Somebody celebrated a birthday last week! 🙂 Alex found a few kitchen treats for me:
(I didn’t realize until posting the photo just now what a patriotic gift it turned out to be). So that’s Jamie Oliver’s newest cookbook containing recipes inspired by his travels into the heart of America, a salt pig, and a mortar and pestle. The last two merit a short explanation before I proceed into the rest of the birthday festivities.
A salt pig is a container for storing salt, generally made of earthenware or ceramic which helps to keep the grains from sticking when the kitchen gets steamy. It’s that red thing in the photo above. Its wide mouth makes it really easy to access the salt – whether with my hands to season a dish or with a spoon for more precise measuring. It kind of reminds me of those green pipes that gargle in an electronically musical way on Super Mario (which, in case you forgot, in no way resembles an oink-oink pink pig). Rather, “pig” is a derivative from Scottish / Old English meaning vessel.
The second kitchen staple is the perhaps more recognizable mortar and pestle (the blue things in my photo). It’s for grinding things up like spices and herbs. Why not buy the things you’re grinding already ground? It’s kind of like a can of beer. It tastes best right when it’s popped open. Once it’s been open, it doesn’t taste as fresh 3 hours later; sure, it still tastes like beer, but it’s lost a certain sparkly joie de vivre, if you will. (Yes, I do realize how awkward it may be to use “beer” and “sparkly” in the same sentence). Similarly, perhaps you like to enjoy your beer with a slice of citrus fruit. But there is a difference between adding a citrus slice and buying the beer with the citrus already infused. With a mortar and pestle, one has more control over the freshness of the crushed ingredients because they’ll be smashed open and used right away. Also, the size of said crushings can be controlled to your heart’s content, rather than purchasing them in a predetermined ratio, size, or combination. (Here’s a useful video demonstrating how to – and how not to – use one).
So back to my birthday. Alex asked me to pick a recipe from my new cookbook and he made it for us to enjoy that night! I chose the Comforting Turkey Stew from Jamie’s Georgia recipes.
It was creamy and delicious and I love cremini mushrooms (or “criminal” mushrooms, as Alex likes to call them). And this is also the first Southern dish containing dumplins that I’ve actually not been creeped out by those chewy lumps of floating dough. Alex used a combination of turkey wings and chicken breasts. And the bit of parsley and lemon that Jamie calls for gives the whole thing a surprisingly nice fresh bite which helps to cut through the cream.
What was I doing while all this cooking was going on? Putting my feet up and enjoying the aromas, as I was instructed to do. I think he did a great job, don’t you?
Oh, and here’s the recipe in case you need something comforting to warm you and your loved ones this November:
Comforting Turkey Stew (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s America)
– 3 onions, diced (we used 1 big one)
– 1-2 pounds skinless turkey breast cut into 1/2 inch slices (we used 2 turkey wings and 2 small chicken breasts)
– 1 1/4 quarts chicken broth
1. Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil on medium high heat for about 10 minutes. Add the turkey and 1 quart of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes.
– 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 large egg
– salt and pepper
– fresh nutmeg
2. While your meat is simmering, make the dumplings. Put the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center and crack in the egg. Add a pinch of salt and of pepper and a few gratings of the nutmeg. Mix together with a fork, adding 2-3 tablespoons of simmering broth (I think Alex ended up adding a bit more because the dough wasn’t coming together). Knead until you have a smooth dough, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
– 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream
3. Shred the meat with 2 forks. (I think Alex found this a bit difficult to do in the pan so you could also just leave them in larger chunks.
4. Add the sliced mushrooms and the cream and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
5. On a floured surface, roll the dumpling dough out until quite thin and rectangular in shape. Slice into thin strips and stir into the stew. Add more broth if needed, then bring back to a boil. (You’ll see the cream starting to thicken things up and the dumplings soaking up the broth).
6. Reduce the heat and simmer (lid off) for about 10 more minutes.
– handful of flat-leaf parsley
– 1 lemon
– 1 clove of garlic (Jamie says 1/2 clove…I think 1 is fine)
7. Roughly chop the parsley leaves and add to stew. Zest the lemon and add zest to stew. Grate (or mince) the garlic and add. Add salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.