PARIS -- Easter still makes me think of vinegar. Drawing with clear wax crayon onto white eggshells, not able to see the childish designs, hoping for the best. Dipping into the colored, vinegary dye with a flimsy wisp of wire shaped like a stop sign. Who decided a hexagon was best suited for Easter-egg fishing?
Never worked very well for me. I always ended up with orange and blue fingers.
I loved the colors, though. The bright, almost turquoise blue, grassy green, tangerine and pink the color of flamingos.
We always dyed dozens of hard-boiled eggs for Easter. The next day, my brother and I would race around the back yard, plucking the eggs out of monkey grass, off of fence railings and out of flower pots, filling up our baskets as fast as we could. Easter was the ultimate competition. The prize? I don't even remember. The fun was the race around the yard.
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Afterward, we had all of these eggs, which Mom had to do something with. Deviled eggs were her default, but she often made egg salad, too, which we took to our grandparents' house in Oklahoma for a picnic lunch later that day.
Which got me to thinking about egg salad and how homey -- and easy -- it is. And the perfect way to use the decorated, hunted and gathered eggs.
In France, where the love of the egg is unsurpassed -- you find eggs on sandwiches (croque-madame), on and in salads, on burgers and mixed into steak tartare, and in the many types of quiches available at the boulangeries -- I've yet to see anything like an egg salad, which seems strange, given, too, the Frenchies' mayo-and-mustard-centric culture. How did they miss this eggy fun, I wonder.
But living here has opened me up to the possibilities of combining eggs with just about anything, which is how I came up with these four new takes on egg salad, below. A great way to enjoy your Easter eggs, or a half-dozen hard-boiled eggs any other day of the year.
Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of "Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent" (Running Press, $25). www.cowgirlchef.com; @cowgirlchef.
Egg salad fancy-schmancy
6 hard-boiled eggs, grated
Small handful of fresh dill, chopped (plus more for serving)
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper
5.29-ounce box of tiny toasts
3.5 ounces smoked salmon, sliced into small pieces
1. Put eggs in a bowl. Add dill, capers, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
2. To serve, spoon some of the egg salad on toasts, top with a piece of salmon and sprinkle a bit more dill.
Easy hard-boiled eggs
Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, and put on the stove over medium-high heat. When the water boils, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and set timer for 10 minutes. Carefully pour off hot water, then put pot in the sink and let cold water run over the eggs until they're cool enough to peel.