Provençal potato salad

Food Group met this week for dinner. Our host selected Ina Garten as the theme. (FYI, I’m selecting Betty Crocker when I get my turn.) Anyway, I have nothing against Ina, she’s always having gays over for dinner so at least I know I could possibly be on the list of people she’d eat with. But I think her food is sort of run of the mill-ish. Not that I have any problem with it, it’s well done but just relatively normal food. At least that’s what I think, as it turns out, I have many opinions.

I chose “side dish or starch” as my assignment and then picked Provençal potato salad as the dish to accompany a mustard glazed chicken dish that would be the main course. I was skeptical of the potato salad recipe because I also think that Ina over-complicates things sometimes and this recipe was complicated. I had the opportunity to undermine Ina and simplify but our commandant, er, host has often accused me of not following directions so I just went with it and really, when it comes down to it when do I ever simplify things?

Like I said, I was skeptical and it was far more complicated than I’d imagined. After a suitable amount of handwringing, covering with clean towels (Like who would put a dirty towel on anything?!?) dousing with stock, blanching, chopping, mincing and whisking, I finished it and got it over to Karen’s. I tasted it earlier on and it seemed too vinegary for me but, like I said, I’d followed the recipe with military precision. Any too-vinegary-ness would be Ina’s fault. Just sayin’

This meal was just fabulous, Ina Garten notwithstanding. The potato salad was perfect as was everything else. Menu follows, recipes are linked.

Pan fried onion dip and Green herb dip

Green salad

Provençal potato salad

Chicken thighs with creamy mustard

Mocha chocolate Icebox cake

Imma still do Betty Crocker next time.

Chocolate pie

I asked one of my co-workers to help me with this blog, I had no freaking idea what the hell I was doing, of course, what else is new? He gave me a lot of help (as far as I know he just pushed a button but the hell? it was a button I didn’t know how to push) So I told him I’d make him a key lime pie. He responded by asking me if it could be chocolate. I am really unfamiliar with people who don’t like key lime pie. I mean, even if it’s not your favorite, it’s still good isn’t it?

OK, whatever. I’m fine with that except that I can make a key lime pie in my sleep and I’ve never made a chocolate pie. I went with a Nigella Lawson recipe that seems (haha) easy-ish. (recipe here) The crust was easy, it’s just ground Oreos and butter. What’s not to like? as what’s-her-name Garten says fatuously when she’s using fattening ingredients. The filling, though, having never made anything like this before, was, you know, an anxiety-provoking hell. It worked out (as it usually does, so much for all the anxiety) until I picked it up after it had cooled to a relative solid. The pie was in a tart pan with a removable bottom. So fun.

I picked it up and the now cooled-and-set-pie-sitting-on-the-removable-bottom leapt out of the tart ring and into the air in front of me. Fortunately my quick thinking and possibly the fact that I had not been drinking saved it from total disaster. I was able to catch it and shimmy it back into the tart ring. Less fortunately the top of the thing was a damn mess. My nimble mind immediately envisaged a concealing topping of cream cheese and whipped cream. And as if that weren’t enough I decided to decorate with cocoa powder. Somehow whatever the hell I did looks vaguely shamanistic if not downright Nazi-ish.

I took it over to Javier and his family before noon and they were eating it by the time I was pulling out of his driveway (he texted me a pic as I was backing out). I don’t think they were bothered by the less than stellar decoration situation.

This required a great deal of stirring and whisking and even more hand wringing.
The recipe says something like “stir constantly for 75 years give or take a decade” I am very not good with loose time and/or ingredient measurements.
Really, what’s not to like?
So beautiful. It dawned on me now as I write this that I have no idea how this tastes.
Really. A life long graphic designer and this is as good as I could do??


Lidia Batinianch inspired me to make chicken breast schnitzels. I have never made them before. A chicken breast pounded flat, dipped in flour, egg and then herbed bread crumbs. Fried in butter. As Ina Garten says, how bad can that be? 

On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give it a 4. It was fine. But it turns out I don’t particularly like schnitzel. The sauteed tomato and rice were good.