Archive for the 'Main Dish' Category

Butter and Herb Chicken Dumplings

Have you ever had a recipe that was supposed to be easy but caused you no end of doubt and worry? I just had that experience with this recipe and it was terrifying. As I was cooking I kept asking, “Are these supposed to look like this?” “Is this dough too thin?” “Isn’t this supposed to be thicker?” “Does that look mixed to you?”

The recipe looked easy, simple, and quick–and it was–but, boy, was I anxious about how these would turn out. I think it’s because I expected something a bit more involved and was caught off guard when the work was finished in less than five minutes.

Dumplings in chicken soup.
In the end, they tasted great and were one of the easiest meals I have made. Not all my dumplings were picture-perfect, but they sure tasted great.

Why did it cause me problems? Well, click through to find out.

I was flying blind. Not only had I never made dumplings before, but I could also not remember ever having them before. I had no idea how they were supposed to cook or what they were supposed to look like. I was still tired and a bit under the weather, so I skipped my usual research for new recipes. I just chose the recipe from How to Cook Everything that was next to the chicken soup.

They were fine, it turns out I can follow instructions.

Chicken dumplings in soup.
Butter and Herb Chicken Dumplings

Ingredients
6 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter (half a stick) (softened)
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 fresh parsley
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

Bring the 6 cups chicken stock to a simmer.
In a mixing bowl, mash the butter with a fork until soft and creamy. Add the eggs and mix until combined (it’s fine if it doesn’t get completely incorporated).
Add the rest of the ingredients (salt and pepper to your liking). Add any other herbs you like (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of Herbs en Provence). The dough will still be creamy, don’t worry, it’s fine.
Measure out about teaspoon sized amounts and, using another spoon or your fingers, scoop it out into the simmering broth. Try to keep the dough together or you will end up with some oddly shaped dumplings, as I did.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with chicken soup.

Bison and Beef Burgers

Spring is here, and apart from gardens and fresher greens, this means that cooking outside is officially ‘in season’. As this past weekend was the first weekend of Spring, waking the grill from its winter slumber seemed only natural. To ease it–and myself–back into grilling, I wanted to stick with something tried and true: burgers.

Burgers. (Bison and beef)

Burgers. (Bison and beef)

With a myriad of options available regarding cooking methods, meats, and toppings, burgers are nearly infinitely customizable. Unlike my previous documented excess, these were much more modest. I did make one fairly significant change by using two different kinds of meats. Using all beef will result in a superb burger, but I wanted an extra depth of flavor and a big meaty kick in these. Combining the ground beef with ground bison added the extra dimension of flavor that I was looking for. Using a combination of meats, seasonings, and a different shaping technique ensured that these burgers would be a cut above the rest. 

Burgers. (Bison and beef)

Burgers. (Bison and beef)

Click through to see details on how to make the burgers, the shaping method, and the seasonings I used.

Continue reading ‘Bison and Beef Burgers’

Pizza Party

Pizza Time, the Ninja Turtles would be proud.

Part of the gang, making pizzas.

Over the weekend I had a group of friends over and made pizza for them all. My challenge was to be able to quickly make enough pizzas and also be able to enjoy the company and a few drinks.

I ended up making over 30 pizzas and had a choice of about 20 different toppings.

Tasty pizza!

Tasty pizza!

Did I succeed? Find out how it went and 10 tips cooking pizza for a crowd after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Pizza Party’

Broiled Chicken and Couscous

This dish is very easy to prepare and comes out great. When you are looking to cook something tasty, but don’t want to spend much time, broiled chicken fits the bill. That crisp skin and tender meat tastes as good as it looks.

The key to outstanding chicken is to brine it. What is a brine you ask? Well, funny you should ask, the yesterday’s post this explains that!

Broiled Chicken and Lemon Couscous (with pistachios)

Broiled Chicken and Lemon Couscous (with pistachios)

Couscous—-sooooo easy. If you can measure a cup of water into a skillet and bring it to a boil, you can make couscous. You don’t even need to time it. And if you get something wrong, it’s easy to correct! (I’ll get into correcting it and making it fancy after the jump.)

Lemon Couscous with pistachios

Lemon Couscous with pistachios

And the broiled chicken. Easy, simple, and can be made extremely tasty if you have some seasonings. Don’t forget to brine it though! Continue reading ‘Broiled Chicken and Couscous’

Best Pizza Sauce

I was so excited to tell you about the pizza recipe yesterday (yes, I get excited about recipes) that I completely forgot to give directions about the great pizza sauce. Now, you could go to the store and pick up whatever jar is labeled “pizza sauce” and put that on your pizza and call it a day. But that would be bad. That would make me unhappy.

You just went to the trouble of making pizza dough. If you wanted the easy way out, just order a pizza. Show this dough some respect and put something a little better than processed, bland pizza sauce on it.

Quick and easy pizza sauce.

Quick and easy pizza sauce.

I’m not going to ask you to oven-roast your tomatoes, or even use fresh tomatoes, but by all means go ahead. This recipe is about getting the best possible flavor for the least possible effort. We are going to stick with canned tomatoes. The quality is consistent year-round and probably better than what you can get in the off season.

Canned tomatoes.

Canned tomatoes.

This sauce will be more vibrant and will taste fresher – nothing like the dull paste of whatever is put into the prepared, preserved pizza sauces. So pick up a can of crushed tomatoes, some olive oil and a few herbs and spices that you probably already have in your panty. Mix, heat, and spread on your pizza. Continue reading ‘Best Pizza Sauce’

The Best Homemade Pizza Ever

I can say with confidence that I have the best pizza dough recipe in existence. I will tell you how to make it. You are welcome.

The Best Pizza. Ever.

The Best Pizza. Ever.

I know it may seem a bit brash of me to make such a proclamation as above, but I’m right. This is the best.

Greatest pizza ever.

Greatest pizza ever.

This recipe is the best for one reason: anyone can make it. Some doughs may have more flavor, some people may mix herbs in their dough, some crusts may be chewier, or thinner or more to your liking, but this minimal recipe is easier-that’s what makes it good. I’ll even share a few shortcuts that make this even easier. If you can mix brownie batter in a bowl, this recipe is within your grasp.

Delicious.

Delicious.

I have made at least 4 different kinds of pizza dough before adopting this recipe and technique as my go-to pizza recipe. It’s just so flexible and easy. You can make this dough a few days ahead or as little as a few hours before putting dinner on the table. The recipe is scalable too – I’ve easily made five time the dough in one go with no problems.

Mmmmmm. Tasty.

Mmmmmm. Tasty.

See the recipe and techniques after the jump. Oh, and I make the best pizza sauce too.

Continue reading ‘The Best Homemade Pizza Ever’

Beans on Toast

This meal is my kind of comfort food: quick, simple, starchy, filling, and cheap. It’s also ridiculously easy to make – the title of the post serves as the recipe instructions.

British Baked Beans on Toast

British Baked Beans on Toast

I learned this dish from my dad (who is English) probably one weekend when my mom was away and left him to fend for two kids on his own. Instead of trying to compete with his French wife, my dad resorted to classic British fare. I’m surprised he didn’t serve this with a  chip butty.

I have made this with any kind of beans I can get my hands on, and back in my early years of college it was whatever was sold in the biggest and cheapest can. For a while, my roommate and I had a huge can of beans in the fridge that we spooned out into bowls to microwave and pour over our toast. Goes to show that beans on toast can be anything. But my dad insists on making his a certain way.

The British tin of beans

The British "tin" of beans

The key to making the authentic British version of this recipe is the kind of beans that you use. The British Heinz Baked Beans (or simply Heinz Beans) have less sugar than the American counterpart, and the sauce in which the beans are packed is just a simple tomato sauce–no bacon, no sausage, no meat or extra flavorings. The beans are also firmer and hold their shape better than American beans. The British victuals are actually healthier than the American – not only is there less sugar and no processed meat, but also there is less salt. No can of American beans in tomato sauce is quite the same.

Heating the beans

Heating the beans

Simply butter some toast, heat a tin of beans in a skillet (don’t let it boil, just heat them through) and put the beans on the toast. Done. Eat. Have a pint.

Plate of Beans on Toast

Plate of Beans on Toast


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