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
- Cook potatoes (boil or pressure cooker)
- Must cool completely then peel and slice
- Add chopped onion
- Coat slowly with oil first until potatoes have shiny appearance
- Then coat with vinegar
- Add salt and pepper.
- 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!