Monday, July 28, 2008

You Say Potato

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There was a brief time in my childhood when I lived in an up and coming town called Burtonsville. It was a pleasant, brand new town in Maryland and straddled the line between two counties. It was the first time we lived in a brand new house (not an apartment!) with a yard (not a concrete square!) and best of all, it had the one thing I told my parents I wanted--stairs inside the house (not concrete steps outside leading to an apartment!). Even better, the neighborhood had exercise paths running around a man-made lake where my grandparents would take leisurely summer walks eating sunflower seeds while I roller skated at full speed around them.

But the most memorable thing in Burtonsville for me wasn't even a part of the housing development--it was the supermarket. It may have something to do with the fact that I was only three feet tall at the time, but back then, this particular supermarket truly lived up to its name. From the produce section, to the meat market, and even the pharmacy, it was huge. But nothing impressed myself or my parents more than the deli counter. Having dealt for years with the measly Food Town in downtown Silver Spring, neither of us was accustomed to the amazing spread of prepared foods and meats we now had to chose from.

I'll never forget the first time we tried to buy potato salad in Burtonsville for a barbecue and hit a bump in the road. The man behind the counter stared blankly at my mother after she placed her order for a pint of the salad. "Which one?" he asked, eager to get his gloved hand into one of the clumpy potato masses before him. My mom looked at me quizzically as I shrugged my five year-old shoulders. Unaware that there was more than one kind of potato salad, we had no choice but to get one of each to avoid embarrassment. It was after that encounter that we became potato salad aficionados. No longer did we think that potato salad was just a mix of potatoes, crunchy things and sweet mayonnaise. Now we knew that it could be dressed with everything from a vinaigrette to cheese, and even hot sauce.

These memories all came to mind as I pondered what to do with some leftover new potatoes. It was too hot to spend much time over the stove and then eat something piping hot, so a lukewarm potato salad with a tall glass of iced tea sounded like a good option. I still had some leftover blue cheese from the beet dish I'd made earlier in the week, so I decided to make this more than a traditional potato salad. In addition to the blue cheese dressing I threw in some crispy bacon and a handful of chopped scallions for crunch and flavor. It all came together in about the time it took the potatoes to boil (15 minutes) and was actually a perfect light dinner (and would no doubt be a great barbecue side).

Blue Cheese Potato Salad With Crispy Bacon

12-15 new potatoes, scrubbed, skin on
4 slices cooked crispy bacon, roughly chopped
2 scallions, finely sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt (Greek or strained yogurt is best)
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp malt vinegar (sherry or cider vinegar would work here, too)

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, 10-15 minutes depending on how small they are.

2. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt, blue cheese, Dijon mustard, malt vinegar and pepper (to taste) in a large bowl and set aside.

3. When potatoes are done and cool to the touch, cut them into quarters and toss with blue cheese dressing, bacon and scallions. Enjoy!


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