Recipe: Classic Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad*

Categories: How To

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Mise-en-places for Chicken Salads from Neiman Marcus.

*Salads, technically, as there seem to be multiple versions tagged the "classic."

Having foolishly committed myself to completing every recipe in this Neiman Marcus cookbook in a gesture of New Year's ambition, I decided to focus first on those considered to be the "favorite" Neiman Marcus dishes.

This completely updated edition of the classic Neiman Marcus cookbook brings together recipes for all of its timeless favorites--from the Popovers with Strawberry Butter and the Chicken Salad to the famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.

It should be noted that I don't necessarily consider them my "favorite", "signature," "classic," Neiman Marcus etc. because I have never eaten a meal at Neiman Marcus. The cookbook was a lovely gift from a co-worker and the majority of the recipes not only personally appealed to me on based on their composition and taste but also on the relatively low difficulty level required. No soufflés!

Apparently, however, many, many people have fond memories of eating chicken salad at Neiman Marcus over the decades, and perhaps for that reason, there are actual multiple "official" Neiman Marcus chicken salads. The recipes after the jump:

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Dish of the Week: Étouffée

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by jc.winkler
Sometimes a little smothering is a good thing.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for a Louisiana classic: étouffée (or etouffee)

Étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fay) is a popular Cajun/Creole dish typically made with shellfish -- shrimp, crab, or crawfish -- and served over rice. Most popular is the crawfish version, which originated in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sometime in the late 1920s/early 1930s. However it wasn't until 1983 -- when a waiter at the Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire's served crawfish etouffee to his boss -- that the dish became a New Orleans staple.

The French word "étouffée" is derived from the verb "étouffer", meaning to smother, stuff, or stifle. When making the dish, the shellfish are literally smothered in a thick sauce that starts with a buttery, nutty roux and the holy trinity of Cajun cooking: onions, bell peppers, and celery. In Cajun cuisine, the roux is typically light or blond; While in Creole versions, the roux may be cooked longer to deepen the color and flavor -- and sometimes, tomatoes are added in.

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How to Make Pizza Monkey Bread

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Not too shabby for first attempt.

Monkey Bread, also apparently sometimes called "pluck-it cake" (by WHOM!!) is not for those with a fear of napkins or sticky things. But for everyone else, it's a delightful treat that's particularly fun to consume in a small group for brunch or dessert.

Traditional monkey bread is very sweet, its carbohydrate building blocks affixed to each other with a thick caramel or syrup glaze (hence the need for napkins).

In recent years, however, innovative amateur chefs have deconstructed the recipe to produce savory versions of Monkey Bread, and one particular iteration worth trying is Pizza Monkey Bread.

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Bored With Bread? Try These 5 Savory Waffle Sandwiches

Categories: How To

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese -- we're getting closer...
In partnership with fried catfish and chicken wings, waffles have transcended the realm of sweet to become a bona fide savory breakfast and brunch dish. There's still work to be done, however, to expand their presence at other non-matutinal meals. Houston institutions like The Waffle Bus have done an excellent job at pushing various waffle options for lunch and supper, notably in the form of imaginative sandwiches. If, however, you missed the bus (har), you can easily put together your own waffle sandwich at home. Here are five traditional sandwiches transformed via the substitution of waffles:

5. Grilled Cheese. A no-brainer, really, considering we're already using waffle irons to make grilled cheese (see picture). The next logical step, of course, is to use the waffles themselves with your favorite melting cheese. Stick to thinner (not Belgian) waffles so as not to tip the carbohydrate-to-fatty-dairy ratio, and consider adding sliced apples or pears for additional crunch and texture.

4. Chicken Salad. Fried chicken is a friend to waffles and chicken salad should be, too, especially to waffles of the crispy, whole-wheat variety. Remember to cool your waffles to room temperature lest their ambient heat melt the salad's mayo component. You want the waffles to serve as a sweet sponge for the salty juices and a firm platform for the protein.

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Recipe: Kit Kat Cake, or How to Get Rid of Extra Halloween Candy

Categories: How To, Sweets

Photo by Irwandy Mazwir
Classic Kit Kat Cake

If you've been saddled with the unconscionable burden of having leftover Halloween candy, this recipe is for you.

If you can't imagine how anyone celebrates Halloween without consuming all available candy, this recipe is also for you, though you'll have to go to the grocery store to stock up on some ingredients.

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Dish of the Week: Moussaka

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by Shadowgate
Add Greek yogurt to the custard for extra creaminess.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

Today, we're looking into Moussaka.

Moussaka is a dish made with layered eggplant, ground meat mixed with tomatoes and spices, and (sometimes) potatoes. While there are many variations on the dish, it is most commonly associated with Greek (mousakas) or Turkish (musakka) cuisine.

In Greece, the dish is typically topped with a béchamel (which wasn't added until the 1900s) and served hot, while in Turkey it is served as a room temperature casserole. Arabic versions of the dish, however, are meatless and served cold.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Arabic word musaggaʽa from which the Greek and Turkish names were derived literally means "chilled."

Here, we're sharing a recipe for the Greek version, in which sliced and lightly fried eggplant is layered with a mix of a spiced ground beef or lamb tomato sauce before being topped with a custard. When baked, the custard achieves a beautiful golden crust.

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Dish of the Week: Klobasneks

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by me and the sysop
Now you can customize your klobasnek as you please.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, after our Underrated Kolache post last week, we decided to delve deeper into the kolach's savory cousin, the klobasnek.

A klobasnek (or klobasnik), like a kolach, is pastry of Czech origin that is popular in central Texas. The distinction, however, is that kolach are sweet pastries filled with non-meat fillings (fruit, cream cheese, poppy seed) in the center, while klobasneks are savory pastries more similar to pigs in a blanket, or sausage rolls, where the dough is wrapped entirely around the sausage filling. According to word etymologist Barry Popick, the word klobasnek is derived from the Czech word klobase, a traditional sausage similar to the Polish kielbasa.

So all those jalapeño sausage kolache you've been ordering? They're technically klobasnkeks (also, the jalapeño is totally a Texas addition).

Either way, the same yeast dough is used to make both delectable pastries. Here's how to make it:

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Dish of the Week: Manhattan Clam Chowder

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by Mr.TinDC
Tomatoes make this Manhattan-style version a bit different from its cousins to the north.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're diving into Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Not to be confused with New England or Boston clam chowder, the Manhattan take on the traditional clam soup is made is (gasp) tomatoes -- a big no-no to its neighbors in the North. Maine event went so far as to introduce a bill making it illegal to add tomatoes to pots of clam chowder in 1939, according to The New York Times piece "Fare of the Country; New England Clams: A Fruitful Harvest."

Thankfully, not everyone subscribes to that train of thought. Tomato-based chowders were born from Portuguese fishing communities in Rhode Island in the mid-1800s, as tomato-based stews were already popular in their native cuisine. According to Alton Brown's "Good Eats", the story goes that New Englanders dubbed this tomato version of their beloved chowder "Manhattan-style" because calling someone a New Yorker was considered an insult.

Insult or not, tomatoes bring a slight tartness and a bit of sweetness to the rich, briny stew.

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Dish of the Week: Soufflé au Fromage

Categories: How To, Recipes

Photo by Katrin Morenz
There's nothing like a good soufflé, whether it's savory or sweet.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're mastering the all-mighty soufflé.

A soufflé is a classic French dish consisting of beaten egg whites and a sweet or savory custard base which is then baked. A derivative of the French word souffler, meaning "to blow up" or to "puff up", a soufflé literally puffs up as in the oven. That's thanks to the whipped egg whites, which add air bubbles that swell as the temperature rises. By the time the soufflé comes out of the oven, it's bubbling over the top of the ramekin that it was baked in; though it will deflate a bit once the air bubbles begin to cool and contact.

The technique of adding egg whites, which dates back to Medieval times and eventually evolved into the development of meringues and soufflés, can be used to make anything from rich and velvety chocolate and light and airy lemon dessert soufflés to the recipe we're sharing today: A savory and creamy soufflé au fromage (or cheese soufflé). It's comfort food at its best.

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Dish of the Week: Chicken-Fried Steak

Categories: How To, Recipes

Triple A 001.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Triple A's version of CFS is a true Houston classic.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering a Texas-bred Southern essential, Chicken-Fried Steak.

Though it really needs no explanation, chicken-fried steak -- or CFS as it is affectionately known -- is a popular Southern dish consisting of thin cuts of tenderized beef that gets coated in flour (and sometimes egg), fried 'til crisp, and smothered with a white pan gravy.

The origin of the dish is a highly debated topic, though the Texas legislature made the 1976 version reported in the Austin American-Statesman official back in 2011 (even though the piece was meant to be a work of fiction -- God bless Texas). According to the story, a short-order cook at Ethel's Home Cooking in Lamesa misunderstood a ticket, reading "chicken, fried steak" as one order instead of two. So he dipped steak into a fried chicken batter and CFS was born. More likely, however, its origins can be attributed to German and Austrian immigrants who introduced Americans to weiner schnitzel in the 19th century.

While the basic methods are the same, there are several different versions of the dish around the state. In East Texas, the steak is often dipped in eggs/milk before being coated in flour. In Central Texas, they make a version similar to schnitzel, using bread crumbs instead of flour. And in the West, a cowboy version of the pan-fried steak is made without egg. Then there those who make a brown pan gravy, but don't even get us started with that.

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