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Red, white and blue potato salad for the Fourth. July 3, 2011

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I are partial to hot potato salad, but there are times when a room-temperature potato salad sounds really good to us. You can find the recipe for one of our favorites, Mr. Hays’s Baked Potato Salad, in yesterday’s post, “Picnic fare for the Fourth (part one),” via our search bar at upper right.

But I’m always keeping an eye out for new things to try, and my attention was definitely caught by an article in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal that featured a recipe for Blue Cheese Potato Salad from Chef Steve Mannino of Rustica restaurant in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. It intrigued me that this potato salad had no chopped hard-boiled eggs, and I was happy to see that it included parsley, since I had a bunch left over from making fatoosh, a Lebanese salad, for a supper club gathering the other day (see “A yummy summer salad” in our search bar at upper right for the recipe). I was determined to give the recipe a Silence Dogood makeover to suit the patriotic mood of the Fourth.

You can find the original recipe online at www.wsj.com in an article called “The Big Grill,” published July 2-3, 2011. Here’s my version:

           Patriotic Potato Salad

For the dressing:

Whisk 1 cup blue cheese crumbles, 1/4 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon pepper or cracked black pepper, 1 tablespoon Trocamare or salt (we like RealSalt) or to taste, 1/8 cup white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (such as Amy’s). Fold in another cup crumbled blue cheese. Refrigerate until needed.

For the salad:

Cook, cool, and quarter 12 red-skinned new potatoes. Put them in a large bowl and add 4 diced stalks of celery, 1 cored and diced red bell pepper, 3 whole finely chopped scallions (green onions), tips and root ends removed, and 2 tablespoons finely chopped curly parsley. Mix well.

Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce (or your favorite), and 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese; mix again. Pour on 1 1/2 cups of the dressing, stirring gently to blend. Taste and correct seasonings as needed. Serves 4-6.

Yum! No eggs in the potato salad make it imperative to make some deviled eggs to add to the picnic fare. I’ll give you my famous recipe for Silence’s Bedeviled Eggs tomorrow so you can do just that!

             ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

 

 

Picnic fare for the Fourth (part one). July 2, 2011

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This weekend, we’re featuring some of our favorite Fourth of July recipes from past posts.

Silence Dogood here. With the Fourth of July almost upon us, it’s time to get serious about some easy, yummy summertime fare you can take along on picnics or serve at barbecues and deck or patio parties. Today’s recipes are all great with sandwiches, too (or in the case of the pimiento cheese spread, on sandwiches). Yum—just thinking about them is making me hungry!

Our friend Ben and I love pickles. We love big, garlicky Kosher pickles, tiny crunchy-sweet cornichons, bread-and-butter slices—you name it, we love it. After my father gave us a jar of hot-sweet pickles from a specialty food company in Nashville, we fell in love with them and I (of course) developed my own recipe for this fabulous treat. Hot-sweet pickles are still our favorites, but, thanks to my ingenious friend Delilah of Crock-Pot mac’n’cheese fame, I’ve developed a much easier way to make them.

Before we tasted Delilah’s refrigerator pickles, our experience with refrigerator pickles had been a total disappointment. Limp and flavorless, these so-called pickles tasted more like sliced salad cukes that had sat too long in the fridge. Yuck!!! But Delilah’s were crunchy and flavorful. I asked for her secret, then went home and worked out a sweet-hot recipe for refrigerator pickles that are bursting with flavor and crunch. Let me tell you, these sweet hotties are picklelicious!!!

If you can keep any around long enough, the flavor just gets better over time, and they stay crunchy for months. And there’s no standing over a hot stove with canning jars. We keep several large containers in our fridge all summer so we can enjoy them ourselves with sandwiches and appetizers, and have plenty on hand when guests come over or to take to the Friday Night Supper Club. (See my post “The Friday Night Supper Club” for more on this great idea.) Even if we set out a whole vat, there are never any survivors! Needless to say, a container of these makes a great gift, too.

              Silence’s Hot-Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

5-6 slender cukes, sliced (any kind will taste fine, but please, no waxed skins) 

1 cup sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons salt (any kind is fine, no need to get pickling salt)

1 tablespoon black mustardseed

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, WallaWalla, or Candy type), or more to taste, diced

dash hot sauce, such as Tabasco Chipotle or Pickapeppa

Combine vinegar and sugar and heat until sugar dissolves; add salt, spices, and hot sauce. Layer sliced cukes and onions in alternate layers in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. When the brine (the vinegar mix) is lukewarm, pour it over the cukes and onions, then close the lid and refrigerate. Shake container gently every day to make sure brine is saturating top layers. You can begin eating the pickles after 3 to 5 days; the flavor gets stronger over time. The pickled onions can be eaten as is, and they’re great as a sandwich relish and in salads, too. You can add more fresh cukes and onions as you eat the first batch, but make sure you put them at the bottom of the container with the older pickles on top. Check the brine to make sure it’s still flavorful, adding more salt, turmeric, and other spices as needed. I’ve found that the brine can be reused about three times before you need to pour it out and start over. (Note: This brine is cloudy, not clear like a canned pickle brine, which is why we use opaque plastic storage containers for our refrigerator pickles rather than glass.) So easy and so incredibly good!!! People can’t keep their hands off them. 

We prefer hot potato salads, but we were won over by this one when visiting family in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the family patriarch—a great chef at age 91—had whipped up a batch for us. Despite the huge quantity, it was gone after lunch the next day. Nobody seemed able to resist seconds, and some people (ahem) disappeared into the kitchen and returned with thirds. We think it will become your family’s new favorite, too. Mr. Hays makes it with baking potatoes, and interestingly, it works! 

              Mr. Hays’s “Baked Potato” Salad

3 pounds russet potatoes

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (plus 1 teaspoon for cooking)

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper, or to taste

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

4 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and diced

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup thinly sliced celery (about 1 large stalk)

1 cup diced sweet onion (WallaWalla, Vidalia, or Candy type, about 1 medium onion)

1/4 cup each diced sweet and dill pickles (try my hot-sweet refrigerator pickles for the sweet pickles for a real taste sensation!)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and gently rub off the skins, using a paper towel, while still warm. (If using a thin-skinned potato such as ‘Yukon Gold’, we leave the skins on.) Chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and toss with the cider vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in the red bell pepper, celery, onion, and pickles. Fold in the eggs and mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Mr. Hays says this recipe serves 10, but given the quantities that were disappearing in front of our eyes, I’d be a little skeptical about that!

My father’s girlfriend Alice has perfected pimiento cheese spread. I’d always avoided this particular food, having had some really horrific encounters with various forms of it as a child (ooh, it was bad, nasty stuff). But Father loves Alice’s pimiento spread, and not being raised by wolves, when it was presented during one of our visits, we of course tried it—and could see his point. This stuff is easy, and yes, it is good. On crackers, as a stuffing for celery or dip for veggies, on a sandwich with toasted multigrain bread, crunchy Romaine lettuce, and red bell pepper rings or a slice of beefsteak tomato, it is positively addictive. Try it and see for yourself!  

              Alice’s Primo Pimiento Cheese Spread

Large piece of sharp yellow Cheddar, grated (or equivalent pre-shredded)

Smaller piece of medium-sharp white Cheddar, grated (or equivalent pre-shredded)

Small jar chopped pimiento, half-drained

Hellman’s mayonnaise

3 drops Tabasco, or to taste

Ground cayenne, paprika, or black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon sour cream

Mix all ingredients in a food processor, adding enough Hellman’s mayonnaise to make a thick but spreadable dip or spread.

We, of course, use our favorite hot sauce, Pickapeppa, with a liberal hand, skip the additional pepper, add salt, and whisk it all together instead of processing it (we’re Luddites, after all; food processors scare us). This means you’d get a more textured spread or dip; Alice’s is smoother. But I’ll guarantee that whichever way you make it, you’re going to love it. It keeps well, covered, in the fridge, too.

Happy eating!

              ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

Fun food for the Fourth. July 2, 2010

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Silence Dogood here. The Fourth of July is coming, and that means picnics, grilling, food, and plenty of it! Do you know what you’re going to make? Potato salad, egg salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw? Maybe some pimiento cheese spread, refreshing gazpacho, or a big salad? How about a yummy summer squash casserole or crock of mac’n’cheese or a big vat of quick, crunchy hot-sweet refrigerator pickles?

Over the years we’ve been writing Poor Richard’s Almanac, I’ve posted a wealth of summertime recipes. We love them, and I think you will, too. So I’m going to do a post roundup here so you can find them. Just search the post title in our search bar at upper right. (Mind you, as I discovered, even if you type in the exact title, you may hit a few other posts before you get to the right one. But no worries—you can read the other posts and find even more great recipes, or just skip down to the one you’re looking for.)

I couldn’t decided how to organize this post—by type of food, or by post title with recipes listed for each post—so I’m going to do it both ways. That way, you can check out a post’s contents and see which ones appeal most to you, or look for a food (such as deviled eggs) and then see which posts have recipes for it. Either way, enjoy!

Let’s start with the posts themselves:

Perfect picnic fare: Silence’s Refrigerator Pickles, Caprese Salad, Quick Coleslaw, Deviled Blue Cheese Eggs

Time for potato salad: Mr. Hays’s Baked Potato Salad, Penn State’s American Flag Potato Salad, Janice Lichtenwalner Wetzel’s Favorite Potato Salad, Betty Lichtenwalner’s German Potato Salad, Mama Dip’s Southern-Style Potato Salad, Indian Potato Salad a la Silence

Silence makes coleslaw: Silence’s Green and Gold Slaw, Coleslaw with Cilantro and Scallions

Some eggcellent picnic fare: Silence’s Bedeviled Eggs, Delilah’s Egg Salad, Chard Quiche, Potato and Sugar Snap Salad, Veggies and Dips

Painless pickles, potato salad, and pimiento cheese spread: Mr. Hays’s Baked Potato Salad, Alice’s Primo Pimiento Cheese Spread, Silence’s Hot Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

Some celebratory salads: Silence’s Red, White and Blue Salad, Silence’s Simple Greek Salad, ‘Mater Madness

Super summer squash recipes: Silence’s Super Squash Casserole

The ultimate mac’n’cheese: Delilah’s Crock-Pot Macaroni and Cheese

A gazpacho rainbow: Silence’s Think Pink Gazpacho, White Gazpacho, Southwestern Yellow Gazpacho, Green Tomatillo Gazpacho, Red Garden Gazpacho, Red Bread Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa

Okay, let’s start again and list ’em by category:

Potato salad: Time for potato salad; Painless pickles, potato salad, and pimiento cheese spread; Some eggcellent picnic fare

Deviled eggs: Perfect picnic fare; Some eggcellent picnic fare

Coleslaw: Perfect picnic fare; Silence makes coleslaw

Egg salad: Some eggcellent picnic fare

Veggies and dips: Some eggcellent picnic fare

Pimiento cheese: Painless pickles, potato salad, and pimiento cheese spread 

Refrigerator pickles: Perfect picnic fare; Painless pickles, potato salad, and pimiento cheese spread

Salads (other than coleslaw and potato and egg salad): Perfect picnic fare; Some celebratory salads

Summer squash casserole: Super summer squash recipes

Macaroni and cheese: The ultimate mac’n’cheese

Gazpacho: A gazpacho rainbow

You’ll find a few recipe repeats as you look through these posts, since some recipes are so good and so appropriate I wanted to make sure they were available during picnic season. I know you’re going to love them! And please, share your Fourth of July favorites with us.

             ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

Time for potato salad. July 1, 2010

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Silence Dogood here. It’s summer picnic time, and for lots of us, that means it’s time for potato salad, deviled eggs, homemade pimiento cheese spread (it’s easy and so much better than storebought), and lots of hummus for sandwiches and dipping (ditto). But today, let’s focus on that potato salad.

Potato salads generally come in two styles: cold, with a mayonnaise-based dressing, or warm to hot, typically with an oil (or bacon grease) and vinegar dressing. They’re generally made with smooth-fleshed “new” or boiling potatoes or fingerling potatoes rather than fluffy, flaky baking or mashing potatoes. The potatoes are usually boiled whole, then cooled, often peeled, and cut into chunks before combining with the other salad ingredients. These can include sliced celery, diced onion, sliced scallions (green onions), shredded carrot, and/or diced red, orange, green and/or yellow bell pepper for flavor, crunch and color; sliced or chopped hard-boiled egg for color and protein; crumbled bacon; and yellow mustard for color and bite. But rules are made to be broken, and none of these guidelines are ironclad, as we’re about to see.

But first, let’s take a minute to talk about food safety. Potato salad is notorious for causing salmonella poisoning when left out for extended periods on a hot picnic table. Gastric distress is never entertaining, but hot summer picnics can be especially prone to cause them, and July Fourth picnics are known for being both super-hot and super-long. (President Zachary Taylor died in office in 1850 of food poisoning after attending a July 4 picnic and eating a dish of cherries in milk.) Most people point to the mayonnaise and/or eggs in potato salad as the culprit, but I recently read that it’s more likely to be bacteria-laden soil clinging to the potatoes themselves when they’re prepared.

Whatever the case, use the sense God gave you and take appropriate precautions: Scrub potatoes thoroughly before you cook them, and rinse them after cooking and before chopping. Never use a cutting board to cut potatoes—or any other vegetable or other type of food, such as cheese or bread—that’s been used to cut meat. If your potato salad is to be served hot, keep it hot (see the slow-cooker recipe below); if it’s served cold, keep smaller containers on ice in your cooler and bring one out as needed, rather than setting out one huge bowl to fester in the hot sun. Much as I hate wasting food, this is one instance when I’d toss the contents of an opened container that had sat out in the heat after the picnic if it hasn’t all been eaten (not a worry if you try any of these recipes!), rather than trying to save it to eat later—another reason why bringing multiple small containers is a better idea.

Now that you’ve brushed up your food safety skills, let’s move on to the recipes themselves. Our own go-to recipe was developed by 90-year-old family patriarch and enthusiastic cook George Hays, and it’s still our favorite. Mr. Hays defies conventional wisdom and puts baking potatoes in his salad, and I can attest to how delicious it is. Try it and see for yourself!

           Mr. Hays’s Baked Potato Salad

3 pounds russet potatoes

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 T chopped parsley leaves 

1 t salt

1 t fresh-ground pepper

1 cup (about 1 stalk) chopped celery

4 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper

1 cup (1 medium) finely chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup each chopped sweet and dill pickles

3/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s, or try Vegenaise grapeseed oil mayo)

Bring the potatoes and a teaspoon of salt to a boil over high heat until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and gently rub off the skins, using a paper towel, while the potatoes are still warm. Chop the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and toss with the cider vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in the celery, red bell pepper, onion and pickles. Fold in the eggs and mayonnaise. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight. (Sadly, there are never any survivors when we make this!)

Just yesterday, I found some great recipes in our local paper, the Allentown PA Morning Call, in an article by Diane Stoneback called “Add a Spark to Holiday Gatherings.” (Read the full story and check out all the recipes for yourself at www.themorningcall.com.) Diane had the brilliant idea to interview area potato farmers and ask for their favorite recipes, and she came up with some real winners. I was especially intrigued by William Lamont of Penn State’s patriotic potato salad, which is made from red-, white-, and blue-fleshed potatoes. The Lichtenwalner family has grown potatoes in the Lehigh Valley for three generations, and mother (Betty Lichtenwalner) and daughter (Janice Lichtenwalner Wetzel) have the potato salad recipes to prove it. Pick your favorite or try all three!

           Penn State’s American Flag Potato Salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 lbs. new potatoes (red, white and blue)

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

2 medium red bell peppers, diced small

1 bunch scallions (green onions), thinly sliced

Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil. Add the garlic and whisk again. Let stand for one hour for flavors to develop. Boil the potatoes with skins on until tender but slightly firm. Drain them and let cool long enough to handle. Peel and cut into 1-inch dice. Transfer them to the vinaigrette, toss and let sit until the potatoes have cooled. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again. Let sit for at least 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate.

Janice Lichtenwalner Wetzel’s potato salad uses yellow mustard instead of vinegar to give the dish some bite, as well as shredded carrot to warm up the color. My newest copy of Cook’s Country, my favorite cooking magazine, features a taste-test comparison of various brands of yellow mustard. To the surprise of the Cook’s Country crew, Annie’s Naturals Organic Yellow Mustard took the top spot, beating out six other contenders, including Gulden’s (the #2 choice) and French’s (#3). Keep this in mind next tiem you’re mustard-shopping!

              Janice Lichtenwalner Wetzel’s Favorite Potato Salad

2 quarts of potatoes

1-1 1/2 stalks celery, diced

1/2-3/4 carrot, shredded

1/2-1 mild onion, diced

4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

3/4-1 cup Miracle Whip [No! Don’t do that to the poor salad! Please use Hellman’s mayo instead!!!—Silence]

1-2 T yellow mustard

Fill 2-quart saucepan with new potatoes; smaller potatoes are better. Quarter or halve them for uniform size for cooking. Do not peel. Add water and boil until soft but not mushy. While warm, peel and dice potatoes. Add celery, carrot, onion, eggs, salt and pepper and stir gently. Start by adding the smaller amounts of [mayonnaise] and mustard.. Stir and taste. Add additional [mayo] and mustard to your taste. Sometimes, you’ll need more or less dressing on the potatoes because some are drier in texture and will soak up more dressing.

Janice’s mom, Betty Lichtenwalner, makes a classic hot German-style potato salad. She keeps it nice and hot for picnics by spooning it into a slow-cooker and taking it along to the picnic site, then plugging it in. If there are no electric outlets at your picnic site, Mrs. Lichtenwalner says you can chill the salad and serve it cold. But I think that would be a shame!

              Betty Lichtenwalner’s German Potato Salad

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. potatoes

1 medium onion, diced

1 stalk celery and leaves, diced

8-10 slices bacon, cooked and diced, reserving drippings

chopped parsley

1/2 cup vinegar or more to taste

2 T water

1/4 cup sugar

2-3 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cook small potatoes and peel while hot. Slice into a large bowl. Add diced onion and celery. Cook bacon until crisp, remove strips from drippings in frying pan. Add diced bacon and chopped parsley to potato bowl. To the bacon drippings in the pan, add vinegar, water, sugar and olive oil. Cook until the dressing is warm and sugar has dissolved. Pour over potatoes. Mix gently. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm.

Moving right along, I wanted to check out recipes for Southern-style potato salad, an Indian-spiced potato salad, and a “this will knock your socks off” potato salad. Sure enough, I found a classic Southern-style recipe in Mama Dip’s Kitchen by Mildred Council (University of North Carolina Press, 1999). I’d wondered where those celery seeds had gone!

             Mama Dip’s Southern-Style Potato Salad

2 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, all the same size, washed but unpeeled

1 t salt

1 t celery seed or 1/2 cup chopped celery

3 hard-boiled eggs, grated

1 cup sweet pickle relish

1 medium (4-oz.) jar pimientos, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 t prepared mustard

1/4 cup chopped spring onion (scallion), optional

Put the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them and cook until tender, about 35 minutes or less, according to size. Drain off the hot water and pour in cold water to cool the potatoes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Let’s take a peek at that knock-your-socks-off potato salad. I just knew Chef Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Cooking (Da Capo Press, 2009), wouldn’t let me down. I can’t share the recipe because the publishers forbid any type of content reproduction (sigh), but I can tell you what Chef Bryant does: He roasts chunked red-skinned new potatoes (after tossing them with extra-virgin olive oil) and diced red bell peppers, then combines them with a pesto made from parsley, roasted pine nuts, garlic, white or yellow miso, lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt, adds sea salt and fresh-ground white pepper to taste, and serves his Roasted Red Potato Salad with Parsley-Pine Nut Pesto at room temperature.  Check out Vegan Soul Kitchen at your bookstore or library; the recipe is on pages 66-67.

Another gourmet version, from cookbook author Rick Rodgers, appears on page 84 of the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. This version, Potato Salad with Pancetta, Rosemary, and Lemon, uses Yukon Gold potatoes, finely grated lemon peel and juice instead of vinegar, olive oil, garlic, finely sliced celery, fresh minced rosemary, and salt and pepper, topping the salad just before serving with chopped baked pancetta (Italian bacon) and chopped fresh parsley. Head over to the Bon Appetit website (www.bonappetit.com) and search for “potato salad slideshow” to find plenty of other intriguing variations.

But what about that Indian-spiced potato salad I was hoping for? If you Google “Indian potato salad,” you’ll find plenty of intriguing recipes. But I wanted a potato salad without mayonnaise—not something I think of as Indian!—or tomatoes, and that was served warm or hot. Maybe more like the filling of a potato-and-pea samosa with a warm yogurt sauce that just coated the potatoes. Then there was the crunch issue. I still crave crunch in my potato salad. One recipe approached this issue very innovatively, by adding cashews to the potatoes. I’m sort of fascinated by this, since I think the flavor of roasted, salted cashews would really complement the potatoes. Hmmm… However, for a first try, this is what I’m going to do:

           Indian Potato Salad a la Silence

14-20 baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, skins on

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, WallaWalla, or 1015 type), diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, and minced

1 small green chile (chilli), such as a Thai chile, seeded and minced

4 fresh curry leaves, chopped

handful (about 1/4 cup) golden raisins

1 cup plain yogurt

1 T black mustardseeds

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 t turmeric

1 t chaat or garam masala, or more to taste

extra-virgin olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)

salt (we like RealSalt or Trocomare) to taste

Chipotle chile powder and/or fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in a heavy pot or Dutch oven until tender, drain, and quarter (if small) or cut into 1-inch chunks. Return to the pot (off the heat) and cover. Add mustardseeds, cumin, garlic, chile, turmeric, curry leaves, and chaat or garam masala to hot oil or ghee in a pan. When mustardseeds pop, add onion. Reduce heat to a simmer and add raisins and enough of the yogurt to cover all ingredients thoroughly—at least 2/3 cup. Allow sauce to thicken, stirring, adding more yogurt as necessary. When sauce is thick, add the potatoes, salt, and chipotle chili powder and/or pepper, stirring gently to blend. The potatoes should be thickly coated but not dripping sauce. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, and serve hot or warm with a side of thick-sliced ripe heirloom tomatoes that have been topped with salt, pepper, and a spoonful of chopped cilantro.

Okay, that’s enough about potato salad from me. What’s your favorite potato salad recipe?

            ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

Carrot Cabbage Confetti Salad May 23, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I had promised to bring our own Mr. Hays’s famous Baked Potato Salad to last night’s gathering of the Friday Night Supper Club. (For more on this enjoyable and informal gathering, see our earlier post “The Friday Night Supper Club;” I’d recommend it to anyone.) But I knew there would be lots of hungry folks gathered and such summery treats as corn on the cob (our first of the season) offered, so I wanted to bring a second salad that would go perfectly with the first. 

Now, potato salad (at least the way I like to make it) is soft, rich, and oniony. I decided I wanted a complete contrast that would provide bold color and crunch. So I made something up. I’m an intuitive cook, and I generally can tell when things will go well together and when they won’t. But this time, I decided to take a bit of a gamble. I figured it would either be wonderful or inedible, but even if the latter, there would still be the potato salad and plenty of other food. Fortunately, it was a triumph—so good, and so fast and easy to make (in contrast to the potato salad!), that I want to share it with you. Try it next time you want an unusual substitute for standard cole slaw!

             Silence’s Carrot Cabbage Confetti Salad

1 package shredded carrots

2 packages shredded red cabbage

1 carton crumbled gorgonzola cheese (could substitute crumbled blue or feta cheese if preferred)

2 tablespoons fennel seeds (could substitute caraway or cumin seeds if preferred)

1/4 to 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels, to taste

Greek salad dressing, vinaigrette, or oil and vinegar

salt to taste (we like Real Salt)   

Given my druthers, I’d have added a whole diced sweet onion (Vidalia, WallaWalla, Candy, or 1015 type) to this as well. But I didn’t because I know some of the Supper Club folks aren’t as crazy about onions as our friend Ben and I are, and besides, the potato salad was already plenty oniony. I used packages of shredded carrots and cabbage for convenience, but you could obviously shred your own for this salad. I used two packs of red cabbage to one of carrots because the cabbage bags were slightly smaller than the carrot bag, and I wanted to make sure there was at least as much red cabbage (and preferably a little more) in the salad as carrot. I decided on fennel seeds rather than caraway or cumin because I thought the sweet anise flavor of the fennel seeds would enhance the carrots and cabbage and contrast well with the richness of the gorgonzola, but I think any of these would taste good, so use your favorite or try all three and see which you like best.

To make the salad, just toss the carrots, cabbage, fennel seeds, sunflower seeds, salt, and gorgonzola in a huge bowl and stir well to mix. Then add as much of the dressing as needed to moisten but not drown the salad. (I used Greek dressing, probably between 1/3 and 1/2 a bottle; you want plenty to flavor the salad but not so much that there’s a pool of it in the bottom of the bowl. Better to add less than you think it will take to start with, then add a bit more if needed, than to start with too much.) That’s all, folks!

It takes less than 10 minutes to throw this salad together if you start with pre-shredded veggies. But I’d suggest refrigerating it overnight to bring out its flavor. I didn’t have the chance to do that this time, since the whole dinner was a bit iffy because of the holiday weekend and we only decided to go ahead with it at the last minute. But I can tell you, even after marinating in the dressing for just a couple of hours, this was one yummy salad! I managed to sneak a little bit home so Ben and I can have it again tonight, and I think it will be even more delicious after its additional marinating time.

Try it, you’ll like it! And enjoy your long weekend. Oh, and by the way, for the recipe for Mr. Hays’s amazing potato salad, see my earlier post “Painless pickles, potato salad, and pimiento cheese spread.” You’ll find other easy must-try recipes as well! 

          ‘Til next time,

                      Silence