Wednesday, April 18, 2007
There's a wonderful bakery and coffee shop in Gainesville called 2nd Street Bakery that is just about the coolest place I've seen open in Gainesville since I've been here. (Tied with Satchel's Pizza, of course.)
The bread and pastries at 2nd Street are addictively good, especially the crusty French baguette. It's so big, though, that Jason and I rarely eat the whole thing before it gets stale.
We've done everything from fresh bread crumbs to French bread pizza (this Cooking Light recipe is especially good) but I have to say my favorite use-up of the last bits of baguette is panzanella salad. Italian cooks waste nothing, so this salad was likely born out of necessity as a way to use their stale bread and just about any veggie their gardens grew.
Whether your bread is a little stale or fresh from the bakery, the croutons are definitely my favorite part. I've seen a million different varieties of this salad, but to me, the simpler the better. Choose tomatoes that are sweet and in-season. If you can't find big tomatoes that meet the taste requirement, grape tomatoes are almost always sweet. I don't love raw onions, but if you do, red onion is a traditional addition.
1 medium or 1/2 to 3/4 of a large crusty baguette
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Big pinch of Kosher salt
5 grinds of black pepper
3-4 tomatoes, seeded or 1 pint grape tomatoes
Juice from 2 lemons
1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated with a microplane
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut baguette into bite-sized cubes. In the salad bowl, toss cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in bite-sized chunks. Peel cucmber, cut in half lengthwise and with a spoon, scoop out seeds. Cut cucumber into bite-sized chunks and toss with tomatoes in salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Stir in croutons and toss everything with dressing. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I never really thought the first post on my blog would be devoted to egg salad. First, I always thought it seemed like a strange food, mushy and smelly and generally unappetizing. Second, it's not exactly haute cuisine and it seems to be one of those love/hate foods — the sheer mention of its name brings either looks of disgust or dreamy smiles.
But recently, I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa on Food Network where Ina Garten made an updated, fresh version of egg salad that looked neither gloppy nor soggy. Hers had dill, my very favorite herb, and was served as a French tartine — basically an open-faced sandwich — atop smoked salmon. It looked delicious.
Then, Heidi from 101cookbooks.com posted another version with celery, lemon juice, chives and about half the mayo the traditional recipe uses. Hers also looked lovely.
I was intrigued. I decided to try my hand at making a tastier version of the deli classic. A combination of those two recipes was the inspiration for my update of the egg salad sandwich. I decided to contrast of the soft egg salad with crusty bread and made it open-faced. The whole thing takes less than 20 minutes, and half of that is waiting for the eggs to cook. It's super cheap to make, and served with a salad, it's a perfect, light lunch.
Updated Egg Salad Sandwich
Scant 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon capers, drained and lightly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Light squeeze of lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Crusty French baguette cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Put eggs in a pan and cover with about 1/2 inch of water. Cover and bring to a boil. When the water boils, turn off heat and let sit, covered, 9-10 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water or run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking.
Peel eggs and place in a large bowl with the mayo and mustard. Using a fork, lightly mash eggs until they are in small pieces, being careful not to over-mash. Stir in capers, dill, lemon juice and salt & pepper.
To serve, toast the baguette (or any crusty bread) at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until crisp but not dry. Mound egg salad on baguette slices and serve.