cook like steve schimoler

Home ec meets shop class.

According to Steve Schimoler, chef/owner of the wonderful  Crop Bistro & Bar, this dish is a super summertime appetizer, and can be easily prepared a day ahead. He shares that a Causa is basically a potato salad, but with different twists and presentations. Before you start this recipe, you will need to go to the hardware store or kitchen specialty store.  To do the stacks that you see in many recipes or restaurant presentations, you need to have something to serve as a mold. An inexpensive option for the molds uses PVC pipe that you can find at a hardware store. All you need to do is buy a length of pipe as small as 2 feet long, although they will probably want to sell you a standard pipe that is six to eight feet long. You want a 2 inch inner dimension size pipe. At a good lumber yard or hardware store, they may cut it for you, but if not you will need to have a hack saw ready to cut it yourself. To make the molds, simply measure the pipe into 3 inch lengths and cut the pipe into as many segments as you desire. The result is pipe segments that are 3 inches high and 2 inches wide. The edges will be rough so use a fine grit sand paper and smooth all the edges very well, then run them through the dish machine to clean them well. These PVC molds are very useful for many different cold molded foods. Do not attempt to use them in any cooking applications.  Molds are also available in specialty kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.


  • Chicken (4 large bone in breasts)
  • Purple Potatoes 10 each
  • Tomatoes (diced) 1 cup
  • Kalamata Olives (pitted and diced) ½ cup
  • Capers (minced) 4 tsp
  • Garlic (minced)  2 tsp
  • Olive Oil ½ cup
  • White vinegar ¼ cup
  • Dijon Mustard 4 TBSP
  • Salt  2 tsp
  • Pepper ground 1 tsp
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette  ½ cup ( see recipe below)
  • Cumin Powder 2 tsp
  • Chili Powder 2 tsp
  • Garlic salt 1 tsp


For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the chicken breasts and combine the cumin, chili and garlic salt in a small bowl. Mix the spices and then sprinkle the mix equally over the skin side of the chicken. Roast the chicken for 18 to 20 minutes until the juices run clear and the skin is well crisped. Let the chicken rest and cool, it can be refrigerated until ready to use in the next steps.

For the Potatoes: Cut the Potatoes into ½ to ¾ inch cubes, place in boiling water and cook for approximately 15 minutes until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and white vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Use a hand potato masher and mash the potatoes till well blended but still chunky. Let the mixture cool.

Make the balsamic vinaigrette (below) and set aside.

Dice the olives, tomatoes and mince the capers and garlic, and combine in a bowl.

To assemble the dish: Begin by rubbing the insides of the PVC mold with some olive oil just to coat the surface. Place the molds on a tray or large plate and scoop 3 TBSP of the potato mix into the molds and press down firmly. Sprinkle 2 TBSP of the tomato, olive, caper and garlic mix into each mold and press down. Add more of the potato mixture to fill the rest of the mold and press down firmly. Place in the refrigerator/chest freezer for minimum 1 hour so the set up and can be un molded easily. Using your fingers, pull all the chicken meat and skin from the bones and continue to pull the meat apart so it looks evenly shredded. Be sure to use all the skin, you may want to use a knife to julienne the skin. When ready to serve, remove the molds from the refrigerator and place one on each plate. Carefully push the filling down while you are pulling the mold upwards and off. They should un mold easily. Place approximately 2 TBSP of the pulled chicken on top of each stack and sprinkle some of the extra around the base of the molds. Sprinkle some of the remaining tomato and olive mix around the plate then drizzle 1 to 2 oz. of the balsamic vinaigrette on the stacks and around the plates. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Olive oil 1 cup
  • Balsamic Vinegar 1/3 cup
  • Dijon Mustard 3 TBSP
  • Fresh Basil (finely minced) 1 TBSP
  • Salt  ½ tsp
  • Pepper ½ tsp

For the dressing: Combine the oil, balsamic, Dijon, basil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Using a wisk, vigorously wisk till the dressing is completely blended and deep mahogany in color. Set aside in clean container or refrigerate till needed.


Heinen's Logo PMS 350 & 209This post was sponsored by Heinen’s. Anne Somoroff, the wine consultant for the Pepper Pike store, offers a few suggestions to pair with Steve’s dish. Her first is the MA.SA.GA California Syrah  ($13.99). It’s a full-bodied red with softer tannins. Smooth and round, she says it’s great with the sweetness of the balsamic, plus the olives, tomatoes and  spices.

The DOMAINE DE LA MORDOREE ROSE, Rhone Rose  ($16.99), is a medium-bodied lush rose with berry flavors  which counters the salt of capers/olives and cumin spices. The round fruitiness accentuates vegetables in the dish.

Finally, ESTAMPA VIOGNIER/CHARDONNAY, a Chilean white ($9.99) for its full-bodied fruit that counters salty capers and olives and spice in this dish. Bright acidity in wine compliments the vegetables. The bright acidity helps to carry vinaigrette and roundness of wine accentuates creaminess of potatoes and in general, dry and crisp wine pairs well with chicken.


  1. Posted April 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard you can also make molds with tuna or other cans by taking off the top and bottom of the can. For some reason using PVC in food prep weirds me out. You can also buy them online, I have a set I received as a gift with various sizes. But I rarely use them as my home cooking isn’t that fussy.

    sime rings

  2. Posted April 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Some rings, that is.