Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicken Salad

I can never find a good chicken salad recipe that has flavor and isn't bland or runny, so with the help of my husbands taste-buds I developed this recipe.  The flavor is stunning and you can adjust the liquid ingredients to your desired "wetness". You really want to make this at least 1 day in advance so the flavor can develop properly.   This is a great hit with my senior clients as well as at parties and showers for friends.  Everyone loves a good chicken salad!

Chicken Salad

1 whole roasted chicken shredded/diced (about 4-5 cups)
4 celery ribs diced very fine
4 green onion, white and green parts minced ( like to cut these with my herb scissors-so easy!)
3/4-1 cup mayonnaise
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
4 table spoons fresh parsley leaves
1/4 - 1/2 cup dill relish
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl an refrigerate overnight before serving.  This is excellent in mini croissants for baby showers and wedding showers, or any other party that needs a specially elegant dish.

Tapioca Pudding Recipe

I have made this several times for an elderly friend and client who loves Tapioca Pudding because his mother made it for him growing up.  However, he never eats it when he goes out because they are never as good as his mother’s was.  When I first made this for him, he raved about how good it was, “Even better than my Mom’s”.  I take that as a great compliment. This recipe is defiantly a keeper.

The Basics of Tapioca Pudding A great batch of tapioca requires equal parts patience, attentiveness, and top-notch ingredients. There is much stirring involved, and you need to watch the pudding religiously. That being said, making tapioca is relatively simple.  The most important, top-level considerations are:

- Use your thickest-bottomed pot - this will help prevent scorching. Once you've scorched the pudding, that's it - you've ruined it. I use my Le Crueset dutch oven pot,

- Pay attention to temperature. You need to bring the tapioca pudding mixture up slowly for a few reasons. To avoid scorching, but also this gives the tapioca balls time to cook as they are coming up to a boil.

- Stir constantly. I have to admit that I get lazy and don't stir the entire time, and if your stove isn't overly hot, this is fine.

- Make a double batch - one for you and one to share. The recipe below is for a single batch, but easily doubles.

- It is important to soak small pearl tapioca before attempting to make pudding with it, or your texture will be off. Some people soak overnight, but I found that 30-60 minutes or so worked with small tapioca, resulting in a lively textured tapioca with wonderful creamy, custard bridging the beads.

- Many recipes call for water, I loved the 100% milk version.

- I did one batch with instant tapioca - this comes in a box, and like instant oatmeal the tapioca pieces are much smaller (and in this case also pre-cooked). The universal feeling among everyone who tasted it was that it wasn’t very good for the flavor and, there was an aversion to the texture.  Starting from scratch with the small pearl tapioca was the way to go - Bob's Red Mill All Natural Small Pearl Tapioca worked beautifully as a base ingredient.

Tapioca Pudding Recipe

This tapioca pudding recipe makes a classic-tasting vanilla spiked pudding.

3 cups milk, divided

1/3 cup small pearl tapioca

2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Infused Syrup

2 vanilla beans, split along the length
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 3/4 cup of the milk into a medium-sized, thick-bottomed pot. Scrape the vanilla bean along its length with a knife and add that bean "paste" along with the bean itself to the pot Add the tapioca and soak for 60 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks, salt, sugar, vanilla syrup, and the remaining milk.

Over medium heat slowly bring the mixture just barely to a boil, stirring all along - this should take about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and let the mixture fall to a simmer - you keep it here until the tapioca is fully cooked, another 20 minutes or so. Keep in mind this time can be significantly longer (or shorter). The tapioca will tell you when it is ready if you watch carefully. The tapioca beads will swell up and become almost entirely translucent. The custardy part of pudding will thicken dramatically as well - keep tasting and assessing at this stage. It is even more critical to keep stirring at this point avoid dreaded scorching. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.  Stir in vanilla extract at the very end, after the pudding is completely cooked. This tapioca tastes its best when served warm, but is still delicious cold as well.

Serves 4-6