The Magic Kingdom of deviled eggs

IMG_0454I had heard of this spot for years; read articles and seen TV segments about it, and emailed with its creator. As a deviled eggs master, it was my destiny to make a pilgrimage, and I finally did.

Marie Lawrence invited me into the deviled egg room – it’s floor to ceiling full of the servers. The latest count is 915. Marie is going for 1,000 and maybe a Guinness record. Like snowflakes, no two in her collection are exactly alike; she keeps a record book with descriptions, dates she acquired them and other information to make sure.

After 15 years of collecting, her cooperative husband Donald’s handmade shelves are stuffed so full that the plates have begun to spill over into glass cases in the living room of their Morehead City home. They want to do something about that, maybe add on. The center of the display

the newest plate in the collection

the newest plate in the collection

room has barely enough open space for a chicken to make a nest. But it’s enough room for Marie to start the day with a smile, surrounded by color, enjoying her efforts.

“When I first got started, I used to have a rocking chair in here and I would just sit and enjoy them,” she says. “Now, I stand here in the morning with a cup of coffee.”

All those plates have to make you smile, with their hues, shapes, bunny faces and dancing chicks.  A yellow one that a friend bought for Marie on a Disney cruise ship is shaped like Mickey’s face and ears. How appropriate, because this little place is like a Magic Kingdom.

The first plate she got, that started it all, is unusual. It’s bowl-shaped, with a goose head at

more from the 915 plates

more from the 915 plates

the left side and spots for just six eggs on the right. She thinks it was meant to also serve potato salad or egg salad with the deviled eggs. The newest in the collection, which a friend found at a Salvation Army thrift shop a couple of weeks ago, resembles a basket of tulips with 12 oval pink, purple and yellow sections for the eggs.

Naturally, Easter, bunnies and chickens are predominant themes. There are a lot of Christmas ones, too, but even some with Thanksgiving and Irish looks. One of the largest is an Italian plate with spaces for deviled eggs and antipasto that could double as a centerpiece. The smallest looks like a covered ceramic bowl small enough to fit in your palm. Remove the lid, and there are spaces for two eggs – sort of like tea for two.

There’s a plate shaped like an oak leaf with acorn salt-and-pepper shakers. One of my favorites is made up of bright orange carrots pointing in all directions. On the few occasions that Marie has exhibited the collection to the public, she says people have been attracted to one that looks like a violet-printed cloth draped in a basket.

There are ceramic, pottery, glass and pewter plates. One with a wooden handle is shaped like a frying pan. I noticed that there were N.C. State and UNC plates, but no Duke one. Surely Blue Devils eat deviled eggs. “I haven’t seen any Duke plates,” Marie says.

Naturally, she can make a mean deviled egg, too. Marie and Donald used to have a catering

Marie's deviled eggs

Marie’s deviled eggs

business. She was kind enough to have some for me to taste using mayonnaise (Hellmann’s not Duke’s; she prefers the flavor and texture), mustard, a dash of Texas Pete hot sauce and paprika or dill on top.

I assumed that the super-creamy filling was made in a food processor, but Marie said she makes the filling using a collard chopper, which has a circle of razor-sharp teeth for prepping piles of greens.

She does make an addition to her filling that I’m going to try. If she’s making two dozen deviled eggs, she cooks two more eggs and chops them all – whites and yolks – into the filling. It does make a substantial filling.

Deviled egg plates…deviled egg cookbook….seems like there’s something we could come up with together. Stay tuned.

Marie Lawrence and me

Marie Lawrence and me

 

 

Bacon apron! Bacon apron!

No calories! And vegan! The Queen did an amazing job, didn’t she? These photos show the end of the tale I told in my latest Sunday Dinner column, which, if you missed it in The News & Observer last Sunday, you can read here. Now, to fry bacon while wearing it…

pocket with a fried-egg applique

pocket with a fried-egg applique

modeling my new apron in bacon-print fabric

modeling my new apron in bacon-print fabric

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

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.

See Debbie on NBC-17 and at farmers market, too

I just got back from carrying a lovely tray of deviled eggs to NBC-17 in Raleigh, N.C., where it and I will be featured on the new local show, My Carolina Today. The segment with host Valonda Calloway will be shown Thursday, April 1, at 11 a.m.

Don’t forget to come out to the spring opening for the Wake Forest Farmers Market this Saturday, April 3. I’ll be there, selling and signing cookbooks, and offering samples of deviled eggs, of course. I’ll be at the market in downtown Wake Forest, N.C. from 9 a.m. to noon.

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.