April 2010

chicken salad

chicken salad over avocado

How ’bout we dress things up with a new twist on an old, much-loved family recipe? My mom gave this to me on a recipe card labeled “Dressing for Potato Salad” from Nanny/Ma. And how I loved Nanny’s potato salad! It’s a classic. The original recipe can be used to make potato salad for 5 pounds of taters!

I thought I’d change it up ever so slightly by subbing rice vinegar for white vinegar and adding celery seed and a little sesame oil. I really enjoyed it both in my chicken salad and blended into broccoli slaw as a side dish.

1 cup mayo
½ cup rice vinegar (white vinegar if you want to do it the original way)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Add ½ cup dressing per pound of meat. Don’t forget to try this dressing on broccoli slaw, too!

I  added ½ cup of golden raisins and ½ diced pecans to a pound of chicken tenders I had roasted with salt, California seasoned pepper (Penzey’s) and rosemary. I served it over ½ a sliced avocado and really liked it…which is a good thing since I’ll be having it for lunch AGAIN. 🙂

I’m still working on my avocado fan. It is one of many self-assigned development opportunities. Let’s face it, it tastes good even if it isn’t picture-perfect. I learned I was supposed to present the avocado fan bottom up and fanned over the top. What did you expect from amateur hour? The good news is, this is definitely another sexy salad.

My not-so-fancy avocado fan–a work in progress!

Wait, wait! I did it! I made a fancy avo fan. Lookie here!

avocado fan

I did it! I did it!

Just goes to show ya, you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Thanks, coach!

Katty’s note: 1/2 cup of dressing is just the right amount for a 12 oz. bag of broccoli slaw. 🙂

The sexy salad takes an Asian turn!

Can you stand another sexy salad? 🙂 Warmer weather calls for more green lunches–or green dinners! This tasty potsticker salad is an easy meal you can throw together quickly without sacrificing a bite of deliciousness.

Pick up your favorite dumplings. In my neck of the woods, I’m very happy with Stew Leonard’s. They make pork, chicken and veggie–pork being my personal fave. Of course, if you have the time and talent to make your own, so much the better.

Next, make sure you have your favorite salad fixin’s on hand and dinner is just a squeeze, stir, chop and saute away!


¼ of an orange, squeezed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½  teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice)

Start with spring mix, baby romaine or lettuce of choice, then add any of these:
diced red pepper
crumbled bacon
seaweed salad
sliced cucumbers
grape tomatoes
diced avocado
shredded carrots
chopped cashews or peanuts

Steam or pan-fry the dumplings and arrange them across the top of your salad. Drizzle the orange sesame dressing over the salad bed, then add a bit of ginger-soy over the dumplings. Make it your own…and make it part of your warmer weather dinner rotation. You can’t go wrong with a sexy salad.

My friend was looking for a recipe for vichyssoise last year. I found the recipe below, adapted from Cooking Light, and made it with great success. Twice.

Alternatively, my friend claims to have made wallpaper paste.

If you measure your ingredients, creamy, delicious vichyssoise can be yours. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of diced leeks; however a large sweet onion is a fine substitution. And, this time, instead of baking potatoes, I’m using what Tyler Florence calls “the Cadillac of potatoes”–Yukon Golds.

CADILLAC VICHYSSOISE (adapted from Cooking Light)

1  teaspoon  vegetable oil
3  cups  diced sweet onion (about 1 large)
3  cups  diced, unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
(about 1.25 pounds–2 good-sized Yukons got me there)
2 cups chicken broth
2/3  cup  half-and-half
salt & pepper to taste
1  tablespoon  minced fresh chives

3 cups of diced Yukon Golds and a sweet onion

Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauce-pan over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion; cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the diced potato and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Cover the potato mixture, reduce heat and simmer for about 12-14 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer

Pour the potato mixture in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.

Pour the puree into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Stir in the half-and-half, salt, pepper and minced chives. Serve warm (my favorite way) or cover and chill.

Stir in the seasonings, chives and half-and-half

Want the gold package on this Cadillac? Cook up some bacon and crumble it over the top. Shhhh, don’t tell Cooking Light! The third time making this soup was definitely the charm!

I heart this soup!

So, it’s your turn. Warmer weather has returned, cool soups are in order and the Magic 8 Ball is in your court, so to speak. I say, “All signs point to yes.” 🙂 Let us know how you do!

"Make us a treat!"

“Make us a treat,” April Katt seems to suggest. I’ve wanted to make corn ice cream for a long time now, but that’s been done. What could I do to make it different?
I’ll make sweet corn gelato.

I love The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein. I’ve made many creative frozen treats from it over the past year. This time, I used his lower fat Vanilla Ice Cream #3 (page 133) as a base. By the way, to get back to his original recipe, simply remove the corn from the equation, increase the amount of vanilla extract to 4 teaspoons, subtract the salt, and there it is.


2 cups milk (I used 1% Hood Simply Smart—reduced fat milk that tastes like whole)
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
12 oz. bag of frozen sweet corn
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt

Bring milk and corn to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring regularly. Remove from heat.

Pour into a blender, puree, then let infuse for 1 hour.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer. Remove from heat. Slowly beat hot milk/corn mixture into the beaten eggs in a medium bowl. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture boil to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Remove from heat and pour hot custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large, clean bowl, pressing down on the solids; discard solids. Let the custard cool slightly, next stir in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Cover and refrigerate till cold—at least four hours or overnight.

Cooled corn custard

Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When finished, the gelato will be soft, but ready to eat. For a firmer consistency, freeze at least two hours.

To everything--churn, churn, churn--there is a season...

I can’t wait till corn is in season here in the Land of Steady Habits. In the meantime, this sweet corn gelato is a smooth, little frozen taste of summer on a spoon. Yum! Try it with a sprinkle of freshly ground salt over the top for a  nice sweet/salty contrast a la chocolate chip cookies.

Sweet corn gelato is out of this world!

Clams Casino Capellini alla Speranza

Clams Casino Capellini alla Speranza is my partially Italian (like me!) way to describe my spin on fresh clam sauce, casino-style, over capellini. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single recipe for this dish when it crossed my mind last year. Now that I’ve come up with one, I’m happy to share it with you.


4 cloves garlic
1 small shallot
extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds littlenecks in shells
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup white wine (I use Meridian chardonnay)
1 cup water
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 cup matchstick-sliced green and red bell peppers, roasted
4 pieces bacon
1 teaspoon capers

Prepare 4 slices of bacon any way you see fit. I like to bake it in the oven on foil so it’s easy to clean up. Some say I’m lazy—I say I’m practical. Just about 10-12 minutes per side at 350 degrees F will do the trick. And you can roast the peppers simultaneously. Pat the excess grease with a paper towel and chop the bacon to bits!

Cookin’ clams

So easy, really. Give the clams a serious rinse in cold water. Place them in a stockpot (or a fairly deep pan), cover them with water, wine and a handful of coarsely chopped parsley. Cook ’em till they open (this takes maybe 3-4 minutes), then remove them from their shells and coarsely chop them. Save that zuppa–it’ll become part of the sauce.

Ready to chop!

Pour the zuppa into a separate bowl. Now you can use the same stockpot or pan to sauté the garlic and shallot in some olive oil. You know the drill—don’t brown it!

Zuppa time!

Put your favorite lemon reamer to use to bypass the seeds and get all the fresh juice from ½ a lemon. Squeeze directly into the zuppa, which by now, has joined forces with the garlic and shallot you didn’t burn.

Everybody into the pool now—shallots, peppers, capers! But save those clams for last. Have a taste. Prepare to be impressed. Add clams back just to warm them. And now it’s time to eat!

zuppa di clams casino, clams casino cappellini, linguini & clam sauce

Buon appetito!

I didn’t have to tell you to get the water boiling for pasta, did I? Dinner is served–over capellini, of course–with pecorino Romano and fresh parsley on top! Don’t forget the crushed red pepper (I love Penzey’s Aleppo), too! Buon appetito! Now, that’s Italian!

Wanna bite?

Happy Easter, Nanny! Love, Hopey

I’ve been baking Nanny’s oatmeal cookies since I was a teenager. As anyone in my family will tell you, no holiday is complete without them, and with Easter just around the corner, I wanted to share them with you, too. 

Nanny used the Quaker Oats recipe from the canister, but one inclusion made the cookies uniquely hers. You see, Nanny baked her cookies with M&Ms, thus making her far cooler than any other grandmother I knew–most of whom would bake them with (shudder!) raisins. No. Not Nanny. She was onto something with those M&Ms. I add a half cup of candies to my recipe. She might have used a whole cup–I already explained she was a cool lady, didn’t I?

Good mornin', sunshine!

Here’s a link to the Quaker Oats recipe. My only change–I use softened butter instead of vegetable shortening.

What? Doesn't everybody have a watchcat on patrol when they bake?

Sending virtual cookies–especially to my cousin Al–and wishing everyone a happy holiday weekend!