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The Agony and Ecstasy of Cooking and Baking

Jauneta StoutWhat you do with what you’ve got applies to more than time, talent and money. It applies to recipes. Most cooks know the agony and the ecstasy of changing the recipe just a little bit. The trick, of course, is knowing when you must adhere faithfully and when you can improvise.

So, we come to potato salad. I envy you folks who have new potatoes and tomatoes just a few yards away in your well tended gardens. But, not all is lost. The local road side stand had both, just what I needed for a new recipe.

New Potato Salad

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon pesto sauce. I have made pesto when basil was plentiful, but now it is limited to a space in the herb pot. So, eliminate that. Here is the recipe I found possible with what I had on hand. I found it to be in the ecstasy class.

8 medium new red potatoes
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt
1/2 cup (more or less) mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion
1 rib celery, minced
1/2 cup (or more) rough chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup chopped tomato

Cut unpeeled red potatoes in 1-inch pieces. Cook briefly in salted water. The trick is not to overcook them. They need to have some bite. Drain, add vinegar and salt, toss. Chill. While they are chilling prepare dressing by chopping celery, onions and herbs to a medium chop (food processor works good here) and add to mayo. When all is chilled, combine, add chopped tomatoes and enjoy! I used a combination of parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. Be sure to remove the hard stems of herbs.

For Elizabeth, who wanted my sour dough bread recipe. This recipe is known as Akiko’s Sourdough Bread.

First you must have some sourdough starter. I do have recipes for making your own, but getting some from a friend is easier. To feed the sourdough use 1 cup warm water (microwave 1 minute), add 3/4 cup sugar, and 3 heaping tablespoons instant mashed potatoes . Stir until dissolved, then add to existing starter. Use all glass containers. Let sourdough mixture sit at room temperature least 8 hours. It should get nice and bubbly, then refrigerate. In a day or two, or up to a week, you can make the bread.

Measure 1-1/4 cups starter, set aside. Put remaining starter back in fridge.

In a very large non-metal bowl mix 1-1/2 cups warm water (microwave 1 minute), 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved, then add 1/2 cup canola oil. Add the starter and stir. Add 6 cups bread flour. Have an extra 1 cup flour ready for the board and as needed. Knead on floured board, turning and pressing with heel of hand until nice and elastic, about 5 minutes. Return to large, well oiled bowl, cover and let rise for from 8 to 10 hours. May leave overnight.

The next day, knead again, briefly. Divide dough into 3 loves and place in bread pans coated with shortening or coconut oil. Oil tops of loaves. With sharp knife make diagonal cuts in loaves. Let rise for 8 to 10 hours. (I have left it overnight.) Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. Butter tops of loaves and cool on wire rack.

Tip: One batch will act differently from the next. May rise more, need longer to rise. But all is delicious.

Starter can remain in fridge for a week or longer between feedings. There will be a difference in the taste of the bread the longer it is between feedings. This basic recipe is rather sweet.

Bread

Photo by Fotolia/arianhabich