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Friday, 10 July 2015

Mom's Potato Salad

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My mother celebrated her 83rd Birthday yesterday.  It was only a few years ago now that we almost lost her.   I feel so blessed that she is still with us and of course I called her on the telephone, where I could not actually be with her.  She was saying how my sister and I are such good cooks and she thought that she wasn't.   I, of course, begged to differ.  My mom was a simple cook, a plain cook, but most of what she did cook was quite good.  She didn't really like cooking  . . .  she didn't have the passion that my sister and I have for it, so perhaps that makes a difference.  I don't know.   What I do know for sure however, is that there are certain things that, no matter how skilled I am or how many times I cook them, they are never quite as tasty as the  memory of the things she cooked when I was growing up

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Or it might be just that I am looking at them down through the passage of time with rose coloured glasses.  One thing I always really enjoyed of hers was her potato salad.  I can remember her boiling what seemed like a huge pot of potatoes to make it with.  I can see her now standing at the counter peeling and cutting them into small cubes.  Likewise she would cut the other things that she put in the salad into small cubes also.  Very methodically.

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Potatoes, celery  . . .  a tiny bit of onion, some peeled cucumber for crunch, and plenty of chopped egg would go in . . .  salt and pepper and miracle whip.  Miracle whip had a nice tang to it that mayonnaise lacked.  She wouldn't over do it . . . just enough dressing to give it flavour, but it wasn't gloopy.   I confess . . .  I am not overly fond of the potato salad over here in the UK.  Too much mayo and not enough flavour.

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I find it too gloopy and very lack lustre.  Sorry folks . . .  but it is what it is.   I much prefer my mom's at the end of the day.  I have adapted her recipe somewhat, by adding an initial french type of vinaigrette dressing of lemon juice and oil with some seasoning . . .  this helps the potatoes not to absorb as much of the mayo dressing as it would do without it.

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It also adds an extra layer of flavour which is really nice.  I can't get miracle whip over here, so I make do with a combination of Hellman's and Salad Cream, which is really nice.   You can of course (if you are in North America) use a combination of Hellman's and Miracle Whip, but if you do, you may want to add a bit of vinegar to loosen it a bit, about 1 TBS should do it . . .  along with a pinch of sugar to counter the acidity of the vinegar.

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I add plenty of chopped egg to the salad and a bit of cucumber and onion, but I also like to add a nice layer of thinly sliced boiled egg on top, along with a dash of paprika and some mustard cress for colour.

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Some people add too much to their potato salad  . . .  it's like a free-for-all of potato and colour.  I don't think chopped peppers and the like add anything much to it . . .  nor do olives.     A bit of radish sprinkled on top is nice, but beware . . . it bleeds and loses it's colour and can end up looking quite, quite insipid.  NO, when it comes to a great potato salad  . . .  simple is the best of all.  Just like mom's.

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*Mom's Potato Salad*
Serves 6


This is my favourite way to make a mayonnaise based potato salad.  It is perfect in my opinion, with just the right amount of dressing.   Nicely flavoured with a bit of crunch from the celery and the cucumber.    


8 medium sized new potatoes, unpeeled
the juice of one small lemon
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (2 fluid ounces)
rine sea salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 stalks of celery, washed, trimmed and chopped
1/2 of a medium English Cucumber (peel, remove seeds and cut into 1/2 inch dice)
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
2 TBS finely chopped onion
1 cup of good quality mayonnaise (225g)
1/2 cup of salad cream (115g)
3 TBS cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar  


To garnish:
finely chopped fresh chives, salad cress or chopped parsley (optional)
ground paprika
2 hard boiled eggs thinly sliced  

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Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water, until tender just to the fork.  Drain well and as soon as you can handle them, peel and cut them into 1/2 inch dice.  Toss in a bowl along with the lemon juice, chopped onions,  oil and salt to taste.  This preliminary dressing while very warm gives the potatoes extra flavour and coats them.  This prevents them from absorbing too much mayonnaise later on.  Allow to cool.

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Add the black pepper, celery, chopped eggs and cucumber.  Blend 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with the salad cream, vinegar and the sugar.    Pour this over the potato salad, gently folding until all pieces are coated.  Add the remaining mayonnaise only if the salad seems dry.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.  Spoon into a clean bowl and smooth the top.   Lay the sliced hard boil egg over top.  Cover and chill for several hours.

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Just before serving, sprinkle with some chopped fresh chives, salad cress or chopped parsley, if using . . .  and ground paprika.  Delicious!!

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Sister Johansen declared this the best potato salad she had ever eaten.  Not to brag or anything, but my mom's always was the best!!

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Of course we kids thought our mom was the most beautiful mother ever.  I don't think we were wrong, do you?  Happy Day After Your Birthday Mom!  I wish I could have been there with you . . .

5 comments:

  1. I think your mom look beautiful Marie!
    My mom too and cook amazing only now she is tired to cook but always asked me about all the recipes:)
    Happy belated birthday to your mom and this potato salad look wonderful!
    xoxo

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  2. What a beautiful photo of your mother. She is beautiful with such a lovely smile .

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  3. Thanks Gloria! I hope you will try the salad! xoxo

    Thanks Leisha! We always thought she looked like Queen Elizabeth when she was younger! xoxo

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  4. Love the presentation too:) Beautiful mom:)

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  5. Thanks Monique! She was a stunner for sure! Xxoo

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