Sunday, December 25, 2016

Heidi Swanson's Deviled Eggs

My love for deviled eggs runs deep. So deep, in fact, that several friends and I have a few inside jokes.

The first is my mission to bring the Deviled Egg back as a popular standby for potlucks. I mean why in the world did the deviled egg go out of favor at parties? I will never understand! My guess is that everyone got too busy pinning newfangled appetizers off Pinterest and forgot these three things: deviled eggs are always the first things to go at a party (have you seen the way people run to the deviled egg platter), they are easy, and they are cheap! Why, people? Why? Bring the deviled eggs back. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor!

So say it with me...what are you gonna bring to the party? 

That's right.  Deviled Eggs!

 Now in regard to the second. Once, at a work potluck, I had some of the worst, and I do mean downright terrible deviled eggs I've ever had in my life. These eggs were so bad, they were quite literally one of the worse things I've ever put in my mouth! Now, it's important for you to know that even though I love to cook, I am by no means a food snob. There have only been like two times in my life where I've spit anything out of my mouth.

So I'm in line at the work potluck and I pick up a deviled egg. It looks status quo, but this person had fooled me, and everyone else, big time. That yolk mixture...well, it was about 95% mustard (and I love mustard), but I just wasn't expecting that and I shoved about half of the egg in my mouth. It tasted like a very bad practical joke and about that time I see other people running for the garbage can. Seems we all felt the same way! So from time to time, when we need a good laugh, we text pictures of deviled eggs to one another.

This experience was all the more reason for me to practice and perfect deviled eggs in my kitchen. I've always been keen to try about every deviled egg recipe I see, so I wanted to tackle Heidi's version for my Christmas dinner.  I was intrigued by her use of Greek yogurt and olive oil in the yolk mixture and found that I did enjoy it, but couldn't help but miss the standard addition of mayo, mustard, and pickle juice. After adding a touch of each I found the mixture to be quite delicious - nearly perfect, and ultimately cream, if I do say so myself! 

Heidi garnishes her eggs with dill, chives, and chervil, but I can never find chervil so I just stuck with the chives and the dill.  Chives and dill are the ultimate complement to eggs and go a long way in making the platter beautiful. I hesitated to put sliced almonds on my deviled eggs, but was pleasantly surprised as I loved the added crunch and texture. Overall I think the sliced almonds would be a fun addition that most people would enjoy, giving that you served them straight away so the texture was preserved. An overall great recipe!


Deviled Eggs
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Serves about 12

1 dozen eggs
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. mayo, as desired*
1 tbsp. mustard, as desired*
1 tsp. pickle juice, if desired*
1 teaspoon extra virgin oil
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chervil*
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Notes: I couldn't find fresh chervil so I left it out.

Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by half an inch or so.  Bring to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat and cover.  Let the pot sit for ten minutes.  In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water. When the eggs are done cooking, use a slotted spoon to place them into the ice bath. When the eggs are cool, remove them and crack and peel.

Cut each egg in half and use a spoon to carefully scoop the yolks into a bowl. Set the empty white aside. Mash and fluff the yolks with a fork. Add the Greek yogurt, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Continue to mix and mash until the yolk mixture is as smooth and creamy as possible. This takes a bit of time, but the result is worth it- the yolks become creamy, light and airy. (*My yolk mixture was a little too thick and when I tasted the filling I found it was a bit too tangy from the yogurt, so I opted to add some mayo, mustard, and pickle juice to loosen things up.  I added about a heaping tablespoon of mayo and mustard  and a teaspoon or so of pickle juice, to taste. Be sure to taste your yolk mixture and tweak it if need be).

Add the and chives, chervil*, and dill to the creamed yolks, reserving a bit of each for the garnish.  Mix well to incorporate. Fill the whites with the yolk mixture, using a spoon of piping bag. Garnish each egg with the reserved herbs, almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Simply Entertaining w/ Heidi Swanson @ IHCC

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cinnamon & Sugar Zeppole

We are exactly one week from Christmas and I'm already in a sugar coma.  It's like I can't even fathom eating one more cookie, chocolate, or piece of fudge. On Friday morning at work we had donuts, danishes, sweet breads, cookies, chocolates, peanut butter balls, coconut balls, and fudge and I just couldn't even. I couldn't even take one bite!  Now this is very unlike me because I am known for my sweet tooth. This may very well have been the one and only time I passed on all of it.

Then I looked at this week's theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs and it was you guessed it....Sweet Treats. I contemplated cheating by making a fruit smoothie, a fruit salad, or maybe even a fruity cocktail. I even considered making hot chocolate for the kids. Anything I thought. Anything to keep from eating more sugar. Then I came across Giada's Zeppole recipe, which is something I've always wanted to try. I can handle that, I thought.  Plus as a bonus, I had everything on hand (you probably do too), and didn't have to venture out in the freezing weather.  Zeppole it was!

Zeppole, otherwise known as little round Italian donuts, require very little ingredients. Butter, flour, sugar, eggs, water, salt, cinnamon and oil for frying.  As I mentioned above, you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. They come together easily enough and are relatively easy to fry. Mine, because I forgot to add water to my dough (whoops), were a little unruly when they hit the oil.  They didn't turn into cute little rounds of dough. They were definitely misshapen, but the taste was still on point.

We ate these zeppole while trimming the tree (yes, I'm a little behind on decorating) and they were the perfect treat. Little fluffy rounds of dough with a very light coating of cinnamon and sugar. Much  like a donut, but definitely not as sweet. With very little sugar in the dough, and just a light touch of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over them, they were a welcome break to all the heavy sugar laden food that December is known for. Definitely worth a try. Just remember to add the water!

Cinnamon & Sugar Zeppole
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 stick butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 cup water
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs 
canola oil, for frying

Cut open the vanilla bean lengthwise. Using the back of a knife, scrape along the inside of the vanilla bean to collect the seeds. Scrape vanilla bean seeds into a small bowl.  Add 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return pan to the heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on low speeds, add eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. If not frying immediately, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator. 

Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches.  Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F. Using a small ice cream scooper or 2 small spoons, carefully drop about a tablespoon of the dough into the hot olive oil, frying in batches.  Turn the zeppole once or twice, cooking until golden and puffed up, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss with cinnamon-sugar. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Posole in Broth For What Ails You

Every year, without fail, I always get sick right before Christmas. Never mind my schedule and the million and one things to be done before Christmas. It always happens. This year, of course, was no exception.  

Now, for me, the worse sickness in the world is the common cold. I say this all the time and those closest to me have heard me utter these words each and every time I come down with a cold. "I would rather deliver a baby than have a stuffy nose." Having had two children of my own, and knowing full well the immense pain one suffers from childbirth, I feel this is the strongest way for me to convey my complete contempt, and total disgust, for the common cold and the stuffy nose it brings. Ever since I can remember I have been this way.  A stuffy nose always reduces me to a complete mess. In fact, the word "mess" is somewhat of an understatement. A stuffy nose has been known to make me somewhat unhinged. The whole "not being able to breathe" thing just wears me completely down.

My list of obligations loomed over me as I sat stewing over my nose. I didn't have time to be sick. I had to help the kids with all their end of the quarter homework and finals. There were book reports and presentations, Christmas concerts, and a million other Christmas related events on my schedule. So I did what I always do. The thing that always gives my stuffy nose some relief.  I locked myself in the bathroom and turned the shower on as hot as it would go. I let the hot steam fill the air and provide some relief to my stuffed nose. I enjoyed breathing like a normal human being for a short time.

It was during this time that I thought of steam, and heat, and how thankful I was for it when an idea came to me.  Longing to continue the steaming of my nose, I vowed to leave the bathroom and make myself a big pot of steaming hot soup. An easy pot of soup. That's when I remembered this easy and quick recipe for Heidi's Posole in Broth.  

Now this is possibly the easiest and quickest soup I've ever made but it did the trick. In no time at all I had myself a big bowl of steaming hot posole filled with chewy little bites of hominy and just the right amount of heat from a serrano pepper. Heidi suggest an array of toppings, and while I'm sure they're all wonderful, I really wasn't concerned with them. I was all about the healing powers of the soup. I'm thankful this recipe made a huge batch. I am going to be spending a lot of time with my head hanging over this wonderful little soup longing for my nose to work again. 'Tis the season!

Posole in Broth
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Serves 4-6

1 pound or 1 (28 oz) can dried posole/hominy
1 medium white or yellow onion
5 cups great tasting broth
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 cups cooked mung beans, optional*
1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and shredded

To Serve: Chopped olives, sliced avocado, sprouts or micro greens, toasted sliced almonds, and/or a drizzle of olive or lemon oil

To cook the posole kernels, rinse and pick over the kernels, cover with water and let soak for at least six hours, or overnight. Drain, place in a large pot with the onion, halved and peeled, and cover with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about an hour, or until a good percentage of the kernels blossom. Drain, reserving the broth and onion, and set aside. If you're making this ahead of time, both the broth and onion and the cooked posole kernels (drained) freeze well. If you're using a can of hominy, drain and set aside. 

When you're ready to make the posole, slice the reserved onion (or new onion if making from canned), and add it to a large pot along with the posole kernels, and roughly 5 cups of broth-enough to just cover the kernels. Add the chile and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Gently stir in the mung beans, if using, and scallions.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and add as many toppings as you can handle. Don't skimp because they're what make this version of posole really come together. Avocado, almonds, and chopped olives are important. The creamy fattiness from the avocado with the starchy posole, the punch of olive brininess, and crunch from the almonds really work nicely.

To cook mung beans: Rinse and pick over well. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender but not falling apart, roughly 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eggs in Pepper Boats

I was wandering around a Barnes & Noble one night with a friend and happened to spy a copy of Jacques Pepin's latest cookbook, Heart & Soul In The Kitchen. I quickly snatched it up, grinning from ear to ear, because it was on sale for $12. I didn't even have to page through it before buying because Pepin is one of my favorites and I just knew it would be a wonderful book.

When I finally had time to go through the book I was in love. Not only is it full of recipes, but it also has lots of stories, great pictures, and is sprinkled with paintings done by Jacques himself. I quickly started making a list of recipes I wanted to try and these Eggs in Pepper Boats were at the top of the list. 

Tis the season for all things crazy and hectic so I love this easy, yet somewhat sophisticated touch, on breakfast. You really only need about three ingredients. Four, if you want to be fussy. Soften the peppers in the skillet with a touch of water and oil, then crack an egg in with a little cheese. In a short time you have an easy and healthy breakfast all wrapped up in one delicious little present.

Eggs in Pepper Boats
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 4

2 cubanelles, poblano, or banana peppers (about 4 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons water
salt and pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese
4 extra large eggs
cilantro leaves, to garnish

Split the peppers lengthwise in half and remove the seeds and stems if you want. Arrange them cut side down in a large skillet and add the oil, water, and salt, and cook, covered, over medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until the peppers are softened somewhat but still firm.

Remove the skillet from the heat and, if necessary, turn the peppers over so they are hollow side up. Place the cheese in the peppers. Break an egg into each one and sprinkle the eggs with the remaining salt and pepper.

Return the skillet to the stove, cover, and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve immediately.

November Potluck @ I Heart Cooking Clubs