Saturday, March 6, 2010

Curry Chicken Puffs

Last week I worked all three shifts. It felt a little like the old days of nursing though really that was before my time. Even 32 years ago nursing had invented something called the shift differential to entice people to work the less desirable shifts of evenings and nights and rotating shifts were just hearsay and older nurse's war stories. At least everywhere I worked. But I like to be flexible and cover where I'm needed. It isn't like I have any kind of life and besides I have found if you are flexible, people and bosses tend to overlook some of your short comings.

But that is not what this blog is about. I say that a lot don't I? I only bring it up to explain the following. After working my second overnight in a row I was extremely tired. I went to bed and when I got up wanted to make something but nothing that would require too much thinking or a lot of work. I had some cooked chicken and thought a chicken salad would be nice. I had all the ingredients for mother's chicken salad except for the walnuts, but then remembered I was suppose to be cooking and blogging about recipes from Women of Great Taste. I also remembered that there were several chicken salad recipes in the book. How hard could they be.

I need to digress a little. As most of you know I live in the city of Chicago and do not own a car. My roommate has a car and does take me grocery shopping form time to time. However when left to my own devices I have a few options. I can take a bus to any grocery store in the city. I either have to drag my cart on the bus or remember not to buy more than I can carry. But remember I was tired and wanted to make things as easy as possible. So that left me with the stores with in walking distance. My main store I am embarrassed to say is the 7-11 on the corner a block away. They have all the staples even if you have to pay more for the convenience. They also take credit or debit cards for any amount and will give you up to 10 dollars back on debit.

A half a block further is a small Hispanic store. I always have to ask for what I want because I can never find anything. Is is also where the girl told me that corn meal was the same as corn starch although I knew better. The corn meal does make great corn bread though. They only take credit or debit over 10 dollars and the ATM doesn't always work. In my next life when I am through blogging about Women of Great Taste, I am going to start buying the little packages of things in this grocery store, figure out what they are, and cook something with them. They all look intriguing but I haven't got a clue. I'm sure I will have to have lots of dairy ready to tone down the fire.

A little further down the road in the other direction, I have a small convenience store called Julie's. The owner, Julie, is a delightful woman. They sell organics though not much produce as well lots of other items that I recognize. The problem's with Julie's is that I never walk out without dropping at least 50 dollars. It is kind of like going to Whole Foods. So I try to avoid Julie's. A half mile (Kate and I disagree on how to count blocks) away is a much larger Hispanic grocery store that has lots of produce at very reasonable prices though obviously not organic. And last, I have Walgreen's also a half mile away. At this point in my day a mile trip (to and from) seemed too much so I decided to make something with ingredients that I had on hand or could get from the two closest stores.

All of the chicken salad recipes in the book needed "difficult items" Oriental chicken salad: green onions-nope, ginger-nope, snow peas-nope, water chestnuts-nope. Maybe if I had an Asian market near by. The Fiesta chicken salad might have worked but I was nervous about husking tomatillos (no clue of what those are) and as I said, I didn't want to walk a mile to get fresh cilantro, basil and thyme. The chicken Cesar salad wanted you to marinate the chicken for several hours before cooking. You get the idea.

Another digression. Jane suggested that I add the quotes from the book to my blog and Karen suggests I take pictures of my food. I keep forgetting to do both. So here is the quote on one of the chicken salad pages. "Chicken salad has a certain glamor about it. Like the little black dress, it is chic and acceptable anywhere." Lauri Colwin. About the picture later.

Back to my problem. I decided to look up chicken in the index and came upon Curried Chicken Puffs. I thought I would just do the filling which sounded a lot like a chicken salad. I had everything on hand except for some cream cheese and sliced almonds. 7-11 let me down on the sliced almonds or almonds of any kind. My Hispanic convenient store had whole almonds so I went with those thinking I could just grind them up a little in the food processor.

My food processor, however, doesn't really do nuts very well. I was getting some find ground nuts and some still very large chunks. I did the best I could. Then I had to saute them in a little butter which made me nervous because the fine pieces were cooking pretty quickly and the larger pieces not at all. I didn't want burnt nuts. They were at least a little warm. I mixed the nuts, cream cheese, mayonnaise, cooked chicken, curry powder and the chutney together and put it in the refrigerator to chill. After reading about the puffs, they didn't sound so hard. Just water and butter to a boil. Add salt and flour, beat until it makes a ball and then beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.

The first clue that something wasn't right was that the recipe said I should have 32 puffs. I ended up cooking only 9 but would have been hard pressed to get 9 more. I dropped them by teaspoonful on to the greased cookie sheet. Baked at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The puffs only got slightly bigger than the original ball of dough. I cut the tops off and they were definitely hollow inside. I stuffed a little chicken mixture inside and they were quite good. So Laura, if you are reading this or someone else has experience with making puffs, (Laura makes wonderful cream puffs at Christmas time when I ask her to--I missed them this year) please let me know what I did wrong. I left two empty puffs (I ate the rest with the chicken mixture) so that I could take pictures in the morning. Kim came home after I went to bed. She said they tasted great (with out the chicken) hence no picture. Sorry Karen. Not to worry Kim, I'll try again later.


  1. I have made cream puffs many times. I always fill them with a vanilla instant pudding and cool whip combination and then frost with dark chocolate icing. I always get raves and they really are easy. In my experience they never make as many as the recipe says they will. I think the eggs are what make them get bigger so maybe you didn't quite beat them long enough (it takes a litle bit of work to get the egges one at a time to mix in) but I don't know if mine rise too much. Anyway, I think I'll try the chicken puffs, they sound great!

  2. I have never made puffs so now you have me curious. I would make them tonight but I already told John I would make chicken enchiladas also from Women of Great Tastes. Thanks for the laughs.

  3. I would love to have bigger puffs. They tasted great! The color and texture were perfect. But I did notice that three little puffs were canape size. Let's do some big puffs and stuff em.

  4. I've always wanted bigger puffs too. I have had Judy's cream puffs or I actually thought they were eclairs. They were good, I bet these were too. I made mom's chicken salad last night, no walnuts, I don't remember the walnuts. I will have to try the puffs. Fun blog.