Monday, February 7, 2011
When I was growing up, my mother made dumplings to go on top of beef stew or chicken soup once in a while. Her recipe was the one on the Bisquick box. I don't think she ever made anything else from Bisquick - she never made waffles, and the pancakes she made were potato pancakes. No Bisquick there. And I can ever remember her making biscuits, either.
Nope, that box was all about dumplings.
When I moved out on my own, I bought my very own box of Bisquick. It seemed like the right thing to do. Some time after that, I discovered the "impossible" pies, where you mixed a bunch of stuff along with Bisquick, and it made a crust. I recall being very fond of the tamale pie.
But of course, I also made dumplings. Right from those package instructions. Just like mom.
Then one fateful day, my life was changed. I opened the Bisquick box, and there were ... ugh ... crawly things in there. The grail of dumplings had been invaded by pests.
I didn't know what to do. Bisquick, to me, wasn't like a mix, like cake mix. To me it was an ingredient, like flour or sugar or baking soda. Flour came from wheat, and Bisquick came from ... Bisquick plants? I guess I never thought about it before then, but I scurried to my cookbooks to see if I could find some way to make dumplings (oh, beloved dumplings!) without the secret ingredient.
And to my surprise, there were plenty of recipes in every darned cookbook. With very few ingredients. So what did I need Bisquick for, anyway?
It was the dawning of a new age. With a little extra space in the pantry where the Bisquick box used to sit.
My next revelation was that dumplings didn't have to be plain. Herbs and spices, bits of grated cheese, little things could be added to flavor the dumplings. But it wasn't until recently that I thought about major changes. Like meddling with the flour. This time I added corn flour for a subtle change to the flavor.
1 ounce (by weight) corn flour
3 ounces (by weight) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Drop by spoon-fulls onto boiling soup. Hint: to make the dough drop off the spoon more easily, dip it into the hot soup first.
Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the dumplings are fluffy and cooked through. Just like a cake, you can test the dumplings by inserting a toothpick into the center of one. If it comes out clean, the dumplings are done.