Category Archives: Sandwiches

Spicy Chicken Salad Banh Mi Sandwich

Chicken Salad Banh MiSpicy Chicken Salad Banh Mi Sandwich

A couple of weeks ago when I was at the lunch with Kitchensurfing, I had an open-faced, spicy chicken salad sandwich as the main part of the meal.  I was so inspired by this dish that I decided to try to re-create it at home, adding a few extra things that bring it closer to what I really like in a classic Banh Mi.  This combination really grabbed my tastebuds for a few reasons.  One of them, I think, is I’ve been increasingly drawn to more Asian-influenced tangy-spicy-fresh flavors lately, especially with this summer’s lingering hot spells.  Another might have been that this was just a great way to bring together a bunch of different textures, ones that vary from what I usually fix for myself.

Ingredients for Sandwiches

Spicy Chicken Salad Banh Mi Sandwich

Prep Time: under 30 minutes if you use already-cooked chicken

Serving Size: 4 sandwiches


1/3 c. Mayonnaise

1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha

2 c. shredded Chicken (if you poach it yourself, add 30 minutes to the prep time for this recipe)

1/2 Lime, juiced

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

4 Mini-Baguettes (I used the Pan Bagnat from Hot Bread Kitchen) or other Vietnamese bread

1/4 oz. Country Pâté cut into strips or slices (I used the one from Brooklyn Cured)

1/4 c. Pickled Carrots and Radishes (see below*)

1 Cucumber, peeled in long strips with no seeds

20-30 Cilantro leaves

If you decide to poach the chicken, rather than using leftovers or buying it ready made, you can follow the directions here, and start off by preparing the chicken, as it will need to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.  You’ll use 1/2 of the chicken for this recipe.  If you already have cooked, shredded chicken on hand, start off by making the spicy mayonnaise.

Sriracha Mayonnaise

Add 1 tsp. of the Sriracha to the mayonnaise and then mix them together.  Taste to see if it is your desired spiciness level, remembering that some of the heat will be diminished when it the mayonnaise is combined with the chicken.  Add each additional tsp. until the mayonnaise is as spicy as you’d like it to be.  Mine reached a sort of light pumpkin color, which was at about the 4 tsp. point.

Spicy Chicken Salad

For the Spicy Chicken Salad, place the chicken in a bowl.  Pour over the lime juice and add the salt and cilantro to the chicken.  Toss gently to combine the ingredients.  Then, add about 1/3 c. of the spicy mayonnaise, leaving some to spread on the sandwiches.  Fold the mayonnaise into the seasoned chicken.  Taste.  Add more salt and a touch more lime juice, if desired.  The flavors should be creamy, with a hint of heat, and a lift of freshness from the citrus and the cilantro.

Spicy mayonnaise and pâté on sandwich

Cut the bread in half and toast each side.  Spread some of the spicy mayonnaise on each half of the toasted bread, and place the strips of pâté on the bottom half of the bread.  Pile 1/4 of the spicy chicken salad on top of the pâté.

Building the sandwich

Place a nice-sized pile of the pickled carrots and radishes on top of the chicken.  Put the sliced cucumber on top half of the bread and sprinkle several whole cilantro leaves on top that.  Put both halves together for the complete sandwich.  This bread also holds up well when the sandwich is prepared a bit in advance and kept wrapped in the refrigerator, which makes it ideal for packed lunches or picnics.

Spicy Chicken Salad Banh Mi Sandwich

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

Carrots and Radishes

I took the long way with this recipe, poaching the chicken myself and making the mayonnaise from scratch.  I also pickled the carrots and radishes about 24 hours in advance of making this dish.

Pickling Spices

After looking around on line, I just whipped up a quick pickling solution, put it in a jar, added the vegetables, and let it sit in the fridge.

Pickled Carrots and Radishes

I’m sure that it isn’t entirely the exact right way to make this, but the finished results were a slightly crunchy, tangy product that added some other spice notes and texture to the final sandwich.

Pickled Carrots and Radishes

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus overnight to sit in refrigerator


3 Radishes (preferably Daikon, but here I used what I had, which were the red ones)

2 Carrots

4-5 Allspice Berries

10 Black Peppercorns

10-12 Coriander Seeds

1 Star Anise

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Salt

1/4 c. Rice Wine Vinegar

1/2-3/4 c. boiling Water


Slice radishes into long, thin strips about 1/4 cm wide.  Peel the carrots and cut them in the same size.  In a glass jar with a tight lid, combine the spices with the sugar and salt.  Pour over the boiling water and then add the vinegar.  Stir to mix together and to make sure that the sugar and salt have dissolved completely.  Put the carrots and the radishes into the liquid and seal the jar tightly.  Let the jar cool for 10-15 minutes before placing it in the refrigerator to sit at least overnight.  This mixture should be consumed within a week, as it is not meant to be kept for long-term preservation.

Tea at Claridge’s

My mother loved to do tea anywhere we traveled.  Of course, this was especially true anytime we were in London together.  I find that I’ve ended up keeping up the same tradition without even realizing it, and each time I’ve visited this city, I try to find one afternoon, at least, when I can take time out for tea.  Last time I was there, my friends raved about the service at Claridge’s.  I tried, but couldn’t get a booking then.  This time, I managed to get a seating on Friday afternoon.

From the minute you sit down at the table, the staff is by your side making sure that you are comfortable and familiar with this pastime associated with another era.  You’ve stepped away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Oxford and Regent Streets and the beckoning luxury shops of this Mayfair neighborhood and into a quiet, serene world.  To start, you can choose between a traditional Afternoon Tea or splurge a bit and go for the Champagne Tea.  The first comes with sandwiches, sweets, and scones while the second has the same items plus a glass of champagne and an individual chocolate creation added to it as well.  I opted for the Afternoon Tea.

Tea and Sandwiches at Claridge’s

Once you’ve decided which version of this respite to have, the next task is to pick out which tea to enjoy.  The list of about 30 teas covers the globe as well as many varietals, including some exclusive ones like Royal White-Silver Needles.  I picked out the Tregothnan one, which is English-grown from an estate in Cornwall that dates back several centuries.  It is possible to change teas during your meal, so if you can’t decide between a couple of them, note the ones you’d like to try and talk to the server about sampling those as well.

Then, I needed to select which sandwiches to have.  All of them are served on different varieties of organic bread.  I went with the typical selection which had Smoked Salmon with an orange butter than went perfectly with the salty, smoky fish; Ham, butter, and watercress; Organic Roast Chicken with tomato; very English Cucumber with cream cheese; and my favorite Egg Mayonnaise and watercress.  I was also able to try the vegetarian sandwich plate which had the last two of the above sandwiches plus a Red pepper and hummus; Cheddar cheese and chutney; and Mushroom and lettuce.  The cheese one of those was my favorite as the chutney’s sweetness and hint of curry kick cut through the dairy fattiness of the cheddar.

Scones with Clotted Cream and Marco Polo Tea Jelly

After the sandwiches, I was brought a tray that included two types of scones with clotted cream and their own Marco Polo Tea Jelly.  The fluffy scones were the traditional raisin and an apple one.  I really enjoyed the contrast that tart green fruit slivers brought to the clotted cream that I dolloped on top of each half.  I also put a generous helping of the jelly on top of that.  The jelly gave a slightly sweet, floral, fruity essence to every bite of the scones and was a delightful combination with the buttery, rich cream and is exclusive to Claridges.  When I discovered that I could buy a jar of the jelly in their gift shop, I snapped up a it so that I could re-create this experience back at home.

Along with the scones came two sweet treats.  The one on the left is basically a millefeuille with vanilla bean-speckled pastry cream.  Done wrong and these confections taste horrible, sort of like glue and cardboard put together.  Done perfectly, as this one was, you get crisp, toasty puff pastry with delicately-flavored vanilla cream slathered between each layer.  The star of this plate for me was, however, the Passionfruit Shot.  So much beautiful, tropical flavor was came together in this small glass.  I wish that all desserts could be this wonderfully constructed.

Millefeuille and Passionfruit Shot

Burnt sugar style tuile pieces and cubes of fresh pineapple decorated the top of this dish.  Then, the spoon touches the passionfruit mousse which has the exact right balance between fruit flavor and fluffy mousse-iness (combining cream, sugar, and eggs).  As the fruit in its native state can be somewhat tart and acidic, the chef was a genius in bringing out the tropical, floral notes without those other features showing through.  At the bottom of the glass, for that extra punch of flavor was a thin layer of passionfruit curd, further tying together the dish by going back for a sweet finish.  I could have eaten a whole tray of these.

To say that it was a special experience to take tea at Claridge’s might sound a bit trite, but this was really one of the best and most enjoyable times that I have every had with this afternoon ritual.  The food was fantastic and showed the care and craft that is a hallmark of the hotel.  The music was lively but not intrusive at all.  The staff was superb and attentive to everything, making sure that I and the other guests had everything that we needed so that we could enjoy taking a moment out to stop the world and relax.  The lobby with Art Deco and Art Nouveau finishes brought together in modern harmony is an exquisite setting for any meal.  Once I finished, I felt recharged and refreshed, ready to take on more of the adventures that London had to show me.

Buon appetito!

A Royal Wedding Tea Party

I’ve always loved tea parties.  When I was little, my aunt gave me a miniature tea set in porcelain, and I played with it for hours.  I had to hide it from my younger siblings to keep it from being destroyed.  My mom and I used to make a slot in our travels to have tea and for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, we kids surprised them with a formal tea to welcome them home from their trip to Paris.

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Turkey Curry Salad Sandwich

This morning, my day started in a bit of panic mode.  I was getting ready to attend an all-day training seminar and realized that we were supposed to pack a lunch so that we could also listen to a guest speaker during that time. I’m really not good at bringing my lunch, even when I work fulltime, so I was sort of stumped as to what to do.

Rummaging around in the fridge I happened upon a bit of a surprise.  Shoved into the back of the top shelve was leftover Turkey Curry, from post-Thanksgiving.  Remember when I talked about how turkey was the gift that kept on giving in my family?  I conducted the “smell test,” and it seemed o.k.  (Oh, you know the one: When someone opens up that random jar of stuff in the back of the fridge and asks you to shove your nose in it to see if it smells bad.)  All I needed to figure out was how to recycle it as something to take for lunch today.

From the Pita Chips / Crisps that I made last week, I still had a couple of extra pita pockets.  I also discovered that I had some extra almonds from the Almond Butter Crunch and a jar of Squadrilla Chutney. This made my creative culinary wheels start to kick into motion, even if my morning caffeine hadn’t quite gotten into my system.  What if I created a Turkey Curry Salad Sandwich?

So, I took the leftover turkey curry, which was about a cup, and figured out what I need to do next, based upon another curry salad that I’d eaten ages ago.  I added a dollop* of the chutney, a couple of squirts of mayonnaise, a small handful of almonds, and, then, for some freshness, put in about a tablespoon of chopped cilantro.  What I was looking for was a citrusy, tangy, tart balance to the spiciness of the curry.  The turkey really needed something to perk it up at this point.

When I unwrapped my sandwich a few hours later, I wasn’t disappointed.  This was much more interesting than your usual chicken or turkey salad sandwich.  It had several different flavors going on in every bite, with nothing too overpowering in any one of them.  I don’t usually opt for sandwiches for lunchtime, so it was nice to have something that was flavorful and multi-dimensional.  Best of all, I saved money by not buying something to eat, and I finally got rid of the last of the Thanksgiving turkey.

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:
I know that not all of my readership is based in the U.S. and that not all measurements are standard.  To assist in using my recipes, I’ve included a Measures / Conversions page on the site.

New Amsterdam Market Smørrebrød Festival

One of the things that I really love about the New Amsterdam Market is that it features different kinds of food events and showcases the variety of the things that we eat in this city.  This was really evident in the Ice Cream Festival this summer and the Hudson Valley Harvest in October.  Today, we had a chance to dip into another part of the New York’s culinary heritage with the Smørrebrød Festival.  This was part food festival, part competition, as the participants were pitted against each other in a variety of categories.

Ulla Dubgaard and Maiken Tandgaard Derno from the Consulate General of Denmark were kind enough to talk with me at the earlier part of the event about how this came together.  For a couple of years, they have been working with well-known chef Trina Hahnemann and her Danish Rye Bread Project on a possible activity based upon the revival in cooking and in traditional fare that has become bigger and bigger on the food scene in general and also in Europe specifically (see Ireland and Darina Allen).  With Noma named best restaurant in the world earlier this year, they said that the timing seemed appropriate to launch this initiative.
Rye bread or rugbrød itself is something that is an intrinsic part of their heritage.  From farmers who used to take slices of bread layered with fat and salt to have as their lunch to workers in the industrial revolution days who ate it with potatoes, meats and whatever else was leftover from the night before to the modern smørrebrød shops similar to our hamburger stands, rugbrød is rich in fiber, provides good bacteria through its mild fermentation, and stands as a perfect platform for whatever flavors are placed upon it.  Baking the bread oneself is also part of their tradition, as Maiken explained that parents make it for their children’s lunches and university students use their dormitory ovens to produce loaves, even with good bakeries from which to purchase it.  It was clear in talking to them that they were honored to be able to bring this part of their native country to the market and that they were very impressed at the number of people who showed up today to share in this tradition.

With Chef Trina Hahnemann’s assistance and with bread baked by Nordic Breads using locally-grown wheat and rye from Cayuga Pure Organics, NYC chefs created thousands of pieces of this Danish specialty layered with regionally-sourced meats, cheeses, fish, and other products.  The beers were sourced by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and featured several from Denmark, which paired beautifully with the array of smørrebrød that participants could select for their meal.

Sandwiches from Saltie, GreenBrownOrange, and Trina Hahnemann (L-R)

A $20.00 ticket allowed you a choice of three of the sandwiches and a beer.  As you can see from the photos below, it wasn’t simple for me to choose from all the great-looking options which ones to put on my plate (seen above).  As Robert LaValva of New Amsterdam Market said, it wasn’t easy for the judges to decide either, so I felt better about my selections.  After today’s event, I can see very clearly why these delicious bites are worth keeping close as part of the Danish heritage.  Perhaps we can find some room to export them to the U.S, as well, so that we can enjoy them more often.

Smoked Venison with Onion Marmalade, Apple and Celery Root
Chefs Simo and Tuomas Kuusisto of Nordic Breads

I’m already a huge fan of their Finnish Ruis Bread (rye bread made with 100% rye flour), which has been on my breakfast table for a couple of weeks now, so I had no doubts as to how delicious things would be today from the start.  I had to make tough choices to pick my three sandwiches, so I didn’t get to sample this one.  If I’d had been able to make a fourth selection, or if my friends had come with me today, this would have been the one that I would have tried.  I’m going to put in a plug for them to have this as a sample to try with the wonderful bread that they normally have for sale at the market so that I can have another chance to taste it.

Winner: Most Interesting Flavor Combination

Braised Pork with Caramelized Onion and Caraway
Marlow & Daughters

I had a great time talking to the chef from Marlow & Daughters before everything kicked into gear.  He seemed really happy to be participating in this event and to see how it would all unfold.  This was another of the selections that really made me wish I had an extra ticket to try it out.  Again, my solution is just to try to track it down at another available opportunity.

Winner: Most Beautifully Simple Combination

Chicken Liver, Pork Shoulder, and Parsley; Yogurt, Crosnes, Sunchokes, and Currants; and CB & J (autumn berry)
Chef Patrick Connolly of Bobo

This trio of sandwiches would have made an interesting meal in and of itself with the different combinations and textures working with the bread.  I didn’t see any of these on the table to try when I made it to the head of the line to make my selections.  I suspect that he may have already sold out of them when it was my turn to eat.  What I really liked was that in his acceptance speech for his prize, he admitted that the ringer was his staff member who has a relative who works as a chef in Denmark.

Winner: Most Traditional Combination with a Twist (for the chicken liver one)

Beef Loin, Shaved Fennel, Sweet Onions, Yogurt Lemon Sauce
Chef Alejandro Alcocer of GreenBrownOrange

I’m not sure that any photo can do justice to how wonderful-tasting this was.  Succulent, tender beef on top of a creamy yogurt sauce with just the right tang from the lemon and the sourdough of the bread combined with the crunch and bite from the onions and the fennel, this was amazing and a worthy use of one of my precious tickets.  I would definitely have gone back for seconds and maybe even thirds.

Winner: Dairy and Meat Combination

“The Peck Slip” (Egg, Butter, Pickled Beets, Arugula, Herbs, Capers, and Feta)

Sweet, salty, creamy, tart, this hit all the notes in every bite.  As one of the folks helping hand out sandwiches said, “I want one of these, and I’m not even a vegetarian!”  He was totally correct.  In visual presentation alone, this one made my short list of those to try.  On first bite, it was obvious I’d made the right decision.  As the judges put it, it had many different flavors going on at the same time, but each one came across distinctively and in complement to the others.  Not seeing it on the website as yet, I recommend that they add this one to their menu.

Winner: Most Beautifully Complicated Combination

Long Island Scrod Brandade, Shaved Carrot Salad with Beets, and Narragansett Ricotta
Chefs Nathan Foot and Christophe Hille of Northern Spy Food Co.

This seemed like an interesting combination to me with the fish and cheese, but I didn’t get to try it, as by this time, I’d run out of tickets.  It looked lovely, and I can imagine that the beets and carrots would have given a hearty, earthy crunch to the sandwich, rounding out the other flavors on the bread.

Winner: Combination Using Seasonal Vegetables (beets)

My third selection was a sandwich by Chef Trina Hahnemann.  She made several of the smørrebrød, so it was hard to pick from just one of them.  The beet was very popular I was told, and the potato with leeks and cheese and walnut samples looked really good.  I opted, however, for the one which to me seemed very traditional: small, sweet shrimp wrapped in a dill sauce.  The salty shrimp and peppery herbs just melded together with the tang of the robust bread into the most wonderful flavors that seemed so appropriate with the waterside location of the market.  This was something that just fit with the tone of the day.

I also had a chance to try a couple of the Danish beers that were available.  On the advice of Jimmy Carbone, I tried the Mikkeller Pilsner, from a craft brewery in Denmark.  Light and refreshing, this is one that I can definitely see as a good pairing for many of the smørrebrød.  The second drink I had, though, was the IPA from the same brewer.  Stronger and more complex in flavor, this was what I really wanted to go with the sandwiches that I had picked for my meal.  I see from their site, that they also have a bar in Copenhagen, which would be someplace to visit the next time I can make it over there.

As Robert LaValva said in closing out the food festival, maybe this is the beginning of more events to feature cuisine from other countries that factor into the foodscape of the city.  With the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and District 1 – City Council Member Margaret Chin (both of whom were there today) for the market and its activities, I hope that can become a reality.  This was a great event for the perfect, sunny fall day that we had this afternoon.  It brought lots of people to downtown and the wonderful food and drink created the perfect atmosphere in celebration of the market.

Buon appetito!

Product Spotlight – Schoolhouse Kitchen

Growing up, I was always the odd one out in the family.  I couldn’t stand to have jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches, and I didn’t actually like jam or jelly in any form.  I also felt the same way about the jar of bright yellow mustard that lived in our fridge.  Fortunately for me, things have changed, and I have found something that I now really love to eat.  The amazingly delicious spreadable fruits, chutneys, and mustards from Schoolhouse Kitchen are light years away from these items and flavorful and intricate enough to make a convert out of the most staunch skeptic in the condiment department.
Product Display

I first encountered their products at the New Amsterdam Market during the Hudson Valley Harvest event, where I was able to taste several of them (one of the great perks of the market is that the vendors allow you to try before you buy).  The flavor and complexity of the Cherry Blackberry Sage & Clove spreadable fruit and Horseradish-Dill Mustard lingered happily on my palate and remained in the foodie sensors of my brain the entire way through our market tour.  Unfortunately, I neglected to pick up a couple of jars to enjoy at home.  The next Sunday, I went downtown as soon as I could break free from my errands and bought some as one of my first vendor stops.

For the past week or so, these two products have formed the base around which I’ve been organizing my breakfast.  I’m completely hooked on them.  Much like a great wine, the Cherry Blackberry Sage & Clove spreadable fruit hits your senses with its rich berry aromas and builds upon its notes of herb and spice to create a complex taste experience and round, full flavors that wrap around your tongue.  This is a graduate-school level treat. I can see this as a new cupboard staple whether it is spread on bread with butter, slathered on a sandwich, whisked with oil into dressing, or swirled into yogurt. The Horseradish-Dill Mustard is bold and daring, not for the faint of heart.  I’ve been using it as a spicy counterpoint to some smoked salmon, which is a great morning wake-up.  I have also been envisioning it stirred into mashed potatoes for a creamy kick at the Thanksgiving table or used to dress up a holiday ham.

Serving Suggestions

Wanting to know more about these products, I gave my card to the person who was working at New Amsterdam and asked if I could talk to them.  Wendy W. Smith, President of Schoolhouse Kitchen kindly offered to meet with me to talk to me about her company and its philosophy.  Yesterday, I traveled from Manhattan out to the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where she keeps her office. Started in upstate New York in a kitchen, her mother, an avid cook who is still involved in developing new ideas for flavors, began by making these products to sell at local fairs and fundraisers, the profits going to educational causes, as they still do today.

With the encouragement of her friends and family and armed with recipes that they’d shared with her over the years, Patsy Smith launched Schoolhouse Kitchen as a business.  Her daughter, Wendy, now runs the company, and the labels on the jars are designed by her son, Christopher.  This is a not only a family business but also a real community enterprise, something Wendy continues to promote through her involvement in their with their charitable work with The Farm-Based Education Association as well as her participation in local food-oriented projects.

Old American Can Factory, Brooklyn, NY

The quality and attention to detail in developing these food items is something that is apparent from the moment you open the jar.  The vibrant colors and aromas that waft up your nasal passages indicate that you are about to taste something special.  Wendy and I talked about this and about how that is the goal, to develop products that are unique and that awaken a whole new world of possibilities for enjoying food.  We went back to the idea of these products as being similar to good wines that build upon the taste points on your tongue with each sip (or in this case bite) to bring out the best of whatever you decide to eat with or on it.  If I had had these items in my parents’ fridge when I was younger, I wouldn’t have battled to keep them off of my sandwiches.

As we wrapped up our meeting, Wendy asked me if I would be interested in developing some recipes for their site and offered to let me have a sample of two of their chutneys: Squadrilla and Bardshar.  I had already thought about what else I could do with the flavors that I’d tried previously, so I jumped at the chance to play with something new.  As I walked back to the subway, my mind was just exploding with all kinds of great ideas for what I could do with these food items.  My train on the way back home got stuck (why do people unnecessarily pull the emergency break?), so I had ample opportunity to write down mini-recipes and combinations for the chutneys.  Stopping by Union Square to hit the Monday Greenmarket on my way back uptown, I unfolded my plan.


Topped with slices of tart Granny Smith apple, peppery arugula, and smoked cheddar cheese, the Squadrilla Chutney, named after a much-loved babysitter, allows all the sandwich components to shine with a citrusy pop and delicate spice.  Although completely vegetarian, this is a hearty meal similar to having that leftover Thanksgiving sandwich with all the fixings, only slightly healthier.  I paired the Bardshar Chutney, the recipe for which was shared by a family friend, with a creamy regular cheddar cheese and some applewood-smoked bacon to showcase its robust, dark flavor and deep sweet-spicy undertones.  Both of these would make amazing glazes for meats or for vegetables (check out the website for some recipes), but I’m really hoping just to instill some lunchbox envy at the next few brownbag meetings I have to attend.

More serving suggestions

Buon appetito!

Where to find it:

Schoolhouse Kitchen’s products are available at many stores and specialty shops.  There is a helpful map on the website to locate them in your area.  You can also visit their stand at the New Amsterdam Market to try some samples and to pick up your favorites or order from them on line.  If you can’t decide on what to buy, they also offer gift packs of several flavors, which I’d recommend so that you can get a chance to experiment with as many of these wonderful items as possible.  I’ve definitely got these products on my gift list for this year, whether to receive them (hint, hint) or to give them to the other food lovers in my life.