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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-…

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In Which I Attempt Marc Vetri’s “Most Famous Pasta Dish”: Pasta with Chicken Livers recipe

it looks nothing like the pic on the website, but that is my fault

it looks nothing like the pic on the website, but that is my fault

I have no idea who Marc Vetri is, nor had I ever heard of his “most famous pasta dish” before I found the recipe on Google. I *did* know about my cousin Rubeli in Italy’s famous chicken liver pasta dish, but didn’t have her recipe. Even my mom raved about it and she HATES liver.

That is how Marc Vetri’s recipe stumbled into my life. I am so glad that it did.

It was SUPER simple and I barely took liberties with the recipe, which is rare for me.  I added some squashed and minced garlic to the onion frying stage.  That’s IT.  I didn’t use quite as many sage leaves, because I am always highly suspicious of recipes with sage.  I think I picked 7 out of my garden instead of the 12.  I ALSO did not use any rigatoni, as I used all of boxes I had a few days ago.

My version had a mix of spiral pastas and shells, because I needed to use them up and thought I’d be the only one eating them.

I loved it- even if it wasn’t as pretty as the original.  Maisie loved it, too.

Maisie loves chicken livers

Maisie loves chicken livers

Marc Vetri’s Most Famous Pasta Dish: Pasta With Chicken Livers Recipe (with my tweaks)

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Level of Difficulty: Easy Serving Size: 4
Ingredients
1 (14-ounce) box dried spiral and other shaped pastas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for sauce
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 garlic, squished and minced
7 fresh sage leaves
salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces chicken livers, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop in the pasta, quickly return to a boil, and cook until the pasta is tender yet firm, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.
While the pasta boils, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add the onions, garlic, and sage and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the chicken livers, cooking for 1 minute.
Add a splash of pasta water, scraping the pan bottom.
Add the drained pasta to the pan.
Toss with the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and additional butter and/or pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce.
Divide among warm pasta bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese to serve.

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Today’s Experiment: Making Homemade Ricotta Cheese and a Little Ricotta History…

A friend posted a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese on her Facebook wall last night and raved about how easy it was, so I decided to try it myself.  I didn’t use the recipe she posted, because I didn’t have all the ingredients listed.

I used this recipe from Ina Garten instead and it turned out wonderfully. It was better than any store bought ricotta I’ve ever eaten.  It was one of the easiest ‘fancy’ recipes I’ve ever used.  I feel inspired to try out other cheese making techniques next.

Maisie enjoyed licking the excess cheese off the cheesecloth when I was finished.

I will be using it for a zucchini pasta recipe tomorrow.

Now, a little bit about the history of ricotta cheese from Clifford Wright’s website:

    Two of the earliest mentions or depictions of ricotta are related to Sicily. Professor Santi Correnti, chairman of the history department of the University of Catania and a preeminent historian of Sicily, writes that during the reign of the Sicilian king Frederick II, in the early thirteenth century, the king and his hunting party came across the hut of a dairy farmer making ricotta and, being ravenous, asked for some. Frederick pulled out his bread loaf, poured the hot ricotta and whey on top and advised his retinue thatcu’ non mancia ccu’ so’ cucchiaru lassa tutto ‘o zammataru (Those who don’t eat with a spoon will leave all their ricotta behind).

    The first depiction of the making of ricotta is an illustration in the medical treatise known as theTacuinum sanitatis (medieval health handbook), the Latin translation of the Arab physician Ibn Butlan’s eleventh century Taqwim al-sihha.

    Ortensio Lando in his Commentario delle piu notabili e mostruose cose d’Italia published in 1548 has his fictional traveler go to Val Calci, at some distance from Pisa, for the best ricotta in the world.

boiling the milk, cream, vinegar, and salt

straining the curds through moistened cheesecloth

after about a half hour, this is what it looked like.

Homemade ricotta! I can’t believe how incredibly easy it was! After this photo was snapped, I wrapped the entire thing in cling film.

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White Truffle Stracotto (Italian Beef Pot Roast) with Fresh Sage, Mushrooms, Fig Balsamic, and Brandy

Truffled Stracatto with fresh sage, mushrooms, fig balsamic

Truffled Stracotto with fresh sage, mushrooms, fig balsamic, and brandy

I was fascinated by this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, but did not have everything on hand, so I improvised (recipe provided after the history lesson):

I am OBSESSED with food history.  I have to search for the history of every bit of food that I eat.  I don’t know if there is a name for this particular oddity, but I am sure there is one somewhere.

Per this page I learned the following: http://www.inparma.it/english/parma-food/traditional-products/who-invented-stracotto-pot-roast.aspx

History of Parma Cuisine
Footnotes to Parmesan Gastronomy
“Who invented Stracotto pot roast?”

That braised beef or Stracotto (pot roast) is a typically Italian dish, savory and worthy of the best in our culinary tradition, goes without saying. One might debate its origins, if it comes from Piedmont and the way they prepare it in Saluzzo with Barolo, or from Tuscany, in which case it is called “stufato”, or whether it is from Parma. Obviously, because the famous anolini of Parma require Stracotto in their preparation, it could be solemnly stated, once and for all, that Parma is the home of this dish. In any case, among collections of old recipes, I found one that is also listed by Cougnet and which, perhaps to make everyone happy, is simple called “Stracotto all’Italiana”.

Here is that early version of this dish: “Lard a nice fillet of beef, marinate it in a dish with marsala, salt, pepper, fines herbes and truffle trimmings for at least four hours. An hour and a half before serving, in a casserole with butter and lard, brown thinly-sliced onion, carrot, celery and bouquet garni, add the fillet, moisten with the marinade garnish, add rich meat stock, cover with greased paper and simmer, basting occasionally. Remove the fillet, place in a oven-proof dish and pour the braising juices, pour over the meat and add two cups of velout? sauce, place in the front of the oven and moisten to reduce the temperature.

“Prepare a long elegant bed of rice, artfully sculpted and place on a long serving plate. Cut the center piece from the fillet, leaving a base one centimeter high, return the cut piece to its original place, place the fillet on the rice, edged Italian-style with spinach, celery and carrot, alternating the colors. Toss with Madeira sauce, white truffles and serve with the rest of the sauce on the side.”

It goes without saying that Moreau de Saint Mary, Napoleon’s governor of the Parma States from 1802 to 1806, also found it difficult to resist the joys of Parmesan cooking and its stracotto and anolini “dont on est très friend dans les Etats de Parme” and of which he was very fond. He certainly was not the first Frenchman to be won over by the delicacies of Parma.

From G. Gonizzi, Le memorie del Ciambellano. Storie di cucina nel Ducato. I, in Parma Capitale Alimentare, 43, 2000, pp 45-61.

Although I had red wine on hand, I ALSO had a 10 month old child pulling all the pans out of the cupboards as I tried to cook. I *did* have an open bottle of brandy and some truffle oil and balsamic fig vinegar in my ‘vinegar, cooking booze, and fancy schmancy oils’ cupboard, so I improvised.  I also have fresh sage, chives, thyme, and other herbs growing outside in my garden.  I opted for sage today, because it’s delicious paired with fig and truffles… and the sage in my garden looks beautiful right now.

sage

fresh sage from my garden, growing in a wild tangle of arugula- my mom smuggled the arugula seeds back from Italy in her underwear some years ago and now it’s a delicious weed.

The result was a delicious, savory, melt-in-your-mouth/knock-yer-socks-off pot roast that I served over basmati rice.

  • White Truffle Stracotto (Italian Beef Pot Roast) with Fresh Sage, Mushrooms, Fig Balsamic, and Brandy
    adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
  • 4-5 lb. beef chuck roast
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper (mine was brought back from the pepper farms in the Philippines by my mom)
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 16 ounces of low sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 c. brandy
  • 1/4 c. fig balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 package of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage
  • 4 tablespoons white truffle oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Generously season the beef on both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the brandy and balsamic fig vinegar and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and sriracha. Return the beef to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Add mushrooms about 2 hours into cooking time- Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding more beef broth, as needed.

ready to come out of the oven

ready to come out of the oven

Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Using an immersion blender, place about 1/2 of the pan veggies and juices into another bowl and blend the remaining pan juices and vegetables until pureed but with a good texture. Add the sage and truffle oil and the reserved whole veggies and juices. Bring to sauce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Additionally, you can drizzle more fig balsamic on as well…

the pan veggies and juices all whizzed together with the stick blender

the pan veggies and juices all whizzed together with the stick blender

Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

ready to be cut in 1

ready to be cut in 1″ pieces and drenched in the sauce

I served this over basmati rice, with a wild arugula salad on the side (I needed to weed the beds and wild arugula is my primary ‘weed’).

this arugula became the accompanying salad...

this arugula became the accompanying salad…