Saturday, June 13, 2009



Everyone is talking about it. Actually, everyone is complaining about it. The weather. Spring has theoretically come and gone and summer should be creeping up on us, tapping us on the shoulder, breathing her sumptuous, sultry breath down our neck.

But all we see is rain.

Not everyone is this happy in the June rain.


There is nothing new is under the sun. Year after year, the turbulence of springtime comes upon us with a vengeance, teasing us with a day or two of bright sunshine, steamy and hot, her come-hither look inviting us to strip down to the bare minimum, loosen our hair, fling ourselves into her open arms with abandon. Then she tilts her head back and laughs aloud, teeth bared, and once again she has tricked us into believing that her sister summer has arrived. She rips off her mask and there it is, the final days of another season, grey and gloomy, dark and threatening. Chilly breezes make us drag back out our coats, huddle under umbrellas and rush through the rain-dampened streets thinking of nothing but bowls of soup and muffins warm from the oven.

Springtime’s wanton ways trouble us year after year, the long winter and those first few balmy days making us forget that this happens year after year, a repeat performance. Turn on the tv and watch as the Italians and French are surprised by unexpected flooding, knee-deep in water in their own homes, cars crawling through the lakes that have formed in the streets, fists raised at the tv cameras screaming their disbelief and calling for compensation, as if the flooding was the government’s fault, as if it doesn’t happen every year. I have lived through surprise snowstorms in May in New York after already having packed away the winter gear, I have sloshed knee-deep through the streets of springtime Milan on my way to taking the kids to school, I have spent months of June in Paris and Nantes under the rain, waiting.

Maybe we Floridians are more pragmatic, being raised in that wild, savage, harsh environment, so close to nature no matter how built upon it is. Growing up, spring meant the beginning of hurricane season, carrying into summer and through the fall. Nothing unusual for the hot, humid, sunny sky to cloud over and turn black and menacing, the skies opening up and pouring down with no mercy. Thunder booming, lightening flashing, and then gone as quickly as it came to reveal once again the brilliant sun and summer day. Run for cover, pulling bikes behind us, waiting patiently for it to pass. Tornados on the horizon and we follow dad inside, crowd together on the sofa in the back room as he scrambles to open all of the windows, excited with this mysterious phenomenon.

Maybe we are more accepting of nature’s tempestuous moods like a passionate, temperamental lover. The unrelenting sun, the burning sand, the sharp, cutting flora, the ruthless swarms of mosquitoes as we simply smear pink lotion all over our skin and shrug our shoulders leave us if not quite blasé, at least forgiving of nature’s ups and downs, permitting the temper tantrums and outrageous demands for the chance to lie peacefully in her arms, lulled by her caresses and tender words the rest of the evening.

Summer should be picnics and days on the beach, swimsuits bought and vacations planned, afternoons of iced tea and sorbet. Instead we curl up in front of the tv and watch archeology documentaries with mock reenactments or silly American comedies and complain. Complain because of one more day of rain, one more day wearing sweaters. We check the calendar one more time, not quite believing that it actually does say “June”. We do our own private little dance to chase away the rain, the seemingly endless bad weather and plan a menu accordingly. And just as we take our shopping basket in hand, there it is, the sun! We bow down to Her Highness, that magnificent Goddess of Summer, we kneel at her feet and bask in her warmth and we pray for her to stay and wrap us in her glow and never go away.

This is what the month of June should be like!

Planning for this month’s Potato Ho Down, created by Cathy of Noble Pig and hosted this month by Krysta at Evil Chef Mom, began early in the month of June when the weather was cold and dark and miserable. Mmmm, all I could think of was a steaming bowl of potato soup. Yet as I finally found the time to cook, grabbed my basket to head to market, summer appeared. Warm and sunny, this was no time for a hot meal. This, my dear, was finally, happily, salad time.

And salad I did. So simple, so special, a salad all grown up. Tender-cooked fingerling potatoes in their earthy-tasting skins, beautiful, sweet asparagus steamed until delicate, red red fruity cherry tomatoes, fresh crab meat and, my favorite, smoked salmon, all drizzled with the cleanest lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, snapped up with chopped fresh chives. Now, doesn’t that just say summer?

This is for a summery Potato Ho Down!


Potatoes, boiled gently until tender but not falling apart

Asparagus, steamed in lightly salted water until crisp-tender, or as tender as you like

A handful of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters

2 steamed crab legs per person

1 thick slice of smoked salmon per person

4 – 5 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh chives, chopped

Prepare the vinaigrette by blending the olive oil and lemon juice together. Lightly salt and pepper. Whisk or shake together in a jelly jar.

Slice the cooked potatoes into thickish slices. Cut the asparagus into inch-long pieces. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.

Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette to taste.
Place the dressed vegetables on individual plates. Sprinkle with the crumbled crabmeat. Roll each slice of smoked salmon into a tight roll and cut into half inch slices and distribute evenly among the plates. Top with chopped chives.

Serve with a clean, crisp rosé or white wine and some fresh bread.


Debbie Kroll said...

Looks yummy...and your wonderful story brought back memories of standing in Daytona waiting for the school bus to come and watching as a rain cloud dumped tons of water only on one side of the street and we'd stand there like idiots as it slowly creeped towards us and then WHOOSH! like someone dropped a pail of water on your head and then it would be gone as fast as it came :)

The Cooking Ninja said...

Yep, sound so much like Nantes that I know so well. We have summer over my end for weeks now :) It's a nice hot (sometimes burning hot sun) but cool wind weather.

Love your salad btw. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Crab and salmon in potato salad? ... Woopie. Never seen that but wow it does look super good.
Love your photos! 'specially that one in the grocery.
Couple of days ago we got 8 inches of rain and great thunder and lightening.

girlichef said...

Will you please write a book? Because then I can curl up by my open window, listen to the sound of the rain and be swept away with one of your fabulous tales! And yes, this potato salad screams of a beautiful summer day :)

scraps said...

Almost sounds like Kansas weather. From winter to summer. But lots of rain this past spring and we actually had some nice days. Gardens are looking good this year.
Your pictures of the salad are beautiful and very tempting to eat right-a-way! I love crisp salads!

Elra said...

What a delicious and luxurious potato recipe jaime. Love the asparagus in there too.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

I love tales with so many memories...& that salad is singing to me. Fresh & full of flavour...YUM!!

asiangrrl said...

Oh my goodness. If that is a summer salad, then I may actually tolerate summer just so I can have ONE bite. Simply scrumptious-looking, Jamie.

Question, is that Rita Hayworth? Whomever she is, she is breathtaking.

P.S. You really should consider writing a novel. Your prose is so fresh and engaging.

Sirenoftitan said...

The old British definition of summer is 3 fine days and a thunderstorm. haven't seen many storms but we have had the rain.

Great looking salad Jamie.

Mary said...

What a gorgeous creation for a summer day. Your photos are spectacular. I love to visit your blog. There is always something interesting to peruse. Have a wonderful day.

Chef E said...

A total YUM on my scale! I love potato salad, and can see how this would taste great together...

Love the rain...

Claudia said...

Send us your rain. We area dust bowl. Lush Minnesota and its 10,000 lakes are drying up. We would indeed "sing in the rain" if only it would come.

Junglefrog said...

I always find it amazing when people on the other side of the ocean are apparently having the same weather as we do... Funny how that goes, although reading the comments above it seems not everyone is having rain! I love your summery salad. Looks perfect to me!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Your crab salad looks wonderful. I made a very similar one on my blog that I posted today, but I like yours better.

Lien said...

mmm potatoes and salmon, lovely combination!!
Weather is getting stranger these years I agree totally

petitechef said...

Thanks for visiting my site! I knowwww I would love to share the recipe as well... I'm sorry! So many people have asked that I've decided to make large batches and send them to friends from college and work collegues. I know it's not the same as making it yourself but you could still taste it! E-mail me if you would like to be on the mailing list! :)

Anne said...

Marty is adorable! Bean loves finding squares of sunlight to sleep in too. I've enjoyed reading your blog so much - it's absolutely wonderful and engaging. Thanks for visiting ours.

Culinary Wannabe said...

We Floridians are definitely used to worst weather than the rest of the world. Spend childhood days in the lightening capital, and see what kind of thunderstorm frightens you! :) I actually miss the bad weather sometimes. Not the rain (as it does plenty of that), but a good hard thunderstorm never seems to make its way to nyc. This salad looks beautiful though, nice way to lighten up the spud!

Jamie said...

Thank you all for the comments! How I would love to write a book; anyone know a publisher?

And I love all the comments about the weather in all the different places you live. Ashley : you are so right! I love a good thunderstorm! I find it soothing and comforting with all the lightening and thunder!

Sara said...

The salad looks great, I'm totally drooling over those crab claws!

Reeni♥ said...

This looks so good with crab and smoked salmon! Definitely a salad grown-ups will love!

burpandslurp said...

Haha, I LOVE your writing. Very eloquent, and I can imagine all the pics in my head. That flood is crazy, though!
I LOVE potatoes and its versatility. It goes so well with practically everything.

Daily Spud said...

That salad screams summer. Congratulations to your spuds on getting such a sophisticated makeover, lovely :)

Muneeba said...

I couldn't agree with you more when it comes to how I feel abt the JUNE we're having this year! At least u're in Florida missy - NYC isn't improving at all :p I can't imagine CT will be any better.
BTW .. those crab claws are making me a little insane .. WANT THEM! numnumnum

Jessica@FoodMayhem said...

We've been getting a ton of rain in NY too and the temperature has been pretty low, tons of days below 70 degrees in June is so weird. I'll just sit here and dream of picnicking with your potato salad.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Now this is potato salad!! Wow! And I agree with girlichef. It's time for you to write a book.


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