Saturday, October 9, 2010

Could we be heading for an Indian Summer?

You can tell cooler weather is approaching. Even though our days are still in the upper 70s to mid 80s, the nights are down in the 40s and 50s. It is truly wonderful….beautiful blue skies, clear as a bell. Today at the garden center, I had a discussion with one of their employees, about Indian summers. True Indian Summer is a period of abnormally warm weather following the first killing freeze of autumn. A killing freeze occurs when the overnight temperature reaches 28 degrees of cold…and may or may not occur with frost. Indian Summer typically occurs in mid to late autumn and can occur more than once. So, if we get down to 28 degrees or below one night, and then the warm weather returns, we will have ourselves an Indian summer! I personally am wishing for one.

Cooking during such weather is so much fun, as our cool evenings are perfect for those wonderful one pot meals that are popular here in the Midwest. Today I had an email from one of my fellow high school class members (Wyandotte High School, 1959, Kansas City, KS). Pat asked me if I had a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings that had very “eggy” dumplings. I have replied to her email, asking what type of dumpling her mom used to make. I haven’t heard back yet, but I figured a blog on dumplings might be timely.

There are many types of dumplings from around the world. Polish Pierogi,  Chinese Pot Stickers, Italian Gnocchi, and German Spaetzle, just to name a few. Seeing as how America is one big melting pot, you can find restaurants that feature these dumplings, and there are millions of recipes for them; but this blog is about good old American Chicken and Dumplings……

My favorite dumpling is the fluffy, light as a feather, pillow type dumpling. Pat’s favorite is the eggy type, which I can only assume are the rolled type, very much like squares of egg noodles. Cut into squares and dropped into the simmering chicken broth, the flour thickens the broth around the chicken and dumplings. So, here, just for Pat and you, are several recipes. Give them a try, then let me know which type you prefer.
Chicken and Dumplings
2 whole chickens (3 to 5 pounds each)
Butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bones and juices from chicken
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1-ounce celery salt
1-ounce granulated onion
1-ounce granulated garlic
1-ounce black pepper
Water, to cover
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat the chickens with the softened butter and sprinkle with salt, and pepper, to taste. Arrange the chickens in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Roast the chickens until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the leg registers 165 degrees F, (make sure the thermometer doesn't touch bone), about 55 minutes. Once the chickens are cooked remove them to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Reserve the bones to use for the stock. Set the meat aside until ready to use.
For the broth:
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then drain and reserve the broth.
For the dumplings:
In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients and combine well. Form into a ball and transfer to a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4-inch, and then cut into 1-inch squares.
For the roux:
Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the flour, whisking continuously, until it thickens and becomes an almond color.
Bring the broth back to a boil, then add the chicken, dumplings, and the roux to thicken the broth.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes while stirring frequently. Transfer the chicken and dumplings to a serving bowl and serve.

Next, is the recipe for my favorite type. You use the same Chicken and Broth and Roux ingredients and directions from above, but this time you add spoonfuls of the following dough directly into the simmering broth along with the chicken and roux.

Classic Dumplings
 1/4 pound unsalted butter
 1/2 cup minced onions
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 4 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add minced onions. Cook onions for approximately 2 minutes until tender. Do not brown. Remove from heat. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Mix dry ingredients with butter and onions in saucepan. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk, beating slightly. Add eggs and milk to flour mixture in saucepan. Mix so it achieves the consistency of mashed potatoes. To cook, drop by the teaspoon into the pot of simmering broth. Cover and Simmer until dumplings are cooked, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Don’t forget that box of Bisquick! On the box is a recipe for a 2 ingredient dumpling. Maybe that is right up your alley.

No matter which type of dumpling you like, Chicken and Dumplings can add the perfect touch to an Indian Summer evening. Enjoy!

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker