Fancy Pants Sammiches

Tea for Thirty-Two 5

For my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary party I made a large number of cocktail sandwiches – those are the ones where you cut all the crusts off the bread, or you buy the long, already crustless tramezzini (which is what I did). I’m going to give you all my sandwich filling recipes in one post, and I’ll leave it up to you to do with them what you will!

Fancy Sammiches 181: Smokey Egg Salad Fancy Sammiches 6 Start with about a dozen hard-boiled eggs. Smush them up good. Fancy Sammiches 2 Mince up some chives and tip that into the eggs, together with some salt and pepper, a scoop of Hungarian smoked paprika, and a dollop of mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Fancy Sammiches 52: Lemon-Dill Tuna

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Mince up some celery.

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Grab some herbs as well, like sage, and of course dill. Mince those too.

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Add them in a bowl with your canned flaked tuna, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon.

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Add in just a wee bit of yogurt or mayonnaise for cohesion.

3: Classic Cucumber and Herb

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Grab a small handful each of fresh mint and chives. Mince those up.

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Beat those into softened plain cream cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve with sliced cucumbers.

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4: Curried “Coronation” Chicken

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Dismantle and shred a small roasted chicken from the grocery store. Mix in a large amount of fresh chopped pineapple sage, as well as a little bit of onion powder, cumin, yellow curry, and a pinch of cardamom. Tip in plain yogurt or mayonnaise for cohesion.

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5: Peanut Butter & Jelly “Sushi”

Fancy Sammiches 24Smear your bread with the peanut butter of your choice (the all-natural stuff is a mite runny, be warned).

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Top with jelly.

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Roll the whole thing up and slice into discs.

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Punchy Potato Salad

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With potato salad, like most salads, you can wing it more often than not and it turns out great.  It does help, however, to have a general idea of what sort of flavour theme you want to have ahead of time.  For this one I wanted something creamy but also with enough greenery and fresh things in it I didn’t feel like it was coming straight from a plastic grocery store container.

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I started off by washing and chopping 13 medium sized potatoes.  I like to leave the skins on.

Punchy Potato Salad 1

I then boiled them until they were quite soft.

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Then I hard-boiled 6 large eggs by putting them in a pot of water with a dash of vinegar (the vinegar makes the shells easier to remove) and bringing it to a boil; then I turned the water off and left them for 20 minutes.

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I drained the potatoes and chucked them in a large bowl together with about 3 stalks minced celery.  Then I grabbed a handful of herbs from the garden and minced those as well: dill, chives, parsley, green basil, and purple basil.

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Into the bowl.

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Some chopped baby dill pickles too.

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And of course the eggs, which I peeled and chopped coarsely.

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The dressing was simple: Dijon mustard, Wafu’s sesame dressing, and some aioli I picked up at the grocery store (instead of standard mayonnaise).

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A little black pepper never hurt.

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Mix that all together.

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Oh the creamy, dill-y goodness!

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Slow Cooker Dip Week: Spinach and Artichoke

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP WITH BACON.  This dip, adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, is easy and fantastically tasty, and we halved it to fit in our 1/4qt slow cooker.

First, cook up a couple slices of bacon.  Drain those on paper towels and crumble them when they’re cool.

Dips Week 10

Dice up about 1/2 a sweet onion and a few green onions, and chuck them in the bacon skillet with a little bit of the bacon fat and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

Dips Week 2

Chuck those in your 1.4qt slow cooker when they’re ready to go.

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Roughly chop up the contents of a 14oz can of artichoke hearts and huck those in, as well as about half a drained 10oz box frozen spinach.

Dips Week 11

Chop up a sweet bell pepper finely and chuck that in.

Dips Week 8

Crumble up about 2oz blue cheese and pitch that in too, as well as 4oz package plain cream cheese (that’s half a block package).

Dips Week 12

Add in as well as much minced garlic as you like, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and give the whole thing a good stir before covering and cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 hours, until everything is all melty and lovely.

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Stir in your crumbled bacon and you’re good to go.

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It’s the one on the right. Stay tuned for the middle dip on Friday!

Dips Week 30

Petite Piglet Patties

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I was going to call these things “savoury sausage sliders,” or even “summer savoury sausage sliders,” but then the Pie suggested the above title and for some reason I started to laugh so hard I needed a tissue and had to sit down.  And then he suggested that, since we used hot italian sausage meat, we call them “picante petite piglet patties” and I may have told him to shut up at that point.

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Anyway.  These are sliders, if you hadn’t gathered that by now.  I picked up a package of ground sausage meat the other day and this is what we did with it.  Basic ingredients are about 1lb ground pork, 1 egg, half a white onion, and some fresh summer savoury.

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Mince up the savoury and the onion and chuck them in a bowl with the sausage meat and the egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Give that a good stir with a spoon and then mix in about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or whatever kind of bread crumbs you have on hand).

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Form the goo into balls slightly larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cricket ball and flatten them into patties (I ended up with eleven patties).

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Fry those suckers up.  For some reason the light was such in my kitchen on this particular afternoon that it took us twelve tries (the Pie tried to help) of blurry patty photos before I gave up and used flash.

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While that’s on the go, why don’t you have yourself a salad, too?  Here we have a mixture of baby spinach, a small hunk of plain goat’s cheese (chevre), a handful of sliced almonds, another handful of dried cranberries, and a diced ripe pear.

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Then the dressing is 3 equal parts vegetable oil (I used almond, because we’re trying to use it up), rice vinegar, and orange juice).

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Toss it up!

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Top your sliders with whatever floats your boat.  I used mayo, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  The Pie voted for barbecue sauce and cheese.  We had them on some picnic buns I grabbed in the bakery section.

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All in all, a good summer meal. Don’t forget to eat your veggies! You see them peeking at you in the background? Don’t forget them!

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The Family Sammy

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You may not like this sandwich.  It’s a bit of an acquired taste.  It’s also freaking weird.  But bear with me.  It’s really good once you get past the weirdness.

So this sandwich is actually a family recipe that goes back a few generations, to one set of the great-grands on my mother’s side.  Maybe even back to Scotland.  Hard to say.  Origins shrouded in mystery and all that jazz.

Family Sammy 1

Legend has it that my mother made this sandwich for my father as a token of her love back when they were first together.  She packed it into his lunch and sent him off on his day.  When he discovered this — thing — in his lunch he was absolutely horrified.  My mother was offended that he would be disgusted by such a beautiful sandwich.  Forty years later, it’s one of my dad’s favourites.

(Is any of this making you want to try this yet?  I thought so.)

So first you take some rye bread.  I like the swirly stuff, which is pretty mild but you can get a hint of the rye.  My parents prefer the super dense stuff that slices about a centimetre thick.

Family Sammy 2

On one slice of bread, spread some nice mayonnaise.  On the other slice, some peanut butter.  Crunchy is best, but we have smooth on hand for Papa John so that’s what is on offer.  Don’t worry, it’s gonna get weirder.

Family Sammy 4

Slice up a tomato and slide that onto a slice of rye.  Garnish with salt and pepper.

Family Sammy 5

Add a few pieces of red onion (I usually forego this part but I’m sticking with tradition here, just for you).

Family Sammy 6

Then a few thin slices of cheddar cheese.  The cheese, like the onion, is optional.  The main essence of the sandwich is mayo, peanut butter, and tomato on rye.  But I like it with cheese.

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And that’s the sandwich.  I know it seems rather icky, but if you are on the lookout for something a little bit different, I suggest you give it a try.  The combination of tangy mayo with crunchy earthy peanut butter, the burst of flavour from a good tomato on the faint bitterness of rye is actually quite good.  Give it a shot, I dare you.

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What’s your favourite weird sandwich?

Twisted Bee Ell Tee

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I love taking classic dishes and putting a little something extra in them to add just that little bit more to their perfection.  And there is nothing more perfect than the classic BLT (that’s a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, for those few of you uninitiated).  But is that actually true?  No.  Because you can always add.  There’s the BELT, for instance: bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato (on a biscuit, no less).  And a variation of the grilled cheese that we like around these parts, the BTC (bacon, tomato, cheese).

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As I have learned, adding avocado makes pretty much ANYTHING better.  In fact, I think I’m going to make a decree here for the Avocado Rule, which parallels the Pie’s Banana Rule, wherein adding a banana to anything (shakes, smoothies, pies) makes it better.  So this one is the same rule, but, you know, with avocados.  So we’re making a BALT (bacon-avocado-lettuce-tomato).

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We don’t do a lot of sandwiches here at Ali Does It, but with the Pie away for the weekend it’s all I can really muster up the energy for.  This sandwich is at the high end of my give-a-crap level for the next few days.  So stand back in awe.

First you take a nice ripe avocado.  And you cut it open.  And you get rid of the pit.

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And you empty it into a bowl.  I know, this is heady stuff.

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And you mash it up with some garlic and some lime juice.

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Until you have a marvellous guacamole.  I would use a whole avocado for one sandwich but the Pie doesn’t let me so I would recommend one avocado for TWO sandwiches.  Leave that alone for a bit.

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Then you take a couple teaspoons of mayonnaise (whatever kind you want, it’s your sammich), and add a sprinkle or two of chipotle seasoning. Give that a stir.  Tada.  Now you have chipotle mayo.  CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE IT?  Me neither.

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Slice up a tomato while you’re at it.  And wash and dry some lettuce.

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Now you need some bacon.  However much you want, cooked however you like it.  I would recommend at least two slices of bacon per sandwich, but you can do what you want.  I’m not your mother.

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Slice up some bread of your choosing.  This is a simple ciabatta.  Regular sandwich bread is standard.  What is the total BEST though is a nice fresh croissant (it might be my favourite thing ever, especially if you add some gooey Brie to your BALT).  Like the BEST.

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Now you put it together!  Smear on some spicy mayo and soothing guacamole, then layer on your bacon, lettuce, and tomato and you’re good to go.

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Did you need a DIY on how to make a sandwich?  Perhaps not.  But I don’t care.  Because now I get to eat this. With a salad that is mostly comprised of exactly the same ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and bread. Oh well.

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Russian Potato Salad

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One day, way back in December, it was brisk and sunny in St. John’s, and then by the afternoon it looked like this:

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Fortunately, a few days after that, we had a rare sunny day, where the light poured into my kitchen even into the afternoon (which, considering my windows face north and east, is amazing).

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But BAM.  It was that alluvasudden-it’s-winter phenomenon that seems to happen to many Canadian cities.  I was preparing for a pre-holiday potluck and Kª had just informed me (online from tropical Kansas) that Kº had gotten a job in Russia and that they were moving back there in February, and taking Il Principe and the Incredibly Little Hulk with them (not like they would have left them behind, of course).

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Having recently read Sasha’s recipe for Russian Potato Salad (or Olivier Salad) over at Global Table Adventure, I thought that it would be fitting for me to make this easy and cheerful salad for our holiday potluck (and I definitely left a substantial chunk of it with Kº when we left for Ottawa).  So this one’s for you, the Russians-who-formerly-lived-downstairs.  Прощайте и удачи.  Have a safe trip!

First, we boil.

Plop 4 large eggs into a pot of water, bring that to boil, then turn the heat off and let that sit with the lid on for about 20 minutes.  In another pot, boil up 3 large carrots and 2lbs potatoes.  Boil them until they’re just tender, not mushy.  Rinse them with cold water to cool them down and then peel them.  It may sound tricky, but it’s actually easier.

Then, we chop. Gren helped/cleaned the floor.

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Chop up those eggs quite fine.

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As well as 3-4 large dill pickles.  Make those into tiny cubes.

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In fact, cube everything, your potatoes, your carrots, as well as 1lb cooked ham.  You’ll also want about 2 cups peas (I used frozen), but you don’t need to chop those.  That would end badly.  I also chopped up those green onions I’d been saving.

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Mix all that cheery goodness together and season with salt and pepper.

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I also decided that potato salad isn’t potato salad without some paprika.  This is a sweet smoked variety from Spain.

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Then you slather on the mayonnaise, about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups, depending on your preference.  Only dress the salad you plan to eat, as it will get soggy after a while.

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Tasty!

Quick Mini Dips: Tzatziki and Chipotle Mayo

Quick Mini Dips

I get into trouble often with the Pie for making too much of something, which means we are left with leftovers well past the time when such leftovers retain any appeal.  As a result, I’m trying my best to cut down on the size of things I make, even if I’m not using a recipe.  I have discovered, when it comes to dips and sauces, the best way to keep them small is to actually construct them WITHIN the container in which you plan to serve them.  It even saves you having to wash an extra bowl.

Quick Mini Dips

These two dips can be made in minutes, and they provide a great side for fried or baked chicken, potatoes, burgers, na’an … you name it.  Making them in sealable containers meant that we could take them outside for a Victoria Day picnic.

For the Tzatziki:

In your container, place a dollop of minced garlic (about a teaspoon) and another of fresh chopped dill (this stuff came in a tube, so it’s a generous squirt, if that helps with your measurements).  I wouldn’t use dried dill, if you can avoid it.  I don’t think the flavour would be strong enough.  Then you want to grate up about 4 or 5 inches of cucumber.  It gets messy.

Quick Mini Dips

Squeeze your grated cucumber to get out the excess water and plop it in your container.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the rest of the container up with Greek yogurt.  You can use plain Balkan-style yogurt but the Greek is thicker.

Quick Mini Dips

Give that a stir and let it sit for a little bit.  Yum!

Quick Mini Dips

For the Chipotle Mayo:

In your container, plop a few shakes chipotle seasoning, together with a couple drops tabasco sauce and a dollop of minced garlic.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the container up with a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream or Greek yogurt.  I used half mayonnaise, then a quarter yogurt and a quarter sour cream.

Quick Mini Dips

Stir that up well (make sure to scrape up all the goodness on the bottom) and let that sit a bit.  It’s got some kick!

Quick Mini Dips

Farmer’s Market Potato Salad

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

This recipe comes from Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool.  At one point in this book the authors note that potato salad is as American as apple pie.  Thankfully they leave it at that.  Because I am a sports researcher, it drives me absolutely bonkers when I read somewhere that something is “as American as baseball and apple pie.”  In case you didn’t know (and on the slight off-chance that you actually care), baseball actually originated in Canada.  So while it may be the great American pastime (and gridiron football will start hemming and hawing to be noticed at this point), it ain’t American.

I don’t, on the other hand, know anything about the origins of potato salad.  Sorry ’bout that.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that potato salad came from wherever it is that potatoes are indigenous.

Okay enough blather.  You want a recipe.  Of course I left the recipe book at home and I’m at school so I’m guessing on the measurements from my photographs.  It’s not like potato salad is an exact science.

Start with 2 pounds new potatoes.  Plop those babies in a pot, cover them with water, and boil them until they are nice and yielding when you stab them with a sharp knife.  Not that most squishy things don’t yield when you stab them with a sharp knife.  And I don’t really like the turn this post is taking … So on that note, drain the cooked potatoes and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop the potatoes up into halves or quarters or thirds (whatever works for the size of your potato) and plop those in a bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Take 1 stalk celery, with all the objectionable bits cut off, and chop that up for the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Then take a TINY onion.  You can see the scale.  I have tiny munchkin/carnie hands, so objects in photo are smaller than they appear.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Because the recipe calls for only 1/4 cup chopped onion and that’s a very small amount.    Stick that in the bowl as well.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1/2 cup green peas.  I thawed these from the freezer.  So much for market fresh!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1 hardboiled egg, as well.  I don’t care how you get it, but once you have it, peel it and chop it up and add the bits to the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop up some fresh herbs, about 1 tablespoon chives and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

How I love chopping herbs!  Well except thyme.  That sucker’s a real pain.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

So that’s all the bits, in the bowl.  Except the herbs.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now the dressing is something unnecessarily confabulated, like 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Or whatever the stuff in that wee bowl looks like to you.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now, toss everything together and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few hours   (or overnight) to let the flavours blend.  Then eat your face off!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Pioneer Potato Salad

Pioneer Potato Salad

We had a Valentine’s cold-plate potluck at work on Tuesday and I was assigned to make a potato-egg salad.  And as the best one out there belongs to the Pioneer Woman, that’s the one I made, with some modifications of course.  Ever since the grocery store down the block closed I have found myself without certain key ingredients at unfortunate times.  Today, it was green onions.  So I improvised.

Wash and cube about 5lbs potatoes.  I used two different kinds, for the colour.  You can peel them if you want, but I like the texture and flavour of potato skins so I left them in.  Plop those in a large pot and boil them until they’re tender and mashable.

Pioneer Potato Salad

You’re also going to want to hard boil 4 eggs, through whatever method you use.  When they’re ready, peel them up.  Mine were pretty recalcitrant and refused to be peeled in a civilized manner.  The shells would not come off without a fight.

Pioneer Potato Salad

I punished them through the vigor of my chopping (even if your eggs are well-behaved, you’ll still want to chop them up).

Pioneer Potato Salad

Finely chop as well half an onion (or 5 green onions).

Pioneer Potato Salad

And a handful of sweet pickles.  You can use dills, if you prefer, but I think it’s better with the sweet ones.

Pioneer Potato Salad

In a bowl, mix together about 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise and 4 tablespoons mustard (I used a stone-ground dijon here, but you can use what you like).

Pioneer Potato Salad

In a wee bowl, arrange about 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  I also added 2 tablespoons dried chives, for colour, as I was missing the green onions.

Pioneer Potato Salad

I also had another wee dish of dried dill, for garnish.

Pioneer Potato Salad

So here is my mis en place.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Mash your boiled potatoes.  I really like the colour combination of the white and yellow ones here.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Stir in your mayo/mustard mix.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Add in your eggs, onions, pickles, paprika, salt, and optional chives.  Make sure to scrape the bottom so you get everything mixed in evenly.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Plop it in a serving dish.  The best part about this potato salad is it’s good hot, warm, and cold.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and some dill, or whatever floats your boat.  It’s not elegant, but it’s good!

Pioneer Potato Salad