We recently had a request for French potato salad, in which the potatoes are dressed with a vinaigrette. Janet Martin sent in a recipe she has used for years, and writes that her family prefers this to the standard mayo-based potato salad. I also adapted a French potato salad recipe that adds bacon. You can use fingerling potatoes, new red potatoes, white petites, or any small waxy potato for these dishes. Since these versions of the classic summer salad really bring out the taste of the potatoes themselves, it would be worth heading to a farmers market or a specialty store to get some really fresh buttery Manitoba new potatoes.
This week we have an anonymous request for the dry beef chop suey at the much-missed Shanghai Restaurant on King Street. And now that the hot weather is finally here, I'm getting out my ice-cream maker and looking for inspiration. If you have favourite ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt recipes, please send them on.
If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 204-697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
French Potato Salad
575 g (1 1/4 lbs) small red new potatoes, scrubbed
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) ground pepper
0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) dried chervil
In a large pot, add potatoes to cold water and 5 ml (1 tsp) salt. Bring to boil and cook until just tender, about 8 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until just warm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, parsley, salt, pepper and chervil. Cut potatoes into 2 cm (3/4 in) pieces and put back in pot. Pour whisked dressing over potatoes and toss gently but thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days, tossing once or twice.
Tester's notes: This simple and delicious potato salad has light, fresh flavours. If not making ahead, you can serve this warm or at room temperature. Cooking the potatoes whole keeps them from getting waterlogged, and new potatoes with thin skins really don't need to be peeled (usually the dreariest part of making potato salad). Just clean the potatoes well: If the skins are very thin, you can rub them rather than using a brush.
This basic recipe allows room for improvisation. If you don't have chervil, you could substitute dried dill or tarragon (or fresh herbs if you have on hand). You could add chives, green olives or chopped hard-boiled egg. One thing: Janet has scaled the recipe down for her family and it makes a fairly small amount. If you're feeding a bigger crowd, you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe.
French Potato Salad with Bacon
575 g (1 1/4 lb) new potatoes, rinsed well under running water
120 g bacon (about 4 thick-cut slices), chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup) finely chopped shallots
60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine vinegar
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
45 ml (3 tbsp) finely chopped red onion
45 ml (3 tbsp) finely chopped Italian parsley
Chop the potatoes to get small, consistently sized pieces. (I halved the larger potatoes, cut others into quarters, and left very small ones whole.) Drop into a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender but firm, about 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop bacon and sauté in a small frying pan over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. In remaining bacon fat over medium-low heat, sauté the shallots until soft and tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and reserve. Drain cooked potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Pour warm shallots and bacon fat, vinegar, oil and mustard over the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and gently toss. Add onion and parsley and toss again. If using right away, sprinkle with bacon and serve the salad warm or at room temperature. If making ahead, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate salad; also cover and refrigerate the bacon separately. Before serving, take out the salad and allow to come to room temperature, toss, test for seasoning, and add more oil and vinegar if salad seems dry. Sprinkle with reserved bacon.
Tester's notes: Also good. Plus bacon!