Monday, April 20, 2015

Chicken Curry Salad

Several years ago we ate at a charming little restaurant in St. Helena called Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.  We loved our curried chicken salads so much that when we got home we tried to duplicate them.  Here's what we came up with:

·        2 cups chicken stock
·        2 T curry powder
·        sea salt
·        2 large organic chicken breasts
·        4 strips applewood smoked bacon fried until perfectly crisp and golden
·        2 eggs
·        1 t dijon
·        sea salt and white pepper
·        1/8 c lemon juice
·        2/3 c canola oil
·        2 t curry powder (I like Morton and Bassets for its mild pleasant flavor)
·        farmers market organic tomatoes, preferably cherry, cut in half
·        fresh organic greens
·        almonds
·        golden raisins

Pour several cups of chicken stock into a skillet, add 2 T of curry powder and sea salt.  Place 2 organic chicken breasts in and let simmer slowly until breasts are tender and just poached throughout.  Remove from heat and slice.  Meanwhile cook down the curry and broth until there is a very small amount left in the pan.  Add the chicken pieces back into the curry mixture and stir so they are thoroughly covered on all sides with curry. Remove and let come to room temperature.

To make the curried mayonnaise dressing, add 1 egg and 1 egg yolk to your food processor.  Add 1 t dijon mustard, a generous pinch of sea salt, a generous sprinkling of white pepper, and 1/8 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Process for a minute or so and begin to very slowly drizzle in 2/3 cup of canola oil while processor continues to run until mayonnaise is thickened.  Stop processing and add in 2 t curry powder. Process until blended.

Put the lettuce into a large salad bowl and toss with the tomatoes, almonds and raisins.  Scatter the bacon (whole slices) and chicken pieces on top and slather on a generous quantity of the yummy curry dressing. 

Serves 2

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vintage, but Still Kicking!

I just found a folded, spindled and torn version of a recipe for Mulligatawny soup.  The recipe is xeroxed (not copied or scanned) from February 1980 Bon Appetit magazine.

I used to make this recipe regularly, and I do remember that it was well-loved by everyone. However, it has long been forgotten in my life.

A few days ago, I decided to adapt the recipe to make it healthier and simpler to cook. Afterall, who has time these day to start soup with a whole chicken?  I wanted to create a Tuesday night version of Mulligatawny that was quick, easy and still tasty.  And I did. It's here.   

Thinking about Mullilgatawny got me wondering about what happens to these wonderful recipes as the years pass by. I decided to search the internet for this recipe.  When I went to search the current Bon Appetit site I found a newer, simpler version for Mulligatawny, very similar to my adaptation, in fact.   But then, low and behold, on pinterest I found a photo two years old of my original recipe:

It even had some of the introductory copy from the original article in Bon Appetit!

Anyway, here is the recipe, in case you like to cook classic and want the longer version.  It's more effort, but definitely more complexly flavored, too, and worth it if you love to cook.  

Bon Appetit's 1980 Mulligatawny Soup

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t cumin seed, ground
6 whole cloves, finely crushed
1 T curry powder (or to taste)
1/4 t ginger, ground
cayenne pepper
1/4 c unsalted butter
1 4-4 1/2 lb roasting chickens, cut into serving pieces
chicken giblets, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, with leaves, thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots diced
1 leek thinly sliced (white part only)
11 cups chicken stock, deffated (preferably homemade, 2 quarts plus 3 cups)
salt and pepper, freshly ground
2/3 c long grain rice
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (tart)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 T fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
2/3 c whipping cream, warmed
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
lightly toasted sliced almonds, to garnish

  1. Combine garlic and spices.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned on all sides.  Add giblets and saute until cooked through.  Transfer chicken and giblets to stockpot. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add celery, onion, carrot, leek and spice mixture and blend well.  Add a small ladle of stock and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender.  Add to chicken.  Stir in remaining stock and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove chicken with slotted spoon and set aside. Add rice to soup and continue cooking 15 minutes.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut meat into bite-size pieces, discarding skin and bones.  Return chicken to soup and blend in apples and yogurt. Simmer 10 minutes.  Degrease soup if necessary.  Stir in lemon juice, then blend in cream.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour into heated tureen and sprinkle with parsley and almonds.

Hunting and Gathering in California's Farmland

Road Trip

California driving-- In California, once you get outside of the major cities,  you'll find roadside farm stands almost anyplace you go.  After all, most of the state is devoted to agriculture. 

Last week my sister and I were in Southern California and we decided to take a leisurely drive home in a somewhat northward vector.  After a wonderful lunch with old friends at a charming outdoor Pasadena restaurant, we hit the freeways. 

Yipes!  Traffic...let's get off these freeways.

From LA we selected an alternate route down a little known highway (126 out of Santa Clarita) that took us through a beautiful interior valley, Santa Clara River Valley.  This scenic valley is planted virtually wall to wall with picturesque orange and avocado groves.  It's pretty much undeveloped other than by ranchers and farmers, and looks like pictures you see of Southern California from the 20's and 30's. 

Santa Clara River Valley, absolutely stunning this time of year.  
As the miles flew by, this was the direct view we had our the car window...row upon row of orange trees bearing fruit.

Oh, oh!  Detour, emergency U-turn.  We just passed a roadside farm stand! 

And what did we find there?

Only the best oranges we can remember tasting in years, above.  We bought a box full. Later, at home, our kids ate them all up.  Lickety split! 

And lemons...

Gorgeous bright yellow lemons.  We bought a box of these, too.  And we made our mother use them to bake our favorite lemon meringue pie for Easter Sunday. 

The group voted.  This was not to be a gluten-free, sugar-free pie!

What else did we buy? 

Tangelos, and this caused some regret.  We only bought half a dozen of these, to discover later that they were fabulous.  We should have bought a box!

Once we were deep into the valley we detoured through Ojai (a beautiful old Spanish Rancho town) on the road to Santa Barbara,

Ojai was originally a dry air health haven built in the 1880's for East Coasters who wanted to escape the cold winters and take "the cure".  Now it is well known for it's health spa, shopping, inns and restaurants.

What did we hunt and gather up in Ojai? 

A good cup of cappuccino, of course, 

It was getting to be early evening by the time we left Ojai and we had a number of driving hours yet to do that night if we were to make it to Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast.  

The next morning we woke up on our cousin's beautiful ranch in a breathtaking interior valley near Arroyo Grande.  On the charming winding road into town, we passed many lovely ranches and small farms with organic gardens.  Early spring plantings were in full swing.  

Oh, oh...detour again.  Uturn!

We just passed a row of cottages with front yard farm gardens.  Each one was selling farm produce on the honors system.  

We bought free-range eggs from the first.  (And were able to verify the free-range aspect.  The hens were roaming around in the backyard.)

Right next door was a beautiful little artichoke patch.  You can see the farmer himself supervising his early morning watering in a big straw hat.  

We decided this artichoke patch was equally beautiful as a landscaping element!  

A little pile of artichokes waiting for takers. We bought them all.   

On the honors system.  You put your money in the plastic container with the red lid on the upper left of the photo.  
It's so important to connect the food we eat with it's original source.  Seeing the farms it comes from helps us all appreciate it so much more.  I'm grateful to live in a beautiful place with the bounty of California's farmland so closeby.