Reynolda House Community Day + Guest Recipes!

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art is the centerpiece of the Reynolda Historic District in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There you can explore masterpieces of American art in the restored 1917 mansion of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds.

My mother in law, Mary has been a volunteer there for 20 years! She invited us to join her and Tom (father in law) for the free Community Day. The museum’s current exhibit is Samuel F.B. Morse’s ‘Gallery of the Louvre’ and the Art of Invention. The activities during the Community Day were all Parisian, Mary envisioned creating a Parisian picnic during the event, in the spirit of Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” which seemed quite appropriate for the occasion.

Mary had hoped to make kid-friendly food but still somewhat sophisticated, like chicken salad croissant sandwiches, fruit, and chocolate mousse.  I said sign us up!

We met there Saturday and not only did she make a delicious and healthy chicken salad, she also brought ice cream cones, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream for the kids to have chocolate mousse ice cream cones! Huge Gram win!

We also enjoyed a private tour led by Mary through the historic Reynolds home, a french picnic on the lawn, a ballet performance featuring scenes from Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” arts, crafts, walks through the garden, and a forest hike to see turtles on the secret lake.

We had a great time, the volunteers at the Reynolda House are the nicest and most informed I have seen and it truly was a spectacular day!

I really enjoyed seeing a historic manor whose owner had a vision for the family and community to live a healthy life. They had their own massive vegetable gardens, a dairy farm, and a teaching kitchen so that the kids could learn to cook themselves.

Katharine Reynolds was ahead of her time in how she designed and built the house. It would have been spectacular to see it in action when they lived there. I would highly recommend a visit.

Recipes for Mary’s chicken salad and chocolate mousse are below.

Mary’s Chicken Salad with cherries and apples – serves 6

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp Bell’s Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup mayo or non-fat greek yogurt would work just as well
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 large apple, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted almonds, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried Montmorency cherries, chopped

Cut the two large chicken breasts in half lengthwise to reduce size.  Place them in a medium-sized lidded pot.  Add enough low-sodium chicken broth to nearly cover, the dry vermouth, and Bell’s Seasoning.

Bring the chicken and liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer, rotating the chicken pieces in the liquid for about 20 minutes until fully poached.  Remove chicken from poaching liquid and allow to cool. While the chicken is cooling, boil down the remaining liquid in the pot about 3 Tbsp.

Combine the reduced 3 Tbsp of liquid with 1/2 cup mayonnaise or greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper and mix briskly until thoroughly combined.

Next, shred the cooled chicken into a large bowl using the tines of a dinner fork, making about 3 cups. Add the diced apple, almonds, and cherries.  Stir well then add the mayonnaise mixture cautiously, stirring while adding only enough to moisten the chicken salad.  Add more mayonnaise tablespoon by tablespoon to suit your taste preference.

Mousse Au Chocolat II – 8 servings (created from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook, 1961, with slight adjustments)

  • 4 squares (ounces) unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 Tbsp cognac or 2 Tbsp sherry
  1. Combine the chocolate, sugar, and water in the top of a double boiler or you can use a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, while the double boiler is still over the heat, beating hard after each addition.
  3. Remove the mixture from the water and let cool while beating the egg whites stiff with an electric mixer. Fold the whites in gently but thoroughly and flavor with vanilla.
  4. Turn the mixture into a dessert bowl or individual glasses and let stand in the refrigerator at least 12 hours.
  5. Extra fun if you scoop it into ice cream cones, (after it has set overnight) top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles for the kids!