Why Mayonnaise Matters | + Potato Salad Recipes Featuring Duke’s Mayonnaise

I was never picky about mayonnaise. Why would I be? It’s just oil and egg yolks, right?

Mayonnaise was mayonnaise – I didn’t waste brain power over it.

Then I started a salad dressing company.  I soon came to realize I’d have to begin caring about mayonnaise, a lot. And quick.

Soon after my parents settled in Lexington, Virginia, I heard my mom mention buying Duke’s Mayonnaise when she goes to the grocery store – a new pantry staple she adores. She told me it was a southern thing. Well, hey now – I love southern food.

I tasted it. I loved it. I was all in.

Compared to other mayonnaises, you can always count on a bigger tang, heftier flavor, and a gorgeous yolk-yellow hue that we can attribute to the larger quantity of yolks Duke’s has been using in their recipe for over 80 years. Tradition – sticking to your guns, and not changing who you are – are just a few other reasons I’m a big fan of that company.

Although Pennsylvania is above the Mason-Dixon line, I had been told and seen for myself that it maintains some small but noticeable southern food roots to it.

Things like pimento cheese and hush puppie-esque fry-bites are written on chalkboard signs in the small towns across Happy Valley. The region has, over time, melded together a congregation of southern, Amish and German influence into their food. Potato salad, I like to think, really encapsulates what eating, home cooking and living in Amish country is all about.

I’d written previously about the magic of potato salad in my recipe for Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Salad. I hit on this there, but there’s something uncannily familiar, homey and simple about potato salad that makes it such a ubiquitously-loved American staple. That, and it’s outrageously delicious.

As our inaugural post for Hankerings Dressings release, I thought it would be fitting to publish four generations’ worth of potato salad recipes – from my great-grandmother down to me. All will feature Duke’s Mayonnaise, of course.

Thank you, to my grandmother, aunt and mother – not just your help gathering recipes. I’m grateful to be a part of this process as you recount the smallest memories of my great-grandmother’s love for food, and want to thank you for always emanating more love and care than I know what to do with. I hope you’re having as much fun as I am.

Now onto the potato salad lineup – with three variations to choose from; you won’t run out of potato salad recipes for barbecues this summer. Let us know which is your favorite!

What are your favorite passed down family recipes for potato salad? Share them here!

Mattie’s (Mammie’s) Potato Salad


  • 2 lbs. white boiling potatoes, quartered
  • 1 1 / 2 or 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1 / 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons cream
  • 2 cups Duke’s Mayonnaise
  • Celery seed, for finishing


  1. Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl to create the dressing. Add the potatoes, and stir until incorporated. Garnish with the celery seed.
  3. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Marcy’s (Grandmom’s) Potato Salad

*Note that my Marcy’s potato salad recipe has one small tweak from Mattie’s – she adds hard boiled eggs, pimentos, and dill pickle relish & juice!


  • 2 lbs. white boiling potatoes, quartered
  • 1 1 / 2 or 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 1 / 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pimentos, minced
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons cream
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Duke’s Mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons dill pickle relish, plus 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice, reserving extra dill pickle relish for garnish
  • Celery seed, for garnish


  1. Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl to create the dressing. Add the potatoes, and stir until incorporated. Garnish with the dill pickle relish.
  3. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Liz’s (Mom’s) Potato Salad


  • 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 / 2 medium red onion, small diced, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 small jar pimentos, drained
  • 1 Claussen pickle, minced, plus 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 1 1 / 2 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • Heavy pinch of salt
  • Heavy pinch of pepper
  • Paprika, for garnish


  1. Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl to create the dressing. Add the potatoes, and stir until incorporated. Garnish with paprika.
  3. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Christine’s Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Recipe here!

Truffled Shepherd’s Pies

Shepherd’s pie – another one of those quintessential comfort food dishes.

Comfort food is an overused term in the food world. But you won’t hear me complaining. Comfort food has always been around. It’s just that we have a nice little click bait-friendly term for it nowadays. It’s all-encompassing – but I usually see two common threads: comfort food is hot, and it’s carb-packed.

What is the definition of comfort food anyway?

It’s defined as, “food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.”

Point being – it’s about memories, and less so about the food itself.

I’ve only had Shepherd’s Pie one other time in my life. But the specifics are hazy.

It was somewhere in New York, at one of those British pubs. Probably on a side street off of 5th Avenue. And I probably ordered a Guinness with it – those were my Guinness days. It’s a major food gap in my cooking repertoire at home, so this dish was a long time coming.


My other major food gap? Duck leg confit. Wow, was I missing out.

D’Artagnan produces package-sealed duck confit that you can pull out of the freezer and put straight under a broiler. I bought them on a whim. And I almost cried while eating it – I’m not being hyperbolic, I was so elated by the revelation of duck fat that I almost cried. It was perfect. Duck fat is like chicken fat, but gamier. I didn’t know duck, stewed in duck fat, could taste so good.

This shepherd’s pie, while not as much a revelation as duck confit, is still that blow-your-mind level comfort food. No fond childhood memories required – it’s just plain good.

Making some of these foods at home, at the right place and time, are reminiscent of childhood home cooking. Browning the ground beef, the smell of boiled potatoes, and sauteeing mirepoix all brought back smells, tastes and sights that trigger those fuzzy memories.

But, we need to make room for the new comfort foods in our lives. For me that’s absolutely and unequivocally, duck confit. Even if it’s package sealed sometimes.

Happy comfort food cooking! 😊


Makes 4 small casseroles.

  • 2 lbs. red bliss potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 / 3 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons black truffle butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. ground beef (20% fat)
  • 2 carrots, small diced
  • 2 celery stalks, small diced
  • 1 large white onion, small diced
  • 1 / 2 lb. mushrooms, small diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons thyme, minced
  • 1 splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, sautéing for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes or so. Add the ground beef and brown the meat. Once the meat is browned and broken up, add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Sautee for 10 minutes or so, until all the vegetables are tender.
  3. In the meantime, heat a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add the potatoes and boil for 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork tender. Strain. Add the potatoes back to the pot, adding the butter, truffle butter, heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of salt. Beat with a hand mixture until the potato mixture is thickened. Allow the potatoes to cool for 10 minutes. Then crack the egg into the potato mixture, stirring until incorporated. Put the potato mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. To the meat mixture, add the water, bouillon cube, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, bay leaf and thyme. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the gravy is thickened. Remove from the heat, allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, and put the mixture in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. In 4 6 by 4 inch casserole dishes, or gratin dishes, layer the meat mixture, then the potato mixture. With a fork, create small peaks with the potato mixture. This will help parts of the pie brown in the oven. Place the pies on a sheet pan in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the peaks on the potato have browned.
  6. Serve hot.

Potato Chips with Caviar & Herb Dip

Caviar screams New Years Eve to me. More than champagne. More than black sequin dresses and New Years Eve horns.

I wish I knew more about the applications for caviar in cooking. But what I do know, is that I love the pop-in-your-mouth texture and how it tastes exactly like the sea. And man, talk about pretty.

In my food world, caviar is a special occasion-worthy indulgence if there ever was one. It goes super well paired with an over-the-top crème fraiche sauce. Potato chips are the perfect vehicle – crispy, salty and not too bulky.

And when it comes to preparing a dish with caviar, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Look at any recipe that features caviar, and you’ll find it consistently accompanied by the same flavor profiles – think chives, smoked salmon, lemon, egg yolk, all on a crunchy, carby vehicle.


Ina Garten published several caviar and egg roe recipes that will blow your socks off. I have her to thank for introducing me to the world of caviar in cooking. I’ve made her Caviar Dip with salmon roe, Lemon Capellini with Caviar and Blini with Smoked Salmon.

The image that pops into your head when you think of caviar is likely the Beluga variety – black-colored, small beads. It’s generally the most costly if you’re in the market for caviar. For a pound of the stuff, you’re talking $3,000 to $4,000. Good thing we don’t need to eat caviar by the ladleful to get the full caviar experience. For weeknight eating, there’s also the more affordable salmon roe caviar, which gives you the same fishy, salty punch for a lot less dough.

Luckily, we live in a food-obsessed world. There’s someone who lives near the Caspian Sea whose job is to procure fish eggs, pasteurize them, package them, and ship them around the world. Directly to my local Whole Foods.

On an average shopping day, it’s admittedly tempting every time I go by the fish aisle to pass it up. But I’ve been so good this year. So I let myself slip into the splurge.

If you don’t love caviar, this could very well change your mind. May your 2019 be caviar-filled all year round. 😊


  • 2 oz. caviar, of your choosing
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

F o r  t h e  P o t a t o  C h i p s

  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato
  • 4 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper


  1. Slice the potato with a mandoline, placing the slices in a large bowl filled with water. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the potato slices from the water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
  2. Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a large shallow pan. To test the oil, put a slice of the potato in the oil. When it bubbles and starts to fry, add the rest of the potato slices.
  3. Fry on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chips are golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle immediately with salt.
  4. In the meantime, combine the dip ingredients in a bowl. Stir until incorporated. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. To assemble the appetizer, place a small spoonful of the sauce on a chip, top with a 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 teaspoon of caviar, and top with a sprig of parsley, if desired. Arrange on a serving plate. Serve room temperature.



Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi

Gnocchi is essentially mashed potato-based pasta dough. It’s no wonder I’m obsessed with it.

Can I claim expert execution every time I roll that dough out? Nope! Not by a long shot. But it still tastes, and looks, like gnocchi every time.

My secret? This general rule of thumb – 1 medium-sized potato to 1 / 3 cup flour. It leaves ample room for error, all while helping avoid the consequences of dumplings that fall apart in the boiling water, or too-rigid dough.

And once you’ve made it a few times, you’ll have a better feel for the potato to flour to egg to water ratio. Or at least you’ll know when you completely botched the whole thing. Hopefully.

Of the dishes I cook, I make macaroni and cheese most often. In all shapes, sizes, and colors. If there ever was an expert – and I’d be hesitant to make this claim if it weren’t true – I might be it. Besides professional chefs. They actually know what they’re doing.

Here are some tips & tricks I’ve teased out –

  • Too much flour in the roux leads to a cakey sauce, and poor texture if you’re reheating leftovers.
  • More moisture is key – including pasta water, milk, cream, or half and half.
  • For better or for worse, pricey, aged Gruyere and cheddar cheeses are the best cheeses to use as a base. Ina Garten is all about this combo, and for good reason. It’s because she’s right. Use goat, blue, or other cheeses as accent cheeses. If you’re going with a homier stovetop mac, it’s not a bad idea to throw Velveeta in the mix. If you’re wondering how restaurants manage to serve you mac & cheese in that impossibly gooey & silky sauce, I’d bet my life that Velveeta had something to do with it.
  • If you’re baking your mac, you need to undercook the pasta by at least 2 to 3 minutes, beyond just the time it takes to boil the pasta to al dente consistency. A hard-biting noodle should be a feature of every macaroni and cheese you serve.
  • Add a splash of neutral cooking oil into your cheese mixture. Trust me.

I wanted this gnocchi to encapsulate the culmination of these mac & cheese lessons learned. The sauce came out as saucy as sauces get – rich, thick, over-the-top.

Reheated in a microwave, it tasted like the first bite out of the oven. I’m far from having my macaroni and cheese deemed perfect by the gods, but these pointers have well along the way.

What are some of your go-to tricks for the perfect mac? Any mac & cheese recipes you swear by?


F o r  t h e  G n o c c h i

  • 6 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & quartered (approximately 2 pounds)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Flour, as needed
  • Water, as needed

F o r  t h e  C h e e s e  S a u c e

  • 3 cups sharp, aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 3 / 4 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

F o r  t h e  T o p p i n g

  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Combine with the panko breadcrumbs and garlic powder in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the potatoes, and cook until fork tender. Strain. Turn the potatoes into a mashed consistency using either a hand mill or a hand mixer (a hand mill is better).
  4. On a floured, hard surface, lightly combine the mashed potatoes, flour, salt until uniform throughout. Create a well in the middle of the dough and add the egg. Continue to fold the dough until the egg is fully incorporated, and the dough is a light yellow color. The dough should be sticky, but should not stick to your hands. If it is too dry to combine, or too sticky to handle, add small amounts or water or flour until it reaches the right consistency.
  5. Form the dough into a small disk, cover in plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, melt the 3 / 4 stick of butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, add the flour. Whisk for a couple minutes, until the flour mixture is bubbling. Add the milk, the salt, pepper, nutmeg and vegetable oil. Allow to thicken on medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes. The mixture should coat a wooden spoon at this phase. Once thickened, add the cheeses. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat until ready to add the gnocchi.
  7. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the fridge. Roll out the dough to 1 inch thickness. Cut the dough into long strips. Form a long tubular piece of dough from each strip, using your hands to stretch and roll the dough back and forth. Once the dough reaches about 1 inch in diameter, cut the strips into 1 inch pieces. Place the gnocchi on a plate, and sprinkle with flour.
  8. Boil a pot of salted water. Put the gnocchi in the water a dozen or so pieces at a time. Once the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are done. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place into the cheese mixture. It’s encouraged for some of the cooking liquid to make its way into the cheese sauce as you’re transferring the gnocchi. Stir until the gnocchi are incorporated into the cheese sauce.
  9. Pour the gnocchi into a baking pan or cast iron skillet, and top evenly with the panko mixture.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the panko is browned and the cheese is bubbling. Serve hot.










Sissy’s Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

This is a ridiculous recipe – ridiculous because goat cheese doesn’t belong in mashed potatoes, right?


They are symbiotic – the goat cheese adds a sour tang that rips through the mellowness of boiled potatoes. The texture of the chevre does a great job of lightening the texture of the buttery Yukon golds. And with enough mortar-&-pestled black peppercorns, you have that spicy, cracked pepper bite to break through the richness that is butter, heavy cream and cheese.

My little sister loves goat cheese. When we were living together, it was pretty easy to know what she needed from the grocery store, without me needing to ask. Goat cheese, Near East Rice Pilaf, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Goat cheese reigns supreme in her food world.

So when it came Thanksgiving time, I knew this would hit home for her. There was no need to hold back on the amount of goat cheese in this, because there’s no such thing in her mind.

I know from experience that not everyone loves the taste of goat cheese – I’d recommend making two batches if you’re serving picky kiddos or adults. Which is easy enough because these potatoes still fold in the musts – heavy cream and butter.

My mom makes her mashed potatoes with chicken stock – the added poultry flavor always reminds me of holidays, and it’d probably go great in this recipe as well. Just add a few splashes.

But I wouldn’t limit this dish to the holidays. It’s so &*^%ing good. It’s one of those recipes, like a song that you can’t get out of your head, that will ruminate in your mind for a while after you eat it. I started imagining all the different cheeses I could add to potatoes. Gorgonzola mashed potatoes? Velveeta’d mashed potatoes? The possibilities are only limited by your ability to list cheese.

One technique I’d recommend – at all costs, when you can, beat the mashed potatoes with a hand mixer. The handy dandy smasher works perfectly well in a pinch. But take the time to dirty up the beater for your potatoes. It makes them silky in a way hand mashing cannot, and that’s the texture you deserve. Restaurant-quality silkiness.

Happy mashed potato-eating season! What are some of your favorite mashed potato recipes? As always, I’m all ears. 😊


Serves 4 to 6.

  • 1 5 lb. bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 12 oz. chevre, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 1 / 2 sticks butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar & pestle (alternatively, you can place the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag, smashing them with a mallet or rolling pin), plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes


  1. Boil the peeled, quartered potatoes for 20 minutes or so in salted water until fork tender. Reserve cooking liquid for later before draining. Strain potatoes into a colander, covering with a dish towel for 15 minutes to allow the potatoes to steam.
  2. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the butter, goat cheese, heavy cream, garlic, salt and crushed black pepper.
  3. Beat the potatoes with a hand mixer on high speed, being careful that the potatoes and liquid don’t splash out of the pot. If needed to reach a silkier consistency, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
  4. Serve the mashed potatoes hot, with the goat cheese crumbles and cracked black pepper sprinkled on top for garnish, if desired.