Friday, 3 June 2011
Square One. And Frozen Grapes.
Hello my legions of followers! Or just Mom and Dad, or whatever! Welcome to my blog, to my blog about food.
The goals of this blog are twofold: one, to share information about the kind of food that I cook, and perhaps some of the places I eat, in the hopes that that information might be useful and/or helpful to someone somewhere out there. I want this place to be a resource for ideas for people that like to cook already or for those that would like to cook more. My other goal is really just creating a place for me to practice becoming a food writer, with some semblance of public exposure (public exposure = Mom and Dad, see above re legions).
And I can't think of a better, more special, fancier way of inaugurating this l'il blog than to tell you about a potato salad I made yesterday. How's that for aiming for the stars, hmmm? Honestly though, it was crazy delicious. I hit on a recipe from a wicked website called Smitten Kitchen (written by a sassy, thoughtful, extremely knowledgeable food blogger in NYC). It was a potato salad of the vinaigrette variety, not of the heavy, mayo-laden, gloopy salad in a giant tub variety. It called for new garlic (garlic that's picked while it still looks like a fatter green onion, before the end fattens into a bulb and becomes the garlic you see around), and I had some! Also asparagus, snap peas, and potatoes, obviously (which oddly, I had all of - this was clearly a sign).
Here's the thing though – recipes are made for adapting. I had some of the key ingredients, but I also had some other stuff that wasn't in the recipe that I thought might be a good addition (things like feta, and anchovy paste in the dressing, and later, for round two of the salad, I added some shrimp and avocado). And if you didn't have a key ingredient, like say all you had lying around was some regular old garlic, or snow peas not snap peas, no matter – just use what you have. All this to say that I started with a basic premise and then worked with what I had. And I made lots, hence 'round two' for dinner.
Oh! And it's hot now, yes? Buy a bag of grapes. Place them in the freezer. Remove when frozen. Eat. I've been eating frozen grapes every summer since I could eat solid foods. Can't imagine summer without 'em.
Here's the recipe for the salad:
Spring Potato Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen: www.smittenkitchen.com
about 2 pounds of new potatoes (white or red) - if they're bigger, chop them into chunks
1 pound of asparagus, cut into one-inch lengths (a bunch)
a handful of snap peas
1 shoot of new garlic, sliced very finely (or use regular garlic, or even just a green onion)
1 big sour pickle, diced - this added a whole lot of deliciousness, don't leave it out if you're into pickles
pea shoots (or watercress, or sprouts would be nice too)
a medium-sized chunk of feta, crumbled
about ten medium-sized cooked shrimp (optional)
half an avocado, diced (optional)
for the dressing:
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg's the best)
1 tbsp of smooth dijon
1 tsp of anchovy paste
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
Place chunked potatoes in a pot with salted cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, and let 'em go for around 10 to 15 minutes (test with a sharp knife for doneness - you want them to be cooked, but not overcooked, meaning the potato should yield easily to the knife but not be all smushy). Remove the potatoes to a bowl and throw in the asparagus lengths and the snap peas. Cook them for about two minutes. Seriously, that's it. Take them out and run cold water over them so they stop cooking immediately. You could also prepare an ice bath - a bowl with cold water and ice cubes, and plunge the veggies in there after their two minute boil. For some reason that always seems like a lot of work to me, so I just run super cold water to shock them into stopping with the cooking.
Add the crumbled feta, diced pickle, new garlic, and pea shoots into another big bowl. Once the potatoes have cooled a little (but it's better when they're still a bit warm), add them to the bowl, along with the asparagus and snap peas. In a small empty jar (like an old mustard jar, or one that had capers in it) add all the dressing ingredients and give it a good shake. Pour it over the whole shooting match in the bowl, and toss thoroughly.
If you want to make this salad even heartier, add the cooked shrimp and avocado along with the other veggies and toss them all up together. This is an awesome salad for a barbecue, a picnic, or just any old meal. Leftovers also make a great bag-lunch for work the next day.
Note: I will be posting photos of dishes to accompany the posts imminently. I need to get a camera, basically, as I'm told you need one of those to take photos.