Before she joined forces with Mario Batali to create Mozza-plex in LA, Nancy Silverton grew a loyal following of Angelenos of her own. Fans patiently stood in line outside her La Brea Bakery daily to purchase freshly baked loaves of bread, fine cheeses and pastries. Thursday nights, regulars would show up next door at Campanile for grilled cheese sandwiches and other seasonal creations like Sevillana — a dish of Serrano ham, fresh figs, manchego and honey — and her take on the classic croque monsieur.
Now Silverton has a new cookbook out, “Mozza at Home,” with over 150 recipes for “relaxed, family-style entertaining.” Mario Batali is a fan of the egg salad with bagna cauda toast, which can be prepared in advance so the cook can enjoy it with his or her guests.
“We use a lot of hard-cooked eggs at the Mozzarella Bar, and when we have a significant number left over, I turn them into egg salad for the staff and I serve it in a big bowl along with a platter of Fett’unta,” writes Silverton in the recipe’s introduction. “The staff goes crazy for it. It’s a very straightforward egg salad, made with eggs, salt, mayonnaise, and minced chives. What makes it special is just that every element of the salad is done correctly. The eggs are cooked so that the yolks are bright yellow and slightly moist in the center and the whites have a creamy texture. Then, instead of just mashing the yolks and whites together, I break the yolks in half and tear the whites into chunks, so the egg salad has texture. I bind the salad with homemade garlic mayonnaise instead of store-bought mayonnaise. And probably the real secret to my egg salad: I add enough salt. When I serve egg salad to friends at home, I give it a more sophisticated presentation by serving it with crostini bathed in bagna cauda, warm anchovy and olive oil “bath.” Egg salad is such a familiar comfort food: Who wouldn’t want to come to a party and see a platter of toast with a big bowl of egg salad?”
EGG SALAD WITH BAGNA CAUDA TOAST
Nancy says using fresh eggs from the farmers’ market will significantly improve your egg salad.
Yield: Makes about 4 cups (6 to 8 servings)
Egg Salad Ingredients
13 extra-large whole eggs (12 for the salad; 1 for testing)
An ice bath
2 tbsps kosher salt
½ cup Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe follows below)
2–4 tbsps fresh chives, minced or chopped
Bagna Cauda Toast Ingredients
6 to 8 slices of country bread (½-inch thickness)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the bread
1 large garlic clove, peeled
Bagna Cauda (recipe follows below)
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, thinly sliced for garnish
Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
Cook the eggs: Fill a large saucepan with cold water and carefully add the eggs, one at a time. Bring the water to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Once done, shock the eggs in an ice bath.
Prepare the egg salad: Split the eggs in half using a knife to separate the whites from the yolks. Then split the yolks into halves and drop them in a large bowl. Break up the egg whites into smaller pieces (approximately 8 pieces per egg) and add them to the bowl of egg yolks. Sprinkle the eggs with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt.
Next, add the Garlic Mayonnaise to the cooked eggs and stir the ingredients aggressively using a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. (Stirring aggressively breaks down the yolks, which will thicken the Garlic Mayonnaise. This makes for a creamier egg salad.)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Toast the bread: Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 350ºF for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bread turns golden brown and crispy. Remove the toast from the oven and rub the oiled surfaces of each slice with the garlic clove.
To serve: Transfer the egg salad to a medium serving bowl, piling it into a heaping mound. Garnish the egg salad with a generous sprinkling of chives.
Give the Bagna Cauda a stir and add a tablespoon onto each slice of garlic toast. Transfer the remaining Bagna Cauda to a tiny saucepan or bowl and serve with a small spoon. Sprinkle a pinch of parsley and a pinch of sea salt over each slice. Artfully stack the toast on a small platter or cutting board and serve alongside the bowl of egg salad.
To store: If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the egg salad until you’re ready to serve it. It should keep for up to 2 days.
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
8 tbsps (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 (2 oz) anchovy fillets, preferably salt-packed
10 to 12 medium or large garlic cloves, peeled
For the anchovies: If using salt-packed anchovies, rinse and remove the backbones. Then finely chop and mash into a paste using the flat side of a knife.
Prepare the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, olive oil and anchovy paste. Using a microplane, carefully grate each of the garlic cloves into the pan and cook over medium heat until they soften and the anchovies begin to dissolve, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent the garlic from browning. Then reduce heat to low and cook the bagna cauda for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Remove from heat and let the bagna cauda rest in the pan until ready to serve.
To serve: The bagna cauda should be served warm. Stir to recombine the ingredients before serving.
The trick to making mayonnaise successfully is to add the oils very slowly and to whisk vigorously the entire time you’re adding them. Once you get a feel for that, which you will after making it two or three times, making mayonnaise is simple.
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
2 tops champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
¾ cup canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 medium or large garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and lemon juice. Then, combine the canola oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout.
Pour the egg yolk into the bowl of a mini food processor fitted with a metal blade. Grate the garlic into the bowl using a fine microplane. Add the salt and blend for about 30 seconds, until the yolk turns pale yellow. Next, add a few drops of the combined canola and olive oils and pulse to incorporate into the egg mixture. While pulsing, begin adding the remaining oil just a few drops at a time through the opening in the lid of the food processor until the egg and oil are emulsified. At this point, you will have added about 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil.
Next, remove the lid and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl using a rubber spatula. Add ⅓ tablespoon of the vinegar-lemon juice mixture and return the lid. Pulse to combine. Turn on the machine and continue adding a few drops of oil at a time until you’ve added about half of the oil. Then stop the machine again and add another ⅓-tablespoon of the vinegar-lemon juice mixture. Now, through the opening in the lid, add the remaining oil in a slow and steady stream with the food processor running. Once the mayonnaise begins to thicken, turn the food processor off and add the remaining vinegar-lemon mixture. Pulse to combine. Serve immediately.
To store: Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.