Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Curried Chicken Salad

After using leftovers creatively, my most frugal tip is to buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself as opposed to buying chicken pieces at the grocery store. This guarantees that, if you are cooking for two (or two plus a toddler, like I am) you will get two meals out of one bird. The first, of course, is what you make with the thighs, drums, and breasts. The second is what you do with the carcass. Here is what I did with my bird last week: Curried Chicken Salad.

Chicken salad is an incredibly flexible dish and can be simple (mayo, celery and dill) or all dolled up, like it is here. Apples and raisins are always in my house, so that was easy. Celery is a useful veggie and adds base flavors in soups and stews - just be sure to wrap it tightly in aluminum foil so it doesn't wilt within the week. Curry powder is another staple to have on hand. Experiment with different brands - some are sweeter, some are spicier - and find one you like. I stuffed the Curried Chicken Salad into a split croissant, but it goes great on whole wheat bread, and is even easier on the diet when served in Bibb lettuce leaves.

Curried Chicken Salad
  • I chicken carcass, or two bone-in breasts
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons curry powder, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil the chicken carcass in salted water until cooked through and falling off the bone. When done, remove from water and let cool in a bowl.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the apple and celery and add them in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon over them to keep the apples from browning. Add the raisins and cilantro.
  3. Mix the curry powder and mayo together, and taste - it will need salt and maybe pepper and more lemon juice.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bones and shred or chop finely. Add to the apple mixture and stir in mayo and curry dressing and chopped cilantro. Mix well and chill until ready to eat.
You can substitute plain yogurt for half of the mayo, if you like. Also, chopped walnuts would be great in this!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine

Of all the things in the refrigerator that can go bad, fresh herbs are the worst. I can't tell you how many times I've purchased a bunch of cilantro / parsley / basil / et cetera for one recipe, put the remainder in the veggie drawer, and forgotten about it until it was useless green mush. Herbs are expensive, especially in the winter when you can't grow them outside, so to waste them is painful to me.

Case in point: I made the Green Goddess Salad, which used a few tablespoons of chopped tarragon, a few nights ago. I still had more than half a container of tarragon to use, and desperately needed a recipe for it. A quick search of foodnetwork.com found a Giada De
Laurentis recipe for Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine.

Buy a whole chicken, cut it up for this recipe, and use the carcass for another. I didn't have cippolini onions, so I diced half a red onion instead. For the wine, I had half a bottle of Reisling in the fridge, and I liked the brightness and gentle acidity it lent to the sauce. We mopped up the leftovers with crusty bread and ate it with a salad.

Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine
(recipe by Giada De Laurentis, courtesy of foodnetwork.com)

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (4 -5 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups cipollini or pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 cup white wine, such as Riesling
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the oil over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and dust with flour. Cook the chicken, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  2. Heat the same pan used for the chicken over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  3. Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Add 3 cups of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of tarragon and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook, turning the chicken pieces over every 10 minutes, until cooked through, about 30 minutes total for the breasts and wings and 40 minutes total for the legs and thighs. Transfer the chicken to a platter and loosely tent with foil while finishing the sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/3 cup chicken broth and flour. Whisk the flour mixture into the sauce until smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of tarragon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Green Goddess Salad With Shrimp

I am a huge believer in eating what's in season. It ensures you eat a variety of fruits and veggies, and can help you save money, because it's cheaper to buy what's fresh at the farmer's market than to pony up the big bucks for foreign produce at the grocery store (not to mention the environmental impact of shipping fruit from South America.) That said, sometimes, in the midst of winter, when days are cold and nights are long, you crave a bright bit of summer. Rules are made to be broken, and when I saw the fresh tarragon in the produce aisle, well, I couldn't resist.

Green goddess dressing is really easy to make and easily adaptable to whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. Parsley is always available, and so are green onions, so you just need to find one more flavor component to make your dressing zing. Tarragon is my favorite, but other recipes I've seen feature basil or even arugula. And don't leave out the anchovy paste! If you've never used it before, don't be scared - it adds a salty, almost soy sauce flavor, and isn't fishy or gross. A tube of it will keep in your fridge forever, and I keep it handy for Caesar salad.

You could easily sub out the shrimp in the salad for cooked chicken, canned tuna, or hard-boiled eggs for you vegetarians out there. This salad is terrific during the summer when herbs are plentiful, and a real treat in the depths of winter.

Green Goddess Salad With Shrimp

  • 1 pound fresh raw shrimp (I used 21-25, but smaller or larger is fine)
  • 1 large bag salad greens of your choice (at least 3 oz. salad per person)
  • 1 small red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pepitas (optional)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of one lemon
  • a 2-inch-long squeeze of anchovy paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, or more
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon, or more
  1. Make the dressing: I just put everything in the food processor. Yup, it was that easy. Blend it all up, taste it - does it need more tarragon? More lemon? More anchovy? Fix it, blend it, taste again. Once you have it perfect, put it in the fridge to chill while you make the salad.
  2. Shell the shrimp. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter, and add shrimp. Salt them and cook for about 90 seconds, or until pink on the bottom. Flip the shrimp and cook for another minute or two until opaque and hot through. Be careful not to overcook or the shrimp will get tough and rubbery.
  3. Add the pepitas and shrimp to the salad and dress liberally with the green goddess dressing and fresh cracked pepper.
We ate this with pita chips and some hummus for a light and fantastic supper!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project: Rescuing Rice

The Patient: 12 ounces cooked Basmati rice
Status: Declining
Solution: Indian Rice Pudding!

I love Basmati rice. It has the most wonderful perfume to it and isn't as sticky or heavy-feeling as the Korean rice we usually eat here. I made a pot of Basmati rice in the rice cooker, to go along with a vegetable curry and Lamb Kofta Curry. We ate everything but a good cup and a half of cooked rice. Instead of trying to cobble together something to eat with that small amount of rice, I decided to tackle it head-on. Rice, once cooked, doesn't stay nice for long, so that night, after dinner, I made Indian Rice Pudding.

In my pantry I had a can of coconut milk, and I pawed through my spice cabinet to find something to bring life to an otherwise bland dish. I think it was a success. The proof? I ate half for dessert and the other half for breakfast.

Indian Rice Pudding

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked Basmati rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  1. Place the rice and coconut milk in a small pot over low heat. Add the spices, stir in the sugar, and simmer on low for about half an hour. The rice will de-clump, the milk will thicken, and the kitchen should smell heavenly.
  2. Once your preferred consistency has been reached, remove cinnamon stick, anise, and cardamom pods. Serve warm with cinnamon sprinkled on top. You could eat this with some sliced mangoes, if you have them on hand.