Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette

I saw it on Orangette, who warned in no equivocal terms: this is not a beautiful egg salad. She was right. Indeed, this is not a good-looking salad. In fact, it is as ugly as dark stormy night. But, the flavors! Oh, the flavors!  It is just something that you cook, and have to it eat. And eat it again. And again. And again…  I now do it in relatively large batches, and try to make it last through the week by carefully rationing the portions. The flavors deepen over time, and can be eaten warm or cold. In the original recipe, the salad is served over toasted bread.

As I still cannot see mayonnaise in front of me without feeling nauseous, I replaced it with home-made mustard vinaigrette. I used the recipe of  The Reluctant Gourmet. Actually, his post on home-made vinaigrette is worthwhile reading if you have a vinaigrette fetich – it is one of the most comprehensive and detailed explanations I have seen. Not that I have seen many, but after reading his, I don’t feel the need to look at something else.

Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette 

Ingredients

Salad 

  • 5 tablespoons of canola oil (I replaced it with olive oil, as usual)
  • 500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped fresh dill (about 1/3 of a cup)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Mustard Vinaigrette 

  • 1 glove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I also use old style mustard with all its grains)
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of dried parsley
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Methods

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms. (If they don’t all fit in the pan at once, let the first panful wilt down a bit, and then add the rest. It’ll work out fine.) Cook, stirring often, until lighly browned, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the frying pan.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften; then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the dill and eggs, and stir to mix.

For the vinaigrette, in a clean jar or small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, mustard and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork (I use a small stirrer, and add 1 spoon of olive oil at a time).  Add the parsley and thyme, salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

If you really must use mayonnaise, the in a small bowl, whisk together a 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, with 2 tablespoons of mustard, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Pile the salad on lightly toasted bread – preferably sourdough rye, if you’ve got some – and serve open-faced.


Stuffed tomatoes

This dish started with a culinary crisis. What to to cook for dinner when all you have in the fridge is minced meat, loads of good looking tomatoes and you are not allowed carbohydrates? Easy solution: stuffed tomatoes. Technically, stuffed tomatoes have rice or bread crumbs on their filling. But, I was not going that detail to get in the middle of a respectable meal.

Stuffed tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg of tomato (it depends a lot on the size of the tomatoes).
  • 500g  of minced meat (for best results, I use a mix of pork and beef)
  • 3 small yellow  onions finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic grounded
  • Olive oil
  • Chinese five-spice powder to taste (or, if you want a more mediterranean taste a mix of rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano and basil).
  • Hot paprika
  • Sultanas to taste.
  • Quark to taste
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Method

Slice off the top of the tomatoes and hollow out with a spoon, leaving a thick shell (about 2cm).

In a large frying pan, put about 2 table spoons of olive oil and let it heat until is sizzling. Put the onions and the garlic and mix well.  Season with  freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Put the heat to medium and let the onions caramelize.

When the onions are golden and soft, add the minced meat and mix well. Add the Chinese five-spice powder and the paprika to test. Let the minced meat brow. If you want, you can add sultanas.

Once the meat is brown, add quark until you obtain a consistent paste.

Fill the tomatoes with this mix and  put them on a oven proof dish, previously greased with olive oil (a thin layer will do). Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15min at 200 oC.


Red onion confit, fresh thyme and goat cheese tartelettes

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I first saw the onion confit and and goat cheese tartelettes on Mafalda Pinto Leite’s website (here, in Portuguese). It looked easy enough, but things went South when ready-made caramelized onion the recipe called for was nowhere to be find in Zurich. The only solution was to embark on a quest for the perfect red onion confit recipe. Finally, it was C’est moi qui l’ai fait who offered the perfect method for a luscious red onion confit.  And, since they had gone through all the trouble of doing their own jam from scratch, it was only fair to give it a go to their tartelette. It was a good call – the whole batch was gone in less than a sigh.

Red onion confit, fresh thyme and goat cheese tartelettes

Ingredients 

  • 1 roll of puf pastry
  • 1 pot of red onion confit (recipe here)
  • 1 fresh soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Fresh thyme

Method

Preheat the stove to 210oC

Spread a bit of flour all over the kitchen top, and lay the pastry roll. Mix the yolk with the milk, and brush it all over the pastry surface.

Cut it in squares (4cm side), and place them on the baking tray.

Drop a teaspoon of onion confit at the center of each square (the corners should be free, so they can puff). On top of the confit, put the equivalent of a small teaspoon of cheese. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

It is now ready to put on the stove, for about 8min, or until the pastry is golden.