This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comfort Food!

Sometimes the best way to get warm is to stay in the kitchen and cook!

Recent misadventures (an attempt to recreate 'traditional Southern' dumplings) led me to read something in the neighborhood of three dozen recipes online.  None of them seemed to fit the bill.  However, I received a catalog from King Arthur Flour, and as always a few recipes were featured.  One such was a pot of 'chicken and dumplings.'

Now, these dumplings looked nothing like what I recalled (and failed to replicate), but they *did* look good.  I had a grilled chicken breast in the fridge and homemade chicken broth in the freezer.  What the heck!  Another cold, gray, windy day called for something hot and yummy.

The King Arthur recipe called for self-rising flour or King Arthur Flour Baking Mix.  Don't fall for this!  If the day ever dawns that I can't measure out a few ingredients and stir them into my flour, just shoot me.

Per cup of flour, add:  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (be sure you check the expiration date; it does lose its powers) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  There; you now have self-rising flour.

The KAF recipe also called for 'Herbs de Provence' (a mixture I don't happen to keep in my well-stocked spice rack and auxiliary shelves) so I went out in the yard, snipped some fresh rosemary, rinsed and pulled the leaves off, and minced them very fine.  I threw the extras into the broth later.  

The recipe was going to yield a large quantity, so I cut it down to match the size of my lidded casserole and single chicken breast.  It also called for frozen mixed vegetables, something I have loathed all my life and never use; (see previous note about shooting me if I can't manage  to do without pre-fab groceries.)  I chunked up two celery stalks and two handfuls of fresh snap peas.  I expect my veggie mixture might be different every time I make this dish; depends on what's left in the larder.  I sweated these veggies and the chopped chicken breast while I whipped up the thickened broth (1/4 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of broth whisked into the roux.)  In the end I think I only used about 1 1/2 cups of the broth because the casserole isn't that large; also, it wouldn't be like me to leave pepper out of anything.  

The dumpling mixture was 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour,  a generous 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda.  I added the minced rosemary and then cut in 2 Tbsp of butter; on the side I beat one egg into 6 Tbsp of buttermilk (yogurt whey or yogurt mixed with some water will serve in a pinch; or just add a bit of lemon juice to milk.  Personally, I keep buttermilk on hand all the time.)  Final mixing only at the last minute.

When the broth and chicken-veggies were hot, I set the oven to 350, poured the stew into the casserole, and then quickly mixed the liquids into the dry ingredients with my sacred wooden spoon.  I scooped up lumps about the size of a golf ball and with a few pats to shape them, gently placed them atop the stew.  On with the lid and into the oven!  I did end up increasing the oven temp to 375 for about 10 minutes to raise the temp of the stew more quickly; then it was back to 350 for the rest of the 30 minutes.
The dumplings were light as a feather in the flavorful broth.
I am afraid we quite made pigs of ourselves
There were three lone dumplings left over; pan-toasted the next morning and topped with poached eggs....


  1. Your details are so excellent. I could almost smell these before finished reading it. My mother made great big dumplins like yours.

  2. Made the full recipe last night, using turkey broth and chopped turkey and chicken. The veggies were mushrooms, celery, (sauteed ahead) and a cup of frozen peas (one vegetable that handles well from frozen.) I used minced thyme from the garden (the rosemary looked frostbitten.) The secret to smooth gravy is using a whisk after adding all the broth at once to the roux. The stew was beautiful AND delicious, if I do say so myself.


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