German & American Potato Salad

There is little more that says American summer than a yellow, mayonaissey potato salad.  Besides meat, it was the bit of the various holiday cookouts that I despised the most.  I’ve never been a big fan of mustard, which both my parents love, and there are hundreds of other tasty ways to eat potatoes.

When I spent time in Germany, I came to try potato salad again.  It just didn’t LOOK like mustard.  I loved it.  Then, years later, my husband tried potato salad on a cruise ship.  He ate massive amounts — I simply hoped that he would OD on it and never really want it again.  No such luck.  One lovely day, a cookout of our own took place, and I made both German and American potato salads because I was eager to please. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the American variety best, and my dear husband liked the German one more.

German potato salad


Ingredients:
2 lbs. new or baby potatoes
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water (plus enough for boiling)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 slices bacon/turkey bacon/veggie bacon (depending on whether it needs to be veggie for you or not. I use turkey bacon.)
salt and pepper

Hardware:
small frying pan
knives (or knife, singular, if you want to wash between uses)
large pot for boiling potatoes
colander
fork
cutting board
wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
medium casserole dish
plastic wrap (if your casserole dish does not have a lid)
stovetop
refrigerator

Directions:
Cut potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and boil in salted water until just tender. Stick a fork into them to check — you want the fork to enter easily but the potatoes to cling to the tines rather than crumble off.  Drain through the colander and allow to sit to cool to room temperature.

Dice the onion.  Fry the bacon in the frying pan until it reaches your desired crispiness.  Veggie and turkey bacon doesn’t really crisp up the same way pork bacon does, but both are considerably healthier options.  Remove the bacon from the pan, and add the onion, butter, and 1/4 cup butter to the pan.  Stir quickly with the wooden spoon until the onions begin to soften — only two minutes or so.  Stir in the bouillon cubes until completely dissolved; the consistency will resemble a thin paste. Try to work out as many bouillon lumps at this stage as they will be harder to mush later.  Remove from the heat, stir a bit more, and set aside to cool.  Chop bacon into small pieces.

Place cooled potatoes into the casserole dish.  Pour vinegar and oil over the potatoes. Spoon the onion mixture into a thin layer on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle bacon bits over the top.  DO NOT mix together yet.  Cover with lid or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Let sit for at least two hours.  It’s best if you can leave it overnight. Just before serving, mix the entire potato salad together.  Serve cold.

American potato salad


Ingredients:
2 lbs. new or baby potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 eggs
1 cup each chopped onions and celery, if desired
2 slices bacon/turkey bacon/veggie bacon (depending on whether it needs to be veggie for you or not. I use turkey bacon.)
salt

Hardware:
small frying pan
knives (or knife, singular, if you want to wash between uses)
large pot for boiling potatoes
colander
fork
whisk
medium mixing bowl
cutting board
wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
medium casserole dish
plastic wrap (if your casserole dish does not have a lid)
stovetop
refrigerator

Directions:
Cut potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and boil in salted water until just tender. Carefully add the eggs to the boiling water for the last few minutes to hard boil.  Stick a fork into the potatoes to check — you want the fork to enter easily but the potatoes to cling to the tines rather than crumble off.  Drain through the colander and allow to sit to cool to room temperature.

Fry the bacon in the frying pan until it reaches your desired crispiness. Veggie and turkey bacon doesn’t really crisp up the same way pork bacon does, but both are considerably healthier options.  Remove from pan, allow to cool to room temperature, and chop into small pieces.

In the mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, the dry mustard, garlic powder, basil, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, and sugar. Whisk together until combined.  Ensure the dry mustard does not have any lumps as it will be unpleasant to bite into a mustard lump in the finished product.  Add the remaining mayonnaise and the yellow mustard and whisk together.  Add in the onion and celery, if using.

Chop eggs into small pieces.  Add potatoes, egg, and bacon to the sauce mixture. Pour into the casserole dish and cover with lid or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours.  Serve cold.

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Pecan-Crusted Spinach Artichoke Dip

This recipe is one that I get requests for very often. It was always between this dip and my cucumber sandwiches for my honours society events. (I learned I like cucumbers when it was requested that I make hundreds of the little finger sandwiches. I spent about 7 hours preparing them, which is utterly ridiculous, but, as I’ve said before, I’m not so quick at the chopping.) The spinach and artichoke dip was also my main contribution to each years’ Thanksgiving dinner; I’m not sure how they got on without it. It’s not a difficult recipe, but the ingredients can run a bit expensive, so it’s certainly a special occasion type of dish. Of course, you can decide what a special occasion is to you. I have typically served the dip with water crackers, but it is also delicious on sliced French bread. I also use a food processor for the artichoke hearts and the onion because I prefer smaller pieces to integrate into the dip. I’m not a fan of finding big, incongruous chunks, but some people like it.

Ingredients:
18 ounces frozen creamed spinach, defrosted (you can also cream your own spinach, but I like the shortcut)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup crushed herb stuffing
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I hold four pretty pecan halves back for decor)

Hardware:
large spoon
oven
large mixing bowl
food processor for chopping onion and artichoke hearts
2 quart glass baking dish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Add cream cheese and mayonnaise together in the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Stir in the creamed spinach, artichoke hearts, parmesan, onion, and cayenne pepper.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and level the top as much as possible. Pour the stuffing and pecan onto the mixture. Try to cover the entire dish with an even coating of the pecan/stuffing.

Place dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is heated through and the topping has browned. My tip for decoration is to remove the dish about 5 minutes before it is done and add the four reserved pecan halves in the center, then return the dish for the remainder of the cooking time. Rarely do I put any extra effort into making a “pretty” dish, but this is simple enough.

Serve the dip in the baking dish if possible.

Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables

As strange as it may sound, I had never heard the term “root vegetable” used in any sort of dish until I moved to the UK. I knew certain foods were root vegetables, but I’d always heard them referred to by their individual names when it came to things I actually ate. Recently, I’ve fallen for root vegetables, especially in dishes where I can mix them together. This dish is a relatively simple one, once you take the time to prepare each of the veggies. I’m particularly slow at chopping and peeling (call it “careful” and “meticulous”), which is the main reason I never truly thought about becoming a chef. I’d have to move directly to the point in my career where I would have someone to do my chopping for me and presented as a mise en place; I never want to be the person responsible for someone else’s.

Ingredients:
Cooking spray (or oil for greasing)
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 rutabega, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cups whole baby carrots
2 medium red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
5 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

Hardware:
oven
large roasting pan (or shallow baking sheet)

metal spoon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Spray to grease the roasting pan.

Add potatoes, rutabega, carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil to the pan and stir together. Place into the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven. Pour the vegetable broth over the vegetables and stir to coat. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes (or until the vegetables are all fork-tender).