Continuing with my love of side dishes, here is one that is good for both summer and winter. It is stir fried potatoes with onions and green peppers. Many potato dishes are heavy and unhealthy (ex. french fries, hash browns, baked potato with the works) but this one is light, nutritious, and deceptively delicious. A little salt and heat brings out the great natural flavors of this starchy vegetable. Whenever my mom set this out before dinner, my sister and I would slowly sneak a few chopsticks-ful until none of it was left when we actually sat down to eat!
I had a hankering for stir fried potatoes the other day so I went to my second best resource, this Korean cookbook, for the recipe. A red light should’ve gone off in my head when I copied down five green bell peppers, but I guess my mind was not functioning very well because I didn’t think twice about it. So, I went to the grocery store and bought two yellow potatoes and five green bell peppers. Once I started cooking, I began to feel like there were one too many green pepper slices but I just kept on cutting away. Seriously, I was like a robot, strictly following illogical directions! I blame it on the heat.
Throughout high school my mom packed my lunch everyday. I went to the same school for ten years, so after awhile the food gets a little old. I have to admit though, my school had a pretty good cafeteria. We had a selection of both Western and Korean food, and there was rarely anything we would call “mystery meat.” Most people just bought food from the cafeteria, but I liked bringing food from home. My mom usually packed me a sandwich and a sliced apple. The sandwiches were always simple and clean on a soft bread, but very good. My friends would always ask for bites and I would end up eating only about half the sandwich. But it was fine, it always made me happy to share my food with them. One of the sandwiches my mom made was a chicken salad sandwich. So, when the idea of the summer picnic came up I thought I should ask my mom for the recipe.
Chicken salad is almost a must at picnics. It’s easy to make, easy to bring, and easy to eat. However, I rarely find a chicken salad that I like. Most often the chicken is drenched in mayo and everything tastes slimy and goopy. I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise but don’t mind it when it’s used in moderation. This is a very healthy chicken salad and uses only a little bit of mayo as a binder rather than a main ingredient. If you like a heavily mayo-fied version, then this sandwich will not be what you expect. However, I think you should give it a try anyways because it really is good.
To enjoy the dog days of summer, I thought it would be nice to go on a picnic with some friends. Cold drinks, food, and a nice spot in the shade seemed like a good idea. I didn’t plan on making most of the food myself, but my secret wish came true. I don’t go on picnics very often, so if I was confined to one dish, I think I would’ve had an even harder time picking out what I wanted to bring. I mean, I thought about the picnic menu for days and ended up with almost two types of everything. It probably didn’t help that I went to Whole Foods without a definite plan or grocery list. My friend kept on telling me to get inspired by the seasonal ingredients, but I couldn’t! I’m just not experienced enough to know what I can do with what. Every time I get something, thinking I can make a certain dish, I end up having to run to the local deli in front of my house midway through a recipe because I don’t have fresh chives, tarragon, or heavy cream. Well, after more than an hour I finalized what I was going to make, and bought almost everything I needed. I did end up going to the deli once though.
The first sandwich I made is made with roasted tomatoes and onions with feta, black olives, and oregano. It was inspired by Martha Stewart’s amazing Tomato Hand Pies. I made them a couple of weeks ago for a potluck and everyone devoured them. I wanted to make them again but didn’t really want to be bothered by the Pate Brisee again. So I decided to make it into a sandwich! It was really incredible. The roasted tomatoes were sweet and savory while the soft onions really provided a depth to the flavor. The feta, olive, and oregano topping gave the sandwich a nice greek twist. I thought about using mozzarella instead of the feta and olive combination, but just decided to stay closer to the original recipe. Next time, I may lay a piece of mozzarella on the bottom of the sandwich because my bread did get soggy by the time I got to the picnic. But I think it was good, soggy bread and all. The juices were all soaked up in the crusty soar dough slice. If you have the time and patience, I really recommend making the hand pies, but if you want a faster and easier version, make this sandwich!