August 29, 2006
A Different Potato Salad

A few weeks ago, I was craving a potato salad but didn't want anything with mayo, or sour cream, or yogurt. I had been playing around with vinegars so hit upon a slightly decadent but pretty straightforward rendition that you could call a "salad". However, I originally served it as a side but recently made it for our annual Santa Cruz Shakespeare picnic outing.

(Oh and hi everyone, it has been ages since Meriko added me to Gastronome and I finally made some time to post...this is my first.)

Potato Salad with vinaigrette

6-7 smallish white potatoes
duck fat (olive oil is ok substitute)
italian parsley
1/8 lb lardon/bacon (optional)

1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tsp red wine vinegar
1/3-1/2 cup peanut oil (olive oil can be used but peanut oil is a bit lighter)

extra red wine vinegar

1. Wash/scrub potatoes. Don't peel them.
2. Slice potatoes into 3/8'-1/2" rounds
3. Heat duck fat in large round saute pan over medium heat. Add enough to coat entire surface of pan. In fact, you'll probably want to err on the side of "more".
4. Cook the potatoes until they are light-to-medium brown on each side. The potatoes will tend to stick so push them around to keep the fat underneath them (this is why you want to err on the side of more fat than less). I tend to try and keep the potatoes a tiny bit on the under-done side so they don't mush up...
5. As the potatoes are done, dab them briefly on paper towels then transfer them to a wire rack so that they can cool.

Once the potaoes are done, you can make the dressing.
1. Put the mustard and two vinegars into a bowl and whisk them. Add a pinch of salt and a little pepper to season. Whisk again until well blended.
2. Pour all of the peanut oil into the bowl with the vinegar and whisk like mad until it emusifies. Add a bit more oil if you need to to get it to emulsify.

1. Finely chop a medium handful of parsley leaves.
2. Cut chives so that you have about 2 Tbsp (or more) of small rounds.
3. Chop the lardon/bacon and fry crisp. Chop the bacon some more after cooking - you want small bits.

1. Place the cooled potatoes into a shallow pan and pour some of the dressing over them.
2. Using your hands, move the potato disks around taking care not to break them, coating them with the dressing.
3. Pour the rest of the dressing over the potatoes and continue to coat them. (You may have to make more dressing depending on the number of potaoes you use but they should not be swimming in dressing....)
4. Toss the parsley, chives, lardon onto the potaotes and mix to distribute.

At this point, taste the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Then drizzle a bit more red wine vinegar over them and toss then taste. They should have a plesant tang from the additional wine vinegar. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by william on August 29, 2006
August 08, 2006

paellacloseupbetterweb.jpgI've made paella on the stove, in my yard on the grill, and over a firepit while camping in the redwoods. I hope someday to make it in the most traditional of settings - over a beach bonfire, sand in my toes and salt in my hair. The most recent version? Over a fire in my yard on a sunny Saturday afternoon - Derrick & Melissa and I harvested the fruits of the Alemany Farmer's market (not quite as direct as from the sea), and came back to the wabe to sabre champagne, shuck oysters, and cook up a big paella. My paella is more a method than a recipe; culled from Moro: the cookbook, Cesar, a long websurf, and the paellas I've tasted. Makes it perfect for a market-inpsired brunch!

Things you'll need:
*A broad, shallow skillet, or even better, a paellera.
*Calasparra or another Valencian rice (arborio will do, in a pinch) - around a half-cup of rice per serving.
*Some sort of stock - chicken, fish, perhaps some wine as well. You'll want a 2:1 ratio of stock to rice.
*A few onions, chopped
*olive oil
*Accent ingredients (chorizo, rabbit, chicken, seafood, snails, veggies...)
*Spices to match (saffron, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary)

To build a paella, pick your preferred "accent" ingredients, and layer flavors around them. Naomi can't eat the fishies, so her birthday paella was a chicken, artichoke & sherry based dish, accented with thyme and saffron. (Combo pulled directly from Moro: the cookbook). I like chorizo with my seafood, and the scallops and shrimp caught our fancy at the market - so Derrick, Mellissa & I assembled a paella full of sherry, artichokes, chorizo, shrimp, scallops, saffron & thyme. The Spanish Table is an excellent resource for ingredients, cookware, and tasty Spanish wines, if you're looking for supplies and inspiration.

Build a hot fire (or turn on your stove to high), and heat up a generous dollop of olive oil. If you have a chicken or bunny , brown the pieces first. Add the onion, and cook until golden. Toss in your chorizo in the last minute or so of the onion-cooking. Add your rice, stir to ensure that it's well-coated in olive oil and let it toast for a minute or so, stirring to keep it from burning.

Add in your stock. (If you're on a stove, it's nice to have it hot with your saffron pre-infused - but if you're camping or over a fire, don't worry about it.) For the market paella, I used equal parts Oloroso sherry & chicken stock. Add your saffron, thyme, and veggies; salt to taste. Give it a stir to make sure stock has coated all the rice, and then DON'T stir anymore - you want a tasty caramelized layer of rice on the bottom. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for ten minutes. Add your seafood, and let simmer for another 10 minutes as your coals die down. (I like to cook my shrimp with the shells and heads on, but if you're fussy about such things, feel free to peel them. Add them a little later in the cooking cycle if you do that.) Your coals will be dying down right around the time your paella is done. Test your rice, scoop into bowls, and serve!

If you're camping, make extra. Tuck it aside when you go to sleep, and put it back on the coals in the morning with a little extra stock or water and a few eggs cracked on top. Cover and you'll have poached eggs on rice for breakfast!

Posted by shock on August 08, 2006