Summer Favorite: Potato Salad

One recipe we use at least a few times each summer is my modification of the Potato Salad from Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Cookbook.

My family loves this simple tasting potato salad, but they don’t love extra “crunchies”—so, celery seed replaces fresh celery stalks. That, and the way I prepare the potatoes are the main modifications, though sometimes I will add a tad more mayo and vinegar and mustard. (Makes it a bit creamier!)

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 pounds potatoes (about 6 medium)
1 1/2 Cups mayonnaise
1 Tbsp vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar)
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp black pepper
1/2 Tsp celery seed (can add more, if desired)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Peel, dice, and then add rinsed potatoes to a pot of boiling water. Boil until softened (press against the side of the pot to test softness). If you don’t already have hard-boiled eggs on hand, be sure to get those going while you are boiling the potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix well by hand. Once the potatoes are finished, drain, and add to this bowl. Stir gently, folding into the mayo/mustard base, so you don’t smash up the potatoes. Add the eggs last and fold those in gently, too.

Seal and allow to cool in your refrigerator for at least a few hours. Then serve it up with your favorite summer foods from the grill. There will be many happy mouths and tummies!

Amazing Greek Dressing

Sometimes, simpler is better. Most of the recipes I use tend to end up there. It’s really strange, but for some reason, the recipes with fewer ingredients are the ones that taste the best!

This Greek Salad Dressing recipe is one such case! Was just used again last night with Chicken Souvlaki, and was more than well-received. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it, too!

(Recipe can be reduced, if desired)

Greek Dressing

21 oz Olive Oil (I use mild)
6 oz Vinegar (I use white)
4 tsp Oregano
3 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper

Combine ingredients in a dressing shaker, shake vigorously, and enjoy! You can enjoy right away, but if you let the dressing sit for a while it will allow the flavors to combine deliciously!

Arepas!

The final piece of the pabellón meal (that I am going to post here) is a piece that can actually stand on its own. Arepas are little cakes made of precooked, white corn flour that are usually cooked on a griddle in a little bit of oil, and then cut and filled with all sorts of good things. Sometimes it’s cheese, sometimes it’s meat, or vegetables, or a combination of any of those.

They come in all sizes, but for the pabellón meal, generally I make them about 2 1/2-3 inches in diameter. (If the arepa is the meal, they are generally 5 inches or so.) Also, they are formed to about 3/4″ thick.

Arepas
2 cups harina de maiz blanco precocido*
3 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
Canola Oil

Mix the flour and salt and water until a nice, wet dough is formed. Form round cakes by hand to the desired size. Add just enough oil to cover the cooking surface (I like to use a griddle) and cook until brown and crispy on the outside. Be sure to cook evenly on both sides. (Arepas can also be baked in the oven, usually after browning in the hot oil first. I do not usually bake mine.)

Once finished, allow to cool for a few minutes then slice open and add cheese (we use Queso De Freir, but most any white cheese will do) or whatever filling you’d like. Then enjoy!

* There are several places to get the precooked white corn flour … here are a couple of good options: Harina P.A.N. (from AmigoFoods.com), or Goya’s (white) Masarepa. I am actually able to find both at our local Wegmans.

Also, someday, I hope to visit the Caracas Arepa Bar in New York City. Check out their menu for some good ideas on what to put inside your arepas!

Pabellón Criollo: Carraotas Negras (Black Beans)

Another important piece of the pabellón meal is the black beans! Now, I do take the shortcut of using canned beans to start with, but you could certainly use dry beans. Prepare them as instructed and then finish them as described below. (But I’ll start with cans… it’s easier, faster, and they still taste great!)

Carraotas Negras (Black Beans) for Pabellón
2 cans black beans
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 1/2 tsp chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp adobo (with pepper)

Mix in garlic, onion, cilantro and adobo, and cover beans. Simmer on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. The longer (and slower) you simmer, the better the flavor and consistency. Should be thicker when it’s ready to serve.

The amounts above are definitely approximations. Add each/all of those ingredients to your taste preferences. But that combination, simmered to perfection… a fantastic part of pabellón!