After a day of outdoor activities, warm yourself with a bowl of this aromatic chicken soup. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

There’s nothing like a bowl of chicken soup followed by freshly made cookies on a cold winter’s day, wouldn’t you agree? Ninety percent of these ingredients are probably in your kitchen right now. Believe me, you are going to want to eat this tonight. And I bet it will go into your regular meal rotation.

Add black rice (Chinkiang) vinegar which has a distinct umami earthiness, and crispy chili oil and you have a winner. These two staples can be found at an Asian grocery store. (I found the crispy chili sauce at Shaw’s.) If you can’t find the specialty vinegar, substitute balsamic vinegar with a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Then this flexible cookie dough recipe can be mixed up, rolled up and kept in the fridge or freezer for baking later. Another variation is to reduce the amount of dates to 2/3 cup and add 1 cup chopped white chocolate. Any dried fruit will work, too. (You already know how I favor dried cherries.)

Keep the cookie dough rolls on hand for unexpected company, or just bake off a few freshies for yourself when you crave something sweet.

Ginger garlic chicken noodle soup

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced


One (3-by-1-inch) piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped

1 bundle (6 to 8 ounces) scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated

4 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

10 cups water

8 ounces dried curly ramen-style noodles


1 cup carrot, cut into little matchsticks

1/4 cup black rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Crispy chili oil, to taste

Bring chicken, garlic, ginger, scallion whites (reserve the greens for garnish), salt, pepper and water to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.


While the soup simmers, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. Add crispy chili oil to taste. Set aside.

Transfer chicken to a platter and shred with two forks.

Add noodles and carrots to the broth just before serving, following the estimated cooking time on the noodle package.

Once the noodles are done, return the chicken to the pot and heat through for about one minute. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Divide soup between four serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon soy sauce mixture. Garnish with reserved green scallions. Serve with extra sauce at the table.

Yield: 4 servings


Oatmeal date shortbread

1 1/2 cups flour

6 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup butter, cut into pieces (use cold for a food processor or stand mixer, room temperature for an electric hand mixer)


1 1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup chopped, pitted dates

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 egg

1/4 cup coarse sugar

In a food processor or stand mixer, combine flour, sugars and salt. Add vanilla and butter and mix until the mixture is sandy, no chunks remain, and the butter is fully blended into the flour. Add oats, dates and orange zest. Mix until everything is combined and the dough looks a little clumpy.


If you’re using a hand mixer, beat room-temperature butter, sugars and salt together in a medium-to-large bowl until light and smooth. Add vanilla, flour, oats, dates and orange zest and beat until combined. The mixture will be crumbly.

Divide dough in half and transfer each to a 9-by-13-inch piece of parchment paper. Draw up the sides of the paper over one half of the dough, press the dough from the outside of the paper into a tight log then roll the extra paper up around it. Repeat with the second half of the dough, forming another log. Chill the logs until they’re firm, about one hour in the fridge or 20 minutes in the freezer.

The dough can be made ahead and stored, wrapped in cling film, for one week in the fridge, or one month in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap each cookie log and use the parchment to line a large baking sheet.

Beat egg until blended and brush it over the cookie logs, then roll the log in coarse sugar.

Cut each log with a sharp serrated knife into half-inch slices. (If the slices break apart, just squeeze them back together.) Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet(s) and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Cool a couple minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Yield: 30 cookies

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