Deviled Egg Salad
This post was an entry in the monthly web event known as the End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza, or EoMEoTE for short. Invented as the result of some banter between food bloggers Anthony of SpiceBlog and Jeanne of Cooksister, the name comes from the idea that at the end of the month there's nothing left to cook with except eggs and bread, EoMEoTE is a challenge to food bloggers all over the world to come up with yet another way to satisfy with these most basic of ingredients.
In recent months, Jeanne has added another layer to the EoMEoTE fun by requiring a literary effort to accompany the food, within bounds decreed by Jeanne, with sometimes spectacular and always entertaining results. This month, the topic is Harry Potter, and, though I've only read about a hundred pages of the tale, I won't let that keep me on the sidelines: my humble contribution follows (with the recipe below the story).
Everyone who knows the Wooster clan will tell you straightaway that we're not the type to run hither and thither when things aren't just so, but the first morning back in London after our recent hiatus at Aunt Agatha's country manse was a test of the family fortitude.
Jeeves, as you may recall, is the man I absolutely rely on in every instance, so when he slid a breakfast tray bearing only a lonesome beaker of the necessary, along with the requisite sugars, spoons and such, I was stricken speechless for a moment.
He had nearly evaporated from the room when I caught him with a sharp calling-out: "Jeeves!"
"I'm sorry, Jeeves," I said, not sparing the man, "but there's something definitely missing from this tray." You can't let these fellows get too long on the leash, you know.
"Yes, sir?" Jeeves at his most devious. I had a mind to ring up the agency, despite previous disasters along those lines.
"My breakfast, Jeeves. Sustenance." After all, a fortnight in the clutches of the Agatha is a physically draining experience. I gave a little drum of the fingers on the tray to warn him of the depths of my displeasure.
"Ah, yes, sir. Breakfast. Well, you see, sir, there is a rather large problem facing us this morning which has, shall we say, rather impeded the preparation of breakfast. Perhaps if you would care to open the morning paper the matter would be more clear."
"Have you gone round the bend, man?" I said, sitting a little straighter and examining him carefully from my bed. "There's nothing in the paper about my breakfast, I can tell you without even a quick perusal."
"Permit me to explain, sir...."
The man is always right, and even when I know he's utterly wrong he turns out to be right. I nodded imperceptibly and waited with my best imitation of the Stoic's face.
"We're being...I think the term is, 'rounded-up,' sir," Jeeves said, staring at a point in space halfway between us. "There's been a new Queen, sir, installed while we were in the country, and she's issued a decree."
Well, normally I'm the sort of fellow who keeps the tea in the mouth until it trickles down and warms the insides, but at the words "new Queen" I let loose with what I think the Hollywood types call a "spit-take."
Jeeves, ever the gentleman's gentleman, acted as if being sprayed with a mouthful of warm tea was part of his normal morning routine.
"If I may continue, sir..." Not even the bat of an eye. The man is, as I may have mentioned, a regular machine when it comes to propriety and decorum and all that.
"By all means," I managed, after a good wipe-down with the available linen.
"The new Queen of England, and apparently of the entire world, carries the name Queen Jo."
"But...but...!" I goggled. "Queens don't just appear on the scene, unheralded, unknown! They have to be born to royalty and followed by the press in their daily lives for decades before they're qualified to be elevated. Who is this Jo person?"
"She is Her Majesty the Queen, sir, and apparently widely accepted as such. In my early morning rounds I was unable to find anyone willing to so much as discuss the question of how she became Queen."
"Well, Lady Thigley's downstairs maid whispered something about magic, but then she's the same one who blamed broken crockery on a poltergeist last spring."
"And this Queen has issued a decree? Queens don't rule....they just ride around in that carriage and tut-tut when their children are embarrassing. What sort of decree?"
"Apparently, sir, Her Majesty has ordered that those of her subjects who have failed to read and fully memorise all details of a certain series of children's stories must be, um, transported, sir."
"Children's stories? Transported?"
"Yes, sir. It seems we are to be collected by a special troop of Her Majesty's guard and, if unable to perform satisfactorily when tested on the requisite knowledge, sir, transported to a permanent segregation facility. My information is that this place has been given the name Muggletown. It's in the West, sir."
As this recitation penetrated the old bean the glimmer of a plan made its appearance. Usually it's Jeeves with the genius around here, but not this time.
"Jeeves," I said, "I think our course is clear. Pop round to the bookseller and pick up a set of these children's books and we can just read up, and thereby join the privileged classes forthwith. What's the name of the stories, by the bye?"
"I believe the name is 'Harry Potter,' sir. The same thought did occur to me, sir," Jeeves said, with that deflating manner he has when it comes to my ideas. "But upon research I found that the series comprises over twenty-six hundred printed pages, sir, in six books."
"Twenty-six hundred pages?" Books and I are not really on what you might call an even plane, especially since that episode when the Glossup caught me with a thick volume and insisted on quizzing me on the contents as a sort of entry exam for marriage. "Remind me, Jeeves -- about how many pages in your average everyday book?"
"Around 250 to 300, sir."
Well, we Woosters never shrink back when there's a task at hand, but this information punched a serious hole in my scheme.
"Well, isn't there some sort of Cliff Notes version, or a Harry Potter for Dummies?"
"Again, sir, the thought occurred, and I stopped by my nephew's rooms to use his computing machine to view the information system he calls 'the Internet' to research just that question."
"There are numerous what are called 'websites' featuring extensive guides to the Harry Potter knowledge, but unfortunately, sir, this knowledge encompasses a very large body of facts. Every character in the stories had a page on one of these 'websites,' sir, with seemingly endless information about the character. And there are a frightful number of characters, sir. And a whole language to contend with, and history that seems to go back many hundreds of years. I'm afraid there's no quick and easy way to avoid our consignment to Muggletown, sir."
I pondered, but without a morning meal to restore the tissues the result was a pounding in the cranial cavity of rather distracting strength.
"But Jeeves, I still need my breakfast," I said, trying to muster up a dominant tone in the face of the news. "And I don't see how this turn of events can be an explanation for the absolute emptiness of my tray."
"Yes, sir. But when I went out for my early morning provisions, I was stopped for lack of funds, sir."
"Lack of funds?" The man has full access to the household account through one of those bank cards people carry these days.
"Lack of funds, sir. For when I attempted to replenish the purse, sir, the mechanical teller retained the card, sir, and refused all efforts to extract cash. I later learned from Lord Barthwick's man that accounts of suspected Muggles have been seized, sir."
I guess I now know how those Indian fighters under General Custer's command felt at Little Big Horn, with every escape path sealed off. The pounding in my head increased.
"Jeeves," I said. "There must be something in the larder. I need breakfast to face the day, whether to be rounded-up or whatever."
"I'll come up with something, sir," Jeeves replied, and shimmered from the room.
As I may have mentioned, my reading speed has been compared to the pace of old Crawford, our man at the Drones, who is said to be somewhere on the far side of ninety, and who nearly allowed several members to expire from thirst last month, between the placing of orders and the delivery of drinks, so by the time Jeeves returned with another tray I was still on the front page of the paper. Just as the man said, there was every indication that the entire world had accepted Queen Jo as their supreme ruler, and that her decrees were being treated as the law of the land.
"You'll excuse me, sir," Jeeves began, "but I did what I could. There was one egg, a dab of mayonnaise, a half-bottle of Major Gray's and a little mustard. And a few of those Finnish flatbreads in the tin that you like, the ones that never go stale. And Lady Botthomwaite's cook was kind enough to allow me half an apple, sir. Also I found a cucumber end and a scrap of red onion."
This didn't sound like breakfast to me, but I held my tongue.
"Curried hard-cooked egg salad, sir, on a cracker," he said, placing the tray in front of me. "More tea?"
Well, as I tell one and all, the man's a genius. It was an unusual breakfast, but under the circumstances, quite remarkable. I mean, as he said, it was egg salad after all, the kind you find tucked between two neat slices for a garden party, but Jeeves had pipped it up with the mango chutney and apples, and mustard too. In no time the restoration of a gentleman's head that comes from a good champing on a breakfast egg was underway. I felt halfway ready to meet my Muggle fate.
I rang for Jeeves.
"What are we going to do about the decree and the rounding-up and all? I hadn't planned on permanent residence in the West."
"I am working on a scheme, sir," Jeeves allowed, straightening slightly.
I was absolutely braced at these words, because if Jeeves has a scheme it's certain we'll sidestep the whole rummy business, Queen Jo and all the magic in the world notwithstanding. He's an absolute genius who never fails to bring things right for old Bertie. Never.
Deviled Egg Salad
This simple recipe for a summer treat was inspired by a long-time favorite recipe for "Chutney-Stuffed Deviled Eggs," in Sara Leah Chase's Cold-Weather Cooking. Sara Leah Chase's cookbooks are an underappreciated source for fun, easy food. She was a member of the team that produced the second Silver Palate cookbook (Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook), the former operator of the foodshop and caterer Que Sera Sarah on Nantucket, and has half a dozen cookbooks out under her own name. In addition to Cold Weather Cooking I have Nantucket Open-House Cookbook and Pedaling Through Provence and I refer to them frequently.
E announced a burning desire for egg salad sandwiches the other day, as she does every once in a while, and since she's always ready for a fresh approach on old standards I made this variation. Chase's chutney deviled eggs have always been a hit at parties -- in fact I received an email about a month ago from E's mother, in Baltimore, asking for the recipe, which she had helped me make for a party at our house some years ago. It's a simple recipe: eggs, chives, mayonnaise, some curry powder and mango chutney (with the large pieces minced). Building on that, I added a spoonful of Dijon and some Granny Smith apple chunks and made egg salad rather than deviled eggs. I made enough so that we could serve some as an appetizer for a casual barbeque party we were having later in the week.
6 eggs, hardboiled, cut in chunks
1/4 C mango chutney, large pieces minced
3 T mayonnaise
1 T curry powder
1 T cilantro, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
salt, hot sauce to taste
2 T red onion, minced
Mix the egg, chutney, mayonnaise, curry powder, mustard, and apple. Season to taste.
To serve as an appetizer, place one cucumber slice on a cracker or little toast, top with the egg salad and garnish with some red onion and minced cilantro. If using for a sandwich filling, mix in the cilantro and red onions, spread on bread and top with cucumber slices.