Something Creeping Out of The Potato Crock

PhotoScapeXWithout the potato, the balance of European power might never have tilted north.
Michael Pollan

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Out of the corner of my eye, I spied something creeping out of the potato crock and I count my blessings that it didn’t stink to high heaven or was ewey gooey with a hands on dive into the bottom of the crock.  Turns out that I could have planted that sweet potato and had a fine plant for months, but  it sucks water like crazy, still a beautiful vine…so sweet vine led me to two other potatoes that needed to be used judging by the sprouts on them and I was sure that a happy place for old potatoes would be in a fabulous simple bowl of vichyssoise, hot or cold, but tonight hot with an equally delicious chicken salad stuffed into warm salad pita pockets.

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The two taters had character and deserved a full on Julia treatment and what better time to use the equally “need to be used” leeks in the veggie bin than.    The added roasted chicken stock from the Zuni chicken dinner just puts it over the top in flavor.    I didn’t waste my time in sautéing the 4 cleaned and trimmed sliced leeks unless you count the pat of butter melting in the pot surrounding them as I tossed in the cubes of potatoes.  Add about 4-6 cups of chicken stock, season with salt and bring to a boil, turn down and partially cover until potatoes are soft.  Use a stick blender to puree the potatoes and leeks, taste for seasoning and add a little salt and white pepper.   Set aside until serving time and reheat on low if necessary.   Chop fresh chives for the vichyssoise and have ready about 1/4 cup of crème fraîche to stir in when ready to serve in warm bowls…garnish each bowl with chopped fresh chives.

Rose’s Chicken Salad with Tarragon and Candied Pecans

Chicken Salad with Grapes

(2 white wine and dill steamed chicken breasts, shredded or cubed)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 green onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon—taste salad and if you like more tarragon, add it
freshly ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups champagne grapes (if using large grapes cut in half or quarters)
2-3 ribs of peeled celery, small dice
lettuce or arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped salted cashews or candied pecans
sprigs of tarragon for garnish

Steamed chicken breasts-steam until cooked through
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig fresh dill weed
*optional pot with steamer

DRESSING: Whisk the mayonnaise, green onions, buttermilk, tarragon and ground pepper in a small bowl to blend (can be made 1 day ahead). Cover and chill.

SALAD: Arrange the chicken in a heavy, medium size skillet. Add the wine, dill and ground black pepper. Season with salt. If necessary, add water to cover the chicken. Simmer over medium low heat until chicken is just cooked through, turning once (about 11 minutes). Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool.

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the grapes and the celery and mix in the dressing to thoroughly coat the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to develop the flavors. (Can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead).