I had occasion recently to visit a friend who keeps a farm in New England. She is a wonderful woman, a free spirit, and someone I hadn’t seen in a very, very long time. I even thought she was living in a different country!
When I showed up at her house with freshly-squeezed milk (is that what you say?!) because her boys had drunk hers up, we settled right into chatting like it was yesterday, not 30 years of yesterdays. It was sublime.
Her house was like her, every door and window was open. The sun shone through, floor-to-ceiling curtains stretched as far as Ariadne could weave. There was a little red wagon in the front garden with a few plants needing to find their new homes, and there were chicken and ducks running around, dutifully laying eggs.
She offered me some, and knowing how precious fresh eggs are, I packed them carefully into my bags for a long trip home…but she whispered in my ear the recipe to her greatest passion, egg salad. This is my homage to her, and to forgotten friendship. Let it never be forgotten. Remember those you love because time is the only thing we can’t get back.
- 6 farm fresh eggs, a mix of duck, goose, and chicken would be grand
- Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 tablespoon of “old style” French mustard, the kind with seeds
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Olive oil, q.o.b.
- 12 Cornichons, sliced into thin rounds (these are salty, not sweet, gherkins)
- Celery salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
These are 6 minute eggs. What that means is that you gently place the eggs in a small pot that will just take them, and cover them with the amount of water it takes to just cover. Put this pot on high heat, and watch it until it boils. Once it does, start counting. Exactly 6 minutes give the perfect yolk–just set, but not yet dry. It is very important with eggs to be precise. As soon as 6 minutes strikes, take the pot, and run it under non-stop cold water, until the water is only lukewarm.
Meanwhile, chop the cornichons. Toss into the serving bowl. Peel the eggs, then coarsely chop them. Add to the bowl. Toss in mustard, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Taste and then adjust seasonings for salt and pepper.
This is divine on its own, but would also grace a sandwich if you must, use lettuce leaves if you are posh. No matter the choice, it is a little bit of pure, unbridled joy. Serves 4 as a starter.
Pair it with a nice crisp glass of dry Vouvray or a South African Chenin Blanc.