Barbecue chicken salad

Barbecue chicken salad

From barbecue chicken to barbecue chicken pizza to barbecue chicken frittata to barbecue chicken salad. My wife thought I was being terribly derivative and uncreative. I think there’s something to be said for adapting an idea from one type of food to another totally different type of food. You decide.

The ingredients are essentially the same as for the barbecue chicken frittata, substituting the lettuce for the eggs.

I struggled with the dressing for this salad. My first thought was to make a barbecue vinaigrette, adding perhaps a tablespoon of barbecue sauce to a vinaigrette, and carrying the barbecue sauce flavor throughout the salad. Then I thought that this would be too much, that a nice creamy vinaigrette would contrast nicely with the barbecue-sauced chicken. I even contemplated the idea of making the salad with half of each, to see which I liked better. I finally came up with the idea of making the creamy vinaigrette with a small amount of barbecue sauce. I liked the way this worked.

Barbecue chicken salad

1 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
barbecue sauce, enough to coat the chicken breast pieces

romaine lettuce
red onion, thinly sliced
olives, sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup smoked Gouda, cut into pieces (I did a fat julienne)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1–1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon barbecue sauce
fresh ground pepper

Mix the chicken with enough barbecue sauce to coat.

Put the onions and olives on the romaine. Whisk, or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce, and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad.

Put the chicken in the middle and the smoked Gouda around the sides.

Corn chowder with sausage

Corn chowder with sausage

I know this is a blog about salads and frittatas. But I made this chowder and the result was so attractive that I had to take a picture and include it here. And it also tastes great and is especially satisfying in colder weather.

This was adapted from a recipe I found for summer corn chowder with cod (and it’s also good made with cod instead of the sausage). For the sausage, I have used Hillshire Farms smoked sausage, both the beef and the turkey. Sometimes I have sliced the sausage quite thin. This time, I did somewhat thicker slices, cut in half.

Be sure to use fresh thyme, and include the full amounts of the bacon, scallions, garlic, and thyme. This soup gets its great taste from the combination of those ingredients.

Corn chowder with sausage

5–6 slices bacon cut in quarter-inch pieces
8 scallions (more if very thin) thinly sliced, white and green parts separated, with lots of the green
1–1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 cups potatoes in half-inch cubes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
fresh ground pepper
3/4 pound smoked sausage, sliced
2–1/2 cups frozen corn
1/4 to 3/8 cup cream

Cook bacon until crisp in saucepan to be used for making chowder. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving bacon fat in pan. Drain on a paper towel.

Over low heat, cook white parts of the scallions for 2 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.

Add chicken broth, milk, potatoes, thyme, and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sausage, corn, and over half of the bacon, again bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cream and over half of the green parts of the scallions. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Serve, topping with the remaining bacon and green parts of the scallions.

Chicken fajita frittata

Chicken fajita frittata

The ingredients in a fajita will work perfectly well in a frittata. Season and cook as if making a fajita and you have a fajita frittata.

A few notes: The meat and vegetables in a fajita are traditionally made and served in strips. For a frittata, I think it makes sense to cut these strips into shorter pieces. For the bell peppers, I would choose to use red and yellow peppers in a fajita for maximum contrast. (Green pepper would not be my choice for a fajita.) But for the frittata, with the eggs being yellow, I chose an orange pepper to have contrast with the eggs. And of course the frittata ingredients can be prepared however you like to make fajitas. The chicken is often marinaded, and everyone seems to use a slightly different mixture of spices.

Chicken fajita frittata

4 ounces, 1/2 cup chicken breast, cut into strips and then shorter pieces
1/3 cup red bell pepper cut into strips and then into shorter pieces
1/3 cup orange or yellow bell pepper cut into strips and then into shorter pieces
1/3 cup red or yellow onion, sliced and cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon oregano
fresh ground pepper
oil

3 eggs
oil

Mix the spices. Heat oil in a pan over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle on over half of the spice mixture. Cook, turning frequently until chicken is browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. (These are small pieces, so they will cook quickly.) Remove the chicken from the pan and add the vegetables and a bit more oil if needed. Sprinkle on the remaining spice mixture. Turn down the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Depending on the amount of the spices remaining in the pan, you may want to wipe it out before proceeding with the frittata.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the chicken and vegetables into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate. Serve with pico de gallo or salsa.

Indian salad

Indian salad

This salad was inspired by dishes and flavors of India.

I started with the idea of using tandoori chicken for the salad. Indian food includes so many great vegetable dishes, which I looked to as a complement to the chicken. Gobi aloo–cauliflower and potatoes–is a very common dish which I have made. I thought the cauliflower prepared that way might go well. (I didn’t want the potatoes on the salad.) And the dressing is a vinaigrette seasoned with garam masala, the common Indian spice mix.

For the tandoori chicken, I strongly encourage using the boneless skinless thighs. I think their more robust flavor works better here than chicken breasts. I used the tandoori spice mixture from Penzey’s spices, but you could certainly make your own mixture of spices. Just google tandoori spice for ideas (which vary greatly from recipe to recipe).

Garam masala is another spice mixture and is commonly used in South Asian cuisine. Once again, you could make your own, but this is more widely available and certainly worth the effort to try to find it if you plan on making even a few Indian dishes.

When I had the idea for the salad, I was confident that the various elements would be good, as I had made the tandoori chicken and the gobi aloo before. But I wasn’t sure how well they would work together as a salad. I really liked the result and will definitely be making it again.

Indian salad

1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (depending on size, appetite)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori spice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1–1/2 cups cauliflower in bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 heaping teaspoon ginger paste
1/8 heaping teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 heaping teaspoon paprika
1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 heaping teaspoon garam masala

lettuce (I used a combination of spring mix and baby spinach)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 clove garlic, pressed (or less if large clove)
fresh ground pepper

Mix yogurt, tandoori spice, and lemon juice in a plastic bag. Add the chicken thighs and mix together. Marinate 4 to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs on rack in a baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes (but check earlier if thighs are small and thin) until they reach an internal temperature of 160–165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Turn on the broiler and place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the tops.

After taking the chicken breasts out of the oven (you want to give them time to rest), start the cauliflower. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the cauliflower and turn the heat down to low. Sprinkle all over the cauliflower the mixture of the tumeric, paprika, ground cumin, and garam masala. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning over once or twice, until the cauliflower is just starting to soften. (You still want to retain some of its crispness for the salad.)

Place the cauliflower on the lettuce. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, garam masala, garlic, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad. Slice the chicken thighs and place in the middle of the salad.

Mushroom truffle frittata

Mushroom truffle frittata

This is a frittata for someone who really likes mushrooms!

I used crimini and shitake mushrooms for this frittata, as these are readily available, but you could certainly use other kinds. I think using two different types adds to the complexity of the flavor. I definitely think this frittata calls for something more interesting than the white button mushrooms. By the way, the quantity of mushrooms may look like way to much for the frittata when you first put them into the pan, but remember that mushrooms cook down a great deal.

For me, 1/8 teaspoon of truffle oil (I used black truffle oil) is just enough to add to the flavor of the mushrooms. You may want more or less, so taste and smell the mushrooms as you add the oil. A note on truffle oil: Most (all?) truffle oil gets its flavor not from truffles but from the chemical that is the primary flavor component of truffles. It may or may not also have some real truffle included as well. When you think about it, given the extremely high price of truffles, there is no way real truffles could be used to get that much truffle flavor into a bottle of oil that could sell for under $15. Extreme disputes have arisen as to whether it is appropriate to use such artificially-flavored truffle oil in fine cuisine. Some chefs bitterly oppose its use. On the other hand, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook has numerous recipes that call for truffle oil.

In these blog posts I frequently describe the inspiration for a frittata or salad. When I first made this frittata, I wasn’t (consciously) thinking of any specific dish or recipe. This just seemed like something that would work and taste good. But as I was writing this post, I recalled what was surely the source for this. Some years ago, we had this absolutely awesome mushroom soup in a restaurant in Monterey, California. My daughter, an excellent chef, recreated the soup. The primary ingredients were mushrooms, cream, goat cheese, and truffle oil.

If you want to have a glass of wine with your frittata, this is very earthy, so I would suggest a red wine.

Mushroom truffle frittata

1 heaping cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 heaping cup shitake mushrooms, caps, sliced and cut into pieces
1/3 cup/1 ounce goat cheese, shredded or crumbled
1/8 teaspoon truffle oil
olive oil

3 eggs
olive oil

Cook mushrooms over medium to medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the moisture is gone and they start to nicely brown. You may want to turn up the heat towards the end to help them brown. Several minutes before the mushrooms are done, add the truffle oil so it can be cooked through all of the mushrooms. Remove from the pan.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan if needed and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the mushrooms and goat cheese into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Scallops and spring vegetables salad

Scallops with spring vegetables salad

My daughter and I have each made, multiple times, a wonderful scallops with spring vegetables dish from the Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. This is a hot entree, with the scallops and vegetables coated with a great saffron sauce. This recipe was the direct inspiration for this salad. The salad includes pretty much the same ingredients, though obviously prepared and assembled differently.

A key to this salad (as to many things) is to make sure none of the ingredients are overcooked. The cooked vegetables should remain crisp. And with the scallops, yes, the 30 seconds for cooking is all that the slices require.

For dressing the salad, I made a saffron vinaigrette. I started with oil and lemon juice, since lemon always goes well with seafood. When cooking with saffron, the cooking causes the flavor and color to be released throughout the preparation. I wondered about how this would work with a saffron vinaigrette. My solution was to make the vinaigrette, with the saffron, an hour before I would finish the salad. I beat the mixture vigorously not just to mix the oil and lemon juice (even then, of course, only temporarily) but to break up the saffron threads and mix them up. It worked. The flavor and color of the saffron was gradually infused in the dressing. I could see it getting more yellow over time.

Of course, if you don’t have saffron, the straight oil and lemon juice vinaigrette would work just fine.

Scallops with spring vegetables salad

3–4 sea scallops, sliced into thirds
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup haricots verts cut into about 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
butter lettuce

3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
1 small shallot or 1/2 larger shallot, minced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
several saffron threads

The scallops, peas, and haricots verts need to be cooked ahead of time so they can cool before making the salad. They don’t have to be refrigerator temperature. Somewhat warmer than that is actually better. I would say doing this a hour or so before you plan to have the salad would be fine. Of course it could be much earlier. But then I would take these ingredients out of the refrigerator a little before making the salad so they would not be as cold.

To cook the scallops, put the wine, water, and minced shallot into a pot, bring to the simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes to combine the flavors. If the scallops are frozen, thaw under running cold water. Cut off the little muscle on the side of the scallops if present. Slice the scallops crosswise into thirds, giving 3 nice rounds about 1/4-inch or so thick. Put the scallops into the wine, water, and shallot mixture. When it returns to the simmer, which should happen quite quickly, time the cooking for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, and take out the scallops with a slotted spoon.

For the peas and haricots verts, bring 2 more pots of water to the boil. Add the peas, bring back to the boil, and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. For the haricots verts, add to the pot, bring back to the boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Again drain and rinse with cold water.

An hour or so before the final preparation, mix the oil, lemon juice and saffron threads. You only need a few threads. How much is really a judgment call–something of a guess as far as I’m concerned. Whisk this very vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute. The object here is to break up the saffron threads and get them to started infusing their color and flavor into the dressing.

For the final preparation, cut the butter lettuce into small pieces–you want this mixed up with the other vegetables, not dominating. Add the peas, haricot verts, and carrots, tossing everything together. Now whisk the vinaigrette, pour about 2/3 over the salad, and toss again.

Put the salad on the plate. Lay the scallop slices on top. Spoon a little of the remaining vinaigrette on top of each scallop slice.

Smoked turkey breast, Havarti cheese, and avocado frittata

Smoked turkey breast, Havarti cheese, and avocado frittata

This frittata was insprired by sandwiches. Not a single sandwich–I don’t know that I’ve ever had this combination at one time. But I have had the turkey and cheese and the turkey and avocado on sanwiches and thought they went well together. So here I am including all three in the frittata.

I did something different with the Havarti cheese in this frittata. Usually when including cheese in a frittata, I use shredded or grated cheese that becomes uniformly mixed with the eggs. For this frittata, I cut the cheese into small cubes and added these to the eggs. The idea was to have little nuggets of the pure, distinctive Havarti cheese flavor throughout the frittata. I think it works well.

Smoked turkey breast, Havarti cheese, and avocado frittata

1/2 cup smoked turkey breast cut up into small pieces (I used the deli sandwich meat)
1/2 cup avocado cut into small pieces
3/4 cup Havarti cheese cut into very small, 1/4-inch cubes

3 eggs
oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the smoked turkey breast, Havarti cheese, and avocado into the eggs. Because these are all ingredients that can tend to clump together, I find it helpful to add small amounts to the eggs at a time, stir, and repeat in order to have things unstuck and dispersed throughout the eggs. Also, put the avocado in last and lightly stire just once to avoid mashing up the avocado pieces. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.