A Salad with Science: Melon Salad Agridolce

The first week in June, I had the opportunity to attend a super-swank reception for a bunch of sponsors because the boss was giving a wine and food pairing talk, headlining as their entertainment for the night. We keep a few good basic smell and taste demonstrations for these kinds of things, and it was my responsibility to prepare them and help set up. As a reward, I got to stay through an absolutely fantastic catered dinner.
I unfortunately couldn't take pictures of the meal due to the working part, but the salad was so awesome I wanted to recreate it on my own, and here's my attempt and additions.

This beautiful jumble of greens, fruit, cheese and nuts - all of which on their own are good with wine, and together make a great starter or even main salad - is just such an awesome combination. What's really cool about the salad, though, is that it echoed some points she went over in the lecture.
- Salt inhibits bitterness. We do this demo in the lab with raddichio and kosher salt; simply take a bite of raddichio, rate the bitterness, then add a tiny bit of salt, taste and rate again. I like a small sprinkling of salt over my lettuce greens, in addition to the salty note you get from the cheese.
- Fat provides a good opportunity to smooth out tannins. In the lab, we demonstrate this using q-tips soaked in tannic acid, but you can note the dry mouth feel after a very tannic wine, or even the walnuts in the salad. Eating something fatty before or alongside, like the cheese, helps to prevent this a bit. And bread, not water, is your best bet for replenishing the lubricating proteins if you have a very tannic wine.
- A salad with a vinaigrette paired with a wine will make the wine taste vinegary. To avoid this, she recommended using a less harsh vinegar, like balsamic, or replacing the vinegar in the salad dressing with the wine you're drinking. This avoids any conflicts. I actually found the WishBone salad spritzer in the red wine vinaigrette did a good job of getting the light coating and flavor I wanted for an individual salad, but if I were making for a crowd I'd toss the greens with a red wine and olive oil dressing before plating with the fruit.
In case you're curious, the red wine served at the tasting was a Le Colombier Vieilles Vignes Vacqueyras Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was darned good with the salad.

Inspired by Provence Catering, Philadelphia

salad for one
two to three large handfuls mesclun greens
red wine dressing or vinaigrette of your liking
pinch of salt and fresh grinding black pepper
1 ripe nectarine
1/5 small honeydew melon, preferably room temperature
1 tablespoon dried wild blueberries, or 2-3 Tbsp fresh blueberries
3-4 thin slices asiago cheese
6 or so toasted or lightly candied walnut halves, broken into pieces

Arrange the greens in a large bowl. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and grind over some black pepper. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat.
Cube or thinly slice the nectarine and melon: the fruit can be arranged alongside or around the greens, or you can toss them together for a less formal but just as tasty rendition. Sprinkle over the blueberries and walnuts. Cheese may be arranged alongside in slices, or can also be shaved over the top of the salad.

**update: for other cool food, wine, and science stuff, check out the 3-part story by Mike Steinberger here, who actually apparently visited Monell and got to do a bunch of our taste-tests. Found through Serious Eats.


Lunchbox: Amansala Ginger Salad

I've been hooked on the idea of ginger salads since my boss took me to Rangoon to celebrate my acceptance to grad school. She's a decided foodie, and knows all the great spots in the city I've never even heard of, and knows the owners from way back. So while I chimed in on going for the lentil fritters and the pork in pickled mango curry sauce, when she said we simply had to get the tea leaf salad and the ginger salad, both of which Rangoon is well-known for, I trusted her judgment. Both were excellent - similar ingredients, but the tea leaves had a distinct earthy sort of flavor, while the ginger salad was lighter and spunky without the searing taste fresh ginger sometimes has.
Me being me, I wanted to find some way to recreate those delicious dishes, and a few weeks later I noted a recipe on epicurious that sounded a similar base to what I'd had. I tried finding pickled tea leaves to make it even better, but as of yet no luck either finding them or figuring out how to explain what I'm looking for, and it seems the pickling method is a bit involved. Happily, the ginger component - and really, the tea leaves were novel but the ginger just plain tasty - is easy enough to do in home with a bit of patience and makes a great substitute. With a bit of tweaking it comes close to the flavors I enjoyed there. I'm sure some dried shrimp paste or fish sauce would aid in the
authenticity, but I decided to go with the dressing epi posted, and it's really wonderful all on its own.
What I love best about this recipe, in addition to the flavor, is that it's listed for one. This is an uncommon feature among most recipes, sadly even my own, but is great for the lunchbox not only so you know the portion you're doling out but so that it's easy to make fresh and quick each night before. If you can find pre-shredded carrots, you'll save yourself a few minutes, but otherwise the components are simple to prepare.
This summer salad is also as far as I can tell nutritious, picking up points for the lunchbox.
This is one of my new favorite salads, and also a contribution to Salad Stravaganza, an event by Lis of La Mia Cucina to gather a new salad repertoire.

adapted from Bikini Bootcamp via epicurious

salad for one
1 c shredded Napa cabbage
1 c shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 c shredded carrots
5-6 cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 avocado
3-4 ounces shredded cooked chicken
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 T toasted sesame seeds
10 cocktail peanuts or to taste
1-2 tsp pickled ginger strands

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
2 T low sodium soy sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp palm sugar, brown sugar, or honey
2 Tbsp peeled minced ginger
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp water

ginger, from New Asian Cuisine
3 ounces fresh young ginger
1/2 c lime juice

Combine cabbage, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, avocado and chicken in a large bowl. Toss with dressing to taste. Sprinkle with scallion, sesame seeds, peanuts, and pickled ginger strands.
To make the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
To make the ginger: Peel and shred the ginger (the large holes on a box grater work best for this; you want it in shreds rather than grated) and place in a small bowl or a tupperware container you don't mind contaminating with ginger smell. Cover with the lime juice and marinate in the refrigerator for at least three days. Squeeze the shreds from the juice and discard the lime juice. Keeps no more than one week, covered in the refrigerator.


From Retro With Love: Croissants

A while back I was cruising a used bookstore with Mindy K and got really excited over the possibility of old cookbooks. Not just because cookbooks, old or new, are pretty cool stuff, but because they make very good resources for the Retro Recipe Challenge hosted by Laura Rebecca. Mindy kindly pointed out that although she is a faithful reader of this blog, and generally amused or intrigued by my cooking endeavors, some of my retro recipes have turned out less than appetizing. Duly chagrin, I promptly purchased a 1979 Craig Claiborne New York Times cookbook, figuring maybe this time I could turn things around with such a classy number.
This month's challenge was From Retro With Love featuring foreignish dishes. As per the norm, I did a bunch of paging through before settling on a dish of choice, and what a dish indeed: croissants!

I have always thought of croissants as French, but soon learned that they are in fact Hungarian in actual origin, and that they could be from Mars or Venus and I wouldn't really care because they're tasty. I was also surprised to find out that these little guys are not as excruciating as I'd always thought: yes, they take a bit of time, but they were surprisingly easy. I think this is because of the recipe I followed, and that was a close call. NYTimes' method was more similar to croissant recipes in other books I had, but (a) GH looked easier and (b) it had slightly more butter yet about half the flour NY called for. There was no butter packet, no folding and turning, and no shaping and rising. I was so worried I'd end up with flat hockey pucks of butter - especially since yeast is not my forte - but I was delighted with them. Flaky, uberbuttery, layer-y, crisp on the outside and soft inside, and all told pretty darn awesome. I was kind of hoping for big giant fluffy things, but these made gorgeous little sandwiches all the same. I'd recommend this as a good beginner's recipe: it's probably not the quintessential recipe, but it's fun and a lot easier than the finished product looks.
from the Illustrated Good Housekeeping Encylcopedic Cookbook, 1965, Vol.3

1 c milk
1 Tbsp shortening
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 c very warm water, about 105-110 degrees
about 2 1/2 c sifted flour
1 c cold butter
cream, milk, or half-and-half for brushing

DAY ONE: In small saucepan, just scald the milk. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Stir in the shortening, sugar, and salt. Let cool until lukewarm.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the dry yeast onto the warm water. Stir until dissolved and let stand.
When milk is lukewarm, stir in yeast. Stir in enough of the flour to make a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough into a large greased bowl and turn once to grease all sides. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and then refrigerate about 2 hours.
Next, cream the butter until easy to spread. On lightly floured surface, roll and pat dough into rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Spread with one fourth of creamed butter. Fold one third of rectangle over center third, fold other third of dough over this, like a letter for an envelope, making 3 layers.
Again roll out dough into rectangle 1/4 inch thick; spread with one fourth of creamed butter. Repeat folding, rolling and spreading twice. Fold; wrap dough in waxed paper and refrigerate.
DAY TWO: Divide dough in half. Roll each half into 15x10 inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds crosswise, and cut each third diagonally to make triangles. Roll up each triangle from longest side.
Curve each triangle to make a crescent shape. Place with point of triangle underneath onto ungreased baking sheet (I used a nonstick AirBake pan). Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, start heating oven to 400 F. Brush crescents with cream, milk, or half-and-half. Bake about 20 minutes at 400 F and reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
To freeze: Cool, wrap in foil, and freeze. For serving, place still wrapped croissants on baking sheet and bake at 400 25 minutes.
Makes 2 dozen smallish croissants.


Lunchbox: Citrus-Roasted Salmon and Asparagus

The last time at TJ's, I picked up some gorgeous looking sockeye salmon fillets, which have a beautiful color and flavor but are not as prohibitively expensive as the Copper River ones coming up. I dusted off a Martha cookbook I'd asked for for Christmas - somehow the winter recips didn't get me going, but there's some lovely spring entrees hidden in there. This one is a gem, and supersimple to do.

I made this twice during the week - I don't like to keep cooked fish around for very long in the fridge, and it really doesn't take long to put together. The first time (above) I put the asparagus under the fruit. It turned out well, but was slightly overcooked. Second time I roasted the asparagus on top of the fruit while waiting for the salmon to come to room temperature, and this worked much better - you already have to wait around with that time, and the asparagus can be cooked to your liking. If you're like me and planning to reheat it for lunches, undercook it a bit so it won't get destroyed by the microwave. And don't be shy with the white pepper; its kick really put this dish over the top.

adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2005

for two lunch portions:
1 6-7 oz fillet of salmon, boned
1 large navel orange
1 lemon
few drops lime juice or 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper
heaping 1/2 tsp coriander seed
extra virgin olive oil
16-20 asparagus spears
salt and pepper

Pat salmon dry with paper towels and place skin side down in a nonreactive dish large enough for it to lay flat.
In a small bowl, finely grate the zest of the orange and lemon (and lime if using - I forgot, so I just used the juice). Stir in the salt, sugar and pepper. Crush the coriander seed with a meat mallet and add to the bowl. Stir together, along with about four drops of lime juice if using.
Rub spice blend all over salmon flesh. Cover with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Wipe spice blend from salmon with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a small baking pan with foil or spray with nonstick cook spray. Slice the orange and lemon into about 1/4 inch thick slices and lay in the bottom of the pan. Arrange the asparagus spears over the fruit. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, turn to coat. Roast the asparagus at 400 F about 7-8 minutes or until done to your liking.
Remove the asparagus from atop the fruit slices and set aside. Rub the salmon with some olive oil and transfer to the pan on top of the orange and lemon. If the fillet is not of an even thickness, curl thinner sections under (note the left side above). Roast until cooked through, 15-17 minutes.
Divide the salmon and asparagus into two portions; leftovers reheat for about a minute and forty-five in a high microwave.


Craving in Overdrive: Oreo Cheesecake Brownies

There are sometimes when a woman just needs chocolate. Lots of it.

In particular, since starting the chocolate craving study at work, I have never wanted chocolate more. There are hundreds of little individual chocolates all around me all day long, and I cannot eat a single one of them. Last week I couldn't take it any longer, and I needed to bake something. Something very much chocolate.
After seeing all the inspired entries for last month's Browniebabe, a new monthly hosted by Myriam of Once Upon A Tart, there are no shortage of recipes I want to try. But I figured as long as I was baking, I might as well blog it too and join in the fun.

There's a standard brownie recipe I almost always use: I like it, it works, and I've never branched out too much after finding it. Eight ounces chocolate, two cups sugar, two sticks butter, six eggs - no wonder it's good enough to keep coming back to. But perhaps due to discovering recently that oreos in milk taste good (yes! crazy, I know), I had oreos on the brain, and started thinking about putting them in the brownie.
It turns out like so many great ideas, many people have done this before. And I appreciate their efforts, but was kind of disappointed that my great original idea wasn't really all that original. But then while idly clicking on images, I came across a description of an oreo brownie and a picture so pretty I didn't just want chocolate, or a brownie, or even an oreo anymore, I wanted that oreo brownie. Go look. You'll see what I mean.
I could not find a recipe for that brownie, and would not be satisfied with anything less - so I made one. It has chocolate in gobs: dark chocolate too, and tons of oreos. Nestled in between the chocolate layers is a thin layer of cream cheese cheesecake mixture, to add excitement and a different texture. It satisfies cravings for chocolate, brownies, oreos, and the baking bug, all in one pan. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

adapted from Good Housekeeping's classic brownies and the Betty Crocker Cookie Book

1 c butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used a 70%; the brownies are also good with a semisweet if dark's not your thing)
2 1/4 c sugar
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt (I still like vanilla salt for baking)
1 1/4 c flour
24 oreos
cheesecake layer
14 oz cream cheese
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 -1/2 c sugar (I used the lower amt)
1 T flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 9x13 baking pan.
In a measuring cup or large bowl, crush the oreos - I found stomping them with the end of a wooden spoon worked pretty well, just don't reduce them all to bits - to a consistency of your liking. You should have about 2 1/2 cups. Set aside.
For the brownies: In a 3-4 qt saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and the chocolate, stirring every so often that it doesn't stick or burn. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool until just over warm, about 5-7 minutes.
Whisk in the sugar, then beat in the eggs two at a time and stir until well blended. Stir in the vanilla and the salt. Fold in the flour until just blended. Stir in 1 cup of the crushed oreos.
For the cheesecake: In a mixer bowl or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium high until lightened and smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla, sugar, and flour and stir until smooth, making sure there are no lumps.
Assembly: Pour about half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Gently spoon and smooth the entire cheesecake layer over the brownie batter. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake layer and carefully smooth it out so the layers remain distinct. Once the top is even, sprinkle the remaining crushed oreos over the batter.
Bake in the 350 oven for 45-55 minutes (cover the pan with foil if it seems like cookies are burning), or until a tester comes out almost fully clean. Cool fully in the pan and cut. Store brownies at room temperature; if keeping for longer than one-two days store brownies covered in the refrigerator. Because of the cheesecake layer, I like these best at room temperature or even from the fridge, when both layers get firm and the cream cheese taste is heightened.


Last Week's Lunchbox: Stories and Mango Salad

I'm at work right now, using my lunchbreak to make an entry. Work is awesomely busy recently, and while very satisfying to have something to do during the day especially in the countdown to grad school (classes start end of August!) eating has become secondary, something to do on the go between subjects. This is so vastly different from what I'm used to that it is almost puzzling, and I realize I am insanely spoiled by a 35-hr work week in a mildly paced environment. The reason things picked up is because we're currently running a study on chocolate craving, and it's a pretty hot topic. The only thing I don't like is there are literally pounds of chocolate in my office, and I cannot eat any of them but instead must talk to other people all day about chocolate. It is good, but it is also very bad.
Several things involving food happened to me recently.
The first: I totally missed Elena's Muffin Monday 2, and I even made muffins but just didn't get it all together to get them. So here they are: Nigella Lawson's Peanut Butter and Snickers muffins, straight from How To Be A Domestic Goddess. After I let them sit for a day, I can assure you: yes, they are every bit as good as pb and snickers sounds. They are goopy burnt caramelly peanutty bits of delightfulness.

The second: I ate Oreos dipped in milk for the first time ever over last weekend. You know what? They're actually pretty tasty. Seems there's a reason all of America eats them that way. I am still not budging over the milk in cereal thing, though - that's still flat-out wrong.
The third: Last week I took a trip to Trader Joe's to find - of all things - chocolate for work. They didn't have the chocolate, but they did have lots of stuff I wanted including a mango chili vinegar which I'm going to get to later. I went to check out, and the very nice cashier man got all excited when I hit an even dollar amount. I didn't get it, but he explained that that means I got three Tiki Tosses (read: Nerf basketball) and I could win a free item up to $7 if I got it in. I missed horrendously, but the kind manager let me do a total girly underhand throw that somehow wormed its way in. I was torn between being thrilled that I won and embarassed that it took such a wimpy way out to do it, but hey, free stuff makes up for a lot. I sat my groceries down with the cashier and perused the shelves a bit, and ended up with a package of beef. I went to show it off, they were all very excited for me and were about to wave me off. Except that none of us could find my groceries. It seems the woman behind me must've taken my bag. I then had to reshop for all my groceries. Everyone was incredibly sweet about it, laughing with me instead of at me - even while I threw the basketball - and not only did I finally get my groceries and my free bool kogi/bulgogi, the manager gave me a bouquet of mini white roses for my patience. People: seven bucks goes a long way. I'd never heard of this before. I love them.
I have also decided I love mango chile vinegar and urge you to seek it out. It is tasty beyond belief.
Once I had it, I knew it deserved a dish to stand out in. Sometimes, when you think about concocting something in your head without having tried it, you make it and it comes out really, really bad. I know, I've been there, and I've made some really hideous things that originally sound great (beer cheese soup, anyone?).But sometimes you think about it, and you try it, and it's so good I can't be bothered to write more because I want to lick my Tupperware. It is a mango salsa with everything that my grocery store had on sale for Cinco de Mayo, and a conglomeration of several different recipes - I couldn't decide what one sounded best so I threw everything in together. It is loaded. It is sweet. It is spicy. It is savory. It is smooth and it is crunchy. And it is here, pictured sans avocado and tomato so they don't get soggy. It is this week's (ok, ok, last week's) Lunchbox.


2 Tbsp mango chile vinegar, or other fruit or white wine vinegar plus some chile flakes
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
salt and pepper to taste
1 large ripe mango
1/2 English cucumber
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 c frozen sweet corn, thawed
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 small ripe tomatoes
1 ripe avocado

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and lime juice. Slowly, while whisking, drizzle in the oil. Using a fork, whisk in the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dice the mango. (For useful mango-preparation tips, check out Rachel of Coconut and Lime's recent helpful post - I wish I'd found it sooner!) Seed the cucumber and dice. Add the mango, cucumber, beans, corn, scallions and cilantro to the bowl with the vinegar dressing. Gently fold to combine.
Before serving, dice the tomato (seed it if you like) and avocado and gently fold to combine in with the other ingredients.
The salad recipe makes two very generous portions, and will keep refrigerated and covered for a few days if you don't have the tomato and avocado in already. I ate it with some seared swordfish sprinkled with more vinegar, but it would go well with almost any fish and chicken as well for the summer.


An Appetitive Decision: Staying Put

Last Thursday, with a total of two acceptances, one rejection, and one who knows, I put in my final choice for the local school over the ivy, and I’m thinking of it as the road less traveled. Academia is a funny profession, and I don’t have the all or nothing mentality to getting the Ph.D.: it’s something I definitely want to do, but it’s not the only thing I want to do, or even my main goal out of life, and I think I've chosen a program that appreciates that. I love the area I’m currently in and I love the idea of being close to those I love. I’ve always excelled at being a student and I’m still naïve enough to think that I can make it in either program, and the material here will be less social neuroscience and more social choose-your-own-adventure. I still need to get out of thinking that this program will be easier – in very many ways I certainly hope it will be but a dissertation is still a dissertation, and awful daunting at that. On some days I still have my doubts as to whether I’m completely crazy to spend the next five years on a crap stipend working statistical equations and preparing for oral presentations. But overall, I feel this is one of the best things I could have done at this point. So come fall, I’ll be back in school, starting in on more research (some of which may possibly be under my avenue of interests), and not moving five hours away. This is absolutely positively thrilling.
With that in mind, the future of appetitive behavior is uncertain. The blog has, at this time, over 100 posts and one year under her belt, and I could not have done it with the wonderful visitors who over that year have offered feedback, encouragement and inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you for leaving your kind words and making me a part of your world. The next year remains to be seen: as much as I enjoy my little blog here, I know I’ve become derelict as of late and I also know that (a) I’ll be eating a lot more pb&j than I do now and (b) if psych hwk calls, this’ll be the first free-time to go. I’m really hoping it won’t come to that, and in the meantime, I plan to do a lot of cooking.

Sunday actually I did quite a massive lot of cooking. Being that it was complete crap outside in South Jersey, Sara and I didn’t meet up like we were going to and consequently I had a lot of free time. During the course of the day I crock-potted a chicken with lime and cilantro (from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman, which I am really enjoying. the chicken is hands-down simplistic and returns big for minimum cost and effort, and came out absolutely freaking awesome. I am amazed at what you can put in a crock-pot) to shred for tacos. For this week’s lunchbox I roasted sweet potatoes in the oven, parcooked some haricot verts, and pounded a pork tenderloin (cut one pound into five; you’ll get about a 3-ounce protein serving and stretch the meat) for pork medallions with chili-maple sauce, straight from this month’s Bon Appetit. Lunch has not been this exciting all month. And for this week’s breakfasts as a respite from eggs, I stuffed pears with sausage.

These are D’Anjou pears, which were a lovely green-skinned pear when fresh and somehow turned rather brown during cooking. Ignore it: these little guys are tasty. The original recipe is here at Chow.com and I think their pears look better but maybe some lemon juice brushed on would eliminate some of the browning. I used lean maple sausage and threw in a bunch of Bell’s poultry seasoning, sage, and some fresh parsley. I also skipped the egg because I didn’t have one but I think it would help the consistency, and went with about half or less the amount of breadcrumb. For breakfast, one small pear (two pear halves) with the sausage stuffing keeps me pretty full and is a really nice make-ahead hot breakfast. I was tired yesterday after a full day’s cooking, but oh-so-grateful this morning. If you're looking for something a bit different and savory and sweet all at once, I recommend giving it a go.

Cure Nostalgia with Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is not something I ever ate growing up, so I’m not sure you can call it nostalgia per se (which interestingly, according to Wiki, was once a medical condition - I love the random things I learn when blogging) when it’s not a childhood fondness like that. I did have it a few times out at college, when a housemate used to spend her afternoon kindly cooking a house dinner, and she would make the Rachael Ray 30-minute meal version.
But when you want comfort food, this is about it. I’d been thinking chicken soup and somehow wound up wanting this big-time. It’s relatively quick and cheap and easy, but what I also remembered is how the chicken always seemed a bit tough. With all due respect to Liz and Rachael, I kept everything but the chicken for this dish. The chicken I went with whole breasts for poaching. It won't keep you within the 30 minutes, but this, I am convinced, is the ideal in every sense: you’re poaching chicken as you would in a more traditional recipe, which keeps it moist and juicy, but because it’s just the breasts you cut back on the time that a whole chicken would take, plus it’s leaner from skipping the dark meat. Bonus points in that you can buy whole breasts for about half the cost of tenderloins, and if you poach them you take the meat off afterwards which means no raw chicken to handle. I have a thing about raw chicken: I don’t like it.

Bisquick dumplings, I don’t know how to explain. Yes, they’re quick, but logically probably not much less time than from scratch, and I actually do rather like the way they taste, sacrilege or no. They do fall apart made according to the box, especially if you reheat it later on, which is perhaps why RR calls for less liquid in her recipe. Suit yourself on the dumplings. They look rather mushed up in the picture below, but actually they come out quite fluffy, which is a good contrast to the vegetables and creamyish sauce.

This tasted exactly as I remembered it, except much much better. I’m already wanting to make another batch as I write this up.

adapted from Rachael Ray and FN

Optional: tops of celery leaves, handful baby carrots, 3 garlic cloves (peeled and split), several sprigs fresh parsley, 1 Tbsp butter
4 c fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 c white wine
about 1.5 lbs split chicken breasts with skin and bone

vegetables (or use pkg frozen mixed vegs, or mix of vegs of your choice)
1 c sliced baby carrots
2 ribs celery, diced
half of a bag frozen whole baby onions
1 heaping cup frozen corn
1 c frozen peas

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 medium bay leaves
2 Tbsp flour
salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste (I like Bell’s)
reserved quart of poaching liquid (if you do not have a full quart, make up the difference with additional broth or water)
poached chicken

2 c bisquick mix
½-2/3 c 1% milk
handful fresh parsley, chopped
tsp or so dried dill

To poach the chicken: if using the optional ingredients, melt the butter in a 3 ½-4 qt pot. Add the carrots, garlic and celery leaves and pan-fry in the butter for about 4-5 minutes (if they start to brown a bit, so much the better). Remove from heat, let cool several minutes.
Scoot the pile of carrots and such to the sides of the pot and place the chicken, skin side up, on the bottom of the pot. Pour the chicken broth and wine over and add in the parsley. The liquid should at least cover the chicken; if not, add a bit more of whatever – broth, wine, water. Remove the chicken to a bowl and place the pot of liquid over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, immediately reduce heat to a very gentle simmer, and add in the chicken. Keep at a very low simmer – you should see bubbles in the liquid but they should not break the surface – for 14 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let cool in the liquid in the pot for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove chicken from liquid. Strain and reserve the liquid and discard solids; you should have about 1 qt. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones and chop or shred into small pieces.

Melt oil and butter together in a large stockpot. Add the carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves and sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender. Season mixture with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add in the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add in the reserved quart of poaching liquid and bring to a boil. Add the poached chicken pieces and stir.
To make the dumplings: stir bisquick mix, parsley and dill together in large bowl. Add the milk and stir. Dollop dough by spoonfuls on top of boiling chicken stew. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 8-10 minutes.
Just before serving, mix in the frozen corn and peas and stir gently to warm vegetables and thicken mixture.