Tag Archives: salad

Cold Plates

If you want to get some practice in at making cold plates, American Thanksgiving this Thursday gives you the opportunity. The essential ingredients are there: turkey, ham, dressing and potatoes.

cold plate photo d stewartAfter Canadian Thanksgiving last month, I made my best ever cold plates. I had several practice runs, and was quite proud of them. But then I came across Lord Byron’s Kitchen and saw his!

I didn’t follow his recipes exactly, but got a sense of the ingredients and presentation from them. So here is how I made my cold plates.

Parts of a Cold Plate

  • Sliced turkey or chicken, ham, roast beef
  • Dressing (stuffing)
  • 3 potato salads
  • Macaroni salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Lettuce and tomato
  • Dinner roll
  • Cranberry sauce and/or mustard sauce or pickle

Not just any old potato salad will do for a Newfoundland cold plate. For everything else, you can use what you like. But the different coloured potato salads are the defining points.

Boil peeled chopped potatoes (8-9 medium) in salted water until a fork easily pierces them. Drain, then mash them well with a hand-held potato masher.

Divide them into three containers and leave them to cool. Use containers that are large enough to add stuff.

White Potato Salad

vegetable white potato salad photo d stewart

To a container of potatoes, add:

  • Mayonnaise – a couple tablespoons and more as needed
  • 1/2 can of mixed vegetables, drained.

I did not have canned mixed vegetables, so I cut a carrot in big chunks and put them in with the potatoes for the final five minutes or so of cooking. Then I cut the chunks in small pieces for the salad along with 3 or 4 pickled green beans cut in 1/2 inch lengths. I also added a bit of pickle juice to thin the mayonnaise slightly.

  • Chopped onion – about 1 tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together with the potatoes and your vegetable white salad is done.

Mustard Potato Salad

mustard potato salad photo d stewart

Add to another container of potatoes:

  • Mayonnaise – a couple tablespoons and more as needed.
  • Prepared yellow mustard – a tablespoon and more as needed for the colour
  • Chopped onion – about 1 tbsp.
  • Finely chopped red and/or green pepper – 1-2 tbsp.
  • Green relish – about 1 tsp.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all together with the potatoes and your mustard potato salad is done.

Pickled Beet Potato Salad

beet potato salad photo d stewart

To your final container of potatoes, add:

  • Mayonnaise – a couple tablespoons and more as needed.
  • Pickled beets – maybe 1 medium, chopped
  • Pickled beet juice – maybe a tablespoon and more as needed for the colour
  • Salt to taste

Mix all together with the potatoes and your pickled beet potato salad is done. Put lids on and refrigerate for a few hours.

Assembling the plate

An ice cream scoop works best for the potato salads. But if you don’t have one, use a big spoon and mound it as best you can. Same goes for the pasta salad and coleslaw. The potato salads are pretty when put side by side. Then arrange everything else as you like or as fits.

You’ll see I added devilled eggs, just because I think they make everything look fancier. And my plate doesn’t have stuffing and cranberry sauce. I forgot to keep some aside, and we ate it all with hot turkey sandwiches the next day.

hotchickenwfries-jeanpetr-2013-wikicommonsFor me, that’s what you eat the day after a big turkey dinner. Turkey slices between bread with gravy on top, dressing, leftover vegetables and coleslaw on the side. That’s what my mother always made. I think she would have mutinied if someone had asked her to add new parts.

The Art of Leftovers

So I’m in awe of those who make cold plates. They use up leftovers, yes, but they also require making things from scratch. That can work for you, though. Use whatever you have and make or buy the rest. I think they are a perfect summer meal. Potato and pasta salads, any kind of green salad. Rolled up ham and turkey slices, cheese, hardboiled or devilled eggs. However and whenever they are made, they are works of art.

kebab cold plate photo d stewartAfter our post-post Thanksgiving cold plates, I had potato salad left over. Enough, it turned out, for two more meals. Hamburgers, then kebabs, with salads – variations on a cold plate.

Rock Recipes has more variations and stories about the tradition of Newfoundland cold plates.

Caesar Salad

caesar saladYears ago, a friend and I used to go the Newfoundland Hotel’s main dining room, the fancy one, for one thing. Caesar salad. The waiter would come with a trolley filled with the makings and create it at the table. Watching him was part of the joy. He’d expertly crack the egg, beat the mayonnaise, add everything else and then, with a flourish, he’d serve up individual bowls to us. With an “enjoy”, he’d leave the large bowl with us and take his trolley away. Other diners would also watch the performance, just like you do when people are getting dishes flambéed.

“Real” Caesar (for 2-4)

mayonnaise in bowl, ready for lettuceUse a stainless steel bowl or a wooden one that has been “seasoned” with garlic rubbed around the inside. Put one egg yolk* in bowl. Beat yolk vigorously with a wooden spoon (3-5 mins) until it begins to thicken. Slowly drizzle olive oil in yolk while continuing to beat. Use perhaps 1-2 tbsps in total. Egg should thicken to consistency of thin mayonnaise. Add 1 clove pressed garlic**, 1-2 tsp lemon juice (about half a lemon), 1/2 inch anchovy paste and 1-2 tbsp grated parmesan, stir until mixed but not more.

Add washed and dried romaine lettuce*** broken (not cut) into bite-sized pieces. Toss well with dressing, adding another tbsp or so parmesan while tossing. Sprinkle lemon juice on. Croutons, bacon bits, black olives and/or cherry tomatoes may be tossed in. Fresh-ground pepper on top is good

* If you are worried about bacteria from raw egg, you can put the whole egg (in its shell) in boiling water for 1 min. It will not cook the egg but will kill anything harmful.

**If you don’t like garlic, you can leave it out.

*** Use the amount of lettuce that the dressing coats for a good-tasting salad. Too little lettuce and the dressing will be overpowering, too much and the dressing will be inadequate. If you want a very small salad, using only half the egg yolk is better.

“Fake” Caesar (for 2-4)

mayonnaise with lemon juice & anchovy paste in bowlPut 1-2 tbsp store-bought real mayonnaise in a salad bowl (wooden or otherwise). Add anchovy paste and lemon juice as above. Beat mayonnaise with a spoon while drizzling 1 tbsp olive oil slowly into it. Consistency should be thinner than original mayonnaise, but still creamy. Add 1 clove pressed garlic and 1-2 tbsp grated parmesan. Stir until well mixed. Add romaine lettuce etc. as above.

The  “real” Caesar recipe is from me watching someone else make it; the “fake” one is from a magazine. Making real mayonnaise from egg yolk is tricky. It needs strong beating to make it creamy without the yolk and oil separating. High humidity will cause it to not thicken regardless of what you do. However, if you can master the proper wrist action, it is very impressive, and the result is delicious. The “fake” one is much easier, is not affected by weather and is pretty much as good as the real one – although it can’t match the real one as performance art.

These photos are of the “fake” caesar. To see the progression, follow them from bottom up.