Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

West Indies Salad

26 Jul

West Indies Crab Salad

M: Origins in the exotic Caribbean? Nope. Total fake out. So often, the origin of a recipe sits in dispute? Did Brunswick stew come from Virginia or Georgia? Are fried green tomatoes a creation of the Midwest? Well, for once, we know exactly where this one came from. With a name like West Indies salad it can only be from…  the gulf coast of Alabama?

When Bayley’s Steak House opened in 1947, owner Bill Bayley had an idea. With a steady supply of crab meat available in the area, he was looking for a new way to serve it that would distinguish his restaurant from the others in the region. Thus was born the West Indies salad.

Why West Indies? Nothing more than a fleeting thought to make the menu item sound more exotic. The offering was a smashing success and restaurants throughout the region copied his tangy creation. The name stayed with it.

The original Bayley’s Steak House closed in 1986 (Bayley’s son reopened in the iconic restaurant in the mid-90s in a new location), but the regional favorite has persevered.

So simple. So good. The tang of cider vinegar and subtle bite of chopped onions brightens beautifully, while still allowing the fresh crab meat to lead the way. I don’t care what some Alaskan Whiting might tell you, the flavor of fresh crab is inimitable.

The ice water is an elegant way to keep the crab meat uniformly chilled and supple. Make sure to heed the step in which this is to be chilled for some hours be serving. it makes a difference.

Recipe: West Indies Salad

Summary: The name may be a fake out, but the crabby goodness and tangy undertones of this Alabama creation ring true. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook


  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 Lb Fresh Claw Crabmeat
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 c Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 c Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 c Ice-Cold Water


  1. Spread half of chopped onions into a shallow serving dish.
  2. Scatter crabmeat over onions and top with remaining onions.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle with oil and vinegar.
  5. Pour ice water over all, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours.
  6. Toss, then re-season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve cold.
1 Comment

Posted in Fish, Salads


Killed Lettuce

23 Apr

Killed Lettuce

M: Why is it no matter how good the ingredients are in a salad I make at home it never seems to be as good as what I’m served in a restaurant?  My ingredients are, without question, fresher.  The dressing exactly to my taste.  Nothing lurking I’d prefer not be there.  So what’s up?  A few years ago I discovered a key issue which made a huge difference for me.  The salad I was eating at home was not just chilled.  It was *too* chilled.  Constructed straight out of the refrigerator, my salad was just too cold to really let the flavors come forth.  Apparently, the restaurant secret to good salad was letting it sit around a little until it made it out to the table.  Now I tend to let salads rest on the counter for a bit before serving.  This wilted salad cuts out the middle man and the world is better for it.

You know how bacon makes everything better?  Well, pour bacon *drippings* on top and you’ve really got something.  I wondered if this was just going to be a soggy bowl of lettuce in bacon grease, but the ratio of dressing to lettuce is right on the mark.  Just enough to appropriately wilt the lettuce without making it a sad thing.  Oil and vinegar dressing for the bacon lover.  Heck yes, says me.

The only change I’ll make next time around (and there will be a next time) concerns the onions.  I do love me a spring onion, but you know what I like better than a spring onion?  A *sauteed* spring onion.  I think I’d give them a quick pass though the pan full of drippings before taking it to the bowl.  This is a matter of taste, of course.  But then, what isn’t?  Besides, I was right about that cold salad thing so I consider myself an expert on what I like.

Recipe: Killed Lettuce

Summary: Whether you call it killed, kilt or wilted, this bacon bathed salad finds common ground for your nutritional sensibilities. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.


  • 12 c Baby Leaf Lettuce
  • 4 Spring Onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 Slices Bacon
  • 1/4 c Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper


  1. Dry lettuce and combine with onions in a large serving bowl.
  2. Fry bacon in a cast iron skillet at medium heat until crispy and fat has been rendered out.
  3. Remove bacon from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add vinegar, salt and pepper to drippings in the skillet and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.
  5. Pour mixture over lettuce and onions and toss to coat and wilt lettuce.
  6. Top with reserved bacon and serve immediately.



Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad

18 Apr

Potato Salad

M: Potato salad has been around a long, long time.  First introduced in sixteenth century Europe by Spanish explorers, it was a blend of potatoes, vinegar, spices and… Yeah, OK, I enjoy researching the history of the food on my table.  But I’m just going to trace this back to a block party back in 1976 or ’77.  Hot summer.  Might’ve been 4th of July.  Picnic tables were set up at the end of our street.  After the water fights and watching older kids set off M-80s, we scurried over to the tables to load up paper plates with hot dogs, chips and a variety of summer sides.  I skipped the cole slaw and the bean salad and dove right into a massive bowl of potato salad.  Thinking back on it, it was probably not much more than potatoes, sweet pickle relish and mayonnaise.  A lot of mayonnaise.  But to my young palate, it was a gourmet delight.  But then, I was the same kid for whom sneaking a spoonful of butter was a gourmet delight as well.

As an adult, my tastes have become more selective.  Perhaps inconveniently so.  These days, many if not most of the mayo based potato salads jut don’t do it for me.  Almost always for the same reason I liked that block party side as a kid.  They are little more than potatoes and too much mayonnaise.  Not so with this aptly named take on the picnic favorite.  The mayo is there, sure, but an aggressive blend of strong flavors come together here in a wonderful way.  This doesn’t just lay on your paper plate.  It does indeed stand up and shout hallelujah.   I’ll also mention that it is a good *looking* potato salad. Colorful, like culinary confetti. Pretty means almost as much as flavorful when competing against other pot luck picnic dishes lined up in tupperware display.

I’d have skipped this one back in ’77.  A little too grown up perhaps. But then, I don’t sneak straight butter anymore either.  You know, I haven’t thought of that in years.  Gross.

Recipe: Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad

Summary: A blend of attention getting flavors (especially for potato salad) makes this something out of the ordinary.  And that is very good indeed. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook


  • 5 Lb Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 4 Eggs, hard boiled
  • 4 oz Pimentos, diced
  • 4 drops Hot Sauce
  • 2 tsp Celery Salt
  • 2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 T Lemon Juice
  • 1 c Sweet Salad Pickle Cubes, drained
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 c + 2 T Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c Yellow Mustard
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 c Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 c Celery, chopped
  • 1/4 c Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika


  1. Boil potatoes ion a large pot until a knife pierces easily (about 20 minutes).
  2. Rub skin from potatoes, cut into large chunks and place in a large bowl.
  3. Cut eggs into chunks and add to potatoes.
  4. Add pimentos, hot sauce, celery salt, vinegar, lemon juice, pickles, olive oil, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapenos, onion, bell pepper and parsley.
  5. Mix well with hands, mashing potato chunks a bit.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and place in serving bowl or form into mound on serving platter and dust with paprika.
  7. Chill before serving.



Cranberry Congealed Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

08 Dec

Cranberry Congealed Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

M: Stepping forth from the Thanksgiving leftovers.  What did the cranberries look like on your Thanksgiving table growing up.  At my house it was jelled cranberries, which emerged from the can with a mighty slooooooorp before being cut into perfect discs of deliciousness.  Loved it.  Still do.  But at some point I got all highfalutin and decided what we really needed were *fresh* cranberries.  Loved those too.  Also still do.  What we never got around to was the Congealed Salad.  That’s jello salad to you and me,  often augmented with the likes of marshmallows, carrots, coconut, what have you.  At many holiday tables the cranberries were unabashedly served in molded jello form.  Never had it.  Not once.  So when this recipe came up, I knew it belonged on my Thanksgiving table and, although the recipe calls for it to be served in a flat pan, i knew this was my chance to embrace the elusive jello mold.  I know for many, of not most of you, the jello mold is such a standard that my fascination might seem a strange, but call it a gap in my culinary upbringing.  The best part was a tip someone shared with me for ensuring it leaves the mold intact.  Dip the bottom in hot water for a moment before turning it.  Slid right out.  Genius!

Not quite a dump and serve recipe, but it is in the ballpark.  Boxes of jello, cans of cranberry sauce and pineapple, hot water.   No mini-marshmallows in sight, so let’s roll with it.  While we call this “Congealed Cranberry Salad”, nobody *really* thinks it’s salad any more than we buy that pizza is a vegetable.  Except this one takes the charade one step further with the inclusion of actual salad dressing.  Come on.  Who are you fooling?  It turns out me.   I dug this “salad”, but the addition of poppy seed dressing really brings it home.  My dinner guests asked if the dressing was actually for the jello.  Yep.  Really?  Mmm hmm.  They got on board.  It ended up a real winner and was the first of the leftovers to disappear.  Loved it.  Hmm. Maybe I just like cranberries a lot.

Recipe: Cranberry Congealed Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Summary: Many Thanksgiving tables would be incomplete without the cranberry jello salad, but the addition of poppy seed dressing takes this one a step further. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.


  • 2 (3oz) Boxes Lemon Jell-O
  • 2 (3oz) Boxes Cranberry or Cherry Jell-O
  • 2 c Boiling Water
  • 1 c Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • 1 (16oz) Can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 c Mayonnaise
  • 1 T Poppy Seeds


  1. Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water.
  2. Stir in pineapple and cranberry sauce (make sure sauce dissolves completely).
  3. Pour into 9 in balking dish or Jell-O mold.
  4. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  5. Stir poppy seeds into mayonnaise for dressing.
  6. To serve, cut salad into portions and top with dollop of dressing.



Ambrosia Fruit Salad

14 Oct


M: Six ingredients. All prepackaged. Dump, stir, chill and eat. Takes about five minutes of preparation. The result is a very nice take on this classic picnic favorite. It’s familiar, It’s colorful. It travels fairly well and when you bring it to your family reunion, your Aunt Marva will be delighted. What’s not to love? Not a darn thing. So what’s my problem? It’s not you, ambrosia fruit salad. It’s me.

Here’s the thing. Every part of this recipe comes prepackaged in a can or bag. I like working from scratch. I could go on here about how much better it is to cook locally and seasonally and all that packaging is bad for the world. It isn’t about that though. What it comes down is nothing more than I like it better because I enjoy working from basic ingredients. I know it is perfectly logical to open a few cans. Why mess around? And yet I see this recipe and I immediately start to wonder how to produce maraschino cherries myself or if home made mini-marshmallows are any trickier to pull off than standard ‘mallows. It’s a little obnoxious, I know, and I only admit it here by way of full kitchen disclosure. To make matters worse, I am wildly inconsistent with this policy. But there it is. I feel somewhat pardoned here only in that the submitter of this recipe revealed a similar hesitation. So I stuck to the recipe as published and it is as good an ambrosia salad as you’re likely to find.  Truth be told, ambrosia is not really to my taste, but that is on me as well.  Say what you want, this is easy.  Maybe a little *too* easy.

I still read up on how to make maraschino cherries.

Recipe: Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Summary: A quick and easy recipe for the picnic classic. Sigh. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook


  • 1 (11oz) Can Mandarin Oranges, drained
  • 1 (5oz) Jar Maraschino Cherries, with juice
  • 1 (20oz) Can Pineapple Tidbits, drained
  • 1/2 c Flaked Coconut
  • 1 c Sour Cream
  • 1 c Mini Marshmallows


  1. Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight.


Ambrosia Ingredients


Posted in Fruit, Salads