Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Coolest Potato Salad Is Hot

Yes, the coolest potato salad at a Labor Day picnic this weekend is hot. Hot? Yes. Perhaps you've heard of Hot German Potato Salad? Right. Me too, but I haven't had one that I liked. Either too sweet or too tangy, this type of hot potato salad has left me cold.

Recently my husband pleaded for a German Potato Salad. Well, I am a sucker for delivering whatever this sweet man asks for, so I did my research. Without too much time on the internet, I discovered that potato salad is a German invention and that there is a cold version (like what we're used to in the U.S.) and a hot version. Today, I'd like to share with you my version of the hot version!

Because I like a balance of flavors in my forkful of food, and because I love contrasting textures, I developed my riff on a theme of the traditional German Hot Potato Salad. I call it German-Style Hot Potato Salad, to be sure that no one thinks of my version as an authentic recipe. My recipe has a few vegetables thrown in at the end for crunch and freshness. I hope you like it as much and Dewey and I do.

I present to you, Despina's German-Style Hot Potato Salad. If you are so inclined, this weekend you may want to try it out at your Labor Day picnic, cookout or pool party. Let me know how it goes.

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

German-Style Hot Potato Salad
4 lbs potatoes (Yukon Gold, Red Bliss or new potatoes)* cut into ¼” thick slices
1 T salt
12 oz bacon cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup shaved (or thinly sliced) red onion
1 cup shaved (or thinly sliced) celery
Dressing Ingredients:
½ cup (about) of the bacon fat rendered in pre-cooking the bacon
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
6 T sugar
2 T Dijon mustard
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Wash and scrub the potatoes, then slice into ¼” thick slices. Yes, you will leave the skin on.
In a boiling pot of water, stir in the salt and follow with the sliced potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until they are soft but still firm enough to hold their shape. Drain.
While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon pieces to a crispy golden brown and remove to paper towels to drain excess fat.
Slice the onion and celery, chop the garlic and parsley.
Into the hot bacon fat, whisk in the sugar and mustard and allow to cook for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the vinegar and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the garlic. Continue to cook until dressing has thickened (about 2-3 minutes).
Put the potatoes in a large bowl, and toss gently with bacon pieces, parsley, onion and celery. Adjust with additional salt and pepper if needed. Pour the hot dressing over everything and toss lightly to distribute the dressing evenly.

*You may use any potatoes, but the ones I prefer are waxier and less starchy, making them better to use in a potato salad. The starchy ones break down more easily and release too much starch, making the salad a bit “gloppy.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Don't Hate (the) Avocado Toast

When you hear, see or read this on a menu or food blog...AVOCADO TOAST...does this word come to mind?

Synonyms: overused, overdone, overworked, worn out, vapid, stale, tired...etc.

Foodies, food people, Instagrammers, it's okay. Calm down. Don't hate the avocado toast. It's just another bit of mashed up goodness on top of a piece of crunchified (a.k.a. toasted) bread. It's easy to assemble. It's a vehicle for your healthy eating creativity. It's the same as peanut butter or goat cheese or--gulp--cream cheese on a bagel, for heaven's sake. Take a deep breath and read on...unless you've fainted.

According to the Washington Post, avocado toast became "a thing" in the 1990s when an Australian chef added it to his restaurant menu. Then, apparently, a New York City restaurant added it to their menu around 2006. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow added to the growing interest in Avocado Toast by including it in her cookbook, which was published in 2013. Instagram currently has 491,817 posts associated with the #avocadotoast hashtag.

With the rise of posting your creative food endeavors on Instagram, so has the popularity of avocado toast creativity. It's not such a bad thing, is it? Especially when it's encouraging us to eat healthy foods.

Wikipedia tells us that this mashing of avocado and spreading onto toast has been around in the Bay area since least. See there, nothing new. It's like a potato. Brilliantly delicious in all its simplicity as a boiled potato, but so good in so many other ways. Potatoes easily morph into the tasty goodness of your current desires. So do avocados.

Scroll down for recipes or click here for a printable view for avocado toast or do my favorite thing: Get a perfectly ripened avocado, cut it down the middle, discard the pit, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grab a spoon. Eat it right out of its own shell.

  1. Fear & Loathing of Avocado Toast (No Recipe Recipes)
  2. Guacamole Avocado Toast
    Make your favorite guacamole recipe or try mine (recipe here). Toast bread. Rub with smashed garlic clove. Liberally spread guacamole on toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with crushed tortilla chips for a contrasting crunch against that creamy goodness.
    Breakfast Avocado Toast
    Boiled eggs, sliced or eggs fried with medium-set yolk
    Taco seasoning
    Avocado Mash:
    1 avocado
    1 small tomato, diced,
    1 tsp fresh lime juice
    1/3 cup queso fresco
    Mash one avocado together with crumbled queso fresco, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and lime juice. Toast bread and butter lightly. Spread *mashed avocado mixture on toast. Top with egg slices or fried egg and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Adjust quantities of ingredients to suit your taste.
    Salad Bar Avocado Toast
    Mash one avocado with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Top with all or any combination of the following:
    Tomato slices
    crumbled feta cheese
    toasted sesame seeds
    your favorite sprouts
    baby greens mix or baby lettuce salad mix
    shredded carrots
    shaved mushrooms
    shaved cucumber
    dill, basil, cilantro
    thinly sliced red onion
    extra-virgin olive oil
    aged balsamic vinegar
    Bread for Toast
    I like a seeded bread or pumpernickel. They have substance and add complexity to the flavor profile of the finished product. Sourdough, rye or even a crispy slice of French bread. Experiment to come up with your favorite.