Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Potato salad (Πατατοσαλάτα)

I love preparing a feast - if only I can be sure that there will be lots of people coming over to eat it. This year, we are blessed to be invited to a friend's house for Christmas, so instead of each respective family spending the day alone with their two children, and eating another "Sunday roast" meal, we are going halves on the costs and the cooking. I was informed too late to make Christmas crackers, something foreign to us here in Greece; I'd have had to save up at least two months' worth of used toilet rolls to do that, not to mention organising the trinkets. You can imagine what kind of trinkets I mean, something inexpensive and probably recycled.

Here is our share of the main meal of the day:
Pork steaks (to be BBQ'ed over the fireplace)
Classic potato salad
Ladenia (home-made pizza bread)

We are also going to bring melomakarona (honey walnut spice biscuits), beer and fancy serviettes. The children will all be getting books as presents - no crappy plastic made-in-PRC junk which will be broken by the end of the evening. Melomakarona are a seasonal dessert, but I never make them as my husband never has a good thing to say about my version; he's found a bakery that makes them to a standard recipe which never varies (kind of like processed cheese, if you get my gist), so we'll be eating their melomakarona right until the festive season is over (mid-January they stop selling them, as well as another Christmas treat, kourambiedes, shortbread dusted with icing sugar).

Here's a BBQ favorite, especially nice served cold in the summer, and at room temperature in the winter. Potato salad is tasty any time of the year. You may wonder how we're going to BBQ today of all days, in the middle of winter on a Mediterranean island, but on a fine and sunny day, it's really not too bad in a warm spot. In any case, our friends have a fireplace, so we can BBQ straight over the logs if the weather is bad. Although my potato salad is reminiscent of the American style, this recipe comes from an American friend's Cretan mother-in-law.

You need
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thick chunky chips.
2-3 eggs
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a few sprigs of finely chopped parsley
a can of tuna
a dash of cumin, salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes in salted water, along with the eggs. When the potatoes are soft (but before they start breaking up), turn off the heat and plunge the eggs into cold water; this way, they'll be easier to shell. Drain the potatoes, and sprinkle them with vinegar. When they have cooled down, dice them into a bowl and add all the other ingredients. If the tuna is tinned in oil, omit the extra olive oil. Mix everything together until well-blemded. Pack the ingredients (not too tightly, otherwise the potato will go mushy) into a serving bowl, smooth over the top of the salad and garnish it with the sliced boiled egg. You can also add the chopped egg into the salad as you are mixing it, but I preferred to garnish the salad with the egg.

I didn't add any mashed tuna in my salad today, because we are having it with BBQ meat. Some people don't like to mix their meat with their fish, my husband being one of them. The eggs can be chopped and mixed into the salad, if you prefer. If you want a lenten version ofpotato salad, you can omit the egg and tuna and add olive oil as a dressing instead of mayonnaise.

You can also add black olives to the garnish. I didn't do this today, as the olives we pick from the village to be eaten in our house are not of a sufficient quantity to pass around free-handedly. So I keep them for our use only. The spirit of Christmas may be all about giving, but the latest global trend is also in favour or preservation and sustainability.


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