Thursday, March 24, 2011

Curry Chicken Salad for the Ladies

I love, love, love Ladies' Luncheon Food.  It's delicious, it's light, it's fancy.  It's fun to eat.

And it's different from regular food, right, ladies?

Classic Ladies' Luncheon is, of course,  Chicken Salad, and this is my favorite, even more than Helen Corbetts' Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad.  And that's pretty darn good.

You can change this up any way you please!   Poached salmon or smoked turkey instead of poached chicken; you can add apples or mangos or mandarin slices or dried cherries instead of grapes,  you can add nuts,  it's just whatever your little ol' capricious heart desires.  Ladies' Choice.

So here is my choice.

You will need 1 cooked (I poach mine, that is, simmer in seasoned water until cooked) chicken breast for every 2-3 servings.   Cooked rice, and that can be ANY rice.  I mixed wild and brown rice together.  This is about 3/4 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup of wild and it was plenty for 10.
I always remember a friend lamenting that you just have to cook the dawg out of wild rice, but I don't agree.  I cooked it along with the brown and then added a little more water and cooked a little longer and even though it's not split apart and curled,  neither is it  rock hard.  It  tastes cooked.  So there.

And this:
Celery (about 3-4 stalks)

Green onion (tops only, you don't want to ruin your day)

Grapes (red, green, doesn't matter but seedless) about 20, quartered.  They were so darn big.

White pepper (1/2 tsp.)
Salt (1 tsp.)
Curry Powder (1and 1/2 tsp.)
Lemon juice
Mayonnaise (1c.)
Greek Yoghurt (not in group photo) (1/2 c.)

Olive oil (2T.)

And, Major Grey's Chutney.
This is IMPORTANT.  Major Grey's Chutney is a jam made with mangos, tamarind, lime and spices, and it adds such an interesting sweetness.

So, slice your celery, onion tops and grapes up into a bowl.  Squeeze a lemon over it and toss so that the grapes don't turn brown.

Then mix up the rest.  Quantities don't really matter that much, just use your judgement.  Add olive oil to loosen it up a bit.  Pour it over the rice/vegetables/fruit/chicken mixture.  Mix well with clean hands or instruments.

This tastes better when refrigerated overnight.

I'm serving with Banana/Pineapple Bread and cream cheese/butter.

It's really, really good.  Ladies will like it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tostadas Compuestas

Here is another dish from the Griggs Family.  The recipe I'm using is from the La Posta Cook Book, as prepared by the late Katy Camuñez Meek, the original owner of the famous La Posta Restaurant in Old Mesilla, New Mexico.

This was the dish that everyone ordered at Griggs when they were trying to have a "light" meal.  It was the menu item that my mother always ordered.  This book says that the recipe originated at La Posta in 1939, and I suppose you could say that it might be the original "Taco Salad." It consists of a cup made from a corn tortilla, filled with Chile Colorado con Carne and beans and topped with iceberg lettuce, tomato and cheese.
 This is the first time I have prepared Tostadas Compuestas.  And to be honest,  I probably won't be making them again, (following the recipe) but I'm glad I went through this exercise, if only to make the Chile con Carne.  The next time I do this I will spray the tortillas with oil and lay them over an inverted cupcake pan and put them in the oven.
Here is what you will need:
Red Chile Sauce (see previous post about Red Enchiladas, or get a can or container of frozen)
Lean Pork cut in 1/2 inch dice.
Beans (see previous post)

Cooking oil (I used peanut)
A "wooden roller having a flat end" as says the book. ( I used a wooden muddler.)
Corn tortillas
Iceberg lettuce
Grated Longhorn or Cheddar Cheese

Making the "compuestas" is one of those things that practice and experience really helps.  That, and cussing. 
First, cut four slits (the book says one inch long, I say 1 and a half) on the edge the tortillas, at 12, 3, 6 and 9.   These will help the tortilla to form the cup when frying.

Heat up some oil hot enough to fry tortillas crisp, that is HOT.  DONT USE MORE than a couple of inches of oil, it will rise up in the pot when you submerge the tortillas.  Yes, I learned that the hard way.


Pushing the wooden "roller" into the corner of the pot helped me to shape the tortillas properly.  I had to move it around some.

Compuestas finally done, fire put out, stovetop cleaned and 45 mins. later, I begin the Chile con Carne.

Katy says fry the pork "until brown" but apparently not completely cooked.  She says it continues to cook in the sauce, but we're only working with half inch pieces here.  Hmmm.

I used bacon fat and peanut oil to fry it with.  Every cook should have a canister of bacon fat, to be used sparingly.  Said my Nana, not Katy.

So then you add flour and make a roux, and then add water (or tomato juice?) and the red chile sauce.   I had some in the freezer, thank goodness!   Add Cumin and Oregano.
 Let this cook 10 MINUTES! says the book,  and you are finished.
Personally,  I think I'm going to let it simmer a while longer and try to soften up that pork a little. Also let that big blob of frozen sauce unfreeze.

The rest of the instructions say to put "two heaping tablespoons of heated chile con carne and beans*in each cupped tortilla (is that two of each? or two of the both combined?) and garnish with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and grated cheese."  She doesn't say what kind of cheese, but I remember it being cheddar.

*Here's an interesting thing from the book about beans.  La Posta Cook Book says "When beans have cooked tender, heat lard very hot and pour into bubbling beans." Wow!  Talk about the secret ingredient! Bet you didn't know that the pot beans you were eating at La Posta had lard in them (2T per cup of uncooked beans), and if they were refried, 1 T per cup more than that.   No wonder they tasted so good.

And as the book says, "A very colorful dish for a festive occasion."