Monday, February 22, 2010

You say Potato, I say Potato!

This weeks recipe just to happened to fall on Valentine's Day and what better way than to celebrate with your loved one and good friends! Since we hadn't seen them in a while, we decided to get together with Valerie and Ryan for Valentine's Day and just hang out and watch movies. We definitely didn't want to go out and face the crowds since Valentine's fell on the weekend this year! So instead, we decided that Val and Ryan would bring the meat (pork chops, YUM) and I would make my next recipe in line from my book which was Grilled Potato Salad with Watercress, Green Onions and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette.

Since I am the worlds biggest procrastinator (ok maybe not THAT bad), I waited until the day of to go out and get all the ingredients for this recipe, which at the time seemed pretty simple. We had a lot of the stuff already at the house, so all I needed were: red potatoes, shallot, green onion, blue cheese, watercress & aged sherry wine vinegar. That's nothing like chipotles in adobo sauce or anything, right (refer to pressure cooker chili for that story)?! So Adam and I head off to Kroger to get everything, that afternoon, and our first headache was finding the aged sherry wine vinegar! We say sherry cooking wine and aged vinegar, but no combination of the two! So after standing and talking for what seemed like forever...since all the last minute, disgruntled husbands were all frantically taking over the store trying to find cards, balloons, dinner ingredients, flowers, etc...we decided that we would buy both and just mix it together to make our own aged sherry wine vinegar. So we continue along, trying to get in and out as quickly as possible, because neither of us do well in crowds of people, and hit another road block-watercress was no where to be found. After looking up pictures from google on Adam's phone thinking that maybe I was mistaken and it isn't a leafy green veggie, I decided to ask the produce stocker if they carried it. He proceeded to say, "hmmm, let me check" and I followed him over to where I had just come from and he pointed and said, "No, we just have water chestnuts" (apparently everything was in alphabetical order)! SERIOUSLY Mr. Produce stocker guy...I mean I know you were stocking the oranges, but watercress and water chestnuts are two TOTALLY different foods. Not to mention I sincerely loath water chestnuts and just hearing him say that word made me gag! I tell him, ya that's not quite it...watercress is a leafy green veggie and he said "OH YA, you are like the 4th person to ask about that, so I'll let my Manager know and maybe we can get it in stock for you". I politely said thank you and found my way back over to Adam who was gathering the green onions (which side note: 2 green onions means 2 stems of green onions, not 2 bunches, haha LOVE YOU HUN)! Since waiting a week for them to get watercress in stock wasn't really an option, we decided we would give Tom Thumb a try, since they seem to be an upper class Kroger and are right around the corner. ALSO I need to mention that we put both the sherry wine and aged wine vinegar back, thinking that maybe Tom Thumb would carry the aged sherry wine vinegar we needed as well!

We enter Tom Thumb and quickly discover that they do not carry watercress, but decide to ask Customer Service, just in case they had it hidden in the cereal isle or something (we were desperate)! While Adam dealt with Customer Service, I went off to look for my aged sherry wine vinegar, only to discover that they carry the exact same sherry wine and aged wine vinegar as Kroger it is just about $3 more expensive!!! Feeling more than frustrated, I return to where Adam is and of course the watercress wasn't hidden on the cereal isle, they don't carry it either. I told Adam that I no longer think that Tom Thumb is an upper class is just the same store, same stuff, more expensive! We decided we would give Whole Foods and/or Central Market a try. Instead of driving to both and getting the same result as we had with Kroger and Tom Thumb, we called to check first and found out both of the stores carried watercress and they had it in stock. Of course I'm thinking we will just go to Whole Foods, since it is closer than Ft. Worth, but Adam quickly reminds me that the All-Star game is in town and Whole Foods is located right by the stadium and he was not going anywhere near that area of town. I was in complete agreement, and it doesn't hurt that I absolutely love Central Market, so we decide to go there instead! So LONG story short, we find watercress at Central Market, but still no aged sherry wine vinegar. I decide to just get sherry cooking wine and mix it with some white vinegar and use that, because if Central Market doesn't have it then it must be a New York thing and I didn't have the time nor money to make that trip to find it!

Moving right along to the fun stuff...the cooking part!! First you have to take the potatoes and par boil them. This is basically placing your whole potatoes in a pot of cold water, bringing it to a boil and as soon as it starts to boil, removing it from the heat, draining and letting the potatoes cool for a bit. After I was done with letting the potatoes cool, I got to bust out my super cool julienner that Adam got me for Christmas! I have to admit I was standing there about to try and measure and cut my potatoes by hand 1/4 inch thick and Adam reminded me that I now had super cool kitchen gadgets that can do that for me! Thank goodness for him, otherwise I would have been there for hours measuring and cutting potatoes, ugh! With the julienner it was a cinch and the potatoes were done in no time. Although, I must warn you, they are SUPER sticky at this point. After they were all cut and put into a bowl, I tossed them with some olive oil (just enough to coat them all) and salt and pepper (again, just eye ball it) and it was off to the grill. Adam went ahead and lit the grill again for me and placed it against the house so that the horrid wind wouldn't blow my flame out. Not the safest thing to do and I don't recommend it at home, but it was my only option. I think my next invenstment will be an in-door grill like the Neely's use on Food Netword! I carefully and meticulously placed all my potatoes on the grill and waited about 10 minutes before flipping them over and cooking again for another 10 minutes. Note: Since there are different "hot spots" on the grill, you may have to re-arrange some of the potatoes so they all get evenly browned.

While my potatoes were finishing up on the grill I went ahead and combined my sherry wine with my white vinegar to make my aged sherry wine vinegar. I then added my chopped shallot, dijon mustard and 1/2 cup of olive oil to the bowl. While that sat, I chopped my watercress and green onions and set them aside for later. Since I was knee deep in doing all of this, I lost track of time, but luckily Adam had my back and was able to remove my potatoes from the grill for me and bring them inside! Once you have your potatoes grilled you just simply toss it in your vinaigrette mixture of olive oil, shallot, vinegar and mustard and remove them with some tongs and set them aside in a bowl or platter of your choice. Then you take your watercress and green onion and add it to the remaining vinaigrette.After you have everything tossed in your vinaigrette, it's time to crumble your blue cheese. The recipe called for Cabrales blue cheese or Roquefort blue cheese. Kroger didn't carry Cabrales, but luckily had Roquefort on hand. The piece I got was about the size of the palm of my hand and cost $8! So this isn't just any blue cheese we are talking about. The "cheese lady", for lack of a better term, at Kroger informed me that a little bit of this blue cheese goes a long way! I am not really a huge blue cheese fan, so this was the only part of the recipe I was hesitant about. The thought of aged, moldy cheese just doesn't excite me! Luckily the recipe only called for 1/2 of the blue cheese! I crumbled it up and placed it on top of my potatoes (washed my hands, because this stuff was pungent) and then poured my remaining vinaigrette over my potatoes and blue cheese and tossed it all together!

We had these delicious, thick, juicy pork chops that Valerie and Ryan brought over to pair with the potatoe salad and a side green spinach salad, and I must say it was quite the feast! It all not only looked pretty together, but complimented each other quite well in taste. I wasn't a huge fan of this recipe, just because of the blue cheese, but everyone else said they really enjoyed it and even went back for seconds AND thirds! They all promised they weren't just doing it to make me feel good and they genuinely liked it, so I will take their word for it! For dessert (since you HAVE to have dessert on Valentine's) Valerie and Ryan brought over and assortment of candy and m&m cookies...DELICIOUS! So we all just sat around and nibbled on chocolates and watched a movie after dinner! It was the perfect Valentine's Day surrounded by lots of love and laughter!

Recipe Rating: Medium, only because not everyone has a julienner to save time
Good Leftover: My Mom was the only one who tried it left over and said it was good (note: she also ate it cold)
Tip: Never trust Tom Thumb to carry what Kroger doesn't and call ahead to other grocery stores before going on a wild goose chase!
Stay tuned in 2 weeks-Grilled Oysters with Mango Pico de Gallo and Red Chili Horseradish

You can find the Grilled Potato Salad with Watercress, Green Onions & Blue Cheese Vinaigrette recipe here (FYI: The quail wasn't in my recipe book):

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