[Sca-cooks] Meanderings on family histories and foods

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun May 20 22:26:15 PDT 2007

On May 21, 2007, at 12:21 AM, Sue Clemenger wrote:

> I'd offer up my special recipes in trade --I've got one that's made  
> with
> cilantro, black beans, smoked turkey and red potatoes, and I've got  
> an old
> farm recipe for "quilters' potato salad" made with unsweetened,  
> whipped
> cream.
> --Maire, who learned today that the number one most popular herb in  
> the
> world is cilantro! ;o)
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Elaine Koogler" <kiridono at gmail.com>
> To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
> Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 5:37 PM
> Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Meanderings on family histories and foods
>> I don't suppose you would be willing to share your recipe for German
> potato
>> salad, would you?  In exchange, I have a great recipe for a potato  
>> salad
>> that's made with red potatoes, pesto and pine nuts....

I'll have to find my "official version". At the moment, I'm prepping  
for the DSL Fairy to come and explain why I have no upstream  
bandwidth, so there's much moving of bookcases that have ethernet  
cables behind them and finding anything is difficult.  As with much  
of my stuff, it's more about the process than the numbers (unless I'm  
baking, or involved in comparatively few other things like dealing  
with roux or custard, maybe sausage). What I normally use is a  
variation of one of the Jan Mitchell recipes from the old Luchow's  
restaurant in New York, which had been on 14th Street for well over a  
hundred years, was then  bought out by a huge corporation,  
"renovated" (read moved to a new, more expensive piece of real estate  
in the theater district, which is odd because its original location  
had been New York's theater district for much of the 19th century,  
not far from where the Bowery meets Third Avenue...) and shut its  
doors and vanished within a year or two of the move. <sigh>...

What I can tell you right now is that what I had been doing wrong  
(apart from the fact that certain Sinister Forces mandate that only  
Idaho Russets, with a few notable exceptions, are allowed on the  
premises, and while you can make a good salad with these, it's more  
difficult) was to miss, forget, and otherwise omit the pre-dressing  
marinade for the just-boiled-and-peeled-and-sliced spuds. In other  
words, while still quite warm and therefore somewhat more porous and  
generally receptive, you add a small amount (maybe 1/2 cup, maybe  
less) of whatever vinegar you're using, or even better, a mixture of  
vinegar and beef stock, if you're not feeding people opposed to such  
things. If you are, just vinegar is good, too. Toss gently, being  
careful not to break up pieces, and allow to sit for a few minutes,  
then proceed in any of a number of ways. The classic dressing  
involves raw egg yolk, more vinegar and olive oil, or, if the salad  
is to be served warm, warm bacon fat, egg yolk, and vinegar. Mayo is  
technically cheating, but it can be done, as can a mixture of mayo  
and sour cream, or a mixture of mayo and unsweetened whipped cream.  
Finely chopped onion and pickle are pretty standard, almost  
mandatory, and in addition you often find chopped capers or, in lieu  
of the sardellen which are a little more hard to find today, anchovy  

My aunt's was an extremely simplistic affair, and probably pretty  
localized, too (I'm sure someone from another part of Germany might  
say, "No way, my Tante Greta from Heidelberg never did it the way  
you're describing somebody from Bavaria doing it, so that's  
wrong..."). She generally used chopped shallot or green onion  
(probably instead of chives), and equal parts homemade mayonnaise and  
sour cream, the mayo made with a little coarse mustard.

Everybody seems to agree, though, that the pre-dressing of the warm  
potatoes with vinegar is the secret key to success; otherwise the  
potatoes can sort of suck all the flavor out of the dressing without  
really becoming well-seasoned in their own right.

Other considerations would include whether it's to be served warm or  
cold, since the seasoning will appear very different if one is  
intended but the other is what's actually done. There also appear to  
be two violent, armed camps, divided on the subject of sugar in a  
potato salad: I don't care for it myself, but some do...


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