I had a pretty great weekend…so much so that I wasn’t able to post yesterday. That’s sort of a good thing, I suppose. Poor Kramer has been working like a dog trying to finish up some final projects for the semester, so I got a ton of cooking ton on Saturday and Sunday as a result. He is dedicated enough to school that he made the (smart) decision to go outside of our apartment to get his assignments done. I guess he knows that it’s only a matter of time before I get bored and start bugging him to watch repeat episodes of Parks and Recreation or Community with me, two of my favorite lazy weekend activities. Friday night, though, we were able to go meet our pals Tom, Valerie, and Morgan for dinner at the highly acclaimed Mission Chinese. Everyone was a good sport about waiting two and a half hours to get in, but they take your name and number down so you can drink at a bar in the neighborhood while you wait (and I have no problem with that). The food was absolutely incredible, albeit outrageously spicy. I like a good amount of heat, and it’s so rare to find something that packs a serious punch that I will fight through any amount of pain to enjoy every bite of heat-laden deliciousness. We had thrice cooked bacon, kung pao pastrami, egg custard, barbecued pig tails (my favorite, honestly – I had never had them before and damn they were good!), smashed cucumbers, egg noodles, beef pancakes, and so much more. I am ready to go wait in line again for this food, and if you like gut busting, spicy Szechuan Chinese food, you should, too. Saturday, like I said, Kramer toiled away while I cooked for our friend Hannah’s latesgiving party. It was originally an early Thanksgiving party scheduled last month, but she is lucky enough to live in Alphabet City, so her apartment was completely flooded. Thankfully, everything is up and running in her neighborhood, so I made chorizo and cornbread stuffing, extra cornbread, and cinnamon rolls, which took up most of my day. Sunday, Kramer was back at it again, so I spent my time making over 100 gingerbread cookies. Don’t ask me why. I just started and before I realized what I had done, I had committed myself to the kitchen for four hours or so. No matter! The cookies came out well and I had enough to mail out and bring in for both my office and Kramer’s. We were going to see Killing Them Softly that night, but we really needed some sleep, so we had a quick dinner in Williamsburg before calling it a night. Maybe we’ll get to see it next weekend.
Beware Darth Gingerbread.
I made these chicken and dumplings with the homemade stock that I had cooked up earlier in the week, and let me tell you, this is the sort of dish that it’s worth making your own lovely, golden stock for (even though it’s really, really easy). The key is tasting the stock throughout, but also, using cake flour for the dumplings. Cake flour has a lower protein content than your regular all-purpose flour, therefore less gluten forms while it is cooked, producing a lovely, light, fluffy little dumpling. It’s easy to overcook the dumplings, which can make them tough, so using something like cake flour is an extra safeguard against that happening. Trust me, you will notice the difference. These dumplings are like little pillows of rich deliciousness, soaking up the stock and creating a warm, comforting dish that everyone, and I mean everyone, can love. If you’ve never had chicken and dumplings, just think of it as a Southern answer to matzoh ball soup (which I will get to posting on here, eventually). It’s a hearty, filling, and classically American meal; perfect for cold winter nights and for leftovers as lunch the next day! Serve this soup with crusty bread, buttermilk fantails, or, honestly, it’ll sing all on its own.
Valerie, Morgan, and I waiting in line (with our free beers) at Mission Chinese.
One of the cookbooks I have long coveted. Thank you, Val (and Tom)!
To make this soup, all you’ve gotta do is whisk together your flour ingredients, cook up your vegetables, and get the stock simmering.
Then use a wooden spoon to mix the butter and buttermilk into your dough.
Drop those dumplings into the stock, let ’em cook for 15 minutes or so, and serve piping hot.
With buttermilk fantails, if you really want to stay warm this winter!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6-8 slices bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1-2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 8-9 cups chicken stock
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary or thyme
- 2 cups shredded chicken (either use leftovers, or simply boil chicken breasts in water for 15 minutes, then shred)
- 1½ cups cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup buttermilk (or whole milk), well shaken
- Heat your oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (big enough to hold your stock in later) over medium-high heat and add in your bacon. Cook for 8 minutes or so, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots and shallots to the bacon fat, and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add in the stock and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes (add a bit of water if you need to if the stock reduces too much). Add in the chicken and bacon, and bring to a simmer. Drop in tablespoon-sized dollops of your dumpling dough (recipe below), cover, and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid, taste the broth, and add salt, pepper, or a touch of paprika to taste.
- Whisk together your cake flour, baking powder, salt, paprika, and pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix in the melted butter and the buttermilk with a wooden spoon, then drop dollops of the batter into your simmering chicken broth. Follow the directions as stated above and serve.
- **Note: If you plan to store these for leftovers, I highly recommend separating the dumplings from the broth.