Brrrsday, January 23, 2014

Today hurt. In the seconds between getting out of my car and stepping inside a client’s home, the small bracelet of exposed skin at my wrists stung. By the early afternoon my eyeballs felt like a vacuum was sucking them into my skull and a ring of pulsating pain throbbed from temple to temple. A day like this calls for the meal that – according to my husband – turns me into a Magical Kitchen Goddess: Chicken Dumpling Soup. You, lucky reader, are about to learn my secret cure for the chills.

Before working my magic, necessary preparations today included changing out of the tights and pencil skirt into pajamas and a fuzzy sweater, breaking out the Renard’s Swiss cheese and crackers, and swallowing down Bufferin with lots of water. This, of course, while the homemade chicken broth is set to roll into a low boil over medium-low heat.

Secret: in order to make proper broth, stew a full chicken earlier in the week in a bottle of $3 Chardonnay with lemons, garlic, and fresh herbs for at least 3 hours at 350 or 300. One could add potatoes, carrots, and other roots vegetables for a more robust flavor. Eat the chicken loudly, and save the bones in the juices. Add water the next day and boil down, add water and boil down, and repeat one more time until the wine and water have successfully stolen all the goodness out of the bones. Strain and now you have magic broth, the perfect base for your dumpling soup.

So now the headache is gone, the cheese, crackers, water, and Bufferin took full effect and the broth is slowly heating up. Scald about 1.5 – 2 cups of half-n-half in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Be careful not to let it bubble over.
Secret: add a little Himalayan sea salt, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon (real cinnamon not that Chinese red hot stuff) and freshly ground black pepper. If you really want savory, add to these a heathy pinch of tarragon and another of thyme. Don’t be shy. Stir. Once scalded turn off heat.

In a medium mixing bowl add 2 cups of all purpose or ideally multigrain flour and a couple tablespoons of baking powder (not soda) and mix up well. Make a well and pour in the scalded fragrant liquid. This will be hot so please use a wooden spoon to pull dry ingredients into the hot liquid and mix until you have a dough that sticks together into a big fluffy ball. Use a tablespoon to scoop your dough and roll into balls. I place these into a separate bowl so when the broth is boiling, I can carefully pour all the dumpling balls into the hot broth without burning my hands. Replace the lid on the broth and set the timer for 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid until the 10 minutes are up. This is the fun part. When it’s time, lift the lid and see dumplings 2-3 times the size they were originally. Carefully serve with a ladle in deep thick soup bowls and savor.

Now you too are a Magical Kitchen God(dess), but this is not a self-appointed title. Your spouse will declare it when they see the dumplings, and confirm it once they taste them.

Be Warm and Enjoy!

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