Lettie Lou’s Potato Salad
I may be a bit late in posting what is clearly one of the summer staples but...
My daughter Lily asked me for our family potato salad recipe the other day and I said, "it's on the blog" and then, after looking, realized that it wasn't. Well, it's about time that it is! I grew up eating this potato salad, first in Texas and then in California, and have been making it, literally my whole life. Barely a week goes by in the summer that I don't make this for a casual bbq or picnic, it's truly essential and my family never tires of eating it! My Mom (Lettie Lou) still makes it on occasion,...without the eggs. : )
Lettie Lou's Potato Salad
6 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2" pieces
1 T kosher salt
2 T sugar
2 T white vinegar
Cook potatoes in salted water until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
Drain and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and vinegar, toss, let cool.
1 c chopped green onion
1 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped sweet pickles (or more!)
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 t kosher salt
2 t celery seed
1-1/2 c Best Foods mayo
Mix all together and chill until time to serve. You can make it the day before, no problem.
Chicken Salad Veronique
Last week I made a chicken salad with some things I had in the garden and refrigerator --
I hadn't planned on making that salad, I just, all of a sudden, got a craving and went with it! It tasted so good to me and reminded me of the great salads that I used to cook so often when I had my café. I posted that recipe on my Face Book page but then the next day, I decided to make a slightly different version (a classic Veronique style) and treat a couple of good friends to an impromptu lunch, poolside. It was a perfect afternoon!
Chicken Salad Veronique
1.5 lbs fresh, organic chicken breast (about 2 large)
1/3 cup dry sherry
pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
water to cover
Place the chicken breasts in a glass bowl or glass pie plate. Pour the sherry over and then add enough water to cover. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 6 minutes. Let cool, covered, until cooked through. Save the 'stock' for another time. Cut into 1/2 inch chunks and place in a mixing bowl.
20 green grapes, halved or quartered if they are really big
1 rib celery, sliced thinly
4 green onions, sliced thinly
3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
1 cup Best Foods mayo or more if desired
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
Serve on a bed of fresh arugula or mixed lettuces tossed with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Garnish with fresh fruits.
The idea of this salad is to keep the ingredients 'all green' so adding a fresh pear, cut into chunks, would be wonderful!
Sprinkle with some good crumbled blue cheese for a different taste direction, yum!
Add a 1/4 t curry powder to the mayo if you are so inspired.
Simply Easy, Tomato Soup
Due to C-19, we have all been cooking more than ever lately. I am trying my best not to go to the store too frequently so I'm keeping certain food items on hand so that I can always whip up something to eat that is yummy, nutritious and comforting. This tomato soup is one of those things that is easy to make and reminds me of home, family and all things I love. Keep a large can of tomatoes, a large container of chicken or veggie stock, a few onions and garlic in your pantry, carrots, parsley and celery in your fridge and you will have the makings for so many wonderful dishes. I always have butter or olive oil and some half and half for my coffee on hand so other than that, make sure you have some bread and cheddar cheese on hand for that ubiquitous grilled cheese to make the memory complete!
Simply Easy, Tomato Soup
2 T butter or olive oil
1 stalk celery
1 large clove of garlic
I onion, yellow or white, even red is fine
salt and pepper
4 C chicken or veggie stock (preferably homemade)
1 35 oz can of peeled tomatoes and the juice
2 T fresh parsley or whatever fresh herb you have on hand or In the garden
1 C half and half (optional)
Melt the butter or oil in a small stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and onion, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper and cook until sightly browned, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and stock and cook for 30-45 minutes to blend the flavors. Purée with a hand blender until smooth. Add the parsley and half and half, if using. Check seasonings. Eat with a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, on the side or cut into small "croutons" to add to the soup. Freeze the extra…if there is any.
Knowing how much I LOVE roasted chicken, a very good friend sent me this recipe last week in the hopes that I would make it for him, not very sneaky, but effective! I loved the idea of the lemon zest, garlic and tarragon with the chicken and I thought that the orzo was an interesting and yummy sounding addition - especially since it cooks all in one pot! It was so delicious and easy and once it's in the oven you are pretty much done. Great for entertaining or a weekday dinner too, comfort food at it's finest. Inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Nigella Lawson.
One Dish Chicken + Lemon + Orzo
3 T olive oil
1 3½ lb chicken, preferably free-range and organic
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 big cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 medium leeks, cleaned well and cut crosswise into 1/2" circles
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp chile flakes
2 tsp dried tarragon
4 cups cold water
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1¾ cups orzo pasta
6 T Italian parsley, finely chopped leaves, plus more to serve
Preheat the oven 350°. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based casserole/Dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid. Place the chicken in the hot oil breast side down until the skin is nicely browned, 3 - 5 minutes over medium high to high heat, then turn the chicken breast side up. Turn down the heat and add the lemon zest and minced garlic around the sides of the chicken and give it a quick stir into the oil as best you can. Scatter the prepared vegetables around the chicken, followed by the salt, chile flakes and dried tarragon.
Pour in the cold water and stock until the liquid comes up about two thirds of the leg of the chicken, leaving the golden breast exposed, then add the lemon juice. Bring the pot to a boil uncovered. Once boiling put on the lid and place in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Take the pot out of the oven and stir in the orzo, around the edges of the chicken, put the lid back on and bake for another 30 minutes, the orzo should be soft and swollen by then.
Remove from the oven and take off the lid and let it stand for 15 minutes, Give the orzo a stir to loosen any that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. The orzo will continue to soak up some of the broth as it sits.
Stir in 4 T of the parsley, and then sprinkle over the remaining 2 T. Put some extra in a dish on the table for diners to add for themselves or sprinkle over as you serve.
This dish is so gorgeous and home-y, I love to bring the pot to the table with the chicken whole.
Bring a small dish to the table and carefully remove the skin and bones from the chicken with 2 spoons, stripping off the meat of the chicken, and shredding as you go. Stir the meat and orzo again before serving, add more parsley. You may want to offer parmesan to grate over too, YUMMY!
Alternately, take the chicken out of the pot to remove the bones and skin, adding the meat back to the orzo.
Nothing tastes better when it’s cold outside than comfort food. I'm talking about the food we grew up with, the food our Mother’s cooked, simple, flavorful and fulfilling. This classic recipe from Marcella Hazan, speaks to those memories. So easy, with just 4 ingredients, the flavor is simply sublime. Meatballs are my son-in-law's favorite, so much so that my daughter now throws him a meatball party for his birthday every January. Inspired by my daughter Lily, these tasty meatballs are super easy and are baked not fried so you are free to get other bites ready while they're baking. Serve as sliders to a Super Bowl crowd (Go Niners!!) or over pasta with more Parmesan and a little chopped parsley for an easy dinner.
Marcella Hazan’s Really Simple Tomato Sauce
1 - 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
6 T unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
pinch of salt
Place the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed. Discard the onion before serving. This sauce is incredibly versatile:
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
2 T milk or half & half
2 T good red wine (or all milk or 1/2 and 1/2)
2 T finely chopped parsley
2 T grated Parmesan
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t onion powder
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T currants (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place meat, bread crumbs, milk, red wine, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs, garlic and currants (if using) in a large bowl. Mix everything together with your clean hands until evenly mixed. Form mixture into 2-inch meatballs (I used a 2 tablespoon scoop) and arrange on a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper and sprayed lightly with non stick spray. Roast for 12 minutes, until cooked through (you can cut one in half to see if they're done).
Grab some slider buns, top with a meatball, spoon over some sauce, add grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley for color. Don’t forget the napkins!
If doing spaghetti and meatballs, just heat the meatballs in the sauce for 10 minutes before tossing with the pasta.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"