Saturday, March 10, 2007

Those Devilish Eggs

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I shall leave this philosophical conundrum up to minds of deeper current. Or to the rooster salt shaker in the photo.

The humble deviled egg needs no detailed recipe. Every American cook has learned to make these beauties for various barbecues and get-togethers. Kids who turn their noses up at most everything else will scoff these up in a moment.

Here are a few deviled egg tips for the uninitiated.

*Add a few glugs of vinegar to the boiling water to make shelling easier later on.

*You can change around the basic egg yolk/mayonnaise filling with various additions: chutney, curry powder, chopped green olives, horseradish, finely minced red radishes, chives, lemon juice, etc.

*Hard-boiled eggs are very difficult to shell if they are farm-fresh. A chicken farmer I know passed this information on to me. Apparently the ones in the grocery store are a few weeks old and shell better.

*A special deviled egg plastic container will save the appearance of your devilers. There is nothing more unappetizing than a plate of messy eggs with yellow yolk slime all over. You want to preserve their finely sculptural qualities. I was fortunate to get one at a yard-sale, but you can also check dollar stores, thrift stores or go to a Tupperware party if you must.

I did make an elegant, upscale egg for my mother's graduate-degree graduation party some years ago, which I gleaned from one of my favorite cookbooks, "The Picnic Gourmet" by Joan Hemingwayand Connie Maricich. The authors provide detailed menus and evocative anecdotes about various picnics by the sea, while cross-country skiing, on an Italian beach, in Havana, etc. which are great reading. (This book is now out-of-print, but we currently have a copy for sale through our bookstore, This recipe puts a tuxedo on the deviled egg.

Stuffed Eggs with Red Caviar, Celery Sticks and Olives

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
1 stick softened butter (I substitute half butter, half sour cream)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium-sized jar red caviar (The authors presume that we all know how big this jar might be, but as I don't have a caviar vendor nearby I just get what I can find at the supermarket. And I think black caviar is more elegant and better-tasting, so I use that)
Small celery sticks
Black olives

Shell the eggs, split them lengthwise, and remove and mash the yolks until smooth with the softened butter, the Dijon mustard and salt and white pepper to taste. Stuff the whites with this mixture. Arrange the stuffed eggs in a plastic picnic container. Bring a medium-sized jar of not-too-expensive red caviar in your pack and put a little dollop on top of each egg just before serving outdoors. Decorate platters with small celery sticks and black olives.

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