The Sounds of Summer

August 9, 2017

When I started the blog, my goal was to share recipes and their stories with the hopes others would contribute. I am extremely excited to kick off this series with the first contributor, my sister Elizabeth Kamens. Elizabeth is an avid and talented cook, loves to experiment in the kitchen and shares a similar passion for upholding the family recipes we so fondly remember. Read below for a summer staple and what it means to my sister, Elizabeth.



Contributor: Elizabeth Kamens

Profession: Assistant District Attorney at the Bronx County District Attorney Office

 Favorite Recipes: My specialties are anything to do with dessert

Most Underrated Kitchen Tool: Grill Pan and Zester

Most Overrated Kitchen Tool: Garlic Press

Favorite Cooking Ingredient: Lemon

Favorite Blogs: Smitten Kitchen, Sprouted Kitchen, NY Times Food Section, Bon Appetit, Refinery 29



The reminiscent hissing noise makes its way up to my room from the kitchen below, and awakens me. The absolute signal to me summer has arrived. To others, the warm weather, end of school, or longer daylight hours are indicators. This unusual and repetitious sound is not from an animal or television show in another room. Rather, it is the discernible sound of a pressure cooker on the stove, rattling and sputtering away, and is my hint for what will be on our menu later in the day- my much loved German potato salad.


From Memorial day through the heat stroked days of August, the hissing of the pressure cooker used by my mother means the arrival of this favorite seasonal dish, which is always made in the summer months. My mother starts to make this recipe early in the morning due to the steps required for its preparation. Pressure cookers are not a widespread common kitchen item today and antiquated for many modern cooks. The use of the pressure cooker by my mother is a tradition she learned from her mother. Its use especially for potatoes speeds up the cooking time, which would otherwise take significantly longer.



                                                        Sounds of the Pressure Cooker


This recipe was my grandmother’s which she recreated from her homeland of Germany. Served at room temperature coated with an oil and vinegar dressing, onions, salt and pepper, it is very different from the American version with mayonnaise. Everyone who tries this amazing recipe becomes a fan immediately, and second and third helpings become quite expected of guests from all observations.


A few summers ago, I traveled to Germany for the first time. Lo and behold, this potato salad that I had eaten for the better part of my life, unknown to so many, was on every menu! And it was exactly the same as my family’s recipe.  Those I was traveling with did not understand my revelation and excitement. Experiencing this dish in another country linked me to my ancestors in a unique way I never anticipated.


To this day, when I travel back to my parents home during the summer, I never mind being awoken by the hissing noises drifting to my bedroom. One day the time will come for me to learn how to use this tool to follow the cooking traditions of my grandmother and mother. The pressure cooker’s sounds will forever be associated with my family’s German potato salad. For me, it is a sound of summer.



   “Authentic” German Potato Salad from Cafe Keyser Soze in Berlin





German Potato Salad

Serves 8 – 10  (If you can limit yourself to one helping)


  • 5 lbs potatoes cooked and cooled
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons  apple cider vinegar



  1. Cook potatoes (boil or pressure cooker)
  2. Must cool completely then peel and slice
  3. Add chopped onion
  4. Coat  slowly with oil first until potatoes have shiny appearance
  5. Then coat with vinegar
  6. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Serve room temperature



Below are some stovetop pressure cookers on the market that one can easily use to replicate this dish or for many other cooking purposes!

Sur La Table Pressure Cooker



Target Pressure Cooker



Amazon Pressure Cooker


June 16, 2017

I love food cooked on a barbecue grill. I often find myself searching for recipes that can be cooked on a grill. As the summer outdoor cooking season proceeds I contemplate my favorite recipes. However, a minor detail crosses my mind. I have never cooked on a grill. You may think living in New York City has something to do with this lack of experience. Although that is a huge limitation, it is not the real explanation. Cooking on a barbecue grill is the honor reserved for my father. For as long as I can remember my father is the one in charge of manning and operating the grill. My father takes great pride in his skill on the BBQ and if you’ve had the luxury of trying his food you would agree.


There is something special about the food my father cooks and it is not because of the tasty end result. It is all the preparation and love that goes into his burgers and barbecued chicken. He is always open to new suggestions and takes his cooking seriously. His delight is the enjoyment of those partaking in his creations. My father learned his outstanding grilling skills from his father, Morris. My Pop Pop Morris took great pride in his duties at the grill as well. For my father and grandfather, it begins with their careful maintenance of their barbecue grills. I vividly recall the renewal of spring, with trees in bloom, birds chirping, and glorious sunshine. My father would set aside an afternoon to work on his grill, thoroughly cleaning it, so it was meticulous and prepared for the first barbecue of the season. His attention and maintenance sets the tone for the cooking. Serious, thorough and ultimately delicious!




All recipes say it is important for the outcome in the cooking process to start with a clean surface. There are even new studies stating the charred remnants remaining on a grill surface can actually have carcinogenic effects.


Some of my best summer memories center around the barbecue dinner. But as I reflect on all the wonderful meals my father has prepared, I realize it is not about the food, it is the joy of sharing this special time with family and friends that somehow makes every barbeque special.


After all, who doesn’t love a barbecue?




Grilled Vegetables Recipe


Serves 4
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into rounds (or into thin strips)
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper



  1. Preheat grill on high.
  2. Slice zucchini into rounds or thin strips. Remove the outer layer of each onion and trim off the top. Slice the onion down the middle to create two equal halves. Cut each half into thirds to create six wedges total.
  3. In a large dish, toss zucchini and onions with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  4. Once grill is hot, use tongs to place zucchini and bell peppers on grill.
  5. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes. Flip and continue cooking on high for another 5-8 minutes depending how well done you want your vegetables to be cooked.