Deviled Eggs

I recently came around to hard boiled eggs and I think their best incarnation is as Deviled Eggs. At church potlucks, I always avoided these room temperature, squishy little devils. Now I think that hard boiled eggs provide a perfectly white canvas for any brilliant flavors that you want to spread on.

Since this was my first attempt at deviled eggs, I wanted to stick to fairly traditional flavors. I did a couple of things to take it up a notch — I used smoked paprika instead of regular paprika and then threw in bacon and green onion for good measure. I wanted them to look as amazing as they tasted, so I used an icing bag to fill the whites with the yolks. I was afraid that the bacon and onion would clog the pastry bag, so I sprinkled some of them under the yolks and some over the yolks.

Deviled Eggs can also be more casual if you are, say, going to a friend’s house to watch TV. For these eggs, I added cilantro and lime juice to the yolks. They were a little too creamy (I felt obligated to use the full two tablespoons of mayo I borrowed from a neighbor), but great for a weeknight indulgence. I just used a spoon to stuff the yolks into the whites.

I can’t tell you what measurements I used for either of these batches, but I’ll tell you what I’m going to do the next time I devil and egg.

Hard boil it. Put the eggs in a saucepan filled with water. Turn on the heat and bring the water (with eggs) to a boil. Once boiling, cover and remove from heat and let stand. Remove the eggs from the hot water after nine minutes and cool immediately in ice water.

Peel, halve, and remove the yolks from the eggs. Mash up the yolks with a fork. Add about half as much mayonnaise as you have yolks. Add about half as much mustard (or other sour liquid) as you have mayonnaise. Stir it up to see if you like the consistency. Add more mayo until it is your desired creaminess.

Add some flavor. Traditional deviled eggs are made with paprika and cayenne. I think it’s good to add fresh garlic, some kind of onion, a green leafy herb, and maybe some bacon.

Taste as you go. If you can’t stand licking the creamy yolks off of your finger, get a cracker to scoop them up. Once the mixture tastes good to you, plop it into the hollows of the white. It will always seem like you won’t have enough, but you’ll always have extra.

The Eggs

I used to fear that all egg casseroles were alike — a dozen eggs, a pound of sausage, a couple cups of cheese, a few slices of torn up bread. Nine recipes later, I know that you can achieve a wide variety of flavors and textures in your baked eggs. Both of the dishes I made for my birthday brunch were new to me and both were exquisite.

This Spinach and Cheese Strata was spongy and light, more like a bread pudding than an egg casserole. It required very little prep work, was easy to assemble, chilled overnight, and went straight into the oven in the morning. I probably baked it ten minutes longer than necessary, but it was very forgiving. I thought the browned edges were a nice contrast to the spongy center.

This was my first attempt at quiche, so I searched high and low for the perfect recipe. Every blogger I consulted told her own story of quiche disaster — broken shells and overflowing custards. I was a little put off, but still determined. I opened up the Joy of Cooking and, of course, that’s where I should have started. As usual, Joy gave it’s firm instructions on how to make the perfect quiche followed by several variations. The trick to making a quiche turn out is pre-baking the shell so that it stays brown and flaky even after you pour in the custard. After rolling the dough out and placing it in the pan, we covered the shell with aluminum foil and filled it with rice to weigh it down. After it baked for about fifteen minutes, we removed the rice and foil, brushed it with a beaten egg, and baked it for ten minutes more. Then the shell was ready to fill and bake. It was sort of an ordeal, but well worth it.

Quiche Lorraine

one 9 1/2″ pie crust
1 egg, beaten

4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 thick slice of ham, cut into small cubes
1 cup of shredded Gruyere
1/2 cup of sliced red onion
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

Roll out the pie crust and fit it into a 9 1/2″ pie pan. Weigh it down with pie weights or cover with aluminum foil and fill with rice . Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove weights (or foil and rice – rice can be reserved for later use). Brush crust with beaten egg. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

Fry bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add ham and onion to the bacon grease and fry until the ham is browned and onions are softened. Remove the ham and onions and drain.

Beat 3 eggs with the cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Once the crust is baked, spread the bacon, ham, onions, and cheese in the bottom of the shell. Pour the beaten eggs over the top. Bake at 375 for about an hour.

Fried Rice (from the Minimalist)

I’ve had some issues with fried rice in the past, so I was thrilled to see Mark Bittman write about it in his recent Minimalist column.  After watching the video, Glenn and I went straight to the store and fried up a batch as soon as we got home. The results were phenomenal. It was not the crunchy, smoky fried rice you get with takeout — it was something completely different.

These are all ingredients that I’ve used in fried rice before, but the difference is in the quantity and preparation. This method uses about four times as much garlic and ginger as I usually do and cooks it for much longer. The essence of those spices is captured in the oil and is eventually infused into the entire dish. The soy sauce and sesame oil offer a salty, earthy contrast to the ginger’s brightness.

The flavor in this dish is so complex and delicate that you’ll feel like you’re in a restaurant.

Saturday & Sunday

Over Easy

Egg Sandwich

During the week, I eat Cheez-Its for breakfast at my desk. On the weekends, I eat bacon and eggs for breakfast around noon. I’m not sure if not having the good breakfast makes me not a morning person, or if not being a morning person makes me not have the good breakfast. Either way, there’s nothing special about the two-egg breakfast except that it only happens two days a week.