Fare Exchange: Easy chicken and dumplings for cold winter nights

Fare Exchange: Easy chicken and dumplings for cold winter nights

February 5th, 2014 by Jane Henegar in Life Entertainment


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: chattfare@gmail.com

Good morning snowed-in, snowed-out winter readers. Can February outfreeze January? We hope not, but here's a reminder that recipes for hot foods are most welcome here. In fact, the other day a reader reported that a natural healer advised her to "eat and drink lots of warm things like soups are stews if you want to get pregnant, and avoid cold foods." Interesting theory, and a little Internet research will at least pique your interest in the idea.

Today's requests include the following, all culled from conversation over a snow-day meal. "What is the difference in taste of different kinds of mushrooms, and can they be used interchangeably? How about some recipes using polenta, including stews using polenta? And what is the difference between polenta and cornmeal and grits? And how about a recipe for pots de crème?

As you will read below, we are also looking for J. Alexander's blue cheese dressing.

This is an auspicious day, in that we received a letter from a 90-year-old reader who is still thinking about good cooking. Moreover, he is actually doing that cooking. He is the Rev. William B. Thomas of Cleveland, Tenn., a retired Methodist minister, who wrote that "I always enjoy your weekly articles on food preparation, etc. I obtain quite a few hints that help me in my cooking and always look forward to your columns." (That compliment, by the way, goes to all of you who submit recipes.)

The reverend continued, "Last week you included Town and Country's blue cheese dressing. I have loved blue cheese ever since I was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1946. Over the years I have enjoyed some very good blue cheese dressing. When I lived in the Knoxville area some years ago I felt that Regas Restaurant had the best. Now that I am in Cleveland I have found that J. Alexander's blue cheese dressing is most, most tasteful. I have used recipe after recipe I would run across trying to get one I really liked. Is there any way you might be able to get J. Alexander's blue cheese dressing recipe? It may be a trade secret. I would surely like to have a copy of the ingredients they use."

We have another nomination for Mount Vernon's Amaretto Pie, this one identified by the sender Gerry Hall of Ringgold, Ga., as "the original Mount Vernon recipe." This one has vanilla wafer crumbs as a base for the crust.

Amaretto Pie

Crumb nut crust:

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (approximately 25 wafers)

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted


8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (no substitutions)

1 cup powdered sugar

8 ounces Cool Whip (no substitutions)

1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur or ½ teaspoon almond extract


1 cup Cool Whip

1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds

For the crust, combine all ingredients and form into a 9-inch glass pie plate, covering bottom and sides. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Cool.

For the filling, in a medium bowl mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar and Cool Whip. In a separate bowl combine instant pudding mix, milk and Amaretto liqueur or almond extract. Combine with cream cheese mixture and pour into the cooled pie crust.

Top the pie with Cool Whip and sliced almonds. Do not stir Cool Whip; it loses volume.

Refrigerate pie for at least 8 hours. The pie works well frozen and slightly thawed before serving.

Jennifer, a busy mom who feeds four voracious young ones and loves to try new recipes in large quantities, found this recipe that is called chicken and dumplings but is much easier. "It's really easy and made with ingredients that I generally have in the kitchen anyway. This is a nontraditional chicken and dumpling recipe that you can get on the table in about 45 minutes if you use a ready-cooked rotisserie chicken. This recipe is adapted from a Rachael Ray show with Jessica Simpson."

Jennifer mentioned the ease of preparation; wonder how it would work with canned chicken breast chunks?

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken (your choice of rotisserie chicken meat or 1 pound poached chicken), shredded

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 can condensed cream of broccoli or cream of mushroom soup (but any cream of soup will work, including cream of celery)

1 cup chicken broth

2 to 3 cans crescent rolls (regular size, not large size, see note below)

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste (optional)

Poach and shred your chicken or pull apart your rotisserie chicken. If you used poached chicken, season with salt and pepper; a rotisserie chicken should have plenty of flavor already.

Roll out 2 cans of crescent rolls and separate into triangles. Stick some chicken in each triangle and roll up just like you would a normal crescent roll. Place rolls in a 9- by 13-inch pan. It doesn't really need to be greased, but please, if it makes you feel better, grease away.

Mix together soups and chicken broth in a separate bowl. Pour over the top of your dumplings. Cut remaining crescent rolls into strips and lay over the top of the dumplings in a sort of basket weave pattern. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for 30 minutes.

Note: You may use only 1 1/2 cans of crescent rolls (12 triangles) rather than all 16. The other 4 triangles may be used across the top. This dish freezes well.

On the coldest night of all, a young neighbor brought herself and a steaming quiche, wrapped in red kitchen towels, across our snowy yard. She wanted to share the quiche, baked in her brand-new favorite kitchen possession, a very large Le Creuset pottery quiche pan.

"It was a Christmas gift and I love it because the heavy pan keeps the crust from cooking too much. I make my crust with butter and half whole wheat, half white flour. I press it in my pan instead of rolling it out, and it works very well. The filling is simply eggs, half and half, spinach, garlic and yellow peppers and any cheese I have on hand. I vary the vegetables according to what I have on hand."

In Fare Exchange we are always in the market for inspiration and ideas and menus as well as the most necessary recipe. Keep it up, please, oh, please.

Just a Dash...

I went to the home of a friend last week for a cup of tea. Although I wasn't thinking of breakfast, she offered, and we sat by the fire, she with her tea and her grateful guest with a big bowl of Brown Cow vanilla yogurt topped with homemade granola and fresh blackberries. My hostess had received the granola from a generous friend, not incidentally one who can cook very well.

The granola idea, which actually came from another reader, Lou LaNieve, is today's Dash. When asked to prepare a meal for a friend, she favors taking a jar of her homemade granola with yogurt and lots of different toppings, including nuts and dried cherries. That meal suffices as breakfast or lunch and, if truth be known, as a fine dinner, too.