What is it about a tea party with friends and family that is so elegant, nice, and satisfying? Maybe it's that we dress up a little, use special dishes and serving pieces, food that's not everyday fare, or the tea itself. Whatever the reason, it was special and we intend to make this a regular event.
For tea, we had cucumber tea sandwiches, watercress and cream cheese sandwiches, and egg salad sandwiches, homemade scones and homemade lemon curd, homemade crumpets and butter, broccoli and Swiss cheese quiche, chicken salad, assorted crackers, pavlovas (meringues) with fresh fruit sauce and whipped cream, and chocolate mini-cupcakes which were festively decorated.
I brought a cold chicken salad. Here's the recipe and photo. This recipe is what I made for yesterday, but you can add, subtract, or change ingredients as you wish - it's very versatile!
Cindy's Chicken Salad
Makes 8 (3/4 cup) servings
1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 12 ounces)
4 chicken thighs (about 24 ounces altogether)
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 onion, cut into chunks, peel included
1 carrot, cut into large chunks, and some carrot greens if you have them
1/2 cup fresh celery leave
1 clove garlic, sliced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup mayonnaise-style salad dressing (I use Miracle Whip)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large stalk celery, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, cut in halves or quarters
- Poach the chicken in the broth, thyme, pepper, salt, onion, carrot, celery leaves, and garlic. This should take about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of pieces.
- Remove chicken, cool for about 15 minutes and then continue cooling in the refrigerator. This step can be done a day ahead of time, keeping the chicken refrigerated. Discard the poaching broth and vegetables (or freeze to add later to soup, if you're thrifty!).
- When ready to assemble the salad, remove the skin, bones, and visible fat from chicken thighs, and shred or roughly chop into pieces; shred or chop chicken breast; set chicken aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, salad dressing, pepper, and lemon juice; whisk until smooth; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, celery, and dressing, tossing lightly to coat.
- Fold in eggs and grapes, tossing lightly to combine thoroughly.
- Place chicken salad in a serving bowl or on individual plates.
Notes: This recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to make your own changes. Some ideas:
- If you like a tangier dressing, replace the salad dressing with creamy ranch dressing.
- Really like veggies? Add broccoli, cauliflower, onion, scallions, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, chopped lettuce, bell peppers, etc.
- If you like, add cut sweet, dill, or bread and butter pickles, or olives (green, Nicoise, black, kalamata, etc.).
- Not crazy about grapes? Try apples, tangerine segments, dried cranberries or cherries, pineapple, ripe pitted cherries, melon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries.
- I like the combination of light and dark meat chicken because of the taste and texture difference; breast meat tends to be drier and less fatty, and dark meat has a bit more flavor and is juicier. Use the combination or one or the other you prefer. If you don't want to poach the chicken, use a ready-cooked chicken from the grocery store and shred the meat. It's easier to shred or cut the meat if the chicken is cool or cold.
- Go nuts! Add cashews, slivered almonds, walnut, pecans, peanuts. Macadamias and hazelnuts are good too, but be sure to use chopped nuts.
- What about coconut? Hmmmmm - yes!
- If you want to make this chicken salad stretch farther or include more carbs, follow the above steps and toss with cooled or chilled cooked pasta. I use tiny ring macaroni, but you can use small shells, small rotini, small penne, elbow macaroni, and so on. You'll probably have to make a little extra dressing, depending on how much pasta you add.
Peace, Love, and Yumminess