Humble hard-boiled egg stars in homely mix

As a child I remember eating egg sandwiches made by my mother.

The bread, soft and crusty, and the filling was a moreish mix of hard-boiled eggs mashed together with a little condensed milk salad dressing, salt, pepper, a pinch or two of curry powder and chopped parsley. This simple homely mixture made a scrumptious sandwich.

We also ate stuffed eggs - the yolks mashed and combined with similar ingredients to those in the sandwich filling and spooned back into the hollowed out egg whites.

Mildly curried eggs like these seem to have fallen from grace. I suppose there are now so many different and exotic ingredients available that the humble hard-boiled egg has been forgotten.

The sweetened condensed milk salad dressing was very much in vogue during the 1950s. Mayonnaise was not readily available to buy in jars from the supermarket and, before the advent of food processors, making your own would have been quite an undertaking.

Sometimes I add a little chopped smoked salmon or chopped prosciutto to the mix but generally I serve this piquant mashed egg mixture just as it is. A spoonful atop crisp, crunchy little toasts makes a remarkably delectable starter or spread on slices of ciabatta bread, it makes a yummy lunch.

I am not really a gadget person but I have been given a small egg masher. It looks exactly like a toy potato masher, very cute. It actually works and makes the job of mashing the eggs extremely easy. My masher is quite basic - no bells and whistles - but it does the job perfectly. There are a number of different models available at large stores and also online.

Photo: Linda Robertson
Photo: Linda Robertson
Eggs piquant with crispy toasts

Serves 4-5 as a starter

6 large eggs, size 7, at room temperature
3 Tbsp quality mayonnaise (I use Best Foods)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
½-1 tsp mild curry powder
¼ tsp sweet smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped chives or spring onions
1 medium-sized gherkin (25g), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels, finely chopped
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed, patted dry with paper towels, finely chopped

a slice or two of smoked salmon, chopped
a couple of slices of prosciutto, chopped

Put the eggs in a large saucepan of hand-hot water, bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes from the time the water starts to bubble. Drain and immediately run under cold water to stop further cooking. Cool and peel.

Place the eggs in a large shallow bowl and roughly chop. Then mash with a fork or the egg masher. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne pepper, curry powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Gently stir all together.

Mix in the chives or spring onions, gherkins and capers and stir to combine. If using, add the chopped smoked salmon or the prosciutto and mix gently.

Serve on sour dough or ciabatta bread, as a topping on small squares of crunchy toasted bread or in a closed sandwich.

Crispy toasts
Vogel’s makes a bread called ‘‘very thin’’, which bakes to a crisp, crunchy, golden toast, perfect for all manner of pates and spreads.

In the past, I have suggested spraying the bread with olive oil prior to baking, but this can result in slightly chewy toasts. Now I recommend baking the bread without the oil.

Preheat the oven to 150degC. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Day-old bread is best for these toasts.

Trim the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into four squares or triangles. Place on the lined baking tray. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turn over and bake for another 12 minutes until lightly golden and crisp. Cool.

Store in an airtight tin. These will keep their crispness for several days but can be refreshed in a hot oven if they become stale.

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