Vegetarian Chicken and Dumplings

I love the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings in Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine, but my daughter is a vegetarian, so I came up with an alternate version for her, which is basically potato stew. It’s really good, though, and very filling, and uses mostly pantry staples, so I thought I’d share. The dumpling dough recipe is O’Connell’s, but the rest is mine.

Serves 6

Dumpling Dough
3/4 cup milk
3 TB butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup club soda

Potato Stew
3-4 large potatoes (boilers would be good, but all we had were Russets, and they were fine), diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3/4 tsp each dried sage and thyme (or fresh, if you have them)
4 TB butter
4 TB flour
6 cups vegetable broth (it will go faster if you heat it up)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup-ish chopped fresh parsley, again, if you have it
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the milk, butter, and club soda, and mix gently just until everything is incorporated.

3. Cover and let rest 30 minutes or so, while you get everything else ready.

4. Cover the potatoes with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until just cooked through. Toss in the frozen peas at the last minute just to thaw them. Drain and reserve.

5. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in the butter until soft and golden. Add the thyme, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add the 4 TB flour to the pan and cook, stirring often, until light golden. Stir in the broth, a little at a time, until it’s all added. Bring to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.

7. Add the cream, parsley, peas and potatoes. Taste and season as necessary.

8. Bring back to a lively simmer, then drop the dumpling batter in small spoonfuls (it’s supposed to be teaspoons, but that takes forever) on top. Cover and simmer for ten minutes, or until dumplings are cooked all the way through. They should be light, not dense and claggy (that’s a technical term I learned from GBBO).

You want to use a wide pan to cook the stew and dumplings in, so that you can cram as many in as possible. Also, I said to dice the veggies, but if it’s easier to just chop them, go for it. Just keep in mind that the cooking times will change, depending on how large the pieces are.

Peasant Pie

Happy Pi Day! My mom has been a vegetarian for longer than I’ve been alive, and this, along with mushroom stew, was her traditional Thanksgiving dinner. She still makes it every Thanksgiving, but it’s so good that none of us want to only eat it once a year.

Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
16 TB butter (2 sticks)
½ cup buttermilk

Combine the flour and salt. Add the butter (I usually use a food processor, but you can use a pastry cutter or freeze and grate the butter, or your preferred method for pie crust). Gently mix in the buttermilk until a dough forms. Press into two disks and refrigerate while you’re making the filling. This actually kind of makes more dough than you usually need, but you can always find something to do with leftover pie dough.

Filling (part 1, veggies):
4 TB butter
2 onions
½ small head of cabbage
2 peeled potatoes
1 peeled turnip
1 large carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp whole dill seeds
Combine chopped fresh or dried herbs to taste (suggestions: parsley, dill, marjoram, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme)

Slice all vegetables (except the garlic) thinly — I usually break out the mandoline for this. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, add all the rest of the ingredients, plus salt and pepper, and cook, covered, until just tender but not mushy.

Filling (part 2, sauce):
2 TB butter
3 TB flour
½ cups milk
¾ cups broth (veggie or chicken)

Cook the butter and flour over medium heat. Add the milk and broth and cook, stirring, until thick. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste and mix gently with the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Using a deep-dish pie pan, roll half the dough out and line the bottom of the pan. Dump the veggies in and arrange evenly. Roll out the other half of the dough and place on top, crimp the edges together and make slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes or so, then reduce oven to 350° and cook for 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling. Serve warm or hot, with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Potato Gratin

This is a pretty simple side dish to make if you have a mandoline. If you don’t, then the slicing may get a bit tedious.

Serves 4

4 russet potatoes
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1 bay leaf
1 small sprig of rosemary
3 thyme sprigs
1 1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground white or black pepper and nutmeg to taste
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1. Put all of the ingredients except for the potatoes and the cheeses into a pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter a 9″-square casserole, or you can go for a different shape around the same size. If you’re feeling French, you can first rub the pan all over with a cut clove of garlic.

3. Peel the potatoes, and slice them fairly thin, about 1/8″ (this is where the mandoline comes in). When you’re not working with them, keep the potatoes submerged in cold water so they don’t oxidize, but make sure you pat them dry before using them.

4. Arrange the potato slices in the pan, overlapping them, but keeping it to a single layer. Try to fit most of them in, but if your potatoes were on the large size you might have some left over. Strain the cream mixture, and pour it evenly over the potatoes. (If you taste the cream mixture, it will probably be delicious, but too salty. That’s okay, because the potatoes are as yet unseasoned, so it will all work out.)

5. Bake for 45 minutes, and then check it. The top should be browning a bit, and the potatoes should be cooked through (poke the center to make sure). In my experience, how long they take is highly dependent on how tightly packed your potatoes are, so give yourself some wiggle room, they may go longer.

6. Take them out of the oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and either put them back in for a few more minutes to get melty, or heat up the broiler and brown to desired crispiness.

Chickpea Soup for All Souls’ Day

A little late, but, while we’re still in the right season, I wanted to share this soup, from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, which is warm, hearty, vegetarian (in fact, vegan), and tons of flavor for very little effort. You do have to like chickpeas — seriously, it’s just a bowl of chickpeas — and you must use dried ones, not canned.

You’re probably going to look at the recipe and go ‘What? That’s so boring,’ but please, trust me. You are going to love this soup!

Serves 4-6

14 oz. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in the refrigerator in water to cover by 2 inches
Cold water
1 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium to large onion, minced
2 6-inch branches fresh rosemary
6 large fresh sage leaves
1 large bay leaf
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a soup pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and bring to a slow simmer.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, rosemary, sage, and bay. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is a deep golden color. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few seconds.

3. Stir in about 1/2 cup of the chickpea liquid into the onion pan, swish it around to pick up any brown bits, and dump everything into the chickpea pot. Simmer, covered, for 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are tender, but not falling apart. Season generously with salt (but not too generously – it should taste good, not salty) and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes.

4. Remove the herbs, puree 2/3rds of the mixture in a blender, then stir it back into the pot. Adjust the seasoning, then ladle into bowls, topping with parsley, black pepper, and a little more olive oil if you like.

Okay, real talk: you don’t have to soak the chickpeas overnight. If you forgot or didn’t plan ahead, just go ahead with the recipe anyway. Ask me how I know. Also, the cooking time is kind of dependent on your chickpeas, but when I made it it only took two hours to cook to doneness. You don’t have to puree it (I didn’t this time), it’s honestly good either way, and it’s still good even if you completely forget the parsley, which I obviously did.

Cottage Cheese Burgers

My mom used to make these for us when we were kids, and I’ve started making them for my kids, because they’re quick, easy, fun, and delicious. How’s that for a pitch? They’re also, if the internet is anything to go by, not a very common recipe, so I thought I’d go ahead and share them.

So, it’s a very free form recipe, but I use 16 oz cottage cheese, 2 thinly sliced scallions, 2 eggs, some grated Parmesan and salt to taste, and enough breadcrumbs to be able to form the mixture into patties (I’d start with a half-cup, and add more if you need to). Then form into about 8 patties, and fry in a nonstick pan (or well-seasoned cast iron) with a couple TBs of olive or other oil of your choice, over medium to medium-high heat. When they’re brown on one side, flip them over, and continue frying until cooked through. My advice would be to pick a cottage cheese with low moisture, or even strain it if it’s too liquid-y, and the smaller curd types work better than the large curds.

As long as you’re not adding very much more liquid, you could probably season them however you like, but part of the appeal for me is their simplicity, so I usually don’t. Oh, and, this is very important, to achieve their fullest potential, serve them with Russian dressing (or whatever they’re calling ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together these days).