The Gold Standard of Potato Salads

realpotatoI grew up on my mother’s potato salad. I figured that is how it was made.

When I was an adult, I was invited to friend’s homes for backyard picnics.

I took my spoonful of potato salad, sat down, and dug in.

I screamed, I spit, I howled, “What is this shit?”

Well,  okay, I exaggerate. I thought all those things in my mind.

What is this swill of potatoes, an obligatory egg, a rib of celery, vinegar and mayo with a dash of salt and pepper?

What it is not is potato salad.

Over the years, I’ve sophisticated Mother’s recipe a very little bit. This IS potato salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Six to eight potatoes (Yukon preferred), peeled, diced, and cooked in boiling salted water until just done.
  • An equal amount of eggs hard-boiled and peeled, chopped roughly
  • 2 ribs of celery chopped
  • 5 scallions, chopped, with plenty of the green part too
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 green, red or yellow sweet pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1/2 c diced dill pickle
  • 1/3 c sliced pimentoed olives

Put all together in a bowl (except the bacon)

DRESSING:

  • 2/3 c of mayonnaise (home-made or Hellman’s preferred)
  • 2 TBSP ballpark mustard or dijon if you are really uppity.
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c juice from the pickle or olive jar
  • 1/2 TBSP freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 c chives for garnish.

Whisk the dressing together, adjust for your taste, and pour over the potato mixture and fold in carefully. Mixture should be more dry than sloppy. This allows for leftovers that aren’t swimming in watery dressing. Before serving sprinkle with the bacon and chives.

Get ready to write out the recipe for all the requests. If you don’t get requests, you are hanging with the wrong people!

Serves at least 8.

Asian Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

This recipe comes direct and untouched from Elizabeth Handlon at JustaPinch.

I fixed this today for dinner and it turned out wonderfully. We really enjoyed it, and this will be part of my rotating menu forthwith.

I made a weird version of “dirty rice” to accompany it, which I’ll briefly describe. This would also work nicely as an appetizer finger food during game season.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 chicken breast, deboned, and cut into about 8 pieces
  • Enough bacon to wrap all the pieces in. (I used 1/2 lb)
  • BBQ sauce (she recommends Uncle Baby Ray’s sweet honey)
  • soy sauce
  • mustard powder
  • ginger powder
  • garlic powder
  • sesame seed oil
  • sugar to sweeten if you need it
  • (she suggests considering pineapple juice as a possibility as well)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wrap the pieces of chicken with the bacon and saute until bacon is crisp. You can bake if you like.
  2. Mix the rest of ingredients. She does this by feel. I can say I used about 1/2 BBQ sauce, about 1/8 c soy, a tsp mustard, ginger, garlic, about 6 shakes of the sesame oil. And I didn’t use the sugar. My BBQ is sweet.
  3. Once the bacon is crispy, place in a small baking dish, best if they are kinda cramped which keeps the sauce on top.
  4. Cover with sauce, and bake for 20-30 min. at 350°.

As to the rice:

I simply used the same saute pan with the bacon drippings, sautéed one cup rice until a bit browned and toasty. Then I added 2 cups beef broth (cuz I had some open! chicken would be fine), covered and reduced until nearly absorbed. I then added a cup of green peas and a cup of corn, and heated through. Salt and Pepper to taste. We used the rice as a bed for the chicken.

Very nice meal.

Serves: 3 as to the chicken.

Brandy’s Best Ribs

A couple of weeks ago, one of our beloved dogs died. Her name was Brandy and she loved food! A week ago, I made these ribs and we remembered how she would dance for the bones!

In honor of her, I named them  Brandy’s Best Ribs.

I know a zillion ways to make ribs. I have stood for hours at the grill basting and turning. This is fast, easy, and frankly, the best I’ve ever had. They are ALWAYS fall off the bone.

I think I got this technique from Alton Brown from the Food Channel. It is the same basic idea as used for my pot roast.

Hope you will try it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slab ribs, any kind you prefer
  • salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle seasoning
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP liquid smoke
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place ribs on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  2. Sprinkle with the spices and herbs, pressing in a bit with your fingers making sure it is well covered on both sides.
  3. Cover loosely with some Saran wrap and let sit for a couple of hours (refrigerate if you desire)
  4. Remove Saran wrap and sprinkle with the Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke.
  5. Wrap very very tightly.
  6. Place in 425° oven for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Remove and open VERY CAREFULLY.
  8. Slather both sides with BBQ sauce and return to oven, with the setting on broil.
  9. Remove after about 10 minutes or when edges of the meat are just starting to char.
  10. ENJOY! (Note: the technique is more important that the spices or sauce you use. Use the portions and types you like!)

Not Quite Your Wise Guy Spaghetti Sauce

Like a number of my recipes, my spaghetti sauce has been a work in progress. A few years ago, I finally got it “just right”.

Bottled sauce is awful (with the possible exception of Rao’s which sells in CT for over 6 bucks a jar). Making your own takes very little time.

Many years ago, when living in Detroit, I used to get my nails done. Those acrylic things, remember? The shop was owned by Sicilians (and yes I am pretty darn sure they were in the mob), and they were the nicest ladies (all family) in the world.

They taught me how to make sauce. Which is to say, how their Sicilian family had made sauce. You know, grandma and her grandma before.

This is that sauce with a few additions that suit my taste a bit more. I’ll point out my additions, so if you want the “real” stuff, well have at it.

Serve with meatballs, salad and good bread.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 28oz good quality Italian tomato puree, whole, crushed or diced. Or use fresh romas, peeled and seeded to make about three cups
  • Good quality EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) about 1/4 cup or a bit less
  • 1/2 of a medium onion (Sicilians generally don’t add onions because it sweetens the sauce. I like my sauce sweeter)
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp hot pepper flakes
  • salt (pinch) or more depending on whether tomatoes are salted
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano or 2 tbsp fresh (my addition)
  • 2/3 c good drinkable red wine (also my addition)
  • 2/3 c good quality parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (optional if needed) (also my addition)
  • 2 tbsp parsley (fresh if you can)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Warm the olive oil in a saute pan while finely dicing the onion. Saute slowly to soften and until translucent.
  2. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and then tomatoes. Add dried oregano, (fresh should be added with parmesan.)
  3. Using a microplane (absolutely indispensable these days), grade the garlic into the tomatoes.
  4. Simmer slowly, checking every thirty minutes until most of the water has evaporated and it’s fairly thick.
  5. Add the wine, and continue simmering until it reaches the consistency you like. About 2 hours in total usually about right.
  6. Add the cheese, fresh oregano and parsley and sugar if using. Add meatballs if using.  Turn off the heat, cover and let set until dinner time. Hopefully a couple of hours at least.
  7. Reheat on low until hot.

Serves 4

 

Your Taco Hit My Won Ton!

 My husband and I ran into these at an Applebee’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  We thought they were amazing.

I figured that I could duplicate them reasonably well, and the recipe that follows is that attempt.

I’ve made them a good three times, and made them again today. Figured it was time to get it down so that I wouldn’t forget.

Also, the picture is from the Internet and doesn’t exactly represent mine, since I don’t get nice triangles. I’ll explain in the directions.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs of pork meat suitable for shredding. I use boneless pork ribs. Frankly beef could also be used.
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2/3-1 c favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/8 c either rice wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 package of wonton wrappers. (freeze remaining-they thaw beautifully)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Salt and pepper the meat and place in heavy-duty pot with lid. Add the stock and simmer on low for about two hours or until the meat shreds easily. Remove from pot and cool, shred and add 2/3 to 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce. We go for hotter sauces. Rewarm in low oven or in microwave before taking to the table.
  2. Make coleslaw. Shred the cabbage quite small. The slaw dressing is approximate. I like my coleslaw fairly dry. I use more than usual sugar here, since the meat is tangy and hot. This works as a good foil to that.
  3. Heat about 1-1/2 inches of canola oil in a small heavy-duty sauce pan. No need for the deep fryer here. When it is about 325° or so (sizzles when water droplets added), take each won ton and lay in the oil carefully. Take a spoon to push down as it rises, making a nice indention in the won ton to hold the food. Keep in the oil until lightly brown and crispy. Usually less than a minute.
  4. Drain each on paper towelling, until all are done.
  5. Place all three items on table and spoon meat in first and then the coleslaw. Die and go to heaven.

Serves: 4 as main course, probably at least 10 as an appetizer. I probably had about 15 wontons in all.

 

 

The Ultimate Pizza Crust

Okay, there are plenty of folks who will eat any old pizza that is thrown at them. I am not one of them. I find most pizza just horrid. I especially hate those pizzas that are made to look big and luscious by thick pieces of bready crust.

We always ended up eating the toppings and the dogs got the crust.

So I started making my own. I started making very think crusts, which were okay. But I had a dream of a pizza that I used to get in Detroit, Hamtramck actually. I can’t remember the name of the shop, but they made this incredible crust, that was crunchy, holey, and was just amazing.

I’ve never found it anywhere else. After watching “Cooks” cooking show or reading their cooking magazine, learned this technique that is based I think on a foccacia recipe from Cooks Magazine. Anyway I’ve adapted it a bit, but basically they taught me how to make what approximates the best pizza dough on earth.

Beware: this takes some time, but not a lot of attention.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 2 c flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive or canola oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar and honey, whisk until combined. (You can do this in the mixing bowl.
  2. (I would find this recipe impossible to do by hand. A mixer with a dough hook and appropriate power is required).
  3. Start by adding about 1 1/2 c of the flour and run mixer on fairly low. Add flour in small increments until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl but still pools at the bottom when mixer is shut off.  It will take all of two, a bit less or more, depending on your altitude and humidity. This is an extremely wet dough, which is why it can’t be done by hand.
  4. When dough is the right consistency, dislodge dough hook and prop against the side, and cover the bowl with Saran wrap and leave for 20 minutes.
  5. Rehook the dough hook, add the salt,  and now knead on medium for 5 minutes.
  6. Prepare a receiving bowl by coating with oil generously.
  7. When the kneading is done, get a rubber spatula and coat with oil (to prevent the dough from sticking) and turn it into the oiled bowl. Now oil hands and slip the dough over so it is all covered with oil. Cover with Saran wrap and towels and place in a warm place  and leave for 1 hour.
  8. Oil your spatula and with quarter turns, turn the dough over on itself 4 times, with hands or spatula turn the entire piece over. Rewrap and leave in warm place for 30 minutes.
  9. Repeat step 8.
  10. Oil a jelly roll pan generously, and gently slide out dough into the center. With oiled hands, gently with palms and finger tips work the dough out to the edges. If it resists severely, leave it for 10 minutes and then try again. Once it has been worked out to the edges, cover with oiled Saran wrap and then a towel and leave in warm place for 30 minutes.
  11. Use your favorite pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Try not to bust any bubbles in the dough.
  12. I use a pizza stone which I preheat in a 500° for 30 minutes. Place the pizza on the stone and cook for 12-15 minutes. When the edges start to brown and cheese is clearly melted and bubbly, remove.
  13. With a metal spatula, slide under one end of the pizza and slide out onto a wooden board. Let it cool slightly before cutting.

Serves: 4 as a main dish, 8 single pieces. Beware, suddenly everyone will want a corner piece!

Do My Biddin’ Pot Roast

You know the drill, put the roast in the roaster, add some stock, cook until ? and then add carrots, onions and potatoes at the right time ? and hope everything is done to the right level at the same time.

Well this is a no fail, always turns out right, recipe. And once your significant other has tried it once, you will get you way in anything with just a promise to make it again. Nothing hard about this at all.

Are you ready to be the queen of your domain?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 lb pot roast, your favorite cut
  • salt and pepper
  • a stalk of celery and one carrot  and 1 small onion
  •  1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 red wine
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 TBSP canola oil
  • 5TBSP butter divided 3 and 2
  • 3TBSP flour
  • 2 c beef stock (unsalted preferred)
  • 1/4 c cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Salt and pepper the roast and brown in a large saute pan. Brown the edges by holding the meat upright with tongs.
  2. Remove roast to a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Add the celery, carrot and onion, roughly cut up. Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and wine. Fold up the foil and seal the roast very tightly. Place in a roasting pan and set in preheated 425° oven. Roast for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  3. About 1 hour before roast is done, peel onion and cut into six wedges. Clean the carrots and cut so they are approximately same size as onion pieces. Place in plastic bag with 1 TBSP oil (canola). When it is 45 before dinner, place on parchment paper on a jelly roll pan and pour out the veggies, spreading around so they aren’t touching. Move the roast aside and slide in the veggies to roast. Turn once at the half way point.
  4. One half hour before dinner, peel and place cut up potatoes in water and cook until tender. Drain.
  5. While potatoes are boiling, take saute pan that you browned the roast in. Add three TBSP of butter and melt, adding 3 TBSP of flour. Whisk together and cook for a minute. Add the beef stock. Bring to  a slow boil until thick. Turn down to very low.
  6. Fifteen minutes before dinner at the 1 hour 45 minute time, remove roast and open CAREFULLY. Remove meat to a platter and cover with another piece of foil to rest. Carefully pour off the juices from the foil into the gravy already prepared. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Mash potatoes, add 2 TBSP butter and the cream, blend.
  8. Remove the veggies from the oven.
  9. Serve it all up and go to heaven!

This should serve 4 easily.

Total Time: approximately 2 hours