Sunday, August 29, 2010

Composed salad with soft-boiled eggs, cooked shrimp, beets, orange cherry tomatoes, fava beans, yellow haricots verts, niçoise olives, and anchovies

The haricots verts, favas, and cherry tomatoes are from the garden. The baguette is homemade.

A fantastic way to cook eggs for salad is to bring water to a boil and simmer the eggs for only five to six minutes, depending on the size. Plunge the eggs into ice water to help the protein retract from the shell. Carefully crack and peel the eggs without blemishing the white, and serve them whole. The idea is that the yellow is still completely runny, so that it mixes with the lettuce when the you begin to eat the egg during the meal. (This is particularly nice for composed salads in which the lettuce is very strongly dressed — since I don't dress the rest of the veggies much, I tend to mash a clove of garlic per person into the lettuce's dressing.) For a yellow that's completely cooked through, I like to simmer my extra-large eggs twelve minutes (less time for smaller eggs).

The best way to cook beets for a salad is to remove all but half an inch of stem, wash well, and wrap the beets unpeeled and still wet in foil. Bake for at least an hour (you'll need the oven hot for the bread anyway), and then plunge in ice water. The skin should slough off easily.

We've tried various tins of anchovy fillets, and been somewhat unhappy with all of them. Part of the problem is that each tin has about twelve fillets, whereas even three fillets per person is generous. Our only really good anchovies have been from the cafe at Berkeley Bowl, but they only seem to come wholesale in tins of many hundred. In any case, this tin of anchovies-rolled-around-capers was OK, but very meaty-fishy tasting, and too overpowering for our tastes. If you have a favorite inexpensive anchovy fillet, please let me know.

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