Friday, 8 June 2012
I had some leftover chicken which I wanted to use up, from having roasted Nigel's chicken last night. (It's a very very very good roast chicken recipe by the way, moist and tender, and scrummily browned!) I could have done any number of things with it . . . but then . . .
I got to thinking back to when I was a girl. My mother used to host the odd luncheon party at our home. Usually I was at school when these events were going on, but I got to watch the preparations . . . and if she was doing finger sandwiches, I got to eat the crusts that were cut off.
They always tasted so good for some odd reason. She'd have thrown them all into a bag and we could just snack on them after school. There would be little brown bits of bread with egg salad clinging to some of them . . . and perhaps deviled ham to others . . . scrummy yummy.
I always watched her preparations with longing. I could hardly wait to grow up and have these kinds of parties of my own. Those ladies would sit down to feasts of finger sandwiches, and perfection salad . . . crisp and flakey biscuits slathered with deliciously creamy Chicken à la King . . . tea breads spread with butter, and tiny tarts filled with lemon or jam, or pretty . . . sweet berries, sitting atop the pastry like little coloured jewels.
Everyone was all prettied up in their nicest afternoon dresses, pretty little hats, patent leather purses and pumps . . . the air was filled with laughter and giggles and women's chatter.
Of course when I worked as the Chef at the Manor, I got lots of practice at cooking for luncheons . . . there was never anything as simplistic as this Chicken à la King dish . . . those were ladies of a different class . . . not for them simple things . . . their tastes ran more to smoked salmon, and rich soups . . . fancified salads, and terribly fiddly desserts . . . most often the plates would come back to the kitchen . . . hardly touched . . .
Not that the food wasn't par excellence . . . but rich women don't really eat do they . . . they taste and then push the food around on their plates . . . all the while longing to actually eat what was there, but fearful of looking like a glutton in front of the rest or putting on an ounce . . . sad really.
Anyways, it was fun for me to get to stretch my abilities and cook all those different things . . . but my heart longed for simpler times, and simpler ladies . . .
or was I only looking at things through rose coloured glasses . . . and the fancies of a daughter's memories??
Todd and I feasted on this tonight. We both enjoyed . . . a bit indulgent yes . . . but worth every delicous morsel. Once in a while you just have to treat yourself.
I don't know why dishes like this have gone out of fashion . . . it's really very, very good.
*Chicken à la King*
Serves 2 to 3
Delicious chicken in a well flavoured velvety sauce, served over baking powder biscuits or flaky patty shells.
6 white cupped mushrooms, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
3 TBS red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups velouté sauce
2 poached small chicken breasts, cut into cubes (1 cup of meat)
1 medium egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 TBS dry sherry
2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
fine sea salt and ground white pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and chopped bell pepper and saute until softened, without browning. Add the sauce along with the chicken breast meat. Gently heat through. Remove 1/4 cup of the sauce and use it to temper the egg yolk, carefully, beating constantly. (Add it a little at a time so as not to create scrambled egg.) Return the yolk/sauce mixture to the pan along with the sherry, the parsley and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon over split warm baking powder biscuits or flaky patty shells.