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VINTAGE RECIPE: My Great Aunt Ellen’s Chicken and Dumplings- MY NEW VERSION- Now w/saffron and truffle oil!!

Making this again for the first time since the original post in 2016- my nephew is here visiting from Palau and I wanted him to try the foods of his American ancestors 🙂

I added a new, modern twist to this recipe- a pinch of saffron and extra garlic in the chicken cooking water- and truffle oil to finish the thing off, to taste.

It’s incredible with the new umami flavor profiles! Photos below of my nephew rolling and cutting the dumplings- and the last batch of ‘sauce’

Miss Maisie and Me

TO SEE PART 1, CLICK HERE

My version

After I finished writing the last blog post, I started on the chicken and dumplings.

img_4133-1 The original version omits any thickener for sauce

right away I could tell that 2 tsp baking powder in one cup of flour was WAY too much- also, most recipes call for some form of fat, which I added.

Aunt Ellen used ‘chicken cooking water’ and canned broth. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my OWN broth.


CHICKEN AND BROTH:

2 packages of boneless skinless chicken breast (3 breasts per package)
a couple stalks of celery, leaves on, broken up in large chunks
a couple unpeeled carrots, broken up into large chunks
UNPEELED onion, cut in quarters.
water to cover
handful of fresh parsley (do not chop)
tablespoon of chicken bouillon

Basically, I just dumped it all in a pot on high-…

View original post 492 more words

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AU REVOIR, ANTHONY BOURDAIN

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He was a rockstar of the culinary world. Rest easy now, Bourdain.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-anthony-bourdain-dead-20180608-story.html

One of the few idols I had left is dead. I watched his shows religiously. Bourdain’s culinary adventures became my obsession- I was able to travel the world through HIS eyes. His show was my foodie porn. What a masterpiece it was!

A few years back, Bourdain filmed his Filipino episode at my former co-star’s flat in Manila. I was so star struck by this fact and pumped my friend for all the info I could get.

My friend said he seemed tired and overwhelmed- or something to that effect. I don’t doubt that at all. His shooting schedule had to be extremely grueling.

CNN reports that he was found dead by hanging, in an apparent suicide, by his friend Eric Ripert. He left 2 ex-wives, a daughter, and his current girlfriend, actress Asia Argento, to mourn him along with the rest of us.

I don’t understand suicide, I wish I could understand it more. This tragedy brings to mind all of those people who survived loved ones that died in this manner. The families who will weep forever over the loss. 

If you are contemplating suicide, I urge you, please rethink it. Get help, there is help available. Don’t let the world mourn what could have been. Don’t let your children grow up without a parent. Don’t let your parents have to bury their child.

When you kill yourself, you kill a bit of everyone around you.

We are all one, connected to each other through our joys and tragedies.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5821039/Anthony-Bourdain-died-suicide-age-61.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5821861/Anthony-Bourdain-smiles-swigs-beer-Asia-Argento-final-video.html

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(Pictorial) Log Cabin Dollhouse- Miniature Polymer Clay Bread & Cheese Making

I spent a couple of days playing baker and cheesemonger, with varying results.

Polymer clay food miniatures are so fun to make for a foodie who is currently on a 10 day juice cleanse.

I need to go back to bread and cheesemaking at some point, but I quit after a couple of days because I now have way too many loaves of bread and cheeses in my possession.

My first attempts at baguette loaves were made with sculpey clay and colored with turmeric and eye shadow/mineral makeup. My dad actually painted them for me. They came out a bit overbaked, but it was a great first attempt.

My second attempts (and subsequent ones) were better, I still need to refine my bread painting skills.

I also ended up making Norwegian lefse sticks and bread. Lefse is like a potato based flat bread, similar to a huge tortilla, that has it’s origins during the Viking age. In my house, we make it around Christmas time, because my ex is Norwegian. I will do a separate post on the lefse tomorrow…

My first attempt at a blue cheese ended up looking like spinach artichoke dipped stuffed into bread instead- yumm

I ended up making blue cheeses, brie, swiss, garlic gouda, and herb covered chevre. Cheese making is fun, I will eventually get back to it again.

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VINTAGE RECIPE: My Great Aunt Ellen’s Chicken and Dumplings- MY VERSION!!

TO SEE PART 1, CLICK HERE

My version

After I finished writing the last blog post, I started on the chicken and dumplings.

img_4133-1

The original version omits any thickener for sauce

right away I could tell that 2 tsp baking powder in one cup of flour was WAY too much- also, most recipes call for some form of fat, which I added.

Aunt Ellen used ‘chicken cooking water’ and canned broth. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my OWN broth.


CHICKEN AND BROTH:

2 packages of boneless skinless chicken breast (3 breasts per package)
a couple stalks of celery, leaves on, broken up in large chunks
a couple unpeeled carrots, broken up into large chunks
UNPEELED onion, cut in quarters.
water to cover
handful of fresh parsley (do not chop)
tablespoon of chicken bouillon

Basically, I just dumped it all in a pot on high- when it reached a full boil, I covered it and let it cook on low for an hour.

After, I plucked chicken breasts out and chopped them into small pieces.

I strained the broth and discarded the solid vegetables.

Then, I measured out about 2 to 2.5 quarts of the broth for the ‘sauce’ later.

isn’t this beautiful?

 

Aunt Ellen’s granddaughter warned me to test out the recipe before totally committing, as her grandmother had different variations of the same recipe floating around. I immediately noticed that the baking powder to flour ration was WAY too high and would have resulted in a very bitter product. I increased the flour to 2 cups and decreased the baking powder to 1 tsp. I also added 1/3 cup of lard (or crisco), as it makes for a more tender dumpling and can be found in most chicken and dumpling recipes online. When I experimented WITHOUT the fat, it didn’t taste as good.

 


DUMPLINGS:

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken boullion
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 c lard or crisco
1 cup milk

(instructions are underneath photos)

first I rubbed the fat into the dry ingredients until it was kind of mealy

after, I added the milk and just mixed it all up with my hands. Next time I will use my stand mixer- I then made the dough into a smooth ball.

rolled it out- we liked the thicker ones- cut them into squares using pizza cutter

 

dumplings!

 

CHICKEN ‘SAUCE’ (GRAVY):

2 quarts of reserved chicken stock from boiling the chicken breasts
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup flour
stick of butter
salt and pepper to taste
(optional: garlic powder, parsley, etc)

Melt stick of butter in pot over medium-high. Add flour and cook for a minute. Slowly add the cream and milk, a bit at a time, stirring until it becomes a white cream gravy. Add the 2 quarts of chicken stock and adjust seasoning. If you worry about lumps, use a stick blender or whisk while incorporating the broth. Return to a boil, stirring constantly.

When it begins bubbling again, add most of the dumplings and cover. Lower heat to low and cook about 12 minutes. Add rest of dumplings and cook uncovered on medium for about 20 minutes. Keep a close eye on it or it will boil over (like mine did).

Add chopped chicken and cover, set heat down to low, until warmed through.

it boiled over when I turned my back

 VERDICT:

This is definitely a keeper. I have to admit, I’ve never eaten real chicken and dumplings before. The only other exposure to it that I had was Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie and the stuff that comes out of a can (yuck). I was truly impressed with the delicate flavor.

I can see why my father loved it so much.

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VINTAGE RECIPE: My Great-Aunt Ellen Renfro’s Chicken and Dumplings

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Aunt Ellen Donoho Renfro and her sisters- she’s the second from left

UPDATE: TO SKIP AHEAD TO MY TWEAKED VERSION OF THE RECIPE, CLICK HERE

Aunt Ellen Renfro was my favorite great aunt. She was just the sweetest woman and best cook in our family.

My grandfather was her baby brother.

My dad is always going on about how wonderful his late Aunt Ellen’s chicken and dumplings were (and her bread and peach cobbler).

She’s been gone now for 29 years, so one would assume the recipes were lost forever- luckily, this week her granddaughter Vanessa was kind enough to send me photos of a few of her them! I am so thankful that she took the time out to scan these for me- I am also a little teary eyed (happily so) about the prospect of attempting these dishes.

Food is love, and memories, and family… this is definitely a tie to our collective pasts.

A bit about Ellen Donoho Renfro here:

http://image2.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=87300176

I have been cross referencing her dumpling recipe with others found on the Internet. It seems like her recipe omits the usual shortening and/or egg that many of the others have. Her sauce looks like a scaled down version of traditional Southern Chicken and Dumplings recipes.

I am going to attempt her ‘chicken sauce’ and dumplings today. I will test a batch of dumplings using her recipe- and make another batch using a dough that contains the usual shortening/egg and compare.

Since her sauce is a tad bland for my taste, right off the bat, I will likely doctor that a bit as well.

Will post the results later today or tomorrow- going off to cook now!

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More Truffle Madness: Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs…


This breakfast (Maisie and I shared) was made entirely with jarred black European truffles.

Super simple- toasted bagels with black truffle butter and scrambled eggs with black truffles.

I made the truffle butter by mixing half a stick of unsalted butter with quarter of a stick of salted butter and added a tsp of the minced black truffle.

Absolute HEAVEN!

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Oregon White Truffle Pasta

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wide egg noodles with Oregon white truffles

 

The Oregon white truffle is a strange thing:

Raw, it is VERY strong and pungent- however, once warmed lightly in a pan of butter for a few moments, it mellows out to a more agreeable and subtly luscious form.

My second experiment was a pasta dish. It was a huge hit with everyone, even the truffle hating Man.

I read somewhere that Oregon white truffles should be treated more like the European black ones- slightly warmed so that their true flavor shines through (and to temper the sharpness that they have when raw).

I threw a knob of butter in a pan and warmed it over low heat- then added shaved truffle slices- HEAVEN!

It completely changed the flavor profile.

While the truffles were warming, I boiled the noodles. I asked R to buy pappardelle, but he brought homemade German wide egg noodles back instead by mistake. It wasn’t a bad substitute and actually tasted better than the last batch of pappardelle noodles I bought.

I drained the cooked noodles, threw them back in the pot- added a splash of heavy cream, a small handful of good parmesan, the truffle-infused butter… omg! PERFECTION!

I shaved more raw truffle over my plate when serving and LOVED the contrast between the cooked and raw flavors.

R isn’t pleased with the pasta quality, so today we are going to hunt for better quality noodles for today’s batch (I am making some for my parents).

 
These things are starting to really grow on me…

 

 

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1st Impressions Of Oregon White Truffles=Truffle Weirdness

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Oregon white truffles- I left 2 in a paper bag and one in rice with the egg, so that the rice and egg could absorb the scent

 

I received my 1 ounce order of Oregon whites from oregonmushrooms.com. It was sent overnight via FedEx and arrived this morning.

I tore open the box and was immediately assaulted by the heady truffle aroma…

Oregon white truffles are weird.

They are not quite like their European cousins.

They look like truffles, they have a very pungent scent like truffles do.

After those basic comparisons, the differences in taste/smell are immense.

1. They don’t SMELL like ‘regular’ truffles. They have a smell that is very chemical-ly. Kind of reminiscent of Tarn-X and garlic and sweat.

A lot of people complain that truffle oils have synthetic chemicals in them to mimic the flavor of real- no synthetic truffle oil can out-chemical the scent of these things… not that it’s entirely a bad thing.

It’s hard to describe and sounds worse ‘on paper’.

They hold their own, I will say this much.

2. The experts say to NOT put them in uncooked rice/eggs when storing them (unlike regular truffles) because it leeches out the moisture. I put one of my 3 truffles in with the eggs and rice and left 2 in the brown paper bag.

I shaved off a few slivers for our breakfast this morning: scrambled eggs with white truffles.

The three or four thin slivers were almost too much for the three eggs that I scrambled.

I loved them- Maisie loved them- R did not. He found the chemical scent off-putting.

I still have most of the 3 truffles left… later today I am doing a pasta with Oregon white truffles. I decided that I will warm some of the truffles in butter before tossing with the pasta- as well as shaving some straight onto the top when serving.

Until then, the jury’s still out…

I will continue the updates- stay tuned!

 

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Truffle Madness!

truffles

All month I’ve been seeing photos of gorgeous black and white truffle dishes from Europe… and making do with white and black truffle oils and butter.

This was so good… I am drooling just looking at it.

I live in a truffle-less wasteland… well, tundra, really. It’s the middle of winter in snowy Michigan and I am having unseemly cravings when I should actually just be juicing and starting my annual post-holidays diet and exercise trek to summer.

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The first thing I did was look into the North American truffles coming out of Oregon and Tennessee. Oregon truffles (both black and white) are the kissing cousins of the European varieties. Some say they are inferior- others say they’re merely different and a force to be reckoned with on their own.

Oregon truffles cost 1/10th the price vs the European varieties. Tennessee truffles come from European Perigord truffle spores, so the savings isn’t that great. I am all for more bang for my buck, so I purchased white truffles from  Oregonmushrooms.com (on sale now for $30 an ounce). They offered overnight shipping for $22 and should arrive tomorrow before 8 pm, so sayeth Fedex.

Since I’ve been surviving solely on truffle oils/butter for my truffle needs for the last few years, I figured the Oregon ones would (hopefully) satisfy my fresh truffle itch without breaking my budget.
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I also have a back up plan in case the Oregon whites fail to meet my expectations.

I found minced black truffles with a nearly 5 star rating on Amazon. I also bought a jar of tartufo salata (a sort of black truffle sauce/salsa that I ADORE).

All of the above will work nicely in any pasta dish… preferably, any good Italian egg pasta, accompanied by good shaved parmesan.

I will post again after my goodies arrive!

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Some Pictorial Instagram Highlights from Our Month Away From Blog (lots of photos)…

I am seriously lazy right now and supposed to be cleaning the upstairs. I let a lot go to seed when I was recovering from my illness. I dusted and cleaned for about thirty minutes this afternoon- and now I have to try to get the Maisie to go down for her nap.

I’ve gone most vegetarian since my kidney infection- and I’ve upped my water intake. We have cut out red meat almost entirely (the others in my house still eat it).

This was Maisie’s breakfast today- Filipino Adobo Fried Rice, with a fried egg and sriracha

Maisie had photos done with her brothers in early October:

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All of my children in one photo #love #kittyleephotography #family

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She wore lots of cute outfits:

We went to visit my late grandparents’ house, it is now a law office:

me, on same staircase, as a baby:

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Me at the same age #nostalgia #sweet #family #memories

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We got dressed up for Halloween Trick or Treating:

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It's healing nicely #happyhalloween

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My little giraffe #happyhalloween

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We experienced unseasonably warm “Indian Summer” temps here in Michigan (in November!):

She went to her first art gallery show with Mommy and Daddy (and brother and Papa):

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Taking Maisie to her first art gallery show #momlife #memories

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Maisie's daddy

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