Wednesday, June 29, 2011

German Potato Salad with Bacon



Tastes Great Served Hot (or Just Warm)

This German Potato Salad, with its rich bacon and vinegar flavor, is delicious winter or summer.  It pairs as nicely with burgers or barbeque as it does with knockwurst or schnitzel.

If you like bacon (who doesn’t?) and potato salad (don’t we all?), you owe it to yourself to give this recipe a try.

Monday, June 27, 2011

American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad



Just Like Our Moms Made

For many of us in the United States, classic mayonnaise potato salad is the ultimate summer comfort food.  We associate it with picnics, fried chicken, and barbeque.  Hot dogs and hamburgers, too.  Good times, good memories.

For a lot of us, though, the potato salad of memory has been replaced by deli fare.  Either we (think) we don’t have the time to make the real thing or don’t know how.

If you’d like to recapture the taste of homemade, this post is for you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hard-Boiled Eggs


The Secret to Quick, Easy, and Fool-Proof Preparation

Eggs are almost the perfect food. Inexpensive, high in protein, chockfull of nutrients.

And until recently many of us have been avoiding them because of their cholesterol risk. Fortunately, scientists now are largely in agreement that the dangers eggs represent to our health have been overstated (I have more information about this, plus links to scientific sources, in my Red Pepper and Onion Frittata post). Indeed, many doctors now urge us to include eggs in our diets.

So now that we can eat eggs again, many of us enjoy them frequently. Most days, I have a hard-boiled egg and fruit for breakfast. And what could be easier than boiling eggs?

Well, as many cooks discover, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Discolored yolks and hard-to-peel shells are two frequent problems. But there’s a secret to overcoming those problems.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

French Potato Salad



The Mother of All Potato Salads

One nice thing about potato salad is that it’s, well . . . a salad.  And the classic French version is a very basic salad indeed.

Think of the classic green salad.  The formula is uncomplicated and endlessly adaptable:  Take lettuce, toss with oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper.  Perhaps add shallots or other aromatics for flavoring (fresh herbs go well).  That’s it.

Now, replace the lettuce with warm sliced potatoes and you have — French Potato Salad.  Simple, easy, and quick to prepare.

What’s more, once you know how to make this classic recipe, you’ll have the foundation for every other type of potato salad out there (mayonnaise, mustard, whatever).  The basic technique is always the same — you just add layers of flavoring and additional ingredients.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Potato Salad Basics

American Potato Salad made with cooked cubed potatoes, mayonnaise, onion, and celery

Kicking Off Potato Salad Fortnight

We’re well into picnic season, and what’s better for a picnic than potato salad? During the next two weeks — or fortnight, as our British cousins might say — Kitchen Riffs will dedicate itself to discussing potatoes and their salads. We’ll have posts on French Potato Salad, American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad, and German Potato Salad.

But before we get to any of these recipes, in this post we’ll first discuss some basic facts and techniques that are common to all potato salads.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scallops on Artichoke Scoops


This Elegant Dish Is Easy To Prepare Ahead — And Mustard Vinaigrette Makes It Sing

Although artichokes are available in our supermarkets year round, their peak season is spring. In St. Louis, where I live, there are still plenty of prime specimens available in the local markets. So before the season slips away, why not feature artichokes one more time in a special meal?

This dish makes a delicious main course, which is how we usually serve it at the Kitchen Riffs household. It also pairs well with an assertive meat course. So if a 2-inch thick grilled porterhouse or other festive meat is on the menu for your weekend Father’s Day feast, this would be a terrific appetizer.

And once you taste it, this elegant-but-simple dish will become a regular at your house.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poached Scallops



A Basic “How To” That You Can Use in Many Recipes

Poaching is one of the best ways to cook scallops, shrimp, and many types of lean fish.  The gentle, even heat provided by simmering can cook seafood in a few minutes.  And because the seafood is surrounded by liquid, there’s less danger that it will dry out.

But it’s not often that you poach scallops or fish and eat them plain.  Usually, poached seafood is served with sauce, and sometimes the poaching liquid becomes the basis of that sauce.  Indeed, there is a whole school of French sauces that start with reducing the liquid used to poach seafood.  (In the future, we’ll be working our way through some of those famous recipes.)

Knowing how to poach seafood is essential for many recipes.  Today, we focus specifically on how to achieve a perfectly poached scallop.  We’ll need poached scallops for a dish we’ll be discussing later this week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Classic Daiquiri Cocktail

Daiquiri Cocktail in classic cocktail glass


JFK and Hemingway Didn’t Do Girly Drinks

When you say “daiquiri,” most people think of a frozen blender drink — frequently strawberry-flavored, and with the reputation of being a “girly” cocktail.  Hence, a drink that real men eschew (if we’re allowed to say “eschew” and “real men” in the same sentence).

Yet the daiquiri was a favorite drink of both President John F. Kennedy and writer Ernest Hemingway.  Nobody would have dared question the macho credentials of either man (try it with Hemingway, and he’d probably have dragged you into the boxing ring).

Those guys were drinking the classic daiquiri, which is nothing like the frou-frou concoction commonly served today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing on plate with fork


This Easy Classic Takes Your Game to 11

This year, summer has been slow to arrive in many parts of the United States.  We’ve had some cool spring temperatures — prime growing weather for spinach.  Though hotter days are coming in now, there’s still time to fix a few more spinach salads before the season passes by.

If you haven’t paired spinach with hot bacon dressing for a while, now would be a great time.

And if you’ve never tried this combo, prepare to take your taste buds to 11.