Here is an exciting report from the front lines of glamour and adventure. About three weeks ago, the interior door-knob of our front door came off in the hand of the family member (yours truly) who was attempting to lead a group exit from the building. Door-knob misadventures are not uncommon in our house, where we seem to dwell under a curse from a malevolent hardware fairy, but the involvement of the front door to this degree was pretty novel. My son was sent around via the side door to open the door from the outside (this is pretty exciting, isn’t it?) and because we were in the grips of a heat-wave, the doorstop was engaged to keep the trap from being sprung again, and the door remained in this open position until last night, when the temperature mercifully dropped, and my husband thoughtfully closed the door to keep us warm, and then remarked upon the absence of the device that would allow him to reverse the procedure. This morning the perfect storm of circumstances–the family trapped indoors, husband not yet engaged in the day’s activities, my synapses firing like Revolutionary artillery–combined to prompt my asking him to re-attach the knob. The knob was nowhere to be found, of course–Murphy’s Law states clearly that the knob can never be found when someone is ready to re-attach it–until we all recalled the admonition of the eldest daughter NOT TO MOVE HER STILL LIFE. The knob has a starring role, as it happens, and is not available for re-attachment until the contract on that appearance runs out. Exit, stage left, until further notice.
I am not sure why it struck me as so hilarious to find the door-knob in her still life–even less sure now that I have subjected you to the anecdote. I think it may be because it reminds me of one of my favorite books, but I am completely sure it has nothing at all to do with potatoes.
I read about these potatoes a while ago, bookmarking them for future reference and then forgetting about them completely. Moved to make a potato salad yesterday, I started to think about roasting the potatoes, and the memory dredged back up, and this is where it all settled when the dust cleared. A very lemony, herb-y, mildly mayonnaise-y, warm potato salad.
Use whatever mayonnaise you like. I only like this one, not because it is vegan and not because it is supposed to be healthy, but because it is not at all sweet and I think sweet mayonnaise is a profoundly unpleasant thing to get involved with. I am confident you can find fresh shiso in an Asian market, which is where I find it in every season except summer, when all I have to do is exit my house (trickier than it sounds) to find it in the yard. I love its mysterious flavor. Maybe you don’t, in which case basil makes a fine substitute. Maybe you do not have the tail end of a jar of preserved lemons taking up real estate in your fridge; I think you could substitute a T of olive oil, a T of lemon juice and a tsp of salt for the brine I used. Wickedly lemony is what you are after, with a balance of salty. A little garlic wouldn’t go amiss here either, I just didn’t feel like eating any yesterday.
Boiling potatoes before frying or roasting them is a little trick I learned from a homesick Swiss teenager who lived with us one summer; she boiled potatoes and then grated them to make rosti, taking frequent breaks to play mournful folk songs on the Schwyzeroergeli, which is a sound that carries in a small house, let me just say. The boiling first is a nice trick; it kind of sets the starch and keeps everything Swiss-tidy, as well as cutting down the amount of time the oven has to be on, but is an entirely optional step.
roasted potato salad with doctored mayo
inspired by MySocialChef
- 4 large yukon gold or red bliss potatoes (I think it was about 2 #)
- olive oil
- 1/3 c mayonnaise
- 2T brine from preserved lemons, or the substitute noted above
- 2t toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper, or the heat of your choice
- about half a cup of finely shredded fresh shiso or sesame leaves, or fresh basil
Drop the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until the exteriors are just tender, about 20 minutes for large potatoes. Drain and cool enough to handle without yelping. Heat the oven to 425, and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the potatoes in large chunks and in a large bowl, gently toss them with enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet, and roast until some portion of each potato is golden and they are all cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Doctor the mayo to your tastes. It should be puckeringly lemony, with enough saltiness to balance it. When the potatoes are merely warm, toss them with the dressing and the herbs. If your shiso is the red variety and the salad sits a while, a charming pinkness results. I can’t tell you how this tastes chilled; we snarfed it all up room temperature and there was none left to refrigerate.