The devils you don’t know

Peter Cottontail is hopping down the bunny trail toward Sunday’s big event, which is the center of traditional deviled egg season.

I like deviled eggs as much at Christmas as at Easter – that’s one reason I wrote a whole book on them. But I thought there must be options beyond pickle relish and mayo. And there certainly are. The book has deviled eggs with smoked salmon or blue cheese, even salsa or black olives.

This recipe from my book “Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy” published by Harvard Common Press is bright and different with fresh flavors for spring. Go get a pretty deviled-egg plate and put these out for Easter dinner – they’ll be the first things to go, I promise.

Springtime Herb Delights

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half and yolks mashed in a bowl

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (leaves only, no stems)

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives

Salt and black pepper to taste

Fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks with the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Stir in the finely chopped herbs. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

Fill the whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with a whole parsley leaf.

Makes 12

Word to your deviled eggs

When I was a kid, my father used to stroll around the house performing an early precursor to rap. He was quite a visionary performer, actually, to have foretold the popularity of spoken-word singing. He also prepared me for unsavory song content by teaching me the words to “Mack the Knife” at age 10. I can still sing every one, scarlet billows and all.

But when Easter approached, he sent Mackie out of town in favor of his rap-like ditty with a BOOM-da-da, da-da; BOOM-da-da, da-da; BOOM-da-da, da-da; BOOM-da-da beat: “Easter time is the time for eggs, and the time for eggs is Easter time.”

But bunnies seemed to be the bosses of the Easter world, so I spent my childhood a bit confused about how rabbits produced eggs.

Anyway, no matter where they came from, eggs were what we rapped about. Maybe that’s why I wrote an entire cookbook of recipes for deviled eggs. This one makes a beautiful deviled egg that will surprise people at your Easter dinner – it’s not the usual pickle relish. Definitely worth rapping about.

Lox and Eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half and yolks mashed in a bowl

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons whipped cream cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped smoked salmon

1 1/2 teaspoons grated onion

Salt and black pepper to taste

Drained capers for garnish

Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks with the sour cream, cream cheese and mustard. Stir in the smoked salmon and onion. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Fill the whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with 3 or 4 capers.

Makes 12

Hippety hopping

Some children are probably pretty confused this time of year, thinking that colored eggs are laid by a large rabbit. Gather round, kiddies, and I’ll tell you the truth: The colored eggs aren’t produced by the Easter Bunny, but by Big Bird.

As the author of an entire book on deviled eggs, I do get questions. People vehemently opposed to waste ask what to do with all those eggs after the kids have hunted them down. Here’s what to do: Toss them in the trash. Unless you want to be known as the Easter host who gave everyone food poisoning.

Cook some extra eggs and refrigerate them in anticipation of creamy, lovely deviled eggs. Offer the group something a little different this year with this recipe from my book “Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy” (Harvard Common Press, 2004).

Lox and Eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half and yolks mashed in a bowl

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons whipped cream cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped smoked salmon

1 1/2 teaspoons grated onion

Salt and black pepper to tste

Drained capers for garnish

Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks with the sour cream, cream cheese and mustard. Stir in the smoked salmon and onion. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Fill the whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with 3 or 4 capers. Makes 12.

Food news roundup

Eastertime is the time for ham, and the time for ham is Eastertime. And there’s a big ol’ one in The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), along with other friends of ham. I’ve seen a lot of hunks of ham in photos recently. (See previous poem.) But…why do they look so unattractive? This one is dolled up with some fruit, so it’s OK. See it here.

There’s that hammy-ham-ham in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, too. Plus word on a gourmet rabbit dinner (on Saturday night; watch out, Easter Bunny) for $25K. Oh, yeah, John Grisham will be there, too. Read more here.

The Feed With Care column in the Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.) details the rise in grocery stores that offer more products for people with food allergies. The author’s daughter is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts, so she is always on the hunt for suitable products. Read more here. But no ham.

The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal writes about the new cookbook by Andrea Reusing, chef of Chapel Hill’s Lantern, here. And, yes, the ham is there, too. There’s no escaping it.

It’s the Return of the Ham in the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.). I tell you, the hams in these photos don’t look a thing like the ones my mother cooked for Easter. They’re not cylindrical. Anyway, there is yet another new Southern cookbook, this one by Martha Foose, and you can read about it here.

It’s a ham-free Wilmington (N.C.) Star News. There’s an interesting article on the struggles of the county’s oldest restaurant and how it manages to remain open in these times. Read more here.

Hippety, hoppety, deviled-egg time’s on its way

When I was a kid, my father would wander the house during the week before Easter, singing seasonal songs. He could make up “carols” for any holiday. Besides the traditional “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” he delivered a sort of IMG_0845spoken-word rap – he was a man ahead of his time –  that went: “Easter time is the time for eggs, and the time for eggs is Easter time.” (He also liked to sing “Mack the Knife” around small children, which may account for warped aspects of my personality.)

It’s certainly egg time around my house. It’s funny – you write a little cookbook of deviled egg recipes, and people begin giving you deviled egg plates. I have about a dozen now.

Besides the symbolic aspects of eggs for the holiday (rebirth), deviled eggs are just so pretty for spring meals, and easy to make. Shake off the old paprika-pickle relish stereotype this Easter with this recipe from my cookbook, “Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy,” published by Harvard Common Press.

It will also work for your Final Four party if you’re a fan of what, in my house, is called the Evil Empire.

Blue Devils

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half, and yolks mashed in a bowl

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Salt and black pepper to taste

About 3 tablespoons real bacon bits

Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks with the mayonnaise and mustard. Add the blue cheese and mash well into the mixture with a spoon. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Fill the whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with the bacon bits.

Makes 12.