Archive for June, 2010

Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Chicken Salad

Or maybe I should say “grape salad.”    I like to have a lot of grapes in my chicken salad.  They add such great flavor and texture, so I just think there is no such thing as too many grapes.   What is not to love about that exciting burst of sweet juice when biting into a grape?  Really, aren’t grapes lovely?

Chicken Salad

So, I think this is hands down the best chicken salad I have ever tasted. There are  a lot of varieties out there, and I just don’t go for those pureed chicken ones that are really wet.  No way.  I want to bite into the chicken and chew it, not suck it down a straw.  Nothing mushy with this recipe, just great taste and texture, which is why this is my favorite summertime lunch, served up with some wheat crackers.  This packs well, so it is perfect for a lovely picnic.  I also usually include it in my arsenal of road trip food.

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Recipe  makes about 3 servings

adapted from my mom’s family cookbook Secret Ingredients

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
20-25 seedless red grapes, cut in half
1 small sweet apple, peeled and diced (I use honey crisp or pink lady.)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
3-4 tablespoons crumbled pecans, optional
pinch salt

  1. Boil chicken until it reaches 170 degrees.
  2. Drain and run cold water over it to cool.
  3. Once chicken is cool, cut into small pieces.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to chicken and combine thoroughly.
  5. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Mushroom Crêpe Cake

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Mushroom Crêpe Cake

The flavor of mushroom soup without the liquid.  The decadence of cake without the sugar.  Similar to quiche but without the eggs.  Yes, sounds crazy, but you’ll know what I mean once you try it.

This one is good any time for any meal, main dish or side dish.  The first time I made it, I served it at a brunch party.  The second time was for dinner.  And it is great for guests.  It cooks up so pretty and fancy looking, but there is nothing hard about it.  The most time-consuming part is slicing a pound of mushrooms, which is really no big deal.

Mushroom Crêpe Cake

You may be tempted to be lazy and use store-bought crêpes, but there is really no reason to because these are really easy, and making them from scratch makes the whole dish more rewarding, and others will be more impressed.  I had never even made crêpes before trying this recipe, and I’m glad I didn’t go with my initial thought to skip the step and use pre-made.

If you like mushrooms, you will love this.  And if you’re like me, it will become your new favorite staple.

Mushroom Crêpe Cake

Mushroom Crêpe Cake Recipe  Makes 6 to 8 servings

adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Alton Brown’s recipe

Filling:
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded

  1. In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and begin to cook the onion so that it sweats.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high, add all of the mushrooms and remaining two tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Stir in the flour, then drizzle in the milk while you stir. Reduce the liquid in the pan by half. Add the mozzarella and let it melt. Immediately take filling off the heat.
  4. Layer two crêpes on a buttered sheet pan. Spread a thin layer of the filling onto the crêpe. Top with another crêpe and spread more filling. Repeat this process until you are out of filling.
  5. Top with a final crêpe and sprinkle on the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Put under broiler until cheese melts.

Savory Crêpes:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Butter, for coating the pan

  1. Mix the flour and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, water, and butter.
  3. Slowly whisk egg mixture into dry ingredients.
  4. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for one hour, or up to 48 hours.
  5. Heat a small non-stick pan. Add a tiny amount of butter to barely coat. Pour a couple tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds.  (The first one is always a dud, so trash it. Sometimes the second too.)   Lay the crêpe flat on a large cutting board to the cutting board to cool; continue cooking until all of the batter is gone.

Do ahead: Crêpe batter can be made up to two days in advance, stored in the fridge. Cooked, cooled and well-wrapped, crêpes can be stored for several days in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer. Frozen crêpes can be thawed on a rack; gently peel them as you need. Filling can be made a day in advance; reheat slowly, over a low flame.

Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing

It runs in my family–we all love bleu cheese dressing.  Ranch? No, thank you!  Thousand Island?  Gross!  We are mean bleu cheese eating machines.  And we are picky.  Nothing is worse than ordering a salad at a restaurant that is a great mixture of greens and fresh vegetables but is topped with a runny, not-so-great bleu cheese dressing.

Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing

And it is getting harder and harder to find quality bleu cheese dressing at the grocery store.  Every time I have it on my shopping list, I am a little nervous that I just won’t be able to find one of the very few brands I am willing to eat, so I walk through the refrigerated dressing section squinting one eye and crossing one finger in hopes that I will not be disappointed.

I had to put an end to this ridiculousness.  I just can’t handle that kind of stress anymore.  What to do than create my own very chunky, very full of bleu cheese, and very thick bleu cheese dressing.  Perfect for salads or dipping.

Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing

Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 clove garlic minced
cracked black pepper
salt

  1. Combine all ingredients.

Note:  This will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week.  After that, it loses it thickness and becomes runny, although still with good flavor.