Tag Archives: noodles

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP TO TREAT WHAT AILS YOU

We have been back home nearly a week after visiting our family in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are still recovering from a “cold”  (could it be the plague or whooping cough??) that we got from our infant grandson on the Monday before Thanksgiving. He was quite ill for three days and then recovered to his usual bouncy self. Since then, he seems to have forgotten anything about the illness. In the meantime, grandparents are dosing up with various remedies and stoking up the nebulizer at night. Ah, there is a resilience of youth that seems to have left me.

Over the last several weeks, Sarah has been experimenting with dumplings. Of course, that means she has made the classic, chicken and dumplings. It occurred to her on our last night in San Francisco that chicken and dumplings might be therapeutic. There is the belief in more than one society that chicken soup, especially the broth, can cure any cold. There is even some limited scientific evidence that that might be so. We were not about to turn down free medical treatment. Sarah made a delicious version of chicken and dumplings, and we felt better. But the cure did not last.

Sarah's chicken and dumplings

Sarah’s chicken and dumplings

That made me think that maybe a repeat dose at home might do the trick, so I made a batch of chicken soup. Instead of dumplings, though, I decided to use home-made noodles as the starch. The soup was tasty even though the noodles were a little heavy. As to the therapeutic powers, we still have the “cold” (could it be the plague or whooping cough?)

There are three elements to the usual bowl of chicken soup:

First, the chicken. Most recipes call for a whole chicken. After boiling, the meat is removed from the carcass and finely shredded. Since there would only be two of us for the therapy, a whole chicken would be way too much, so I went with four chicken thighs.

Second, the broth. If you are a serious cook, you will make a rich stock from the boiling chicken and aromatic vegetables. For me, that always results in a watery broth that begs to be reduced and flavored. Alternatively, you can use packaged stock. Some cooks sniff at that approach as the commercial stuff contains lots of additives. Read the label, and you will find things like “chicken flavor”, salt, dextrose, celery juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, and yeast extract. Actually, the yeast extract may not be all that bad as it adds to the umami flavoring and richness of the stock. My preferred alternative is to use commercial stock in which to boil the chicken and aromatic vegetables. That has the pleasant result of yielding a rich, well-flavored stock. Then you use that for your soup.

Third, the starch. There are several good choices, matzoh balls, kreplach, dumplings, spaetzle, and packaged noodles among them. I went with homemade noodles as I have recently been trying to perfect what seems like an impossibly simple but confounding recipe. I rolled the dough as thinly as I could, but that was not enough. You need strong arms and determination. When you think the dough has been rolled thin enough, roll it out some more. Even better, use a pasta machine and work through the settings to the thinnest or next-to-thinnest setting.

Here’s my effort at homemade chicken noodle soup:

Chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup

RECIPES

Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 48 ounces packaged chicken stock
  • water
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 cloves onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning. More if you prefer
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  • 2 scallions, including the green tops, sliced

Method

  1. In a soup pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the chicken, the half onion, one of the carrots, one rib of celery and the remaining ingredients. Return to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken thighs are cooked. Add additional water if needed.
  2. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate, and when they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut the meat from the bones, shredding the meat to the size you prefer. Set aside.
  3. Remove the vegetables and strain the broth through a fine sieve. Wipe the pot clean, and return the broth to the pot. Bring to the boil.
  4. Peel the remaining carrot and slice thinly into rounds. Slice the remaining celery stalk into ¼ inch slices.
  5. Add the mushrooms, scallions, celery, and shredded chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, stir in the dried noodles, return the soup to the boil for an additional 10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked and tender.

Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons basking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup whole milk

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together
  2. Beat the egg lightly and stir in the milk
  3. While stirring continuously, add the egg and milk mixture slowly to the dry mixture. You should have a smooth but stiff batter.
  4. By teaspoonfuls, drop the batter into boiling soup. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Noodles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4-8 tablespoons water

Method

  1. On a clean, dry work surface, make a mound of the flour. With your fingers, form a well in the middle of the flour that is big enough to hold the eggs.
  2. Break the eggs into the well. Add one tablespoon of water. With a dinner fork, lightly beat the eggs, and then begin to pull the flour gradually into the well.
  3. Continue to mix the eggs with more of the flour. Add another tablespoon of water. The dough should be well mixed and begin to hold together. If the mixture is too dry, add more water by a few drops at a time. The finished dough should be smooth and hold together, but should not have any stickiness. Knead for a few minutes with your hands until the dough is smooth. Cover with a bowl or dust lightly with flour and wrap with plastic wrap. Let relax for 30 minutes.
  4. When you are ready to roll out the noodles, cut the ball of dough into fourths, working with only one part at a time and covering the remaining pieces to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Shape the dough into a rough rectangle. Then using a sturdy rolling pin, roll the dough to the desired thickness – the thinner the better. Dust very lightly with flour and fold the dough over on itself so that you have a long roll with four layers. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into noodles of the desired width.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining three pieces of dough.
  7. Dry the noodles for 20 – 30 minutes. Then add to the boiling soup and cook until the noodles have puffed up and cooked through. It should not take as long as with packaged dry noodles.

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

NORTH DAKOTA CHEESE BUTTONS (KÄSE KNÖPFEN OR KASE KNOEPFLA)

The State of North Dakota has only one official food. That’s the official fruit: choke cherry, used for jams jellies, and of course home-made wine. Many believe that cheese buttons should be the official food. As far as I have been able to learn, they are absolutely unique to the state. My step-grandmother made them often as a celebratory dish when I was growing up. I loved them, but I have never eaten them since she stopped making them many years ago. She came from a large German family who farmed on the prairies of eastern North Dakota. No doubt they were part of the immigrant wave of German farmers who came to the Dakotas at the end of the nineteenth century. The immigrants actually came from Russia where they had originally moved with the urging of Catherine the Great. There they were successful wheat farmers, so successful in fact that the native Russians grew increasingly hostile and drove them out. Apparently, North Dakota has many similarities with that part of Russia, so it was only natural that the immigrant Germans again became successful wheat farmers.

My step-grandmother cooked meals for an itinerant threshing crew headed by my grandfather. He had two little boys in tow after their mother had died in the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918. Both my grandfather and my step-grandmother thought the little boys needed a mother, and so they married. The little boys and their offspring grew up eating a lot of German food including sauerkraut and cheese buttons. There are many variant spellings of the local name of the dish. Perhaps the most common is kase knoepla, but the literal German translation is Käse knõpfen, so I’ll go with that.

Cheese buttons have some amazing similarities with Italian ricotta ravioli. The recipe for the noodle dough is exactly the same as a common recipe for pasta, and the recipe for the farm cheese is similar to at least one version of ricotta. You will note that the dish is remarkably deficient of any green vegetable. Instead it is heavy on bread and flour from the wheat as well as eggs, milk,  and butter from the barn yard. That should serve as a warning that this is not a dish for you if you are worried about your cholesterol. But if you like butter, it is hard to think of a better dish. It goes without saying that you cannot substitute margarine or oil.

RECIPES

Farm Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste

Method

  1. Pour the milk into a large, heavy bottomed pot and heat slowly over a medium-low flame, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching on the bottom. When the milk has reached 150°F, stir in the vinegar, remove from the heat, and cover. Stir occasionally as the mixture cools, and the curds form, about 45 minutes.
  2. Line a large colander with fine-mesh cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Pour the curds and whey into the towel and allow them to drain. The curds should form a ball in the bottom of the cheesecloth. Twist the cloth gently between your hands and over the sink to squeeze out any remaining whey.
  3. Transfer the cheese to a bowl and combine with the eggs and salt.  Add pepper to taste and set aside.

Cheese Buttons

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for kneading and rolling
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5-9 tablespoons water + more to seal the edges of the buttons

Method

  1. Pour the flour in a mound in the middle of a large, clean, flat work surface. Make a deep well in the center of the mound
  2. Break the three eggs into the well, and using a table fork, beat the eggs gently. Stir in 3 tablespoons of water and then begin to draw the flour in from the edge of the well, stirring and mixing as you go. Continue to draw in the flour, adding 1 more tablespoon of water. Avoid adding too much water, or the dough will get sticky. When the flour is completely incorporated, form the dough into a ball and knead for a 5 to 10 minutes until it is glistening and forms a smooth ball.  Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. When you are ready to roll out the dough, flour the work surface lightly. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out one piece with a rolling pin, covering the remaining pieces in plastic while you work. Roll each piece into a round about 16 inches in diameter. Dust the dough lightly with flour if it is too sticky.
  4. Cut the dough into 2 inch squares. Place a scant teaspoon of the cheese mixture in the center of each square. Moisten the edges of the squares with water and fold over into triangles and/or rectangles (Your choice!). Gently squeeze the edges between your fingers until they are well sealed.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. In batches, add the cheese buttons to the boiling water. They will sink to the bottom but eventually float. Let the buttons continue to cook for a few minutes after they have floated. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and keep warm in the oven until all of the buttons have been cooked.
  6. Cut any extra noodle dough into thin strips, boil for 4 -5 minutes, drain, and add to the buttons.

 

Fried Bread Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ to 1 cup (1 or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • about 5 ½-inch slices of home-made or good quality white bread, crusts removed and cubed

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat
  2. Stir in the bread cubes and sauté until the bread cubes are lightly browned and crisp.
  3. Pour over the boiled cheese buttons and noodles, stirring gently to mix.
  4. Serve immediately.

27 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes