What do you do when someone comes to you with a very simple, specific dinner request, and you busy yourself making it, and then realize you have never made this food before and might not have any idea how to? You make it up as you go along.
Yes, here I am, almost a third of the way into my 100-recipe challenge, seemingly at least moderately competent in the kitchen, and what was I flummoxed by? Potato salad. That's what Anik wanted, just plain potato salad, nothing fancy. I washed and quartered the potatoes, and started them boiling, and I chopped up some celery with my newly-sharpened knives. I put two eggs up to boil too. And then I realized that I had no idea what else was in plain potato salad.
I knew the type - my dad's favourite in the summer with his burgers, my mom bought huge tubs of it. But I don't think I ever saw her make it. And when I moved away from the farm, I avoided potatoes (eaten two, and sometimes three times a day at home) at all costs. Salad, I loved. Potato salad, not so much.
So what to do? The potatoes were boiled and cooling now, and I was going to have to put something together. I read something recently that said the secret to good cooking was tasting as you go, adding and adjusting your ingredients based on sampling as you cook. OK, I know what potato salad should taste like. I will taste as I go.
I started out with 6 or 7 medium-sized yellow potatoes. I didn't peel them, because I am lazy, and always cut myself when I peel potatoes. I scrubbed them, quartered them, boiled them and then let them cool. While the potatoes boiled, I also boiled two eggs, and finely chopped 3 stalks of celery. I contemplated red onions, but he has complained that raw onions hurt his stomach, so I passed on those. (I would suggest you try adding them - I think they'd be nice.) I also considered some minced dill pickles, but opened the jar and found only one pickle, which I accidentally ate. Oops. Maybe I should move to the dressing.
What goes in potato salad dressing? Mayonnaise? I dunno. I started with one cup of sour cream, and added a quarter cup of light mayonnaise, and a spoonful of Keen's hot mustard. Maybe too much hot mustard. At this point, I felt this dish was incredibly boring, and decided that if I didn't have pickles, I could at least have dill. I added a few heaping spoonfuls of dried dill, and some crispy fried onion bits. My apologies to those of you reading this who know how to cook. I was lost. I chopped up the eggs, and added them to the potatoes and celery, and then mixed through my odd dressing creation. Not bad. I added a generous amount of salt and pepper, mourned the lack of pickles again, and called it done. Oh, and as an afterthought, I sprinkled some mustard seed over the bowls.
It wasn't half-bad, you know. But can someone tell me what is really in potato salad?