A woman of habit, one who finds comfort in routine and is only slightly prone to biases, I like to eat what I've known. For example, matzoh balls. I won't stand for anything fluffy, anything large and airy that allows a spoon to glide effortlessly through. I love them dense. Heavy and hard, like golf balls, my mom says. They're what I was raised on.
I just envision certain foods a certain way, and most often, that way is the way that my mom prepares them, the way that her mom prepared them, the way that I've always had them.
It is no surprise that I'm partial to my mother's potato salad. I'm no stranger to variations and find no fault in these different types, but I strongly believe that of the many makes, one is superior, fool-proof, and decidedly remarkable. I have backing. And it's not from my siblings.
Joe and I went out for dinner sometime a few weeks ago. Though delighted to be out, my mind was focused on the meal I was missing at home - burgers and potato salad. So simple, arguably nothing special. No rational young adult would secretly wish to be eating home with their parents. But I'm a creature of habit and a huge fan of my mother's cooking. Plus, this meal, however basic, was special - the first potato salad of the season, a true harbinger of summer.
I ate quite liberally that night - a meal of fried fish and appropriate southern accoutrements - but that didn't stop my returning home, Joe in tow, and bee-lining to the fridge. Scrounging for leftovers is always my first move when coming home, but that night I was on a mission: potato salad here I come.
A simple delicacy, really - an appropriate combination of crunch and mush, oniony bite playing against creamy tang. Standing in the middle of the kitchen, huddled around the tupperware suspended in our hands we ate in greedily, unable to keep our forks away, quiet save for sighs of approval. Joe, an experienced eater with his own stubborn set of preconceptions and customs, was utterly impressed. He set out on a long car ride the next day. Can I take some of that potato salad, he asked?
I enjoyed leftovers for a week, stealing a bite every time I passed through the kitchen, but was not yet sick of it when I was elected to make it the following week.
Creamy Potato Salad
According to my mom this recipe is particularly wonderful for two reasons: 1. Steaming the potatoes to finish their cooking ensures a potato salad with body. There is much less chance of over-cooking and ending up with a mashed-potato salad. 2. Combining the potatoes and dressing when the potatoes are still piping hot allows the two to really meld. The potatoes soak up some of the dressing's flavor and also add some starch to the overall texture, making the salad creamy and thick, but not in a too-much-mayo kind of way.
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/3 c plain yogurt
1 tbs Dijon mustard
8 medium red potatoes unpeeled
fresh lemon juice, approximately 3 tbsp
salt and pepper to taste
9 tbs of fresh herbs, a variety (mint, basil, and dill work well), chopped
8 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
Chop the potatoes into slightly larger than bite-size pieces. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and boil until almost tender - still with a bite to them - when pierced with a fork, 10 - 15 minutes. Drain into a colander and then cover the colander with a tea towel so that they potatoes can steam for several minutes until fully tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, and green onions. Add the potatoes once they are tender but still very hot. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to mix several times. Let sit and toss again. The hot potatoes will absorb some of the dressing, taking in its flavor. Add the herbs and toss to mix.
Serve cold or room temperature.