Ha! It turns out that varmint was correct. Punxsutawney Phil for the win! It has been quite chilly around here, though if the weather forecasters are to be believed, we’re going to get a taste of Spring next week. But I’d be willing to bet it will just be a brief little sample and then it will turn cold again. No way winter is done with us yet. So ya’ll will be so happy you have this recipe to warm you up on those cold damp days to come – Quick Chicken & Dumplings. Comfort food at its finest and much easier to make than the traditional dish. What’s the secret? Store bought rotisserie chicken & gnocchi! You’ll have this hearty flavorful creamy dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
Now I have made the traditional Chicken & Dumplings dish many times. It is kind of an all day affair to make, but it is so tasty with big, fluffy cornmeal dumplings The husband absolutely loves it!
So I wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about this shortcut version. But there was no need to fear. He loved this dish as well.
Those soft pillowy gnocchi do a wonderful job standing in for dumplings. And the good news is, it is not only absolutely delicious, but it is also very quick and easy to make. Meaning there is a good chance it will make it to the table much more frequently. So when the weather turns chilly again, as I know it will, you’ll be ready with a big pot of Chicken & Dumplings to lift folks spirits. You don’t even need to let them in on the secret “quick” bit. Winner, winner! Quick Chicken & Dumplings Dinner!
2 medium carrots or 8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium leek, trimmed, white and pale green portion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2/3 cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi
½ small (3-pound) store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups shredded meat)
Fresh tarragon, parsley or dill, for garnish
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium. Add the carrots, leek, celery, garlic, rosemary, thyme and poultry seasoning, if using. Season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with the flour, then cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (This cooks the flour to soften its raw flavor.) Gradually stir in the stock and cream, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once the mixture boils, stir in the gnocchi, reduce the heat to medium and cook until gnocchi and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken in the last couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and top with fresh tarragon and more black pepper, if desired.
Quick Chicken & Dumplings brought to you today by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
So did I get your attention with that recipe title? I mean “Chili” will always make me look. We love chili around here. But when followed by Chocolate…hmmm that struck me as a bit strange. But then the wheels completely fell of my cart when I saw peanut butter. Peanut Butter?!!! Really?!!! Yup. Totally serious. Peanut. Butter. I could not wait to cook up a pot. And I’m very happy to share the recipe with you today. It is absolutely delicious! The mixture of spices and chocolate give it such a depth of flavor, a real richness and umami. And that peanut butter acts not only as a thickener, but also gives the most silky creamy texture. Comfort food perfection on a cold snowy day!
Today is February 1st. This particular day lies half way between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints. According to Irish hagiography, she was an early Christian nun & abbess who preformed many miracles. She also shares the name with an important Celtic goddess which suggests that the early church might have adopted the legends of the goddess and transformed them into the Christian persona. Interesting huh? I don’t know how many of you folks out there remembered to put a scarf out last night. You see on St. Brigid’s Eve you should always place a scarf or other piece of fabric outside.
When Brigid passes over the land that night she will bless it. You then can fetch it back inside the next day and thanks to Brigid, it has the power to protect and heal headaches, sore throats and fevers throughout the coming year! What with all the Covid still rampaging around, I wasn’t going to take any chances. My little scarf was frozen solid this morning, but is happily thawing away now, freshly imbued with healing powers. Today also marks the festivals of Imbolc and Candlemas, both of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way.
Right up until yesterday, much to my dismay, we really had not had any winter at all. But I woke up to snow yesterday! It snowed all day, all night and it is still snowing as I write this. Hooray! So if good ole Phil sees his shadow and we get more winter I’m fine, but even if he says Spring is coming, I will have at least had a tiny taste of winter. So this is quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 10th year anniversary of the my cooking blog! Yup… Ten years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.
I’ve managed to do an anniversary post nearly every year since. Pretty impressive considering how slack I can be. Last year I posted about these scrumptious Morning Buns!
And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” – Pasture’s Pimento Cheese. Keep this one in mind for the Super Bowl!
And speaking of the Big Game, today’s Ground Beef Chili with Chocolate & Peanut Butter would certainly be a most welcome addition to your game day spread. You can even play a fun game with folks where you make them try to guess what the secret ingredients are in the chili. The whole time I was making it, I hid the recipe from The Husband. I just called it the “odd chili” with some mysterious ingredients. He did pretty well with his guesses. He got the chocolate pretty quickly. Not that it tastes like chocolate. It doesn’t. But he got that it was a dark richness to the dish. And although he did not guess peanut butter, he did comment on how creamy it was.
Although you can eat this chili on the day you make it, I usually try to allow it to sit in the fridge for a day or two after I make it. I find that the extra chill time allows the flavors to really blend and meld. I guess I always knew chocolate & peanut butter were two great tastes that taste great together. I mean Reese Cups have been telling us so for years. However, I would never have considered smashing a Reese Cup up and stirring it into my chili. But there you have it! So. Dang. Good.
recipe from: Aaron Hutcherson via New York Times Cooking
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 8 ounces)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
3 canned chiles in adobo, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional – we like it hot!)
2 pounds ground beef or ground dark turkey
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup stout beer (I suggest Guinness…)
1 cup unsalted or low-sodium beef stock or chicken stock
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed
4 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
fresh lime juice ( 1 – 2 Tablespoons – optional)
Any combination of tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro and diced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and salt and sautée until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add Chiles, cocoa powder and spices. Stir to mix ingredients together and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, just until the spices become fragrant.
Add ground meat and cook until cooked through, 5 – 7 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their juices, beer and stock to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the flavors meld.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the beans, chocolate and peanut butter. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the peanut butter is completely integrated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you think it is too sweet, you can add a bit of freshly squeezed lime juice.
Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro or perhaps white onion. Whatever toppings you prefer. I always make up a batch of Skillet Cornbread as well when I serve chili.
Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Ground Beef Chili with Chocolate & Peanut Butter:
Crafty Celts – Love that spoon in the chili pics above? You can get one for yourself at Crafty Celts where you will find handcrafted historically inspired bronze and silver jewelry, as well as gorgeous silverware. You might recognize some of their jewelry as it was featured in the Vikings television show.
Oh my gosh! Where has the time gone? I haven’t posted one little morsel since Halloween! How has that happened? It isn’t like I’ve been off traveling or even out of the house really – Thank you Covid! Yet somehow I’ve been busy. And here we are at January 25th, 2021! Well, at least I’m here now – whatever that may count for and I’m back with a delicious recipe! Cock-a-leekie Pie is Scottish comfort food at its finest.
This big hearty pie boasts a creamy chicken and leek filling which is shot through with savory crumbles of bacon all wrapped up in a perfect buttery flaky crust. Be still my heart!
And January 25th is perfect timing for a Scottish recipe. That’s right- today is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. Indeed, this Cock-a-Leekie Pie would be a very welcome addition to any Burns Night Supper. I’ve actually posted quite a few tasty Burns Night dishes in the past. Like remember my Steak Auld Reekie served over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:
Or how about these Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas? This post is really fun because it is one of my travel postings telling you all about a fun trip (remember when we used to be able to travel…) we took to Glasgow a few years ago.
And if you are intrigued by Scottish travel – just take a look at these Scottish Oat Cakes which are featured in my post about our journey to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands for their annual Up Helly Aa celebration, which is a Viking Fire Festival. How exciting it that?!! (Sadly, yet understandably, Up Helly Aa 2021 has been cancelled. Yup…thanks once again Covid.)
Back to more Burns Night recipes, how about some infamous Scotch Eggs:
If pie is not your thing (and I have no idea what you’re like if it isn’t…), how about this Cock-a-leekie Soup:
which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.
And for dessert, could I possibly tempt you with Chranachan. (My Chranachan recipe has a more Irish bent, but that is easy to change. Just use a good Scottish Malt Whiskey rather than the Jamesons and skip the Bailey’s drizzle. This dessert is typically served in a tall glass, though I served it in little chocolate cordial glasses topped with raspberries once, which was quite fun.)
I think you get the picture. My blog is chock full of inspirational tasty Scottish dishes! But let me get back to today’s offering: Cock-a-Leekie Pie.
The husband loves every sort of pie, but prefers the savory ones to the sweet. And he is over the moon for anything with leeks in it (must be his Welsh blood). So this pie is right up his alley. So hearty and filling. So creamy and savory. You might pause when you notice that prunes are in the ingredients, but don’t leave them out whatever you do. Their sweetness is a wonderful compliment to the silky leek chicken mixture and salty bacon.
Now I realize, I didn’t give you much time to get this recipe done for this evening. Sorry about that. I believe it was Robbie Burns who said:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley –
(Translation: The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry)
So please do forgive me that once again my best laid plans have gang aft agley! If you can’t whip this up this evening, please do bake it when you can. Believe me, you won’t be sorry. And tonight, no matter what your dinner plans might be, join me in raising a wee dram and toast to Robert Burns, Scotlands favorite son.
3 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced into rounds
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
½ cup quartered pitted prunes
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus more
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 batch of Perfect Flaky Pie Crust – recipe follows
1 egg – for brushing over top crust
Make one batch of Perfect Flaky Pie Crust (recipe noted below). Place dough in refrigerator for at least one hour or up to two days.
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 375°. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook bacon until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in same skillet until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Add a splash of water to skillet. Cover, reduce heat, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 10–12 minutes, or internal temperature 165°. Transfer to a plate.
Add leeks to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook until leeks are very soft, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Shred chicken and add to leeks along with thyme leaves, prunes, and reserved bacon.
Melt remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in ⅓ cup flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in broth, adding a little at a time, until smooth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5–7 minutes. Mix sauce into leek mixture; season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Remove pie dough from refrigerator. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14” round. Transfer to a 10” cast-iron skillet or a 9½”-diameter deep pie dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving a 1” overhang. Spoon filling into skillet. Roll out second disk of dough to 11” round. Drape over filling and trim to a 1” overhang. Fold overhang under; crimp with a fork or roll crust as I did. Cut a few vents in top; brush with egg.
Bake until crust is golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Let pie cool slightly.
Perfect Flaky Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (227 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
6 tablespoons vodka (chilled)
2 Tablespoons ice water
Mix 6 tablespoons of vodka and 2 tablespoons of water. Put in fridge or freezer (don’t forget it) to chill.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and salt to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.
Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water/vodka over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water/vodka and continue to press until dough comes together.
Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).
Ah now here is a traditional Irish dish for you – Irish Coddled Pork with Cider. If St. Patrick’s Day is at all chilly and rainy – which seems to often be the case – this slow cooked stew will really hit the spot! But what does “coddle” mean? Well, in a culinary sense it likely comes from the french verb caudle which means to cook gently, parboil or stew. You know, low and slow. Sure everyone knows a stew boiled is a stew spoiled! But I’ve also read that it comes from the Irish word cadal which means to sleep. The legend goes that the wife of the house could make up a coddle and leave it simmering on the stove for hours. It would still be delicious when her man finally arrived home from the pub, long after she’d gone off to sleep!
Dublin Coddle is the coddle which is best known I’d say. That Coddle is a stew consisting of Irish Sausages, potatoes, onions and Irish Bacon. It has been enjoyed in Ireland since the seventeenth century and likely before. It was a favourite of the likes of Jonathan Swift, Seán O’Casey and James Joyce.
Coddles were a useful way of using up any meat on a Thursday, in times when Catholics were not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Now a days you can enjoy a hearty coddle any time. This particular coddle recipe features a couple lovely thick cut pork chops.
After having prepared this dish, I can definitely say it is so easy to make. You just brown the pork, chop up the veg and toss it all into a pot to simmer away. Now you do want to make sure that you have a pot with a well fitting lid so that the ingredients left uncovered by the stock/cider will be steamed. True Irish comfort food. Serve up with some soda bread or a hunk of brown bread slathered with butter. And maybe a pint or two….
1/2 rutabaga (swede, turnip) cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 small cabbage, chopped
1 bay leaf
100 ml Irish cider
100 ml chicken stock
Heat butter in a casserole dish until sizzling. I used a Le Creuset oval casserole #27 (6 quart). Brown the pork chops on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Place the bacon, carrot, potatoes and rutabaga in the pan and fry until just starting to color. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a few more minutes. Nestle the chops into the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and then pour the cider and stock over the top. Cover the pan and continue to simmer on low until the pork is cooked through (145°F/ 63°C) and the vegetables are tender.
Irish Coddled Pork with Cider brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Irish Coddled Pork with Cider:
Mmmmmm. Did someone say Bread Pudding? Comfort food at its finest if you ask me. It is enjoyed all over the world with each country putting its own special spin on it. Like in Canada it is often made with maple syrup and in Puerto Rico you will find it with coconut milk and a rum guava sauce. So for St. Patrick’s Day I thought this Irish Whiskey Marmalade Bread Pudding would be perfection!
Bread Pudding started out as a pretty rustic dish and folks have been enjoying it for some time. It can be traced all the way back to the 11th century. It was a pretty frugal dish, made to use up bread that was going stale. In 13th century England it was referred to as ‘poor man’s pudding”. How far it has come. Not so humble anymore you can find it offered up in some of the most posh and trendy restaurants.
Theresa and I met in college when she was finishing up her degree in botany. After college, Theresa moved back to rural County Limerick and started her own business, The Green Apron, which is an artisan preserve company. Theresa grows much of the fruit and vegetables she uses in her preserves at her family’s orchards at Derryclough and in the walled vegetable garden at her parents 18th Century castle, Glenwilliam.
But let me get back to today’s recipe. The Irish Whiskey Marmalade I made to brighten my bread pudding is a three fruit marmalade consisting of grapefruit, oranges and lemons and a good glug of Irish Whiskey. It is one of The Green Apron’s best-selling jams and won a bronze Blas na h’Eireann (Taste of Ireland Competition) in 2015. I have included the recipe for it which makes about 5 pints. That is quite a bit more than you need for this recipe. But I will say, it is amazing stuff. You will be delighted to have extra on hand. I have used it to enhance other dishes in the past such as these Irish Whiskey Marmalade Tarts
Great recipes to be sure and this Bread Pudding is right at home with them. So warming, cozy and comforting and a bit boozy I must say with the whiskey in the marmalade and well as the pudding. The bright citrus flourish will remind you that Spring is right around the corner. Serve it warm with some whipped cream or ice cream. But I’ve got to tell you, this Irish Whiskey Marmalade Bread Pudding is so delicious it stands fine all on its own.
Butter the bread on both sides. Spread half of the pieces with marmalade. Cover with the remaining slices of bread to make marmalade sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches into quarters or halves depending on the bread size and your chosen baking dish and arrange them in the dish. I used an oval casserole measuring about 10″ x 8″. A 9″x 9″ would also work well.
Combine the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and whiskey. Pour the mixture over the marmalade sandwiches. Set aside for 30 minutes or so to allow the bread to absorb all of that goodness.
Dot the remaining marmalade over the top of the bread. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until set. Remove from oven and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream or simply plain.
For the Irish Whiskey Marmalade:
1 ruby grapefruit
2 medium sweet oranges
3.4 kg (6 pints) water
2.7 kg (6 lbs) sugar
60 ml (2 fl. oz.) good Irish Whiskey
1 teaspoon mixed spice (Please note, mixed spice is different from all-spice. Mixed spice, sometimes also called pudding spice is a British spice similar to pumpkin pie spice, containing cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. I have a link for it below, or hereis a recipe for it.)
Place a saucer into the refrigerator to chill.
Wash the grapefruit, oranges and lemons. Remove any blemishes from the skin and cut them into quarters. Place in the food processor and process on high speed until the peel is reduced to 6-mm (1/4″) pieces. If you like a bigger peel in your marmalade, don’t process it for so long, and if you like very little peel, process it for longer.
Put the processed citrus in a preserving pot with the water, stir well and cook on a high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peel is cooked and smooshes to wee pieces between your fingers. This usually takes an hour.
Add the sugar, stir well and cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade reaches setting point, with a marmalade this usually takes 20 -40 minutes.
Spoon a little of the boiling preserve onto the cold saucer. Let it cool and then push it with your finger. If it has reached setting point, the top of the blob of marmalade will wrinkle. Marmalades should have wrinkles at least 2 -3 mm hight.
Remove from heat. Skim off any seeds and sugar foam.
Add 60 ml (2 fl oz) of good Irish Whiskey and 1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice.
Pour into warm sterilized jars to within 6 mm (1/4″) of the top. Wipe any drips off the rims of the jars to make sure there is a good seal between the jar and lid. A dampened paper towel works well for this. Place the lids on and seal.
Irish Whiskey Marmalade Bread Pudding brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links for helpful kitchen tools & ingredients for Irish Whiskey Marmalade Bread Pudding:
Look what I’ve got here…little yeast buns stuffed with ground beef, leeks and cheddar! YUM! Comfort food at its best! Known as Pirozhki in their native Russia, which actually means “small pie”, these savory, individual sized pies will soon be found in high rotation in your meal plans.
We fell head over heels for them straight away. I mean what’s not to love? There’s a soft pillowy dough which encircles a savory blend of meat and cheese – Oh yes! Count me in.
Exceedingly portable, these buns are not only delicious hot from the oven, but are also fabulous at room temperature and may have single-handedly saved us on a particularly rainy camping weekend. They are very versatile, so if ground beef and cheddar isn’t your thing, you could try a meatless option with sautéed onions, cabbage and chopped hardboiled eggs. And don’t forget, Thanksgiving is coming up soon. That means leftovers. A post-holiday Pirozhki with chopped turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce is very likely to make an appearance in my house. I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, give these Stuffed Buns a try!
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on dough
To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a soft, smooth dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rest for about 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.
To make the filling: Heat the oil in a sauté pan set over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook until translucent.
Add the garlic and ground beef and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, breaking the meat up as it browns, until it’s cooked through.
Season the filling with salt, pepper, and parsley, remove it from the heat, and cool to room temperature.
Stir in the cheese. The filling can be made ahead of time, then wrapped and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces; if you have a scale they’ll weigh about 2 ounces each.
Shape the pieces into balls, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them.
Cover the dough balls, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.
Shape each ball into a flattened round about 5″ in diameter, brush the surface with some of the egg/water wash, and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each round.
Pull the dough over the filling, pinching two opposite edges together tightly, to seal in the filling; it should look like a dumpling.
Place the buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until puffy.
Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush the buns with the remaining egg wash. Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. It’s OK if some of the seams have come undone and the filling is visible; they can be prettier that way!
Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
I’mmmmmmmmm back! Good Lord above, I can not believe that I haven’t written one tiny little thing on this blog since April 3rd! And that post was written after I had taken a sizeable break after my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon. Yup…back then I said I’d be getting right back into the kitchen. I don’t know what got into me. Wellll….I kinda do. You see I’ve been busy planning a big bathroom renovation. I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not, but about 1 1/2 years ago we had a bathroom fire that was started by a faulty bathroom exhaust fan. (Here’s a tip for all you readers out there…Do NOT leave your exhaust fan running over night. The motor in our’s heated up and because our bathroom had last been renovated sometime in the 70’s, the fan did not have a thermal fuse, so it just kept getting hotter and hotter until it caught the insulation in the ceiling on fire. We were very lucky that the bathroom was all that burned up.) So yeah, you did read that right…the fire happened all that time ago and we are just now getting around to doing something about it. How pathetic is that? Seriously, we just sealed that bathroom off with plywood, moved to the guest bathroom down the hall and have been doing our best to ignore it. But I’m happy to report that we’ve finally got our act together and have hired a contractor and have nearly finished the design. Construction is nigh I tell you!
Big gaping hole which we unbelievably ignored for over 1 year!!!
And then we just purchased a condo down in Richmond Virginia. Yes….I did say “down”. That is because Richmond is even further south in Virginia than we currently are now. I’m sure you all know how I loathe summer weather in Virginia and what did we do? Went further south! Must be stone cold crazeeee! So that has taken a bit of doing. The good news is as it turns out, Richmond is quite the hidden foodie destination. So I’m looking forward to telling you about some of our future dining exploits. But here is a sneak preview pic:
Green Eggs & Lamb & Non-Huevos Rancheros with Griddled Jalapeno Grits, Black Bean Chili & Carnitas at Black Sheep brunch! #RVA#BlackSheepRVA
And last but not least, we just returned from a completely fantastic holiday in Iceland. Yup, we’ve been there before, three times now counting this visit and I am completely smitten! I’ve got a post coming up about a delicious Icelandic doughnut I sampled there.
Icelandic Doughnut or ástarpungar from the Geirabakarí in Borgarnes…stay tuned for the recipe!
So anyhoo…..I should probably make you some sort of assurances that I’ll settle down again and blog faithfully, but I’m not sure it would be prudent to make such pledges. I do have good intentions….but I am the person that walked around with a boarded up bathroom for almost two years. So there you have it. I can be a bit negligent. But I beg your forgiveness and will try to be better. I’m going to start out fresh today with a great recipe for Pretzel Dogs!
At this point, I don’t know if I even need to say one other word, their name says it all. Who doesn’t love those big soft chewy salty pretzels? And hot dogs? We loooove hot dogs in this house. I’ve posted quite a few hot dog blogs in the past, like how ’bout those Bacon Wrapped Dogs,
Yup, we’re big fans. I just told you we were recently off visiting Iceland. Well, as it turns out Icelanders love hot dogs too. There is this famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, in downtown Reykjavik and the husband and I made it a point to stop there every single day for one of their hot dogs with everything (“eina með öllu.” – they have a whole bunch of delicious toppings like mustard, raw onions, crispy onions and some sort of special hot dog remoulade).
And I can truly say the husband and I have never met a pretzel we didn’t like. Usually we nibble on the hard and crunchy store-bought variety, but certainly do love the big soft and chewy ones. So when I came across a recipe for Pretzel Dogs, I knew without a doubt I would be giving it a whirl. Basically you just make up a yeast dough, similar to what you would do for bread. The thing that magically transforms it into a pretzel is the alkaline bath that it is dipped into prior to baking. That magical soak is crucial for both the texture as well as the color of pretzels. Once that yeast dough is introduced to this bath, the outside of the dough is gelatinized which prevents the usual “springing” of the dough which occurs during baking, giving you the chewy texture, distinct pretzel-y flavour and lovely brown colour. Once upon a time, pretzels were a noticeably darker brown color. This was achieved with a dip in a lye bath – albeit a food grade lye ( sodium hydroxide) bath. Now that stuff, “food grade” or not, is actually quite the hazardous chemical. I’m serious….you can still use it but you’re going to have to go all “Breakin Bad” and wear big rubber gloves and safety goggles when you’re doing your cooking. Personally, I don’t think I need to be that authentic. I’m happy to go with the old tried and true baking soda as a substitute. Everyone has a box of that lingering on their shelves at home. It will definitely give you that lovely soft and chewy brown pretzel crust that you’re longing for without any hazardous chemical concerns.
And now that we’ve covered the pretzel bit, lets not forget that oh so important dog that it is wrapped around. So everyone has their favourite brand, and far be it from me to tell you what you should buy. However I will say, I like a dog that has a bit of flavour and a little snap when you bite into it. Usually we buy Hebrew Nationals, Nathan’s or Boar’s Head brands, but I’ll leave that choice up to you. As far as I’m concerned, you really can’t go wrong with these. Straightforward and easy to make….not to mention so delish! Comfort food extraordinaire! With a little side dish of good ole yellow mustard for dipping, you’re totally set. Don’t even get me started thinking about the spicy nacho cheese dip possibilities. So don’t be a proscrastinator – like yours truly – jump right on this and make up a batch of these comfort food gems today!
8 hot dogs (we love Hebrew National, Nathans and Boars Head)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Kosher salt, for sprinkling
Combine the water, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam. In the meantime, lightly oil a large bowl and set aside.
Using a dough hook, add the flour and melted butter to the yeast mixture on low-speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (about 4 to 5 minutes).
Place the dough in the lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Pour 10 cups of water in an 8 quart pot which has deep sides. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Carefully add the baking soda. The mixture will foam up quite a bit, hence the deep sided pot recommendation. Stir until the soda has dissolved and then lower the heat to medium and keep the solution simmering.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope that’s about 24-inches long. Starting at one end, wrap the dough around the hot dog, pinching each end together so that it’s sealed and stays in place. Take care to make sure you have a good seal or your pretzel dogs will begin to unravel in the baking soda bath. Place onto the baking sheets and repeat with the remaining dough and hot dogs.
Lower the pretzel dogs into the boiling water two at a time and boil for 30 seconds. Using a large flat slotted spatula, remove them from the water and place on the baking sheets. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the coarse kosher salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Winter just won’t let go. We’ve had freezing rain, sleet, an ice storm and 8″of snow this week, not to mention that I have heard that the temperature is going to plunge down to 11° F (-12°C) tonight. I don’t know about you, but I think that seems a tad chilly for March. I guess there’s nothing to be done. Winter won’t leave until it is good and ready. So in the meantime I guess I’ll have to keep those ‘warm you up” recipes coming. I’ve got a great one for you today. Pan Haggerty. This dish, cooked and served in the same pan, is made up of potatoes, sauteed onions, bacon and cheese. Sounds great huh?
Now there does seem to be some controversy whether it is an Irish dish or a British dish which hails from Northumberland. Seems everyone has a claim to it. I even read that sure it is associated with Northumberland, but that it was brought there by the Irish when they came to work in the mines. I don’t think it’ll ever be proven one way or another. But what I can tell you for certain is this rich, buttery, cheesy dish is definitely a winner! Served as a main dish or as a side, it is comfort food at its finest. And I think we could all use a bit of that right about now!
5-6 potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds (White potatoes or Yukon Gold – not Russets)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cups grated Dubliner cheese (or substitute in your favourite)
Preheat oven to 375° F.
In an oven-proof skillet, I prefer cast iron, over medium heat, heat a small amount butter. Add the onions and a pinch of white sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove onions from pan and place in a small bowl. In the same pan, fry the bacon until browned and slightly crisp. Remove from the pan and combine in the bowl with the reserved onion and fresh thyme leaves.
In the same pan used to cook the bacon, arrange a layer of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the onion/bacon mixture. Add another layer of potatoes and another 1/3 of the bacon/onion mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add another layer of potatoes and the final 1/3 of the onion/bacon mixture. Top with a final layer of potatoes.
Cover the pan with a lid or a piece of tin foil and reduce the heat to a low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the bottom layer of potatoes are golden.
Uncover the pan and place the skillet in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and top with grated cheese.
Return pan to the broiler and heat until cheese is melted and and edges of potatoes are crisped, about 5 minutes more. To serve, cut wedges from the pan.
So did you ever have one of those weeks? You know the thing. That day where you wake up late and then the Starbucks dude gets your order really wrong leaving you with a cup of really expensive yet undrinkable liquid that you just stare at whilst you sit in the biggest traffic jam since cars were invented as the needle on your gas gauges sinks ever lower past E. Yup one of those days…times 5!!! I swear without going into detail, or calling specific folks out (I’m ever so tempted…), every day of that week kept getting slightly more irritating than the previous for both the husband and myself. Yup, it wasn’t just one of us who was suffering a misalignment of the stars, both of us were. So I knew that once the weekend arrived (and boy did it ever take its sweet time showing up) I would have to start it off with some seriously delicious comfort food to give us both a much-needed attitude adjustment. For those of you who have been following me, you know I just told you about some Maple Bacon Biscuits which could stop you dead in your tracks. Those were actually just the first part in operation “forget the past week ever existed”. This week was soo annoying that biscuits, not even those little treasures, couldn’t perk us up all on their own. So what was a girl to do? Well, I reached for the booze of course. A big old bottle of beer to be specific. And the bit I didn’t chug right away (I sure did…morning time be damned. It had to be after 5 some where…), I poured into the unbelievable creamy spicy batch of Sausage Gravy that I was cooking up to grace those lovely biscuits. Biscuits & Gravy.
Wait….Maple Bacon Biscuits & Beer Sausage Gravy! Yup…that was the kind of dreadful week we had, only a combo of pork products, biscuits, gravy & beer could take its sting away. And you know…it pretty much worked. At least we cared less about it all during the time it took us to savour every delicious bite. I think we may have even licked our plates clean! So if you’re ever in need of some serious stick to your ribs, down home style comfort food, look no further. You’ll be feeling right in no time with a big old plate of Biscuits with Beer Sausage Gravy.
1 teaspoon “extra special sausage gravy seasoning” (recipe listed below)
3 -4 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves only)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
8 -9 Biscuits of your choice ( I seriously recommend those Maple Bacon Biscuits I just told you about)
Place a large frying pan on the stove over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan and set aside. Keep grease in the pan and add the butter and allow it to melts. Slowly add the flour, stirring the whole time until a smooth paste forms. Increase heat to high, add beer slowly, whisking continuously. Continue whisking and add milk. Keep stirring until all lumps are gone. Continue cooking over high heat and bring gravy to a boil. This will thicken it up a bit.
Reduce heat to low and add fresh thyme, seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired for a kick). Taste gravy and season with more salt or pepper if needed. Add sausage back to pan and stir until well incorporated. Keep warm over low heat and serve over or on the side of the biscuits.
Extra-Special Gravy Seasoning
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
Mix all of the spices together. Store excess spice for use the next time you need a little biscuits and gravy comfort!
I’m sure you know by now, that dang critter saw his shadow. Yup…SIX, count ’em…six more weeks of this bizarro Winter! Boo!!! I kind of had a feeling it wasn’t done with us yet. So looks like we’ll have to hunker down for just a bit longer. This Tater Tot Casserole is the perfect comfort food to help you get through it.
I’m not even going to try to pretend this casserole is healthy or good for you in any way. I’m quite sure it is not. But let me tell you…it is oh so good. Gooey, creamy, savoury, cheesey, tater-tot-y bliss! Just the thing to warm you up and soothe those nerves on one of these frigid winter nights.
And one of the truly awesome things about this casserole is that it freezes fantastically well. So once you are going to all the trouble to make it (uh…it is really not very much trouble…) you can make an extra pan of it and just pop it in the freezer. You will be so happy that you did because the next time you have one of those days…you know the kind…made even worse by the icy roads, frozen pipes and kids being home from school for the second week straight…all you’ll have to do is pull that bad boy out of the freezer and place directly in the oven. There you have it…comfort food therapy on the way! And while the family thinks you’re busy “preparing” dinner, you can have a moment or two to yourself. All alone…Well, alone except for that glass (or should I say bottle) of wine… Just kidding! I know you wouldn’t do that. I’m sure it is obvious to everyone that a tall, frosty beer (or say six…one for every extra week of Winter) would be a much better pairing with this dish! Hope everyone enjoys their extended weeks of Winter!