I wanted to try and recreate a dish from Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus.
Of the brief dishes referenced in Jessica B. Harris's article on Estes, many sounded appetizing, such as his Chicken Gumbo Creole Style, but none fit my vegetarian diet as well as Estes's recipe for a Bird's Nest Salad.
Described by B. Harris as "the curious trompe l'oeil Bird's Nest Salad, that testify to the fact that Estes is situated firmly in the tradition of African Americans who earned their living by cooking for the country's elite and were bound by the aesthetic whims of their clientele."
An aesthetic whim, indeed.
While the dish photographs beautifully, it is not likely to make another appearance on my table.
This is my take on the salad, a departure from Estes in the additions of a sliced hard boiled egg with paprika, slices tomatoes with fresh ground pepper, and green olives.
Estes original recipe is more simple:
"Have ready as many crisp leaves of lettuce as may be required to make a dainty little nest for each person. Curl them into shape and in each one place tiny speckled eggs made by rolling cream cheese into shape, then sprinkle with fine chopped parsley. Serve with French dressing hidden under the leaves of the nest."
(Estes, Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus)
Fresh out of parsley and French dressing, I rolled my cream cheese balls in a mixture of fresh dill and panko. Underneath the eggs I placed a small dollop of Brianna's Dijon Honey Mustard dressing.
For me, it's the cream cheese. I simply don't enjoy it on the salad with the fresh veggies and sliced egg. My husband, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed it, so to each their own. I say give the recipe a whirl, and give it your own spin!