Tag Archives: black pepper

Chicken and Cracked Black Pepper Dumplings

There is nothing like a warm, comforting bowl of chicken and dumplings at the end of a long week.  There’s a saying in the South, “Your mama doesn’t really love you if you come home and she doesn’t make you chicken and dumplings!” It’s a special meal, a Sunday dinner dish served in your best china for friends and family alike.  In this world of the hurry-up-and-eat syndrome, chicken and dumplings makes you want to linger at the table and catch up with your nieces and nephews, finding out whom they’re dating, how that weekend in Charleston was or how the internship is working out.  Summer or winter, it matters not as this dish is held in high regard by all.  The dumplings are drop dumplings, light and fluffy, speckles of freshly cracked black pepper riddled throughout and surrounded by a fragrant and savory chicken broth.  Oh, but this is a most satisfying meal!  And guess what?  There’s also a quick method of preparing it.  Yes.  It’s called rotisserie chicken.  This recipe reheats the following day quite well, however, chicken and dumplings don’t freeze well, at least not any I’ve ever made.  I’ve found the wider the pot the dish cooks in the better the dumplings, as a large surface area gives them room to spread and remain tender.  Stewed green beans, collards, baked or fried okra, broccoli and creamed spinach are all delicious sides to serve.  I hope you prepare this classic.  Your family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day and love you all the more for it!

If you choose to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken make certain you purchase either a plain one or a flavor that marries well with the dish, certainly not BBQ or fried.  Pour half of the chicken broth into the pot, add the vegetables and bring to a gentle boil.  While the vegetables cook, shred the chicken by hand.  Add the shredded chicken to the pot once the vegetables are tender and prior to adding the dumpling batter.

Chicken and Cracked Black Pepper Dumplings

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 pounds chicken, whole or cut up. If cut up then both white and dark meat, all bone in.
  • 2 quarts chicken broth, divided. I find Publix brand organic, “Greenwise” is fabulous.
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 5 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. To a large pot add the raw chicken, half the broth and onion.  Cover and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Leaving the broth in the pot, remove the chicken and set aside to shred when cool enough to handle.
  3. Add the celery and carrots to the pot, cover and cook until tender.
  4. While the vegetables cook shred the cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken. Discard bones, skin and any fat.
  5. In a medium size bowl add the flour, pepper, baking powder and salt and mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, egg and butter mixing well.
  7. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
  8. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  The batter will be thick and very stiff.  Any unmixed flour will be included in the pot.
  9. Using a soup spoon, drop spoonfuls of batter into the pot each roughly 3″ in diameter.  Add any flour bits to the pot as they will thicken the broth.
  10. Gently pour remaining broth over the dumplings, cover and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Feta, Honey and Black Pepper Appetizer

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Greece 2016…and I can’t wait!  With a bangin’ new pair of sunnies I had been lusting after, also came the Christmas gift of vaca back in Greece this coming summer.  Although it’s hot and the sun shines year round in south Florida, it’s a different kind of heat.  There’s no humidity; it’s dry as a bone.  In all the years we’ve been traveling to Greece we’ve experienced rain TWICE.  That’s it.  Two times.  I’ve never been in the winter but the photos I’ve seen are gorgeous.  We typically travel to the Northern Aegean where they have seasons including autumn and winter.  It snows often, not huge amounts, just enough to be pretty.  And fall brings blustery winds that sometimes are downright cold!  Greeks are incredibly social people but the colder weather does at times keep them inside.  But we’ll be back for summer on Lesvos, where the white-hot rays of sunlight can be blinding and the ink-black night skies are covered with thousands of stars that look like tiny, twinkling pin-pricks.  That’s the Greece I love.  From the balcony of the bar at the resort where we stay, which juts out over the twisted, silver trunks of ancient olive trees; or our breezy balcony nestled into the side of a hill, to the waterfront dinners at the harbor of Molyvos, the night skies are a galactic showcase.  Anywhere on this magnificent island is the best place to star gaze.  So, more often than not, it’s Molyvos where we watch the sun set and the stars come out.  Along with all the locals and tourists, albeit not many tourists but there are some, we scan the harbor restaurants for the best seats of the night at the best eating places.  Sturdy, ladder-back chairs with woven rush seating do not beckon as they are not known for comfort.  But that is all you’ll find at the harbor; each leaning against the table on two legs until their patron for the night whips them out, legs clattering against the smooth but uneven cobblestones, and plops down.  All tables are square but can be quickly joined together for larger groups.  Each table is covered with a paper tablecloth, usually white with a large, blue map of the island printed in the middle.  And since the nights are typically windy, the table coverings are held down in one of two ways.  Either a huge, knotted, cloth-covered elastic, (think your hair!), slipped over and under the lip of the table or four steel pins which slide over the table rim, one on each side.  Really, really standard.  Any person reading this who has been to Greece is probably shaking their head, chuckling and thinking, “yup”.  I haven’t been the biggest fan of Greek wine here in the States but in Greece it’s a whole other kettle of grapes.  Wine is produced everywhere and produced well.  Think Plato and Socrates.  And don’t forget Dionysus, god of wine.  I’ve only had excellent cold, crisp whites and big, full-bodied reds and typically these are house wines.  Glasses in hand, we peruse the menus we know by heart.  We pretty much order the same dishes from our own predictable menu.  We begin with maybe a small bowl of local olives in olive oil with fresh oregano strewn on top.  While savoring those we might discuss what time we want to pick up the ferry to the other side of the island for tomorrows adventure.  I always go with early so we have the day ahead of us but that’s just me.  Plus the air is cold and fresh, the morning sunlight is blinding on the water, the salt spray is positively intoxicating.  The captain and I usually kick our shoes off and sometimes he lets me take over.  Scary but true!

And you thought I was telling stories.
And you thought I was telling stories.

Post olives we may order some grilled bread and a little feta.  Dinner we’ll share.  The ever-present and proper Greek salad comes out crisp and oh, so satisfying.  Grilled octopus?  Sounds good.  With lemon and olive oil.  And it comes with french fries which I never order but can’t keep my hands off.  Greek french fries can be exquisitely delectable.  Fried in olive oil from the island to a golden crisp, dusted with fresh rosemary and local sea salt they are a treat.  Jimmy and I don’t really order meat in Greece because the Greek cuisine treats vegetables and fish so well.  The seafood and produce are like nothing we can get in the states.  Typically the owner of the restaurant or taverna will bring out a platter of fresh fruit with the check.  The fruit is their gift for patronizing their establishment.  Gorgeous, hot pink slabs of watermelon are common.  Or you may be surprised with fresh figs.  It’s heaven and I can’t wait!

Grilled bread with olive oil and fresh oregano and warm olives in olive oil round off this presentation. I also offer a small pot of honey for those who'd like more.
Grilled bread with olive oil and fresh oregano and warm olives in olive oil round off this presentation. I also offer a small pot of honey for those who’d like more.

This is a wonderful hors d’oeuvre which can be served alone or on a platter with other indulgences.  And you don’t really need amounts.  Let me walk you through this.  Place your Greek feta, and PLEASE purchase a high quality feta.  None of this store brand in cryovac, okay?  Anyway, put your feta on your tray or platter.  Drizzle it well with your favorite honey.  Throw a pinch of red pepper flakes on the cheese and follow with a heavy dusting, or to your taste, of freshly cracked black pepper.  Present and enjoy with pride!

Caesar Salad with Garlic Crostini


What is the one dish I’m always asked to bring to family get togethers? Yup.  Caesar salad.  Especially birthday dinners.  The kids love it.  And you know when it is hot as blue blazes here a cold, crisp salad is just about all you want.  Well, maybe a couple of  glasses of Pinot Grigio, too.  Pair that with whole grain, garlic crostini and, baby, you’ve got dinner.  Sometimes I top it with thin, very rare slices of flank steak.  Grilled breast of chicken slices are right at home.  And garlic or jerked shrimp positively sing. I use Dijon mustard to emulsify the dressing rather than egg. I did that for my mother for health reasons then found the dressing lasts a good week in the refrigerator.  Maybe more…it just doesn’t last in my house.   At least twice a week I take the salad to work for lunch.  Leftovers from the night before. I keep the dressing separate in a small food storage container and I put a crostino in a sealed plastic bag.  The romaine  has been washed, spun dry and dressed with just the parmesan and lots of black pepper.  I simply assemble the salad and munch away.  I thought of something else.  You reaIly want to include the anchovies in the dressing.  I know for some they can be foreign and scary but, trust me, you don’t want to leave them out.  Because it’s not Caesar salad without anchovies.  It’s Caesar salad food.  Or in the style of Caesar salad.  But it’s not Caesar salad.  Second, and more importantly, you won’t even know they’re there.  But you WILL if they’re not.  It’s just some sad, tired salad thing without them.  Okay?  So, relax and add the anchovies.  You’ll be fine.  And so will your Caesar.

Caesar Salad with Garlic Crostini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 small ones, washed, dried and cut into large bite size pieces.
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese. You may want more or less.
  • 3-4 tablespoons dressing, recipe below
  • 2-3 crostini per person. Maybe one if this is the salad course. 2-3 if this is the main course.
  • More black pepper, to taste
  1. Make dressing and crostini first. When they are done, put lettuce in a large bowl and pour 3-4 tablespoons dressing over, tossing well.
  2. Sprinkle with half of parmesan cheese and grind some black pepper over.  Toss well.
  3. Add additional cheese, toss well, and serve on individual plates.
  4. Garnish with crostini.

Dressing:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemons, juiced. If you’re lucky enough to have Key limes, 3 juiced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 2-ounce tins flat anchovy filets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, blender or process with immersion blender.  Process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning.  It may need more lemon juice, mustard or Worcestershire sauce.  Should be good, though.  Set aside or chill.

Crostini:

  • 1 baguette whole grain bread
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 2-3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Slice baguette into pieces roughly 1/2 inch thick and place cut side up on foil lined baking sheet.  (Easy clean up)
  2. Bake in oven 15 minutes then remove from oven to cool.
  3. When cool to the touch, rub garlic clove over cut side of each slice.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and a lot of black pepper.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Turkey Meatloaf

Tell my godson he’s having meatloaf for dinner and his face will fall.  His shoulders will slump and his eyes will have that “dead man walking” stare.  I understand.  We’ve all suffered from CNMD (Chronic Nasty Meatloaf Disorder) at one time or another.  But tell MY boy he’s having turkey meatloaf for dinner and all of a sudden the day’s getting much better. He always asks with anticipation “with whipped butternut squash and asparagus?  Awesome!”.  I love using turkey because it’s much lighter and no matter how hard you mix it, it will not toughen up.  What is important is to season the mixture well because you know how bland ground turkey can be.  I usually always use quick, not instant, oats instead of bread crumbs.  Might as well make it healthful when you can.  The oats just disappear into the mixture just like the bread crumbs.  Last night, however, I found myself out of oats.  Damn.  And after a full day of work, I am NOT going back out into the dark for anything.  Anyway, I knew there had to be something I could use and after rooting around…voila! Le Wheat Germ.  Works great, loses itself in the mixture and, also, packs a healthy, nutritional punch.  Last night’s meatloaf was covered tomato paste but I often make it with a peppercorn crust. Both produce a phenomenal sandwich the next day.  And the recipe doubles well.

Turkey Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 375°

  • 1 20 oz. package lean ground turkey (1.25 pounds)
  • 1 medium onion, grated using large holes in box grater
  • 1 carrot, grated using large holes in box grater
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced (I use a rasper)
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup quick oats or wheat germ
  • 1 medium zucchini or 1/2 cup cooked spinach, both optional
  • 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 /4 cup water
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste or a thin layer of black pepper. I grind it directly over loaf.
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  1. Mix all ingredients EXCEPT turkey, tomato paste and spray in a large or medium bowl.  Incorporate well.
  2. Spray loaf pan or baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Mix turkey well into vegetable oat mixture and put into baking dish.  Using a spatula or the back of a cooking spoon, shape mixture into a loaf.
  4. Spread tomato paste all over or grind pepper over turkey to make an even layer.
  5. Bake at 375° for 30-45 minutes.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com