Avoid Shower Cliche with Salad Buffet

A bridal shower is one of the most joyous parties you can possibly give, and the occasion calls for light, delicious festive foods.  This menu offers four of my personal favorite chicken salad recipes.  (For a smaller shower, you could serve just two or three)  The French often serve a sampling of different foods and call it a “degustation,” so here’s your chance to be both chic and unique.

Each salad has a totally different flavor and texture, yet surprisingly they’re all based on a simple poached chicken recipe.  Give the bride-to-be all of the recipes, printed on pretty file cards, along with a file card holder.  And why not  share them with the guests, too?  To help the bride with her recipe collection, you might want to include blank recipe cards with the invitations; suggest that each guest bring her own favorite recipe.

If several of your friends are giving the shower with you, each can prepare a salad.

A pretty time-saver:  The beautiful golden Double Ring Bridal Cake symbolizes two joined wedding rings and serves as both centerpiece and dessert.


Fruited Challah Twists

A Sampling of Chicken Salads:

Pollo Forte (Italian Chicken Salad)

Oriental Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad

Chicken-Pasta Salad

Double Ring Bridal Cake

Bowl of Fresh Strawberries and Raspberries

Iced Tea with Lemon

Suggested Beverage: Champagne with Cassis or Orange Juice

Fruited Challah Twists

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 package active dry yeast

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/3 cups warm water (110 to115oF)

1/4 pound unsalted margarine, melted

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup diced dried apples

1/4 cup diced dried apricots

1/4 cup diced prunes

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast, honey, and salt.  Gradually add the water and continue beating 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the margarine and mix well.

Add enough of the remaining unbleached and whole wheat flours to make a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured board, kneading in the raisins, apples, apricots, and prunes.  Continue kneading for 5 minutes.  Place in an oiled bowl and oil the top of the dough.  Cover with a towel and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375oF.

Punch down the dough and knead for 3 minutes, then return it to the bowl and let it rise for 20 minutes.

Pull off a golf-ball-size piece of dough.  Roll into an 8 to 10-inch long rope and twist into a knot.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Place the twists on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and a crust forms on top.  Cool on a wire rack.

Poached Chicken

Here is a simple way to prepare chicken breasts to be used in salads; they will always be tender and moist.  A whole chicken may be cooked this way also, adjusting time to the size of the chicken.

1 large onion, diced

4 celery ribs, thickly diced

4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

1 small parsnip, peeled and thickly sliced

4 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

12 whole peppercorns

6 to 8 cups chicken broth


8 chicken breasts, skinned with all bones removed

In a large saucepan, combine the onion, celery, carrots, parsnip, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt.  Add the chicken breasts and poach them for 15 minutes.  Transfer the poached chicken breasts to a shallow bowl, cover with chicken broth until ready to use.

Pollo Forte (Powerful Chicken)

I discovered this totally different chicken salad recipe many years ago at a little restaurant in West Los Angeles, appropriately called Mangia, which means “eat.”

I’ve adapted it for Kosher cooks and added a few of my own personal touches.  It’s delicious hot or cold, and is very portable for picnics.  We love to serve it in the deluxe box suppers that we bring to the Hollywood Bowl each summer.

This basic recipe serves 8 and can be easily doubled or tripled for large gatherings such as this shower.

1 (4 pound) poached chicken (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons drained capers

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups boiling chicken broth

3 red peppers, roasted

2 garlic cloves, minced


Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

Prepare the poached chicken.  Remove the chicken from the broth and cool.  Remove the skin from the chicken and lift the meat from the bones.  Cut the meat into strips and place on a serving platter.  Sprinkle with capers, cover and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan.  Add the flour and stir until golden.  Continue stirring, adding boiling broth all at once.  Stir about 2 or 3 minutes.  Add 1 of the red peppers and garlic.  Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and blend well.

Return the sauce to the saucepan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add the wine vinegar and mix well.  Pour over the chicken.  Slice the remaining red pepper in thin strips and garnish.  Cool.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Oriental Chicken Salad

This basic recipe serves 8 and can be easily doubled or tripled for large gatherings such as this shower.

3 whole chicken breasts

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons sherry

2 ounces rice sticks (Mai Fun) or 10 square Won Ton

3 cups oil for deep-frying

1 head of lettuce (finely shredded)

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup Preserved Ginger

Soy Sauce Dressing (recipe follows)

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375oF.

Rub the chicken with the salt, soy sauce and sherry and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool.  Discard the skin and bones and tear into long thin pieces.  Set aside.

Deep fry the rice sticks (or slice Won Ton into 1/4-inch strips and deep fry) in hot oil, a few at a time, until they puff.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside.  (Or Slice the Won Ton into 1/4-inch strips and deep fry in hot oil, a few at a time until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

Just before serving, in a large bowl, arrange the lettuce, green onions, chicken, almonds, ginger and rice sticks (or fried Won Ton strips) in layers; pour the soy sauce over the salad and toss well.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Soy Sauce Dressing

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup soy sauce

6 tablespoons sesame oil

6 tablespoons sugar

6 teaspoons hoisin sauce

4 green onions, shredded

In a mixing bowl, blend the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and hoisin sauce.  Mix in the green onions.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Peanuts

3 whole chicken breasts, (about 3 pounds) split and poached

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 cup roasted peanuts

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons medium-hot curry powder


Freshly ground black pepper or Tabasco

Watercress for garnish

Transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon to a working area, remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the meat into strips.  Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl, and toss with the cucumber, raisins and peanuts.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, curry powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and mix gently until well coated.    Spoon the salad onto watercress garnished plates. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Chicken-Pasta Salad

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

3/4 pound green fettucini (long flat noodles), cooked

1 whole poached chicken breast, cut up (recipe follows)

3 tablespoons minced parsley

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

1 small zucchini, diced

1 large roasted red bell pepper,thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Drop the broccoli florets into boiling water and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.  Drain, cool and set aside.

In a large salad bowl, combine the noodles, chicken, parsley, onion, zucchini and red bell pepper.  Combine the vinegar, olive oil and garlic.  Pour over the noodle mixture and toss.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top the pasta salad with the broccoli florets and basil leaves and toss lightly again.  Makes 6 to 8 servings

Double Ring Bridal Cake

This light, rich cake with its golden icing and garnish of gold sprinkles and “diamonds” is a sensational conversation piece for a bridal shower.  Another plus is that without the icing, it keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for three to four days and may be iced the day of the shower.

1/4 pound plus 2 2/3 tablespoons unsalted margarine

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 egg whites

3/4 cup liquid nondairy creamer

1/4 cup orange juice

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

Vegetable oil spray

Powdered Sugar Frosting (recipe follows)

Gold sprinkles and rock candy crystals for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350oF.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the margarine with the mace.  Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar, beating until smooth.  Beat in 3 of the egg whites and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the remaining 3 egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well.  Combine the nondairy creamer and orange juice.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder.  A little at a time, stir in the flour mixture alternately with the liquids.  Beat the batter for 30 seconds.  Coat a 2- quart dessert ring mold with vegetable oil spray and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Turn the cake batter into the mold.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.

Prepare another cake the same way.  When both cakes are cool, using the mold as a guide arrange it on top of one cakes and cut out two sections.  (See diagram)  Remove the mold and slide the second cake in its place.  Fill in any spaces with the cut pieces to form a figure eight.  Frost and garnish with gold sprinkles and some rock candy crystals for “diamonds,” to create two golden wedding rings.  Makes 1 ring cake

Powdered Sugar Frosting

1 pound (3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 egg whites, unbeaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange juice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the powdered sugar, cream of tartar, egg whites, vanilla, and orange juice.  Beat at low speed until the sugar is dissolved, then beat at high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Keep covered with a damp towel until ready to use.

White Icing with Cooked Sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon liqueur, strained lemon juice or coffee

In a small saucepan, stir sugar and water over medium heat until completely dissolved.  Reduce the heat and keep boiling until the sugar reaches 200-to-220oF on a candy thermometer or when placed between thumb and finger, sugar feels very sticky.

Gradually pour into powdered sugar and stir with a wooden spoon continuously until smooth.

Use as is or add a tablespoon of liqueur.  Spread icing on pastry and let dry before serving.

Lemon Icing

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 to 5 tablespoons strained lemon juice

1 tablespoon boiling water

Place the sugar and lemon juice in a heat-proof bowl.  Add boiling water; stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and shiny.  When the mixture covers the back of the spoon, the icing has the right consistency.  If too thin, add more sugar, if too thick add more boiling water.

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