For Lunch, You Can’t Go Wrong with Cheese and Egg and Mayo


Our island’s summer community, which has been turning up here for over a hundred years, has organized a charming and beautiful community cookbook called Summer Food. It was published this week by the Tarratine Club, whose members sent recipes along with memories, where appropriate, for dishes they make when they are on island for the summer.

I was thumbing through it while I was feeling peckish, and one terribly simple and delicious sounding recipe jumped out at me. Its very name suggested itself as lunch: it is called “Mary’s Quick Lunch,” and it was submitted by one of Mary Homan’s daughters.

Mary was a wonderful gardener, mostly flowers, and liked to go boating in the summer. She was one of our Grande Dames when I came to the island, and I always liked and admired her, and can’t blame her for wanting to have a tasty, fast lunch to serve guests, if she had any, and then get right back outdoors. I’m in that mode myself, right now, what with having put up with a very long winter, and wanting to take advantage of every sunny moment coming to us.

So I mixed up some of Mary’s lunch. All you need is hardboiled eggs, cheddar cheese grated, and mayonnaise, plus something oniony to add to it, and bread to spread it on.

I use a pastry cutter to chop the eggs up for salad.

I use a pastry cutter to chop the eggs up for salad.

Keeping hardboiled eggs on hand all summer is a good idea, period. It is so easy to slice them up and add them to a salad, or to mix up egg salad for sandwiches, or to whip into deviled eggs, or to drop into a lunch box to eat whole, merely sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Tinkerer that I am, and lacking the green onions the recipe calls for, but being awash in garlic scapes, I finely chopped some of the scapes and used them in place of the onions. I think a little curry powder or mustard would not be amiss in this recipe; one could use a dill havarti or even red pepper jack cheese in place of cheddar. One could add pesto or chipotle powder to the mayonnaise.

What are garlic scapes, you ask? Garlic plants send up a flower bud that winds itself into a corkscrew and which must be removed from the garlic plant if you have any hope at all of a decent bulb forming below ground. They are intriguing-looking, dramatic in an arrangement, and edible. Trim off the tough parts and mince the rest to add to anything in which you would normally use garlic.

Mary served this lovely cheesy-eggy thing with a salad and tomatoes. Apparently, it makes good appetizers on toast rounds, too.



P.S. If you want to acquire a copy of Summer Food, just contact Craig Olson at Artisan Books and Bindery on Islesboro, by email at or call 734-6852.

Mrs. Homan’s Quick Lunch from Summer Food.

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

8 ounces of grated cheddar cheese

2 to 3 scallions, or green onions chopped finely


Salt and pepper

6 slices of bread

Mix the eggs, cheese, and onions with just enough mayonnaise to make a stiff but spreadable mixture.

The egg and cheese mixture with just enough mayo to be quite stiff but spreadable.

The egg and cheese mixture with just enough mayo to be quite stiff but spreadable.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Toast the bread slices on one side under the broiler, turn them over, spread the egg and cheese mixture rather thickly to the edges. Broil for four to five minutes until bubbly and brown on top. Serve immediately.

Makes six servings.


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Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.