Salade Niçoise on Belgian endive

I picked up these beautiful little quail eggs at Fubonn. I was thinking of what little appie I could bring over to Carolyn’s house that wasn’t crackers and dip (she was making Amy Sedaris’ Lil’ Smoky Cheese Ball) or something that would require heating in situ, so I thought about mini deviled eggs (excellent idea, but way too cumbersome) or a little salad of some type served on endive leaves. I know, 1989 called and wants its hors doeuvres back. Fucking sue me. Greta had given me some gorgeous albacore that she canned, and I had some lemons and olives, so this seemed like a no-brainer. And after all the holiday stodge, a crisp, citrusy salad sounded perfect.

This is the difference between starting your photography at 3:00 and finishing at 3:30. Night and day, innit? It gets dark early, and all of the shots of the salads in natural light were migraine-inducing blurry (I really should get in the habit of using my tripod, but like I need one more thing in my kitchen), so I had to resort to my new lights (thank you, darling husband!). Unfortunately, I broke the reflector umbrella when opening it so I’ve been directing the eye-piercing lamp directly at the food to simulate daylight, but it’s just harsh and red and obvious, even after shopping the fuck out of it. Look at the size of those shadows. Okay, stop looking.

I blanched and slivered haricots verts, cut a brunoise of olives and home-made pickles (sharp as cornichons, they are, but from full-size Persian cukes), and finely diced a boiled red potato. I added these, with minced shallot and parsley, to the flaked albacore. I loaded the whole mix up with lemon zest, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, anchovies and S&P. I added extra luxuriant crunches of Maldon over the top for flourish.

I forked a little of the mixture onto each endive leaf and then topped with a little softboiled quail egg. I wasn’t trying to be stingy, it was just such an extreme pain in my ass to peel each of these wee eggs and I was in a hurry (and the whole thing was getting to be waaaay too precious), so I opted to quarter the eggs instead of serving halves. This ended up being the perfect amount of egg anyway.

Tomorrow night I’m making tiny Scotch eggs and Boddington’s-battered halibut fish and chips (fagging pub grub up a little more with sweet potato fries and a savoy slaw with a creamy lemon vinaigrette).