Posts tagged ‘summer’

German Potato Salad

german potato salad

One of the many components of putting together RJ’s now-famous birthday pig roast was developing a cohesive group of side dishes to complement the main course.  We were looking for southern-inspired sides — traditional but not boring, simple but with great flavor.  My contribution was a jalapeno cornbread; my mom brought her famous coleslaw; and RJ’s aunt Jane made a delicious slow-cooked sausage appetizer that satisfied the hungry folks drooling over the rotating pig.  One of the stars of the show in my mind, however, was my mother-in-law’s potato salad.

This potato salad has made frequent appearances at large family gatherings since it is easily multiplied and contains no mayonnaise that will cause it to spoil.  Delicious served warm, cool or room temperature, German potato salad is a crowd pleaser to be sure.  The vinegary zing contrasts with and complements the sugar and this foundational pairing of sweet and sour reverberates through the layers of flavor: savory bacon with sharp mustard, creamy egg with pickles or raw onion.  The result is a balanced composition perfect for summer picnics or winter feasts.

While this is not my mother-in-law’s recipe, the results tasted very similar.  Hers has an oil vinaigrette base and less of the optional add-ons.  Play with the recipe to your heart’s content — you won’t be disappointed.

german-potato-salad

German Potato Salad, adapted from Gourmet magazine, January 1990

(serves 8 )

3 lb. large boiling potatoes (about 6), such as Yukon gold
6 slices of lean bacon
1 c. finely chopped onion
1 c. thinly sliced celery
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
6 Tbs. cider or champagne vinegar
1/2 c. thinly sliced scallion greens
3 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped (optional)
1/3 c. chopped dill pickles (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop the whole potatoes into the pot and cook for 18 minutes or just until cooked through (you want them to still be firm but not completely crunchy).  Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook the bacon strips over moderate heat until it is crisp and transfer it to paper towels to drain. Crumble or chop the bacon strips into pieces.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat; to the skillet add the onion and the celery, and cook the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the sugar, the flour, and the celery seeds, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the mustard, the vinegar, and 1/2 cup water, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer until it is thickened (this took me about 40 seconds but make take up to 2 minutes). Season the dressing with salt and pepper, pour it over the potatoes, and stir in the scallion greens, eggs, and/or pickles.  This may be served warm, room temp or cold.

german-potato-salad

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September 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm 1 comment

Suffering? Succotash!

Edamame succotash

After over a month of awful, rainy weather, summer has come on us full-bore.  We are finally seeing the sun, and feeling the heat and humidity that is so familiar to those of us in the Northeast.  Yet after this year’s June, I truly welcome a bit of sweltering.  Especially since I’m able to escape to the cool breezes of the coast for a sail or a dip in the Atlantic as often as I want.  Trust me, I am savoring the dwindling days of my vacation…

When I think about this time last year, I remember how lucky RJ and I were to have had access to plenty of fresh bluefin tuna — the perfect summer entree.  We grilled it, poached it in olive oil, made it into burgers and, of course, ate it raw.  Despite the many blog posts, I have not yet broached the topic of side dishes.  When straight-off-the-boat tuna comes your way, you don’t want your side dish to overpower the subtleties of the fish or contrast unfortunately with your chosen flavor profiles.  Our first tuna of 2009 came to us a couple weeks ago.  I had just arrived home after work, and RJ got ‘the call’ — we had bluefin to collect!  My sweet husband drove an hour north and an hour back to deliver the sweet red meat to our table.  I called my sister and her girlfriend over, and whipped up the following salad.  I have never appreciated summer so thoroughly.

Roasted Corn and Edamame Salad, from Epicurious.com via Self Magazine [Printable Recipe]

2 ears fresh corn, unhusked, or 1 1/4 cups cooked corn kernels (I used defrosted frozen ones)
1/2 c. shelled edamame
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1/4 c. small-diced red bell pepper
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. light mayonnaise
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped or grated ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

If using fresh corn ears, soak them in cold water about 30 minutes. Heat grill on high. Grill corn in husk, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Let cool. Remove husks. Cut corn from cob into a bowl; combine with remaining ingredients. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Edamame-final

August 11, 2009 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Summer Lovin’ Crostata

crostataBefore I ever started writing a food blog, I was reading food blogs.  Many, many of them.  My favorites are listed on the right-hand side of this page — those are the ones I wholeheartedly endorse.  I do so because I can count on each of them, albeit for different things.  When I need to know what to cook for RJ (and am unconcerned about calorie intake), I visit the Pioneer Woman.  When I am feeling healthy and adventurous, I’ll often check in with Molly.  And when I’m in the mood to dream of Paris, I click into Clothilde’s site.  Other blogs I read daily, because they post frequently and because they provide not only recipes but also reviews, interesting links, and unique perspectives.  One of these is Adam’s Amateur Gourmet site.

Adam is a reliable and lovable source, especially because he is so straightforward about his ‘amateur’ status.  His pictures aren’t pristine like Deb’s, and he doesn’t have pastry chef credentials like David.  But he’s witty (see his comic strip posts) and unpretentious (he did a post about the books in the Momofuku Ko bathroom) and he makes a mean pork roast.  What else could you want in a daily pick-me-up read?

Anyway, I mention Adam because he hasn’t steered me wrong yet (though I’ll admit I haven’t gone up every alley he recommends: Janet Jackson Breast Cupcakes, anyone?).  His roasted broccoli (via Ina Garten) is a life-changer, and he has given me many a fine cookbook recommendation, thus feeding my addiction.  So when he suggested, nay, ordered me to go Crostata Crazy, I did.  I cut up some nectarines and pitted some cherries and while I intended to cheat on the pie crust and use Pillsbury, circumstances (read: Whole Foods is not actually a supermarket) forced me to make my own and I’m glad I did.  All the work was done by my Cuisinart — all I had to do was measure 4 or 5 pantry ingredients, pulse, then roll out the dough after a half hour in the fridge.  The results?  Impressive, to say the least, and bursting with summer flavors.  A quarter of the recipe below makes a crostata for two.  Make the whole batch to have pie dough on hand for the next time and a dessert for six on the table in an hour.

crostata with summer cherriesCherry and Nectarine Crostata, adapted from Napa Style’s Michael Chiarello via Amateur Gourmet

(Serves 6)

Tart Dough:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (1/2 pound) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1/4 cup ice water, or more if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
4 cups of fruit of your favorite combination: pitted fresh cherries, sliced nectarines, berries, apples, diced rhubarb, etc.
1/4 cup granulated sugar (adjust to your taste and the type of fruits used)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk beaten for egg wash
2 teaspoons coarse sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
Directions
Make the tart dough: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir together the 1/4 cup ice water and the vanilla; sprinkle the water over the mixture in the processor and pulse just until a dough forms, adding a little extra ice water if necessary. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 1-inch-thick round. Wrap 1 disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; freeze the other for a future use.

Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF for 45 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling to soften it slightly.

Place the dough round between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round, flouring the round lightly as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Slide a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet under the bottom sheet of parchment.

Make the filling: Combine the fruit, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and toss well. Fill the center of the dough round with the fruit in an even layer, leaving a border of about 1 1/2 inches. Fold the border up and over the fruit to make a rim. Brush the rim with egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Trim the excess parchment with scissors.

Use the pizza peel or baking sheet to transfer the crostata, still with parchment underneath, to the oven, sliding it, with the paper, directly onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the cherries are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven with the peel or baking sheet and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

July 22, 2009 at 7:09 am 3 comments

Fish en Papillote

Finished PapillotteAs I indicated in my last post, something naturally happens as the weather warms whereby I turn away from my many cookbooks (or in the case of this year, pack them into about 10 cardboard boxes and put them in a POD) and instead begin to develop a more spontaneous and improvisational cooking style.  Last night my sister’s plans for whole trout on the grill were thwarted by an ill-stocked fish counter, and I instead purchased two gargantuan halibut steaks (the ones cut cross-wise from the fish’s body) with a glimmer of an idea in mind.

Assembly

When I got home, I raided my mother’s cabinet and refrigerator, pulling out some prepared pesto, a half a tomato, jars of roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes, a lemon and some fresh thyme.  I then cut two large rectangles of parchment paper (you can also use aluminum foil), about 14-16 inches long for my huge steaks, and folded the sheets in half, then opened them up on the counter again.  I put one of the halibut steaks in the middle of one half of each of the parchment paper sheets.  Then, I improvised.

On one steak I rubbed pesto thickly across both cut sides, layered a couple of tomato slices on top, added some roasted red peppers (about three half-peppers), and a couple artichoke hearts, and then drizzled some oil from the artichoke marinade and the juice of half a lemon over the whole thing.  On the other steak, I put  leftover caramelized onions and fennel from my tartlettes, more artichokes, sliced kalamata olives and two tomato slices and doused again with the marinade and lemon.  I placed a big sprig of thyme on the top of each steak, and began the process of sealing up the parchment.

Wrapped

Fold the empty half of parchment over the loaded fish half so that the two cut edges of the parchment touch, and kind of hold those two pieces together (you can use a jar or something to weight them if you need to).  Begin at one of the edges of the center fold and begin working your way around the open edges of the parchment package, folding in tiny overlapping triangles.  Parchment holds fairly well, so just make your triangles tight and use the back of your thumbnail to sharpen the folds.  Aluminum foil is even easier and pretty self explanatory.

The Gourmet Cookbook suggests folding the last triangle under the package, to seal it “completely”.  I didn’t do that (my last fold was up, like the others) and I had one package open up in the oven, and one stay sealed.  Either way, it isn’ t a big deal if a bit of liquid leaks out in the cooking process.

Next step: put a large baking sheet into a pre-heated 500 degree (F) oven for 5 minutes.  Pull it out, and put the fish packages on the hot baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes or so (depending on the thickness of the fish you’re using – mine was about an inch of thick halibut and was perfect after 11 minutes) at 500 degrees, then pull out of the oven.  Opening up the package after this is a real treat – the steam whooshes out in an aromatic burst, and one is astonished to find all the vegetables and fish cooked perfectly and in pristine shape and full color.

Papillote

This technique, cooking ‘en papillote’, is wonderful for several reasons.  1) It is very forgiving, as the steam from the vegetables and fish keeps everything pretty moist, even if you leave it a couple extra minutes in the oven.  2) It is quite healthy, seeing that you don’t need any butter or oil (though it is highly recommended to add butter or olive oil at the end as a finishing element) and you can pack the papillote full of veggies.  3) It is an impressive presentation if you put each portion in its own papillotte and serve your guests the package to open themselves at the table.  4) Finally, the technique is wildly versatile – perfect for summer improvisation!  The fish can be cod, snapper, bass, trout, or any number of varieties, and the toppings and aromatics inside could include any combination of herbs, oils, wine, fresh vegetables, cherry tomatoes, olives, citrus zest & juice, capers, spices, vinegar or greens that you like.  Try different pairings to find your favorite melange, or invite your guests to each assemble their own before dinner!

June 12, 2009 at 10:15 am 2 comments


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