Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pasta Primavera

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A while back, I made this pasta primavera dish to take to a family dinner, mostly because I was trying to think of something yummy for my daughter-in-law who is vegetarian (it's not vegan, but could easily be converted by using a nut milk instead of the cream).
I've made this before, but never use a recipe. I just throw it together. It is really just your basic white sauce made with real butter and cream, with sauteed garlic and onions added. I also blanch the vegetables very briefly (just throw vegetables into boiling water) and take them back out about 30 seconds later.

HOWEVER, do add a teaspoon or so of baking soda to your boil water - This will make your vegetables come out with bright colors. Otherwise, your greens will fade to a very non-appetizing greenish-gray color.
The veggies and the cream sauce are added to pasta cooked "al dente," (not too done). Then add some cheese ( I added some parmesan and some grated farmer cheese ) and top with cheese ( I used mozarella and farmer cheese ).
Then bake about 25 minutes or until bubbly with the cheese nicely melted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

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This is made almost just like chicken noodle soup, except for a few changes. I usually make it several nights after making a roasted chicken, so that I can make the broth up from the leftover chicken. I can use the extra chicken that comes off the bones, or use a cooked chicken breast for the chicken.

For the chicken broth - Throw the leftover cooked chicken ( or raw chicken pieces ), bones and all, in a big pot with water and salt, enough to cover all the chicken. Let it cook at a slow boil until the chicken is falling off the bones. Then strain the broth off the chicken, return to heat and let it reduce until it has the "strength" of chicken flavor that you like.  ( At this point, you can save the chicken broth to use at a later date. Freeze it if it will be more than a few days. )

For the dumplings:

1 cup unbleached flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp sea salt

Put flour, sea salt, and baking powder in a bowl, then add beaten egg, milk, and oil. Mix with a fork and let the dough sit for at least 15-20 minutes, covered.

Okay, once your dumpling dough is resting, start peeling and slicing carrots, slice celery, and dice onions; mince a little parsley, too, if you like, or maybe some peas. You can cook the veggies in the broth, or cook them separately in some salted water.

Bone some of the chicken, which should have cooled by now. If you prefer nice chunks of chicken instead of little pieces of leftovers, you can use a leftover cooked chicken breast or, maybe you can just use your roast chicken entirely for the soup, cutting off some of the best of the chicken before it goes to making broth. The boiled bits of chicken are good for chicken tacos.

Now, pat out your dumpling dough lightly on a lightly floured surface. Turn over once so they get flour on both sides. Cut with a biscuit cutter ( or inverted small glass ).

Make sure the veggies haven't overcooked. You can now steam your dumplings in a large pot of water that has been brought to a boil. You can steam them in the chicken broth, but I prefer to do it in a different pan of salted water that has been brought to a boil. ( This way your broth stays nice for the gravy. ) Reduce the heat to low (water should not be bubbling, but should still be very hot) and place dumplings in the hot water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let steam ever-so-slightly for about 7 minutes. You just want them to steam, not boil. After about 7 minutes, turn the dumplings over and cover again for about 5 minutes more.

Now turn you attention to the broth. Turn the heat up under the broth. In a cup, mix about 1/3 cup cornstarch in about a half to 3/4 cup of water.  Stir until it has no lumps, then pour into hot broth while stirring all with a whisk. Add the cornstarch only about a third at a time, letting it get thick and adding more as you need it. When you have a nice gravy, add the chicken, veggies, and dumplings.


Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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A while back I made a BBQ chicken pizza. I'd been wanting to make one for a long time, though I'm not much of a BBQ fan. It was really good :)

I used my basic crust recipe. While it was rising, I made a sauce with a simple roux and some KC Masterpiece that Jamie keeps around. ( I only needed a little sauce, so the roux was just two teaspoons oil, two teaspoons flour, about 3/4 cup water and some BBQ sauce and red chili paste to taste. )

I took a leftover cooked chicken breast and cut it into pieces, then took a little water, a little sugar, and some more BBQ sauce and chili paste, and let the chicken simmer in there until it was glossy and starting to thicken.

I cut up some green onions, white onions, and then carmelized some of the white onion. I shredded some mozarella and swiss, mixed them together with some dried red chili flakes. I put the crust in the oven (400*) for about five minutes just to get the crust dried out a bit before adding the toppings. Then I spread a little of the sauce, then added a little bit of the cheese, then the chicken, then the raw onions, then the carmelized onions, and then the cheese. I do think it would have been better with some bleu cheese crumbles, but I didn't have any.

Anyway, it was good :)

Stuffed Crust Pizza

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This pizza was really good! The only way I had ever had "stuffed crust" pizza before was with the cheese in the outside edge of the crust. But I had heard about making stuffed crust pizza by making a mixture of ricotta, eggs, and cheeses ( I used only mozzarella, as that's all I had on hand) and putting it between two layers of crust.

For two pizzas, I used my basic pizza crust recipe  and divided the dough into four sections to rise. I made the sauce by simmering diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, sea salt and a little fresh basil.

I spread out my pizza crust on a greased pizza pan, dotted it with fork holes all over, and then spread an egg and cheese mixture on the crust. Then I rolled out the second crust and placed it over the top, also dotting it with fork holes all around. I put this much in the oven (425*) for about 7 minutes, and then went to work on my toppings, which included the sauce, a few small leaves of basil, browned hot sausage, and mozzarella. I did the same for another pizza, then put both in the oven to bake. I switched racks every now and then so they would get done evenly.

It was SO yummy . . . I can't wait to do this one again : )