In my ode to picnic cuisine, I neglected to mention how much I love potato salad. Truth be told, I love all kinds of potato salads, including the classic, mayonnaise-based American style I grew up with (“Miracle Whip only,” my mom insists) and the tangy variations that tend to accompany good Carolina-style BBQ, leaving my lips puckered with pickle brine.
But I love French potato salad — the kind laced with vinegar and hints of garlic and, if I am lucky, minced cornichons — best of all.
Mr. Magpie introduced me to this style of potato salad after college and it quickly became a staple in our lives, especially in the summer, where it tends to find its home handily alongside BBQ chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers hot off the grill. There is something about the preparation of this dish that is appealingly in keeping with the open-windows-bare-feet-laziness-of-summer milieu in which it tends to find itself: I love that you leave the potatoes sprawled out in a single layer across a couple of baking sheets to relax in the vinaigrette. This is the kind of dish that improves with afternoon lethargy. Leave the potatoes out on the counter for an hour or two, at room temperature, and I promise you won’t be able to resist sneaking a couple of rounds right off the pan before dinner.
Mr. Magpie’s French Potato Salad.
A caveat: I am horrific at boiling potatoes. I am attentive and passable as a cook, but I always horribly over- or under-cook potatoes. Keep a close eye on them, spearing them regularly to test for done-ness, to ensure you do not follow suit.
Place two pounds red potatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices, six cups of cold water (enough to cover the potatoes by at least an inch of water), and two tablespoons kosher salt (yes, two whole tablespoons) in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Lower 1 medium garlic clove, peeled and skewered (I usually lazily use a fork), into the boiling water and blanch for 45 seconds. Immediately remove and rinse with cold water.
Once garlic has been blanched, lower the heat to medium. Simmer for five minutes, or until fork slides in/out with no resistance.
Drain but reserve ¼ c cooking water. I’m bolding that instruction as it is easy to forget. I like to set a measuring cup right next to the stovetop so I don’t forget to scoop some out before draining.
Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheets.
Whisk minced garlic, reserved water, 1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ cup olive oil, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Drizzle over potatoes. Let stand 10 minutes. (Or, you know, an hour or two — this is summer!)
Toss with 2 tablespoons minced red onion, 2 thinly sliced radishes, ¼ cup capers (rinsed and dried), and ¼ cup diced cornichons. If you’re not into those accoutrements, you can also swap in a handful of minced, fresh herbs — we love tarragon in this!
Post Scripts: Kitchen Finds.
WE ARE TOTALLY OBSESSED WITH OUR NEWEST GADGET: A TOP-OF-THE-LINE CUCKOO RICE COOKER — MAKES FANTASTIC RICE AND HAS CHARMING CHIMES AND SOUNDS TO BOOT
LOVE THIS CHEERY TRIVET
THE BEST CAKE TINS FOR SERIOUS BAKING PROJECTS
I FIND WE USE OUR MINI BAKING SHEETS ALMOST AS OFTEN AS OUR FULL-SIZED ONES
THESE CUTE CONDIMENT BOWLS ARE ON SALE NOW (ALSO IDEAL FOR SNACKS FOR LITTLE ONES)
PERFECT BAKEWEAR FOR SHOWCASING SUMMER BERRY CRUMBLES AND LEMON POUND CAKES — FUNCTIONAL BUT ELEGANT ENOUGH TO SERVE FROM
THESE ARE JUST THE PRETTIEST CAKE DOMES
LOVE THIS BLUE GINGHAM TABLE THROW (AND CORRESPONDING NAPKINS) — ON SALE!
THESE ETCHED FISH OLD-FASHIONED GLASSES ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE
THESE ARE JUST ABOUT THE CUTEST NAPKINS EVER (MACHINE WASHABLE!) — JUST BOUGHT A FEW SETS TO HAVE ON HAND AS A HOSTESS GIFT
YES, THE VITAMIX IS WORTH IT (WE LOVE OURS)
THESE MELAMINE PLATES ARE BACK IN STOCK!!!
I FIND MYSELF REACHING FOR THESE MATTE BOWLS ALL THE TIME
DYING TO TRY PUR HOME PRODUCTS, WHENEVER THEY ARE RESTOCKED!
P.S. Schleich brand figurines are absolutely amazing — so detailed and realistic! Bought a few for my children.
P.P.P.S. These Hazel Village dolls are absolutely precious for a little one.