It's that time of year here on the Eastern Seaboard. The potted tomatoes are ripening, this one -- our first -- bursting at the seams (see diagonal white stretch mark, top center). We'd half hoped to attract a plump, juicy Tomato Hornworm -- despite their reputation as "true garden pests" -- for the photo ops. Regular readers may recall our recent visitation by one of the Tomato Hornworm's hummingbird moth aunts, the Great Ash Sphinx Moth. Speaking of true garden pests and other creepy crawlies, the 23rd edition of Circus of the Spineless is up at Brit natural history blogger Roger Butterfield's Words and Pictures, a font of fascinating facts, sparkling wit and totally awesome macro photography. A pot of virtual nectar to COTS godfather Tony Gallucci of milkriverblog.
"Poached chicken is ideal for cold chicken salad, where lightly flavored, juicy chicken is required," says eHow, the website of choice for "how to poach chicken." We'd checked out Epicurious and found as many prescriptions as there were recipes, from "simmer 20 minutes" and "simmer 12 minutes" to "bring to boil, turn off heat and let stand 20 minutes." We preferred the simplicity and common sense of eHow's advice:
Boil enough water or chicken broth to cover the chicken . . . Lower the heat so the liquid is just below a simmer. The surface should shimmer. When checked with a food thermometer, the temperature should be about 190 degrees . . . Cook only until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes for chicken pieces and 45 minutes to an hour for a whole chicken.
We tried it this afternoon. 'Forgot to use the thermometer so used our eye instead. Below, the results. Like everything in the Cold Turkey Cookbook, it looks good enough to eat:
Tuck did a double take when he saw this scrumptious photograph of our freshly poached chicken breast. "Do you think it looks like vanilla ice cream?" we asked. "Yah." Mmmmm. "Maybe we should just add chocolate sauce," we ventured. "Maybe we should just have ice cream," one-upped Tuck.
With the moist, tender chicken in hand, we imailed our recipe consultant for ideas. A glimpse at how sausage is made in our experimental kitchen:
She: Did you watch OUR DICK on the inedible Larry King's show? I knew OUR DICK would flatten King.
We: I remember blogging about the old-fashioned comity of the VP debate between Dick and Joey.
She: I envy Lynn, with her slippers under his bed. To be loved and admired by OUR DICK says a lot about a woman.
We: I know Lynn Cheney. Lynn Cheney is a friend of mine. Senator Clinton, you're no Lynn Cheney.
She: I wonder if the Cheneys and the Bushes get 'long, in real life? Actually, it would be like the two of us trying to run the nation. We are totally admiring and respectful of one another, but have very different approaches to things.
We: Am working on a new Cold Turkey Cookbook recipe. Can't decide whether to go with Caesar Salad with chicken or some kind of SOUP with chicken.
She: I am in AWE of the first tomato!!!! How large and round and red and beautiful.
We: Did you read the WSJ commentary re fat friends?
She: Re: Caesar Salad with chicken. EVERYBODY does that. I say, go with soup and chicken.
We: Any thoughts about what kind of soup? Do I dare add vanilla-flavored Activa yogurt as a thickener? Do I dare NOT?
She: Yes, re fat and fat friends. I am totally with the commentary. STUPID premise, to begin with.
We: I am already reducing the broth and water that I cooked the chicken in . . . Added all the leftover steamed veggies -- zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, leeks, asparagus -- from the last few days for flavor and to waste not, want not.
She: Use Activa, if you must, but I advise no additives. I tried Activa and HATED it.
We: I eat it every day with my half sandwich and love it. Of course the kitchen IS experimental, so I may go ahead.
She: Of course. THAT'S what I like to see . . . an exchange of ideas, and then one goes on to do what one wants to do.
Once the broth with vegetables reduced down, we put it in the food processor and came up with a dark-butterscotch-colored, full-bodied concoction more suitable as the soup part of a soup 'n' salad supper than the base of a chicken soup. So we're going with the mighty Caesar with chicken and a hearty soup served in our elegant short-stemmed crystal dessert dishes -- shades of Hyacinth Bucket's Royal Doulton with periwinkle pattern? -- and topped off with a dollop of sour cream lite, only 20 calories per tbsp.
A soup is born. In a large covered pan cook -- or recook -- coarsely sliced or chopped leftover veggies such as zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, leeks and asparagus in one can chicken broth lite plus two to three cups water, simmering until liquid is reduced by about half. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice, puree in food processor and serve hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream lite. That's Chelseassoise.
Update: Served soup, devoured same. We loved it, but what to call this bright new dish? "It needs a name that doesn't mean anything foodwise," said Tuck, realizing that to list all the ingredients would be a mouthful. "Something French. How about Chelseassoise," he said, with a certain note of triumph in his voice:
The slightly dirty brown color resonates with Chelsea's image, and it has sort of a more "industrial taste" than Vichyssoise. Otherwise, it's very similar.
He does have a way with words.