Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cooking Potato Salad as the Hubby Plays with Fire

My favorite summer food is potato salad and even though I have several recipes, more often than not I find myself craving my original recipe for the old fashioned potato salad of my youth. I’ve tweaked it to my own tastes, but the basics are still the same – potatoes, hard boiled eggs, mayo and mustard.

The first time I made potato salad was at my Grandma Palmer’s house, so it was under her tutelage that I learned the family recipe. Ever indulgent, she let me play with the recipe and add cucumbers from my grandfather’s garden and green olives because I love them. I’ve been adding them ever since. The saltiness of the olives goes great with the bland potatoes. I love a lot of crunchy things in my potato salad so I also add a colorful pepper (yellow or orange) or sliced radishes.

I’ve never been organized enough to make potato salad early in the day so it can chill before serving, but my kitchen wizard hubby suggested a quick and easy way to perfectly chill the potatoes. I cut up the potatoes before cooking them, and when they are tender I drain them and gently pour them on a cookie sheet and give it a few shakes until they are a single layer. Then I put them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and voila, perfectly chilled potatoes. (Just don’t leave them in there too long – they freeze pretty quickly and potatoes get mealy when frozen).

It was just me and the boys for dinner tonight, so we just had hamburgers on the grill. The kitchen wizard decided he wanted a bacon burger but didn’t want to take the time to fry it in a pan. So the experiment of the week was, "Let's try to cook bacon on the grill." Don’t try this at home, folks!

It started off fine. He laid the slices across the grill and they cooked pretty darn fast. Once he flipped them the fat collected in pockets that then flared up in a dramatic fashion. It was a bacon flambé and the finished product was a little dark - as in black. Sometimes shortcuts when cooking work and sometimes they almost burn down your deck.

The recipe:

Old Fashioned Potato Salad

2 ½ - 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup yellow or orange pepper
1/2 cup green olives, cut in half
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste

Put potatoes and eggs in large pot, cover with water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and turn down to medium high. After ten minutes take out the eggs and cool them in cold water. Potatoes should take about another five minutes. Drain potatoes and spread them single layer on a cookie sheet and put the sheet in freezer for 10 – 15 minutes to chill potatoes.

While potatoes are cooking chop the cucumber, pepper and onions and place in a bowl. Slice olives in half and add them. Peel and chop up the eggs and add them. When potatoes are cold, add them to the bowl.

In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise, Dijon, milk, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk together. Add about half of the sauce to the potato mixture and very gently toss with a large spoon. Continue to add more sauce until it is the texture you want.

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