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Monday, March 14, 2011

Settling In

Moving is never pretty.  

From the initial panic of trying to pack ones belongings (...all of them) into tidying up the excruciating last bits in the old place (...which seems to take forever) to the stress of what seems to be never ending unpacking in the new place. 

That said.  It's really quite nice once you get settled in a bit.  You learn your new route to work.  You start to re-organize what you originally, initially, frantically unpacked.  You do a couple loads of laundry.

And, take full notice of the fact that you now have a yard. 

Granted, a slightly disheveled and neglected yard, but nonetheless...a yard!

But this is not just any yard, people!  This yard is a kind of 'secret garden', as my friend, Jane says.

Early efforts begin simply.  Raking and uncover what's there.  And then, lo and behold... raised beds! 

The elderly couple who owned the house before must have been avid gardeners.  Turning the beds closest to the house, Steve finds potatoes!  Small, beautiful golden butterball potatoes. 

The timing is perfect.  I have been making batches of potato salad lately...thrilled with a new recipe I found in a Tyler Florence book.  He describes this as one of the best potato salads he's ever had and I must agree.  Turns out, it's a recipe from someone he knows...a certain "Marge Clark of Marin County, California".  And now...I have potatoes from my own Marin backyard.

I feel like I need to be on the lookout for Marge.  I wish I knew what she looked like because if I bumped into her some time at the grocery store, I'd hug her.  I'd tell her that I adore her potato salad and I'm never going to make any other.  And, I'd say living in Marin is lovely. 

Right now though, I need to get out there and do some more weeding.

*           *          *          *

NOTE:  This potato salad is glorious for breakfast the next morning... maybe it's the hard-boiled eggs.  (I am weird that way...when there's something like this in the fridge, waiting for me, I can't wait to wake up in the morning.)

The secret ingredient here is dill pickle juice.  Don't ask why...just go with it. 
I've dialed back the amount of mayo a little bit (down from 1 cup) because I like it a little less saucy...but go ahead and add in an additional tablespoon or two if the salad feels dry.

And, if you live in parts of the country that still require a parka and snow boots...I beg you...throw some burgers or brats on the broiler and make this salad.  Pretend that summer has started.  With one bite of this potato salad, you'll be convinced it has.

The Best Potato Salad Ever (and I do mean that)
(adapted from Tyler's Ultimate)
serves 4 to 6

2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes (or dig your own!)
2 large eggs
Kosher salt

1/2 bunch scallions, sliced (both white and green parts)
2 tablespoons drained capers
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with
  1/4 cup of pickle juice
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Put the potatoes and eggs into a big saucepan of cold, salted water.  (Keep the skin on the potatoes so they don't get waterlogged -- you'll peel them later.)
Bring to a simmer.
After 12 minutes remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and put into a small bowl of ice water to cool.
Remove the eggs after a couple minutes, peel and set aside.

Continue cooking the potatoes until a knife goes in without resistance.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool.

Reserve some scallion greens and capers for garnish.

Stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickles with juice, onion, remaining scallions and capers, parsley and lemon juice in a big bowl -- large enough to hold the potatoes too.

Peel the cooled eggs and grate into the bowl with the dressing.  (I used my box grater which worked out well, just watch those knuckles.)

Peel the potatoes with a paring knife.  (Tyler says to stick a fork in each potato but I hold them in my hand...they're a little hot, so be careful.)

Break up the potatoes into rough chunks with a fork, toss them into the bowl to coat with the dressing

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the reserved scallions and capers.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.