Crisp’s Vegan-Friendly Potato Salad

OK, so the headline for the recipe doesn’t actually say that it’s vegan-friendly, but rest assured, this is a totally, 100% no animal-byproducts way of making potato salad. And after being raised on my grandmother’s mayonnaise-based (albeit delicious) potato salad, this was a wonderful, refreshing surprise.

If you have Marie Claire’s Crisp cookbook, you can find the recipe on page 146 under Light Meals. I don’t consider potato salad a meal, myself, but perhaps with all the awesome green on this recipe, I might start.

I’ve made a few alterations and not followed the measurements, as usual, so you’ll find my format a bit different than what’s in the book.

You’ll need:

Potatoes (I like the small red ones)

Olive oil

Green onions

Italian parsley

Dill

Lemon (size depends on how much you’re going to make)

Dried mustard*

Balsamic vinegar*

Salt and pepper

 

*optional items that I added

 

So one of the greatest contributions the book’s version of the recipe has made to my cooking repertoire is the potato preparation method. Absolutely do not change it, or your potatoes will suffer!

Anyway . . .

-Chop the potatoes up in relatively large chunks, like you’d have to cut them in halves or thirds to take a bite.

-Add the potatoes to a pot of cold, salted water then bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, remove it from the heat source and put a lid on top. Leave them for about 30 minutes, and you will have perfect potato salad consistency for your spuds. Thank you, Michele Cranston!

-Chop up all the herbs and onions and add them to your serving bowl. Ratio wise, I did about 3:2:1 with green onions being the largest portion and the parsley being the smallest. I absolutely love dill, so I wanted it to be a prominent flavor.

-How much herbs/onions do you need? What’s great about this salad is having almost as much greens as potatoes, so I would make more than you think you need. I like my potatoes being totally greened up.

-Zest the lemon and add it in there, too. Now, the book says to put wet ingredients in now, but I actually put my dry spices in with the herbs and onions and tossed it. I like how it turned out – very evenly dispersed. So toss in your dried mustard, black pepper and salt with the zest now.

-Add the dried (or at least, not sopping wet!) potatoes into the mix and roll them around in it. Now add enough olive oil to fully coat everything. Then add as much lemon juice as you want to compliment the dill. Then finally, just a touch of balsamic vinegar drizzled over top pulls out the flavor.

-Toss it all up and stick it in the fridge. It’ll cool the potatoes and allow the flavors to mingle.

 

A quick explanation of the additions and changes:

The mustard isn’t part of the recipe, but for me, it’s so reminiscent of my grandmother’s potato salad which was mayo and mustard-based. This potato salad has a very different flavor, but the mustard makes it for me. It’s totally optional.

I tried the recipe first without any vinegar, and it’s really fresh and delicious. So by no means do you need the vinegar To me, that touch of balsamic vinegar gives a slight tang to an otherwise well-blended mingling of flavors. It’s just a bit of a kick. If you can wait and refrigerate it overnight, you’ll need it even less.

I don’t add the wet ingredients until last because they’re something you can’t just take away. By adding the potatoes and making the salad complete minus the wet, you can add more or less based on your tastes. I’m sure you could have some delicious tasting herb-infused olive oil by doing it the other way, but I’m more concerned with how my potato salad tastes.

 

Anyway, give it a try, and I hope you like it. The cool thing about it is that it’s such a simple recipe that you can add and substitute ingredients to change the flavor, especially seasonally. I’m definitely going to try some mint and basil in there during the summer because I think it will be great with the lemon and maybe some lime!

 

PS – I have a quickly taken picture of the potato salad that I’ll try and upload when my bluetooth is working.

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What’s Cookin’?

. . . Everything.

You could say I’ve rediscovered my love of cooking this past week, so I haven’t had much in the way of new restaurant experiences. As much as I love dining out, it is so rewarding to sit down to a satisfying and delicious meal I made myself.

I wanted to post specifically about my awesome eggplant experience because I’ve never actually cooked eggplant before – no, not even eggplant parmesan. If you couldn’t tell by that blurry camera phone image, I successfully tackled the eggplant parm.

Although I’m not a fan of recipes, I do browse them to see that I’m doing everything right, and I was surprised to find that most eggplant parm recipes are fried. Frying eggplant just seems so . . . harsh. Why wouldn’t you bake this deliciously delicate vegetable?!

Of course I baked it.

If you wanna try baking it, here’s a few tips from my own personal experience:

A lot of fried eggplant recipes seem to call for thin slices of eggplant, but if you’re baking it, you can be a bit more generous with thickness. It’s going to be slow-cooking in there, so the whole piece will get nice and tender.

Use enough egg! I tried to make two eggplant “patties” with one egg yolk alone, and it didn’t quite cover the eggplant; as a result, it was really tough getting the crumbs to stick. Make sure you’ve got enough stick for your stuff. And add a bit of white while you’re add it – it definitely didn’t hurt mine!

Flip it often. Why? You want to get both sides toasted, of course, but it also gives you a chance to reapply some bread crumbs (and maybe even some extra egg if necessary!) to thicken up your coating. Or, if you like it thin, flip it anyway so it cooks evenly.

 

I personally baked this particular eggplant similar to how I prepare baked ziti. I cooked the breadcrumb-coated eggplant for several minutes on each side all by itself to get the coating stuck on their good. Then I topped it with some sauce, basil leaves (optional of course, but I love basil) and big slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Fresh mozzarella is definitely the way to go. You get a wonderful indicator of when the meal is ready as the cheese melts down and around your food. It also pairs so well with the basil – combined with the tomato sauce, it’s like a Caprese salad in your mouth. If you buy the mozzarella balls in water, they’ll last for a while, too!

 

I’m sure you can find the cooking temp and time somewhere on the internet, but if you’re curious, I cooked this (with the sauce and cheese) for about 45 minutes at 325. It was perfectly tender and all the flavors had smushed into something delicious. The green bean salad (cold, blanched green beans in an orange juice/balsamic/mint dressing) was so starkly different from the warm, gooey eggplant parmesan, adding crunchy texture and citrusy flavors – I highly recommend throwing a cold salad of sorts to get that delicious combination.

 

Enough about my eggplant. Time to cook.

 

Green Goddess Dressing (and revisions)

Ina Garten’s green goddess dressing is by far my favorite salad dressing, and I like to use it on everything. However, the first time I tried making it, I followed the directions online exactly, and it was too salty and overall just bad. So here’s the recipe along with a few tips for making it yourself.

  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (equal parts green and white)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
Put all the ingredients except the sour cream into the blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream last and blend again. Refrigerate until you use it.
My first problem was the salt. I actually added a bit less than suggested and all I could taste was salt, even with the sour cream in it. Instead, blend the ingredients without the salt, sprinkling it in a bit at a time. Blend, taste, add and repeat until it tastes right. Remember that the anchovy paste can add both saltiness and flavor.
Another problem was that I couldn’t taste the scallions at first, so I recommend starting with the 1:1 basil/scallion ratio, but be prepared to add some more scallions for a bit of extra flavor.
The lemon juice flavor can also be a bit overpowering so it’s another ingredient that I start with about half the recommended amount, then add more to taste once all the ingredients (minus the sour cream) have been added. I personally go with about the juice of half of one large lemon.
Although some of the advice has to do with personal taste, I definitely recommend going light on the salt for anyone. Two 2 tsp is just way too much.
The original recipe also calls to pair the dressing with a simple bibb lettuce and tomato salad, which I’m sure tastes delicious, but this dressing pairs really well with salads that have some sort of fruit. My favorite is pairing apricots and blueberries together, but strawberries, raspberries and blackberries all taste great, too. A bit of goat cheese and crushed up nuts of any kind give the salad a unique texture. And a sprinkle of green onions/scallions brings out the flavor in the dressing, too.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy and I hope you find the perfect ingredients for you.

A Toast to Honey Wheat French Toast

I love breakfast food. Especially French toast. But I usually feel like there’s something missing, regardless of how many spices I add to my batter. (Vanilla, nutmeg almond extract and cinnamon, please!) But after making some French toast of my own with whatever bread I had lying around, I realized what it is was that bothered me.

The bread.

Most restaurants use white bread, sourdough toast or, if they’re trying to make a healthy option, a simple whole wheat bread. I just happened to have some honey wheat bread in the house – the type with a bit of grains and stuff – and I think it had just the right texture for satisfying, filling French toast.

And here’s the real surprise.

I got the bread from Target. It’s Archer Farms honey wheat bread. We actually got it because my boyfriend absolutely hates bread that has grain, nuts, etc. in it. As it turns out, there’s just the right amount of nuts and grains in the bread to make perfect French toast.

If you choose to try some nutty honey wheat bread to compliment your favorite French toast recipe, I recommend trying honey instead of maple syrup. It perfectly compliments the nuttiness and it’s a milder sweet than syrup.

Snapper Chowder non-Recipe

I had some really tasty salmon chowder (well, my boyfriend did . . . and I stole some) at a place called Pomodoro’s last weekend, and I got the idea to use the red snapper in my fridge to make something similar.

I called this a non-recipe because I don’t really go by recipes, I just kind of add ingredients until they taste right. There’s no measurements, just the ingredients and suggestions of the order in which to cook things. I started with this:

  • butter
  • flour
  • condensed milk
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional – if you like cheese taste; or, switch out cheeses like swiss for a mild cheese taste, etc)
  • red snapper, cut into cubes
  • chopped yukon gold potatoes
  • diced green onions
  • diced carrots
  • diced sweet peppers
  • minced garlic
  • dried mustard
  • minced dill
  • white pepper
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • salt
  • vegetable broth
  • lemon pepper seasoning (for the fish)
  • lemon (about half of one)
I started out poaching the red snapper, seasoning the water with some lemon pepper just to give it some extra flavor. Once it was done, I set it aside.
Using a large pot (that I sprayed with Pam!), melt about 1/3 – 1/4 stick of butter on low heat. Slowly add flour, constantly stirring (I use a fork, it keeps everything separated better) to make the base of the broth. You can really add however much you want depending on the desired thickness.
Next, add the vegetable broth and continue stirring, being careful not to let the flour clump. Raise the temperature of the broth, gradually bringing it to a boil. I began adding the spices during this time (dried mustard, salt, white pepper, paprika, garlic powder) to get a base started for the broth.
Add the condensed milk, stirring. The soup should be pretty thin at this point. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon – and taste it to make sure it’s not overpowering (or underwhelming!)
Sprinkle in a bit of cheese (optional) in to give it some added thickness and a hint of cheese taste.
I added my potatoes at this point because they take the longest to cook. I prefer cooking them straight in the soup, but you could always cook them separately and add later. If you chop your carrots into chunkier pieces, add them now. I like small bits of carrots so I added them later.
Lower the temperature and continue to stir until the bubbles have gone away and it’s cooled down a bit. By this point, it should have thickened up a bit. If it hasn’t, you can add more cheese or more flour*, depending on your preference.
Once it’s stopped boiling, add the remaining vegetables (green onions, sweet peppers and carrots if they’re small) as well as the garlic. While it’s at this temperature, you can taste it to see what seasonings you need a bit more of. I like a lot of white pepper and a fair amount of paprika in mine.
Let it simmer for a bit before raising the temperature one last time. Add the dill (not too much since it’s such a strong flavor,) then bring it to a boil.
If you want any more cheese in your soup, add it while it’s boiling so it melts properly and mixes with the soup broth.
Lower the temperature and once it’s below a boil you can add the snapper. I let it sit for another 15-20 minutes at least to let the snapper soak up the flavor of the soup, and for all the flavors to come together.
I know it’s not an exact recipe, but if you like to experiment, this should be a great start. I just wanted to share it because it came out really delicious. Enjoy! 🙂
**Note: I’ve never actually seen a recipe that says to simply add more flour after you’ve begun cooking, but I’ve done it a thousand times and it always works. I don’t know if this is the “correct” way of doing it, but as long as you sprinkle it in a bit at a time and stir! stir! stir! it works.