Tricolor Potato Salad

Multicolor Potato Salad

In the interest of the hot summer days ahead, I’m continuing my testing of easy classic salads. The simplicity of some of the salad recipes in “The Art of Good Cooking” is refreshing. The base of this potato salad recipe, for example, has just five ingredients (not including the dressing). To change it up a little, I added kalamata olives and used tricolor baby potatoes. You’ll find these bite size potatoes sold in mesh bags which usually include purple “Peruvian” potatoes (who’s skin, I found, falls off easily after cooking), red potatoes, and white potatoes- similar to fingerlings. You could, of course, use all one type of potato, but what’s the fun in that?

Potato salad has somewhat of a lengthy history that’s intertwined with the long and overwhelming history of the potato, of course. As a basic salad that includes potatoes and some kind of dressing, many different countries (mostly European) have their own versions. Though I haven’t been able to find any official documentation, it seems German potato salad was one of the first (or the first) potato salads to make it to the US. Interestingly, my grandmother mentions in her notes for this recipe that German potato salad normally contains mayo, but that this vinaigrette version was preferred by her family. I always thought the opposite: that German potato salad never had mayo and always had some type of vinaigrette. After a little research, it appears that different parts of Germany have different “traditional” German potato salads. Some are creamier and often contain mayo, while others do not.

I included two sets of instructions below: the original and modified. Since I often don’t want the extra heat from the oven in the summertime (and prefer a quicker version), I like to simply cook the potatoes and dress them. The original recipe requires cooking and then baking them. Both methods are delicious. Since potatoes hold up well to seasoning and salt, kalamata olives are a welcome contrast in both texture and flavor. Pack this one away for your next party in the park and happy picnicking.


2 lbs tricolor baby creamer potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil (2/3 cups for the baking version)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
1 small green pepper, minced
1/3 cup parsley
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

Modified Quick Cooking Version
Wash potatoes; place in a deep pot. Cover potatoes with water and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool until they can be easily handled. Peel the purple potatoes. Cut all potatoes in quarters.

Whisk together oil and vinegar until emulsified. Add vinaigrette to warm potatoes and refrigerate until cold.

Add olives, minced onion, green pepper, and chopped parsley.

Original Version
Wash potatoes; place in a deep pot. Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain, cool, and refrigerate until they are cold. Peel the purple potatoes. Slice all potatoes and place in an oven-proof dish.

Add chicken stock, olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour, or until the potatoes are hot and liquid is simmering. Remove potatoes from oven and allow them to stand until lukewarm.

Add olives, minced onion, green pepper, and chopped parsley. Chill and serve.

Serves 6

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking” by Paula Peck.


Stuffed Squid

Crab Stuffed Squid

I know what your thinking about this photo. What are those awkward tubular things with pale centers speckled with green. Are they giant croquettes? No…it’s a seafood delight: whole squid stuffed with a crab shrimp combination smothered in a tomato wine sauce. If you’re a seafood lover than this dish is for you.

I made very few changes to this Italian based dish from “The Art of Good Cooking.” Primarily, I just eliminated the beef gravy because it’s often too time consuming to make and using a canned gravy with fresh seafood seems like a waste. As with all seafood, the two most important elements for success are: 1. To use the freshest seafood 2. Not to over cook any of it, especially the squid. If you manage these two tasks, you’ll end up with a soft buttery mix of lump crab meat and tender shrimp surrounded by light fresh squid with just the slightest bite. Save this one for a special occasion.


6 medium-size squid
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked shrimp
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked crabmeat
salt and pepper
1/2 cup scallions
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup red wine
Saute chopped onion and half of the minced garlic in half melted butter. When vegetables are soft, add chopped parsley, tarragon, shrimp, and crabmeat. Toss well together. Season well with salt and pepper.

Stuff this filling firmly into the cleaned squid tubes. Heat remaining butter in saucepan. Add chopped scallions and remaining garlic. Saute till tender. Add tomato puree and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Lower heat. Add stuffed squid and simmer until squid are tender, about  20-30 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 6.


Classic Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

As one of those American picnic salad staples like egg salad, coleslaw, or macaroni salad, chicken salad is often considered a little boring with its mayo base. Though happily sandwiched between lettuce and two slices if bread, a good chicken salad can easily stand on its own. This recipe comes from what I consider a good base recipe in “The Art of Good Cooking.” It benefits from small additions and changes to make it homier, interesting, and less institutional.

As recommended in the original recipe, I made the mayo base from scratch which gives it a much richer flavor. Red grapes provide the sweet contrast between each bite and the sliced almonds fulfill the craving for a nutty crunch. I also added celery and scallions for a crisp freshness. Simple and perfect for a spring picnic or on-the-go lunch, this is a mayo based chicken salad that doesn’t go out of style.

Note: If using store bought mayo, add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. The acidity helps balance the fat and richness of the mayo and chicken.


8 chicken breast halves, skin on bone in
chicken stock
1 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
1 cup diced boiled ham (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup homemade mayonnaise

Place chicken breasts in a low, wide saucepan. Add enough well seasoned stock just to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer breasts for just 8 minutes. Remove chicken from stock.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off skin and pull the meat away from the bones. Cut the chicken into 3/4 inch chunks. Place them in a bowl.

Add ham (if using), celery, almonds, grapes, tarragon, scallions, parsley (if using), salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise and toss lightly. Taste and correct seasoning.

Serves 8

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking”


Green Beans Catalan

Green Beans Catalan

I haven’t been overly impressed with the vegetables section of “The Art of Good Cooking.” In my opinion, this is the most dated part of the book where it truly shows it’s age. Too much olive oil or butter, often unappetizing soft veggies, more frozen veggies than fresh, and what we would normally try to make clean and simple today, is loaded down with fatty ingredients like mayo or bacon fat. I completely understand why this section is the way it is. No one in the 1960’s was eating kale salads or “super greens.” Like most of her cooking, which was often influenced by friend and mentor, James Beard, my grandmother’s recipes were based on classic French techniques. This is not to say that this section can’t be modernized and updated like the others. It’s just a little more challenging.

This is a very simple recipe from the vegetables section. Per my research on Catalan cuisine, my changes and additions may make it less authentic, as this seems to historically refer to the northeast region of Spain and it’s Mediterranean style cooking (such as the olives and capers I left out). However, it’s quick and the reduced olive oil (1/4 cup to 2 tablespoons) as well as the addition of goat cheese and tomatoes, makes it colorful and healthy.


4 cups green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, peeled (optional) and chopped
1 small green pepper, minced
1/2 cup snap peas
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup black olives (optional)
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
crumbled goat cheese
tomato, quartered

Place green beans in heavy saucepan. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, green pepper, snap peas, and wine. Season, cover tightly, and cook over medium heat until green beans are tender and very little liquid is left in the pan. Check seasoning and add parsley.

Serve with your choice of garnish: goat cheese, tomato quarters, olives, and/or capers.

Serves 6.

A few technical notes about this recipe:
Peeling the tomato before chopping is optional but if you don’t, you may end up with pieces of the skin throughout the dish (as you might see in some of these photos). I personally  don’t mind this but it can be avoided by quickly blanching the tomatoes in boiling water and peeling the skin off.
The snap peas may cook faster than the green beans. To avoid, add them after the green bean mixture has been cooking a few minutes on medium.


Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

I love this soup. With spring ending in the next month or so, I know it’s a little late to be writing about hot soups (cold soups coming soon!) but this unseasonable cold snap we’ve had here in NYC, inspired me. The original title of this recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” was just “Cabbage Soup,” which doesn’t sound very appealing. After brief review of the ingredients, I realized that with just a few tweaks, this could easily be a deconstructed stuffed cabbage soup. Change the beef brisket to ground beef (cheaper and easier), add rice, and this is one delicious soup. If you don’t like cabbage, you will still like this soup and you’ll be surprised at how unrecognizable the cabbage is. However, if you don’t like sauerkraut, you may not have as much luck. It adds a subtle pickled tang in the background that I personally love. Maybe I’m biased because at one point in my life I liked stuffed cabbage so much I bought the Lean Cuisine version regularly (sad but true). However, as a quick one pot weeknight meal that’s fairly healthy, this has become one of my favorite soups.


1.5 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 1/2 quarts stock or water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 a cabbage (about 2.5 lbs), coarsely chopped, core removed
1/2 cup sauerkraut washed in cold water and squeezed dry
1/2 cup white conventional rice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
sour cream

Heat a deep soup pot over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces, about 3-4 minutes. Remove meat from heat and set aside.

Drain all but about a tablespoon of fat from the soup pot. Heat over medium and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are almost translucent. Add shredded cabbage, sauerkraut, some salt, and pepper. Saute another 3-4 minutes to soften. Add stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook until rice is just barely softened. If using cornstarch, stir a half cup liquid from soup pot into cornstarch. Then stir mixture back into soup. Add lemon juice.

Serve with dollops of sour cream.

Serves 12 to 14.



1 5 6 7 8 9