Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

This was one of my dad’s favorite dishes that I can remember from my childhood. It was usually always served for his birthday and maybe one other time a year, but this was not something typically made in the home. For me, Chicken and Dumplings is comforting and healing the way Matzo Ball Soup is for my Jewish friends. I simply cannot get enough and there is no pot that can ever make enough dumplings.

I think it’s because the length of cook time can be incredibly long if you make your own chicken stock (which I cannot recommend enough). But if you utilize a pressure cooker, this dish can be put together in about 75 minutes from start to finish. And if you don’t have a pressure cooker, do yourself a favor and still make your own chicken stock ahead of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 lbs chicken, shredded
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp thyme, fresh
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4c chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place the chicken stock and shredded chicken in a large stock pot. You can add some of the vegetables from the chicken stock or you can add some fresh celery, carrots, and/or onions to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. If adding fresh vegetables, allow 20 minutes or so to soften before eating.

2. Place the butter in the bottom of a medium size stock pot over high heat. When the butter has mostly melted, add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. The flour will immediately soak up the liquid and form a dough. Cook this until the color turns a mustard-ish yellow.

3. Place the dough in a mixing bowl with the two eggs. Mix with a hand mixer until the mixture just comes together. The batter should be thick like cake batter. You do not want to over mix this. Season with pepper if you wish. Add the thyme to the dough and fold in with a wood spoon.

3. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the simming chicken stock. When you have filled the pot, cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow the dumplings to cook for 10 – 15 minutes until they are puffed, but firm.

4. Ladle the soup mixture into a wide mouth bowl. Ensure everyone gets a sufficient amount of dumplings. Garnish with more fresh thyme.


It’s very easy to make your own chicken stock. I’m as guilty as every one else in that I just don’t want to be troubled. You have to buy the ingredients, simmer for hours upon hours, and in the end, you still have to put the stock into containers and freeze them. This is not nearly as easy as picking up a box at the supermarket that you can keep in your pantry until you open it.

But in the spirit of healthier living, I wanted to experiment with making my own stock. The results were astonishing and I don’t think I can ever really go back to the boxed version unless I’m in a pinch. The flavor is much more rich and if you have a particular palette, you can tailor the stock to your exact specifications. Have a low sodium diet? This would work wonderfully for you too.

To speed up the process, I’ve used my pressure cooker here which cuts the entire experience and saved me more than 3 hours.


  • 3 – 4 lbs chicken legs or thighs
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 8 peppercorns

1. Place the chicken in bottom of your pressure cooker. Cover with the vegetables, pepper corns, and 2 tbsp salt. Pour in 2 quarts of water (it should cover everything). Close the lid of the cooker and bring up to high pressure. When the pressure cooker is steaming, lower the heat to the lowest setting and allow to cook for 45 minutes.

2. After releasing the steam safely, line a colander with cheese cloth and place over another large pot or container. Pour the contents of the pressure cooker into the colander and let strain for 5 minutes. Keep the chicken for a future meal. Or, if you are making soup or chicken and dumplings perhaps, these vegetables are wonderful additions.

3. If you want to remove a large portion of the fat, let the chicken stock cool and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the fat will have hardened which you can remove easily.

4. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to a week or freeze up to 6 months.

I will never buy enchilada sauce again. There is always too much salt, never enough spices, and I don’t appreciate the level of heat when I have to pick between mild (too little) and hot (too much). I prefer a more subdued, whole-mouth spice, whereas much of the current enchilada sauces utilize cayenne pepper to supply heat. Cayenne is just painful too me and not enjoyable.


  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 6 oz water

1. Place a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat. Melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together. Allow the roux to cook, constantly whisking, until the color changes from pale yellow to dirty blond.

2. Add the chile powder, cumin, sugar, and cinnamon to the roux. Whisk together. Add the chicken stock to the spiced roux and whisk together. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil.

3. When the mixture has thickened slightly, add the tomato paste and water to the sauce. Whisk until the tomato paste has been incorporated into the sauce. Bring the sauce back to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 10 minutes.

4. Use the sauce immediately or allow to cool. This sauce will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week or you can freeze in an airtight container.

If you’ve never tried sushi, you probably think of raw fish and it gives you the willies. I can understand that. The first time I heard of sushi, I got creeped out at the idea of consuming raw fish. It just seemed so unnatural. So when faced with a potential social ostracizing at a 3am stop to a sushi bar in college, I ordered the only thing I knew had 0% raw fish: the California Roll.

Ingredients (makes 1 roll)

  • 1c cooked sushi rice
  • 1/2 sheet nori
  • 2 sticks imitation crab meat
  • 1 oz cucumber slices
  • 1 oz avocado slices
  • toasted sesame seeds

1. Wrap your sushi mat in plastic wrap. Set the nori sheet textured side up and spread sushi rice on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.

2. Flip nori sheet over so the rice is face down on the plastic wrap. Place the cucumber, avocado, and crab meat down the center of the nori sheet.

3. Using the Sushi mat to help you, roll the top of the nori over the fillings. Use your fingers to keep the filling in place. Complete your roll and squeeze firmly.

4. Slice into six pieces and serve alongside wasabi and pickled ginger.

The spicy maki roll has always disappointed me at sushi restaurants. They are rarely spicy, and when they are, the balance is overwhelmingly bland. My version of the spicy salmon roll uses the Thai chili paste sriracha to bring whole mouth heat to the party. When you make this, use the chili paste sparingly as it packs one heck of a punch and you can always add more later if you so desire. If you prefer smaller rolls, cut the recipe in half and make your rolls on half sheets of nori.

Ingredients (makes 2 large rolls)

  • 1/2 lb sushi grade salmon
  • 3c cooked sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 sheet nori
  • 1 small serrano pepper

1. On a cutting board, mince the salmon into small chunks. Mix the minced salmon with the mayonnaise and sriracha.


2. On a sushi mat, place the nori shiny side up. Spread the rice on the nori. Place the salmon mixture on the middle of the rice leaving a 1/2″ border from the edges. The salmon mixture will spread with you make the roll.

3. Roll the nori using your fingers to try to keep the salmon in place. It will want to come out the sides. It’s okay, you can stuff it back in later. Squeeze the roll with the mat.

4. Cut the roll into six pieces. Top with thin slices of Serrano peppers.

A Spider Roll is typically made by frying a soft shell crab, and then placing it in the roll so that the legs hang out the edges. The roll is usually cut so that the end pieces can be laid down leaving the legs to hang in the air. This version eliminates the frying and replaces the soft shell crab with lump meat. Therefore, I refer to it lovingly as the Fake Spider Roll.

Ingredients (makes 1 large roll)

  • 1 full sheet nori
  • 1 1/2c cooked sushi rice
  • 3oz crab meat
  • 2 oz cucumber slices
  • 2 oz avocado

1. Place the nori sheet, textured side down on the sushi mat. Place the cooked sushi rice on top in a single line.


2. With your hand, push the rice across the sheet leaving a 3/4″ border. Place the crab, cucumber, and avocado in the middle.


3. Using the sushi mat, lift the nori over the filling. Use your fingers to keep the filling in place. Complete the roll and squeeze the mat firmly. You should be left with a large roll. If the seam has broken, unroll the sushi, remove some of the filling, and try again.

4. Slice the roll into 10 coins. Serve with wasabi and pickled ginger.

My favorite neighborhood gem in New York was this little sushi place on W Houston St, Ushiwakamaru (Warning: not for the sushi beginner). It’s plainly decorated, and there is no attempt to create any kind of typical restaurant atmosphere, but the food is incredibly delicate and you can’t beat the service.

While eating a late dinner, the sushi chef told me that he spent an entire year learning how to sharpen his knives and slice vegetables. Only when he was able to cut a cucumber into a 10 foot tall paper thin sheet was he able to begin touching the fish. This isn’t bad considering he spent a year and a half before this making rice. This kind of disciplined training is common among sushi masters and something I revere. If you’ve never been to a sushi restaurant, I can tell you that the best seat in the house is not the one you have to tip to Maitre’D for, but it’s sitting right at the bar so you can watch the chefs at work.

With this is mind, today begins Sushi Week! Each day will feature a new roll or appetizer that I have come to know and love. However, I would never leave you stranded on Culinary Island, so in hopes of getting you started, below are two important but basic sushi techniques that you will need to know: making rice and rolling a maki roll.

Making Rice

Rolling a Maki Roll (You can tell this chef has been doing this forever).

Now that you’ve got a better idea of the basics, check out my easy to follow guides for a California Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll, an adaptation to a Spider Roll, and a beautiful Avocado Ball appetizer with grilled shrimp and tuna..