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May 12

Traditional Memorial Day recipes (with a twist)

A familiar scene. Image by Cat Wendt, used under Creative Commons

Memorial Day is the traditional summer kick-off, with parties and picnics celebrating our fallen heroes and the start of summer. People gather around the grill and have the first picnic of the year. And what opening day picnic would’t be complete without potato salad and deviled eggs.

The first recipe is a real wrench to let go. It’s a recipe that has served me well, and will continue to serve my guests well, but my mother raised me to be tight-lipped about recipes…

A beautiful potato salad. Image by WordRidden, used under Creative Commons

Here goes.

Garlicky Potato Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

2 lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes.
1/4 Cup clear vinegar (distilled, champagne, etc)
2 ribs celery diced fine
1/4 cup Diced Red Onion
1/2 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
3-4 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup fresh parsley , minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Hard boiled eggs, chopped into 1/4″ cubes
3/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaf
Cherry Tomatoes, halved, approximately 1 cup

1. Place potatoes in a large pan, and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer till potatoes are tender, about 7-9 minutes. Stir frequently.

2. Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add vinegar, and using a spatula, toss gently to cover all potatoes. Pour off excess, if there is any. Let stand till potatoes are warm, about 20 minutes.

3. While the potatoes are cooling, take a bowl and combine celery, onion, mayo, garlic, parsley and pepper. Chop the eggs and add to the potatoes. Add the dressing, and gently combine. The salad will look a little dry at this point- don’t panic. Cover and refrigerate over night. It’s important to make the potato part ahead to let the flavors blend.

4. Right before serving, add the halved tomatoes and the chopped basil. The tomatoes will add moisture, and help spread the dressing. If it still looks too dry, now is the time to add more mayo. In small portions, so you do’t over-goo the salad. Feeds 6-8

This is a big hit around our family, and wherever we’ve taken it. It’s a nice twist on an old favorite.

Deviled Eggs

A plateful of deviled eggs, ready for the picnic. Image by jeffreyw, used under Creative Commons

Link to my basic Deviled Egg recipe

As for deviled eggs, they could be my favorite picnic food. Mostly because I love them, but am too lazy to make them for myself. So when I make them for bigger groups, I always make sure there are a few extras for the chef.

The linked recipe above is simply my launching point for deviled eggs. I’m not sure if I ever make the same deviled egg twice! Sometimes I will lose the tarragon and vinegar, and add horse radish and minced pickles, for a little snap. And, because I never even saw a deviled egg not garnished with paprika till about 5 years ago, I always garnish with paprika. I have linked, in the Garlicky Potato Salad recipe, a link for the best way I’ve found to cook and peel hardboiled eggs, which is critical for a good looking deviled egg (doesn’t hurt the flavor, just the presentation).

But after that, the skies’ the limit. Before making deviled eggs, I will go to, or, and see what others are doing with their deviled eggs. Look at a few recipes, pick the stuff you like, and mix it up with the yolks and mayo. Squirt it into the egg halfs through a sandwich bag with a hole cut in the corner, garnish, and presto, an instant picnic favorite.

Just like a hot dog and beer at opening day at the ballpark, potato salad and deviled eggs are traditional at Memorial Day. But tradition doesn’t mean boring, so jazz it up with these two recipes. Bon Appetit!

Oh, and if you enjoy either of these recipes, or have some twists of your own let me know below!

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