Jamie is one of my oldest, dearest friends. Our friendship has withstood questionable high school fashion choices, month-long not-speaking-to-each-other drags, college in different states, and now both of us living on opposite coasts. He is, quite simply, a dream of a guy. So when I get a chance to see him, on his birthday no less, there is cause for celebration. And cupcakes. And steak.
Even though it's not quite summer yet, I wanted to make something summery for his Memorial Day weekend birthday--like an indoor picnic. In addition to a spread of tasty snacks supplied by myself and my lovely friend/kitchen helper Mindi (thanks, Min!) I put together this menu:
Roasted new potatoes with lemon-tarragon vinaigrette
Mixed tomato salad with blue cheese and basil
Strawberry-rhubarb crumble with honeyed yogurt
Red velvet cupcakes
Because it's sort of boring to kick off this site with a recipe for grilled steak (and I am certainly no expert on the subject--we had to strategically position a fan to blow the smoke away from the living room) I'd like to share an adaptation of this terrific roasted potato salad recipe from Deborah Madison's Greens cookbook. It has an acidic dressing that's kind of like a German potato salad, but the fresh tarragon brightens the whole dish up a bit and makes it really delicious. It's too bad I don't have a photo of it (it's in that putty-colored bowl up there), so you'll have to use your imagination.
Yellow Finn Potato Salad with Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette
serves 4-6 people
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the olive oil. Slowly whisk in the oil until combined. Set aside.
For the salad:
2 lbs. Yellow Finn or new potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Champagne (or white wine) vinegar
1 Tsp. drained capers
*Optional, one can drained artichoke hearts (The original recipe includes an additional recipe for artichokes with lemon and mint, which I am sure is amazing, but I am lazy and skip this step.)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters and toss with a little oil and salt in a baking pan. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. In a small bowl, toss the shallots with a little vinegar to draw out their color, and set aside. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, toss them a large bowl with the vinaigrette, shallots, capers, and artichokes, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.