Thursday, July 29, 2010

Curried Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of America's summer staple food. But face it, too many times, potato salad is bland or one-note or uninteresting. Most of them use mayo or sour cream as their bases, which is more fat than any of us need.

A couple years ago, a local restaurant gave me the recipe for their creamy curry sauce. It's excellent, but not as versatile or healthy as I like. So I started playing with it (of course).

Yogurt is a common (and quite yummy) substitute for mayo. I buy a (relatively) local creamery's yogurt - Tillamook. The creamery is situated near the town of Tillamook on the Oregon coast. I am partial to their products, which I feel are far superior to nearly all the larger regional brands -- and head and shoulders above the national ones. But this is all beside the point.

My point is that low-fat yogurt, from any source, is healthier than mayo. It has loads of nutrients, especially vitamin D and calcium.

Curry Potato Salad
3-4 cups of diced potatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup celery

Curry Dressing
1-1/2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Blend well by hand or with a food processor.

Steam the potatoes until done, but firm. Cool.

Once the potatoes are cool, mix the onions, celery, and potatoes. Add the curry dressing 1/2 to 1 cup at at a time, until everything is coated. Do not add too much dressing (you probably won't use all of it). Enjoy!

I prefer the waxy potato varieties (red, Yukon gold, white) to the mealier russets. I think it nicely highlights the creaminess of the entire dish. The celery and onion provide a nice crunchy counterpoint to the unctuous creamy conspiracy of the potatoes and sauce. One of my next experiments with this dish is deciding what other vegetables to include - carrots and broccoli are definitely contenders.

I made the salad the night before I served it. The flavors tend to marry and intensify overnight, especially as the potatoes absorb some of the curry flavor.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Every so often, fortunately not very often, I decide to do a fry-up for dinner. The contents of the fry-up vary, but usually in some way include a meat, a starch, garlic, onions or leeks, mushrooms, and a veggie. Tonight's fry-up involved leeks and mushrooms I had purchases over the weekend for camping -- they needed to be used and used quickly!

And did I add, needed to be fast? I hurt today.

Beefy Leeks and Mushrooms
8 oz beef sirloin cut into cubes
1 large leek cut into coins
8 oz. mushrooms sliced thickly
2 large potatoes
2 cans green beans (I know, but I didn't have fresh -- and I said quick)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Microwave the potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes, then cube.

Add oil to a large skillet or wok and heat on medium/high. Add potatoes and mushrooms. Saute until halfway done.

Add leeks and garlic. Saute until done.

Remove everything from the pan and saute the steak on high until nearly to desired doneness. Return everything to the pan and add the green beans. Heat until green beans are done.

This was wonderfully savory and amazingly yummy. The dish was mostly vegetable, but tasted very full of meat. And it was fast and easy to make -- about a half hour, from first chop to serving.

I love the interplay of leeks, mushrooms, and beef. That combination is so savory, so umami that I just can't get quite enough of it. In some ways, I prefer leeks to onions; while the taste isn't as sharp, it contains a lot of the freshness I associate with green onions. However, I prefer to go gently with the spicing, simply because I like to let the leeks shine.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Recipe Finally - Grilled Mahi Mahi

I'm sorry about the lack of post last week - I had a virus or something and one demon of a headache (not a migraine - that I know how to deal with) that two prescription meds just could not knock out. So I went to work and came home and let Julia baby me.

So I'll try to do two recipes this week!

The last week has been rather toasty here in the Pacific Northwest with highs in the 90s. This wouldn't be too bad, but the highs the week before were in the upper 60s to lower 70s. We went from mid-May to mid-July with no stop over for June!

So I'm going to enjoy my grill. Today's recipe is Grilled Mahi Mahi.

Grilled Mahi Mahi
1 lb mahi mahi fillets (four fillets about 4 oz each)
1 large lemon
6-7 garlic cloves
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest and juice the lemon and put in a sealable plastic bag. Chop the garlic finely and add to the lemon juice. Add the rice wine and water (I collected the water in the lemon husks to add flavor). Add salt and fish. Marinade no more than 30 minutes. I marinaded for 60 minutes and I think that was a little too long.

Lightly coat each side of each fillet with olive oil.

Grill on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes per side. I grilled 2-3 and the fish was a little more done than I preferred. Part of this may have been the marinade time being too long.

The fish held together reasonably well, though the edges of some of the fillets tried to fall off. The fish was firm, but not yet tough; I definitely should have shortened either the marinade time or the grill time (I think both).

However, the fish was delightfully lemony and not overly garlicky. I thought about adding fresh dill, but the store was out of it. I refused to use dried dill; I really wanted a fresh flavor to the fish.

I served the fish with brown basmati rice, steamed broccoli, and a lovely, well-chilled rosé. Now, I'm going to enjoy my dinner.