I’ve long been an avid follower of the New York Times Dining section and have watched with interest the changes that recent years have wrought on it.
It has long been home to some of the best restaurant reviewing out there (for the record, I am a Frank Bruni devotee, and if you can’t see the genius in this review, which is both a fine piece of criticism and the classiest professional self-outing on record, I fear you may be a philistine) and excellent articles on American food culture and errata, but their actual home cooking writing was for years slanted much too much toward the unrealistically fancy.
No longer. While Mark Bittman’s weekly Minimalist column was once the sole home of recipes that I might actually cook, the Times now regularly runs several recipes a week that are eminently doable under a myriad of headings including “A Good Appetite” and the recently launched “Cooking with Dexter,” which sees Dining section editor Pete Wells cooking with his young son Dexter – it’s an admittedly schmaltzy conceit, but so far I’ve found it more charming than saccharine. And the Minimalist himself now has a blog and a video series in addition to his regular column. There’s clearly been a conscious shift.
My favorite addition, though, is the Recipes for Health series that is part of Tara Parker-Pope’s Well blog. TPP, as she signs her numerous responses to reader comments, is a good journalist and a great blogger. She does an impressive job of surveying research, and gives her readers a sense of what’s fact, what’s consensus, what’s theory, and what’s hokum.
And she runs terrific recipes. The Recipes for Health site is a great place (in addition, of course, to Food Junta) to turn when in need of some culinary inspiration. This potato salad is from Martha Rose Shulman, a professional recipe and cookbook author, and it’s fantastic…
Potato salad can be a divisive food, with fervent pro- and anti-mayonnaise camps. Even the addition of celery is contentious. This salad has the advantage of containing neither celery nor mayonnaise, instead gaining crunch from diced red onion and creaminess from goat cheese. I also like that the potatoes are steamed, which yielded a better texture than boiling. Rinsing red onion makes it milder and is also good advice.
The recipe below is actually quite small – a pound and a half of potatoes is actually only about three spuds. I doubled it to serve as a side dish for five people and only had a tiny bit left. I’d recommend following suit. Other than that, I left the recipe untouched. While I often skip fresh herbs because I’m cheap, I definitely recommend doing the parsley here as all of the other flavors are quite mild.
Warm Potato Salad with Goat Cheese
by Martha Rose Shulman
You can use Yukon golds, fingerlings or red bliss potatoes for this warm, creamy salad. The goat cheese melts into the dressing when you toss it with the hot potatoes.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small or medium garlic clove, minced or pureed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or for a low-fat dressing use 1/4 cup low-fat yogurt or buttermilk and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold, fingerling or red bliss potatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion (to taste), rinsed with cold water and drained
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 ounces soft goat cheese
2 to 3 sage leaves, cut in thin slivers (optional)
1. Make the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil or the yogurt and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings, Set aside.
2. Scrub the potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch dice if large. If using fingerlings cut in 3/4 inch slices. Steam above 1 inch of boiling water until tender but not mushy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss while hot in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste, the onions, parsley, goat cheese, and the dressing. Sprinkle the sage over the top and serve.
Yield: Serves 6 (not actually)
Advance preparation: You can make the dressing several hours before making the salad.