Potato Salad…Hold the Mayo

I must confess that I’ve fallen a bit behind this week but I’ve been taking my phone with me so I have a few different items I’ve made recently. I just need to get them documented here.

My mom’s birthday was this week and we offered to host my parents for dinner where we went with Pulled Pork on a Bun and German Potato Salad.

Neither of my parents are big fans of mayo but they are huge fans of vinegar which makes this salad ideal for serving when they come over. It is also a great choice for summer picnic fare as it is a version of potato salad that is meant to be served at room temperature or warm so you can put it out at your BBQs and not worry about making anyone ill from mayo sitting in the sun.

This recipe is from the folks over at Epicurious.com.

Potatoes - 2 quarts = 8 cups. Boiled, cubed and set aside.

Potatoes – 2 quarts = 8 cups. Boiled, cubed and set aside.

First step as with most potato salads is the get your potatoes ready. I estimated one potato per person plus on extra to attempt to get the right amount I would need to make this salad, which worked out to 8 potatoes total. I boiled the potatoes whole so as to get them fork tender. As with the scalloped sweet potatoes earlier this week I just kept my eye on them while they boiled and pulled them from the water when I could get a steak knife in with little resistance.

It is important to give these guys plenty of time to cool so I would recommend getting your potatoes done well ahead of time. You could cube them first before boiling but the time I did that I had really soft potatoes and it almost became German Mashed Potatoes. The cooling, in my experience, makes it easier to cube the cooked potato as well.

I also left the skins on. I’ve never actually peeled potatoes when making this but I’m pretty sure you could if you wanted to.

Thick sliced bacon.

Thick sliced bacon.

This is a vinaigrette dressing but the heart and flavour of your roux will come from the bacon drippings as your oil component so good quality bacon is a must. I also cooked this on a lower heat to make sure I got crisp bacon and a good amount of drippings. Even the bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan will get used in the end.

Ingredients -

Ingredients  (Starting left ) – Chopped onion, cider vinegar, water, flour, sugar, mustard, salt, black pepper and rosemary.

The recipe calls for vinegar and I had some cider vinegar in the fridge so I went with that. Most folks I know that make this recipe tend to make that substitution as well.

I also realized a bit too late that I had no dried mustard in the house. While I was ripping the spice cabinet apart Kevin went online and with a quick search he assures me that you can use yellow mustard in a ration of 3:1. So in this case 3 teaspoons of yellow mustard for my 1 missing teaspoon of powdered dry mustard.

Dressing in the frying pan.

Dressing in the frying pan.

Using the same frying pan as I made the bacon in I make the dressing pretty much as described in the recipe but I give it a bit of time to come together in between steps. For example I put the onions in and let them fry in the bacon drippings for a few seconds before adding the flour to make the roux.

With the vinegar and water I took the time to let them de-glaze the pan so I could take up the bits of bacon stuck to the bottom of the pan before adding the sugar, spices and mustard. I also gave the sugar time to melt into the dressing before added the spices and mustard and letting is cook down.

After I have added everything in I let it go and took it off the heat when the dressing could coat the back of a spoon nicely.

One of my best chopping jobs to date.

One of my best chopping jobs to date.

While I was giving time to my dressing ingredients to come together I turned my attention the parsley. I often find chopping to be the more difficult part of cooking mostly because I’m not sure when I have a chop or a mince going. I was very proud of this chopping job though. Probably one of my best to date.

Close up of the finished salad

Close up of the finished salad.

Now when combining everything together in the bowl I really recommend a large rubber spatula or spoonula so that you don’t run the risk of having your potatoes getting mashed while you are working the dressing through out the potatoes, bacon and parsley.

There are never any leftovers of this salad ever.

German Potato Salad

Recipe from Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup vinegar (I substituted with cider vinegar)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powdered  dry mustard (I was out so used 3 teaspoons of yellow mustard at a ratio of 3:1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled rosemary leaves
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) cooked diced potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

  1. Boil potatoes and set aside to cool. When you can handle them easily cut into cubes.
  2. Fry bacon until crisp.
  3. Remove from pan, drain and crumble.
  4. Add flour and onion into the bacon fat left in the pan.
  5. Stir in vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices. Cook only until mixture is of medium thickness.
  6. Add to potatoes, parsley and crumble bacon. Mix carefully (I suggest using a large spoonula) to prevent mashing the potatoes.
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I Made Bread!

One of my culinary bucket list items was to successfully make a loaf of bread.

I can remember watching my grandma make bread and buns when I was younger that smell that comes with fresh baked bread.

I decided recently that I wanted to take the chance and really make an effort to produce a loaf of bread. Even if it wasn’t an ideal perfect loaf I would at least be able to tell myself I tried.

Today was the day. I went with a Traditional French Bread recipe from my WestBend Bread Machine Cook Book. I have arthritis and find an assist in one way or another will make it easier to tackle my culinary tasks. So I used my bread machine to make the dough for me.

When the machine had dealt with the initial blending, kneeding and the first rise I placed it on my table to rest for 15 mins.

After the 15 minute rest I rolled out the dough and proceeded to tightly roll it along the long side and make my loaf and placed it on my long bar pan which I had put some cornmeal on to prevent sticking.

Loaf rolled and placed on the pan.

Loaf rolled and placed on the pan.

First thing I notice is that my loaf is longer than my bar pan. So first lesson learned…the loaf probably needs to be a bit shorter.

However, overall I’m happy that I have gotten the loaf as the recipe suggests. It is rolled nicely and a good size so I will consider it a win :D.

I cover my loaf with a clean tea towel and tuck into my oven as I need to put the pan somewhere with no drafts that is warm and hidden from little curious fingers.

After the second rise!

After the second rise!

After 40 minutes in the oven I bring out loaf and score the top. Then a brush with egg white and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I’m feeling pretty confident that this is working out well. Honestly it looks better than I thought it would for my first attempt.

Success!

Success!

I was overjoyed when I peeked in when the timer went off and found this amazing golden loaf of French Bread in my oven. I was successful in my first attempt in that my loaf was cooked nicely and edible. I learned though which is always the thing when I cook or bake.

There is always something I need to work on. Something I need to learn and about 100 questions I end up asking Kevin about what is a dice, what is a boil, does this look good to you….

I got many compliments on my first loaf and I’m pretty proud of it.

I served it with this Chicken Bacon Chowder recipe from A Taste of Home.

I did a few modifications on the recipe. I roasted my boneless, skinless chicken thighs slowly in the oven in a small Corelle Crock with a lid. I then used the drippings in the chicken stock portion of the recipe to give a bit more flavour.

I’m also feeling pretty grateful for our mini chopper. Best $8.00 we spent on a kitchen appliance. I used it to dice the onions and then get the bacon finely chopped after I cooked it.

If I wanted to make the soup on a week night for a warm up on a cold night I’d go with a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store to make up the cooked chicken component. From start to finish it took about 30 mins to make the soup and we enjoyed it in our home on a -30 winter day.

So today I successfully baked a loaf of bread and made a big pot of soup to enjoy with it.

Pretty good day for a newbie cook.