Everyone has a favorite summertime potato salad recipe, and here’s ours: infused with Dijon mustard, tart white wine vinegar, and plenty of chives, parsley and dill. It’s our go-to BBQ side.
Here’s a not-at-all hypothetical scenario for you. You email somebody an invite to a summer grill-out, and they get tremendously happy and excited and reply “Great! What potato salad church do you worship at?”. Because you have now encountered a Potato Salad Enthusiast and your previous plan of just buying a tub of the stuff at the grocery store is no longer going to fly.
Give chicken thighs or breasts a long marinade in Green Goddess dressing, and char them to perfection on the grill along with sweet red onions. Then dollop more herby dressing on them for good measure and eat dinner under the stars.
Well, it was inevitable. Last week, after complaining that the summer had been so cold after a spring that was so cold and a winter that was so very cold, we finally got hit with the annual New York heatwave. And to the friends and family members who always say “OMG I love this heat! I could take it all year round!”, I literally do not know who you are and please get off me with your sweaty hug. While we were merrily cavorting around the garden a few days ago, tending to the herbs, the tomato plants and the budding zucchinis, now we’re staring sadly through the window from the air-conditioned interior. It may look pretty out there, but just half an hour in the sun and we both tend to go all Mad Max Fury Road. And nobody wants that.
So if we can’t go to the herbs, the herbs must come to us. And that’s best achieved in the form of Green Goddess dressing. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a fancied up ranch, loaded up with Greek yogurt, a little mayonnaise, garlic and all the soft herbs in the garden.
Strawberry Lemon Curd: A balanced spread, not too sweet, not too tart, that lets all the fruit shine through.
Getting a reputation can be a mixed blessing. I once revealed to the cook in our local deli that we own chickens, and from that day on, whenever I walk through the door, she yells “Hey, chicken man!”. Over the years, we’ve made several friends in Beacon through introductions to our lemon curd. We’ll meet a new person, tell them about Nerds with Knives, and then their eyes will light up and they’ll exclaim “I made the lemon curd! It was so lemony!” It’s very flattering, but it does mean we feel that we have to keep ahead of expectations. After all, we can’t coast on lemon curd forever. So it’s a good thing that we have a glut of garden and local farm strawberries, because that means we can make Strawberry Lemon Curd! (It’s like normal lemon curd. But with strawberries.)
A classic American sandwich, with a twist: Kimchi Pimento Cheese Patty Melt. It’s a thin burger topped with caramelized onions, served on griddled rye bread slathered with spicy Kimchi Pimento Cheese. A happy, if messy, marriage between a burger and a buttery grilled cheese sandwich, this is the ultimate five-napkin dinner.
Even though I grew up in New York, I’d never had a patty melt until just a few years ago. The classic version (a thin ground beef patty topped with either Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, pan fried in butter) was said to have originated in Southern California in the restaurant chain of William “Tiny” Naylor in the 1940s or 1950s. It’s become a staple of diners, bars and dives all over the U.S.
Basically a happy, messy mashup of a grilled onion-topped burger and a grilled cheese sandwich, as soon as we made our first batch of Kimchi Pimento Cheese, we knew what we wanted to do with it.
Pimento cheese doesn’t have to be eaten in a sandwich – and neither does it need to contain pimento. Say what?! Before you flay us alive for our heresy, let us hurriedly explain that we replaced the pickled pepper with fermented home-made kimchi. And we, frankly, think it’s even better.
Pimento cheese, the iconic spread of the American south, turns out not to be very southern at all – at least in terms of its origins. It’s so associated with the south that it’s hard to imagine the spread (a mix of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise and diced red pimentos) as coming from anywhere else, but our friends at Serious Eats did a little digging and discovered that pimento cheese actually got its start up north, in New York, as a way to market the burgeoning production of cream cheese.
In the 1870s, New York farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese, similar to Neufchâtel, that eventually evolved into cream cheese. Around the same time, Spain started exporting canned red peppers — or “pimiento” — to the United States. Eventually a combination of the cheese, peppers and mayonnaise became the spread we know today and like any good origin story, the lore soon outgrew its humble beginnings and pimento cheese became a staple of church picnics and neighborhood potlucks and fancy restaurants all over the southern U.S.
While most loved between two slices of bread, the cheese spread is versatile enough to lend itself to a variety of uses – as a dip, as a topping (think cheeseburgers, or our favorite, patty melts), and even as a stuffing for meats like chicken breasts, or pork chops.