My refrigerator… and ham salad.

So I didn’t go to the grocery store like I should have today, and now I feel like making something but I have to make do with what’s in my refrigerator. And here is what I have to work with: Boursin, chutney (not homemade, boo), puff pastry, dates, bleu cheese dressing, a lemon, eggs, butter, bleu cheese, Parmesan, Pecorino, Brie, Kerry Gold Reserve Cheddar, and Hormel ham steak.

What should I make? What can I make? It is a weekend and I will get to the Publix at some point and then I have a whole other list of things to make for my work week lunches.

So here is what we are going to try and make work – we shall see how it goes. I feel confident that it will not be a disappointment. At least I hope not. We shall see.

Another no recipe recipe. That is not a bad thing when you get right down to it. D&D_2093

8 oz smoked ham steak, trimmed that weird stuff that is around the outside edge (what is that?), and cube it. Into the food processor it goes for 8-10 pulses.

3 Tbs sweet relish, drained like you would do for deviled eggs.  Totally subjective – add more or less to your taste, but do make sure you drain it. I like relish in my ham salad.

Yellow or Vidalia Onion – yikes there are lots of options here, but I think I will start simply. Yellow onion grated on the large holes of a box grater and make sure you get all the onion juice – that is really important. Or if you are like me, you can use the food processor for this too – no need to clean it since the ham and onions are going in together.

Freshly ground black pepper. A great spice in my opinion. But it must be freshly ground – I think that goes without saying.

Duke’s Mayo* – just enough to hold it together, but not go overboard. This might be subjective but as my mom would say, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Guess that’s why I will add this last. 2-3 Tbs seems to work, though to be honest, I don’t measure, I just wing it.

This must site for at least a day or two. Same thing with chicken salad – do not try to eat it the day you make it – it just do not work. ~

*No substitutions, I mean, if you live in the South anyways. Not sure what the rest of you do for Mayo – sad to say.

~The same thing can be said for hummus too. The flavors need to come together to really work.

Ham Salad – here I am attempting again … ugh, am I destined for failure?

I know I say my favorite (only) ham salad is from the Apple Market, but it is true. And then I look at the list of ingredients and see this: chopped ham. sweet relish, mayonnaise, onions, and black pepper.

D&D_2041And that really kind of makes me grumpy. Why can I not make a great ham salad out of simple ingredients. I do it with chicken salad, so what is the difference?? Makes me slightly crazy.

I do know I am going to have a ham salad sandwich for breakfast tomorrow. Yes, I eat all kind of random things for breakfast – cold tofu pad thai, pasta, cold pizza – and then some traditional things – peanut butter toast, toast with really good salted butter and apple jelly, toast with really good salted butter and local honey. Yes, toast seems to be a thing. Pop Tarts – specifically blueberry or brown sugar.

Okay, after wondering far afield, let us get back to ham salad.

1st – what kind of ham to buy and what to do with it. In the Apple Market version is seems more than just chopped as I know it. Almost minced. Maybe run through a food mill, or pulsed a few times in a food processor?  Wonder who at Apple Market I can bribe to find out the answer?

So what I did was buy an 8oz ham steak, trimmed that weird stuff that is around the outside edge, and cube it. Then I put it in the food processor for 8-10 pulses, until it looked like what I thought would work best. 

2nd – The sweet relish always made sense to me, but you should not go overboard, nor should you make it to liquidy – drain that relish for the most part, just like you do with deviled eggs.

This ended up to be about 3 Tbs, but that is a subjective thing – more or less if you would like.

3rd – Mayonnaise, Duke’s specifically, needs to be just enough to hold it together, but not go overboard. This might be subjective but as my mom would say, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Guess that’s why I will add this last.

It was only 2 Tbs and that was almost too much, but in the end, it worked out well.

4th – Onion – yikes there are lots of options here, but I think I will start simply. Yellow onion grated on the large holes of a box grater.  Again, it’s the – how much – that’s the issue.

Tasting as I go along will be key. I took a small onion and instead of grating on a box grated, used the food processor to pulse it to very small pieces and kept the juice and used it too – about 3 Tbs total when it came down to it. I’d say 3/4 of a small yellow onion.

5th – Seasoning with black pepper should not be a problem. I love black pepper.

Now the question is do I just make it or do I have some Apple Market ham salad to compare. Is that wise? Perhaps or perhaps not.

Also, I must let this sit for at least a day or two. It tasted okay as I was going along, but I know I won’t really have a good idea for how it will work until it has sat in the fridge for at least, I’m thinking, two days.

It did make a difference. I had been worried I put too much mayonnaise , but after a days rest in the fridge, it worked well. Actually might have needed a bit more.

Duck Egg Salad

My first real meal when I moved to England was an egg salad sandwich on wheat toast with watercress. I was a little cafe in the Coventry city centre. It may have been the only vegetarian thing on the menu, I don’t remember, but I do remember really loving it. I even amped up the flavors with a little salt and a good bit of black pepper because watercress has the peppery vibe going on. And that is just a good thing.

D&D_1987It is a strange thing I do really like egg salad, but you won’t catch me eating a deviled egg, um, ever. I think it might be a texture thing. I know –  it is completely weird. Every so often I just crave egg salad and now I have access to some duck eggs and I am so going for it. I understand that duck eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs but they are also, supposedly also richer and creamery so I just can’t help but think this could be amazing duck egg salad.

This time I bought marbled rye bread –  no seeds – and toasted it. I’m not sure if there is something else that needs to go on egg salad sandwiches – lettuce seems overkill and tomatoes, ugh, yuck. I think I  want the sandwich to squish when I bite into it. But watercress is now a requirement. And good seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper – freshly ground being key.  Don’t ever use pre-ground pepper – that is an abomination. 

I have a great source of local fresh eggs. My friend Tony has a friend that raises chickens and ducks so I will be taking advantage of that. I can’t wait to substitute duck eggs for chicken eggs in baking and see what happens. I think in a cake recipe might be the most telling thing. We shall see how this adventure goes. Oh, and eggs Benedict with duck egg hollandaise sauce. Just might be amazing. 

It is egg-istentialism  – yes, I stole that from somewhere else. But it does make me smile. 

And here is how I made it:

6 duck eggs
Duke’s mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Sweet pickle relish
Watercress
Bread, toasted – rye, whole wheat, or whatever you like.

In a large pot, cover the eggs with at least an inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and put a lid on the pot and set a timer for 14 minutes. Once the time is up, add cold water to the pot, and swirl eggs to crack slightly. Peel eggs – think that goes with out saying.

For the subjective part – how much mayonnaise? Enough. It’s what work for you. And about 2 Tbs of Dijon mustard.

Now the pickle relish, I go for sweet, again, subjective, dill relish totally do-able. Personal choice. But this is imperative – you must drain some or most of the liquid. You want squish in the sandwich, not mush. So drain the relish.

Now you can add grated onion or something else, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to me anyway. Maybe a little lemon juice, but again, not too much.

Voila egg salad. On nicely toasted bread with a good layer of watercress. Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I have to say, this totally made my craving. Simple and dead good. 

Deviled Eggs

I guess it is just a requirement that you have some sort of egg – thing for Easter – spring and all. So I made deviled eggs. Again for The Boy – he will eat them anytime.

This is again, another no-recipe recipe. I have done this so many times, but to be honest, I do not eat deviled eggs – at all, ever. I like egg salad, so this really does not make sense, but there it is. D&D_1839

So here is how I make hard-boiled eggs. Put eggs in a decent-sized pot and cover with at least an inch of water. Heat the pot to boiling and removed pot from heat, put on a lid and let sit for 13 minutes. Yes, 13 minutes. Dump the hot water out and add cold water and bash the eggs against the side of the pot. Let sit for a few minutes  – peel the eggs and cut in half cleaning the knife between eggs so no yolk gets on the white part.

Remove the yolks and put into small-ish bowl. Add a little Duke’s mayo* and some Dijon mustard – I go with a smidge more mustard than mayo. Add 3 Tbs of drained sweet pickle relish and one more not drained. Taste and decide on salt and pepper.

Put the yolk mixture in a zip top bag and cut off a corner to make a tip to pipe the yolks into the whites. Then decorate. This time I decided on chives and really amazing local bacon, but I also like minced shallots and I really like paprika. I guess it is a Southern thing – the paprika, not the shallots. Parsley is always nice.

It is funny how I like egg salad, and plan to make some soon, but do not like deviled eggs when in reality they are not that far apart. Strange.

* A Southern staple – you must not be without it, ever.

Reuben Roll Ups

I do love a good reuben. I think my favorite recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country. I find that I have not posted that here – an oversight I will have to remedy. But the flavors of a Reuben are some of my favorites. I make a Reuben casserole that is just – I will say it again – stupidly good. It is not exactly pretty food (no, really, it is not), but if you like a Reuben, it is pretty amazing. And the left-overs are, well, let’s just say they are better than the day you make it. I guess I make this in the early spring because it is still cool enough that a casserole works, and it seems to fit with St. Patrick’s Day – I mean, corned beef after all. Again, I have taken lessons from America’s Test Kitchen’s Reuben sandwich – read: no bottled thousand island dressing is involved.dd_1801

I am not typically a fan of crescent rolls, but it seemed to work here. Maybe allowances can be made? We shall see.

1 package of crescent rolls
4 ozs corned beef
4 ozs Swiss cheese
1 cup Boar’s Head sauerkraut*, drained and squeezed dry
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs sweet pickle relish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the crescents. On each roll, place 1 Tbs sauce, 1/2 oz corned beef, 1/2 oz Swiss cheese, and 2 Tbs sauerkraut. Roll up and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 13 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

Serve with extra sauce because that just makes it a lot better.
Modified from : spendwithpennies.com.reuben-roll-ups/

*My go to sauerkraut. Always.



Chicken Salad – one of my favorite things

I seem to get into a mood for chicken salad every so often. It really is kind of dead simple, but it takes, to my mind, a bit of finesse.

I poach the chicken breasts in just plain water. I could do it with salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf or so, but if I do that I cannot share the chicken water with the pups. I would never deny them one of their favorite things – chicken water. It is amazing how fast they (or I should say Hood) realize what I am up to. I think it takes about a nano-second. Top it off with hard boiling some eggs and dogs just about lose their minds. It is kind of fun. To make your dogs so happy, by doing something that makes you happy too. I will not wax on about how I want another German Shepherd Dog at this point, but I really really do want another. He would never be Duke, but …. yep, I will just stop right now.

D&D_1538

IMG_0041

No GSD will ever be better than my Big Dog. I miss you.

Back to chicken salad. I know you can make it with rotisserie chicken, but I am old school and like a poached chicken in this application. That along with a couple of hard boiled eggs*, a shallot, and some (peeled) celery. Of course Duke’s mayonnaise – a requirement in the South, a good pinch of salt and some pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice, just to brighten things up a bit. Then all you need is some fresh white bread spread with a little more Duke’s mayonnaise, and maybe another pinch of salt. That is amazing lunch.

MotH’s mom makes chicken salad with grapes and nuts and I do so love her for that, but I know the MotH and the Boy would just boycott that, even though it would be great for me. And it usually is – we share chicken salad and boiled collards. The boys just do not get it.

* The easiest way to make an excellent hard boiled egg that is still lovely (read: not green around the edge), is this: Put eggs in a pot, cover with about an inch of water and bring to a rocking boil. Then remove them from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let sit for 13 minutes and you really have just about the best boiled eggs there are – just cover with cold water and crack them a bit against the pot and then shell. There it is – just make sure you have at least a couple for your dogs.

Chicken Salad

D&D_1467

Simple Chicken Salad

I seem to keep failing at chicken salad. I am not sure why, but this time, I really thought I got it. But to be honest, chicken salad is so pedestrian. I mean, pretty much any idiot can make it. That just makes me feel like a bit of an idiot because it does not seem to work for me.

All that said, this was pretty damn good chicken salad. Too bad I could not enjoy it like I wanted to.

I have no idea how my mom made chicken salad. One of the million of things I did not ask her – this seems to be a theme. Guess that is what happens when someone you love dies unexpectedly. So you just have to forge you own way in the world. Suck it up and deal.

I poach a chicken breast or two* – usually two and then add the usual suspects: celery, peeled of course and then minced, a few (3) chopped boiled eggs, some shallots – minced, parsley also minced, a little Duke’s Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard. And if I am feeling really frisky some sweet pickle relish. None of this is anything my mother EVER did. But this is pretty cool in the grand scheme of things.

My lovely mother-in-law makes great chicken salad and it is just the way I like it – with grapes and nuts, but the MotH does not care for that. Either way, this one is pretty damn good.

I guess this is another one of my non-recipe recipes. I do seem to have quite a few of them. But when I think of it, that does not seem to me a bad thing

*I could have poached the chicken with bay leaves and peppercorns and garlic, but I save the chicken water for Hood, so I go simple so I can give him a treat. What dog does not love chicken water? Um, none.