Monday, August 12, 2013

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Serves 6 

3 very large breasts of chicken, poached in lightly salted boiling water for 13 minutes, cut into a 1/2" dice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup pistachios (salted or unsalted)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 T curry powder
2 T honey
1/4 cup tarragon, minced
1 green apple (unpeeled), cut into a 1/2" x 1/2" by 1/4" dice
Juice of 1.5 lemons
Salt to taste

Croissants, halved, and toasted (insides only)

Mix all salad ingredients together. Place chicken salad on croissants, top with arugula. Halve sandwiches, as these are VERY messy.

A few possible modifications:
- substitute 1/2 Greek yogurt for the mayo. 
- Serve as a roll-up; much less messy. 

Pasta with Pistachio Pesto, Scallops and Grapefruit

Serves 4 

1.5 pounds fresh scallops (never use frozen, too much water)
1 pound pasta, preferably fresh
1 large red grapefruit, cut int 1/2" dice

For Pesto
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios + 1 T ground into a coarse powder
1/2 cup tightly packed mint leaves
.75 ounces (small package) tarragon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup EVOO
1 tsp mint jelly, mint sauce, or other mint-flavored thing (optional)
Salt & black pepper to taste

Pulse 1/2 cup of pistachios in food processor till coarsely chopped. Add in garlic and pulse just to disperse. Add in mint and tarragon and pulse till evenly chopped, but not too fine. Add in EVOO, pulsing to do so. Taste, and add salt and pepper. Add mint sauce, mint jelly, or honey to adjust flavor (some times it's tough to get the mint flavor to come through. 

For Fish 
Remove muscle (small piece of meat on side--if you don't see it, it's already fallen off). Pat each scallop dry with a paper towel, and place on a plate with a paper towel to continue to allow to dry. You want as little water as possible, as it will make them caramelize better. 

Bring a 12" or 14" cast iron or non-stick skillet to smoking--no oil. Add scallops and sear on each side for 1 minute. 

Cook pasta and immediately toss with pesto. Taste, then add salt, it will need a lot of salt. Don't add all the salt it needs, as some guests may have lower salt tolerances. Be sure to put salt on the table, so people can add more to their taste. I stress this, because this dish is totally tasteless if you don't add salt to bring out the flavor of the pesto. 

Evenly divide scallops and grapefruit among the four pasta bowls. Sprinkle all with ground pistachios. If you want cheese on this, use pecorino romano, not paremsan. 

Caprese on Parmesan Crisps

Serves 4 

6 ounces buffalo mozzarella in water
2 stalks basil leaves, leaves julienned
Very high quality balsamic vinegar, or lower quality balsmic that has been reduced
3 roma, heirloom (very small, or just one) or other high-flavor tomatos
Parmesan crisps

Make parmesan crisps as directed. Break into bite size  pieces and plate on whatever plate you plan to serve them on. Cut up all cheese into sizes that will fit onto crisps. Cut tomatoes into slices, then into smaller pieces so that tomato fits on top of cheese. Assemble as quickly as possible, to prevent parmesan crisps from losing crispiness. Sprinkle over basil, and drizzle balsamic vinegar (liberally, and such that it comes into contact with mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.

White Gazpacho: Chilled Almond, Garlic and Grape Soup

Serves 4
Modified from

8 T sliced almonds
5 slices of rustic bread, toasted
3 slices of brioche bread (for croutons, or just use two of your other bread)
1 pound seedless green grapes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2.5 cups water, + 1/2 cup
3/4 cup EVOO
3 T white wine vinegar
2 T fresh tarragon minced
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
butter for making croutons

Soak 5 slices of toasted bread in 2.5 cups water. Toast almonds in s skillet till golden brown. Place 6 T of almonds into a food processor along with garlic and soaked bread. Puree till even in consistency. Add 9-10 ounces of grapes to the food processor, then puree until uniform. Transfer to a bowl then whisk in first vinegar, then olive olive oil, then 1/2 cup of cold water. Press entire mixture through a sieve, in batches. Use a rubber spatula to press it through. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Chill for at least an hour.

Make croutons by slicing bread into 1/2" cubes. Place a T or so f butter in a pan and melt. Add croutons after foam has subsided. Turn down heat to low or medium low. Turn croutons till all six sides have been toasted to golden brown. Add butter if necessary. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then remove from heat. You can use any bread for this, but brioche is far superior, as in this soup, it  works perfectly.

Divide soup among 4 bowls, than add garnishes--croutons, halved grapes and tarragon. You might also add a parmesan crisp, it would be a nice addition.

Parmesan Crisps

Makes one 12" crisp, which can be broken up into smaller pieces

4 ounces parmiggiano reggiano

Grate cheese onto a medium-high heat non-stick, or cast iron 12" skillet. Let all cheese melt, and turn down heat to medium or medium low to prevent burning. Allow all cheese to melt, then begin to harden. Once hardening is occuring, using two spatulas, remove cheese from skillet to plate, and allow to cool. Carefully break into smaller pieces. Nice as a garnish for soup, or as a base for canapes, or bruschetta-type things. Parmesan treated this way gets a tad of bitterness to it, which is nicely offset by something sweet on top, or to dip it in.