Category Archives: Kitchen Witch Tips

#Pie Day with #UpSouthCookbook’s Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie in Pie PanButtermilk Pie

I’ve been waiting for a while for just the right moment to post about this recipe. #PieDay seems like an appropriate time, donchathink?  This custard-like, fragrant concoction is a Southern staple, and I’d heard about it for years, although my mother didn’t make this kind of sweet really ever.  For all the desserts I’ve made, I’d also never tried my hand at this one until Nicole Taylor (aka Food Culturist) asked if I’d recipe test it for her Up South Cookbook last year.  Now, I’m hooked on it and can think of all sorts of events at which it would be perfect to bring to the table.

Buttermilk Pie in Tart Pan

Buttermilk Pie in tart form

The original pie in the photo that leads off this post found an audience at a shiva for a friend’s father.  The creamy, cool interior and flakey crust was admired and devoured by the assembled guests.  The photo at the top of this paragraph was a bit of a re-creation on my part.  For the annual #PieParty that is put together by a couple of fellow NYC food bloggers, I swapped out the pie plate for a tart pan and let it cook a tiny bit longer for some more color and a brûlée effect.  One of the chefs at our host location, the Institute of Culinary Education, happily consumed the few leftovers that remained, calling it one of the best baked goods he’d ever eaten.

UpSouth Cookbook

 Up South Cookbook

For my next cooking adventure with this recipe, I think I’m going to morph it even more and make tartelettes.  I have this great Nordic Ware pan that I’ve used to make mini crostate that I think will work out really well.  Nicole includes the pie crust recipe as well in her cookbook; it’s one that is super easy to pull together.  I’ll likely double that and make one batch of the filling, with its scent of cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla that casts a lovely, warming perfume as it bakes.  That way, more guests can enjoy this taste of the South and of the regional hospitality that goes along with a slice of pie.

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Use the best-quality, full-fat buttermilk in this recipe.  It is so worth the end result to spend that bit of extra time and money to track it down.  In the NYC area, you can find Five Acre Farms products or visit the Union Square Greenmarket and pick up some from Tonje’s Farm Dairy.  

Dry-Brine Turkey for Thanksgiving 2014

The TurkeyThe Turkey

I’ve been absent from the writing portion of this website for a little while now.  Catering and events busy season kicked into gear, and I had also taken a full-time position in a catering kitchen at the end of July.  Those factors, plus some personal things I’ve been dealing with for the past few months resulted in a blog and recipe-testing hiatus.  Hopefully, you were all still keeping up with me via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  What has gotten me back into the swing of things is this gorgeous, fresh turkey from Cascun Farm in Greene, NY, which I prepared for the Thanksgiving feast that I hosted on Thursday for the “Castaways,” or “Orphans” gathering this year.

Set up for guestsGetting ready for guests to arrive

Having spent quite a few Thanksgiving holidays far away from family over the years, both in New York City and when I was living overseas, I really enjoy these get-togethers.  I’ve celebrated the day for a several years with a few of the same folks who were at my apartment on Thursday.  Then, there were other people whom I was meeting, and whose food I was trying, for the first time.  It’s always an interesting dynamic and can get quite lively, with stories shared of holiday meals and family traditions.  So, I knew that I had to make sure that the turkey was delicious and flavorful.  No pressure at all for the hostess of this meal, right?  Nope.  None at all.

Finished TurkeyThanksgiving 2014 Turkey

The fact that I’d never, ever cooked a turkey before shouldn’t matter, should it?  An article in Bon Appetit about dry bringing the bird and spatchcocking it.  I decided against using the latter technique and for using the former.  After consulting a few websites about cooking time, I figured that allowing about three hours cooking time would work for a turkey of this size (about 12 pounds).  In the end, I realized that the turkey is just a large chicken, and I treated it (lovingly) just like that, stuffing herb butter under the skin and basting during cooking to promote a golden, crispy skin and moist meat.  There was hardly any left over at the end of the evening, definitely not enough to make Turkey Curry.  I can put this down as a success and look forward to next year’s meal.

Dry Brine Turkey

Prep Time: Overnight for the turkey to brine, plus 3 hours cooking time (allow for 3 1/2 hours with resting time)

Serving Size: About a pound of meat per person (we served 11 people)

Ingredients:

1 12-pound Turkey, preferably fresh

To Brine:

1/2 cup Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Thyme, fresh, chopped

1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh, chopped

1 Tablespoon Sage, fresh, chopped

To Cook:

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened

2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Thyme, fresh, chopped

1 teaspoon Rosemary, fresh, chopped

1 teaspoon Sage, fresh, chopped

Dry Brine MixtureDry Brine Mixture

Unpack the turkey.  Remove the neck, giblets, etc. and reserve for making gravy or stock.  Put the turkey on a rack placed on a baking sheet and let it sit for a few minutes while making the brine mixture.  Combine the salt, thyme, rosemary, and sage in a bowl.  Sprinkle the salt mixture all over the turkey, making sure to coat the entire bird thoroughly and evenly.

Turkey brining in the fridgeTurkey brining in the fridge

Put the turkey in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 8-12 hours at least.  Some folks I spoke with in the catering kitchen said that they leave it even longer.  When ready to cook the turkey, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and rinse off the brine.  Pat it dry.

Butter-Herb MixtureButter-Herb Mixture

Make the herb butter by mixing together the unsalted butter, olive oil, and herbs.  Notice that there’s no salt added.  The brine will have seasoned the meat, so there is no need to add extra salt.  Plus, with the gravy and stuffing and side dishes, there will be plenty of seasoning on everything.

Butter under turkey skinButter stuffed under turkey skin

Gently pull the skin away from the meat and stuff the herb butter underneath the skin of the breast and legs.  Try to distribute it as evenly as possible.  Place the turkey in the oven and let it cook for 30-40 minutes.  Baste the turkey, brushing the melted butter and fat over the legs and breast meat.  After that, turn the temperature down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to cook the turkey for another 2 1/2 to three hours,* until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finished TurkeyThe finished turkey

Remove the turkey from the oven.  Tent it with foil and let it rest for 30 or so minutes while making the gravy and reheating the side dishes.  Carve the turkey and serve.

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

Balancing out the cooking time to have moist breast and thigh meat was one of the concerns that I had.  One way around this is to place foil over the breast meat if it looks like it is getting overcooked.  Basting the meat every 30 minutes or so also helps to keep the meat moist and juicy.

Courgette Frittata / Zucchini Frittata

Plated courgette frittataCourgette (aka Zucchini) Frittata

Recently, I’ve been seeing piles of squash arriving in at the local farmers market.  This means, it’s time to bring out those recipes that use zucchini (also known as courgettes) to use up this year’s crop.  I found this recipe in a British magazine when I was living there, but I’m not sure where my copy of it got to in all my changes of households over the years.  At some point, I’d tweaked it and modified it so much that I might have even tossed out the original instructions.  Now, I just recreate it from memory whenever I have a craving for it.

Courgette frittata with berries & smoked salmonFrittata with Smoked Salmon and Berries

Having picked up a bag of mixed zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash at the Greenmarket this week, along with a dozen eggs and cheddar cheese from one of my favorite stands, I knew that I was going to put this together for brunch over the holiday weekend.  I also snapped up a couple of sets of red and black raspberries to add to the dish as a garnish.  This frittata is terrific to serve on the breakfast side or the lunch side of brunch, so adding a green salad would also work, too.

Courgette frittata portioned outCourgette frittata portioned out

This recipe would be great to make for a picnic, as well.  It doesn’t need to be served scorching hot; room temperature will do.  It also packs up well to pop in the oven or microwave to reheat for a quick and easy meal on the go, as you’re running out the door to get to work (or even when you are already there before answering the a.m. barrage of emails and phone calls).  One of the reasons this is in my keeper file is that it is not only delicious, but flexible and quick and easy to make.  It’s a good option for those Breakfast for Dinner nights, too.

IngredientsIngredients

Courgette Frittata / Zucchini Frittata

Prep time: 30-45 minutes

Serving size: 4-6 people (depends upon how big you’d like the portions to be)

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized Courgettes / Zucchini (dark and/or light green),

3 oz. (75 g) Cheddar Cheese, white, mild (not extra-sharp)

5 Eggs, large (can also use 2 whites and 3 whole eggs)

1 pinch Salt

1/4 tsp. (1-2 g) Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 Tbsp (30 g) Shallot, finely minced (about 1 medium shallot)

1 Tbsp (15 g) Unsalted Butter

1 tsp. (5 g) Olive Oil

Assembly:

Grating courgettesGrating courgettes (zucchini)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade / Gas Mark 4).  Trim the end of the courgettes (zucchini) and move them cross-wise on the large holes of a box grater to create large shredded pieces.  Stop just before you get to the end of the courgettes (zucchini), as you don’t want to use that part (like the photo above).  You should end up with around 200 grams (or 8 ounces or 1 packed cup) of vegetables.  Squeeze the courgette (zucchini) using cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel (or your hands – I usually do it that way) over the sink until most of the water is gone from it.  Set it aside.

Prepped ingredientsPrepped ingredients

Grate the cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater.  Put that to the side until ready to mix with the courgettes (zucchini).  Chop the shallots very finely.  Also set that aside until ready to cook them.  You’ll end up with separate piles of the ingredients ready to be combined with the eggs.

Egg whites & yolks separatedEgg whites and yolks separated

The next step is a bit of a fussy one, but it’s one that I use when making omelets as well, too.  I separate the egg whites from the yolks (darn – there’s always that one yolk that falls apart!).  Then, I whisk the yolks until they are smooth and creamy.  Into the egg yolks, I add the shredded courgettes (zucchini) and cheddar cheese along with the salt and pepper.  Stir to combine all these ingredients.

Egg whites - whiskedWhisked egg whites

Whip up the egg whites until they are light and frothy.  They should not get anywhere near the meringue stage, just agitated enough to break down the structure of the whites and make them more liquid and fluffy.

Courgette mixture combined w egg whitesFrittata ingredients combined

Pour the courgette (zucchini) mixture into the egg whites.  Gently fold in the courgette mixture until it is thoroughly combined with the egg whites.

Shallots cookingShallots cooking in butter and oil

Place a 23 cm / 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over low to medium heat.  Put butter and olive oil in the skillet so that the butter melts and the liquid combines with the oil.  Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 1-2 minutes.

Frittata on stovetopFrittata cooking on stovetop

Pour in the frittata ingredients.  Very quickly give a couple of gentle stirs to combine the shallots and butter/oil into the courgette (zucchini) mixture so that they are incorporated with the vegetables, cheese, and eggs.  Leave the frittata alone to cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes until the frittata is mostly set but still wet and jiggling a bit in the middle, like with a custard.

Courgette frittata out of the ovenFrittata out of the oven

Put the pan into the oven and let the frittata cook for another 5-10 minutes until it is completely set and is golden brown around the edges (check to see how it is doing after 5 minutes).  The top of the frittata should still be a nice, sunshine-y yellow.  *Leave it in the pan on a trivet or the stovetop to cool for a few minutes before cutting into it.  Serve warm or at room temperature or save for eating later.

Kitchen Witch Tip:*

Hot pan handleSign of a hot pan handle

When the pan in which you cooked the frittata comes out of the oven, it will be scorching hot, enough to really hurt the person who touches it bare-handed.  I know this sounds like it makes common sense, but when you have people running around your kitchen or you’re greeting guests, there’s that one split second when you might forget just how fired-up this cooking implement really is.  It will take quite while for it to cool down.

In the professional kitchen (and as we were taught to do in culinary school), there’s a a couple of ways we indicate to our fellow team members that they might want to take caution when handing a hot pan.  A. leave a side towel wrapped around it or B. sprinkle flour on it to make it stand out.  In your own home kitchen, wrapping a towel around the handle or covering it with a potholder, as in the photo above, are good options.  Just remember to let the person washing your dishes know that the handle is hot before he/she slips off the covering and places it in the sink. (It’s probably not necessary to say “caliente” before handing into to him/her to clean, as we do in the restaurant.)

Buon appetito!

Crostini with Peas, Ricotta and Spring Garlic

Pea-Garlic-Ricotta CrostiniSpring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic

Along with the Radish and Chive-Butter Crostini that I mentioned last week, that same trip to the Greenmarket also inspired another menu addition: Spring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic.  This bright, verdant small bite makes a colorful contrast on a plate when paired with the radish crostini.  We were offering these as a small plate item as they are a great match for any beverage to kick off an evening meal.

Shelling fresh peasShelling fresh peas

I know that the television shows highlight the glamor and excitement of working in professional kitchens, but there’s lots of other jobs, too.  Coming in on a Sunday to find a pile of smashed glasses on the floor of the kitchen (no one has yet owned up doing to this) and having to clean it up, was just one of my many tasks the in past few weeks.  Others include throwing all that expired food out of the walk-in refrigerator.  Think it’s not a great job to do at home; try doing it when the volume and “mystery food” factor is multiplied.  Having bought fresh peas at the market, I took on another necessary but mundane cook’s task – shelling peas.  Someone has to do it.

Spring GarlicSpring Garlic

Then, I worked on the rest of the dish.  I didn’t want it to be too pea-forward.  (Being related to someone who absolutely, vehemently cannot stand peas, along the lines of the way that I dislike raisins in things, I am sensitive to the pea-adverse community.)  The spring garlic is the stage between ramps and the bulbs that we buy year-round.  It has a bright garlicky flavor with the greens lending it some of the herbaciousness that ramp tops have.  Then I tempered it a bit with the ricotta to make it more spreadable on the crostini.  These were another hit with the staff who tried them.  Alas, I couldn’t get the non-pea-eaters among them even to take a nibble, although they did admit it was pretty to look at.

Spring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic

Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes

Serving Size: Makes about 1 pint of chive butter, enough for 40 or so crostini

Ingredients:

 

1 recipe Crostini (see here)
1 lb. Peas, freshly shelled (will yield 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1 large pinch Salt
3 stalks Spring Garlic, white and green parts
1/2 Lemon, juice and rind
2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
Microgreens for garnish (recommended ones are micro watercress or micro basil)

 

Assembly:
Blanching peasBlanching peas

 

For this recipe the peas need to be cooked briefly, just enough to soften them up a bit but not too much to actually cook them through to the mushy stage.  To do this, put a saucepan of water on the heat to boil.  When the water comes to a boil, add a large pinch of salt and the peas.  Count 30 seconds and then pull the peas off the water, drain them, and dunk them in an ice bath.*
Ingredients in blenderIngredients in blender

 

Pour the cooled, cooked peas into a blender or food processor (We use a Vitamix which I also have at home.) along with the spring garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, 2 tsp. of the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Blend until everything is a relatively smooth paste and there are no visible chunks of peas or the garlic.
Pea & Garlic pureePea-Garlic Mixture

 

When you are done, it should look like the photo above.  To get the mixture to this consistency, it takes about a minute or so in the Vitamix, perhaps a bit longer in the food processor.  Scoop the pea-garlic mixture out of the blender and place it in a bowl.
Pea-Garlic Puree with RicottaPea-Garlic-Ricotta mixture

 

Add the ricotta and the lemon zest and fold to combine thoroughly with the pea-garlic mixture.  Taste.  Adjust for seasoning, adding a bit more salt, pepper, olive oil, or lemon juice as it needs.

Pea-Garlic-Ricotta CrostiniSpring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic and Microcress

Slather some of the pea-garlic-ricotta mixture on the crostini (they should be room temperature and not just out of the oven at this stage).  Top with a sprinkle of microgreens and serve.  The microgreens should be added at the last minute, but the crostini can be made up to 20 minutes in advance.

Buon appetito!

 

*Kitchen Witch Tip:
Cooked peasBlanched peas

 

A little trick I’ve learned from blanching cases of vegetables is that it’s much easier if you drain the hot liquid and peas in a sieve or colander and then place that, peas and all, into the ice-water combo.  That way, you don’t have to spend time fishing errant peas from the liquid, and you can drain the peas simple by lifting the strainer out of the water.

Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Pair of Pears with ChocolateSpice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Now that you’ve decided not to go out to some restaurant to spend a bunch of money on a Valentine’s Day prix fixe or to have a private chef fix a romantic meal à deux, you’ve got to figure out how to pull something together for next Friday night’s dinner to show your sweetie how much you care about him/her.  Sure, you can order up a rotisserie chicken and pick up some side dishes from the local gourmet food store, but what about dessert?  Chocolate, of course, is on the menu, but what about making something to impress just a little bit, to show that you did put some effort into making the meal a special one.  That’s where these Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce come into the picture.

Spiced sugar syrupPoaching liquid

This dish is composed of several easy steps.  First is to create a poaching liquid for the pears of simple syrup combined with allspice berries, star anise pods, a cinnamon stick, and orange peel, giving the fruit a luxurious texture and delicate, exotic spiced perfume.  A rich, velvety chocolate sauce is poured around the center of the plate.  Then, pears are placed on a mound of creamy mascarpone cheese with finely chopped toasted hazelnuts as the base.  This dessert should be just the thing to win your honey’s heart this Valentine’s Day.

Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Prep time: 30 minutes

Serving size: 2 portions

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Hazelnuts

250 g White Sugar

250 g Water

1 Bosc Pear

4 Allspice berries

2 Star Anise pods

1 Cinnamon stick

Peel of 1/2 Orange

100 ml Heavy Cream

100 ml Whole Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp. Confectioner’s Sugar

100 g Semi-sweet Chocolate (I used a bar with 70% cocoa.)

2 Tbsp. Mascarpone

1 tsp. Confectioner’s Sugar

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

IngredientsGetting started

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.  Set aside to cool.  Place sugar and water in heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the water is simmering.  You can stir it with a wooden spoon if the sugar seems to be hanging around on the bottom of the pan.  Add allspice berries, star anise pods, cinnamon stick, and orange peel.  Peel and core the pear and cut it in half.

Poaching pearsPoaching pears in spiced syrup

Place the halves, cut side up, in the spiced syrup to cook for 15 minutes until they are soft but not mushy.  The point of a knife or a cake tester should easily go through them.  Let the pears cool for 5 minutes in the syrup and then remove them.  Strain and reserve the poaching liquid.  This makes a great syrup for tea or a base for cocktails.  While the pears are cooking and cooling, make the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauceChocolate sauce

Heat up heavy cream and milk together on low heat until bubbles are on the side of the liquid.  Don’t bring it to a boil.  Add vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar.  If using a bar of chocolate, break it into pieces and add it to the hot cream-milk mixture.  Stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.  Turn off the heat and set aside.  [At this point, the pears and chocolate can be refrigerated until ready to serve.  Pour chocolate in a pan or reheat in the microwave just before putting on the plate.]

Mascarpone addedChopped hazelnuts and mascarpone

To serve, place a mound of finely chopped hazelnuts on the center of a large plate.  Mix mascarpone with 1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar, and put 2 dollops of mascarpone, of about 1 tsp. each, on top of the hazelnuts.  Then, spoon chocolate sauce around the center of the plate, sort of moat-like around the chopped hazelnuts and mascarpone.  Slice pear halves lengthwise and place them on top of the mascarpone so that it isn’t visible.  Garnish with a sprig of mint, if desired.

Pears on tableSpice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

If you like, you can also serve this dish on two separate plates, but it is a little more romantic to present it on one and to share it.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Coring pear

You know that melon baller that’s stuck in the back of your kitchen utensils drawer?  Well, it makes a great way to core apples and pears, making them easier to cut cleanly in half.

Southern-style Holiday Dinner: Old Bay Deviled Eggs

The Dinner TableThe holiday dinner table

Every family has its own holiday traditions.  Ours revolves around a group meal and present exchange.  Here’s how it rolled out this year.  We actually managed to lock down the date and time for our celebration in near record time.  Then, negotiations started over what would be prepared for said holiday meal.  When I explained this two-step process to a few folks at work and some friends, I got a some odd looks (from those with smaller families) and some knowing nods of recognition (from those who are part of larger broods).  My youngest sister very proactively sent out this proposed very Southern-style holiday menu via email a few weeks out:

Holidays are coming fast!  For those of you dining at the Blake household, how does Ham, potato salad, green bean casserole, and biscuits sound?

Then, I responded with a few points of feedback, based upon what I knew to be of some of the guests’ preferences (including those of one notoriously-fussy nephew) and a few of my own.  Here was her response:

Well it is up to you. I was going to pick up ham from honey baked, potato salad from red hot blue, make green bean casserole and biscuits plus I asked R and M to bring appetizer or side dish. If you want to do something different and want to spearhead dinner, I will gladly pass the torch. You just let me know.

Dinner PlateMy dinner plate

I wasn’t even pulling rank as a working chef on her.  It was more just that I know that green bean casserole is a dish that repulses my youngest brother and that his children (in the main not vegetable-eaters) would also not touch it.  Believe it or not, I’m not much of a fan of a huge hunk of ham as part of a meal.  My mother used to fix mustard and brown sugar-glazed ham, boiled potatoes, and corn as a holiday dinner, as one of my sisters liked it.  It is one of my culinary nightmares, still.  After a few more emails, and a suggestion from me that we order Chinese food from our local favorite haunt, I received carte blanche to proceed with re-organizing the menu:

Then we will leave it in your capable hands. Just let R and M know if there is something other than a side dish or appetizer you want them to bring.

Old Bay Deviled EggsOld Bay® Deviled Eggs

So, I took the original food list and revamped it a bit, still keeping it Southern-style and letting everyone contribute a bit to the meal.  Feathers were smoothed back into place, and my father did not have to make good on his threat that if he didn’t like what we fixed, he could just run out to McDonald’s and grab a hamburger.  (I did point out to him that that comment just tore right into my soul as a culinary professional, which he somehow found amusing.)  One of the things that I added to the list was Old Bay® Deviled Eggs.  I mean, what typifies a Southern celebratory meal anyway like a big ol’ plate of deviled eggs, with gleaming whites and smooth, creamy yolks.  Judging by the fact that I was asked to set aside the last remaining two halves for one of the guests, I’d say that they were a hit on our holiday dinner table.  Hopefully, they’ll find a spot on yours as well.

Old Bay® Deviled Eggs

Prep time: 30-45 minutes or so

Serving size:  Allow one whole egg per adult, at least (my nephew eats only the whites)

Ingredients: There’s no specific proportions or measurements that I use for this recipe.  I make these by taste and feel and depending upon the quantity of eggs I’m fixing.

Eggs

Salt

Water

Mayonnaise

Dijon Mustard

Old Bay® Seasoning

Black Pepper

Assembly:

Place a saucepan of water full enough to cover the eggs on the stove and bring it to a boil without the eggs in it.  Then, when the water has boiled, pour a bunch of salt in the bottom of the pan.  You probably need a couple of tablespoons of it at least.  I used a very sad-looking container of good-quality sea salt for these, but any table or kosher salt will do.  Gently lower the eggs into the pan, bring the water back to the boil, and let the eggs cook for 10 minutes in the boiling water.  Remove the eggs from the pan and immediately either dunk them into an ice bath or into a bowl of cold water.

Preparing eggsPreparing the eggs

The eggs I made at my folks’ house this past week, using this cooking method, gave me the easiest-to-peel, hard boiled eggs of my life.  Once cooled, the shells just slipped right off of the eggs.  Cut them in half and pop out the yellow yolks, keeping whites and yolks in separate bowls.

Mixing fillingMixing filling

Mash up the egg yolks with a fork until they are in fine, fluffy pieces.  For this batch I made 8 eggs for 9 adults, which turned out to be just right.  I started off with about 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of mustard along with 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay® Seasoning, a sprinkle of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.  Mix this all together and then taste it.  It should be nicely creamy with no one flavor of mayonnaise or mustard or seasoning competing with each other or standing out too much overall.  Keep adding a bit of each ingredient until you get the right proportion and taste.  The consistency should be kind of similar to that of mashed potatoes.

Ready to fill eggsReady to fill eggs

I made the eggs a few hours prior to serving them, so I stored the whites in the refrigerator on their serving plate, and put the filling mixture into a piping bag to put into the egg whites at the last minute.  I’ve served deviled eggs a few times at catered events and learned early on that using a piping bag speeds up the process of getting filling into whites, and it makes them look prettier and more consistent as well.  After filling them, I sprinkled a bit more of the Old Bay® Seasoning on top of the eggs to give them an extra pop of flavor.

Deviled Eggs with Old Bay

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

I know there’s some differences of opinion about adding salt to the water in which the eggs are cooked, but this is the method I learned in culinary school as well as in the catering prep kitchen, where we did lots and lots of deviled eggs.  This way seems to work when I’ve had to produce batches of them myself.  Also, another tip is to use “old eggs,” ones that are a few days old and are not right off of the farm, as they are easier to peel.