Lemon Poached Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Poached Lemon chicken Salad~ A Stack of Dishes

When your day calls for chasing golf or tennis balls, and you would rather be in the garden, easy to make Lemon Poached Chicken Salad is a refreshing lunch with a surprise bonus.

We’ve owned our house for over three years now, though it wasn’t until this past June that we fully occupied it. Since my move in day there has been a flurry of nesting activity. We hired a painter to freshen the den and the kitchen, which tumbled on into coating every wall in the house. At one point I joked to Andrew, our painter, that I feared standing still for too long due to the risk of “needing paint” myself.

Lemon Broth~ A Stack of Dishes

Now, after three quarters of a year, we are fresh faced, furniture is properly placed, and the walls are hung with comforting art. It was time to conquer the garden.

It was always a scrubby thing with an oversized concrete parking pad in a very undersized diminished yard. There was erratic patches of angry grass, a cobbling of travertine stone pavers, and a rattle trap of a heating/cooling unit. To top it off, in the afternoons the sun comes around and beats down hard into our little corner. In Louisiana this is serious stuff. Last summer my poor herbs, which I emigrated from NYC, sagged and gasped as we tried to battle the unfamiliar elements, and in the end we both lost.

After many months of standing at the back door staring blankly out onto, what my mother would call, “Tobacco Road”, we hired a landscaper. This by far has proven to be one of the best things we have ever done. Within 2 weeks of our initial phone call they were back there with jack hammer and back hoe ripping out the nasty. They tilled and fertilized what lay beneath into a dark rich gold mine for our plantings.

Poached Chicken~ A Stack of Dishes

 What was once barren and harsh is now a lush secret garden. It’s so far removed from what was there before that it blows my mind. There are now layers and layers of plantings, the ragged stones now a magical pathway, and a warm wooden fence to shield and comfort. At the end of each day we are drawn back there with a glass of wine in hand to ease off the day.

Lemon chicken Salad~ A Stack of Dishes

Which brings me to this salad. We all have so much to do,  whether you have a garden or not. When I come up with a light and delicious recipe, which offers a bonus- you know I have to share.

Poaching chicken has never been high on my list. Poaching has never produced more than an insipid taking meat, until now. I recently purchased Donna Hay’s new book Fresh and Light where she has a base recipe for lemon poached chicken. The beauty of poaching is you can set the broth to boil, add your breasts, cover it, turn it off, and walk away. This allows the chicken to gently poach and infuse with the flavors. The lemon flavor of this method is delicate and light, but definitely there. So no bland bird, and just enough zing to bring something bright to a dish. {btw, the lemon thyme is from me new herb garden!}

And the bonus?? After the poaching, the broth is rich and lemony in a way that will make you swoon. It’s so amazing that I used it to make Lemon Broth with The Navels of Venus over on A Healthy Hunger. {the post to go up later today}

Lemon Poached Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
337 calories
22 g
106 g
8 g
45 g
2 g
561 g
536 g
7 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 337
Calories from Fat 71
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 106mg
Sodium 536mg
Total Carbohydrates 22g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 7g
Protein 45g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 quart chicken stock
  2. 1 lemon sliced
  3. 4 sprigs lemon thyme
  4. 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  5. 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but into equal sized pieces
  6. 6 cups sliced green cabbage
  7. 1 cup sliced celery with fronds
  8. 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  9. juice of one lemon
  10. generous pinch of salt
  11. generous grind of black pepper
  12. 2 tablespoons minced rind of the poached lemons
  1. In a large saucepan, place the stock, thyme, lemon and pepper corns and bring to a boil. Gently boil for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently poach for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  2. Remove the chicken and allow to cool.
  3. Strain the broth and reserve for future use.
  4. In a small bowl combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, pepper and minced rind.
  5. Arrange greens onto plates, slice chicken and place on top and serve with dressing.
Adapted from Donna Hay~ Fresh and Light
Adapted from Donna Hay~ Fresh and Light
A Stack of Dishes http://www.astackofdishes.com/


Cabbages & Fennel Salad + Calabrese Frito: Preserved Lemon Dressing

At last the unveiling! I present to you the preserved lemons I put up this past summer. They’ve been patiently marinating in the back of my fridge all these months. They’ve been shoved back and forth, used to prop up other things, been in the way, and sometimes completely forgotten- but now here they are- front and center!

Last week, while walking the streets of the city, I was sure I picked up the faintest scent of spring. There was that damp earth coolness, with the back end of sunshine in the breeze. I smelled it, I’m sure I did. Like a drug it got my heart to beat faster and put a smile on my face.

I remember once while riding the subway, I overheard someone (who apparently was from California), say, “New Yorkers are so desperate for sunshine and warmth that when they get a nice day they practically get intoxicated by it!” She scoffed and Pfft!, and then went on to say something to the effect that a life living in perpetual sunshine was the way to go- Really? I don’t doubt that continuous loveliness would not be a fine thing, but I DO get all giddy at the change of seasons. It’s magical to me, and who doesn’t like getting intoxicated from time to time?!?

I ask you, is a steady stream of nice really better than a life with bursts of delight? I am not a particular fan of the gray doldrums of winter, but there is a rhythm to it. It touches my soul that the earth can take such a beating from the bitter winds, and then come back with heartbreaking beauty and tenderness. How wonderful it is to be reminded of regrowth, of the ups and downs of life, that even though things look bleak- it’s really just an incubator for the next. It’s the wane to the wax. It’s Grace.

I’m all about it.

All this is to say that good things are the gifts of patience. Like my lemons. Ah my lovely little lemons! I packed them with love, with anticipation, with slow expectation- and now they have surfaced as my winter blossom.

This is a simple salad, full of heart healthy cruciferous vegetables. Layers of finely shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and shaved fennel, dressed with a creamy yogurt and preserved lemon dressing. I pan fried slices of Calabrese salami to a delicate crisp for a little fine texture and saltiness.

We are always growing and evolving and changing. As the Buddhists say: Life is a river. The river flows and moves along its course, and though it may seem like a static thing- that river over there- it is in fact, always changing- and never the same.

I believe that I am a river- and I take pleasure in the splashing.

Cabbages and Fennel Salad + Preserved Lemon Dressing
Perserved lemons can be found in many markets these days. Be sure to rinse them well to remove some of the saltiness of the brine. Preserved lemons have a mild, unique taste that I invite you to try, but if you can’t get your hands on any, you can use grated lemon peel in its place.
serves 4
1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely minced
1 c Greek yogurt, plain
2 t white vinegar
1T olive oil
{no need for salt, there is plenty in the lemons}
4 slices Calabrese salami

2 c finely shredded green cabbage
1 c Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, shaved thinly on a mandoline

In a small bowl combine the lemon, yogurt, vinegar and oil. Set aside and allow the flavor of the lemons permeate the yogurt.

Prepare the vegetables. With the fennel, place in cold water after slicing until ready to use.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, carefully fry the salami until crisp, about 2 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove the fennel from the water and pat dry.  Layer the vegetables amongst 4 plates, then drizzle with the dressing.

Top with a slice of the salami.

Happy almost end of winter!


Zesty Lemon Almond Cake with Spiced Tangerine Sauce

Moist Lemon Almond Cake

The winter winds have me looking for excuses to turn the oven on. Since my future Mother-in-Law was coming for dinner, the decision was finalized. Cake for dessert.
When I had my wedding cake business I always had pounds and pounds of butter, stacks and stacks of eggs, and never ending bins of flour and sugar at my disposal. Whenever I wanted to get creative in the kitchen I never had to stop to think about what was in the cupboard.
Now I find myself, for the first time in 25 years, purchasing butter at the supermarket- but I rarely eat it. I trend to the healthier olive oil in my cooking, and that is including baking as well. In many recipes oil and butter may be interchanged, but not always to the best advantage. It’s the buttery goodness in brioche that makes the difference, the same-of course- in a sugar cookie.

Last minute baking may require some forgiveness, in a pinch you could get away with plenty. This cake does not need any apologies or excuses- The oil makes for a moist delicious cake that easily waves a dismissive hand at butter.

When it came to deciding what flavor cake to make, my cupboard yielded plenty of flour, sugar and eggs. There were some almonds, a lemon on the counter, and an ambitious stack of tangerines in the fruit bowl. {I promised I would eat them all when I hoisted that big bag into my cart, but they were starting to best me} I also had a container of buttermilk, something many southern women keep at the ready.

As I acquaint myself with southern living I am amazed at the cultural differences in the market aisles. At my regular store I was amazed to see that there were 8 varieties of buttermilk and mostly in half gallon sizes. In contrast there was one option for ricotta, offered only in 16oz containers. On my NY shelves the offerings are the exact opposite. Perhaps this is just a quirk of the store manager, but I was still baffled to think how was all that buttermilk being used?

I have a few “out of the cupboard” cake recipes that everyone should have up their sleeve. This is a pretty nice one. You can substitute the almonds for other nuts, or simply leave them out. You can also switch up the fruit for the sauce- frozen fruits being a perfect thing.

This particular cake was tangy due to the soaking of a lemon juice simple syrup. It’s a great cake for simple gatherings, coffee klatches and, in my case, my Mother-in-Law.

Zesty Lemon Almond Cake with Spiced Tangerine Sauce
makes a 9″ single layer cake- 10 small slices
2.5c ap flour
1.5t baking powder
.5t baking soda
.25t salt
10T vegetable oil
1.33 c sugar
3 large eggs
1c buttermilk
.5c almonds, toasted and rough chopped
zest and juice from one lemon, separated
.5c water
.5c sugar
2 tangerines
.5c sugar
1c water
.25t cinnamon
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350˚ and prepare a 9″ cake pan with cooking spray
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs into a thick emulsion. Add the lemon zest.
Add the egg mixture and half the buttermilk to the flour and stir until mostly smooth, then add the rest of the buttermilk and the almonds. Stir gently until smooth.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden and the center of the cake is springy to the touch. Approx 25 mins.
While the cake is baking, prepare the lemon syrup and the Tangerine Sauce.
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice. After the cake is removed from the oven, and still warm, evenly pour the syrup over the top of the cake, and allow to soak in.
To prepare the Tangerine Sauce, using a knife cut off the tops of the tangerines and then slice off the sides. Following along the membranes, remove the sections of tangerine flesh and drop into a small saucepan, allowing any juices to drip into the pan as well.
Add the sugar, water and cinnamon and bring to the boil. Allow the sauce to gently boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Serve the sauce either warmed or room temperature. 
{A splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier would be a lovely addition if you’re so inclined}