Since I wrote my first Zuni post last June, I thought it would be a good time to raffle off a copy of the book. It's a wonderful book, well worth having in your library to cook from, to read cover-to-cover for pleasure, and/or to keep on your nightstand to peruse at will.
So if your interested, just post a comment saying you want to be included, and on Friday, July tenth, at 7:00 a.m. EST, I'll choose one of you at random and post the winner. The winner can email me his or her mailing address, and I'll send the book right away.
This wasn't going to be my next post. But it is summer - even here in New York, where it was s-l-o-w to arrive - and July Fourth is rapidly approaching.
July Fourth always makes me think about........potato salad.
The first July Fourth after I met Carolyn, I had been cooking enthusiastically on a daily basis for ten years. So when Carolyn suggested we have a July Fourth picnic at her beautiful house in Buckhead, with a large back porch overlooking a lush and very private garden, it seemed like the best way to spend the day.
When I asked Carolyn what I could make, she casually said, "Oh, you can make potato salad."
Fine, no problem was my first thought. It didn't even occur to me that - for some inexplicable reason - I had never made potato salad before. I pulled out a cookbook - probably Joy or Fanny Farmer - found a recipe that sounded good, and made it. According to the recipe I boiled the potatoes and then peeled them while they were too hot to handle. It was a HUGE pain; I hated making it. But the salad was delicious, and everyone ate it with gusto. I didn't even mind the little smile (was it a smirk?) Carolyn gave me when I handed her the bowl and said, "Thanks. Next time you can make potato salad."
However, as good as it was, I never made it again. Anytime I was called on to bring something like it to a party or picnic or pot luck, I made The Store Ziti Salad. And if I felt like I needed a potato salad, I left the skins on the potatoes and made it European-style with oil and vinegar, hold the mayo. (Ina Garten has a good one in The Barefoot Contessa called French Potato Salad.)
When I made Four Minute Sauce Gribiche from Zuni, I wasn't thinking about potatoes. I was thinking about asparagus. It was spring; asparagus were everywhere - even in my own garden. So it seemed like a natural recipe to choose at that particular time.
I made the sauce, and served it on top of cold asparagus. It was good. Then I took a tip from Molly and used it to dress the leftover steamed potatoes before I put them in the refrigerator. Voila; the next day I had the best, THE BEST, potato salad I had ever eaten. I knew I had a keeper.
So I made it again just for potatoes, and I was right. They were fabulous - an instant addition to my repertoire.
This time I didn't have chervil so I did without it, and I used tarragon in place of the dill I used the first time.
I liked it, but then I am a big fan of licorice, so tarragon was a good choice for me. The dill was delicious too, so mess around with all your favorite herbs to see what combination you like best and consider what herbs go nicely with the other dishes on your menu.
I served the potato salad with a crisp rotisseried chicken and a mango pineapple salsa I loosely adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook. (In that incarnation it was made with papaya, but I'll take mango over papaya any day of the week.)
There are a few requirements for this potato salad.
(1) Steam the potatoes rather than boiling them. This way they won't be waterlogged. Checking with a cake tester will let you know when they have reached the right consistency.
(2) This is important. Let the potatoes cool before adding the Sauce Gribiche so they won't absorb too much of the sauce and so they won't thin the sauce out. You want the sauce to maintain its mayonnaise-like consistency.
(3) Chill the dish completely before serving, preferably overnight.
(4) Taste right before serving to make sure it has enough salt.
If you're having a picnic on July Fourth, call me. I'll bring the potato salad.