almonds in the crust because I didn’t have any rolled oats in the pantry) with a couple of tablespoons of the blueberries added for a bit of colour. I’ll post my recipe for an individual apple crumble in a future post. As well as for an individual blueberry pudding cake I made.

Potato and Onion Gratin

Potato and Onion Gratin – serves 6-8

1 medium (~300 gm) sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick *
1 medium white/yellow (~100 gm) Russet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick*
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced (1/8-1/4 inch thick)
~4 oz (125 gm) cream cheese, cubed
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
4 strips of cooked bacon, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)

* Use all sweet potatoes or white potatoes, if preferred, or if that’s all that you have available.

Topping

1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fried onions

Combine topping ingredients in a shallow dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit.

Lightly oil a medium sized baking dish with a neutral oil like canola. (Spray with a cooking spray if you prefer.)

Cover the base of the baking dish evenly with about 1/3 of your sliced potatoes. Scatter about half of the sliced onions over the potatoes. Make another layer of potatoes, and then scatter the remaining onions over the top. Finish with the last of the potatoes.

Place the cubed cream cheese in a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, and warm just long enough to soften the cheese. Whisk/stir in the flour and the dried thyme. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, a bit at a time, until it’s smoothly combined with the cheese and flour mixture. Whisk in the milk.

Pour the cream cheese/broth/milk mixture over the layered potatoes and onions. Scatter the bacon over the top. Put the lid on the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Take the lid off the casserole dish, scatter the topping evenly over the casserole and return to the oven. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then serve.

Eye of Round – Pt 1 Small End Roast

I rarely buy large pieces of beef/steaks due to the price, but Freshco had a ‘sale’ this past week on whole fresh eye of round roasts so I picked up a relatively small one  (2.7 kg) and cut it into four pieces for future cooking. I ended up with two roasts (1 kg and 0.63 kg), four quarter inch thick steaks for braciole (0.45 kg) and a small bag of beef cubes (0.30 kg) for some sort of stew.

Using a high heat roasting technique, I cooked the smaller of the two roasts to medium/medium-rare and used the meat for supper and work lunches. I was pleased with the results though it could have been a BIT rarer. I’ve been advised to keep the high heat roasting time the same but reduce the oven standing time to achieve that result. Something to try next time.

High Heat Roasting Technique

Preheat oven to 500 deg F.

Let meat come to room temperature about an hour before you want to roast.

Rub with olive oil and seasonings in a wet rub using garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, etc., Roast at 500 deg for 5 minutes per pound/0.454 kg.

Shut off the oven and roast an additional hour per 2.2 pounds/1 kg, but do not open the oven for any reason during that time.

When the time is up, remove the roast from oven, cover and let sit for 15-20 min.

Roast beef, loaded baked potato and Caesar salad

Black Pepper Shrimp

I’m cooking more dishes for one or two these days, rather than pots of ‘stuff’. This black pepper shrimp makes a fast work day supper served over plain rice or noodles.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Udon Noodles

Black Pepper Shrimp – serves 1

4-6 oz/113-170 gm peeled, headless raw shrimp, tail on
1 rounded tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch (1/8 tsp) of salt
1 tbsp green onion tops, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Lightly pound the black peppercorns using a mortal and pestle until they are coarsely cracked. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the peppercorns in a sturdy freezer bag and crack with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Don’t leave any whole peppercorns but you don’t have to pound the peppercorn to a powder.)

Heat up a skillet or wok over medium/medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the garlic and black pepper and saute until you smell the aroma of the pepper, then add the shrimp and stir to combine. Add the oyster sauce, stir a few times before adding the wine and sugar.

Stir fry until the shrimp are cooked.

Plate, sprinkle the green onion over the top and serve immediately.

NOTE: This is a fairly dry preparation (no sauce) so you can stir cooked noodles (ie udon noodles or spaghetti) into the skillet as soon as the shrimp are cooked to coat them with the butter and any juices released by the shrimp. If serving over plain rice, season the rice with some soy sauce.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Plain Rice

Convenience Foods: Inari Sushi

Inari sushi are one of my favourite specialty sushi at the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants I frequent. If you’re watching your pocket book, however, they’re a snap to make at home with just a few ingredients. Traditionally filled with cooked and seasoned sushi rice, they may be served plain or topped with egg salad, tuna salad or a variety of other sushi fillings. I’ve also filled the tofu pockets with a somen noodle seafood mixture and with leftover Arborio seasoned Korean style (Yubu Chobap).

You can make your own fried and seasoned tofu pockets, but why bother, when you can buy a can of 16 half pockets for a fairly reasonable price (~$5 CDN, locally) and save yourself the mess? Leftover tofu pockets freeze well in the seasoning liquid once the can has been opened, so they’re practical for single diners.

Seasoned Fried Tofu Pockets

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi – makes 15-16 inari sushi

1 cup raw sushi rice, cook as per package instructions
4 lap cheong sausages
2-3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar to season the cooked sushi rice
1 can Hime brand inarizushi

Optional add-ins:
1/4 cup of finely cubed cooked carrot, thawed frozen peas or thawed corn kernels (omitted)
6-8 shiso leaves, julienned
a couple of sweet Japanese thin omelettes (usuyaki tamago), rolled and cut into 1/8 inch strips

Once cooked, you’ll have about 3 cups of rice, enough to fill 15-16 inari sushi. When cooking the sushi rice, lay the sausages over the top of the rice, cook, then remove the sausages and dice. Add the diced sausage to the cooked rice and cut in along with the rice vinegar.

For ease of stuffing the tofu pockets, use 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture, shape into an oval and insert it into the opened tofu pocket.

Convenience Foods: Buffalo Chicken Wings

Convenience foods are … convenient.

However, you have to factor in the price you’re paying for that convenience and decide if it’s worth the trade-off.

In this case, I picked up a package of prepared Buffalo chicken wings (hot sauce and Parmesan garlic sauce included) on sale and said ‘the heck with it’. Especially as raw chicken wings are rarely ‘on sale’ and even if they ARE, you still have to coat/bread, bake, make the sauces etc. At 4-6 whole wings (8-12 pieces) per serving size, the package barely serves two people as a meal, if that’s all you’re having, but I stretched things with a lot of raw veggies like carrot sticks and broccoli florettes. I used Ranch dressing as a dip for the veggies and saved the garlic sauce for another purpose. Instead of french fries as a starch side dish, I made crispy skin-on smashed potatoes.

And I feasted.

A more modest dessert of one of my Jammie Dodgers and my Sunday meal was a success.

Other convenience foods I buy and use are onion rings, tater tots and canned inari sushi. And if that last one seems a bit out of left field … well there’s a reason.

Later

Pork Tenderloin Four Ways

If you have a chance to buy pork tenderloin fresh, it’s quite a versatile protein for a singleton, and you can take your time making various dishes.

Unfortunately, I bought mine frozen, so when I thawed it, I had to prepare (trim off fat and remove the silver skin) and use it in as soon as possible.

Pork tenderloin souvlaki – marinated (Kraft Zesty Italian dressing), threaded onto skewers with chunks of onion and sweet pepper (red, yellow and orange), and then broiled on the bbq or in the oven under the grill. Serve with starch of your choice. In this case, I had leftover Mexican rice in the freezer so that’s what I used.

 

Korean pork tenderloin roast – marinated in a Korean paste and served over plain rice. I boiled and served the marinade over the slightly charred pork.

 

Korean (Gochujang) Pork Tenderloin Marinade – serves 3-4

1 large piece of pork tenderloin (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs)

1/2 cup gochujang
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey or brown sugar*
1-6 cloves of garlic, minced*
2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
pinch of salt

* I used honey and only 1 clove of garlic

Pesto pork tenderloin roast – marinated in home made pesto and served with pesto fettuccine

 

Honey mustard pork tenderloin – Pan fried pork cutlet served with honey mustard dressing … it turned out I hadn’t taken a picture of the honey mustard over the pork itself, just over the raw broccoli so you’ll have to imagine. The protein was served with skin on, smashed potatoes.

Battered, Crumbed and Baked … Chicken Tenders

I’ve made these tenders before, but it’s been a while, and I don’t know that I put enough emphasis on the positive aspects of the technique involved.

The usual 3 dish (seasoned flour, beaten egg and seasoned bread crumbs) method for preparing these tenders/fingers, or even chicken cutlets, usually ends up with flour and beaten egg to discard. By combining the flour and egg (only ONE) into a single step, along with some flavourings, the wastage is minimized. You can easily batter up to one pound of chicken pieces in the batter. You may also reduce the crumb wastage by judicious addition of the crumbs over the top of your chicken pieces. Another feature of this technique is the addition of the mustard, for flavour, and the mayonnaise, for moisture retention. In the past, I’ve spread mayonnaise or Miracle Whip over the top of a skinless chicken breast and then dipped the breast into seasoned bread crumbs and baking. This is incorporated into the technique.

Battered, Crumbed and Baked Chicken Tenders – for 2

250 gm /1/2 lb chicken tenders or skinless and boned thighs, cut in half, try to get all your chicken about the same thickness
~ 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Batter – makes enough batter for 500 gm/1 lb of chicken tenders

1 egg
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard (or any other mustard of choice)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

oil spray or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 200C/390F, spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray or brush on a thin layer of vegetable oil. If using parchment paper, to reduce cleaning, you should still use the spray/oil as it will help promote browning.

In a metal pie tin, add your bread crumbs and set aside.

Place the batter ingredients in a medium sized, shallow bowl (a 1 lb margarine tub works for me) and whisk with a fork until combined.

Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, to the batter, using a fork to turn the chicken over to coat both sides, and letting the excess drip off. Transfer the chicken pieces, still using the fork, to the bread crumbs and shake the pie tin back and forth gently to help coat the bottom of the chicken with the crumbs. With clean dry fingers, sprinkle some of the bread crumbs over the top of the chicken pieces, then gently turn them over to make sure all sides are crumbed.

Place the crumbed chicken onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness. You may want to turn over the pieces about half way through the baking to get both sides crisped and slightly browned. Don’t bake too long or any thinner parts of the chicken will dry out.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce of your choice. ie honey mustard, ranch dressing or spicy Sriracha mayo.

Sriracha Mayo – serves 1

1 tbsp of your favourite mayonnaise
Sriracha, to taste

Since I’m cooking for one, I utilize whatever mixing vessels are available, nearby … usually in my draining board.

The price tag was to remind me that I bought 0.856 kg of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $10. The cutlets below served three and I have over a half kilogram chicken left.

Gyudon (Japanese Beef Rice Bowl)

A donburi is a delicious and easy-to-make bowl of sushi rice. There are a number of variations depending on the toppings.

I haven’t had the the beef version or ‘gyudon’ before but I had some leftover steak from my ‘shooter’s sandwich’ so I threw this together.

Gyudon (Japanese Beef Rice Bowl) – serves 1

Ingredients of the Dish

1 cup hot cooked sushi rice (unseasoned) or regular cooked rice
1 recipe for ‘simmering sauce’
2 oz/ 57 gm thinly sliced leftover steak
2 tbsp leftover onion/mushroom mixture, from the ‘Shooter’s Sandwich’**
poached egg (optional)
garnishes – thinly sliced green onion, toasted black or white sesame seeds

** In the absence of the onion/mushroom mixture, half and thinly slice 1/3-1/2 medium onion and poach in the simmering sauce until soft before adding the sliced steak to warm through.

Simmering Sauce

1/2 cup dashi stock (or 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp dashi powder, or 1/2 cup chicken stock)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar (brown sugar may be used)
1 tbsp sake (dry white wine may be used)
1/2 tsp wasabi paste (optional)

Simmer together in a small pan or wok.

Assembly/Serving the Rice Bowl

Add the hot cooked rice to a deep bowl.

To the pan of simmering sauce, add the steak and onion/mushroom mixture and stir through just long enough to warm the steak through. With a slotted spoon, transfer the steak and onion/mushroom mixture to the top of the hot rice, leaving behind the majority of the simmering sauce. You may poach the egg in the sauce, place it on top of the steak in the bowl and then spoon the sauce around the periphery of the bowl. Scatter the green onion and/or sesame seed garnish on top. Serve.

An alternative to poaching the egg is to lightly scramble it in a small bowl, and then add it to the simmering sauce in the wok. Stir the egg through the sauce just long enough to cook/poach the egg and then spoon the egg and the sauce around the periphery of the bowl. Garnish and serve.

Some more pretty pics of the Shooter’s Sandwich … next time, I’d put the mushroom underneath the steak to make cutting neater


One Pot – Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles

Cooking for one (or two) means you often have leftovers from things you’ve thawed. In this case, I had a cup or so of diced ham from a 2 cup bag I’d frozen for soup. (I used the other cup for a broccoli, cheddar cheese and ham quiche.)

I found an online ‘one dish’ recipe and scaled it down to suit the amounts I had. Although I halved all the other ingredients, I used the full 2 cups of chicken stock (1 1/2 cups of stock and 1/2 cup of water, works too) because I needed to have enough liquid to cover the noodles. The noodles were cooked in the pan and didn’t suffer taste-wise from the substitution. I also omitted the lemon juice because I was saving my lone lemon for something else. Instead of using half and half, I used 1/4 cup of whipping cream.

Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles Pot

The dish was quick to assemble and delicious and the leftover portion could be taken to work the next day for lunch or enjoyed for a repeat supper.