Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ask Rula!

Hello, my people! It seems I have been AWOL for a while, so sorry! The city keeps me so busy with random hipster club nights, mysterious rendezvous-es, exclusive out-of-the-way pop-up dinners, and spa treatments galore. I enjoy mingling with all sorts of folks and it seems wherever I go, people have questions. So let's get to a few of them right now, shall we?

Our first question is from Dough Girl, and she says:
I love dumplings in soup. But I have never been able to get them to reliably puff up and cook through inside. Some will have a nice bready inside, some (most) will be like solid dough. I've tried different recipes, but this always happens. So it must be me, right? Do you have any tricks or techniques to help, oh wise Rula? FYI, here's the recipe I currently use (I like the buttermilk/chive flavor):
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 tsp baking powder
2 tb minced chives
0.5 tsp salt
3 Tb butter, melted
0.5 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Dry stuff in one bowl, wet in another.
Pour wet over dry and stir until you get a shaggy dough.
Drop tablespoon-sized blobs into simmering soup
Cover and cook until puffed, about 15 minutes.
Dough Girl

Dear Dough Girl,
Nice recipe, you must be one sassy chef! I think the proportions of the recipe sound fine but I would try removing a little of flour which might lighten them up a bit. I think the inconsistent cooking is from overcrowding. Try this method: Form them all first and drop them on a lined sheet pan then drop them in the broth at the same time and make sure they have room to move around. You might have to cook them in 2 batches, but the results should be better. If not make some buttermilk biscuits and just dip!

This next question is from Stumped Stewy, and he asks:
What is the difference between a thick soup and a stew? My wife, who thinks she knows everything — just because she makes dinner every night — says it's obvious! But I say it's up for debate. What do you think?
Stumped Stewy

Dear Stumped Stewy,
Let me get this straight, your lovely wife cooks you dinner every night and this is the lack of respect you show her? I think you are lucky you are not wearing that thick soup or stew, depending on what you call it. In terms of a definition, there are a few important factors to consider:
  • any liquid food with a broth base would be considered a soup;
  • soups, unlike stews, can be served hot or cold; and
  • stews are slow-cooked due to the type of meat or vegetable used.
By slow simmering, you can achieve a tender meat or chicken — as well as a blending and mellowing of flavors. As things cook slowly they tend to concentrate flavors and become rich and delicious. Soups on the other hand, can be prepared and finished in a much shorter time. You, on the third hand, will need a lot more time.

The final question is from Nutty Nelly and she writes: Can you please tell me what a Marcona almond is? They seem to be everywhere and are very spendy. Are they worth it? And what is the best way to serve them?

Signed, Nutty Nelly

Dear Nutty Nelly, Marcona almonds are really delicious, you should treat yourself to some, they are great as a nibble with cocktails. They are from Spain and they have a lovely slightly sweet flavor. They are moister and softer then regular almonds and the fragrance will remind you of the perfume of almond extract. They are very high in oil, like most nuts, which makes them very nutritious, and should be stored in a cool, dry place to keep them from going rancid. Try using them in salads, in baked goods, or salted to garnish a cheese platter. Remember, trying new things will keep you young! Why do you think I date college boys?

If you have any questions for me, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment!

Well, that's all for now — I have to get ready for my closeup. Ciao!

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