Not My Egg Salad Sandwich

2010/02/27

In my life, I have made many different egg salad sandwiches. In fact, every time I make egg salad it is slightly different. That is because, despite what most delis will have you believe, egg salad is extremely versatile. Different mustards, spices, cheeses, even nuts, can create new and interesting combinations. I have made horseradish egg salad with pickled beets on black bread, curried egg salad with pistachios in pita pockets (there used to be a recipe for this on Whole Foods’ website which is where I got the idea, but I didn’t follow the recipe), and even wasabi egg salad with avocado inside rice balls. Even the bland stuff at deli can be blank canvas for tasty garnishes. At a DC area sandwich chain (whose really strange name shall remain unsaid), I like my egg salad on a spinach tortilla with provolone cheese, tomato, hot pepper rings, and sprouts. It is tasty. But I have said enough about the way I like my egg salad, because as I said in the title, the subject of this post is not my egg salad sandwich.

This egg salad sandwich belongs to someone else. A very special someone else. It was even named after her. The name of my blog would probably annoy her, but that is a different story. I am too far away today to get a real sandwich from the ice cream parlor that sells them, so I decided to make one myself.

Step 1) The Bread

I woke up to the smell of this baking this morning. Delay timers on bread machines are a good thing. This bread from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, is called Whole Wheat Cuban Bread, although I am not sure if it should still be considered whole wheat if you use half whole wheat flour and half white bread flour. But that is what the book calls it, I call it “half wheat bread”. It was still very good, crusty outside and soft inside with that nutty flavor that wheat breads have. Also it is vegan, which I found interesting. It doesn’t taste vegan.

Step 2) The Eggs

To make egg salad, you must first boil some eggs. I have boiling eggs down to an art; my yolks are always fully set and bright yellow with not even a hint of grey, and the shells peel of easily 99.5% of the time. To do this I start by covering cold eggs with cold water in a saucepan (this is the one time that it is better not to use fresh eggs). I bring the water to a full rolling boil (uncovered) over high heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Then I remove the pan from the burner, cover, and wait 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, I transfer the eggs to ice water and put them in the fridge for a few minutes (**this step is very important**). There you have it. Perfect eggs every time.

Step 3) The Egg Salad

Since this is not my egg salad sandwich, I wanted to make a simple, but still flavorful salad. To do this, I mixed 2 tsp mayo with 1/2 tsp honey mustard (it is the yellowest one I have on hand) and a smidgen of minced sweet onion for flavor. Then I chopped 2 eggs in the bowl (I don’t like to waste yolk on a cutting board, and you can actually chop eggs easily with a butter knife so it doesn’t scratch the bowl) and mixed.

Sometimes a sunny yellow egg salad can lift your spirits a little.

Step 4) Assembly

Assembling this sandwich was rather simple. All I added were some Red Oak lettuce leaves I picked up at the farmers’ market this morning. Lettuce is not really my favorite accompaniment to egg salad, but this is how this sandwich should be. Then I cut it on a diagonal, because that is what I do.

It was really quite good. Thank you for letting me share your lunch. 🙂


My Legume Love Affair #20- North African Inspired Chickpeas with Morrocan Fried Flatbread

2010/02/25

This is my first time participating in one of these blogging events, so it is quite fitting that the title of the event should be “My Legume Love Affair,” because I really do love legumes. For a vegetarian, legumes are a great source of protein that are also low in fat and cholesterol. But they are still very, very tasty, so I don’t hold it against them. So for my entry, I cooked North African inspired Chickpeas. To accompany them, I made a Morrocan Fried Flatbread and for the meat eaters, beef kebabs.

**Update** My Legume Love Affair was created by The Well-Seasoned Cook, and this edition, #20, is being hosted by The Crispy Cook. The Crispy Cook will also post a wrap up of the event sometime after February 28th, so check it out to see all the yummy legume-based recipes.

North African Inspired Chickpeas (recipe improvised by me):

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/8 tsp each cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and paprika, all ground (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans chickpeas, 15.5 oz
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (mine were home canned, about a pint)
  • a few sprigs of parsley
  1. Heat a medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion. Cook a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and spices. Cook a few more minutes until the mixture gets really fragrant but don’t let the garlic burn.
  2. Add the chickpeas and stir until they are coated with the spice mixture. Then add the tomatoes and stir again. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid reduces (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  3. Plate in pretty bowls and garnish with parsley. Serves 2-3 as a main course or 3-5 as a side dish, depending on your appetites.

I really liked this dish, and the guys seemed to like it, too. I actually stirred in a spoonful of Greek yoghurt in it at the table, because it was there to accompany the kebabs. But it wasn’t in the picture, and it wasn’t necessary, so I didn’t include it in the recipe. Also you might notice I used canned beans instead of dried beans. Although I usually prefer dried beans, sometimes I don’t know the night before what I will be cooking, so on those occasions, canned beans will have to do. It was a weekday night dinner, and it was already running late because of the homemade harissa debacle (to be explained shortly), so I don’t feel I bad about it.

To accompany the chickpeas I made Morrocan Fried Flatbread and Morrocan Kebabs, both from the cookbook Mediterranean Street Food, by Anissa Helou. If you have not looked at this book, and you like Mediterranean food, I definately recommend it. I followed the recipes, mostly. I adapted the flatbread recipe to make one large one instead of four. Inside it is filled with onions, parsley, and spices. Next time, though, I think I will add cheese (and more salt to the dough).

The kebabs were marinated in a similar mixture of onions, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper, then cooked under the broiler until medium rare (I think? I asked the guys to decide when they were done). They guys really seemed to like the kebabs, which they ate with a little Greek yoghurt.

I also planned to serve some homemade harissa, also from the same cookbook, but time became an issue. Chopping and deseeding the peppers took so long that I just decided to finish the project after dinner, which I did. Let me tell you, this harissa is HOT. I used a mixture of dried chipotle chiles, dried ancho chiles, the little dried chiles you get in the hispanic spice aisle that have been in my pantry so long that I forget what they are called (they are about as long as my pinky finger and very thin), and just for fun, dried habaneros. These were soaked and then mixed in the food processer with salt and a lot of garlic. Then I mixed in some ground caraway and a little more salt. I then spooned it into three lovely jars I got for Christmas (that I was planning a much sweeter use for but they are the only jars I have with one-piece lids, so they will have to do). Covered with olive oil, they will last for quite a while in the fridge.

See? Aren’t they lovely? One of these beauties will last me a while. Do I have any takers for the other two?


Not done yet…

2010/02/22

There are still tweaks to be made, but the major makeover is done…for now.


Hedgehogs for Dinner!

2010/02/22

No, don’t worry, we did not eat my beloved Keshmesh (for those of you who may have stumbled across this blog without actually knowing me, I own a pet hedgehog). Instead, we had scrump-diddly-uptious mushrooms cooked into a sauce for pasta.

These lovely darlings, which I bought from the mushroom lady at the farmers’ market last Saturday are Hydnum repandum, also known as hedgehog mushrooms. They got their name, because instead of having lines on their undersides like most mushrooms, these have spikes that look very much like the quills of their namesake.

This one even kind of looked like a hedgehog.

Since they are wild mushrooms, they were a little dirty, so I had to clean them before cooking. Yes, of course, I used my veg-hog vegetable brush.

Unfortunately, the only thing I measured while cooking tonight was the butter (2 tbsp), so I will have to give you a non-recipe, but this wouldn’t be hard to replicate. After cleaning them, I cooked them in my favorite fashion the only way mushrooms should ever be cooked: sauteed with butter and a little onion. I added enough white wine to make a sauce and let them simmer.

This smelled very, very good.

Meanwhile, I started boiling a pot of water. When it reached a full rolling boil, I dumped in a package of pesto tortelloni from Trader Joes. When the pasta was just about done, I added some coarse Sel Gris de Guerande (grey French sea salt), crumbled in some goat cheese, and finished with fresh black pepper. The sauce thickened a bit more than I wanted, so when I was straining the pasta, I added some pasta water to the mixture. Then I tossed the tortelloni with the sauce, plated, and sprinkled some shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Voila! If I didn’t have to clean the mushrooms, this would have only taken 15 minutes. The pasta wasn’t bad, but the sauce was excellent.

I wonder what he would think?


Bread 2.0

2010/02/22

Wow. 2 posts in one day; who would believe it? Well I have made my second loaf of bread, and I must say that this loaf kicks my first loaf’s butt.

1) This loaf had a much better rise. I’m not sure if you can tell by the photos, but this loaf is much taller than the first loaf I baked. I think this is because it used a starter (which proofed for 4 hours), instead of just yeast. The bread is still just a white bread (it is called Shepherd’s Bread in my cookbook, The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook).

2) It has a very nice texture. The outside is crusty, but the inside has a nice open crumb to it, with lots of air pockets, which makes it taste fluffy. This is also a result of the starter. If you look hard you can see the texture in the picture below of a buttered slice.

3) It tastes really, really good. Ian agreed, when we tried it our unconventional post-dessert “bread course” (read: the bread wasn’t finished until almost 10).

The next bread in the book is a wheat bread. I am really looking forward to trying it.


My Newest Purchase

2010/02/21

Look what came in the mail yesterday!

These are my awesome new mesh shopping bags. Over a year ago, I switched to cloth shopping bags for my trips to the farmers’ market and grocery store, and I really like them. The bags I own are part of a set I bought on Amazon. They are large green cloth bags and they fit a lot of things in them. One is even insulated.

However, what I still didn’t like was needing to use bags for produce. At the market, I usually dont need bags except for with greens and beans and the like. At the grocery store, though, using bags is standard and often necessary. I was really happy when I found these bags, also on Amazon (can you tell where I do my shopping?)

Here are the bags again, with one of the last of the year’s pears (the farmers’ cold storage supplies are running dry) for reference. This is only half of them; there are 4 small green bags, 4 medium yellow bags, and 2 large pink bags. They also fold down nice into one of the green bags.

See?

Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive in time for shopping this week, so I will be waiting until next week to try them out. I can’t wait!


A Change is Gonna Come…

2010/02/18

In honor of my return to writing, I have decided to give my blog a total makeover; title, header, layout (maybe), everything.

Stay tuned!