12 February 2012

Kitchen Experiments

We live in a 24/7 connected time. Have you ever tried to 'unplug'? I did, sort of, but not on purpose. I may have forgotten to pay the phone bill - but I'll admit to nothing - so I didn't have the internet and phone for a few days. A few weeks ago my Facebook app decided not to work. This was all a blessing in disguise. It was nice not being on my laptop 4 times a day to see what other people are doing. Wouldn't it be nicer to have an actual conversation with people? When asked I did feel the need to warn my German friend that smartphone use can get out of control if you let it. Just so you know I went YEARS with out a computer at home. I only bought one for Skype :)

I really want to tell you about a kitchen adventure I had last week. I am from Louisiana, but I love living in Germany. Both places have great cuisine (to me at least). This is about the only time of year that I miss Louisiana beyond belief. It's Mardi Gras season. I miss the large family gatherings, the parades, the parties, the King Cake and just the fun atmosphere. So, I decided we needed gumbo and potato salad.

German potato salad is found in many different varieties. You kinda have to taste them all to find the one you like best. Every region has their own flavor. I personally do not like mayonnaise, so most are out for me. I LOVE the Swabian oil and vinegar type. There is this cafe in Mannheim that I go to in the summer just for my favorite lunch: potato salad and diet coke.

I wanted a recipe that was from a real German home cook instead of a book. I've tried 3 or 4, but no dice. I found one I liked at huettenhilfe.de. Check out the original.

Swabian Potato Salad
1 kg waxy potatoes
2 onions
½ l broth (veg, beef, chicken...)
½ bunch chives
3 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon mustard, more to taste
salt and fresh ground pepper

Wash the potatoes, cover with cold water and boil. Don't over cook! You want them to hold their shape, mostly. Peel when cool - very easy. Slice to about 1/8-1/4 inch. Chop the chives and toss those in too. You'll want a small chop on the onion.
Next, warm up the broth. 1/2 liter is 2 cups. Pour that over your potatoes and onions. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour in with the potatoes. you just want to combine it all. Don't stir more than you have to and not hard. Fold it in like you would whipped cream.
 It will be very wet, and it needs time to rest. The flavors will develop with time. At least half an hour. This (like gumbo) is almost better on the second day. Serve at room temp.
This is how I changed it up a bit:
-I used about 3 pounds of potatoes, and had left overs for days!
-I used about half a white onion, but purple would give it a good flavor and look cool too.
-I tried veg broth and it definitely had a celery taste. Chicken would work.
- Cut the oil down to about 1/3 and used olive.
- This time I tried white wine vinegar, but I think apple cider vinegar would be better.
- I am not a fan of plain German mustard, so I had to find the American type.
- Cayenne!!

While this recipe didn't give the flavor I remember it was a really good try. With the substitutions I mentioned earlier I think it will be a winner. Although, I don't think you can really ever 'ruin'  a potato salad. Recipes are only a lose blueprint; make it your own!

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