There is very little in life that makes me happier than the changing of the seasons. Living in the midwest affords me the opportunity to experience these changes four times each year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer; planting my garden, going to the pool, reading on the deck. But those few days at the end of September are a welcome change. The air is crisp, and the leaves begin to turn color and fall from the trees. The neighborhood squirrels are busy scavenging and building their supply of food for the coming winter. Sweaters come out of storage, and the kitchen is filled with the smells of comfort food. As tough as midwest winters can be, they’re worth it for the few months of autumn we’re offered by Mother Nature.
That said, after trudging through what may feel like the longest winter, the sounds, smells, and foods of spring are a breath of fresh air. The last of the snow has melted, the birds are singing their songs, and the sun is out! Spring is a time of rejuvenation, it’s a time to turn off the furnace, open the windows, get out in the yard and clean things up. It’s also a great time to put away the casserole dishes and the stew pots and start thinking about lighter fare for eating.
Deviled eggs, the blank-slate snack
Some of my favorite spring snacks are deviled eggs. They are perfect for picnics, office parties, or as an accompaniment to a big salad (à la Elaine Benes). Deviled eggs are so versatile; they’re a veritable blank slate for any number of flavor and texture combinations.
Do you love caesar salads? Then add a few anchovies, some garlic, and a little parmesan cheese to the filling, then top it off with a crouton and a tiny piece of romaine. Are you a fan of buffalo wings? Combine wing sauce with the filling, top with blue cheese, a celery leaf, and a piece of crispy chicken skin (if you want to get crazy). Are bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon your favorite thing ever? Just add a little cream cheese and capers to your egg filling, top with a small piece of smoked salmon and pickled red onion, and you’re all set!
But the hardest part of making deviled eggs is peeling those darn hard-boiled eggs, right? Wrong. Let me tell you my easy secret so they turn out perfectly every time: I steam my eggs rather than boil them.
Get yourself a stainless steel steamer basket like this one. Place about an inch of water in a stock pot and place the open steamer basket inside. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil, then place the eggs inside the steamer basket and cover. Let the eggs steam for 13 minutes (for hard-cooked eggs).
Immediately place the eggs in a bowl of ice water (which shocks them, stopping the cooking process) and allow them to cool in the ice bath for at least 20 minutes, if not overnight in the fridge. To peel them, gently crack the bottom and top of the egg on your work surface, then roll them gently to crack all around the shell. Peel the egg under cool running water. Use them immediately, or you can keep them in the fridge for up to five days.
Recently, I threw together a selection of deviled eggs, all inspired by flavors I love. I even dyed one group of eggs by placing them in a beet pickling liquid! Each recipe is enough to fill at least six eggs, but feel free to fill more or double the recipes.
And remember that the base is basically the same for each recipe: the yolks of the 6 eggs, 2 tablespoons mayo, and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Now that you have the base down, you can get creative and add any flavors you like. Let me give you one example for today:
Sriracha deviled eggs
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, halved, and yolks placed in bowl
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
2 cornichons, minced (or ½ of a dill pickle, minced)
1 small shallot, minced
2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 scallion, minced
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 slice prosciutto (or cooked bacon), chopped, for garnish
Combine yolks and next 7 ingredients in medium bowl, making sure to thoroughly mash the yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using two small spoons, or a spoon and small spatula, fill whites with mixture, and top with prosciutto (or bacon).
But like I said, there’s a lot you can do with deviled eggs. I’ll show you two more easy variations tomorrow!
All photos by Hooton Images