To egg you on: Easter showcases nature’s most versatile food

CHARLES TOWN – Pickled eggs. Deviled eggs. Egg salad. Eggs Benedict. Quiche. Omelets. At Easter and anytime of year, when I start to tick off foods I love, I tend to sound like an egg-centric version of Bubba Gump.

But I’m hardly alone in my appreciation for the versatility of the egg. A friend in the culinary industry tells me the tall, pleated hat worn by professional chefs has an egg tie: the toque’s many folds are said to signify the dozens of ways an egg may be cooked.

Perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs are the key to deviled eggs, an Easter staple believed to date to ancient Rome.

With Easter just days away, it’s the perfect time to not only dye eggs for fun, but to get cracking with your favorite hard-boiled egg recipes.

Because no one wants to take eggs out of the hot water too early and have them still runny inside, many of us tend to go too far in the other direction and end up with yolks that sport a forest-green sheen and pack an unpleasant sulfur taste.

Here’s a method that delivers perfect hard-boiled eggs every time:

• Place the eggs in a one layer in a saucepan and add about two inches of cold water to cover.

• Bring the water to a boil in a gentle fashion, which will keep the eggs from cracking. Some cooks swear by adding a bit of vinegar and/or salt. The vinegar is said to keep egg whites from running out if your shells do crack; the salt may help make the finished product easier to peel.

• Once your water reaches a boil, take the pan off the burner and reduce the heat to low. Place your pan back on the burner and let simmer for one minute.

• When the minute’s up, remove the pan from the heat, place a lid on the pan and let your eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes.

If you want to double-check that your eggs are cooked just right, use a slotted spoon to take out one egg. Run it under some cold water and split. If it isn’t perfectly cooked, let the rest of your eggs stay in the hot water another two or three minutes.

(Once you’ve gone through this, you’ll know precisely what time works best, depending on the size eggs you used and the size of your pan. Make a note of it and you can repeat the steps without any guesswork from that day on.)

When your eggs are done, use a slotted spoon to removed them from the hot water and place into a bowl of cold water to halt the cooking process. Store your hard-cooked eggs in a covered container in your fridge and use or consume within five days.

 

Peeling vs. appealing

If you’re making deviled eggs or pickled eggs and want them to look appealing on the plate, you want your eggs to be easy to peel.

Your best bet is to cook eggs that are a week or two old. You can also cook your eggs and then let them set in the refrigerator for a day or two before tackling the job of coaxing them out of their shells.

For Easter, you may want to serve your deviled eggs on a plate designed just for that purpose. Another option for your Easter table: pop each egg half into one of those pastel-colored paper cupcake liners and arrange on any plate at all. This option is also nice because your eggs don’t slide around as you fill your plate, and they also get protected from the other items you’re serving.

Now for a few recipes:

Traditional deviled eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs (cooled, peeled)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

 

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks.

Place yolks in a medium-size mixing bowl and mash. Blend in vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Add more mayonnaise if needed to hold the mixture together, but it should be slightly dry.

Carefully spoon your yolk mixture into the egg whites but do not pack. You may find a spoon used for baby food works well. To finish, sprinkle with paprika.

 

Pickled beets and eggs

8 hard-boiled eggs (cooled, peeled)

1 15-ounce can sliced beets with liquid

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup water

 

In a saucepan, combine beets, vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over eggs into a non-metal bowl. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight. Keeps in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

Healthy egg salad lover’s sandwich

6 eggs


1 to 2 Tablespoons light mayo or Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper


Squeeze of lemon juice


 2 stalks celery, chopped


1 Tablespoon green onion, chopped

1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped


 Lettuce


8 slices of whole grain bread, lightly toasted

In a medium mixing bowl, place peeled eggs and mayonnaise. Use fork to mash mixture. If you need a bit more mayo or yogurt to make the salad bind, add it a smidge at a time. Stir in celery and chives and add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble four sandwiches by placing a lettuce leaf on a piece of toast, then topping with one quarter of the salad mixture. If you like your egg salad crunchier, toss a small handful of roasted sesame seeds onto the salad before placing the second piece of toast on top.

Curried Egg Salad with Mango Chutney

6 eggs (hard boiled, cooled, peeled)

1/2 cup mango chutney

1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon chopped chives, green onions or shallots

1/4 cup minced celery

Dash of cayenne, more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roughly chopped the peeled, hard boiled eggs and put them into a medium mixing bowl. Use the tines of the fork to press against the cooked egg pieces to break them into smaller pieces.

Add mango chutney, yellow curry powder, salt, mayonnaise, chives, celery, black pepper and cayenne. Mix until well combined.

Serve the salad on lettuce or create a sandwich filling for sliced bread or toast. Another option: create an appetizer by placing the salad on bite-sized rounds of sliced bread. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 32 rounds from your favorite bread.

Egg breakfast spread

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

1/4 cup refrigerated ranch dip

2 Tablespoons minced green onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoon fully cooked bacon, chopped

Whole-grain baguette slices or bagels, toasted

Place eggs, ranch dip, green onion, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Spoon into serving bowl and top with bacon. Serve with toasted bagels or baguette slices. This recipe is courtesy of the American Egg Board, www.incredibleegg.org.

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