Mid-April is an uncertain time. Vegetables and fruits are beginning to appear at market but who knows when or how many. The weather can vary wildly, and time isn't always on your side. This month I have three simple sauces made with basic ingredients you probably already have, so you can always feel prepared to eat something great.
A French sauce classically served with tête de veau, or terrine, but I rarely make those and I imagine you don't either. So I came up with some new ideas for how to use it that I hope you will enjoy. Using Bernise saves you from having to keep fresh herbs in the house, and adds a nice vinegary kick.
6 eggs, hard boiled and either chopped fine or pressed through a potato ricer
1/3 - 1/2 cup mayonnaise (depending on how eggy the mayo is)
About 1/3 cup sunflower or olive oil, depending on your tastes
Smoky Honey Mustard
Being so easy to make, I've never really understood why people bought honey mustard instead of making it, especially since the ready-made versions are often too sweet. Cataluña's pimentón adds a deep smoky note, and the cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of honey, allowing you to use sweetener. If you're not a fan of smoke try just a dash of vinegar and some espelette pepper instead.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons honey (wildflower is what I usually use)
1/4 cup mustard (I like a mix of whole and smooth Dijon)
O.M.G. (optional, and to taste, if you like a sharper mustard flavor)
Nearly everyone has oil and vinegar lying around and here is a great way to use them. Strawberries are starting to come into season, and go perfectly with Orchidea in this easy and delicious dressing. And it's not just for salads, see some of my ideas below.
6 large strawberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup vinegar (red wine is great but you can use almost any kind you have)
3/4 cup oil (sunflower, or olive if you like the flavor, or a mix)
Mix all items except the oil together in a bowl, taste and add more mayonnaise if necessary. By the way you can stop here, and you'll have a great egg salad. To finish the sauce gribiche, stir gently while incorporating the oil; stop adding oil when you have a thick sauce that runs slowly from the spoon. Adjust to taste with additional spice, salt, and/or acid. Can be kept for one week in the refrigerator.
A tip for hard-boiling eggs: Place them gently in an electric kettle or pot filled with boiling water, turn off or remove from heat, wait ten minutes, then chill them in a bowl of cool running water. They will be cooked perfectly. Or you can always buy eggs pre-cooked and peeled if you are in a rush.
For the Smoky Honey Mustard
Mix all ingredients together, then adjust to taste with additional spice or honey. O.M.G. can be added for a sharper mustard flavor, or a bit of vinegar or lemon juice if you want more acidity. Can be kept for two weeks in the refrigerator.
For the Strawberry Vinaigrette
Mix all ingredients except strawberries until well combined, gently mix in the strawberries, then adjust salt, acidity, and spice to taste. Best used in 1-2 days as the strawberries will soften and oxidize. Can also be pureed.
For using sauce gribiche:
Perfect over poached or pan-seared trout or salmon with either roasted or boiled new potatoes, great served hot or cool.
Use as a starter for potato salad, just mix cooked chopped potatoes in with the sauce. Gribiche also makes a great dipping sauce for steak fries, sweet potato fries, or crab/shrimp cocktail.
Great on grilled spring and early summer vegetables, try asparagus, halved lettuces, endive, leeks, and avocados. Brush with oil and grill cut-side down until softened and charred.
Pea salad, a southern side-dish my wife often makes at home. Finely chop 2-3 tablespoons of red onion or shallot and mix with one can of very young sweet peas, drained. Stop your sauce at the egg salad stage and mix half of it with the peas, saving the rest for another purpose. Add additional chopped pickle or caper if desired, a generous grind of black pepper, and mix well.
For using smoky honey mustard:
Toss pan-seared chicken thighs and quartered spring potatoes with honey mustard. Preheat the oven to 325°. Sauté onions in an ovenproof pan (preferably in the chicken fat) until golden brown, top with the chicken (skin side up) and potatoes, and roast, uncovered, until chicken is 165°F and everything is crispy in spots (about 35-40 minutes).
Great as a dressing for a chopped salad, try poached or grilled chicken, iceberg lettuce (the under-appreciated king of lettuces), bacon, avocado, and halved cherry tomatoes.
Coat the non-skin side of salmon fillets with honey mustard and breading, then pan fry each side until crisp.
Mix with chopped herbs and garlic and use to coat a leg of lamb before roasting.
For using strawberry vinaigrette:
Make a simple salad with arugula, sliced strawberries and red onion, citrus supremes, and pine nuts. For a creamy dressing just puree the dressing along with some of the pine nuts.
Add all ingredients except the oil to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced by about 30-40% and slightly thickened. Allow to cool, then serve over vanilla ice cream along with a drizzle of olive oil.
Add some chopped sweet onion, garlic, tomato, and pepper (sweet and/or hot) and serve with grilled fish.
Great as a marinade for skirt steak. Coat with dressing, place in a plastic bag, and allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator, then pat dry and sear in a hot pan or on a grill.