Thursday, March 12, 2009
egg salad and grandma's house
I remember the day, not so long ago, I realized that I actually like egg salad. It was at Grandma’s house, about a 30-minute drive from college, during one of our regular lunch dates.
I sat down at the long wooden table, perpetually accented with gorgeous flowers from her garden, and reached for the coffee. Served black and untainted, this particular roast was purchased with some of the more fastidious women of our family in mind, but that is another story… I was mid-swallow when she happily set down a sandwich overflowing with freshly made egg salad. Not one to offend Grandma, I smiled with (faux) enthusiasm and dug in, keeping my coffee mug as close as possible to wash down, what I thought would be, the unseemly flavor of egg and mayo.
To my surprise, the coffee mug never made it to my lips. Simultaneously, the sandwich was both subtle and bursting with flavor, creamy with mayonnaise and crunchy with hearty bites of celery. It was a moment of revelation in my food world – I loved egg salad.
These past few weeks, I’ve been longing for home. New York is absolutely marvelous, but the city can be exceptionally demanding; life moves here at a faster pace, triumphs are greater and failures more intense. Some days you just need something as simple as a lunch with Grandma to remind you of who you are and where you are going.
Since my grandmother now lives a 16-hour drive away, I had to make do with egg salad. But, in order to conjure up that warm memory, only a fantastic egg salad would do. I combined creamy hard-boiled eggs with the piquant bite of onion and the fresh flavors of parsley and tomato and held it all together with just a dollop of mayonnaise. To this I added a squeeze of leftover Meyer lemon juice to brighten up the flavors, a pinch of salt to round them out and more than a few good turns of black pepper because, really, what would life be without a decent amount of freshly cracked pepper?
Served with a cup of black coffee, a few grapes and a lovely dessert of chocolate-oatmeal cookie dough balls I had lingering in the freezer, I felt (almost) as if I were back at Grandma’s sun-drenched kitchen table.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Makes 1 ½ cups
4 eggs; hard boiled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk; finely chopped
¼ red onion; finely chopped
1 Tbsp parsley; minced
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
5 cherry tomatoes; seeds removed* and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Soft multigrain bread
To hard boil the eggs, place them in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover completely. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook eggs, covered, for 9-10 minutes. Immediately remove eggs from saucepan with slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Allow eggs to sit until cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes, and remove the shell.
While the eggs are cooking, combine celery, onion, parsley, lemon juice, tomatoes and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Coarsely chop the shelled eggs and add to the mixture. Stir to combine and flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, spoon egg salad onto soft multigrain bread and top with mixed greens. Enjoy with a cup of (black) coffee.
*Chef’s note: Technically speaking there is no particular need to remove the seeds of the tomatoes. This practice is merely homage to Mom, who doesn’t particularly like the squishy parts of tomatoes. Thus, I’ve been trained from an early age to squeeze out the excess pulp, and since this recipe is truly about bringing a bit of home to the table, I couldn’t imagine not accommodating Mom. That said; feel free to leave the seeds in your own tomatoes