Turkey Vegetable Soup with Dumplings

I wonder how many of you are making turkey soup today? One of my favorite reasons to roast a turkey is to end up with the carcass and bits and pieces of turkey that I can make into a rich broth.

Since it’s a Sunday I was off to the Farmers’ Market early. The market was pretty quiet this morning with some of the farmers enjoying a holiday and some of the customers waiting until it was warmer out. It was a nippy 36° when I headed out around 8:30. On my shopping list, leeks & carrots for the soup. Not on the list but looked too good to pass up; onions, crimini mushrooms and a nice little head of broccoli to stir-fry later in the week. Also picked up some Sickle pears and Fuji apples.

Here’s the Turkey Vegetable Soup with Dumplings recipe I came up with today: You’ll need a couple quarts of broth (if you don’t have enough turkey, supplement it with chicken) and a couple of cups shredded turkey meat.  In large pan sauté 2 sliced leeks (about 1lb, white part only), 2 stalks celery and 2 carrots that have been rinsed trimmed and diced in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cook covered, for about 5 minutes, add the stock and a few fresh sage leaves; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the turkey or you can do like I did and add it just before serving the soup. If you don’t have turkey you can make this with chicken and chicken broth.

For the dumplings: while the soup is cooking mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage leaves in a large bowl. In another small bowl mix together 1/3 cup milk, 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, beaten lightly together to blend and 1 tablespoons melted butter. Lightly stir the liquid mixture into the dry mix until it is just combined. Drop dumpling batter in 12 to 14 heaping tablespoon portions on the surface of the simmering soup. Cover pan and simmer over medium-low heat (do not allow the soup to boil) until a knife inserted into the center of a dumpling comes out clean, about 10 minutes.  Makes 6 – 8 servings. I really liked the dumplings. The texture and flavor were great. I’ll definitely try them again. The soup as always was good and will be even better when I reheat it for a meal later this week. I separated out the dumplings into a container of their own when I put away the leftovers. I’ll probably try steaming them or heating them in the microwave to reheat them.

If you’re not sure how to make turkey stock here is Aunt Maymie’s turkey stock recipe: 1 turkey carcass (broken into pieces so it will fit in the pot) and whatever bits and pieces are left of the turkey. If there’s dressing still stuck on the carcass I just leave it.  If you didn’t use the giblets for gravy now is the perfect time to use them, except the liver. I think the flavor of liver is too strong so I never use it, I give it to the cats. One likes it raw the other likes it cooked. Anyway, once you have the carcass in a stock pot add one whole onion stuck with two whole cloves, a couple of carrots cut into large chunks, a couple stalks of celery (leave the leaves on if the stalks have some), a few sprigs of fresh parsley, fresh thyme sprigs and a few leaves of fresh sage. Next I cover the carcass with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until the carcass is falling apart (an hour, sometimes a couple of hours). Let the stock cool down then strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth that has been placed over a large bowl. You may have to ladle the stock a little at a time depending on how big the sieve is. You can use the stock right away or freeze it for future use. It’s hard to say how much broth you’ll end up with. The final amount will depend on how big your turkey was.

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Fall Brings Heirloom Pumpkins To The Table

While photographing at the Farmers’ Market this morning I spotted some interesting squashes and pumpkins. I was drawn to the beautiful colors and the fact that whoever harvested them left plenty of interestingly twisted stems on them. I was especially drawn to a salmon colored one with peanut shell-like warts all over it and a pinwheel like set of stems on top.

I stuck up a conversation with, what turned out to be, the mother of the farmer who grew them. She said it was her daughter-in-law’s idea to grow a variety of heirloom squash and pumpkins and sell them to florists, restaurants and others who might be looking for unique and beautiful squashes and pumpkins that you could create unique centerpieces with, hence the effort at harvest to leave a good amount of stems on them.  The pumpkin that I was most interested in is called Galeux d’Eysines, or “peanut pumpkin”.  She showed me the clipping from the seed catalog and pointed out how expensive the seed was.  Intrigued with our conversation I started research as soon as I got home.

Some of what I found; “Galeux d’Eysines – meaning “embroidered with warts from Eysines” (a small city in the southwest of France). It has pale salmon-orange skin covered with amazing veins of protruding warts” ‘Galeux d’Eysines’ undergoes an almost magical transformation in the garden. The fruits form, usually a maximum of four to a vine, and look like any ordinary winter squash. They are round, and green, and completely unremarkable. But then, something happens. In late summer, the green squashes start to take on the palest pink blush, and, before long peanut shaped warts cover the surface.” The warts are caused by the build-up of sugars in the  skin. Each squash is different, and the number of warts, as well as the ultimate color of the squash, varies by when you harvest it. You can harvest as soon as it turns pink, or you can let it stay on the vine until it turns a deep salmon color. The flavor also develops the longer it stays on the vine. The texture of the pumpkin is silky, but it holds up well in sautés or when roasting. The flavor is best described as somewhere between a pumpkin and a sweet potato. It is also very tasty in soups and stews and delicious as pie.

I’m definitely going to have to try this one. But, first I need to find a couple of partners to share with. At an average size of 10 – 15 lbs that’s a lot of pumpkin, even for someone who really likes pumpkin.

Arkansas Black Apples

This morning I found one of my favorite apples for sale at the Sacramento Farmers’ Market. It’s called Arkansas Black. I was first introduced to it about fifteen years ago at the Davis Farmers Market. Ever since then I keep a watch out each fall for it’s brief, but welcome, return. Evidently there aren’t too many farmers raising this variety, which is said to be a direct descendant of the Winesap and originated in western Arkansas in the mid-19th Century. Thanks go out to whoever brought it to California’s fertile soils. They obviously had good taste when it came to apples.

The Arkansas Black is a large, late season apple with a distinctive dark red skin encasing yellow flesh that is firm and crisp with a tart aromatic flavor that mellows as the apple ages. Generally a very dark red on the tree, occasionally with a slight green blush where hidden from the sun, the apples grow darker as they ripen, becoming a very dark red or burgundy color. With storage the skin continues to darken.

I love just eating them out of hand but they are also good for cider making, applesauce and baking. Here’s a tasty, yet simple, little cake to try them in.

Fresh Apple Cake

2 cups chopped apples

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup oat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and apples, set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together the oil, egg and vanilla. Add, the apples and sugar, mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until cake springs back to the touch. When cool,  dust cake with sifted powdered sugar or serve warm with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Craving Mac n Cheese

The other day I made my favorite Mac n Cheese. I’ve been craving it for a while but it’s been too warm to cook this type of food so when the days started cooling off I knew exactly what it was time for; creamy Mac n Cheese with crispy edges and crusty top.

It was a Saturday and the Farmers’ Market that I usually go to is on Sunday morning. That means I was out of just about everything fresh. So, that night I feasted on my Mac n Cheese accompanied by only a simple salad of baby greens, shredded carrots and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Tasty enough but as I sat down to eat I thought, “you know what would be great with this Mac n Cheese, grilled Brussels sprouts”.  Next morning as I shopped the Farmers’ Market the first thing I picked up was some Brussels sprouts and some Crimii mushrooms. I also picked up a nice butternut squash, some onions and a couple of Black Arkansas apples (more on these later)

Sunday night I grilled the Brussels sprouts, Chrimini, onion and garlic and feasted on left over Mac n Cheese with a side of the roasted veggies. Oh my was it good. Definitely a great accompaniment to the Mac n Cheese. You can find more ways to fix Brussels sprouts on my January 22, 2010 post, \”How I Learned To Love Brussels Sprouts\”. You might even consider one of these versions as a side for Thanksgiving.

Here’s the recipe for the Mac n Cheese. It’s from James Beard’s American Cookery and has been my favorite since my son was a little boy. Which, as I consider it, was a long time ago.

Macaroni and Cheese I

½ lb macaroni (I use brown rice pasta)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash Tabasco

1 to 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I use a sharp Tillamook)

Boil the macaroni in salted water till just tender. Drain well. Prepare a white sauce — melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, blend with the flour, and cook several minutes over medium heat. Heat the milk to the boiling point, stir into the flour-butter mixture, and continue stirring until it thickens. Add the seasonings and simmer 4 to 5 minutes.

Butter a 2 or 2 ½ quart baking dish or casserole. In it arrange alternate layers of macaroni, sauce, and cheese, ending with cheese.  Option: Cover the top with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve at once.