July 10, 2010

I didn't think I'd ever post again

It has been a couple of months since the Sea Urchin Pasta post, in fact since Alessia was here last. She just left after a 4th of July visit, and I didn't cook anything special for her, but I did a couple of dishes today. In fact this is about saving a recipe, using a trick you can use with plenty of other dishes. In addition to all of our woes, Michael has kidney stones so not only does he not eat very much, but the kidney stones prevent him from eating some of the healthiest foods. He has to avoid foods high in oxalate, which means everything healthy. Yes, if it is healthy, he must avoid it. For example I think anything green is bad; he must avoid beets, beans, carrots, eggplant, kale, leeks, olives, peppers, potatoes, parsley, cilantro, spinach and summer squashes just to name some of the vegetables. He must avoid blueberries, blackberries, currents (his favorite), nuts, seeds, soy, "robust" beer, whole grains and chocolate! What he can have are foods we have been taught to avoid: white flour and by-products, dairy, meat, fish, oil and sugar. He has to limit his intake of apples, bagels, cornmeal and broccoli and stuff he is allowed like white bread. He must also limit canned carrots, but he won't miss that. Interestingly enough he may have the diet he was raised on: pork, cabbage, cauliflower and mushrooms; nothing too healthy but it agrees with him. He is allowed barley and cauliflower and chives. So...basically I've not been cooking much. But today, I figured out a couple of dishes: a cauliflower salad, I almost ruined, but saved. And I learned something that was so obvious, I should have done it for years - how to make a divine chicken salad from a store-bought roasted chicken.
The cauliflower salad. I sauteed cauliflower in walnut oil until golden all over. I added a bit of white wine (Gruner Veltliner), covered the pan and steamed the cauliflower until done but crunchy. When cool, I tossed it with a dressing of walnut oil, whole grain mustard, chives, leftover pickled garlic and "cornichons" and then seasoned it. Like an idiot, I forgot how much salt would be added by the mustard and pickled condiments so when I tasted it, it was over salted. HOWEVER, I know that yogurt cools the spice in Indian dishes and I tried it with this salad. SAVED and delicious.
The trick I should have known for years occurred to me only today. I often buy a warm roasted chicken, from Fairway's, made with Murray's chicken. Today I thought I would buy some for Michael's lunch and use leftover for chicken salad. When we get a roasted chicken, the first thing I do is eat the skin, the crunchy wing tips, the "oysters" from the back, the neck and "pupick". I then might have some warm meat. I then take a piece of bread to sop up the juices collected at the bottom of the take-out container. Today I went through my routine, but separated the juices and saved them. When the chicken had cooled, I threw out whatever skin I had not eaten (horrible when cold and congealed), stripped the chicken of its meat and tore it into pieces. To the reserved juices I added mayonnaise and chives and some mustard and tossed in the shredded chicken. The flavor of the salad was 10 times deeper than it had been before.
And finally, instead of lobster rolls, we are having crab meat rolls. I buy lump crabmeat, toss it with a dressing of mayo, ketchup, grated lemon rind (which Michael, I just realized cannot have), lemon juice, chives and some leftover salmon roe. We'll saute some hotdog rolls in butter and top it with the crab salad. An expensive dish to make but yet so much cheaper than buying lobster rolls. We'll drink some the remains of the Gruner Veltliner. I'll have green salad and Michael will have the saved cauliflower salad. This is my new challenge - low-oxalate recipes.