So, for me chicken salad is always a little tricky. I find the chicken is always dry and the flavors are either to mayonnaisey or too salty, overly spiced, oddly flavored (pickle relish, anyone?) or just plain bland. All-in-all, I'm not a big fan. For Mother's Day, we knew we would be eating outside on my grandma's lovely patio, so we decided we'd have picnic-type food and I have been determined to come up with a chicken salad that I love.
Erin's Chicken Salad
5 medium chicken breasts, about 3.5 lbs., poached, cooled and cut into 1/2" cubes
Combine the following ingredients and toss with cooled chicken:
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. minced celery
1/2 c. minced green onions
1 1/4 c. sliced grapes
1/2 c. sliced almonds
To poach the chicken: add 4 whole peeled cloves garlic, 1 TB. black peppercorns, 3 dried bay leaves and 1 TB. salt to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, return to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Let sit, covered for about 20 minutes, then remove from water and set aside to partly cool. This makes for a very tender, juicy chicken that cuts easily into cubes without shredding.
Note to self - leftover chicken salad on a bed of romaine with lemon vinaigrette - this will be delightful!
These pictures aren't great, but that's OK, I'm not really a photographer :D
On to dessert... A while back, I made some tarts that ended up being pretty damned tasty. I was at our local farm stand trying to decide what to make for dessert when I saw these gorgeous strawberries on sale (4 pounds for five dollars) and I decided on cheesecake. When I got home I came to the realization: Hey, dummy! You're lactose intolerant, so quit it with the cheesecake! This is what I ended up with:
Strawberry Cream Cheese Tartlets
The basics from the tart recipe are the same, but this time I added a layer of sweetened cream cheese and used the following ingredients for the coulis:
3 lbs. fresh strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange liquor
zest of 1 lemon
juice and zest of 1 orange
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 of a fresh nutmeg, grated
1 tsp. vanilla extract and juice of 1 lemon added at the end, then add
2 TB. cornstarch, dissolved in 3 TB. water - boil until thickened
These tarts were definitely the hit of the day..