published Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Biscuits, dumplings and two batches of soup

Welcome to Fare Exchange on this final 2011 Wednesday, on the cusp of a new year filled with possibilities. I'm out of Chattanooga pocket as I write, and from friends in the far country I have these requests: an authentic coq au vin, a deep quiche made in a straight-sided pan with a homemade crust, a crustless quiche and any dessert made with marshmallows.

Here is Jimmie Lou Mulkey's recipe for apple dumplings, sent from Soddy-Daisy.

Apple Dumplings

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup butter

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup sweet milk

6 or more apples, cut in fourths

Butter for topping apples

Make a syrup of sugar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let sit while you mix dough. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Add shortening, and cut in until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. Add milk and stir to make a soft dough.

Cut pastry in 6 parts. Roll 1/4 inch thick. Put 4 to 5 pieces of apple on each one. Dot with butter. Fold corners to center and pinch together. Pour syrup over dough. Bake 35 minutes at 375 F.

Here's a soup that made its debut in Southern Living magazine and came to us through an anonymous reader.

Basil Tomato Soup

2 medium onions, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 (35-ounce) cans Italian-style, whole peeled tomatoes with basil

1 (32-ounce) can chicken broth

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (16-ounce) package frozen breaded okra

Sauté onions in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 9 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Process mixture with a handheld mixer until smooth.

Process basil, next 5 ingredients, 1/4 cup water and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir basil mixture, sugar and pepper into soup. Cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Meanwhile, cook okra according to package directions. Serve with soup.

Barbara's version of the requested sweet potato biscuits were her make-ahead specialty for Christmas Eve. "The recipe comes from Southern Living. They suggest ham, bacon or sausage with them. I find the cinnamon to be quite tasty."

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup cold whipping cream

Parchment paper

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Heat oven to 450 F. Stir together first 4 ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas and dough is crumbly. Freeze 5 minutes.

Stir together sweet potatoes and cream. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (mixture will be crumbly); knead 1 minute. Pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut with 2-inch cutter, rerolling scraps as needed.

Line sheet with parchment paper. Place biscuits 2 inches apart. Brush tops of biscuit with 2 tablespoons cream. Stir together sugar and remaining cinnamon. Sprinkle dough with sugar mixture. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

And in this season of fancy foods, Barbara sent a very simple tomato soup recipe, in answer to your request. It has a mere six ingredients.

Tomato Soup, Small Recipe

1 can petite-diced tomatoes and juice

1 tablespoon minced dry onion

Dash of salt

Sugar, to taste

1 pat butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix together in a saucepan tomatoes and juice, dry onion, salt, sugar and butter. Simmer until onion is soft and flavors have blended. Just before serving, add cream until hot but not boiling. Makes 2 small servings. Seasonings are easily adjusted and may be easily doubled or tripled.

I've always been an herb-stuffing aficionado, but today's hearty cornbread dressings, which comprise the rest of this column, just may convince me to change. First, Linda Morris sent a recipe "from a very special lady who was a fabulous cook: my mother, Sue Hines."

Cornbread Dressing

1 (8-inch square) pan of cornbread (your favorite recipe)

6 slices toasted white bread, crumbled

11/2 cups finely chopped celery

11/2 cups finely chopped onion

3/4 cup melted butter or margarine

1 teaspoon ground thyme

2 tablespoons sage

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 to 3 cups chicken or turkey broth

4 beaten eggs

Crumble together cornbread and toasted bread, and set aside. Sauté celery and onions in butter or margarine until tender; add to crumbled bread mixture, stirring well. Blend in thyme, sage, poultry seasoning and black pepper. Add broth and eggs, and stir well. Spoon into lightly greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Cut into 8 to 10 squares.

Here's the version preferred by Ann McCarty.

Old-Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

1 recipe cornbread mix (Three Rivers or White Lily works well; use buttermilk in place of whole milk)

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup turkey broth or chicken broth from a can

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 slices day-old bread (or older), white or wheat, shredded into pieces

1 (103/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions. Cook celery and onion in butter for 7 minutes. Stir all the remaining ingredients together with celery and onion. Crumble up the previously baked cornbread, and add to the rest of the ingredients. Bake in casserole dish at 350 F for 30 to 45 minutes. This browns as it bakes, but be careful not to let it get too brown.

Variations: To stretch recipe, add to the above dressing a box of Stove Top cornbread stuffing mix, prepared. Add some dried Lipton's onion soup mix as well, about 1/2 package.

Margaret Brown of East Ridge offers a third option. And what a history it has: Ms. Brown wrote, "This was my mother's recipe. I am now 90 years old, so it's been around a long time. It may seem that it has too much liquid but that's what makes it a very tasty moist dressing."

Cornbread Dressing

2 cups cornbread crumbs

4 cups dry bread crumbs

7 cups chicken or turkey broth

1 cup celery, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sage

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon salt

11/2 teaspoons pepper

6 eggs, well beaten

1 large onion (optional), finely chopped

Mix well and bake in a large pan in a 350 F oven for 1 hour or until set in center.

I'm thinking today, sitting in front of a warming fire, of good meals and good company. There is a biblical passage, Proverbs 15:17, "Better to eat soup with someone you love than steak with someone you hate." So here's to soup and love ... and an occasional steak wouldn't be so bad either. We wish you the best 2012 possible.

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

* Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

* E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

* Fax: 423-668-5092.

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