If you walked into my house unannounced this morning, you would find two school hats sitting near the front door, in the same spot they landed before Easter. There is a very large pile of newspapers, magazines and mail on the dining table. You would also find the oven trays and pans from last night washed but still sitting in the drainer waiting to be put away. My daughter's Egypt project sits with some school notes that need to be dealt with. There are a couple of spare pairs of shoes tossed to one side. There are some coffee cups yet to be put in the dishwasher. Ironing is sitting out waiting to be put away. The house is clean but it is certainly not tidy. I'm embarrassed to say that my house looks like this most mornings.
You will not be surprised to know that when visitors are coming, my house does not look like this. I run around making sure that everything is returned to where it belongs, ensuring that the tables that usually accumulate daily clutter are clear, the draining rack in the kitchen is empty and ideally most of the kitchen prep has been done too so that (on a good day) there is not even a chopping board sitting around. This takes time and creativity (one of my proudest moments was when I figured out that my washing machine could be used as a hiding spot - just don't forget what is inside or you could be creating a disaster). So a surprise visitor for lunch means a recipe that is both quick and simple to allow for a mad dash around the house returning everything to the places they belong. Please tell me that other people do this too...
This salad is lovely and easy, and the flavour combination is great. It also keeps really well - it was a delicious lunch for me for a few days. The recipe is from "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins which was published in 1984, and is still a great resource for me. Lots of really delicious ideas once you sift out the occasional 1980s horror - if you see this book in a secondhand bookshop, grab it. Just the thing for seeing an old friend, (and admiring how nice everything looks when all our clutter is put away). And it only takes about 15 minutes to make.
Chicken Salad With Red Grapes and Pecans
from "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
4 whole chicken breasts (8 halves) poached and skinned (I used a cooked rotisserie chicken, skinned)
1 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
Cut the chicken into 3cm chunks, then combine with celery, grapes and pecans in a large bowl.
Make the mayonnaise. Toss the salad with the mayonnaise and refrigerate until cold. Seve on a bed of salad leaves.
2 egg yolks
1 tbl dijon mustard
2 tbls sherry vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup crumbled roquefort (I used a goats cheese instead)
Process egg yolks, mustard and vinegar in a blender for 30 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the oil to make a thick mayonaise. Add cheese and pulse a couple of times (until just combined, not smooth). Season to taste.