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Dumplings: 15 Minutes to Fluffy

January 21, 1998|JOAN DRAKE | Drake is a freelance writer living in San Luis Obispo

Light, fluffy dumplings put the finishing touch on a pot of stew or braised chicken. Unfortunately, when improperly cooked, those same spoonfuls of dough turn into lead weights.

The cardinal rule when making dumplings is "no peeking"--unless you have a pan with a glass lid. Once the dough is dropped into simmering liquid and the cover put in place, lifting it for even a second allows the steam to escape and lowers the cooking temperature.

Be sure the pan is large enough that the dough can expand as it cooks. It doesn't matter whether the liquid is stock, broth, gravy or water, as long as it's kept simmering. Otherwise, the dumplings become soggy on the bottom.

Some cookbooks suggest substituting cake flour for half the amount of flour called for in the recipe. Fresh or dried herbs and a couple of tablespoons of minced onion or shredded cheese may be added to the dough before cooking.

BASIC DUMPLINGS

3/4 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Mix flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Combine milk, egg, oil and thyme in 1-cup measuring cup. Stir into flour mixture to form sticky dough.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons into simmering liquid. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Do not remove cover.

10 to 12 small dumplings. Each of 10 dumplings:

67 calories; 41 mg sodium; 22 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.07 gram fiber.

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