I don’t know about you, but I crave (and plan!) food based on the weather. The cooler weather and hunkering down in March and early April likely had many of us cooking comfort foods such as pasta and rice dishes, soups and stews, and ALL the breads.
But now in the Bay Area, and all over California actually, it’s unseasonably warm for the end of April. And what a welcome treat it is! The ongoing shelter in place order has us looking for more places to hang out other than inside our homes. Mother nature is begging us to take our work and free time outside!
This warm weather has our family cleaning off the outdoor grill and putting it to good use for some delicious, simple meals. Burgers, lemony chicken thighs, and fresh veggies are a welcome change. This weekend we are enjoying the aromas of the smoker going all day – sweet and smoky pork ribs are on the Sunday menu. And what better side to ribs than potato salad and cornbread!
It seems most people are strong pro-potato salad or not. Potato salads range from being bland and heavily dressed to being too sweet with chalky, flavorless potatoes. My mom made a great potato salad growing up that was always a hit- full of flavorful red skinned potatoes, crispy bacon and perfect bites of hard boiled egg.
When I spent time as an extern at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park, CA – one of my prep jobs was to make the potato salad that ended up being served with the Chef’s ridiculously good fried chicken. This entailed smoking the baby potatoes and preparing the dressing. After being given a short list of a few key ingredients – homemade aioli, mustards, blanched celery, etc., my job was to “make it good.” Yes, that was the extent of the instructions. After awhile I became confident at making this on my own, knowing just how much this vs. that to put in. The ingredient that always surprised me was the balance of acidity to the creaminess. Just a dash more vinegar or lemon juice would transform the dish, “making it good.”
Here’s to warm weather, staying safe and keeping hope that we can all safely gather for summer barbecues when we can reasonably do so.
Potato salad is the epitome of summer picnics and barbeques. This one is a family favorite and easily adaptable- we often add diced hard boiled egg and crumbled bacon. The key to flavorful potato salad is to properly salt the water!
- 3 lbs baby dutch potatoes, halved or quartered in large any thin skinned potato will work
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsps dijon mustard
- 2 tbsps whole grain mustard
- 2 tbsps sweet pickle relish
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar white wine vinegar works as well
- 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp dried dill weed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup diced celery
- 3 green onions, sliced
Place potatoes and 2 tbsp of kosher salt in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook potatoes until easily pierced with a knife, about 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes into a colander and place colander over the empty pot. Cover with a kitchen towel and let steam for 15-20 minutes.
While the potatoes are steaming, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, both mustards, relish, vinegar, worcestershire, dill, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Add red onion, celery and green onion and combine.
Add steamed potatoes and gently fold until the mixture coats the potatoes. Taste for seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to blend flavors. Taste before serving, adjust seasonings as desired.