Monday, February 23, 2015

Comfort food

Here in the South (I have only lived in the South and in France, so I cannot speak for other regions), when there is a tragedy, we cook.  I made dozens and dozens of cookies when three of our basketball team members were injured in a car crash a month or so ago.  Many of my family memories revolve around food after a death.  Southerners bring casseroles, fried chicken, pies, cakes, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and any number of other specialities.  Church families arrange dinners for the bereaved.  It is what we do when we don't know what else to do to help out.  We cook.  And we cook comfort food.  By the time I left my mom's house on Saturday, the food had started arriving.  My cousin made a delicious beef stew (and told me that her secret ingredient is dry onion soup mix), the mom of one of my brother's friends made a chicken casserole and a chocolate pie.  The funeral home sent over a tray of sandwiches.  My grand nephew, who is learning his way around the kitchen (I hope that he goes to culinary school one of these days), made chicken salad while waiting for us to come home after my brother died.  My sister and his mom, my favorite niece, fussed at him for messing up the kitchen, but it was only half-hearted fussing.  I shared with him that I clean up as I go along and then, after dinner, there isn't much to do.  One of my very good friends called today to ask if she could bring food over.  I told her that she and I can go out for dinner later in the week while her husband and the Ex-Ex are out of town.  No dishes to wash that way.  We both stay at school late anyway, so we can have a nice quiet evening after a not so quiet day with middle schoolers.

So what is in that beautiful blue pot?  A recipe I found on the King Arthur Flour website.  It screamed comfort food so I decided to make it for our dinner tonight.  The Ex-Ex ate two servings.  I think he liked it.

Turkey and Dumplings
8 servings

I made it all in my blue pot.  The recipe says to cook it in one pot, then transfer it to a baking dish.  My blue pot is ovenproof so I didn't see the need to dirty another dish!

  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley), or 2 tablespoons dried (optional)--I used herbes de Provence
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
pot pie filling
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 cups turkey stock, or a combination of stock and leftover gravy -- I used chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme-- herbes de Provence again here
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken-- I stopped off at Harris Teeter and bought a rotisserie chicken to use
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables-- I bought a mixture of frozen peas, carrots, and green beans
1. For the dumplings: Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in the herbs, if using. Cover and refrigerate this mixture while you're making the pot pie filling.

2. For the pot pie filling: Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, whisking it into the roux to prevent lumps. When all the stock and/or gravy is added, season with the thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, then stir in the meat and vegetables.

4. Return the filling to a simmer, and transfer to a 4-quart baking dish with a lid. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

5. To assemble: Once the hot filling is in the dish, whisk the buttermilk and egg together, and add, all at once, to the dry mixture.

6. Stir together until evenly moistened.

7. Scoop the batter on top of the simmering liquid, leaving space between the dumplings (they'll almost double as the cook). Put the lid on top, and bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes.  At least 30 minutes in order for the biscuits/dumplings to be cooked completely.

Bon appétit to my family and to all my very caring friends. I love you all.

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