“No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize” ~ Julia Child
This past weekend we hosted our eighth Spaghetti Saturday
“I'm stopping at the grocery for burgers and kabobs; anything you'd like me to pick up?”
Oh wait, I haven't made the salad. I'll need pineapple.”
A habitual glance toward the kitchen cabinet's door, to which our checklist is usually taped, replaced this month instead with a few scribbles on the yellow notepad beside the stove.
Maybe we'd gotten a bit full of ourselves, after hosting several larger dinner parties, surely we had a repeatable process, one we knew by heart
So without a worry in the world, we blissfully went about this beautiful Saturday. With an hour and a half, until our first guests would arrive, we thought it time to start pulling it all together.
“Ice. I didn't get ice. Did you happen to get ice?”
“I'll be right back.”
“Candles, huh, I thought we had candles. We don't have candles.”
“I'll be right back.”
“I think we're going to need another table and a few more chairs.”
“I'll bring them up from the basement.”
“Shoot, I still need to make the salad, now where did he put the pineapple?”
She came bearing a lemon custard pie with a stunningly beautiful(!) meringue.
A recipe she'd been trying to replicate after a co-worker was revealed to be a non-recipe sharer. Turns out, the pie had lovingly been in process over the past few days.
Unfortunately, meringue and Iowa humidity don't make for a marriage made in heaven
“Everybody's here. Grilling? How's the grilling going?”
“I completely forgot to prep the meat.”
“I'll prep if you'd be willing to cut the pineapple?”
“I'll be right back.”
Of course, some days you have it, some days you don't. The things we worry about never come to fruition, and everything falls into place, somehow, some way.
As we sat down for dinner, no one noticed the imperfect place settings, mismatched silverware that we'd forgotten to set out ahead of time, or the black pug sitting on the chair beside them
If they noticed, they didn't say that the burgers were on this side of burnt. Most salads were unadorned because the poppy-seed dressing was on the counter opposite the salad it was meant to accent.
Nor were they any the wiser, there was a missing potato salad made to feed twenty-five, just on the other side of the refrigerator door, that I'd completely forgotten to put out. A discovery made during clean-up, after everyone had left
“Now, where did he put the pineapple?”
Instead of focusing on food mishaps that evening, we told funny stories, shared some homemade wine(!) and provided honest feedback (as requested!), on said lemon dessert.
All of us commenting on how nice it was to get together once a month
As I stared dumbfounded at the potato salad in the refrigerator, 10 p.m., I couldn't help but smile and think of Julia Child.
“I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. Usually, one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile and learn from her mistakes.”
A few of my Julia favorites?
Demonstrating the art of hamburger making with David Letterman.
“This is some of the best meat; it came over from Good Morning America.”
When the burner wouldn't work, what did she do? Beef Tartar of course! Pulling out a blow torch to, melt the cheese
“Have you ever cooked something that turned out absolutely awful? What do you do then?”
“I give it to my husband.”
Then there's the Potato Pancake incident made famous in the movie “Julie and Julia.”
In an attempt to flip a potato pancake, Julia spills it all over the stove-top.
“When you're flipping something, you must have the courage of your convictions.”
She didn't apologize, instead, confessing to the audience that she'd spilled the pancake because
“I didn't have the courage to do it the way I should have.”
Then she pressed the cake back together in the pan
“We'll pretend this is supposed to be a baked potato dish. We'll add some cheese, cream, and bake it in the oven
Of course, we don't want to worry about calories.”
In Julia's later years, when asked for a piece of advice, she would always offer
“Learn to cook. Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun.”
I can't think of anything more fitting for the spirit of Spaghetti Saturdays
“.. and above all .. have fun.”
Thank you to all of the people in our lives that we love, who take time out of your busy weekends to come, even when you aren't sure you're going to know anyone but us
Thank you for your kindness, love, laughter, generosity, delicious recipes, funny stories, words of encouragement, and most of all, your
We've been eating this potato salad at every meal since Saturday and will be for a few more days to come.
Potato salad isn't generally a very salad-like salad. It rarely contains more than a couple of vegetables, and as far as healthy eating points go, it goes downhill once one adds all of the traditional creaminess
But there are few dishes the truly signal summer than this staple. Where would barbecues and picnics be without some sort of chilled, dressed potato salad?
Leave it to Heidi Swanson in Super Natural Every Day, to brilliantly solve the salad-like potato salad dilemma. Dressed with a french mustardy dressing, this recipe scales back on the potatoes and adds all sorts of green veggies.
Soft skinned potatoes and crisp blanched green beans are tossed with crunchy cucumber and celery and mixed with sweetly caramelized leeks and dill for a salad that's equal parts potato salad and salad-salad
pps: For other recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturday .. here
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~ Adapted from Williams and Sonoma
Tangy Mustard Potato Salad
- 1 lb small pink or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
- big handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1-2" inch pieces (~ 4-5 oz)
- 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ - 1 tsp minced garlic
- olive oil
- 1 tsp natural sugar
- fine-grain sea salt
- ¼ cup fresh dill sprigs, finely chopped
- 1 small leek, white and tender green parts, trimmed and chopped
- 6 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
- 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into tiny cubes
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Salt generously, add the potatoes, and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.
- Thirty seconds before the potatoes are done cooking, add the green beans to the pot.
- Drain the potatoes and beans and set aside.
- In the meantime, make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, vinegar, garlic, 1 Tbsp olive oil, the sugar, and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a mason jar and shake until blended)
- Taste and adjust if needed.
- In a large skillet, sauté the dill in a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add a couple of pinches of salt, stir in the leek, and sauté until golden and slightly crispy (~ 4 to 5 minutes)
- In a large bowl, gently toss the potatoes and green beans, celery, cucumber, chives, and half of the leek with most of the dressing.
- Taste, and add a sprinkling of salt, if needed.
- Turn out onto a platter and finish with a final drizzle of dressing and the remaining leek.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.