Thursday, May 31, 2012

"The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" - Coppa (or Salami) & Warm Parslied Potato Salad with Roasted Pepper

 Date I made this recipe:  May 27, 2012

The Zuni Café Cookbook – a compendium of recipes & cooking lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant by Judy Rodgers
Published by:  W. W. Norton
ISBN:  0393020436
Recipe:  Coppa (or Salami) & Warm Parslied Potato Salad with Roasted Peppers – p. 90-91

People, summer isn’t even here yet and here I am “wearing” my summer sloth suit as it has taken me days to get my act together to post this recipe.  I sure don’t have outstanding weather as an excuse as it rained more than it was sunny over Memorial Day weekend.  I don’t know—maybe overall ennui is the cause?  Maybe I’m practicing being listless in the summer heat?  I’m not sure.

At any rate, this didn’t start out to be a Memorial Day recipe post but that’s how it ended up.  In actuality, I looked through this cookbook intending to make something for my 21st wedding anniversary on May 18th.  But the 18th was the day before a major bike ride for my husband and so I made a pasta dish with a beef sauce for him from another cookbook instead so that (hopefully) the protein and carb combination would help with the ride.

Still, The Zuni Café (cookbook) is important to us because when we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in 2001, we went to San Francisco, and as luck would have it, stayed in a hotel next door to The Zuni Café.  At the time, the restaurant hadn’t yet made a name for itself and that was a good thing because I hate it when a place gets popular and turns into a three-ring circus.

I remember two things about the Zuni:  one, that Andy and I have this great photo of us at the bar, raising martini glasses, lit up like Christmas trees after an arduous flight from Minneapolis to SF and two, I had a dish involving sausages and peas (and possibly, or possibly not, seafood). I recall it being divine but sadly, that recipe is not in the cookbook.  No matter as I found many yummy substitutes instead.

Getting back to the flight and subsequent cocktails, we had the unfortunate displeasure to sit in front of a family with maybe three or four little kids, mom and dad and grandma.  One of said children kept kicking my husband’s seats all through the flight.  We finally gave up and moved a few seats over (we were in the dreaded middle row) and were horrified to see the seat being treated like a punching bag after he vacated it.  Little cretin!  And that goes for grandma too, who kept using my seat as a means to get in and out of hers the entire trip.  Let’s say grandma got up quite often and every single time my seat went back and then banged me on the head after she let go of it.  So you can see why a cocktail was in order.

Now, The Zuni Café prides itself on “farm fresh” food and the cookbook includes a lot of homemade recipes for things like (soup) stocks and that is fine if you have the time but I don’t.  I didn’t end up making anything that included those stocks but just so you know they are in there.

What I did make was a non-mayonnaise potato salad that my husband enjoyed; he is not a big fan of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip salads.  (Good thing he didn’t grow up in my house where we used Miracle Whip all the time as Hellman’s was hard for us to find.)  I also loved the fact that it was not all “goopy” with mayonnaise, “goopy” being a term my late friend, Carol, like to toss around when it came to salads or casseroles that were heavy on cheese or mayo.  And in a weird way, this salad tied into our wedding anniversary because when we got married, we went to France and Italy for our honeymoon.  I am also half-Italian.  So you see, don’t you, that this recipe was meant to happen?  Of course you do!

On Sunday (not Monday, Memorial Day), we shopped for the ingredients and then we bought two pre-made onion and gorgonzola burgers from Whole Foods to grill (sticking with the theme!).  All was well when Andy fired up the grill but all was not well when he finished as a major thunderstorm rolled through Minneapolis at warp speed and it was raining cats and dogs by the time he got inside, burgers intact – whew!

So we sat down, had dinner, and just as we were finishing, the power went off and damn it all, it stayed off for hours, causing us to miss Mad Men.  I hate when that happens!  Thankfully, Comcast On Demand had it available when power was restored the next morning! 

On a side note, I told Andy that I am totally enamored with charring peppers on our gas stove top.  Not that I’m going to turn into a pyro, but there is something about watching a pepper almost go up in flames that is fascinating to me!  Oh, and the result is great as well.

So here you go!  This recipe should work well with any number of entrees and is pretty easy to put together. 

PS—This is yet another book I purchased at Arc’s Value Village Thift Store for something like $6.99.

Coppa (or Salami) & Warm Parslied Potato Salad with Roasted Peppers – about 4 servings
Generous 1 pound peeled yellow-fleshed potatoes cut into irregular 1-inch chunks or a little smaller
About 1 tablespoon tightly packed, coarsely chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
About 4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper
About 4 ounces coppa, sliced 1/16 inch thick or salami
1 large or 2 small red or green peppers (about 12 ounces total), roasted or charred, peeled, and cut or torn into wide strips
12 oil-cured meaty black olives, such as Nyons

Ann’s Notes:  Salami was easier to find so I used that instead of coppa.  But know that all salamis are not alike and so if you have the chance to taste test first, go with one that is a little milder in taste so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients.  I also used about 1.5 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and came close to almost having a taste that was just a tad too tart on my hands.  I suggest adding 1 tablespoon first and then seeing if it is to your liking.  And I only needed one gargantuan red pepper (do they grow anything smaller?) for this recipe.

Place the potatoes in a 2- to 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover.  Salt the water very liberally, stir to dissolve, and taste – the water should taste a little too salty. (The author uses a generous 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt per quart of water.)  Bring to a simmer, uncovered.  Cook at a bare simmer, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes are tender and the edges are starting to soften, usually about 6 minutes.  Drain well.

As soon as they have stopped steaming, transfer the potatoes to a wide bowl.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the parsley and enough olive oil to coat well.  The edges will break down a little, shedding potato into the oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave for a few minutes so the parsley perfumes the oil and softens.

Fold in the vinegar and black pepper, both to taste.

Arrange the slices of coppa (or salami) and the strips of roasted pepper on plates or a platter, and mound the juicy potatoes and the olives to one side.  (Or, if you are Ann, combine everything into one bowl and serve.  With just me and Andy at home, we are less concerned with presentation and more concerned with eating, already!)

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