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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don't Put All Your Egg Salad In One Bread Basket

I had egg salad the other day. I love egg salad. I have tried different versions that add minced celery, pickle relish or other things but I just don't care for them. The closest I came was "Bacon and Egg Salad" which just meant adding crumbled bacon to my basic recipe. I was not impressed. The bacon did not stand out and I felt it was a waste of good bacon (luckily the egg salad was fine, with or without the bacon).

I think the reason I prefer my rather plain egg salad is the bread I serve it on. I sometimes use a hearty country style bread but any regular old grocery store bread will do - white bread, a soft whole grain, a denser whole grain - but the very best bread for egg salad is fresh Challah, that soft, golden yellow bread with a shiny brown crust. This lets the egg salad be the star with a good supporting cast. Buy Challah at a deli or wherever you buy your bagels if your grocery store does not have it.

My egg salad is basic and pretty plain. Remember, that's the way I like it. I was just thinking of cooking the eggs in egg coddlers, which I posted on recently. But that would mean a separate coddler for each egg. Too many to wash. Besides, they do just fine inside the shell - and since you'll be mashing the eggs anyway it doesn't matter if they don't peel beautifully.

My friend gave me a couple gadgets. One is a little plastic thing with a spring loaded pin inside. This is for piercing the end of the egg which is supposed to prevent the egg cracking during cooking. it works pretty well.
The other is a contraption with a slotted section to hold the peeled egg and another section that is threaded with wires for slicing the egg. My friend turns the egg in two or three directions in order to dice rather than slice. This guy works okay for slicing eggs for, say, potato salad but for egg salad I just smash everything together with a fork.

Be warned. I never measure. I just add until the taste and texture are about right. Here is my "recipe" for basic egg salad. I usually use about three eggs. This makes the amount of egg salad I know I will eat before I decide I would rather have ham and cheese.

Pierce the broad end of the egg with your egg piercer or a sharp push pin. Be careful not to squeeze the egg too hard or it will break. I sometimes pierce the narrow end too, especially if the eggs are less fresh. Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer and fill the pan with cold water to cover the eggs.

Bring to a full boil, then cover the pan and turn off the heat. Leave them for 10 minutes (or longer). Add cold water to the pan, draining out the hot water, and leave them until they are cool enough to handle, about 10 - 20 minutes. Remove the shells and either dice the eggs with your egg slicer or a knife, or just place them in a bowl and smash them with a fork, leaving them as chunky as you like. I like them fairly smooth.

Add a little mayonnaise, about a teaspoon per egg, maybe a little less. Also add a nice blob of any kind of mustard - plain old yellow, brown and spicy, Dijon - I use whatever kind of mustard happens to be open in the fridge. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir well with the fork, adding a bit more mayonnaise if you like. If you are feeling creative or happen to have any handy, add a pinch of fresh or dried herbs - oregano, basil, tarragon or thyme - or maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper or a drop of Tabasco sauce. Taste as you go and stop when you like it (or when you have tasted all the salad and have to start over).

I love this served on soft, fresh Challah, any whole wheat or whole grain bread, toasted or not, or even on toasted English muffins or bagels! Sometimes I even spread it on crackers, like dip.

If you want to make devilled eggs, just be extra careful peeling the eggs. Slice them in half, mash the yolks with mayo, mustard, seasonings and, if you like, a splash of vinegar or pickle juice and spoon the filling back into the whites. Garnish with a shake of paprika or a parsley leaf.

That's it! Easy, basic, tasty. The way things should be!

Quotable Quotes; in the category Yeah, I Think This Is How I Would Like It To Go!

"My career is pretty much over. I'm out in the Valley eating soft-boiled eggs." Tim Conway

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