I’m a little late to report on my latest trials for Cook the Book Fridays. I have a reasonable excuse. I was away on a grand adventure to Mexico for a family wedding. We were staying near Cancun in Riviera Maya. It was wonderful. Other than the wedding, the highlight was visiting the ruins at Chichen Itza. We also tasted some authentic Mexican fare from the Yucatan peninsula which I’m looking forward to trying to replicate at home.
First up, I made the Comté and Ham Wafers from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. These are a savory version of slice-and-bake cookies, one of my favorite things to have on hand for nearly instant gratification. The wafers are more cheese than flour, making them very crispy and light (though not low calorie). The ham is prosciutto that is baked until crispy and then crumbled, high-end bacon bits. I used recently dried thyme from my garden rather than fresh herbs, but I think they tasted just fine.
I sliced-and-baked one log, which we nibbled alongside the evening’s cocktails –Corpse Reviver #2 – a pre-Prohibition cocktail we discovered during last year’s trip to Florida. It’s one of our favorite house cocktails now. I thought I’d freeze and save the other log for another night, but we scarfed them up. The other log is baking in the oven now.
I loved these wafers and will make them again. The type of cheese and herbs and ham (or absence of) can easily be changed for different combinations to suit your mood.
I must have made my logs thinner than intended because the recipe gives the yield as about 55 wafers and slicing at the stated ¼-inch thickness, I got about that many from each 1¼-inch diameter log.
The other recipe I made was Tabbouleh also from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. . I’m a big fan of tabbouleh, though the way I make it uses way more bulgur. This version is typical of authentic tabbouleh from Lebanon. It’s more of an herb salad. Chopped parsley and mint leaves are the main ingredients, accented with some chopped tomato and scallion. Just a touch of bulgur is added for some texture. The salad is moistened with some olive oil and lemon juice. Finally, a sprinkle of cinnamon and allspice give this a definite Lebanese spin. A touch of pomegranate molasses adds some extra tang. Years ago, I learned to add cinnamon and allspice to tabbouleh from our dear cooking friend Kathy, who was part Lebanese. Enjoying this salad for lunch, I thought of Kathy and how I miss her.
The tabbouleh was delicious, though I would enjoy it more in the summer. This time of year, I crave hot foods, not herbaceous salad.
You can find these recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. The wafers are on page 45 and the tabbouleh is on page 95. I recommend them both. If you are interested in what the other members of Cook the Book Fridays have to say about these recipes, check out links to thoughts on the wafers here and the tabbouleh here.
Here are a few shots from Mexico.
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!