Him: And...potato salad!?!
Me: Well, it is your birthday...
Him: I love you.
Me: In that case, we'll have carrot cake, too.
For Step 1:
About 2-3 lbs white or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
For Step 3:
4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped*
3/4 c. chopped green onion
1 c. finely diced celery
1/4 c. minced Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. creole seasoning or seasoned salt of your choice
Place potatoes and salt in a large pot of cool water. Place the pot over medium high heat, and set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, check the potatoes for doneness. They should be cooked through but not mushy. Give them another minute or two if they need it.
While the potatoes are boiling, whisk olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Start with about 1 1/2 tsp. of salt and maybe 1 tsp. of pepper. When the potatoes are done, drain, and immediately add the hot potatoes to the bowl and stir gently to completely coat them. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper, and then allow to cool completely. This step gives the potatoes a nice dose of flavor, as they will absorb the oil and vinegar mixture as they cool. It will also help them keep their shape in the finished salad. Neat trick!
While the potatoes are cooling (or the night before if you are so inclined), chop up all the green stuff, and get your hard boiled eggs ready. Stir the mayo, the mustard and the seasoned salt together in a smaller bowl and set aside. When the potatoes are cool, stir in the eggs, green onions, celery and parsley. Then carefully mix in the mayo/mustard combo.
Taste for seasonings, then store in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.
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Carrot Cake, too!
From the wonderful New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill
Let's just say that if there is carrot cake on the menu, my husband will order it. I tried recipe after recipe for many (many!!**) a birthday of his until I hit upon this one, and I've never looked back. The only carrot cake that even comes close is the one from The Baker, a terrific neighborhood spot in Woodland Hills that makes a killer double layered version that we both swoon over.
For the cake:
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 c. sugar
4 1/2 c. freshly grated carrots (about 10-12 large carrots)
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
3 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
6 large eggs
For the frosting:
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
12 oz. (1 1/2 pkg.) cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs. milk or cream
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350, and oil a 13x9 or 10x15 pan***.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, carrots and walnuts. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using an electric mixer, add three eggs to the carrot mixture, then 1/2 of the flour mixture, then the other three eggs, and then the last of the flour. Beat well on medium speed after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until the cake is springy to the touch in the middle. This will take about 45-50 minutes in the 13x9 pan, or 35-40 minutes in the larger pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, blend butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the milk and the vanilla and beat well. Finally, mix in the powdered sugar and the salt. It will be smooth and silky and absolutely delicious. But don't eat all of it right now. It is supposed to go on the cake.
When the cake has cooled, you can either frost it right there in the pan, or turn the cake out onto a serving plate to frost the whole thing.
Some people (not me) like to throw a bunch of extra walnuts around the side or decorate with little frosted carrots. But for special occasions, I do let my twelve year old go a little crazy with the red food coloring.
Whatever makes them happy, right? Right.
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* I use this neat tool that I inherited from my mom. You can use it to create perfect egg slices, or, if you rotate the egg after the first slicing, you get beautiful little egg matchsticks. I thought I had some kind of vintage heirloom, but it turns out you can get these on Amazon for less than $20. Otherwise, using a knife works great, too.
** He's had plenty of birthdays, so all this practice hasn't been an issue.
*** I used a 10x15 size in the pictures here, so the cake is not quite as high as it will be if you use the smaller pan.