The tasty truth is out there
I have conflicted feelings about the month of April. Technically, April is sitting solidly in full-on springtime territory. Realistically, if you live in Maine, April can feel like Mother Nature’s favorite “gotcha” month. Just as you’re getting used to lots of early morning sunshine with birds singing and crocuses popping their delicate little heads above ground—BAM!—a spring snow storm reminds you that if you wanted to enjoy a long, lovely spring season, you should probably be living anywhere but here.
Still, it’s fun to embrace the hope of warmth and renewal that springtime in New England provides. And what better representation of revitalization and rebirth than an egg? From ancient cultures to the present, eggs have symbolized birth, growth, creation and transformation.
The humble egg offers sustenance and so much more. It is dense with nutrition, flavor and possibility. There are few foods as versatile as an egg. Hard-boiled it is a meal-on-the-go. Whipped into a epicurean frenzy and you have a sophisticated soufflé.
In my multi-culti family, eggs have become a central player in our annual Eastover celebration, where we combine all kinds of culinary traditions—Easter! Passover! Even the pagan celebration of the spring equinox, Ostara! All traditions are welcome at our table.
Here are two of my favorite egg dishes—perfect for springtime or any time you gather family and friends to celebrate life.
? SAUCE GRIBICHE
I first tasted sauce gribiche in the south of France, where it accompanied a meal of cold roast chicken and asparagus fresh from the garden. Nothing says spring to me quite like this exquisite sauce. It is light, but with a bold and distinctive taste. It transforms and elevates every food it touches.
While there are literally hundreds of recipes for gribiche, I spent years trying to duplicate the taste that first captured my fancy in a tiny restaurant in Èze, France, which will always be my favorite way to enjoy it. But gribiche is a delightful accompaniment to most vegetables and meats. It’s also wonderful spread on a hunk of fresh baguette.
4 hard boiled eggs, 3 finely chopped, 1 quartered for garnish
4–6 cornichons, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (grainy mustard also works)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (the very best you can afford)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or other fresh herbs like dill or tarragon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk chopped cornichons, capers, oil, mustard and vinegar to make a dressing, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Mix chopped eggs and herbs into the dressing.
Serve over vegetables like asparagus, roasted potatoes or cauliflower.
Sauce gribiche is also delicious over cold or grilled meats like chicken, lamb or beef.
Sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to two days.
? DESSERT KUGEL
Kugel is comfort food, pure and simple. It’s not quite a pudding, not quite a custard, but definitely a tasty, easy-to-make casserole, loaded with wholesome dairy products.
I was well into adulthood before I tasted this Jewish Shabbat and holiday staple. Since then, I’ve learned that kugels are like snowflakes; no two are exactly alike. Some are made with wide egg noodles, some with skinny. Use Kosher for Passover noodles (noodles made without leavening) if you make this for Passover. Some kugels are savory, others are perfect for dessert. The sweet version can be made with raisins or with chocolate chips, pumpkin pie spice or pecans and cranberries. There are so many ways to make, and love, a kugel.
This is a traditional preparation, save for the addition of chocolate chips. My late (and former) mother-in-law might not have approved, but my family loves it. If you’re a fan of raisins, substitute them for the chocolate chips in this recipe and trade the vanilla for an equal amount of cinnamon.
12-ounce package egg noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained
3/4 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pint cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Butter sides and bottom of 9 x 13 pan.
Beat eggs and sugar together. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla.
Gently fold in noodles and chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into buttered pan.
Bake for 45–60 minutes, until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown.
Kugel Pro Tips
Be sure to butter your pan generously, both bottom and sides. It’s no fun wrestling kugel squares out of a poorly greased pan.
Don’t let the top of the kugel get too brown. Burnt egg noodles are no darned fun.
You can use two cups of sour cream or two cups of plain Greek yogurt—or any combination of the two. Greek yogurt imparts a nice tang to your kugel.
Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Follow her on Instagram: @candacekaru or at candacekaru.com.