Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Cookout--Potato Salad

My potato salads tend to be good, not great. But here's one, adapted from, that is out-of-this-world.

Potato Salad

2 lb equal-size Yukon Gold potatoes, still in their jackets
1/4 cup cider vinegar plus 1 teaspoon salt OR:
[1/4 cup dill pickle juice ]
3/4 cup chopped celery (chop small)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions) OR:
[1/4 cup finely chopped chives ]
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (Italian if you can get it)
3 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup canola mayonnaise (preferably Hains)
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seafood Seasoning, or celery salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Scrub potatoes. Using a 3-quart saucepan, cover the potatoes by 2 inches with cold water to which you have added 2 tsp of salt. Simmer uncovered until just tender, 15 to 25 minutes. They are done when you can pierce them to the middle with the tip of a paring knife. Drain in a colander and cool slightly.

2. Whisk together vinegar and salt in a large bowl until salt is dissolved. (Or just place the pickle juice a bowl.)

3. When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 3/4-inch pieces, adding to vinegar mixture as you cut them, and toss gently with a rubber spatula so each piece ends up touching the vinegar.

4. Let cool to room temperature, then add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Chill.

Serves 8, unless somebody goes for seconds.

The Soy-free Kitchen Bakes Pie

Memorial Day calls for cookouts and all-American food; my husband likes pie. So, mixed berry pie is on the menu. (Red, white, and blue.)

Pie crust is not as hard as some things to make soy-free. You can't use Crisco, a mixture of soy and cottonseed oils, and my pie-dough experiments with Spectrum, a palm-oil shortening haven't turned out so well. Nor have all-butter crusts. However, since our grocery stores have begun stocking more Hispanic foods, lard is easy to come by now, and lard makes great pie crust.

But, you say, pie crust is hard, and I never make it! I know. Lots of times I don't want to make it, either. Pillsbury comes to the rescue. Their refrigerated pie crust works just fine, and is made with lard, not shortening. I seem to remember that Cook's Illustrated magazine taste-tested pie dough mixes and ready-made crusts, and, while they didn't l-o-v-e the end results, they thought the Pillsbury refrigerated was the best of the bunch. (The frozen pie shell bottoms are not as good.)

Cherry-Berry Pie

Pastry for a 2-crust pie, homemade or commercial
1 egg, optional
1 1-lb (or close, like 14 1/2 oz.) can of tart cherries, reserving 1/3 cup juice
1 1-lb (or close, like 14 1/2 oz) bag of frozen mixed berries
2 full and 1 scant tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice (use balsamic vinegar if you don't have any lemons)
1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. Line a 9" pie plate with dough. Brush the dough with a glaze made from 1 egg mixed with 1 Tbs water, if desired. This seals the dough so it doesn't get as soggy later on, but it is not required. Put the pie plate in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

3. In a large bowl, combine the cherries, unthawed frozen berries, tapioca, salt, sugar, lemon juice and extract. Stir, then let sit for about 5 minutes. Fill the pie plate with the fruit.

4. The top crust can be whole, have decorative holes cut into it with small cookie cutters, or be a lattice. Wet the bottom crust rim with water and then seal the top crust down by pressing the times of a fork all the way around. Trim the edges by running a paring knife all the way around the pie plate. You can also egg-glaze the top crust, if you want.

5. Bake in the lower third of the preheated oven 40 minutes. Check it after 20 minutes or so to see if you need to put foil over the edges so it doesn't get too brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves 8.

In my opinion, this pie is best at room temperature, not warm, and tastes awesome with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Shakshuka--my new favorite Friday-night supper

I went to Israel last year and am still fascinated by Israeli food. It's kind of a Middle-East fusion thing, with dishes from all over. I bought Joan Nathan's The Foods of Israel Today and decided to try some recipes for things I hadn't already had in Israel. The first one we tried was Shakshuka. I loved her recipe, but of course had to tinker with it (based on some other online versions.) So here's mine:

Shakshuka Recipe
Yield: 3 large servings

2 medium onions, chopped
1 (each) 28-ounce can tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, roughly diced
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 - 6 large eggs

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan (12" if you have it) and heat it. Cook the onions until shiny and translucent but not brown. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, paprika, and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, over low heat until thick, maybe 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Make indentations in the tomatoes and break the eggs into them. Break the yolks. Cover and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes (maybe longer, depends on how hard you like your eggs), until the eggs are set. Serve with pita bread.

note: I also think this would be good with fresh parsley sprinkled over the whole thing.

Soy-free considerations: