So, despite the fact that I gushed about The Breslin nearly a year ago and also in an interview for Amazon, and even though I’ve fussed over The Spotted Pig, I didn’t even consider picking up chef April Bloomfield’s* book, A Girl and Her Pig because the odds felt slim that it would provide me with anything close to the joy that her cooking does at a dark table in the Ace Hotel, with a grapefruit gin-and-tonic (swoon) in my hand.
Someone pointed out to me a few weeks ago that this site has not a single recipe in the archives for egg salad. However, unlike the time I realized the broccoli archives boasted but a single recipe (and quickly sought to populate it) or the time I accepted that a quickie from-scratch homemade chicken noodle soup deserves a place in every arsenal, the egg salad-shaped hole in the archives went unnoticed less due to editorial oversight and more because, well, you know: egg salad; it’s pretty dull. Could anything be more uninspired than an amalgamation of smashed-up hard-boiled eggs and the dreaded mayonnaise? I mean, have you seen the yellow, flavorless mounds of dubious origin and assembly date most delis scoop onto a slice of bread and try to pass off as lunch? It would hardly make an enthusiast out of you. Or anyone.
But for those of us who see past the lack of beauty-queen stature and fervor around it, we know egg salad can be rather delicious if made properly, which is to say, at home, with perfectly cooked eggs and just enough dressing to cling, not drown them. At home, I make three small additions that I think transform it from the unglamorous status-quo to something I find crunchy, bright and absolutely perfect on a slice of whole-grain toasted bread in the middle of the day. The first is that I love to use coarse, or whole-grain Dijon mustard. Not only is it the prettiest thing in my fridge, the combination of the faintly crisp/crackly seeds and its milder flavor are heavenly here, adding texture and just enough kick to the eggs. The second is finely minced shallot, just a little. You could use red onion, too, but I think the texture is key. You want it to be noticeable enough that you enjoy it but not so loud that it upstages the star, kind of like surprise guests at a halftime show.
Happy Pie For Breakfast Day, friends! Do you see what I did there? I made it official, which means that you need not feel any regret that you may have innocently come upon a lonely wedge of leftover pie in the fridge this morning, and before you knew it, before you could responsibly hash out the pros and cons of setting your day to the tune of pie, and not, say, a muesli, fresh fruit and herbal tea detox, you in fact did have pie for breakfast and it was wonderful. You need not feel any regret because it’s a holiday, and it was important that you joined in the celebration. You were only doing your part. (Gobble, gobble.)
And now that we got that out of the way, I bet you could go for a salad. No, not a Salad of Thanksgiving Repentance; that would be rather dull. It might include wheat germ, and it’s too soon for all of that. I firmly believe that on the road from total overindulgence to the kind of mood that leads to my gym being jam-packed with Resolutes on January 1st, there should be some in-between. A salad, yes, one with several whole and wholesome ingredients, but also one that you look forward to eating because it in fact tastes amazing. And for that, I nominate this one. It comes with a warm bacon vinaigrette and old-school vibe. It’s not even a little sorry.
This was my lunch last week. I know that it may look less like lunch and more like penance, some apology for eating too many squares of salted-caramel-glazed fanned-apples-atop-1000-layers-of-buttery-pastry. I realize that most people think that when you start serving them bowls hearty grains and roasted squash that you might have an ulterior motive, like their thighs. I understand that most people don’t believe me when I say this, but it doesn’t make it any less true: I don’t eat food because it’s good for me; I eat it because I like it. And this was one of the most delicious lunch salads I’ve ever made.
Herein lies my approach to grain salads: I like whatever vegetables I’m using in the salad to be the bulk of it, and the grains to be the accent, like a crouton. When you make grain salad this way, you get to appreciate the its texture, and not just lament that it’s not plush as a mound of fine couscous, something you’d hardly notice eating. This, however, does not mean that they’re to be crouton-free; all salads need punch and crunch, and here, it comes from toasted, salted pepitas (though any nut will do), crumbled ricotta salata (though any salty, crumbly cheese will do) and minced red onion that I pickled at the last minute in sherry vinegar.
I’m sorry, guys, but I get really boring in the summer. Like, hey-isn’t-it-nice-when-the-sun-shines boring. Or, let-me-tell-you-about-that-time-I-got-the-apartment-painted boring.
Okay fine, I’ll tell you anyway. Remember when I told you that on our Vacation From Parenting I had an ambitious to-do list but my husband was quite certain we’d be better off doing as little as possible? Well, Alex: 1, Deb: 0 and here it is encrypted on the permanent record of the internet. As it turns out, having to take your entire apartment apart to allow for painters is totally not fun at all. Sometimes there’s a communication breakdown that leads to you coming home right as they’re finishing up to find that your apartment had been painted the wrong color. Sometimes, in the same week, your bathtub is suspiciously filled with plaster, your door handle breaks and leaves you locked out of your apartment for an eternity, your air conditioning dies, and 48 hours after the painters had left, not a single piece of furniture got ambitious enough to move itself back into position, which means that you’ll probably be doing that for the remainder of your so-called vacation. Really, Deb [insert slow clap here] next time your husband suggest you do nothing but sleep, socialize and relax for a week, perhaps you might just not argue.