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06/26/2015

~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~

IMG_8806We grandmothers of today are much different than the grandmothers of past generations.  I know.  I've been GrandMel for eight years, and, when I look around my kitchen, I see a sea of countertop appliances that make my work a whole lot easier:  grind my coffee beans, blend my smoothies, chop my vegetables, mix my cake batters, steam my rice, make my pasta, bake my bread, press my sandwiches, fry my fritters and freeze my ice cream.  The list goes on.  By the time I was born in 1955, my grandmother had acquired a toaster, and, a fancy-schmancy Sunbeam stand mixer.  Past those, she relied 100% on the basic cooking skills she learned from her mother and grandmother to get meals on the family table in an efficient, timely manner.

IMG_8765My grandmother almost always had a few hard-cooked eggs on hand in her refrigerator.  Hard-cooking eggs was a great way to extend the shelf life of her farm-fresh eggs and an inexpensive source of protein for her family --  she chopped and used them in her egg, tuna and potato salad.  If friends or family dropped by, in less than 5 minutes, she would slice, mash and concoct, then, place a plate of deviled eggs on the table to offer as a snack. Back then, deviled eggs were simple and basic:  they were good food for good people sharing good conversation and a good time (plus a few good drinks or cocktails too).

GrandMa's deviled eggs weren't fancy, they were simply delicious! 

IMG_8667Deviled eggs have come a very long way baby.  They aren't just a quick snack for impromptu get-togethers, backyard barbecues and neighborhood picnics. This humble, rustic, cold appetizer or side-dish has been elevated to near celebrity status. Fine chefs and gutsy gourmets are adding everything from ancho chili pepper to wasabi paste to them. Elegant looking and divine tasting, deviled eggs are making appearances in upscale restaurants, as pub grub in IMG_8729microbreweries, at fancy caterings and elegant dinner parties.  They can be quite pricey too -- depending upon the ingredients, $7.00 - $8.00 for a small plate of 3-4 egg halves in a restaurant, or, $1.75 - $2.00 per piece for a catering.  If that surprises you, elegant-looking, meticulously-garnished deviled eggs are labor intensive.  

For those of you who never encountered or experienced the humble, classic deviled egg:

As far back as the 18th century, the term deviled was used to describe spicy food in general, more specifically:  cooked eggs whose yolks were mashed together with mustard, pepper and a few other flavorful additions including fresh or dried herbs, then returned to the yolk cavities, which were used as portion-sized serving vessels.  Culinarily, the verb "devil" means:  to combine any food with hot or spicy seasonings such as pepper, red pepper, dry or prepared mustard, Worcestershire or cayenne pepper-type sauces, resulting in a "devilish" dish.

IMG_8815A hand-mashed & stirred blend of on-hand "of the era" pantry ingredients!

IMG_8759 IMG_8764 IMG_8775 IMG_8780 IMG_8787Extra-large eggs, 6 eggs, taken right from the refrigerator hard-cooked, peeled and sliced in half (Note:  Click on the Related Article link below, ~ A Little Thing Called: How to Hard-Cook an Egg ~, to get my detailed instructions, helpful tips and eggs-act egg-timing chart.)

6 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus a little extra, if necessary, enough to make the mixture creamy-dreamy and 'dollopable' 

2  tablespoons sweet pickle relish or minced sweet onion, your choice but not both

IMG_87912  teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4  teaspoon each:  celery seed, coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt

a sprinkling of paprika and/or a few parsley sprigs, for garnish

~ Step 1.  Using a fork, vigorously mash and stir egg yolks with all ingredients until combined. Mixture will be creamy with tiny bits and pieces of yolk and relish (or onion) throughout.  Dollop into yolk cavities, garnish and serve.

Simple, straightforward old-fashioned Summertime goodness!

IMG_8817Fix a plate & take a creamy-dreamy taste:    

IMG_8863GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg:  Recipe yields 1 dozen appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart sauce pan (for hard-cooking eggs; cutting board; paring knife; table fork; ordinary tablespoon

6a0120a8551282970b0163031433df970dCook's Note:  Something else my grandmother made with hard-cooked eggs, always for Easter and a few other special occasions too, was her ~ Pretty in Pink:  Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Eggs ~, and, from those, she made ~ Pretty in Pink:  Devilied Eggs ~. Just click into Categories 1, 4 or 12 to get my recipe for this ethnic family favorite.  No one I know can eat just one of these hot little devils!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015 

06/24/2015

~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~

IMG_8729The incredible edible egg.  That four-word sentence is Don Draper-esque advertising genius.  Joe and I have been starting our days with eggs several times a week for almost thirty-five years -- even during 'the dark period' when the food police were patrolling the streets proclaiming the cholesterol in eggs was going to lead to the early demise of us American egg eaters. When it comes to food I love, I believe in living  dangerously, and, eggs are the perfect eggs-ample.  

If you scout around Kitchen Encounters, you'll find all sorts of really good egg recipes from all over the world, including:  how to's for soft-cooking and hard-cooking; fried; baked, scrambled and poached eggs; omelettes, quiches and frittatas; souffles, custards and meringues; egg noodles, egg sandwiches, egg salads, egg drop soup and fried-rice.  When it comes to eggs, I've pretty much covered it all, egg-cept for:  deviled eggs -- which I'm "fixing" this week.  

IMG_8667In the ethnic recipe for deviled eggs I grew up eating, ~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~, the 'secret weapon' ingredient is the very special Zakuson brand of Russian mustard. Just click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe for this Eastern European family favorite. It was as an adult that I encountered the flavorful and colorful world of Indian and Carribean curry (and Thai curry too, but, it's a fresh paste, not a dried powder, so it's not part of today's discussion).

6a0120a8551282970b01a73dae3659970d"Curry" is a catch-all English (British) term used in Western cultures to denote stewike dishes from Southern and Southeast Asia, as well as, Africa and the Caribbean.  Curry powder (the commercially marketed blend of spices we buy in our American markets) doesn't really exist in any of these places.  Hand-made pulverized blends of dried spices, the amounts of which vary to suit the palate of each family or cook are prepared in a mortar and pestle. Dishes called curry, which all contain curry powder (or paste) are relatively easy to prepare and can contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish.  Seasonal vegetables can be included, or, the dish can be made of vegetables (vegetarian). When most Americans see the words "curry powder", they assume that the dish is Indian.  I did the same thing until a few years ago.

What's the difference between Indian & Jamaican curry powder & curry?

Turmeric gives both curry powders their distinctive color and slightly-earthy flavor. Jamaican curry powder contains allspice and Indian-style curry powder does not.  Indian curry powder contains cardamom and mace, Jamaican curry powder does not.  All Jamaican curries contain coconut milk, but only South Indian curries do.  Jamaican curries tend to be spicy and sweet while Indian curries are mild and slightly tart.  It's Jamaican curry powder, combined with a bit of mango chutney, that gives this version of deviled eggs an unexpected sweet and savory zing!

If you love curry & all things sweet & savory, you'll want this easy recipe:

IMG_868816  extra-large eggs, hard-cooked

3/4  cup mayonnaise

4  tablespoons mango chutney

2  tablespoons minced chives

1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder, hot or mild, your choice

1/4-1/2  teaspoon each:  sea salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

2  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled  

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0846b6c9970dStep 1.  Hard-cook the eggs as directed in my post ~ A Little Thing Called:  How to Hard-Cook an Egg ~.  It will tell you everything you need to know to perfectly cook an egg that does not suffer from "green ring-around-the-yolk" (which is caused by overcooking).  Just click on the Related Article link below to learn my foolproof method.

Note:  In a perfect world, 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs would crack and peel perfectly, but, even with an egg-cooking method as perfect IMG_8607as mine, unfortunately, eggs, like humans, are not perfect. If you are making things like egg, tuna or potato salad, a few nicks or tears in the white won't matter, but, it does when making deviled eggs, so, I always recommend cooking a few more than you need.

IMG_8632Step 2.  Gently crack and peel the eggs within three minutes of cooking, draining and cooling them in cold water.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice them in half lengthwise. Using the pointed tip of the knife, carefully remove the yolks.

Tip from Mel:  Use a moistened paper towel to wipe the knife blade clean after slicing each egg and you will not smear excess yolk over the surface or around the sides of the whites.

IMG_8696Step 3.  As you remove them from the whites, place yolks from all 16 eggs in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Melt butter and cool 2 minutes.

IMG_8700~ Step 4. Add the mayonnaise, chutney, chives, curry powder, salt and cayenne pepper to the work bowl. Process with several rapid on-off pulses.  Stop and scrape IMG_8709down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, turn the motor on and process until smooth, 15-20 seconds.  Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl again, then, with motor running, through the feed tube, drizzle in the butter and process for 5-10 seconds.

~ Step 5.  Place a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip in a tall glass and invert the sides of the bag down around the glass.  Using a spoon transfer approximately half of the filling to the bag.  Do not overfill the bag.  Trust me:  it's easier to pipe in two or three smaller batches IMG_8714than one large one.

~ Step 6.  Twist the pastry bag closed at the top and decoratively fill the empty yolk cavities, forming a peaked-mound towards each of the centers as you work.

As an added step, just before serving the eggs, I like to garnish the top of each egg with a tiny dollop of additional mango chutney.

IMG_8739~ Step 7.  To store the eggs in the refrigerator until serving time (or overnight), place 10-12 toothpicks in a few of the eggs, spacing them randomly but well apart, so they can support a "tenting" of plastic wrap -- this will keep them moist and fresh without damaging the surfaces. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or overnight, until well-chilled.

In a hurry?  Don't worry.  Be happy.  Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs! 

IMG_8716Devilishly Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  wide-bottomed stockpot (for cooking eggs); cutting board; paring knife; food processor; rubber spatula; 10" #3118 Ateco pastry bag fitted w/medium star tip; tablespoon; toothpicks; plastic wrap

PICT2720Cook's Note:  The word "deviled" is used to describe spicy food in general, more specifically:  cooked eggs whose yolks are prepared with mustard, pepper and a few other flavorful additions, then returned to the yolk cavities, which are used as portion-sized serving vessels.  The verb "devil" means:  to combine any food with hot or spicy seasonings such as red pepper, mustard, Worcestershire or cayenne pepper-type sauces, resulting in a "devilish" dish.  

You can find my retro recipe for ~ Leftover Ham?  Please Pass Me the Deviled Ham Salad! ~, in Categories 2, 20 or 26! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

06/22/2015

~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~

IMG_8667When you get invited to a backyard barbecue or a neighborhood picnic, what do you get asked to bring -- a dessert, a side-dish, an appetizer?  Nine times out of ten,  I get asked to make these deviled eggs.  Amongst friends they're simply called "Mel's Eggs", and, they have a reputation for being egg-strordinary, which makes me chuckle because when I was growing up, they were quite ordinary.  It's how my grandmother made them and taught me to make them.  Horseradish is one of our most beloved Eastern European 'secret weapons'.  Like any other deviled egg recipe, you can make as many or a few as you want or need (or are asked to bring), but:

IMG_8673What eggs-actly do eggs need to do to quality for "deviled" status?

IMG_8651As far back as the 18th century, the term deviled was used to describe spicy food in general, more specifically:  cooked eggs whose yolks were prepared with mustard, pepper and a few other flavorful additions, then returned to the yolk cavities, which were used as portion-sized serving vessels.  Culinarily, the verb "devil" means:  to combine any food with hot or spicy seasonings such as red pepper, mustard, Worcestershire or cayenne pepper-type sauces, resulting in a "devilish" dish.

In the case of "Mel's Eggs", if you are not making them using this specific brand of hot Russian mustard, you are not making "Mel's Eggs".  It, and it alone, is the 'secret weapon'.  We have a Russian market here in Happy Valley, so I can purchase it locally.  It can also be found on Amazon.

IMG_8654Herbs are commonly found in deviled egg recipes, and, if your making "Mel's Eggs", "it's all about the dill baby":  baby dill.  It's got to be fresh, not dried, and, it's got to be minced.  Dill and chives are the premiere herbs of Russian cooking.  It's almost impossible to find a salad (salat) or dressing that doesn't contain one or both, and, both are commonly used as garnishes for cooked meat, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes.

PICT269916  extra-large eggs, hard-cooked

2  heaping tablespoons minced, fresh dill

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3/4  cup mayonnaise

4  tablespoons hot Russian horseradish mustard

2  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled

IMG_6257~ Step 1.  Hard-cook the eggs as directed in my post ~ A Little Thing Called:  How to Hard-Cook an Egg ~.  It will tell you everything you need to know to perfectly cook an egg that does not suffer from "green ring-around-the-yolk" (which is caused by overcooking).  Just click on the Related Article link below to learn my foolproof method.

Note:  In a perfect world, 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs would crack and peel perfectly, but, even with an egg-cooking method as perfect as IMG_8607mine, unfortunately, eggs, like humans, are not perfect. If you are making things like egg, tuna or potato salad, a few nicks or tears in the white won't matter, but, it does when making deviled eggs, so, I always recommend cooking a few more than you need.

IMG_8632~ Step 2.  Gently crack and peel the eggs within three minutes of cooking, draining and cooling them in cold water.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice them in half lengthwise. Using the pointed tip of the knife, carefully remove the yolks.

Tip from Mel:  Use a moistened paper towel to wipe the knife blade clean after slicing each egg and you will not smear excess yolk over the surface or around the sides of the whites.

PICT2705 PICT2697~ Step 3.  As you remove them from the whites, place yolks from all 16 eggs in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Melt butter and cool 2 minutes.

~ Step 4.  Add the dill, salt, white pepper, mayo and mustard to the work bowl. Process with several rapid on-off pulses.  Stop and PICT2698scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, turn the motor on and process until smooth, 15-20 seconds.   Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl again, then, with motor running, through the feed tube, drizzle in the butter and process for 5-10 seconds.

~ Step 5.  Place a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip in a tall glass and invert the sides of bag down around the glass.  Using a spoon transfer approximately half of the filling to the bag.  Do not overfill the bag.  Trust me:  it's easier to pipe in two half-sized batches.

PICT2707~ Step 6.  Twist the pastry bag closed at the top and decoratively fill the empty yolk cavities, forming a peaked-mound towards each of the centers as you work.  

As an added step, I like to garnish the top of each egg with a large, plump, briny caper (also commonly used in Russian recipes).

PICT2697~ Step 7.  To store the eggs in the refrigerator until serving time (or overnight), place 10-12 toothpicks in a few of the eggs, spacing them randomly but well apart, so they can support a "tenting" of plastic wrap -- this will keep them moist and fresh without damaging the surfaces.

How many of these hot little devils do you think you can eat?

IMG_8681My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  wide-bottomed stockpot (for cooking eggs); cutting board; paring knife; food processor; rubber spatula; 10" #3118 Ateco pastry bag fitted w/medium star tip; tablespoon; toothpicks; plastic wrap

IMG_1335Cook's Note:  Want a Russian-style potato salad to go with these deviled eggs?  This one, consisting of four root veggies is perfect.  You can find ~ Russian Red Salad: Potato, Beet, Onion & Radish ~ in Categories 2, 4, 10, 12 or 14!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

06/20/2015

~ A Little Thing Called: How to Hard-Cook an Egg ~

IMG_6257I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.  Life is too short to eat a hard-cooked egg with an unappealing greenish-gray ring-around-the yolk.  I ordered a chef-salad yesterday.  Not just any chef's salad, one at my favorite place, made the way I like it:  extra onions and tomatoes, all-turkey, extra turkey in place of ham, an extra hard-cooked egg and balsamic vinaigrette. Elaine on Seinfeld called it "a big salad -- it's a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it."  

In a classic chef salad, hard-cooked egg is a standard ingredient.  

IMG_6245Why bother to put a chef salad on the menu if the chef can't cook an egg?

IMG_8622When it comes to breaking eggs, fried, scrambled and even poached, most cooks are pretty good at it. Everyone does it a bit differently, mostly because everyone likes their yolk cooked to a different degree of doneness, but, the results are pretty to look at and taste good too.  

When it comes to hard-cooking eggs in the shell, "hard-boiled", it seems that a lot of people have a lot of trouble producing the perfectly-cooked and perfectly-shaped egg: one that reveals a tender white and a creamy, flaky, lemon-yellow yolk.

IMG_8631 Eggs IIWhen it comes to hard-cooked eggs, if you are serving eggs with so much as a hint of a greenish-gray halo around the yolks, you are over-cooking your eggs.  You have no where to run, no where to hide, cut it out, the problem is you, not the egg.

NO ONE LIKES A RUBBERY WHITE WITH A GREEN RING AROUND THE YOLK!

Here's eggs-actly why this happens:

When the egg white, which is rich in sulfur amino acids, cooks, hydrogen sulfide gets released. Cooking the white for too long causes a reaction with the yolk, which is rich in iron-binding proteins.  Even though this unappetizing ring-around-the-yolk is harmless, the egg is quite safe to eat, it simply shouldn't be allowed to happen -- it's astonishingly THAT easy to eliminate.

Boiling Eggs #1Never boil eggs.  "Boil" refers to food cooked in a liquid maintaining a temperature at or above 212 degrees F, the boiling point.  Large bubbles rapidly break the surface of the liquid throughout the process.  

Barely simmer eggs.  "Simmer" refers to food gently cooked in liquid at a temperature around 185 degrees F.  Tiny bubbles slowly break the surface of the liquid throughout the cooking process.

Only cook eggs of the same size. For the purpose of this post:  jumbo, extra-large, or large eggs.

Place cold eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a pot.  Use eggs Boiling Eggs #2straight out of the refrigerator and adjust the pot size accordingly. Cover the eggs with enough cold tap water to cover by 1/2"-1".

Bring eggs to a bare simmer over high heat.  Immediately adjust heat to maintain a bare simmer and begin timing immediately.  Adjust the time according to the size of the eggs, meaning:  the larger the egg, the longer the cooking time, using my foolproof guidelines:

Time as follows for large, extra-large or jumbo eggs:

Coddled Eggs (partially-cooked white/very loose yolk): 30-45-60 seconds

Soft-Cooked Eggs (just set-up white/slightly-thickened yolk):  2-2 1/2-3 minutes

Medium-Cooked (Mollet) Eggs (tender white/semi-soft yolk): 4-5-6 minutes

Hard-Cooked Eggs (firm-but-tender white/tender, flaky yolk):  9-10-11 minutes

Boiling Eggs #3Remove eggs from the stovetop. Drain as much water from the pot as possible.  Start adding cold tap water to the eggs in the pot and allow it to continue to run for about 2-3 minutes, allowing it to flow out of the top of the pot into the sink.

Note:  This will halt the cooking process and quickly cool the eggs, which will make them easier to peel by causing a slight contraction of the egg within the shell.

Gently crack and peel ASAP.  I recommend within  3 minutes of the cold water bath.

Perfectly-shaped, perfectly-cooked, incredible, edible eggs!

IMG_8628A Little Thing Called:  How to Hard-Cook an Egg:  Recipe yields instructions for perfectly hard-cooking as many as you need or desire.

Special Equipment List:  wide-bottomed, shallow stockpot (sized determined by how many eggs are being cooked)

IMG_8613 IMG_8607Cook's Note: In a perfect world, 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs would crack and peel perfectly, but, even with an egg-cooking method as perfect as mine, unfortunately, eggs, like humans, are not perfect. If you are making things like egg, tuna or potato salad, a few nicks or tears in the white won't matter, but, if you making, for instance, deviled eggs, which I am going to be posting next,   I always recommend cooking a few more than you need.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)