3/28/09

5 Roasted Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Roasted Chicken Gnocchi Soup






I love Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi soup. The last time I ordered it, I was disappointed in how there wasn't a whole lot of chicken...or gnocchi in it.

I asked for a second bowl, with the same results.

That's when I decided that I would create my own. And I believe this version is better.

Why?



Because of this.

Roasted chicken.







I remember my folks using an electric rotisserie to get that flavorful, moist chicken that permeated the whole house. I remember it took at least 3 hours...and we couldn't wait to eat it up.
Now, you can get it at your local grocers. I found the ones at Sam's Club and Costco to be extra large and only $5.






When I brought home the roasted chicken, it was put in a flat box. I placed other groceries on top of it and carried it into my house.
Unbeknown to me, the chicken had slid inside the box, tipped, and was slowly leaving a dribbling trail of greasy broth...
on my coat, my kitchen floor and carpet.

It was NOT fun cleaning up after the mess.
I poured the remaining broth into a small bowl and stuck it in the fridge.






All that lovely fat rose to the top and hardened...



I thought, "Why not use the rest in the soup?"






After a few hours, in the fridge, I took a spoon and scraped off the solid fat from the top.

I'm glad I used this in the soup...

It added another dimension to it!






On medium heat, take 1/3 c. butter and put it in a heavy bottomed pot.

I really like the enameled cast iron pot.
No, I take that back.

I love this pot.

It has served me well.




After the butter melted, I pressed 2 cloves of garlic. If you want to use more garlic, go ahead! That's the joy of cooking!

I store my garlic in the freezer. Why?

It keeps it fresh and the skin just peels right off!

I love this garlic press.






It is a Kuhn Rikon garlic press made in Switzerland.

I just squeeze out the garlic and it comes out in long strings...




If I want minced garlic, I just take a paring knife and cut the 'strings' of garlic while it is being pressed out.






All that's left behind is a thin sliver of garlic.








And it is really EASY to clean!

I just rinse it under warm water.


That's my favorite part.








I put in 1/3 c. of all purpose flour.










I dumped in the refrigerated chicken broth and dissolved it into the melted butter.











I stirred it well. This is what I believe is called a "roux" which is the basis for cream sauces and gravies.









I poured in 4 c. of half and half.

Guess what?

It's fat free.

And the soup still tasted creamy and good!






Since this is a chicken soup, I decided to use my all time favorite bouillon...

McCormick's chicken base.


I love this stuff.







I put in 2 level teaspoons of it into the mixture.



And stirred it well.






I could have used spinach leaves or baby spinach in this recipe, but I chose to use creamed spinach.

I use this stuff in my spinach artichoke dip.

It is really easy to use...






I just cut one third of it and plopped it into the soup mix.

It just adds an extra creaminess to it!








I grated a small peeled carrot on the coarse side of my grater...the fine grater just made mush of my carrot...

I love this grater...it came from IKEA.







It keeps all the carrots shreds together until I'm ready to add it to the soup.

At this point, you could add a sliced stick of celery. Only if you really want to.

I don't. Sorry. I'm not a celery fan.





I have a difficult time detecting spices in recipes. My friend from Comemos, Let's Eat! has a talent for that.

When she tasted the soup from the Olive Garden, she said, "It has a touch of nutmeg."

Not many people would notice that. Not me.
It put in 1/4 teaspoon.




Okay, I need to confess. I HATE anything to do with bones in meat. All my chicken is boneless.

If I could, I would have a boneless chicken ranch like the one in this Far Side cartoon.

So, I held my breath, and cut out the breast portions of the roasted chicken...my husband will just have to tackle the rest.







I cut the breast lengthwise and then chopped them up into bite sized pieces.


I can handle this part.









I cut enough to have 2 cups worth. There were enough pieces left to make a sandwich.


I put the chicken in toward the end of the recipe as it was already cooked.








This is the frozen gnocchi I made earlier. I could put it directly into the soup, but I decided to cook it and see how it turned out before I put them in the soup.









I put them in a pot of boiling water...











Waited until they rose to the top...











Strained them out and put them directly into the soup.









The perfect bite...gnocchi, chicken, carrot and spinach....


Delizioso!!!




Roasted Chicken Gnocchi Soup**
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

**This recipe is also dedicated to my sweet mother-in-law, who passed away recently from a short battle with ALS.

3/26/09

9 Gnocchi Italiana

My husband loves Gnocchi (no-kee), a small Italian potato dumpling. He orders it every time we eat out and I have always passed it by. Until now.

I have discovered that I love Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi soup. It was creamy, light, and had pillows of gnocchi that melted in my mouth. I just HAD to learn to make gnocchi.
My husband was thrilled!

I searched all over the Internet and found that there are several ways of making gnocchi and that it was a little time consuming. Undaunted, I kept looking, until I remembered that I have a cookbook from my husband's great aunt, The Italian Cookbook, by Maria Luisa Taglienti. It was given to her in 1961 from her mom and given to us in 1989.

Although it calls for boiled potatoes, I decided to heed the recommendation of the Internet cooks and used baked potatoes. I also used a potato ricer, which yielded a light, fluffy potato mixture, which I believe contributed to the melt-in-my mouth gnocchi.

Yes, it is a simple recipe. Was it difficult to make? Not really. I guess my bread making experience helped a little. Once I riced the potatoes, added the eggs, salt and part of the flour, I just kept adding flour until the dough was manageable and not sticky.


I cut the dough into six pieces, then rolled each piece into a log.

Some recipes suggest rolling the dough into a 3/4" diameter log, but I just kept rolling until it was about 2/3". By then the dough had softened and refused to hold its rolled shape.




If the dough becomes too sticky, just sprinkle the surface with a little more flour.

Here, I am cutting the log into 1/4" slices.

The recipe says to cut into 2/3" pieces. Oh well.
I wanted bite sized pieces, not large chunks!



Here's a close up of all my cute little gnocchi...in a row.

Put these guys cut side down on a baking sheet with parchment paper or sprinkle the sheet with flour...




Now, I tried "rolling" those little guys on the backs of dinner forks, but they just wouldn't cooperate. They were just too soft.

Instead, I just started to 'mash' them with my thumb....

I checked with my father-in-law (who is half Italian), and he confirmed that Italians shape their gnocchi in a variety of ways...








My thumb got tired, so I used a floured spoon....








Oh, what cute little dumplings they are!

This recipe made a lot, so I took half of the gnocchi and






put it into a freezer bag!









Have a large saucepan ready with boiling water with 2 T. salt.

Place 1/2 of your dumplings into the boiling water...









wait till they 'rise' to the top...







and remove with a strainer/slotted spoon.





Gnocchi All'Italiana **
Maria Luisa Taglenti
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

2 1/2 c. mashed potatoes (I baked 2 large Costco Russet potatoes and used 1 1/2 potatoes)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese

Wash potatoes and prick skins with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or until soft. Cool unti able to handle. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out flesh. Mash with fork or use potato ricer until you have 2 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes.

Place potatoes, eggs, and salt in mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add 1 1/2 c. flour, mixing well. Place dough on floured surface and add rest of flour, a little bit at a time.
Knead dough for 3-4 minutes. If dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle surface with more flour. Cut dough into six pieces. Roll dough into long sausage-like strips and cut into pieces 2/3" long. Sprinkle dumplings with flour. Have ready a large [an with boiling water to which 2 T. of salt have been added. Place 1/3 of dumplings in boiling water and remove with strainer when they rise to top. Place in hot serving dish and repeat operation until all dumplings are cooked. Keep water boiling. Add sauce to dumplings and 2/3 of cheese, mixing well. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top. Serves 4-6.

**This recipe is dedicated to my sweet mother-in-law, who passed away this past week from a short battle with ALS. I made roasted chicken gnocchi soup, which was one of the last meals she was able to eat.

3/7/09

4 WWW: What Went Wrong? Bread


After yesterday's burnt chicken, (which still tasted great) I decided to do a regular post on What Went Wrong?

Some bloggers have Flashback Fridays, Top Ten Tuesdays, and I thought that a good weekly would be WWW.

I could do it on Wednesdays...if something went wrong.

I am often told by people who have followed my bread recipes exactly, that somehow, it didn't turn out....right. I really do appreciate the feedback...it helps us all be better bakers/cooks!

That's because making bread is not exact...there are so many variables involved.
You can follow a bread recipe EXACTLY and it would turn out differently each time.

I LOVE recipes with EXACT measurements. It is comforting to know that it will turn out the same way each time.

Not so with bread...there's always a range of flour. One day, its 6 cups, another day it's 7 1/2.

When I try any recipe, I jot down what the results were. Some of the comments you might find are:

Too dry.
Too salty.
Really good!
Makes too much.
Doesn't make enough.
Try adding ___________ next time.

It's good to make notes and learn from your experiences. I am not a professional bread maker. Just an experienced one. Experienced at failures. I have had many failures. Like the one last week...

This is my 100% whole wheat bread.

It rose nicely.

But collapsed a little bit in the oven...that's what those little 'dents' are in the top.





You can see the 'squashed' top look and the little holes inside.

Kinda looks like wheat bread Swiss cheese, huh?

Even though it was soft and slightly squished, it still tasted good. Not quite a failure, I guess!

What went wrong?

I didn't add enough flour.

That's why it collapsed on its own weight while cooking in the oven.

Some days, I feel like collapsing on my own weight.

So, readers/bloggers, bring on your questions, photos, and experiences...I'll post them here, with possible answers/solutions.

If you want totally anonymity, feel free to email me.

3/6/09

1 Chicken Patties...Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my Chik-Fil-A chicken experiment!
This time, I cut my chicken length-wise while still semi-frozen to approximately 1/4" thick.
I don't have a meat mallet.
I don't want to use a can.
The last time I pounded chicken, I tore up the chicken...
Must have been a bad day.

Anyway, I marinated the chicken and then patted it as dry as I could between paper towels. This definitely helped the breading stay on better. I still think it will stay on if I don't marinate my chicken.

Then I dredged it in my flour/breading mix...









Dunked it into my egg/milk wash...

Did I just say 'dunked'?

Oh well. I still don't dunk cookies in milk.







Then put it back in the flour/breading mix.

Or dredge it.

Whatever. Just coat it really well!







Then I fried it in oil on my stove top. I did this knowing that not everybody has a deep fryer...I love my deep fryer...just don't tell anyone.

It's important to have the right temperature...375 degrees...



Or you'll get this.

Slightly burnt chicken. My oil was too hot.
Just keeping it real, folks.

But at least it's DONE in the inside!



The oil temperature is important. If it is too low, you will have an oversaturated, oily chicken.

Too hot, and you will end up with slightly burnt chicken...

Just right, and you get this!






Just to be fair, I went to Chik-Fil-A and got a sandwich..






Chik-Fil-A... Homemade...










Delicious, either way!!
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