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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings + Little Old Lady Recipes by Meg Favreau (cookbook review)

Chicken and Dumplings
Little Old Lady Recipes
Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom

author: Meg Favreau
publisher: Quirk Books
hard cover: 160 pages

photos: Yes...but not of food...of little old ladies, of course!

chapters/sections: Introduction: What the Heck Happened to Food? - Breakfasts and Coffee Klatch - Soups, Salads, and Casseroles - Appetizers and Refreshments - Suppers and Side Dishes - Sweets and Treats

fantastic features: I love the little quotes of kitchen wisdom gathered from all sorts of "little old ladies"...and the pictures that go with it. I just wish a couple of my favorite little old lady's pictures were in here. They'd fit right would their kitchen wit. One of my favorite little quotes, in the form of the start of a recipe is... "Hot fat is a beautiful thing. Not beautiful like Robert Redford, but a more useful, Clint Eastwood-kind of beauty." I was /thisclose/ to making the recipe for Doughnuts just because this is the way the recipe opened up!

(a few of the) recipes destined for my kitchen: Brown Betty, Frosted Cinnamon Rolls, Cheese Dreams, Dried Beef and Cheese Balls, Pierogies, Bourbon Balls, Hot Slaw, Boston Brown Bread, Goulash

Additional Thoughts: I love the concept for this cute little book. I cherish recipes that have been passed down generation to generation, be they from my family or somebody else's. This book is filled with good, old comfort food that so many of us grew up on. Plus, no shame is shown in the use of lard and butter. That's my kind of food. This book is a lot of fun. But remember, if it's pictures of food you're looking won't find them here. But sassy old ladies abound!

recipe I have already tried: Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings
adapted from Little Old Lady Recipes
serves 4-6

for the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled & sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 quarts chicken broth/stock
1 tablespoon hot sauce
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken (skin removed, & bones too, if you wish)

for the dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion until translucent. Add carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and broth/stock. Bring to a boil. Add hot sauce, a few good grinds of black pepper, and chicken. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ~15 minutes, or until chicken is just done. Remove chicken and shred (remove from bone if you didn't do this before) and add back to broth. Taste and season with more black pepper, and salt if you think it needs it.

While the chicken is cooking, stir together everything for the dumplings and set aside. Once the shredded chicken is back in the pot, bring back to a boil and drop in big spoon-fulls of batter. Put a lid on the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for ten minutes. Serve immediately.
my thoughts on the recipe: Just as it should be, this is a big pot full of goodness and comfort. I used buttermilk in place of regular milk which gave the big, fluffy biscuits a pleasant tang. I also cut back on the celery and added garlic. Because really, what's a bowl of comfort without a bit of garlic!? Lastly, I left the chicken on the bones until after cooking to add extra flavor to the broth...and because I was too lazy to de-bone it before putting it in the pot. 

My sister always tells me that she remembers my mom making this for her when she was sick. I'm thinking that must have been after I was out of the house, because I don't remember that at all. However, I wish I did. Why? Because it's delicious, homey, and sure to ease the symptoms of a cold, a bad day, or a broken heart.

about the author:  Meg Favreau is a writer, comedian, actress, and food enthusiast, and one time eating-contest winner living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on sites including the Huffington Post, McSweeney's, and the Smart Set, and she serves as a senior editor of the frugal-living and personal-finance site Wise Bread.  Meg dedicates this book to her grandmother, whose pie-making skills remain unrivaled, and her mother, who once said, "I want the dedication in your first book to be 'To my mother, who always believed in me.'" (It's true.)

I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.