Trying to find a supermarket that is open after 8pm in Brussels is near mission impossible.

Yesterday, I walked for over an hour looking for dark/brown bread at the ‘late’ hour of 9.30pm. I walked from home to Parvis de St. Gilles, Châtelain, Place Flagey and St. Boniface, with a few detours in between to pop by the night shops which sell mainly alcohol, chips and canned food, and all was in vain. The closest I came to finding what I was looking was at the Carrefour Express at Place Flagey. Alas, I arrived at 10pm, just when the shutters were being drawn. I should have just gotten that loaf of multi-cereal bread at the Deli Traiteur near home.

This afternoon, I went to the Lowy bakery near my office to ask if they made dark bread (pain noir). The reply, in short, was ‘no’, though the man in the shop tried to explain that such dense grainy bread is typically German and they generally only produce French bread. Erm, okay. I left Lowy with a loaf of pain multicéréales instead.

Now, I was ready to make some egg salad with pickled celery, based on a recipe that I found on Smitten Kitchen. I followed the recipe quite closely and left out the garnish and minced shallot/red onion (as I didn’t have any). I also used yogurt instead of mayonnaise as I don’t like the latter. Love the addition of the coarse traditional French mustard (moutard à l’ancienne) – which I first discovered when I was in the Maldives and ate every grilled item with dollops of grainy mustard!

Trying this recipe scored a few firsts, including making egg salad (it’s true!) and pickling vegetables (the closest I’ve come to doing so was peeling hardboiled eggs for AB to add into a jar of pickled beets). In addition to pickling the celery, I also made some pickled radishes using a recipe that I found on David Lebovitz’s blog and I added chilli and garlic for an extra kick.Pickled vegetables02k64

The egg salad was quite easy to prepare, though I had trouble peeling the eggs (fortunately it doesn’t matter that the eggs looked terrible since they were going to be chopped into small pieces). I served the egg salad on top of multi-cereal bread with a slice of cucumber in between and a bright pink pickled radish slice as garnish. It was delicious! I also convinced AB that celery’s good stuff!Egg salad04k64

Egg Salad with Pickled Celery
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 stalks celery, diced
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped coarsly
1 1/2 teaspoon traditional French mustard
2 tablespoons full-fat plain yogurt
Salt and black pepper to taste

To pickle the celery, add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and diced celery into a jar, and shake until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Put in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to a week) for the celery bits to soak up the brine – I inevitably think of the Science experiments in school with colored water and celery stalks to demonstrate osmosis!

Once the pickled celery is ready, mix 1-2 teaspoons of it with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Serve on multi-cereal bread. Optional: Cucumber slice for added crunch in between the bread and the egg salad.

Pickled Radish
1 bunch of round radishes, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red chilli, de-seeded and split lengthwise

Put all the ingredients into a jar and shake until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours and this can be kept for up to a month. The radish slices turn a pretty pink from the skin and pack quite a spicy punch. Yums!

By the way, here’s a hilarious, albeit a little repetitive, on Portlandia: We can pickle that!

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