Old-fashioned Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those things I hate to buy.  It’s not that hard to make, but it is a little time consuming.  I found this classic potato salad recipe and one with a twist published in the Chicago Tribune‘s Food Section in May of 2015.  The online version was slightly different from the printed version; the ingredients listed here are from the print version.


Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Serves 6-8

3 pounds medium red rose or bliss, tan-skinned or yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon grainy mustard
Salt and white pepper

2. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut into 2-inch chunks; place in a medium bowl.

3. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Pour mixture over potatoes; mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to one day ahead.

I decided to make this dish for my mother-in-law’s Labor Day cookout.  For the most part, the recipe went off as written.  This potato salad is so ridiculously fresh: farmer potatoes, farmer celery, parsley from our garden.  I also added a large handful (2-3 T) of farmer dill, chopped finely.  In the interest of health, I combined 1/2 cup each of light sour cream, olive oil mayo, and non-fat greek yogurt for the dressing base.  We had everything else listed except celery seed, so I substituted a teaspoon of celery salt instead.


Creamy, light, alternating textures of soft potato and crisp celery, and herby goodness in every bite.  I would have added another 1/2 teaspoon of (regular) salt, but other than that, all party-goers seemed to receive it well.  I would definitely make this version again for its simplicity and classic style.  I could see adding chives without changing the profile too much.  Can’t wait for Memorial Day!




Korean Chili Glaze

I’m trying really hard to keep up with the CSA box despite being back to work, and I find myself flipping through piles of recipes on a regular basis to keep ideas fresh in my mind.  When an item pops up in the box, it’s nice to be able to think, I just saw a recipe for that bunch of beets.  I put together this spicy sauce while anticipating the arrival of eggplant, and upon seeing the white beauty’s tiny size on pick up day, added broccoli to the recipe.  The article was in the Food & Dining section of The Chicago Tribune on July 13, 2016.  The link showcases all 4 of the recipes in the feature; I am posting only the 2 recipes I tried.


Red chili steak sauce

Prep: 5 minutes
Makes: about 3/4 cup

1/4 cup medium-hot Korean gochujang
1/4 cup rice wine, mirin or dry sherry
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 to 4 tablespoons ketchup, to tame the heat
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon refrigerated ginger paste or 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Refrigerate covered for up to several weeks.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 34 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein, 240 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

This sauce came together in no time.  I recently bought a jar of gochujang at the Asian market Jin frequents.  I think you can probably get it in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores if you don’t have a decent international market nearby (sriracha might be an acceptable substitute, but I really have no idea).  I used rice wine vinegar and changed the ginger component to a teaspoon of ginger powder because I was in a hurry too lazy to mince the fresh stuff.  I used 3 tablespoons of ketchup (it was all we had left in the bottle) and be warned:  this sauce is HOT (but delicious)!  Even husband says so, and he has a very high tolerance for spice.  A couple of days later, I made this:

Red chili glazed eggplant

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 or 7 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Coarse salt
Vegetable oil
2 to 3 tablespoons red chili steak sauce, see recipe
Finely sliced cilantro and green onion
Sesame seeds, optional

1. Sprinkle eggplant slices generously with salt. Let drain in a colander in the sink while the grill heats.

2. Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling or heat a gas grill to high heat. Put the grill in place and let it heat thoroughly.

3. Rinse the eggplant slices; pat dry. Spritz eggplant generously with oil on both sides. Set the slices on the grill directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook without turning. 4 minutes. Flip the eggplant; smear with a light coating of the chili sauce. Cover the grill; cook, 1 minute. Flip and smear the other side with the sauce. Cook until fork-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Remove the eggplant with tongs or a spatula. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the cilantro, onion and sesame.

Nutrition information per serving: 151 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 11 g sugar, 3 g protein, 245 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

Since my eggplant was on the small side, while it drained in step 1, I chopped 2 small heads of broccoli and tossed them in the glaze.  I did the same with the sliced eggplant in step three, omitting the oil (mistake). I laid out the slices of eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet and put the broccoli on a separate sheet. I roasted the pans at 350º.   Despite checking the eggplant slices frequently, the thinner ones dried out and because the glaze is so sticky, I had a hard time peeling them off the foil (should have used the oil or some non-stick spray).  The broccoli took about 25 minutes and it was pretty soft.  I put the two vegetables together (ok, I admit, I ate most of the eggplant as I peeled it off the sheet).  Tasty, but so spicy!   This is a great side dish to spice up a boring meal or to add to a Korean-themed dinner.  I could see putting these veggies in tacos or in a rice bowl for another twist.   I think this would also be great on potatoes or carrots.  If you are not a fan of the heat, temper this glaze with more ketchup or a greater vegetable to sauce ratio.  Have the fire extinguisher nearby!


Upside-down Cake in my Upside-down Life

I’ve been cooking up a storm, but back to school is upon us, and we’ve had some family stuff going on, so time has been a precious commodity.  I just haven’t had the time or energy to write up my creations.  But my favorite cooking season is coming, and with it comes soup, stew, chili, roasts, and a hundred other possibilities.  During the summer I cook most days, but once the work schedule is back to normal, most of my major cooking happens on the weekends. Sometimes, since cooking is my therapy, I do have a burst of energy on a weeknight and get a few things done.  Last night was one of those nights, and cake makes everything better.

I made this masterpiece once before for a dinner and games party we were attending about a month ago.  The recipe is from Good Housekeeping’s June 2016 issue. It surprised me that it was so recent– I don’t remember tearing out the page, and I couldn’t even tell why I pulled it; the other recipes included cocktails and a tzatziki sauce, which are also right up my alley.  But I’m sure glad I tried this recipe, because it’s a winner.


When you flip this cake out of the skillet, the gorgeous summer fruit will be on display. Try using the following measurements for the stone fruit of your choice:

1 1/2 lbs. peaches, peeled, halved and cut into eighths OR
3/4 lb. cherries, pitted and halved OR
1 1/2 lbs. plums, halved and cut into eighths

PREP: 0:25
YIELD: 10 servings

  • 3 tbsp. plus 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • Choice of fruit (see above for measurements)
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In 12″ heavy skillet with oven-safe handle, melt 3 tablespoons butter on medium, swirling to coat side of pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter and continue to cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add fruit, cut sides down, to fill entire bottom of skillet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla until well blended. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture and milk, alternating, until just blended.
  4. Pour batter over fruit in skillet; gently spread into even layer. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in skillet on wire rack 15 minutes. Loosen sides of cake from pan with mini offset spatula or paring knife.
  5. Place large serving platter over skillet. Carefully invert cake onto platter and remove skillet; cool slightly to serve warm or cool 2 hours and serve at room temperature.
Nutritional Information (per serving): Calories 360; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 53g; Total Fat

The first cake I made with plums, which I picked up on clearance at Woodman’s.  I felt like cutting the fruit into eighths was too large, but I followed the directions for a change instead of following my instincts.  (Turns out eighths was perfect, and I’ll explain why in a minute).  The only skillet we have that we know is oven-proof is cast iron, so that’s what I used.  The butter and brown sugar melted beautifully, and I managed to arrange the fruit quite artfully.  The stone fruit is recommended in this cake because it has the density to stand up the the hot pan in step one, as well as 40 minutes in the oven in step 4.  Leaving it in large slices helps keep it from disintegrating while baking.  I used 5 plums, and they were on the large side, so the slices looked pretty thick.


The cake batter came together perfectly.  It is a thicker consistency, more like a pound cake batter, so it took some careful spreading to get it to cover the fruit without moving the slices around.  I think the cake baked for about 35 minutes.  I was worried that it would bubble over, but it rose just enough and stayed exactly put (measure your baking powder precisely, and it wouldn’t hurt to line the bottom of the oven with foil or a baking sheet just in case). The cake turned the most beautiful golden brown, but it looked very dry.  Don’t worry!  Once you flip the cake out of the skillet, it is sweet, moist, and gorgeous!


I wouldn’t change one thing about this recipe, and I can’t begin to describe how it tastes.  Sweet and caramel-y, but well-balanced from the neutral flavor of the cake (shocking to me, because a cup of sugar seems like a lot for the volume of batter produced.  I made this cake again for no occasion at all, except that I bought some peaches at the farmer’s market and wanted to see if my first attempt was beginner’s luck.


It was not beginner’s luck!  This cake is so user-friendly, but I have to give a shout-out to Husband, because flipping this pie out of the cast iron definitely takes four hands. Tendinitis has weakened one of my wrists, and I just don’t trust that I’d be able to handle the weight of the skillet and the giant glass platter on my own.  So Husband flipped and I supported the platter as the cake released (2 for 2 with nothing sticking in the pan).  Make this cake! Because it’s easy, because it’s beautiful, because it’s delicious.  Because it’s the end of summer and the fresh fruit is waning.  But mostly, because it’s cake!