Monthly Archives: October 2010

Chocolate Pudding and a Dirt Dessert

There are few food images more nostalgic than layers of sandwich cookie, whipped cream and pudding. Topped with a gummy worm.

Every time my mom made this chocolate pudding, a familial battle would ensue. We all wanted the skin that forms as the pudding cools. Mom always won with the compelling argument that she made the pudding, so she should get the skin.

Today, I got the chocolate pudding skin. As far as I can tell, that’s one of the primary benefits of being a grown-up.

Chocolate Pudding:
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
three tablespoons cornstarch

1) Heat a pot on medium-low heat. Melt chocolate, add sugar gradually, then add 1 and 1/2 cups of the milk.
2) Mix the remaining 1/2 cup milk with cornstarch. Stir often until thick and pudding coats the back of a spoon.

To make dirt, layer pudding with crushed sandwich cookies and whipped cream. Gummy worms are (not) optional.

Tonight is my last undergraduate Halloween in Chapel Hill. I’m dressing up as a “Deviled” Egg. What about you?

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches



I just went over a week without baking.

My mixer sat neglected on my counter, collecting dust while I gallivanted around DC.

My best opportunity for apology was in the form of a peanut butter sacrifice to the KitchenAid gods.

I used up a whole container of the stuff to make this recipe.

Order has been restored to my world. Whew.

I went to Martha for this recipe. Who else? That woman is legit. I leave you with this proof:

Chicken Noodle Soup

There is no excuse for this picture. Except that I’m sick and also was hungry at the moment I captured this disgusting photo.

This recipe, however, is not disgusting. It’s really, really delicious. And it used up the rest of my roasted chicken. And it made me feel like my mom was in the next room ready to cater to my next whim. She wasn’t, but at least I didn’t have to eat out of a can.

Chicken Noodle Soup:
For the broth
leftover roasted chicken
1 onion
1 celery stalk

1) In big pot, put in chicken bones and skin, saving the leftover meat. Fill pot 3/4 full with water. Throw in big pieces of onion and celery. Simmer for 5 minutes.
2) Bring to boil, and let boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then simmer for about 2 hours covered, and 30 minutes uncovered.

For the soup
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 onion
leftover chicken from roasted chicken
thyme

1) To make noodles, combine eggs, salt, baking powder and flour, knead until resembles pie dough. Spread additional flour on rolling pin and counter. Roll dough very thin
2) Dry the dough for 20 minutes, then cut skinny strips with pizza cutter, then cut the strips short, about 1 inch. Let dry again.
3) Meanwhile, heat broth. Add chopped carrots, celery and onion and bring to boil. Cook until tender.
4) Add chicken pieces and thyme, then add noodles. Cook until noodles are soft.

Chicken Pot Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits

This is Andrea. Andrea is my newest food model. (No meat dresses here, though. Sorry.)

At home, the logical next dinner following roast chicken is chicken pot pie. Mom’s orders. Who am I to question years of logical cooking? Leftover chicken practically begs to be combined with gravy and vegetables. Its lil’ carcass gets cold in the fridge, all lonely next to the unfriendly cranberry juice cocktail.

Also, roommate and I are collectively experiencing a cold that is single-handedly (virally?) keeping tissue and decongestant companies in business. So chicken pot pie is also the logical antidote, the ultimate in feel-good meals. (Aside from chicken noodle soup, which I’ll post about Tuesday.)

And, as I always enjoy a good food personification opportunity, sometimes it’s comforting to pretend that I am one of those buttermilk biscuits, steaming away in a bubbling mixture of Delicious Things. I’m quite certain that my recovery would be drastically expedited if I had a chicken pot pie hot tub. My birthday’s in a few weeks, FYI.

Chicken Pot Pie:
2 carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
2 C. peas
1 onion, diced
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 C. milk
2 C. chicken stock
2 C. cooked, cubed chicken
1 tsp parsley
salt & pepper

1) Heat chicken stock in medium sized pot. Add carrots, cook until a bit soft. Meanwhile, cook celery and onion with butter until softened. Sprinkle in flour.
2) Add celery and onion to pot. Stir in peas, add salt, pepper and parsley. Remove pot from heat.
3) Once the mixture has cooled slightly, stir in chicken and milk.
4) Pour into a deep-dish pie pan, making sure to leave room for biscuits to expand as they bake. Drop in biscuits (see recipe below) or top with pastry dough. Place pie pan on top of a cookie sheet, in case your pie pan runneth over. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
2 1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 TB sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 TB butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 C. & 2 TB buttermilk

1) Combine flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Rub in butter cubes with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
2) Add the buttermilk until a soft dough forms.
3) Place the dough on a floured work surface. Knead slightly and flatten until 1-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with round cookie cutter or with the opening of a jar. Combine remaining dough and cut additional biscuits.
4) Place biscuits on an ungreased round cake pan so they all touch slightly, or, if adding to pot pie, gently place biscuits on top of pot pie mixture. Follow directions above for baking.
5) Bake any solo biscuits at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad


I’d never roasted a chicken by myself until tonight. Sure, I’d seen my mom do it plenty of times, but only with the interest of someone who was ravenously hungry and in her formative teenage years, where food was helping ensure that she’d grow to 5’10, as planned. (A typical, completely self-serving interest possessed by practically every American teenager.)

Tonight, an older, wiser, more appreciative Meghan actually made a chicken for her friends to enjoy. (Although I was still involved in the consumption process, too.)

As the chicken cooked this evening, my roommate commented that roasted chicken always smells like home; I could not agree more. The sizzle of fat drippings, the bite of garlic, the earthiness of rosemary filled the apartment with an overpowering feeling of home. And that’s ultimately what we try to create with food, isn’t it? A sense of place. Roasted chicken to reminisce about our childhoods, curry to transport our taste buds, chocolate cake to deliver us to utopia. My hope in cooking all these meals is that those places, those memories, those flavors will permeate the walls of this apartment, combining to christen this place, my new place.

Then, years from now, I can cook these same meals and remember. Remember what it felt like to embrace my family at the airport after five months abroad. Remember the mingled excitement and fear as I entered my senior year of college. Even remember that dreadful day I learned about the death of a friend. (And remember how it felt to be surrounded by so many people who love me.)

These memories, for better or worse, are inextricably linked to food. It’s my escape, my recollection, my self-expression, my outward expression of love.

What I mean to say is that I encourage everyone reading this post to cook. Anything. Just try it. Then try it again. Meals, like the one I shared tonight with a few close friends, possess the powerful effect of bringing people together. And when you make them yourself? They incite a unique form of pride–simultaneously sustaining and entertaining.

But let’s get to the good stuff. This chicken. I made the Zuni chicken recipe from Smitten Kitchen, along with her version of the restaurant‘s bread salad. (Glorified stuffing, but significantly better.) The recipe is quite long (but still relatively easy, I promise!), so I’m just going to link to it. No point in repeating someone else’s fine work.

One thing I would like to add about raw, whole chicken–it’s disgusting. It reminds me of what Benjamin Button would’ve looked like when he was born if he’d been born without a head–goose-pimpled and pale, with saggy skin. Don’t let that deter you. Any food with that kind of dismal first impression surely cannot end worse than it began, right?

I followed the recipe pretty consistently, with a few notable exceptions.

1) I also tucked smashed garlic cloves, along with rosemary, under the chicken skin before wrapping and refrigerating it.
2) Right before cooking the chicken, I rubbed it with butter. And then I placed a few small pats of butter beneath the skin, as well. Somewhere above, Julia Child is beaming.
3) I didn’t put greens in the bread salad ’cause I was serving a salad on the side. More greens seemed superfluous and overly, well, green.

Anyway, I’ve waxed poetic long enough. I would, however, like to know: What’s your favorite food memory?

Apple Dumplings

It’s fall here, allegedly. You know, time for scarves and down comforters. At least, that’s what I keep trying to tell North Carolina weather every time the thermometer hits 80 degrees.

I thought I’d use reverse psychology and make an utterly fall dessert that would force temperatures to concede defeat and admit that 65 degrees would feel sublime. So far, no deal. But I think I’m on to something with these dumplings…

Warm, soft apples encased in pastry dough. Baked in a sugary gravy. At least somebody around here gets to snuggle up.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Apple Dumplings:
6 Granny Smith apples peeled & diced
Whipped cream

For pastry
2 C. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 TB butter, diced + extra for the filling
3/4 C. milk

1) Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Work in butter and add milk. Mix until a dough forms.
2) Turn out onto a floured counter and knead until smooth. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into squares, as large or as small as desired.
3) Put a few apple pieces onto each square along with a dash of sugar and a pat of butter. Fold the corners inward to make a square, making the corners overlap in the center. Place into a baking dish.

For sauce
2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 TB flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 C. boiling water
1/2 C. (one stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

1) Stir sugars, salt and flour together in a pot. Stir in boiling water, add butter, vanilla and cinnamon and place over low heat until the sauce begins to thicken a bit.
2) Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the dumplings and bake at 400 degrees covered for about 30 minutes.
3) Pour the rest of the sauce in and sprinkle with crushed almonds. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until brown. Serve heated with whipped cream.

What’s your favorite fall recipe?

Gnocchi with Mushrooms

I can’t decide whether those pictures are appetizing or disturbing, but having already consumed this meal, I can honestly say that cooking this meal will have you salivating before you can say “gnocchi”–backward.

I bought truffle oil the other week in a moment of utter pretension combined with too much money in my bank account. You know, typical white middle-class problems. So, I jumped at the opportunity to drizzle truffle oil on something other than bread.

Side note: truffle oil is made from mushrooms, called truffles, and combined with olive oil; it is not made by slow pressing chocolate truffles until their luscious cocoa flavor gives way. Although that would also be delicious. (I just thought I’d clarify.)

I think the most obvious conclusion here is that the word truffle can only have a positive connotation. I’m thinking about naming my first born Truffle, actually. And she’ll be a really fantastic dancer known for her trademarked Truffle Shuffle. Just thinking out loud, here.

Anyway, this recipe is based on the one found here at Food & Wine online. I wasn’t about to buy vermouth after already investing in truffle oil, so I substituted three-buck Chuck. And I already had an onion, so I replaced the shallots, too. I’m still a student, after all. A student with truffle oil and thousands of dollars in student loans.

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms:
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 TB butter
5 C. mushrooms
1 red onion
1/4 C. white wine
3/4 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 tsp thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound gnocchi
6 TB freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)

1) Heat the olive oil with the butter in a pan. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned.
2) Add the white wine and cook until evaporated. Add the stock, cream and thyme, season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
3) Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Drain well.
4) Add the gnocchi to the mushrooms and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in some of the Parmesan. Place gnocchi mixture in a pan and top with remaining Parmesan.
5) Broil the gnocchi 6 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve.