Tag Archives: stock

sunday dinner in winter



what do you do with some freshly made turkey stock and the meat that is poached along with it?  why make turkey and dumplings, of course. what a perfect way to spend a sunday in winter–such homey aromas coming from the kitchen.


i was careful to read up on dumplings before i actually tried them and, although the first batch was a little heavy and dense, the second batch came out wonderfully soft and pillowy. there seem to be a few secrets to good dumplings: do not over mix the batter, do not overcook, and under no circumstances should you open the lid of the pot after they are added–they are to steam, not boil!


here are the little beauties just added to the pot at a brisk simmer just before closing the lid (had to work fast to avoid breaking rule #3).


this really did not take long at all. i would recommend, however that you make the stock and shred the turkey or chicken the day before, unless you are a weirdo like me and like to spend hours on end in the kitchen.


turkey (or chicken) & dumplings (adapted from simply recipes)



  • 5-6 cups turkey or chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded turkey or chicken 
  • 3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 boiling onions (smaller than regular onions, larger than pearl onions), peeled and halved (i used a regular spanish onion, cut into wedges)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (i used fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry or vermouth (optional) (i did not use the booze)
  • 1 Tbsp of heavy cream (optional)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • ground black or white pepper


  • 2 cups cake flour (can sub all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herb leaves such as parsley, chives, and tarragon (optional)

sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. add chopped fresh herbs-i had parsley on hand, so that’s what i used.  add melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients. gently mix with a spoon until mixture just comes together. (note: do not overmix! or your dumplings will turn out too dense.) set aside.
heat butter in large heavy bottomed stock pot.  whisk in flour and thyme; cook, whisking constantly, until flour turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. whisking constantly, gradually add sherry or vermouth, then slowly add the reserved 5 or 6 cups of chicken stock; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. stir in the vegetables, simmer for 5 minutes. stir in chicken and cream; return to a brisk simmer. add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

drop dumpling batter into the simmering stew by teaspoonfuls, over the surface of the stew. cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. once you have covered the pan, do not uncover while the dumplings are cooking! in order for them to be light and fluffy, they must steam, not boil. uncovering the pan releases the steam. if after 10-12 minutes they are still not cooked through (use a toothpick or skewer to test) cover pan again, and cook for another few minutes.

gently stir in peas and parsley. ladle portions of meat, sauce, vegetables, and dumplings into soup plates and serve immediately.

serves 4-6

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Filed under soups & stews

yes, soup for you!


 we have had some absolutely gorgeous ‘winter’ days here in texas lately. somewhere between 65-75 degrees and sunny constitutes a near perfect day in my book. although we don’t have as many of those here as my days in california, i do love them more than because they are now precious and few. with this sunny and clear weather, we also have some pretty chilly nights, hovering somewhere just above freezing. the first culinary thought that comes to mind during this time of year is a big batch of homemade soup. i love making soup and pasta e fagioli (literally ‘pasta and beans’) is one of my faves.

learning how to make soup is more of a method than a following a recipe. you can make a soup thicker by cooking it down without a lid, pureeing a portion of the ingredients in a blender, food processor or by hand, or adding a ‘slurry’ of flour mixed with water. and you can thin a soup by just adding some more water or stock back into the pot. you can make soup out of just about anything; veggies, meat, beans. the most important thing is to just use the freshest and best ingredients you can afford. and when you combine that with a few do-ahead activities (such as making your own stock and beans), the results are phenomenal.


i did hear the collective groan with the mention of these (supposedly) labor- intensive jobs, but in reality, the stock takes about 30 minutes–make it on the weekend and keep in freezer in 1-2 cup portions–and the beans took just just over 2 hours, mostly inactive and i made them the day before. after picking through 1lb of dried great northern beans to get rid of any rocks or old shriveled up beans, i covered them in cold water and used the quick soak method of preparing them to cook. then i covered them with fresh water and cooked them without a lid after adding 1/2 a chopped onion and a few bay leaves.

this what your beans look like after you cook them for about 45 minutes-1 hour:


 get your ‘porky trinity’  ready (onion, garlic, bacon):


i also added a bit of celery and sauteed it all in the bacon fat which had been rendered. if you watch anne burrell on the food network, she’ll tell you what we’ve all known for years, that “brown food is good food”. so true, and so this pot of goodness stayed on low to medium heat about 5 more minutes before the tomato paste and stock were added. 


add your homemade stock like this:


 then you will add the remaining ingredients over the next 10-15 minutes. with some do-ahead prep all told you’ve been in the kitchen for less than 45 minutes.


pasta e fagioli (adapted from gourmet)

serves 2-4



  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small rib of celery, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1  1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups fresh cooked white beans or 1-16 oz can white beans rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup tubetti or other small tubular pasta, like shells or elbows
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • freshly grated Parmesan and good quality olive oil as an accompaniment


in an unheated heavy saucepan cook the bacon over low-medium heat, stirring, until it is crisp-the cold pan and low heat will allow all the fat to render off the meat–i.e. melt and flavor the rest of your dish. pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, and in the remaining fat cook the onion and the garlic and celery, stirring, until softened. add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute, then add the carrot and the broth and simmer the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes. in a bowl mash 1/3 cup of the beans, stir them into the bacon mixture with the remaining whole beans, and simmer the mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. stir in the tubetti, simmer the soup, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente, and if desired thin the soup with water. check pot every few minutes and add water or broth as needed-you don’t want it to run out and scorch your dinner. let the soup stand off the heat, covered, for 5 minutes, stir in the parsley, and serve the soup in bowls sprinkled with the parmesan and drizzled with some of your best olive oil.


yesterday was rocket’s birthday. he slept through most of it, but did manage to get a few treats down, however.




Filed under soup

beautiful, beautiful stock


omg. i just made the BEST stock. in fact, this is one of the better things that i’ve made lately and it didn’t even have bacon in it. every cook needs some basic stock skills in his or her repertoire. i have experience making beef, shrimp, turkey, and have even perfected my own chicken stock. but never, ever (and i don’t know why) have i even attempted to make a vegetable stock. maybe i just always fell back on the chicken stock, believing that it would just impart so much more flavor than any anemic vegetable could give up. boy, was i wrong.



 i can’t even begin to tell you the dreamy aromas going on in my house while this was simmering. it starts with some basic veggies, then you add a few that you may or may not have on hand. amazingly, i had most of what i needed (including the coriander seed because i’m married to some who uses them for a very special version of hot wings, which i will try to post before the big game), but did have to go to the market for the fennel bulb. despite the long list of ingredients, the whole process takes about 30-40 minutes and it is sooo worth it. i will never go back to canned or boxed again.

i used some of the stock right away for some  homemade soup, which i will tell you about very soon. the rest is in my fridge–i will wait to strain it until the morning, then use up right away for another purpose or freeze. really you can and should give this a whirl. even if you think this is too involved, cut yourself up an onion, carrot, and a few peppercorns, simmer it in some water for 20 minutes and never go back!



Homemade Vegetable Stock (adapted from la tartine gourmande)


(For 1.5 quarts stock) 

You need:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into large wedges*
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 5 to 6 coriander seeds
  • 5 to 6 fennel seeds**
  • 2 to 3 thyme twigs
  • A few peppercorns
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut in big pieces
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery branches
  • Salt
  • 6 cups water


  • Peel the vegetables and cut them in big pieces.
  • In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic and spices. Cook for a few min, without browning.
  • Add the vegetables and cook on medium to low heat for 10 min, until soft.
  • Add the water and season with salt. Cover and bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 min. Remove from the heat and let rest for a few hours (or even overnight in the fridge) for the flavors to develop even more. Strain the broth and use when needed. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

 *i left the onion peel on intentionally to add flavor AND beautiful color to the stock

**i didn’t have any fennel seed, nor did i miss it


Filed under general