It all started innocently enough, with a little mindless viewing of Ellie Krieger on The Food Network. On an episode called “Up and Down,” Ellie effortlessly prepared Curried Chicken Salad and a few other things that are beyond the scope of this musing. Now, from my way of thinking, Ellie does all of this in 30 minutes. Which obviously (1) is wrong and (2) makes no sense. Ina Garten, on the other hand, I assume takes all the live long day to prepare one meal. I base this conclusion on the fact that I’ve watched her drive about the Hamptons in her Mercedes, patronizing fishmongers and bakers before stopping to enjoy a cocktail with a friend who happens by. Ellie, on the other hand, means business: she’s not chatting, driving or drinking. She’s cooking.
But back to the curried chicken salad and my endless list of substitutions. Why, why do I do this to myself? Because sometimes I’m too lazy to go to the store. Or maybe I’m too hungry to do anything but get food on the plate as fast as I can. Or maybe, just maybe, because the thought of cutting grapes in half sounds so dreadful that only a substitution would do. Problem is, it didn’t do – opening and draining a can of Mandarin oranges can never take the place of the grapes Ellie calls for in this recipe. Nor does parsley stand in for cilantro, and forget about using Greek yogurt instead of plain nonfat yogurt.
The point is, you can substitute some things but not half the ingredient list. I did manage to shovel in about half of this dish before crying Uncle. Good thing I had some leftovers in the fridge.