Winter’s Coming: Chicken Paprikash

I grew up in an old and established neighborhood. At the end of our block was the granite stone wall separating us from the Duke University East Campus. The wall was high enough to keep out dogs but not kids dropping their dogs over and running with them on the lush grass beneath old oaks. It was also low enough for adults to shinny over and walk about in peace or picnic or for teens to find a quiet place to smooch under the moon.

The wall also did not separate visiting professors to Duke and when housing permitted, to move into our neighborhood and to share their culture with our Southern culture. When I was around seven, a Hungarian professor moved into the empty Bailey house along with his wife, kids, mother, and goat. The goat sometimes liberated himself and roamed about. Luckily for us, the professor’s mother was often the one to come and retrieve him. An ample and friendly soul, she soon knew everyone and everyone knew her.

Thanks to her, we all became lovers of Gulyás, cheese strudel, dobos cake, stuffed cabbage, Flódni, and….chicken paprikash. Some of the foods we knew but with a different angle instead of Hungarian. She always said, our country may be small but our food is vigorous! And it was.

This week, a local grocery had an amazing sale on whole chickens. Other than roasting, I pondered what to do with the one of several chickens I bought. A cold blustery day I thought, roast chicken…booooring. And then, it hit me – spicy, warming, rich chicken paprikash. Perfect. I cut one of the chickens up and even now, this lovely dish is simmering on my stove top in my cast iron dutch oven. If you or your family likes all the chicken pieces, whole is the cheapest way to purchase. There are a zillion videos on You Tube showing how to cut up a whole chicken. All you need is a good sharp knife. Don’t have one? Really???? Get one. And get some good Hungarian paprika.

For the paprika in this recipe, don’t use your grandmother’s paprika unless your grandmother is Hungarian. The red stuff on most grocery shelves that is mainly used to sprinkle on deviled eggs, the top of potato salad or anyplace you want to add a bit of red color is not the same thing as good quality, smoked, sweet, peppery Hungarian paprika. it is a little bit of an investment, but you will be so glad you invested time to find it and money to buy it. You’ll never go back to bland “paprika” again. You can also purchase online.

There are variations on this dish, of course. A friend of mine from Philadelphia used bacon grease and served over broad egg noodles. Many people do not use the bacon grease and serve with dumplings or spaetzal. However, this is a happy red dish that will warm you inside and out. Eat with a sweet white Hungarian wine or lots and lots of water. Thank you Pieter for this recipe, which you said was handed down from your grandmother.

Chicken Paprikash
2 tbs. bacon grease
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tbs. paprika
1 (2 to 3 pound), whole chicken, cut into pieces, skin intact
1 cup water
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes in juice
2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1(8 ounce) container sour cream (can use low fat)

Directions
Heat bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt, and paprika. Stir together and saute until onion is translucent, using low heat so as not to burn the paprika.  You may need to add a bit more grease or a touch of butter. Add chicken pieces and pour water over all. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.

Stir in tomatoes, reserving liquid. I use whole tomatoes and coarsely chop before adding. You can also used diced tomatoes. Stir tomato liquid into a medium bowl with flour and sour cream; mix until well blended, then slowly add mixture to chicken, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture is thick. Serve with noodles, dumplings, or spaetzal. Serves four.

Public Domain Clip Art

Public Domain Clip Art

Winter’s Coming: Real Homemade Hot Cocoa

On a miserable cold day or evening, few things are as satisfying, flavorful, and aromatic as a cup of hot cocoa. In this day of instant gratification and artificial things like spiced cider powder, it is good to know some things still are best the old fashioned, homemade way. Hot cocoa can be prepared as easily and almost as quickly as ripping open an envelope, pouring out powder, adding water and then nuking in the microwave.

You can use any brand of powdered cocoa – from common to rare, inexpensive to extravagant. I use plain old Hershey’s Cocoa (I am not paid for any endorsement of this product). You can use any milk: whole, skim, half and half, evaporated milk (for a retro take on this classic) milk made from nuts or soy. Sweeteners and how much is up to you: granulated sugar, brown, natural, honey, stevia, agave, honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners. If you have never made hot cocoa, taste as you go as to amount of cocoa and sweetner you like.  Additions of some cinnamon or peppermint extract, schnapps, or crème de menthe, crème de cacao, or a bit of rum adds an adventurous adult twist.

This recipe multiplies easily. One cup is as easy as four. Add a dollop or squirt of whipped cream or a marshmallow to the finished deliciousness for a bit of added decadence. Pour into your special mug, kick back, relax, sip, and let the harsh cold outside world drift away in a cloud of fragrant, gentle, chocolate steam.

Hot Cocoa
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like it) or other sweetener
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk or any combination of milk, half-and-half, or cream or non-dairy “milk”
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation
Whisk together the cocoa, sugar, salt, and about 2 tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the rest of the milk and heat it over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it is hot. Stir in the vanilla and serve. If you like it frothy, blend it in the blender.

public domain vintage clip art

 

Tempting Tuesday: Noodle Kugel

Warm, creamy, sweet noodle kugel is the stuff of dreams. With all the fuss about macaroni and cheese nowadays, noodles are becoming chic again. I’ll take kugel though, any day, any way, anyhow.  Cinnamon, butter, sugar – what’s not to love?

Usually kugel is baked either in a deep casserole baking dish or a standard 9×13 baking pan. The deeper dish makes the custard in which the noodles are put to bed, makes it creamier. This recipe is the result of a most happy accident. My grandma Ninny, of which I have previously written, was putting together baked dishes for a huge family get-together. She mixed up the kugel and realized…oops. The suitable baking dishes are taken. But, the bundt pan was free and clear. She decided to add the brown sugar and pecans just to give it a little extra bling and by golly, history was made in the kitchen that day.

Hanukah and other holidays need kugel. So does Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the third Sunday in January or February – whenever you want the kitchen to be warm and filled with the aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, and butter. I have sometimes not unmolded this and just served it for people to scoop into with the serving spoon, surprising them with the pecans and praline-y crust. However you decide to serve, enjoy and please, try not to eat too much.

Praline Noodle Kugel
3/4 C (1-1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted and divided
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 C pecans coarsely chopped
1 pound egg noodles
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C white sugar
½ c. golden raisins or craisins
2 tsp salt

Start a large pot of water boiling. Preheat oven to 350.
Pour half the melted butter into a 12 cup mold, tube pan, or bundt pan, and swirl around the bottom and up the sides. Mix brown sugar and pecans and press into the sides of the pan into the butter.
Cook the noodles in boiling water, al dente. Drain. In a large bowl, mix hot noodles with a few pats of butter. Mix the noodles with the eggs, the remaining melted butter, raisons, cinnamon, vanilla, white sugar and salt.
Gently spoon noodles into the prepared mold, taking care not to dislodge brown sugar and pecans. Bake at 350 for 1-1/4 hours or until top is brown. Let stand 15 minutes before unmolding. Top will be slightly hard, like a praline.
Serve warm, cold or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.  NOTE: This can be baked in a regular baking dish or casserole. Butter dish and spoon in noodle mixture. Press brown sugar mixture on top of kugel and adjust baking times, until custard Is set, but still jiggely and creamy.  Makes 12 servings.

free clip art photo

free clip art photo

Winter’s Coming: Easy Potato Soup

I was looking through my photo gallery and came across all the pictures of snow from last winter. The chill in the air this morning and leaves changing color and falling from the trees reminded me: Winter’s Coming. Not only the credo of the Stark family in Game of Thrones, it is a simple matter of changing seasons. Life moves on and we adjust.

Cold days and nights + warm soups = comfort. I have for you an easy potato. It is not vegan but it is vegetarian. Of course, you can add some crisp bits of bacon and cheese to it but you don’t have to. A grating of fresh horseradish to the soup adds extra snap. I like this option. Whole milk is used. Using 2% or less results in a less creamy soup but that is an option for you. A heart smart margarine option can also be used in lieu of butter. this is a recipe for two or one huge appetite.

A picture of the snow from last year and picture of little Kanzen when she was six adds to the message: Winter’s coming.

Recipe

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk (2% or less will result in thinner, less creamy soup)cc
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Paprika and minced fresh parsley and minced green onion
Place the potatoes and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until tender; drain and set aside. Coarsely mash with potato masher. How chunky the soup is, is determined by you.

In the same pan, saute onion and celery in butter/margarine until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add the potatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley, minced green onion, and paprika.

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Winter’s Coming: Comfort Food

free clip art

free clip art

Nights are getting cooler and cold, drizzly rain or snow, or sleet is going to start gracing our days and nights. These two recipes pack an anti-cancer POW, give you a crazy good dose of winter vegetables, warm your tummy, and makes your house smell beyond wonderful. Be sure to use the dark green leaves on the outside of the cabbage. For some reason, people toss these wonderful leaves of health and goodness out. Remove the large stem part and chop. This adds great flavor and color to the stew. Feel free to add other vegetables to the roasted vegetable dish: cubed sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli.

Both dishes are vegan, but don’t let that stop you from preparing and enjoying. Something about stews put me in mind of hobbit journeys, semi-lawless olde country taverns and food eaten out of wooden trenchers, and down on the farm, filling comfort food. Add some good bread, a cold glass of apple cider, and you are good to go.

Vegetable Stew
2 large carrots, diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, diagonally sliced into 2 inch pieces
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained
¼ chopped green cabbage
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 – 2 tsp. good Hungarian paprika, smoked or not.

Directions
Combine the carrots, turnips, onion, garlic, tomatoes (with their liquid), cabbage, broth, salt, cumin, and paprika in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours. Add the zucchini and chickpeas and cook 1 hour longer on low. If you are lucky, put into a dutch oven, adding chick peas, cabbage, and zucchini about 30 – 40 minutes before end of cooking and cook in the oven or on top of the stove until veggies are tender and melt in your mouth.

Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 2 tbs olive oil for pan
3 medium carrots (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick circles
1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts (about 1/2 pound), halved
4 cups small yellow or red skin potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
3 medium parsnips (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
1 tsp. each basil, oregano, thyme, minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place vegetables into a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, herbs, oil, and vinegar, toss well. Grease an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet pan with extra-virgin olive oil (I use parchment paper instead of the extra oil). Place vegetables in baking sheet. Add more oil if the vegetables seem dry. Place pan of vegetables the middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

 

 

Vegetable Pot Pie

free Wikipedia image

free Wikipedia image

Where’s the meat???? Well, you don’t need any for this recipe. Vegetable Pot Pie is healthy for people and animals. If you must have meat, add some chunks of cooked chicken. But honestly folks, you don’t need it. Lots of veggies in a warm thick sauce nestled between two pie crusts, making the house smell so good and driving away that cold weather outside.

You can add other veggies of course, but this recipe has classic pot pie veggies and what’s so good about it, you can use frozen bagged vegetable mixtures to save time and effort. And if you are really driven for time and want to simplify it even more, add the equivalent liquid amount of cream of mushroom or celery soup. Not as good and considering how easy it is to make a roux and add liquid, it would be a shame to take the canned soup shortcut.

If you have to cross over from vegan, a good extra touch is about 5 minutes before pulling from the oven, sprinkle a nice amount of grated parmesan or cheddar cheese on the top crust and allow to melt. Serve this with a hearty appetite. Get warm and comfy on the inside and smiley on the outside. Yowzer y’all, it’s good.

Vegetable Pot Pie
1 cup thinly sliced carrots*
1 cup frozen green peas*
1 cup small diced potatoes*
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery*
1/2 cup finely chopped onion* OR
*4 cups of comparable frozen vegetables
1/2 cup butter substitute, or heart smart type margarine
1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper – a few good grinds
good pinch of celery seed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth (I use the water I cooked the vegetables in)
2/3 cup almond milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
Two 9-inch unbaked pie crusts, lard free (I use ready made from the dairy case, room temperature and dusted with a little flour when rolling out)

Directions
Preheat the oven to  400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil to place the pie on before cooking; it will keep any filling from dripping into the oven and burning. In a medium saucepan, combine the vegetables. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in the butter substitute until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, celery seed and garlic powder. Cook for 2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out. Slowly stir in the broth until smooth and then add the almond milk. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained vegetables. Roll out one of the unbaked crusts to a 13-inch diameter and place in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Pour the mixture into the bottom crust. Roll out the second pie crust and place on top. Seal the edges and cut small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. If the top of the pie becomes too dark, loosely cover with foil and continue cooking. Cool for 10 minutes before serving

Super Simple Sunday Supper

So, it is just plain ol’ dreary and cold outside. Spring seems to have sprung everywhere but here. I don’t want an elaborate meal but I do want simple and satisfying. Hence, Chicken and Noodle Casserole served with a tossed salad and Double Strawberry Shortcake. I copied the recipe from back of a Campbell’s Soup can years ago and it has been a mainstay ever since. I made a few slight changes and to healthy it up a bit, I use the mushroom soup that is fat and sodium reduced. I don’t think it makes much difference really, but I feel like I’m doing something! When you read the recipes, you’ll see just how super simple this is. We aren’t going for gourmet, we’re going for yummy, tummy warming, smile making food.  S friend of mine makes this in the skillet after a hard day at work, so you don’t even have to put in the oven!  Sprinkle the bread crumbs over before serving.

You can use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken as well as canned.  I usually do this.

どうぞめしあがれ Douzo meshiagare y’all!

Chicken and Noodle Casserole
1 can cream of mushroom soup (regular or reduced sodium)
½ c. milk (or broth or water)
1 c. frozen peas (or broccoli florets or peas and carrots)
¼ c. chopped onion and celery, sautéed until tender
2 4.5 ounce cans canned chicken or equivalent of cooked chicken
2 c. medium egg noodles cooked and drained
2 tbs. dry bread crumbs
1 tbs. butter melted
Directions
Stir the soup, milk, peas, celery, onion, chicken and noodles in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Triple Strawberry Shortcake
1 qt. fresh strawberries, sliced
Strawberry Ice Cream or frozen yogurt
Slices of pound cake or angel food cake
Whipped cream or whipped topping

Slice and macerate strawberries in about 1/4 cup sugar depending on sweetness of berries. When ready to serve, on slice of cake put scoop of ice cream, top with berries and juice and add dollop of whipped cream.

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