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The Chezpei cookbook needs you (chicken curry sandwich)

Hello all!

I'm revisiting the idea of writing a cookbook to pass out at my wedding. Nothing professional, just a fun little amateur cookbook to amuse my friends. There won't be any groundbreaking new recipes. It's more a compilation of things fiance and I love to eat, eat all the time, or have sort of "invented" over the years.

So now that the idea's taking shape, I have recipes to share! I thought I'd post them as I wrote them into the cookbook, both to see what people think and to maybe get a few volunteers to help test my recipes and proportions.

I would definitely appreciate all the help I can get! Some of my recipes have been extensively tested by friends, so I know they're spot on. Some I just eyeball all the time, but I want to be more specific for those new cooks.

So here's the first: chicken curry sandwich ispired by Specialtie's Bakery in San Francisco.

Ingredients (makes a quart of chicken salad, or enough for four or more sandwiches)

• two boneless skinless chicken breasts, about a pound each
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• ½ small onion, diced very finely
• ½ tsp curry powder
• 1 tsp salt, separated
• ¼ tsp black pepper


• ¼ cup raisins
• ¼ cup chopped pine nuts

Pre-heat oven to 400˚. Dry chicken well and sprinkle with salt. Pound slightly to even out the thickness of the chicken. Bake for 25 minutes, then start checking the internal temperature. Remove the chicken when the internal temperature reaches 160˚, and let cool for at least ten minutes. Your baking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

Cut the chicken into cubes smaller than one centimeter per side. You can mix it up and have some very small and some very large pieces if you like. Add the mayonnaise, onions, curry powder, salt, pepper, and optional items. Stir well and taste for salt. You won’t really be able to taste for the strength of the curry powder until the tiny granules melt into the mayonnaise. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, then taste.

Specialtie’s always served this sandwich on their potato poppy seed bread, but use your favorite sandwich bread and remember to add a generous handful of alfalfa sprouts and mixed greens.

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  1. Pei - if you're looking to make sure that new cooks are comfortable with the recipes (love the idea of you giving out your favorite recipes at your own wedding!), you might want to clarify the chicken breast definition.

    I read the recipe as being made with two whole chicken breasts (because of your "makes one quart" delineation and that it makes enough for 4 or more sandwiches), but new cooks could construe "two b/s chicken breasts" as two breast HALVES - not a whole breast.

    Just a thought.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Good point. This is why I need to post here! Thanks for the input, I'll figure out a way to clarify. I actually used two breast halves--see the confusion starting already?--but they were HUGE. I think I need to use a weight instead.

      1. re: Pei

        I actually used two breast halves--see the confusion starting already?--but they were HUGE. I think I need to use a weight instead.
        LOL! See? And with the FrankenChickens being bred and sold now, the confusion can only get worse.

        Perhaps both specifying halves, AND an approximate total weight of meat might work.

    2. 2 breasts halves at 2 lbs? Yikes where did you get that chicken from?
      Sorry, but that seems so,,,, ahem.... large.

      What a project! When cooking (not baking) I would be inclined to use estimates in my measurements rather than try to search for exact weights. People usually do adjust to their own tastes anyway, or you could advise them to.
      Hope that my input is ok..
      Actually if I have two breast halves in the freezer (from Costco), I will make your recipe for us tomorrow....

      1. Sounds delicious, Pei. I will try it soon and report back. What kind of bread is your favorite and can you clarify 1 tsp. salt, separated? Separated between the breasts and then salting after mixing the ingredients together? By the way, excellent idea of the recipe book. Wish I could get a copy!

        3 Replies
        1. re: mochi mochi

          Another great catch! Yes, 1/2 the tsp is for sprinkling on the chicken and 1/2 is for the final salad.

          I really did get frankenchickens this time. I think a number of cups of diced meat might be best. Those guesstimates are all over the place.

          chef chicklet, if you end up trying this let me know what your measurements are!

          1. re: Pei

            Pei, it might make the most sense to simply specificy "x cups plain cooked chicken, diced in y-sized pieced." That way, people could simply cook the chicken in whatever way they're most comfortable, or use a bought roast chicken, or whatever.

            Also, since this is you and your fiance's very personal(ized) cookbook, you might want to include something like "1/2 tsp. curry powder (we especially like blah brand or blech type)," since there's such a wide world of curry powder out there - though I hope none I ever encounter is blah or blach [g].

            Oh BTW, they actually spell it Specialty's. Neither way makes any sense to me.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Thanks! I was going to look up the spelling, because all I remembered was that it didn't make any sense.

              And thanks to everyone for advice so far. This will definitely help me keep the little details in mind as I type up the other recipes. Very different from jotting down notes for myself!

        2. Pei is there a special story that goes along with this recipe? Since it is for your wedding, wouldn't it be nice if you wrote a little blurb about why this recipe is so special for you and your fiance? This is getting to be a lot of work... huh? My husband and I have some very special recipes that have great stories behind them and I thought it would give a nice touch to your recipe book.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mochi mochi

            Great idea, mochi mochi. There are some with stories, but I didn't include them yet. It does seem like a fun thing to add. most of the recipes will at least say where we first came across the dish together, if it's a family recipe, etc.

          2. Hi Pei,

            You know I'm already in for one of those copy's. I must tell you if there was any way that I could get anyone in my family to try curry "anything" I would be the first to get your recipe going. So, I'm looking forward to your next posting. Don't keep us in suspense. But I agree, attention to detail is extremely important. Some people could "screw" up a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. lol :-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: othervoice

              don't I know it. Details are crucial.

              We'll see how the final copy comes out, but I think I would be very happy to provide copies to fellow hounds for my cost plus shipping. I think that would be almost $10 though. I'll have details at www.chezpei.com when it all comes together, but not til after the wedding (January '08).

            2. I make a curry chicken salad that both my husband and I like quite a bit although I will admit that the "recipe" is quite flexible.

              Because I'm busy (lazy) and don't dislike dark meat, I usually start with a rotisserie chicken instead of buying breasts and cooking them.

              Also, I don't use mayo - its a lot of calories and not much good in there - I use a good organic live culture yogurt which I think is tastier because of the tang.

              The nuts I use vary based on what I have, but I mostly tend to use roasted, sliced, unsalted almonds.

              Then one day I was out of curry but had an open jar of chutney so I used that - yeehaw! what an improvement! Since then I've used Mango Chutney, Major Grey's, etc. I haven't found a chutney I didn't like as an ingredient in this dish. I do generally add some mustard to balance the sweetness of the chutney.

              Okay, since I'm on a roll, I'll admit it. I frequently will tweek recipes using these ingredients - http://www.whfoods.org/foodstoc.php - in order to make more healthful food. But I won't & don't sacrifice flavor.

              1. congratulations on your engagement! I think that this is such a lovely idea, and all the care you are investing into it will surely make it a treasured memento for your guests. everyone's ideas here so great, I am sure that it will be a huge success.

                and which brand of curry do you like/recommend?

                9 Replies
                1. re: alex8alot

                  Thanks for asking that! I was looking at my curry spices and wondering.....

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    hey chicklet, until Pei tells us her favorite, can you tell me yours? I have been looking for a non-Indian curry powder. I am wanting something on the milder side, a mellow yellow kind of flavor.

                    1. re: alex8alot

                      I'm actually looking for something yellower myself. I have Penzey's and like it, but I don't find it especially exciting. It's a nice mellow blend with great flavors. And like all Penzey's products a little goes a long way. It's not a matter of quality or strength of the spices, just that I'd like more oomph or interest.

                      1. re: Pei

                        I have Penzeys maharaj curry powder and don't really like it that much. Kind of flat and muddy tasting.

                        My favorite yellow curry powder comes from one of the Asian market chains like Ranch 99 or Lion. The label says "cari ni an do" (Vietnamese) and "madras curry powder" by Sing Kung Corp. Nice vibrant flavor w/ just the right amount of heat. Ingredients: coriander seed, chili, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, anise, bay leaves, cloves, salt.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          hi, is the "cari ni an do" the brand or the vietnamese word for curry? I should have thought of vietnamese curry because I love their yellow curry seafood soup.

                          1. re: alex8alot

                            It's the Viet word for the style of curry powder (madras). I grew up w/ that style of curry blend so that's what I gravitate towards. As far as I can tell, the brand is "Sing Kung Corp."

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              sorry, I didn't read that properly, I thought you were talking about 2 different types. thanks

                          2. re: Carb Lover

                            Mine's the Oriental Blend. It looks more red/orange, but mixed into the chicken salad it turns yellow.

                        2. re: alex8alot

                          Its one that I get at Rattos in Oakland a hot curry that they get in bulk.
                          They have a couple and the one I get is marked "hot" I can find out if you want?
                          It is so good, nothing compares to it, I have a feeling it comes from Indonesia or the Caribbean because of the heat. And it is a Orange YELLOW...and I think it might be too powerful for a chicken salad. I use this for seafood, and its killer. Also have the usual Sun Brand Curry, Private Reserve might be the one of choice. The red one- forget it!

                    2. Good start, Pei. I love a good chicken curry salad! My two cents (being the detailed person that I am):

                      1. State exactly what kind of onion. Yellow, white, red?
                      2. State exactly kind of salt. Kosher?
                      3. For recipes, I don't think in terms of centimeters but inches. So do you mean about 1/4 in. or so?
                      4. I agree w/ others' comments about clarifying the "separated" salt and chicken amounts.

                      I find it interesting that you roast your chicken breast instead of poaching. I'll have to try this sometime...Good luck w/ the rest of your cookbook, and I look forward to seeing how it shapes up!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I thought about poaching, but I had the oven on for other stuff so I threw it in. Maybe I should take the advice above and just say "cooked chicken" and let people cook how they like. Though, knowing my friends, that's asking for phone calls like "Hey, you know for this salad thingy? How do you cook the chicken?"

                        1. re: Pei

                          Oh no, I'd stick with the roasted! Mmm... I love roasted chicken in my chicken salad. I pretty much use roasted chicken for everything that I used to poach after following Ina's directions for it in her chicken pot pie recipe. You might take a look at that recipe- it might help with your directions too.

                      2. When I write up a recipe that calls for stages (ie cook meat and make a sauce), I split the ingredient list so there is less chance for confusion. I also separate the directions in stages, so your recipe would look like this:

                        • two boneless skinless chicken breasts, about a pound each
                        • ½ tsp salt
                        • ¼ cup mayonnaise
                        • ½ small onion, diced very finely
                        • ½ tsp curry powder
                        • ½ tsp salt
                        • ¼ tsp black pepper

                        Optional dressing ingredients:
                        • ¼ cup raisins
                        • ¼ cup chopped pine nuts


                        Meat prep & cook
                        Cooking directions

                        Mixing directions