Daring Potato Salad?

At first thought, Potato Salad doesn't sound like all that much of a challenge.  I decided to re-think the same old same old, and see how my regular recipe could be improved.

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Normally, I boil the potatoes, add some chopped veggies and toss everything with mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, etc. before refrigerating.  Just for the heck of it I checked my old Joy of Cooking to see how far off I've been from a standard.  Low and behold, the correct technique should be to toss the still warm potatoes with vinaigrette, let them cool a bit, add the vegetables if any, refrigerate, then add your mayonnaise dressing when the salad is cold.   Brilliant idea, as the oil and vinegar, plus herbs can be absorbed by the warm potatoes, before adding any mayonnaise.


Coriander Scallops with Passionate Ginger Dressing

Sometimes I post more during a given month and sometimes less.  Perhaps less to say, fewer outstanding recipes to pass on, or just lazy?  Anyway, it is better to say nothing, when you don't have something worthwhile to share.  There are a few old proverbs attesting to that.  In this case, the recipe is fine, I just didn't take many photos, not being all that happy with my camera.  Blame it on the Scotch in me, but as long as the thing is actually working, there is absolutely no justification for purchasing a new one.  Then my daughter had to demonstrate the camera on her Droid, which it turns out, beats out most decent CAMERA cameras.  And, this is a phone? 

At any rate,  I am continually trying out new recipes, either from magazines, other blogs, or from my cookbook collection, though Bob would rather I stuck with some tried and true favorites.  But, he's usually a good sport, and the ultimate recipe critic.  If a weency bit of whatever is being pushed around on his plate, the verdict is pretty obvious.  Doesn't need to say a word.  Sometimes I'm in agreement.  Most of the time, actually.  So, last night two recipes were tried.  One for Stuffed Artichokes, which sounded delicious in the write-up, but were on the ho hum side.  Then there was this salad of scallops seared with a crushed coriander coating and zippy dressing of passion fruit and ginger.  A "keeper", folks.


Quinoa Salad with Watercress, Asparagus, Pepitas and Feta

Quinoa is truly a delightful little grain.  And good for you too. High in antioxidants, fiber and minerals, the South American "supergrain" provides  many health benefits, including helping to promote weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even prevent migraines.  Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a "complete" protein without the need to combine it with other grains, legumes or meats.

It tastes a little like barley, and in this recipe, fluffs up nicely as excess moisture is steam dried off.  That tip came from my Gourmet Today cookbook, though I almost skipped it, thinking at first it was an unnecessarily fussy extra step.  But, then I thought, wait -  if Ruth put it in there, maybe I should just give it a try.  Good move, Claudia...

Usually I just bring twice the amount of water or stock as grain, to a boil, and simmer the rinsed seeds, exactly like I do rice.  Steamed afterward, they become a light and fluffy canvas for dabbing in the colors, flavors and textures of this salad.

You could use a variety of vegetables here.  Cucumbers, bell pepper, zucchini, avocado, red onion would all be great.   Herbs as you like.  The recipe in Gourmet Today had sweet corn, roasted poblano chiles, cilantro and tomato.  Oh boy, something for the next time.