Monday, June 27, 2011

Mom's Potato Salad

When I was growing up, in the summer my mother would make potato salad.  Mostly around 4th of July, at least that is the way I remember it.

It was delicious.

Once I grew up, I tried to make it only a handful of times before my mother passed way and never with any success.

But after all these years I think that I have finally perfected my version of her potato salad.

Gather your friends close.  

I boiled my potatoes for about 20-25 minutes in water and then rinsed them in cold water for about 15 minutes and let them cool completely.  Overnight is ideal, otherwise 2-3 hours should suffice.
Then I chopped them up in bite sized pieces leaving the skins on.  I like the skins, they add lots of flavor.  My mother always left the skins on too, but remove them if you like, I don't mind.

I drizzled the potatoes with 2-3 Tbls. of apple cider vinegar.

While those two marinated together, I chopped up cold hard boiled eggs.

I like mine finely minced.  My mother left hers in large chunks.

The parsley should be finely minced as well.

Onions finely minced just like all the other stuff.

My olives I like medium diced.  

Everyone in the bowl with lots of pepper and plenty of salt.

Mix everyone up.

Add the mayo...Best Foods(Hellman's east of the Rockies) because that is what my mother always used.
I have an interesting history and story about mayonnaise, but I will save it for another time.

Mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate at lease a couple of hours, ideally overnight.  All these flavors need time to get to know each other.

But if you are like me...just pop in a bowl and gobble down because you are too impatient.

This potato salad will bring ooh's and ahh's everywhere you serve it.
It sit's nicely on a bed of lettuce, next to a burger, a dog and especially along side some cold fried chicken eaten on a blanket on a warm summer evening.  Take it to your 4th of July potluck...your friends and family will thank you.

Potato Salad
3-4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 fist sized potatoes)
2-3 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
3-5 hard boiled eggs 
1/2  large white onions
1/2 C parsley
3/4-1 15oz can of black olives
1/2-3/4 C Best Food's Mayonnaise 

Boil potatoes in a pot of water with water at least 1 inch above the potatoes for about 20-25 minutes, until a fork pokes into them easily.  Rinse with cold water and let cool completely.
Cut potatoes into bite size pieces and drizzle with vinegar in large bowl.
Finely chop boiled eggs, onion and parsley and add to the potatoes in bowl.
Chop olives and add to other ingredients  with lots of black pepper and salt to taste.  Mix in mayonnaise thoroughly.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, ideally overnight. Garnish with chopped or simply the leaves of parsley.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Endive Salad

I understand that in some places in the country it is summer.

Here in Oregon...I think we are still a few weeks out.  It hasn't reach 85 degrees yet.

But even though we aren't yet in full summer mode here, I couldn't wait to start eating and sharing my summer meals.

This one is so delicious!  I could eat it all day.   My family however has not developed a palate for it.  I think it is the endive, and also some members of my family don't like blue cheese.  I won't mention who because they should be ashamed of themselves.

I like this salad all by itself, but it would be a wonderful side to any summer meal.

We start with endive.

And also make sure you  have all these things around too.

I chop my endive into bite size pieces, but it is very beautiful to leave them whole and allow your guests to cut them up themselves.

Just like this would work fine.

I like my walnuts chopped fairly small.

Everything comes together.

Now for the glue that binds...the dijon dressing!


Plenty of pepper.

Balsamic vinegar...mine is infused with blood orange flavors and aromas.

Next...good quality olive oil.

Time for emulsification (mixing everything together with the oil).

It should look like this.

I like just enough to heighten the flavors...not over power them.

And I can die a happy woman.

Dijon Dressing
1 heaping Tbls. dijon mustard
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
4-5 Tbls. good balsamic vinegar
4-5 Tbls. good quality olive oil

Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk briskly to emulsify.
If you have an overly acidic vinegar 1-2 tsp of honey or sugar can be added to balance out the flavor.
Adjust all measurements to your tastes and to ensure proper dressing consistency.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Pesto

I love summer.  So many good things to eat.

I have made a resolve that this summer will be The Summer of Tacos and Sushi.

I will keep you all posted on how that goes.

For now I want to share the ultimate summer dish...Pesto.

I often eat pesto with a spoon.  I eat it mixed with cream cheese spread on bread.  A dollop in soup.  On warm brown rice.  Brushcetta...of course on pasta...on pizza...and sometimes I even wear it as perfume.

I make my own pesto because it is so easy...because it is so healthy...because it is cheaper...because it is far superior in every way to the pre made packaged stuff.

All the things you will need to make your own are readily available during the summer and are cheap and ultra fresh.

You will however need a food processor.  If you don't have one you can use a blender, but I have had a much easier time with my pesto since getting a food processor.  If you get one you can use it for all kinds of things, it is an essential for the serious cook and I could make a case for it even for the weekend cook.  If you only eat things out of packages...don't bother...befriend a serious cook.

You will need all of these things.

Here I removed the basil from the stems and put it with the parsley in the whirl machine.

Dump all your other ingredients in, I like lemon zest too.  It adds a hint of freshness.

Pulse the whirl machine a few times to chop everything up.

Then let them whirl together until a thick paste if formed.

Then with the whirl machine on, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.

Let the whirl machine go to town for a few minutes until your pesto looks something like this.

I made my pesto into a pasta salad.  I discovered these little babies at the store and love them for pasta salads because they cook up to just the right size.

They are so tiny and cute, I just love them!

I added garbanzo beans, olives and feta to my salad.  If I had them, I would have added cherry tomatoes.  Grilled veggies would be good too.  And I would have used kalamata olives if I hadn't used them in a greek omelette I made yesterday for Marcus and myself.

Cool your pasta under running water, then toss everything together thoroughly.   A few squeezes of lemon help to maintain the fresh green color of the pesto.

I garnished it because I think that food should be pleasing to look at as well as delicious.  Some chopped walnuts would have been yummy on top too.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

I hope you get to make this, it is so good!  Oh and if you don't like pesto...check with the doctor, because something is very wrong with you.

***Keep in mind that I do not use a recipe, over the years I have gotten the feel of it and every time it is different.  This is a very basic recipe and the variations are endless.  You can add spinach instead of parsley, arugula, cilantro...any fresh green herb.  You can also use any nut or seed in the place of the walnuts.  Hazelnuts are especially yummy in the fall.  I have used pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, pecans. My favorite things by far are the ones here in this recipe...Classic!***

Classic Pesto
1 C firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 C firmly packed parsley leaves
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1/4 C walnuts
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 C olive oil

Put all the dry ingredients in a food processor and process until a thick paste is formed and with the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil.
Serve right away, or refrigerate tightly covered for 2-3 days.
Freezes beautifully!