Just a reminder for those with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – you can make a nice stock out of those chicken bones you are saving.I set it for an hour and that seems sufficient.  The Food Lab has much more!

Biscuit Crust Pot Pie

Well, it’s a semi-sorta biscuit crust pot pie.  Biscuit crust pot pies are a thing, but whenever I’ve made them (usually with store bought pop biscuit dough) the tops of the biscuits browned nicely but the bottoms were always nearly raw.  This fixes that.  I found a nice pan biscuit recipe [here] that looked really good.Lacking any buttermilk, I went the ersatz route with a tablespoon of white vinegar in regular whole milk.  I wasn’t sure that the butter in the pan bottom would incorporate well but it worked fine.My pan was 10×12 inches rather than the 8×8.  I figured that for what I was doing there wouldn’t be any problem with a tad thinner biscuit.  It did finish quicker, mine took 15 minutes at 425.I wish I had thought to use parchment paper in the bottom.  I made a few half-hearted tries at winkling the whole thing out but ended up taking it out in pieces……and placing them atop the chicken and veggie filling that had been cooking on a different shelf in an identical pan.  I gave the top a brushing of melted butter and popped it back into the oven for a bit.The pan biscuits were really good, I do think that for this application the recipe should have been reduced by a third, or the amount of filling increased.

Chicken Pie

DSC_2012(1600x1200)I nearly ruined this one, I set the oven to pre-heat to 350 but it somehow got bumped up to 425+.  Fortunately I checked it at the 20 minute mark and saw the egg wash starting to burn.  This is with the Kroger ready to go pie crusts.  The bottom crust didn’t quite have enough to cover the rim of the deep dish pan so I tried tucking the top crust in around the edge rather than leave a single layer to burn up.  It seemed to work OK.20160816_123242(1600x1200)The sauce was made with a flour/butter roux with chicken stock added when the roux was cooked through, adding half a cup or so of milk to thin it a little.  It made a tasty gravy.


DSC_9765 (1600x1060)Cloudy and drizzly and chilly days make it easy to stay in and cook.  Found some frozen shrimp and decided to do a gumbo.DSC_9762 (1600x1060)I started with about a half cup of flour and poured in oil until it looked like plenty.  I’ve seen cooks make a very dry looking roux but I prefer to go with it about like this because I find it easier to keep stirred.  A roux is usually defined by its color, this one is past the peanut butter stage and is well on the way to milk chocolate.  Keep the temps low and you can get by without standing over it every second but it will take longer.  This is about as dark as I care to take it but you can stay with it until it’s much darker if you want.DSC_9763 (1600x1060)You’ll want a nice stock for your gumbo.  This one has an onion, a carrot, a rib of celery, one sliced lemon, parsley, peppercorns, sliced garlic, thyme, and the shells from the shrimp.  There are about two quarts of water in it and it’ll simmer for an hour or so.

There are tons of gumbo recipes, with tomatoes and without, with okra or not, with other meats like sausage or chicken.  They all have a roux in common, and the trinity of onions, green peppers, and celery in water or stock.  Knock yourself out!

Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce

We really needed to find something to do with our tomatillos.  I browsed through some recipes yesterday and saw that they would work quite well with onions in a thick sauce to go with chicken.  I chopped some sweet onions and a pound or so of tomatillos and seasoned them in a bowl with minced garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and ground black pepper.DSC_4035 [1600x1060]Brown some chicken pieces in olive oil.  I used bone in thighs with the skins on but whatever you like will work fine.  Let them develop a nice crust then set them aside and dump the excess grease.  Saute the veggies in the same pan for a few minutes then add a half cup of stock and let them cook some more.  I added a good sprinkle of the dried chipotle pepper seasoning I like.DSC_4037 [1600x1060]Add the chicken back and cover.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. I stirred in corn starch in a slurry to thicken the sauce before plating.  Serve over rice.DSC_6609 [1600x1060]

[edited to correct spelling of tomatillo]

Mmm… turkey dumplings

We bought a turkey the other day because the sale price was so good and cooked the bird in the oven, stripped the meat, and made stock with the carcass.  Mrs J has been wanting dumplings for a while now and today I put the dish together with simple rolled dumplings.

DSC_4511 [1600x1200]This is a really good turkey soup even before the dumplings are added.  I diced celery, carrots, onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and softened them on the stove top in olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme.  These went into the pot with the stock and the already cooked turkey to simmer until the veggies were done.  At this point the mixture can sit until you are ready to drop in the dumplings, they only take 5 minutes to cook up.  The flour in the dumplings will thicken the broth, but if you want just the turkey vegetable soup sans dumplings you can add a tablespoon of flour to the veggies as you saute them.  If you do, add a ladle of broth to the saute pan and stir well to combine with the flour before you dump the lot into the pot.


Tuscan Bean Soup

Winter is all about soups and stews for me.  There is nothing like a kitchen filled with the smells of a simmering pot of goodness. Who cares about the gloomy day outside when you can serve a steaming hot bowl of soup or stew with a nice loaf of  bread or biscuits.

Bean soups are high on my list of favorite soups.  And since discovering the joys of cooking with a pressure cooker, using dried beans are snap.  I know many people are purists and say that dried beans are the only way to go, but honestly I have never found canned beans to be lacking.  They are quick and easy and I like the flavor just fine.  So by all means, if you want to make life easier, use canned beans.

And to get us started, here is a nice bean soup.  I’m not a big kale fan, so I only added 2 cups and added spinach as well.  You can easily add as much kale as you like, the original recipe called for 2 whole heads.

Serves 6 easily.  Serve with a nice garlic bread.

Tuscan Bean Soup

  • 14 oz canned kidney beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 14 oz canned cannellini beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced pancetta, or bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 sprig rosemary (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp chopped fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving

Place the beans in a medium pot, add water to cover by 2-inches and bring to a boil. (If using canned kidney beans, skip this step.) Turn the heat down, let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until just-tender.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, rendering the fat and cooking until slightly crispy about 3 minutes. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add the diced tomatoes, the cooked and drained beans and the chicken stock and water. Add spices, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then add the kale and spinach. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender.

Pressure Cooker instructions:

*At this altitude, soaking does nothing, so I skip that step. I rinse them well and then I pressure cook the beans for 30 minutes before starting the soup. It can be done the night before and refrigerate the drained beans. They will be just tender, drain and add to soup as per directions above.


Brussels Sprouts and Pasta

I wanted to use these sprouts up before they dried out on me.  Roasted in the balsamic vinegar/oil recipe like the cauliflower yesterday would have been fine.  I wanted to do something a bit different and looked at several recipes including a few that called for heavy cream.  I had the carton of whipping cream out and ready but I changed my mind.

Instead of a cream sauce I went with a chicken stock based sauce with plenty of lemon juice and zest.  The reason I backed away from the cream was the addition of the diced tasso.  I just couldn’t quite picture how it was going to work so I chickened out.  Not that I could quite figure how the lemon sauce was going to act with the tasso, either.

Anyway, I halved the sprouts and added them to a pan with red onions and several sliced cloves of garlic.  Added some olive oil and butter and cooked them with salt and pepper over medium heat while the pasta boiled.  I zested a lemon and squeezed the juice into the pan, added some red pepper flakes.  I added a cup and a half of chicken stock with some cornstarch mixed into it.  That soon thickened into a pretty decent sauce that hinted at being something you could put on a bread pudding.  LOL!  When the pasta was done I dumped it on top of everything in the pan and hollered in Mrs J for dinner.

She sat there looking at her plate and then said “oh, those are sprouts, I thought they were olives”.  Well now, there was a good idea!  Some cracked green olives and some grated parmesan worked just fine in there.


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