Every weekend I make chicken stock from a rotisserie chicken I nibble on throughout the week, but this past weekend I made the real deal, chicken stock from scratch. That left me with a whole bird's worth of boiled chicken meat that had given up most of its goodness, with just enough flavor and texture left for a chicken salad with an assertive dressing. I make the sauce with Miracle Whip, because I love it, and with hot curry powder, because I love that. Sweet curry powder kicked up with a tiny pinch of cayenne makes a fine substitute, or omit the heat altogether if you wish. Peanuts and raisins are traditional curry garnishes that seem right at home in this dish.
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A recipe adapted from Nirmala's Edible Diary, a South American cookbook I received as a holiday gift from my friend Laura, this rich, yet not overly sweet, espresso chocolate custard sustained my husband Ted through a long New England blizzard. It's cooked over the gentle heat of a double boiler; if you don't have one, improvise as I do, by setting a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips, which melted smoothly and saved a bit of chopping. The original recipe called for whole milk. I had skim milk and heavy cream on hand, and combined the two -- and it worked.
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When you have a few cookbooks (okay, a few hundred cookbooks), only a few of your friends and family will chance giving you cookbooks for the holidays. My lovely friend Laura gave me Nirmala's Edible Diary, and right away I marked a dozen recipes to try. This Peruvian-inspired quinoa turkey meatloaf called for ingredients in my pantry, plus some basil, which I happened to have on hand for another dish. The original recipe includes chives, which are dead as can be in my garden at this time of year, and it doesn't call for ketchup, which really rounds out the flavor.
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TRUE CONFESSION: I like Velveeta. Really, I do; I've been eating it since I was a little girl, straight from the box. Velveeta is a cheese food product invented to be a more nutritious, longer-lasting alternative to real cheese, by reincorporating the whey that's usually removed in the cheese-making process. In Texas, folks traditionally combine Velveeta and Ro*Tel to make "queso", a spicy, gooey cheese dip for chips or vegetables. It's a tradition here in The Perfect Pantry to have a bit of fun with food at the end of the year (marshmallow fluff, anyone?), so why not invite some friends for a queso party?
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