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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On The Side

Often with a family of five the best approach to getting dinner on table is a divide and conquer strategy.

Today Kevin did what he did best which was grill steak and I put my attention on the sides to go with the meal. It has been a while since we had enjoyed baked sweet potatoes and fresh asparagus so they were the right sides to go with the meal.

Now I’ve never cooked asparagus before so I did some reading and went with this recipe from Food Network from Emeril.

From top: One pound fresh asparagus, snapped and washed, three cloves minced garlic, 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice

From top: One pound fresh asparagus, snapped and washed, three cloves minced garlic, 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice

The first thing I liked about this recipe was that it was quite simple to make and the ingredient list was all items I have on hand on a regular basis.

I have to confess that working with fresh veggies can be a bit intimidating for me. There seems to be a magic moment with a lot of veggies where they taste amazing but all too quickly they can cross over into a mushy substance that can’t be recovered.

Combined with olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

Combined with olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

I went with only 1 pound of asparagus but kept the amount of garlic the same. We are a garlic loving family so this wasn’t a bad thing. In the end I also kept the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice but the reduced extra olive oil turned out to be the perfect amount.

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

Now I will say that I probably kept these in the oven about 3 minutes too long. Because several of my stalks of asparagus were a bit thick I wanted to make sure that they roasted through and this hesitation cost me. Next time I’ll go with the suggested time of 20 minutes.

Sweet potatoes rubbed down with a bit of butter and sprinkled with salt.

Sweet potatoes rubbed down with a bit of butter and sprinkled with salt.

Now for the making of my sweet potatoes.

I like to get my sweet potatoes from Costco. They are well priced and I can often get 5 nice sized potatoes which works out well for our family because we all love this side.

I always start with rinsing my sweet potatoes and giving them a pat down with a clean tea towel. Then I take a small amount of butter and just make sure to cover the potato’s skin with it all over. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer of butter either you just want to make sure none of the skin will be able to dry out. Then take your sea salt and give a generous sprinkle all over the potatoes.

After you’ve prepared the potatoes as I’ve suggested you can slide them into a preheated 350 degree oven or on a hot BBQ. Tonight ours were placed on the top rack of our BBQ and left there for 30 minutes to bake. Like any other potato you can test to see if it is done by simple piercing it and making sure the centre is soft.

Honey Butter: Equal parts butter and honey.

Honey Butter: Equal parts butter and honey.

A nice touch to the sweet potatoes is to do a honey butter spread. Easily done in a bowl combine equal parts honey and butter and mix with a fork until it all comes together to look like this:

Finished Honey Butter.

Finished Honey Butter.

A simple condiment where a little goes a long way.

Finished potato with some honey butter and cinnamon.

Finished potato with some honey butter and cinnamon.

Once your potatoes are done just split, add as much or as little of the honey butter as you like and top with some cinnamon. These are a big hit with our kids and they don’t last on the plate long.

Garlic-Roasted Asparagus

Recipe from Emeril on Food Network.com

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, rinsed and patted dry (I used only 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I cut it back to 1.5 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2) In a large glass baking dish, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss. Bake until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the stalks, stirring twice.

3) Remove from the oven and toss with the lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

4) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

My husband taught me this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato per person (this is our estimate)
  • 1/4 cup of butter (for rubbing down the potatoes. The more potatoes the more you will need)
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • Ground cinnamon

Preparation

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or heat BBQ

2) Rub potatoes with butter until covered all over the skin. Sprinkle all over with sea salt.

3) Bake in oven or BBQ for 30 minutes. Check potato by make sure the centre is soft.

4) Put 1/3 cup of butter and 1/3 honey in a bowl and combine with a fork until smooth.

5) Slice potato down the middle, add honey butter and sprinkle with cinnamon