Category Archives: General
Leeks Vinaigrette. We’ve seen this one before though the first time for Cook the Book Fridays. Whole leeks steamed until tender and then doused in tangy vinaigrette. This version, Leeks with Mustard-Bacon Vinaigrette, from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen has the added bonus of bacon in the dressing and chopped eggs on top, giving it a breakfast-y feel.
I grew leeks last summer in my backyard garden. I harvested the entire crop before the ground froze in December and have been steadily working my way through my supply. The leeks were medium-sized – not the giants found in the grocery store this time of year, but not the pencil-thin ones I love in the summer. This was a good way to use up the last of my store.
I admit that I’m always a bit baffled by this dish. It tastes great, but it’s awkward to prepare. You have the clean the leeks which involves slicing them almost to the root, making them hard to handle. You need to top off the ends to allow them to fit in the pot. They don’t really fit in a steamer. You are supposed to toss the cooked leeks with dressing. How do you do that? I found it was more like rolling them around to coat. I arranged the leeks vinaigrette on a platter, but serving it was a comedy show all its own. Then, we both sliced the leeks into manageable lengths. Why not start with that before cooking, tossing, serving, etc.?
So, I made it, we enjoyed it, but I still don’t get it. Maybe you need to be French to understand…
Eggs symbolize birth, rebirth, fresh starts, spring, so it’s fitting that this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, the Extra Edition for the fifth Friday in March, is eggy: Hard-cooked eggs with herb mayonnaise, which is better described as a simple salad topped with hard-boiled eggs.
I’ve spent a long time figuring out the best way to cook hard-boiled eggs. As simple as it seems, there are many different methods out there. While David adds eggs to boiling water and simmers them, I find the cooking time varies widely depending on the temperature of the eggs. Are they cold, coming straight from the refrigerator? Are they room temperature? How long have they been sitting out? I find the most reliable method for me is to place eggs in a pot, cover them with water, and start heating. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and let the eggs cook in the residual heat (14-15 minutes for large eggs). That’s how I cooked my eggs.
The component of this recipe that makes it special is the mayonnaise. Some people are intimidated by making their own mayonnaise. I usually use it from the jar, but for special occasions, it’s simple to make in the food processor. David’s recipe was just the right balance. And then, to gild the lily, minced shallots and herbs are added for maximum deliciousness. I couldn’t find chervil but used tarragon. Making the mayo the day before allows the flavors to mellow.
Everything comes together as a salad. A bed of lettuce topped with halved grape tomatoes and hard-cooked eggs are dolloped with the mayonnaise. I also sprinkled extra minced shallots and tarragon over the top. The salad makes a perfect lunch. I really enjoyed the flavors, but… I really prefer a salad that’s tossed with dressing for an even coating. When dolloped, or when dressing is served on the side, it’s not ideal for me. So… I would make this again, but I would toss the lettuce with the mayonnaise first, then top with the tomatoes and eggs.
I made extra hard-boiled eggs, and I’ll use the leftover mayonnaise to make some deviled eggs this weekend.
Happy Passover or Happy Easter to whoever is celebrating! Spring is here!