I’m back in Florence. I got here on Sunday afternoon, and started classes on Monday. So far, every day that I’ve been here I’ve worked out, cleaned, made my bed…it’s kind of scary.

Classes are going well, or as well as first-day-of-term classes can go, when it’s all review and figuring out what you’re going to be doing for the next four months.

Themost shocking bit of all is that I cooked. As soon as my loans came through, I went grocery shopping, since I was living off of peanut butter (brought from home) and bread (purchased by my new roommate) until yesterday afternoon.

Now, before you get excited, it wasn’t anything fancy and it didn’t take all that long. But it involved a stove and meat, and did not involve anything out of a box with directions printed on the side, so that qualifies it as “cooking” for me.

I love chicken salad, but you can’t get seasoned salt, my key ingredient, in Italy, so I made some adjustments. It was inspired by the fact that I bought the wrong flavor of yogurt and the apples I bought (which were wrapped in plastic and styrofoam) were badly bruised on one side (the styrofoam side), so I had to use them as quickly as possible.

Sophie’s Florentine Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1 chicken breast
1 medium green apple (I don’t know what variety we get here. It’s a little bigger than my fist and light green. It’s more sweet than bitter, so it’s not a granny smith. I don’t think it’s green delicious, either. If you’re in the states, then just substitute your favorite variety. If you’re in Italy, then you probably know what I’m talking about because you see mostly this type of apple in the grocery stores and in the markets.)
Mayo (200-250ml; about 1/3-1/2 of a medium sized jar)
1 tablespoon of coconut yogurt (you can add more and reduce the amount of mayo, but none of us like coconut, so I was trying to sneak it in without anyone noticing)
Parsley
Chives
paprika
Basil
cinnamon
nutmeg
rosemary
salt
black pepper

1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Put in water and heat on low, or low-medium, while mixing everything else.

2. peel, core, and dice the apple into little pieces. Put in a bowl of water to keep from browning, set aside.

3. In a bowl, mix the mayo and the yogurt. Add the spices to taste. I listed them in descending order, so I used a little more parsley than I did pepper. Just a touch of the cinnamon and nutmeg, and rosemary will do. I highly recommend having a taste-tester handy.

4. When the chicken is done cooking (I like to cut it up first so it cooks faster, but you might prefer the texture if you boil it then cut it), drain the apples to remove the excess water, then do the same for the chicken. I ran it under cold water so that it would cool faster. Add the chicken to the dish with the apples.

5. Pour the sauce over the apples and chicken, add additional mayo/yogurt/spices as needed.

6. Chill before serving (I suggest 2-3 hours, but you can also eat it straight away if it’s cold enough.

Hope you enjoy!