Showing posts with label comfort foods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort foods. Show all posts

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Dee Lish's Deliveries- Meat Lasagna


 I special delivered this lasagna to one of my older sisters, Terry, along with one of my signature Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pies (also featured on this blog, under the same name), chosen from my catalog of options.  She lives alone, so she specified the size and ingredient call for the dish, including, no fennel, extra beef and lots of three cheeses; Parmesan, Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella.  I encouraged Terry towards a more wholesome request with the addition of fresh spinach to her dish, adding much needed and good for you nutrition and also a vibrant splash of color!  She agreed and was very pleased with her results. 
I'd been promising my fellow left handed sister a good home cooked meal, to welcome her back home from a lengthy hospital stay, of which I had planned on braised short ribs and perhaps some creamed potatoes and a slow cooked green.  She never worries about calories or fats (and has a somewhat tall and lean stature) especially not after having been deprived of her own freezer stocked with her favorites.  Her first choice was actually some chitlins', something she never tires of talking about having during the cool and winter months, but that was a dish that requires more time and effort than I could offer amidst the obligations and work load, plus pain, that beset my schedule and body at the time, particularly when its cold.

Terry makes a primo Seafood Alfredo,  loaded with treasures of the sea like bay scallops, crab meat and shrimp.  My girls and I just adore it and its the one request we've made when she feels up to it again.  She's the type that loves a dish that's over the top. For instance, if you'd like a cheeseburger, Terry makes a 1/2 lb. double bacon cheeseburger. Ask for a sandwich and it's a club, with extra meat/cheese and if there's cake involved, ice cream is definitively its natural accompaniment! Her eyes are most certainly bigger than her stomach, as she hardly, if ever, finishes any one thing she prepares and is subject to lose interest easily, after the initial culinary desire has been met, which can be a particular treat for those around her. 
 She's a real character and sweetheart, a sister and a friend.  

I am glad Terry made the request as she did, because in doing so, I was able to write another solid and delish lasagna recipe, this one with the flat lasagna and now my more favored over the rippled one.  I also omit the egg that I usually use in some of my ricotta mixtures and replace it with an Italian cheese blend to serve as a binder.  The sheets also aid in preparing smaller portion dishes.   This will be the recipe that makes the menu, once my meal service is fully up and running.   I'll be sharing more about its details in the weeks to come.  In the meantime between time, happy eating! 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

'Ten'doori Style Chicken, Soulful Mixed Greens and Southern Style Corn Pudding w/ an Island Twist



 Multiple cuisines inspire this dish for wonderful results.  I recently finished up a most exciting recipe contest sponsored by Chef's Roll, Spiceology and the National Kidney Foundation.  The goal of the contest involved select chefs,  were chosen to develop recipes using a collection of 13 Salt Free Spice Blends, put out by an absolutely amazing spice company called Spiceology.  You can read more about the aforementioned on my post before this one!  
The following recipe is one that I developed using no added salts and limited  fats for submission, but eventually ended up replacing it with a couple other recipes.  I  planned to come back and make this a part of the #lifeordeathrecipe challenge, but failed to meet the deadline.  I was able to submit 4 other recipes that I feel good about though!  

The chicken for this recipe is inspired by the Spiceology Salt Free Blend, Tandoori Glory, a  bright and vibrant dance of warm spices, including paprika,cinnamon, cumin and others.  In fact, I created a Tandoori Chicken marinade, with the name, a play on my own, Tendoori, because I decided to use sour cream instead of yogurt, and a few other depth building ingredients, call that 'Southern Swang'.  I marinated the chicken in the spice forward sour cream and Tandoori Glory combination, for several hours, imparting a delicious and vibrantly colored protein, that I served with Southern American side dishes, loved and respected in our home.  

The greens were hand picked for me, by one of my dear friends, Vee, who always brings by seasonal goodies, grown with love! I  prepared the greens in a traditional Southern American Soul Food fashion, with smoked ham hock or smoked turkey necks, low sodium chicken stock, onion, garlic and a healthy pinch of Spiceology Guac and RolI (Gr)!  The beauty of Spiceology Salt Free Spice Blends is that you can take them in any direction.  For this instance, it is used as a flavor enhancer to a dish, that contains ingredients with potentially too much salt and balances it out with lots of herb and spice flavor boost! At the same time, going less salt and salt free is right at your fingertips for the next recipe, accommodating regular and restricted diets respectively.  Anytime is a good time to seek out a comfort zone when cooking and consciously limiting sodium intake.  It's a practice that is beneficial to us all, each and every one.  

I hadn't made a corn pudding in ages it seemed and it turned out to be a perfect accompaniment to the dish as a whole.  The corn pudding recipe is inspired by the Islands and Tropical places.  I used coconut milk instead of regular 2% milk and evaporated milk, which I use in my traditional Southern American version.  I also used a healthy teaspoon of Spiceology's Salt Free Mango Tango (Mt) to impart delicious mango and chamoy notes.  I use pure cane sugar on the regular for sweet or sweetened dishes, as well as everyday purposes, which is Island inspired by nature.  For an interesting edge, I also added Spiceology's Salt Free Chile Margarita (Ch) spice blend to counter yet compliment and balance the sweetness of the corn pudding.  My mom said that dinner was "Excellent" and that felt like 1000! She is my most discerning critic, one I adore and accept her objective opinions respectfully and with a keen ear.  

The natural bitterness of the mustard, kale and turnip greens blend, contributes to the overall Umami of the combination of spices, ingredients and cultures that are represented on this plate.  

Today, I'll be publishing the recipes for the Tendoori Chicken and the Island Inspired Corn Pudding.  

Tendoori Chicken:

4 to 6 🐔 leg quarters, about 8 oz. each, with or without skin, bone-in or boneless, your choice

8 oz. regular or reduced fat sour cream 

1 tbsp. Spiceology Tandoori Glory (T) Salt Free Blend

1 tbsp. smoked paprika

2 to 3 drops, red gel food coloring, optional

2 cloves 🧄, pressed or finely minced

2 tbsp. grated 🧅 with juice

1 tbsp. Sriracha or to taste

1 tbsp. Buckwheat 🍯 or to taste

1 tbsp. liquid aminos or to taste

Wash, trim and pat dry leg quarters, removing any slimy or fatty portions, before bending at the joints and making diagonal cuts across the top sides.   

Combine all the listed ingredients to create marinade.

Slather each leg quarter front and back with marinade, making sure it gets down in the slices  and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.

When ready, roast off in a 400*F oven, air fryer or grill, until juices run clear, internal temperature is 165*F and  the protein is golden and shows signs of caramelization, about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand for several minutes to redistribute juices and handle.

Serves 4 to 6. 

Tropic Southern Style Corn Pudding:

2 cans, whole kernel 🌽, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 lbs. fresh frozen, thawed

1 can cream style 🌽

2 large eggs

1 can coconut 🥛, regular or lite

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

4 tbsp. melted unsalted butter

2 tbsp. organic Coconut flour mixed with 2 tbsp. AP flour

2 tbsp. pure cane sugar

1 tsp. Spiceology Salt Free Mango Tango (Ma) Blend

1/2 tsp. Spiceology Salt Free Chile Margarita (Ch) blend

1 tsp. Vietnamese Cinnamon

1/4  tsp. Five Spice

1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract

Zest of one 🍋, and the juice of half the 🍋 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375*F.

Blend the liquid ingredients, then stir in spices.

Add corn and stir.

Pour into a butter greased or non stick sprayed baking vessel, about 11x9 or a large cast iron skillet.

Cover with foil and bake for first 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove foil and cook until pudding is slightly reduced and set, with no giggle in the center, about 45 minutes total, depending on oven.  

Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves plenty, with extras. 





Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Smoked Pimeñto Ĉheese Mac & Cheese: Soulful and Southern Spoonfuls


Mac and Cheese is an integral part of kitchens, families and meals all over the country.  In many ways, it's hard to go wrong, especially if you're privy to the box variety, which is still possibly the #1 best seller among convenience foods.  Today's recipe is not one in the same.  I used two recipes I created and rolled them into one to create this ooey gooey and inviting version of America's Favorite and a Southern American staple, Smoky Baked Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.  I came up with this Sunday, after considering the union many times over.  I was actually due to make a batch of my Smoked Pimento Cheese for the family and for my younger brother to try, he is in from New York for a visit.  Sunday dinner was upon me, so I also needed to get a menu going to complement some fried chicken and my Southern Style Green Beans, so Mac and Cheese would round out the roster.  
Southern Style Green Beans!
Our family is fond of Nascar and we like to listen to the races and maybe place a few little friendly wagers to make it all interesting.  I've picked Ty Reddick as the up and comer to set these other drivers on their ears, forcing veterans like Denny Hamlin, "The Closer "Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex jr. and Keselowski to show and prove on the track more and more each week!  Reddick is on his way to great things I think, shoutout to him and his team.  Oh yeah, mac and cheese, this will surely be a food fan favorite, especially if you are a lover of the two dishes separately.  Prep is a cinch and the payout is a victory burnout.  It will leave the baking dish as fast as a Nascar race to the checkered flag!  Culinarians, start your engines or should I say ovens...

RECIPE:
1 lb. cooked macaroni, cooked in salted water for 8 minutes, then shocked in cold water, drained and tossed with a little olive oil.
1 12 oz. can evaporated 🥛
1 8 oz.  pkg. EACH regular cream cheese and Neufchatel (lower fat cream cheese)
1 8 oz. pkg. three cheese blend, 🧀
1 8 oz pkg. sharp 🧀, shredded
6 oz. EXTRA Sharp 🧀, shredded
4 tbs. 🧈, unsalted
1/2 c. mayonnaise, optional but optimal
2 tbsp. diced pimento, drained and pressed free of excess moisture
2  tsp. liquid smoke, hickory
1 tsp. 🧅 powder
1/4 tsp. 🧄 powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed powder
1/2 tsp. Jalapeno powder, optional
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
🫒 oil for drizzling

Directions:
Bring all cheeses and butter to room temperature before beginning.
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients starting from the cheeses down.
Fold in macaroni in two to three batches, blend well.
Spread in a large baking dish, sprayed with nonstick spray, butter or drizzled with olive oil.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until for about 35 minutes, until heated through and the top has set.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until desired caramelization is reached.
Let stand for several minutes before serving.
Makes enough for a Sunday dinner with Monday covered!

*You may use substitutions wherever you see fit.  This is including, but not limited to lower fat mayonnaise, reduced fat cheeses and fat free evaporated milk.  




Wednesday, June 24, 2020

See and Slay: Bronwyn's Omurice


One of the best things about being in a new kitchen is the possibility of new and fresh recipe ideas that spawn from the environment or chemistry the new locale creates.  Additionally, I like to make the dishes my girls' think up or want on the dinner/meal agenda come to fruition.  Doing this is good culinary exercise and keeps me on my 'game', plus it keeps us from falling into the comfort zone rut of cooking and taking the easy way out, instead of going for elevated and diverse cuisines.  Moreover, it keeps the kids excited about meals that would otherwise go unnoticed. 
This particular day on vacation, Bronwyn mentioned a dish called Omurice. Omurice (pronounced Ahm-Yoo-rice) is traditionally fried rice, usually with chicken,  wrapped in an omelette.  I was oblivious initially about what that was, Bronwyn graciously ushered my phone from my hands and pulled it up on Google.  I was immediately intrigued once I began my research, finding its origin and ingredient call, the proper technique and the variations, then looking to put my spin on it, but keeping it true to its form.  I am an avid fan of Japanese cuisine as well as many other Asian countries and regions.  In fact, my cooking style is best described in large part, as a fusion between Southern American and Pan Asian cuisine respectively. 
Omurice was invented in the early 80's as a way to combine Japanese cuisine with our Western Culture. The other way this is served is quite an art.  The fluffy egg is placed atop the rice and a slit is made down the length of the cloud-like, custardy deliciousness and you can watch it cascade down its sides for a most glorious presentation.  I haven't tried this yet, but soon will.


I named this dish after Bronwyn for her admiration and respect of Japanese culture and her love of Anime. 

Recipe: 
2 cups cooked yellow 🍚 or other cooked rice of choice,
using 25 % less water.

In a medium pan, over medium high heat, drizzled with 🫒 oil and a pat of 🧈
2 cloves garlic, smashed. Add to oil while heating up and sauté
1 🐔 breast, about 4 oz. boneless/skinless, small cubed and SPST, sautéed in olive oil.
Add chicken.  After it is cooked through, browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes, Add:
1/2 cup Cole slaw mix, classic style 
1/2 c. Romaine greens with carrot  
1/4 c. each fresh parsley and cilantro, rough chopped
2 chopped green 🧅 or to taste, green and white parts
Sauté with chicken for about 2 minutes and remove garlic and chop, put chopped garlic back. 
Add rice.

 

Fold together over medium heat .


Add 2 tbsp. ketchup and 2 tsp. organic, less sodium soy
.  Stir and fold  until combined.  Transfer to a bowl or dish.
 Mix together 1 egg with 1 tbsp. of milk for every  person to be served.  Make one omelet at a time, 
Add 2 tbsp. sharp shredded cheese to one side of omelet and add a portion of the chicken fried rice to the middle and fold each side over the mound in the middle. Shake the omelet down to one side of pan and flip onto plate. Carefully shape into oblong fashion and garnish with ketchup. 



















Saturday, June 6, 2020

Good Eatin'; Crispy Fried Pork Loin and Cat-Head Biscuits



Country Fried Pork Loin on Homemade Biscuits

Today is an homage to Southern American goodness.  There's nothing quite like a fried piece of protein, hot off the paper towels and stuffed into a big ole biscuit.  I hadn't made homemade biscuits since winter, which seemed to leave only a week or two ago (if I were using temperatures  as a guide) We were in the mood for something like we would get from eating breakfast out.  
The first thing that came to mind was the biscuits.  For me, being a 'country girl' firmly establishes a principle of being able to 'make bread' from scratch.  I also had to 'master' macaroni and cheese, potato salad, greens, pinto beans and many other items, to be certifiable with seven sisters who also cook! The biscuits may be served stand alone, with butter, jellies and jam, smothered in gravy, plain or as the vessel by which one can consume a crunchy, boneless, piping hot portion of chicken, beef or pork.
  I've heard biscuits referred to as "cathead" all my life, those are the larger than normal sized, proportionate to the size of a cat's head, hand shaped biscuits.  Perfect shapes and cuts are not your judge when you make cathead biscuits, as time is usually of the essence and you need to get it done. I think I am the only of my sisters that uses cutters; bread, cookie or otherwise, though I learned to 'make bread' on free form catheads. The size of  my version uses a larger sized cutter, ( an empty 20 oz. can of pineapple, with both ends removed). With it's size, one can accommodate any filling or addition with ease, like a sandwich bread.    That way, the food can travel and be sturdy enough to handle the wares of the day, plus be filling, all at the same time. 

Recipe:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless pork loin, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces or about 12 total
Seasoned flour
Buttermilk Pancake mix
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Oil for Frying
Cat-Head Biscuits


Heat oil to 375*F.
Meanwhile, soak the slices in a salted water solution, until ready to cook.
This helps to extract some of the water from the pork and promote a golden crust that will stick to the protein. 
Drain and Rinse the pork well before cooking.  
Lay on paper towels to facilitate moisture extraction, flipping once.
Combine the flour and pancake mix using a 3 to 1 ratio, (1 part pancake mix to every 3 parts seasoned flour and shake well until evenly incorporated.
Dredge moist loin slices in flour mixture, shaking off the excess and fry them in small batches.
Fry until loin is floating and golden brown, about 4 minutes, give or take depending on maintaining oil temperature and space in the cooking vessel. Also the bubbles will have subsided considerably. If  you listen carefully, you can hear the frying sound decrease when all the steam has escaped under the pressure of frying.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.  
Cut biscuit in half horizontally and add fried loin. 
Best when served immediately, but keep well and will still be delicious at room temperature.
Serves 6 to 8, with a couple of extras for seconds or a guest or yourself, for later! 

Cat-Head Biscuits

4 cups AP flour, preferably bread flour, plus more if needed
1 tbsp. double acting baking POWDER
1 tsp. or less fine grain Himalayan Pink Salt or kosher
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen 
2/3 c. shortening or plant butter
1 1/2 c. buttermilk or plain 2 % milk 

Preheat oven to 450*F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt until well blended.
Cut in shortening with a fork, until the flour takes on a crumbly texture.
Using a grater, grate in butter, gradually and toss with flour mixture after each round of grating to distribute the butter and keep it from clumping together.
Make a well in the center of flour and pour in buttermilk.  
Using a fork, stir from center, bringing in parts of the flour gradually. 
Stir until a loose and sticky dough is formed. 
Add flour as needed to your hands to make dough knead-able, and lightly knead for about 1 minute.
Tear off portions of dough and shape into discs, about a small palmful, use your judgement for size and intended purpose.
Place on un-greased baking sheet and brush with a small amount of buttermilk mixed with water.
Bake until golden, about 13 minutes, depending on size.
Glaze with additional butter if desired.
Makes about 10 Cathead biscuits.


Another recipe for Cathead Biscuits, Denese's Cornflake and Buttermilk Biscuits


Before I go......





Saturday, March 7, 2020

Best .Oatmeal .Cookie. Ever.

This is one of my most cherished recipes. I created it in 2012. The book in which it was written, was a gift from my sister Brenda, meant  to house such treasures of this very caliber.  Sometimes, we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and open our vulnerabilities to the world, especially when dealing with cooking and what our personal idea of what is "good" really is.  This is one such time, but since I am not yet global per se, I feel the best way to obtain such status, would be to let the world in on one of my best kept secrets.
This recipe was misplaced in my sea of culinary journals and sketches for years.  I ran across it this past summer, luckily because my family had inquired about it for as long as it was missing.  I was advised to keep it to myself, but here we go....
Be advised, this cookie is dangerous. One bite will lead to another, then another, and more. Before you know it, you will be in 3 cookies deep and wondering how the heck you got there. You will bade for time, until you may shamelessly have another.  You will want to give out some as gifts, freeze some, anything to feel better about becoming a cookie monster. Try this recipe if you dare.  I will leave this recipe on my website for a total of 23 days. Why 23? One of my lucky numbers is 23. After the specified time, it will be removed promptly, to return to my personal recipe file, to only be baked by me alone.  I would take advantage of this opportunity if I were you.  Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. For more exciting and informative  content delivered right to your mailbox, enter your email address and hit the submit button at the top of the desktop version. I'd love to have you join me!

Recipe:
3 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. rice flour
1 1/3 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened, unsalted
1 large egg
2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Mix dry ingredients together well in one bowl and in another, cream together butter, egg, molasses, sugar and vanilla.
Incorporate wet ingredients into dry  gradually, in a folding fashion, until evenly blended.
Drop by heaping teaspoons or roll into balls about 1' in diameter and place on a well greased cookie sheet.
Bake until golden, about 13 minutes. For a softer cookie, cut cooking time down to 11 minutes.
Let cool slightly before transferring to wire rack, then cookie vessel.
Makes about 5 1/2 dozen, depending on size.



Saturday, February 29, 2020

General Store Chicken and Dumplings


I couldn't let this winter pass without posting a few more warm and cozy recipes.  One of the best things about the cooler seasons is the bountiful aromas of slow cooked and sometimes decadent colloquial foods. These tasty morsels can be prepared in a hurry, as in about two hours, others take most of the day. They vary by culture, region, shape, size and ingredients, but dumplings are  enjoyed by the masses, in numerous forms.
 Geographical location seems to dictate the decided form the dumpling should take; long, thin and flat-like or puffy and pillowy orbs.  Research suggests the puffy form is more of an 'up north' thing and the flat more true to its Southern roots.   In actuality, dumplings have been around for centuries, before America was the "land of the free... home of the brave ".  Slaves and other Africans very likely had some influence in its incorporation into our American cooking culture, since they were responsible for the kitchens and structure of cuisine respectively.  Only recently (as in the early part of the last 100 years) had chicken and dumplings become associated with frugality, meagerness and economical fall back. However, that could not be further from the truth.   A dish like this can be dressed up or down, found in the most affluent to the most depraved homes, depending more on the mood, not the money. Just delicious.
Further, in earlier times, chickens were a luxurious commodity; as was cattle, goats, pigs and other livestock, used mainly for its eggs, milks, working the land, transportation, yarn etc...  Meats were not necessarily mandatory for many, too expensive for some.
 On the occasion that one was killed, it was usually old, so cooking it was an arduous task, taking hours, as the rascal was tough and bony, the chickens at least, they were completely free range.
Earlier forms of the dish were undoubtedly more about the dumpling, with the chicken coming in later, more of a side note. I am more familiar with the round, puffed and fluffy shape.  I fashion mine in the shape of a quenelle or football-like. The puffed form is more forgiving and serves as a thickener to the stocky broth that holds the veggies, like kernels of carrot, peas and celery.  If the dumplings come out larger than  initially desired, one simply allows them to cook a little longer and their size will decrease, becoming a part of the soup-like quality of the dish.  Although the dumpling will float quickly, it requires at least 10 to 12 minutes to cook completely, depending on the size of the dumpling of course.
Growing up, there were no recipes passed down per se.  The copy if you will, was to replicate what you'd seen or heard others did before you.  There is no coveted little box with note cards, nor is there some worn, torn and tattered notebook with hues of coffee and tea stains or time worn print, that has stood the test of generational utilization, to flip through carefully, as the pages make a crumpling gift box tissue paper sound.  No arguments here on who the best cook is and who deserves to be the keeper of your grandmother's recipe 'Holy Grail'. For us, they do not exist, at least to the best of my knowledge.
I am from a family where my grandmothers were much older. My father's mother Grandma Lucille, passed away when I was 5, she was born in 1904.  The few memories I have of her consists of the joy she brought to us by finding a quick chore to earn money for the ice cream truck.  I remember she always worn an apron, handmade I'm told. She was partial to Kellogg's Corn Pops, the bright yellow box with red trim sat atop the refrigerator, that observation burns luminously in my mind. Grandma Lucille had fruit trees; pear, apple, peach, as I remember picking up the fallen ones as a chore mentioned earlier.  I bet Gram had a smoking Chicken and Dumpling recipe!  I cannot  ask my dad, as he left to be with Gram and his 3 brothers in 2009. Dad's birthday was the 27th, just passed, Heavenly Happy Birthday to my surrogate brother Floyd(2019), whose birthday was Wednesday, my oldest brother Doug jr.(2007), his birthday was Tuesday. Doug jr. would be 57, Floyd too. Dad would be 82. Alas, I digress. They are dearly missed.
  Sometimes we can substitute ingredients and shave off a step or two, leaving time to expend in another place. The best method is the old fashioned, whole bird way, simmering it with aromatics; onions, celery, garlic, bay leaf and carrot for a flavorful broth on which this dish is built.  The  cooked chicken is removed from the stock and picked from the bones, to be reintroduced later.   I like to cut the breast meat into chunks, and pull the dark meat off in bite sized pieces where possible. For time constraints, boneless chicken breasts may be used, with skin is better, but skinless/boneless as desired.  The bones add body to the broth and a substitute is unlikely to be found.  Store bought broth is ideal for those flavor components. The breast meat should be removed from the stock as soon as it is cooked through, to keep it from becoming rubbery and dry. NO one likes dry chicken.  It may be reintroduced to the stock after the dumplings are cooked.
This recipe is inspired by my hometown and all the beauty and history that it holds for me and my family.  It is an ode to the simple life, with on hand ingredients, made with love.  It is a humble reminder of our ancestral roots, Leesville's historical richness and the revivification of a place we thought we had lost, in particular, Carter's General Store. We have frequented this commemorated and familiar family business, that has been revitalized, after a hiatus of about 7 years.  My family from at least 6 generations back frequented here. They bought their feed, beans, seeds, flour, butter, bait, tackle and other merchandise from this very structure.   It has been refurbished into an amazing and informative bizarre of sorts; chock full of antiques, bejeweled accounts of goings on about and by townsfolk, daily supplies.  Carter's also has a fishing and gaming post, live music entertainment, plus room to hob knob with other locals and passersby alike. I even had my first official book signing for Annie Ware: Adventures in Wordplay here. Last, but certainly not least, get a good ole fashioned signature  Bologna and Hoop Cheese sandwich ( or purchase individually by the pound) cut fresh from their rolls and wheels, cold or grilled, with an ice cold drink and a bag of chips.
 Plus, Carter's General Store offers other specialty goodies like Wagyu burgers, chili dogs, Grilled Hoop Cheese sandwiches, homemade desserts, custom, handmade goods and excellent service.  This store goes way back, just like chicken and dumplings, but good things have a way of hanging around and reinventing themselves, staying relevant, the two share commonality.  Old has become new and our community appreciates its living history, as all of our past familial roads run through it. Welcome Back.

Recipe:
1 fryer, about 4 to 5 lb., cut up into 8 pieces, reserve the wings for another use
4 stalks celery, divided, ribs removed, 2 cut into 1/4 inch pieces, 2 whole
4 large carrots, 2 peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 2 whole, halved
1 large onion, cut in half
2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed or finely minced
8 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
2 tbsp. butter
12 oz. evaporated milk
1/4 c. AP flour
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf, optional
1/4 c. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive Oil for drizzling

Instructions:
Place the washed chicken in a large heavy bottomed pot  and fill with stock just to cover.
Add whole celery, halved carrots, onion, and garlic and bay leaf.
SPST.
Bring up to a boil and skim the top of the stock, repeat as necessary.
Reduce heat to medium and cook chicken until cooked through, about 35 minutes, give or take.
While chicken cooks, prepare the dumpling mixture. Time it to be near the end of the cooking process.
Once chicken is cooked through, carefully lift from liquid and set aside on a plate or platter.  Make sure you have enough space to debone.  When cool enough to handle, remove skin, gristly parts and meat from bones in good sized pieces.
Remove stock and strain off, leaving only the flavorful stock to add back to cooking vessel.
Skim off excess fat.*
In the original cooking vessel, heated to medium, add the butter and two turns of the pan of olive oil.
Add chopped carrots and celery.
Add thyme sprigs.
Cook for several minutes until fragrant.
Sprinkle in flour and whisk or stir vigorously with fork or wooden spoon.
After about 2 minutes, gradually add stock back to the pot, whisking or stirring to incorporate.
Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer.
Add milk and stir well.
Check seasonings and SPST as needed.
Here is where you add your dumplings. Dumplings recipe below.
Allow to simmer until cooked through, about 12 minutes or more.
Re-add chicken by sliding back into pot on one side, then stir to distribute.
Simmer all items together for several more minutes to marry the dish.
Garnish with fresh parsley and thyme.
Makes about 10 servings.


*This portion will benefit from refrigeration for a period of about 20 minutes to help the excess fat solidify and can be easily removed. This is not required but optimal, if you have the time.


Dumplings:
 1 1/2 c. AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. roughly chopped parsley
1/3 c. milk or stock, more if needed
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine flour, baking powder and salt until well blended.
Cut in butter and olive oil, until it takes on a crumb-like texture.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until just blended and completely moistened, careful not to over mix, unless you like a tougher dumpling.
The dough will be a little sticky and that's okay.
Using one side of a tablespoon, make quenelle shaped dumplings and add to simmering stock one by one.
Dipping the spoon  in hot water before each dumpling will help with sticking.


















Thursday, June 27, 2019

Oxtail Imposter: My New Favorite Oxtail Stand In




I was at the grocer in Lynchburg, which is about 40 minutes from where I live and ran across these gems and I was most pleased with the results.  I was browsing about in the meats section, when I thought about some oxtails.  They can run rather expensive and I was hoping to catch them on sale.  I actually don't think I've ever seen them on sale, reduced yes, on sale, nope...Anywho, since I get them for special comfort meals, a couple times a year, usually in the cooler months, I decided to pass, for another time when they were more in my head than on my mind.
I noticed the cow neck bones nearby and became intrigued.  I couldn't recall a time that I'd seen them for sale, pork, yes, but not beef.  I figured they would be full of flavor because of the lean to bone ratio and would render a lot of collagen goodness when cooked down to the jus.  Best of all, it was only a fraction of the cost of the oxtail. I said to self, 'What the Hell,  let's give it a go'.
I washed the cow necks in cold water and placed them in my Ninja Foodi on pressure cook mode. I made sure I threw in major aromatics like whole garlic cloves, celery and onion . I also added about 1 cup, mini sweet peppers; red, orange and yellow.   I added a bay leaf as well and some bouillon with water, enough to cover.
I pressure cooked the beefy bones for 1 1/2 hours.  After that, I placed them on sear/saute to render the juices down to a sultry broth, composed mostly of  the broken down veggies.
Once reduced, I was left with an amazingly tender and most delicious oxtail contender. There was an unctuous broth filled with beefy flavor and delight.  This is a dish you can cool and refrigerate, then remove the excess fat that has solidified.  Then you will be left with a hearty dish to consume with nice crusty bread or potatoes if you wish.  I used sandwich bread to envelope the goodness, it was most satisfying. The lush chunks of meat slide easily off the bones, bathed in it's own succulent gravy.
My sisters Bonnie, Hollie and Gayle loved it too!  We now have another comfort food dish for our culinary repertoires.
Cow Neck Bones can really stand in for an amazing and rustic meal, full of flavor and high on delivery.  I guess it's just the Country in me, but I think it's most definitely here to stay in my comfort food rolodex.