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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Friday, May 04, 2007

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Taunton has a new cookbook called, "150 Things to Make with Roast Chicken (and 50 Ways to Roast It)". It's not on my wish list, just thought I'd let you know.

I like to make chicken salad with leftover roasted chicken. A basic one that I like is just chopped chicken, apples, celery and enough mayonnaise to bind it. And black pepper. I think chicken salad requires lots of freshly ground black pepper. However, one of my favorites recipes is from Cooking Light, Rosemary Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

I've made it several times, including once for Gary's bridge party. I made it again last night, with chicken leftover from earlier in the week, and had it on fresh Basic Hearth Bread. It was delicious.

Rosemary Chicken Salad Sandwiches
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

small blob of plain fat-free yogurt
small blob of light mayonnaise
a little bit of Dijon mustard
a little bit of minced fresh rosemary
kosher salt
Leftover roasted chicken, skinned, boned, and chopped
small handful of chopped green onions
small handful of smoked almonds, chopped
lots of freshly ground pepper

Guestimate how much yogurt and mayonnaise you'll need for the amount of chicken you have. (If you have no idea, or if you want to be fussy, use the Cooking Light proportions.) Stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, rosemary and salt. Gently combine with the chicken, green onions, and smoked almonds. Add lots of pepper. Decide if it's moist enough for your taste. If not, add more mayonnaise and/or yogurt.

Sometimes I eat it on fresh bread, sometimes on toast, and sometimes on a bed of lettuce.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Basic Hearth Bread

My dear friend Sheri, over at Pork Cracklins, who spoils me to death, gave me Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. I have lots of recipes marked, but hadn't baked any of them. Until today.

I love RLB's blog and I have also loved reading breadbasketcase, the blog of a woman who baked her way through all the recipes in The Bread Bible. She recently made a repeat loaf of Basic Hearth Bread to christen her new oven. I decided that it would be a great one to try, even though I don't have nearly as sweet an oven as hers.

The recipe begins with a simple sponge, which is just a starter made of bread flour, whole wheat flour, instant yeast, a tiny bit of honey and water. It makes a soupy batter. Then you whisk together more bread flour and instant yeast and cover the sponge with it. As it ferments, the sponge bubbles up through the flour mixture. Here's what it looked like after 2 hours of fermenting:

The flour mixture and sponge get mixed together, then set aside for 20 minutes to rest. After resting, sprinkle on some salt and then knead. It becomes a smooth but sticky dough. Scrape it into a bowl or other container to rise. Here's what it looked like before rising:

When it's cooler in the winter, sometimes I set the container on top of some towels with a heating pad set on "low" underneath. But it's 75 degrees inside the house today, which is a pretty good bread rising temperature. Here it is after rising for an hour, during which time I tidied up the kitchen and played on the internet:

The next step is to deflate the dough a little by giving it a "business letter turn". It felt very soft and silky. Too bad I couldn't play with it; it needed to go back into the container for a second rise. After that I got to play with it! Well, sort of. It can be shaped into a loaf to go into a pan, or a free-form "round" loaf, which is what I chose to do. It's on a half sheet pan line with a silicone mat that has been lightly dusted with flour:

The shaped dough rises again, and then it is slashed. I've made good slashes and not so good slashes in my short time of bread baking. These seem too deep. It was time to bake. Yay! Thirty minutes later, this is what it looked like:

It smelled so good, I could hardly bear to let it "cool completely" as instructed. But wait I did, and finally I was rewarded with this: