Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Deviled Eggs: Recipes and More

At the restaurant where I work every Saturday, we serve eggs at least seven different ways: scrambled, over hard, over medium, over soft, poached, sunny side up, and as an omelette. If you include the variations of scrambled (soft or hard), that makes nine different possibilities. One dish we don't serve is Deviled Eggs, also known as Eggs Mimosa. Excited that I'd found yet another food that can be made without an oven, I whipped up a batch using Joy of Cooking's Pop's Deviled Eggs recipe, reworded below. 


Place six large, room-temperature eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water.

Put the pan over high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, remove the pan from the stovetop, cover, and let sit for exactly eight minutes.

To cool the eggs, rinse under cold water or in an ice bath.

To shell, gently crack the eggs all over by tapping them gently on a hard surface. Then, roll the eggs in your palms to losen the membrane. Look for the small air pocket at the large end of the cracked shell and gently peel the eggs entirely, discarding the shell.

Cut the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise in half. Remove the yolks carefully to a bowl. With a fork, gently mash and fold in the following ingredients:

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought.
1 1/2 teaspoons chili sauce
(3/4 teaspoon curry powder)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

Spoon the smooth mixture back into the hollowed whites. You can also use a pastry bag; it makes the filling come out prettier. 

Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Garnish with:
Chopped fresh parsley
Smoked paprika

**Note: Because it's all I had in my kitchen at the time, I only used mayonnaise, mustard, parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. I thought my eggs turned out perfectly edible. I'd like to try them with all the right ingredients but for now I'm happy to know that "deviled eggs" can mean different things to different people. Check out these recipes submitted to the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Some general tips on eggs, from various sources

Shell color: This has nothing to do with food quality, and brown eggs are not inherently organic. In general, a white egg comes from a hen with white feathers. Brown eggs are laid by brown or red hens. There are even blue eggs! A Chilean chicken called the Araucana lays them. 

Storage: Though it's true that eggs can last several weeks on the kitchen counter of a Trident submarine when there's no room in the refrigerator (random trivia, I know), it's best to keep them chilled and in their original styrofoam or cardboard container. The plastic refrigerator egg holders don't do anything magical and may quicken the decay of the egg.

Deviled eggs are great to bring to a picnic, and perhaps more sanitary than a vat of egg salad for plopping on sandwiches. If you're anything like me, though, you want the meal you share to have perfect presentation. I've found that it often doesn't, and that I just have to get over myself.

What follows is a photograph of the same plate of eggs, the first with no flash, the second with a flash. Knowing little about professional food photography and whether shadows are optimal/acceptable, I have to say the first photograph is still enticing, while the second one is wholly unappetizing.

My point? Just eat the thing. Taste is more important, and it may just be the lighting, after all.

Party eggs: The filling looks fluffy!

Eggs to eat alone. Don't be sad.
Food only looks pretty BEFORE  we eat it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Define "Marinate your Attitude"

The first set of academic essays I helped grade this semester focused on "Tips for Incoming College Students." The young writers at City College were to pretend they were giving advice to someone who'd soon be in their shoes. A particular sentence has stuck with me for four months. It was clearly not written in academic English but it still holds a lot of meaning.

The sentence: 

College is a place that teaches young people to be more responsible, and it's also a place where students can marinate a better attitude.

It's an odd metaphor but it makes some rhetoric sense, right?

Marinating is an amelioration of a food that often tastes okay–perhaps just average–before the process of seasoning. Good flavor can turn a cut of meat or a helping of vegetables into something exceptional, sometimes offering the taster a flavor that's never grazed her taste buds before.

The question is, how long does the attitude have to sit in all the herbs, spices, oils, etc., before it comes out the way it's supposed to? 

Who decides the ultimate worth? The chef (student) or the food-critic (teacher)?

I think every day offers an opportunity to improve one's attitude, and I thank this student, whom I'll never meet, for his inspiration, however bizarre. Given all the institutional instability our City College students have faced the past several months, I'd say this young rhetor developed a great attitude, and I think he deserves a second helping of whatever meat he marinates at the next family gathering.

I thank him for his odd sentence. It has encouraged me to have a better attitude toward such writing.

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