Sunday, August 10, 2014

Classical Lettuce Play - Part 1

 Playing with Potato


I taught you how to make original lettuce-based salads in the previous entry. Now let's look at the classics. Ever wondered what went into Salad Ni├žoise? Cobb? Greek? Potato? Caesar? Cole Slaw? Now's your chance! So read on!

Classic Potato Salad



Potato salad is considered a staple at delicatessens and Canadian and American BBQs. I grew up with both my grandmother's recipe and that of Montreal Delis. While not entirely the same, both versions of potato salad had more or less the same elements, namely potatoes, eggs, and a few grated and chopped crunchy vegetables followed by a mayonnaisey dressing to tie it all together. In my attempt to reverse engineer these famous recipes, I came up with the following.

Here's how you do it traditional

Ingredients

About 6 potatoes - you can buy potatoes bagged and already washed or unwashed - the former is sometimes a bit pricier but a convenient time saver, so it's really up to you - the type doesn't matter that much - some people prefer something starchy like a baking potato, while others prefer waxy like new potatoes - those smaller, clean looking, smooth skinned guys that are often served in fancy restaurants - if you want something somewhere in between, go with red skinned, white fleshed, or yellow fleshed potatoes.

3 ribs aka stalks of celery - rinsed, the woody bit and the very end bit of the wider end sliced off, and chopped as finely as you can - I find the easiest way to do this is to carefully make slits along the length of the celery, and then slice as thinly as possible - see the images below. If the celery's freshly bought, and the leaves don't seem tough, you can use them as well as the stalks, but be sure to taste test the leaves before you add them to your salad.





4 or 5 Green Onions - rinsed, a half an inch from the green end cut off as well as the very end (the part with the roots) removed, and sliced as finely as you can. Green onions are usually sold in bunches of 6 or 7 - you'll need most of the bunch.

5 Hard Boiled Eggs - cooled in cold water, peeled and finely  chopped - if you want to save time, you can always grate the eggs using your box grater instead.

2 Carrots - peeled and grated

1/4 cup to a 1/2 Cup of Finely chopped Fresh Herbs - Parsley and Italian Parsley (the flat leaf kind) are traditional and widely available, as is Dill - they can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and in fruit and vegetable stores, sold in large bunches for a buck or two. Can't decide which herb to try? Here's a quick guide: parsley tends to have a refreshing grassy taste, while Dill is has a more licorice/anise -y taste. The salad in the picture was made with flat leaf Italian parsley. Don't worry about what to do with the leftovers - I'll cover that in another article.

At least 4 Heaping Tablespoons of Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon of Mustard - Dijon would be best, but you could use yellow mustard instead if you wish. Grainy mustard would also work too, but it may mess with the appearance of your salad. If you like the look of mustard seeds, go for it!

1/2 Teaspoon of Paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

Equipment

Measuring Spoons

1 Large Pot

1 Slotted spoon

1 Metal Strainer

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Large Metal Bowl or Heatproof mixing bowl OR if you're bringing the salad to a potluck or BBQ, you can always prep the salad in a large, deep plastic container with lid

1 Regular Bowl

1 Regular Spoon

1 Cutting Board

1 Knife

1 Box Grater

1 Peeler

Plastic wrap

If your potatoes didn't come already washed, wash them by running cold water over them and scrubbing them with a clean sponge. Though the traditional recipes contained peeled potatoes, you don't have to peel them. Not only does this save time, but a great doctor once told me that most of the nutrients in a potato can be found right under the peel.

Cut the potatoes into 8ths and boil them until they're edible but not completely falling apart. The best way to test this is to pull a piece out of the boiling water using your trusty slotted spoon, blow on it a few times to cool it, and then taste it.

When they're ready, pour the potatoes into a metal strainer to drain, and then dump them in your metal bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cool the potatoes completely in your fridge. Slightly cold is ideal, but if you're in hurry, you can prep the salad when the potatoes are lukewarm.

In separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper.

Add the eggs and half the dressing and mix to coat the potatoes. The yolks of the hardboiled eggs will fall apart and form part of the dressing.

Toss in the carrots, green onions, celery, and herbs.

Pour the remaining dressing into the bowl with the potatoes and other veg and toss or mix with a wooden spoon to coat.

You are now ready to serve!

Feeds 6 as a side dish or 3 very hungry people as a meal.

Heart Attack Potato Salad aka Potato Salad MY WAY


This is a salad for people who don't like salad.

Why?

Because contrary to the stereotype that salads are healthy, this salad isn't. It has all the unhealthy things that we love, and eating too much of it too often will probably give you a coronary.  I came up with it watching one of those TV shows where chefs have to run around a given city and do a sort of culinary obstacle course. In the episode I saw, the chefs had to create new flavours for a popcorn stand. One of the chefs opted to take all the flavors of a baked potato and use them on the popcorn, and I found myself thinking: if the flavors work on popcorn and baked potatoes, why not serve them cold, in potato salad? So I mucked about in the kitchen, and this is what I came up with. Now before you balk at the ingredients, remember that this is heart attack potato salad, and that it has all but disappeared within an hour of my showing up at a BBQ with a bowl of it.

Here's how you do it

Ingredients

About 6 potatoes

3 ribs aka stalks of celery - rinsed, the woody bit and the very end bit of the wider end sliced off, and chopped as finely as you can.

4 or 5 Green Onions - rinsed, a half an inch from the green end and the end with the roots cut off, and sliced as finely as you can.

5 Hard Boiled Eggs - cooled in cold water, peeled, and finely  chopped - if you want to save time, you can always grate the eggs using your box grater instead.

1  Cup of Grated Cheddar Cheese - I like Old Cheddar for this recipe, but since old cheddar tends to be pricey, you can use a milder variety if you wish

3 to 5 Strips of Bacon - finely chopped, cooked until the pieces are crisp and brown around the edges, and drained on paper towels - reserve the grease in the pan for later use

At least 4 Heaping Tablespoons of Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon of Mustard - Dijon or Grainy Mustard would be best, but you could use yellow mustard instead if you wish

1/2 a Teaspoon of Paprika

About a tablespoon of the bacon grease - Optional - it gives that extra richness and baconey flavor, but it isn't necessary.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Equipment

Measuring Spoons

1 Large Pot

1 Slotted spoon

1 Metal Strainer

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Large Metal Bowl or Heatproof mixing bowl

1 Regular Bowl

1 Regular Spoon

1 Cutting Board

1 Knife

1 Box Grater

1 Peeler

Plastic wrap

Prep and cool the potatoes the same way you would for the first potato salad recipe.

In a regular bowl, mix the mayo, dijon mustard, bacon grease (if using), salt, pepper, and paprika.

Add your eggs, and half the dressing and mix to coat.

Dump in the chopped cooked bacon, green onions, cheddar cheese, celery, and the remaining dressing and give it a quick stir.

You can now put it in the fridge for a day or two, or serve immediately.

Serves at least 6 as a side dish, or 3 very hungry people as a main course.

Stay tuned for next time, when I'll be tackling Greek Salad!

-Samantha R. Gold

 Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.






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