One of my favorite blogs, Big Girls Small Kitchen, has a fantastic section called "Working with What You Have," which I think is a great way to describe the way I cook when I cook for myself. Sometimes, of course, I'll cook big meals and run to various grocery stores and farmer's markets, but a lot of the time, I'm just too lazy. I get home and open my refrigerator and try to make something up that might be half-decent with whatever I've got in there.
This week, I had some leftover potatoes from a dinner I made for Wright. They were small Yukon Golds - my favorite - and with it finally starting to feel like summer I knew I had to make potato salad with them. It would be the perfect snack to have on hand at home, and would last me a couple of lunches at work.
Now, of course I have a few potato salad recipes up my sleeve. My mom makes a great one, there are multiple at Smitten Kitchen, and Ina's variations are all heavenly, as would be expected from Ina Garten. But, I didn't really have some of the necessary ingredients for any of these specific recipes - celery, dill, red onion, whole grain mustard, etc. And since I was making this meal out of leftover potatoes, going to the store for more ingredients, I felt, would kind of defeat the whole purpose. So I decided to make something up.
Of course, I had my trusty herb garden at my disposal, so I was a little ahead of the game, but otherwise I just went as simple as possible. And it was beyond delicious, if I do say so myself. Not that anyone could really mess up potato salad. But it was nice to make it exactly the way that I like it.
Here's what to do, if you happen to have these ingredients on hand. If not, make up your own. Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water with salt and turn on the stove. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes or so. During that time, cut up a handful of chives and three spring onions, and put them in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add a large spoonful of mayonnaise, and a small spoonful of Dijon mustard. When the potatoes are done (nice and soft inside when poked with a fork), drain them in the sink, and cut them into quarters when they are cool enough to handle. Put them into the bowl with the other ingredients and mix around until everything is covered. Add salt and pepper. Taste, and add more mustard or more mayonnaise or more salt or more pepper if necessary. Put into the refrigerator, and enjoy when cold. Better yet, the next day or the day after.
N.B. I have just finished reading Nora Ephron's Heartburn, in which she slips in recipes written in the style above. Though at first it threw me to not have the list of ingredients first, and everything neatly put into steps, I really caught on by the end of the book. And I thought this style really suited my casual, super easy, working with what you have potato salad.