Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Chicken Salad and Tartlets

This has been a lovely Mother's Day! I spent the morning making dessert and chicken salad for our Mother's Day dinner, then spent the afternoon with my mom and my grandma and grandpa and my siblings.

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

Tart shell coated with white chocolate and filled with 1/4 tsp. sweetened cream cheese.

These tarts were definitely the hit of the day..

My mom

My favorite picture of the day - Grandma and Grandpa licking their plates!

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