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Sunday, May 4, 2014

A cooking confession and a chicken salad casserole

I have probably been cooking sixty-five years--yes, thanks to my mom, I started early. But tonight I did something I've never done in all those long years--worked with a fresh jalapeno. I may never do it again. I followed all the precautions--washed my hands (repeatedly), did not touch my face, especially my eyes. Still, an hour later and two applications of hand lotion, my hands still sting. While I was cutting and chopping (in blender) my eyes watered, my nose dripped, and I coughed.
Usually I substitute canned chilies, but I recognize there's a flavor difference. I actually don't like pepper heat, though I can eat quite a bit of wasabi. Tonight I was making Dean Fearing's Texas Caviar--smoked salmon base. I've had it before, and it's wonderful, so I didn't want to substitute. I don't feel free to share Chef Fearing's recipe but you can easily find it online. It's good. And I suppose my hands will stop singing by the time I take it to neighbors' tomorrow night.
I have a sinking feel summer is here--early. It's to be 92 tomorrow and in the 80s all next week. You suppose it's wishful thinking to suggest this early heat spell forecasts a cool, pleasant summer? I know, I know
I had luncheon guests one day this past week and served a chicken salad casserole I've long fixed and liked, accompanied by fruit salad, fresh asparagus, and dinner rolls. Here's the chicken salad recipe.

3 c. cooked chicken, diced
2½ c. sliced celery
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
¾ c. mayonnaise
½ c. sour cream

2 c. crushed potato chips
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar

Mix everything but chips and cheddar and refrigerate overnight in a refrigerator-to-oven dish. Just before serving, mix crushed potato chips with grated sharp cheddar. Top casserole and run under broiler until browned and cheese is melted. Chicken salad should still be cold. Serves six. You need a good freezer-to-oven dish to do this, but a cat broke the Corning dish I always used. Hint: refrigerate the salad in an icebox container; just before broiling, transfer to a pie plate, top with potato chip/cheese mixture and broil just until cheese melts and begins to brown.
Lovely summer dish!.


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