She-Deviled Diva Eggs

Stuffed Eggs with Bacon & Shrimp

Deviled Eggs (aka: Stuffed Eggs) have taken on star-status in the past few years. No more are a plate of these rich and tantalizing mortals content to find themselves nestled up to a Maraschino Cherry Jello Mold on a boomerang-patterned formica counter.

For good reason. Stuffed eggs are a great canvas for a variety of flavors. A perusal through the web will find Stuffed Eggs with Olive Tapenade, Lobster-Salad Stuffed Eggs,   Southwest Deviled Eggs  (I’m thinking a crushed tortilla chip garnish would make a great addition to this recipe) and more.

She-Devil Diva Eggs (Recipe Below)

My featured photo is a recipe for Stuffed Eggs Florentine (that includes chopped spinach and bacon) and another yummy recipe for Stuffed Eggs with Bacon and Shrimp is pictured above.

Want to add a pickled flavor to the yolk? Take a bottle of pickled beets and soak the egg whites in the liquid for several hours. Stuffed eggs make a great summer appetizer and I served the pickled eggs (recipe below and photo on the left) and Stuffed Eggs Florentine at a family reunion we’re having this week.

30 A

We booked a couple of beach houses in the Florida Panhandle, 30A precisely, “…the greatest strand of white sand on earth”. If you’re interested in learning more about this laid-back, food-rich culture,  I wrote a blog while traveling solo down there one fall, with a slideshow describing the area.

Stuffed egg aficionados  advise  starting with eggs that aren’t super fresh as eggs fresh from the hens are often difficult to peel––from my point of view this is the  only drawback of purchasing a local freshly laid eggs. Also, my hard boiled eggs are not necessarily hard, but have a bit of creaminess in the center. My method for boiling eggs is below.

I’m also celebrating the completion of my first draft of THE MAIDEN TOWER, which is now in the hands of my editor–one of many drawn-out, complicated and gut-wrenching steps. The novel’s a contemporary legend–a bit of magical realism thrown in– set in the quirky landscape of Key West, Florida, a place of which I’m intimate. It’s the story of a mother and her three daughters held hostage by secrets, desires and fear. And then Hurricane Irma pummels their town, changing their lives forever.

My publishing company has reduced the price of the WELCOME HOME DINER in the USA only for Kindle devices to $1.99 through May. If interested, now’s a good time to grab it.

Back to eggs. Here’s how I hard cook mine that yields a creamy, slightly undercooked center:

  • Start by bringing a large saucepan of water to a boil (to cover the eggs by a good inch) over medium-high heat. Carefully lower large eggs into water using a slotted spoon. Cook 10 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle boil. Transfer to an ice bath or very cold water and let cool until just slightly warm, about 2 minutes—this stops the eggs from cooking further and makes them easier to peel. Gently crack eggs all over and peel, starting from the fattest end containing the air pocket. Refrigerate if not using right away.
Recipe:She-Deviled Pickled Diva Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2/3’s cup beet juice* (from a jar of beets; reserve beets for another use)
  • 1 cup water
  • 9 large hard cooked eggs, chilled (see above notes)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Assorted fresh garnishes such as thin, blanched asparagus tips, bacon, snipped chives, lumpfish caviar, shrimp, lobster, crab, smoked salmon, tiny wedges of bell pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine beet juice and water (see notes about beet juice). Cut eggs lengthwise in half, remove yolks and reserve. Place egg whites in a shallow containe., cut side down, and pour beet juice mixture over eggs. Let marinate, refrigerated and turning occasionally, until desired shade of purple is reached, about 2-8 hours.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mash yolk together. Combine with mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, shallot and Dijon. Reserve, refrigerated, until ready to stuff into eggs.
  3. When egg whites are picked as desired, remove from liquid and pat dry. Spoon or pipe 1 tablespoon of egg yolk mixture into the cavity of each egg. Top with desired garnishes.
  • I used a bottle of Trader Joe’s Pickled Beets. The pickling marinade included vinegar ad herbs so there was no need to add additional vinegar to the marinade.

Egg marination time: 2-8 hours

Yolk preparation time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 18 stuffed eggs

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Easy Green Finish for Flavor Explosion!

The airborne passengers surrounding us we’re hacking and sneezing–it was like being trapped in an explosion of missiles.

Returned from Viet Nam (re: previous blog) totally fried. Yet, thanks to constant hand washing and a vigilant use of masks while flying, we managed to skirt that horrid flu that is bowling down folks across the globe.

So it seems wrong to complain about jet lag. But I’m still struggling.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish-Watercress Dressing

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish-Watercress Dressing

And here it is, St. Patty’s Day in the wings and I want to be festive. My usual go-to is Corned Beef with Horseradish-Watercress Sauce but this year I’m looking for simplicity for our Blarney Blow-out.

Pic taken in central Viet Nam–Hoi An. A typical street vender ubiquitous in towns and villages across the country.

Viet Nam (their food fresh on my mind) hosts a vegetable-heady cuisine, the abundance of herbs added to dishes being no exception. Sometimes a large branch of fresh herb leaves would accompany rice paper wraps for seasoning whatever other goodies were brought to the table.

On a couple of occasions, I inquired as to the unfamiliar herb I was enjoying but the response was that there was no English name or equivalent. Our loss.

So back to St. Patty. Why not inject a flavor explosion onto a protein with a simple herbaciously green dressing reminiscent of a classic Chimichurri?

Whole Foods has beautiful wild-caught Coho salmon on sale. I found a simple little recipe in the New York Times for salmon on which I improvised, and voila!

Any fresh herb-vinegar-garlic combo would work when paired with fowl, fish or grilled meats, although I’d make sure you enjoy that herb (or herbs) in abundance. Fresh basil comes to mind. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Recipe:Roast Salmon with Cilantro-Chive Chimichuri

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 generous cup (washed) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2-2 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 lemon or lime, cut into wedges
  • Assorted greens, such as spinach and chard, briefly sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Instructions

  1. To make the “chimichurri”, whisk together vinegar, half of the oil and garlic. Stir in cilantro and chives. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper third level. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (see notes).*
  3. Place fillets on an aluminum-covered baking sheet lightly coated with cooking oil spray. Whisk cumin, paprika and remaining oil together. Brush over salmon fillets. Season fillets with kosher and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Roast fillets until desired level of doneness.* (I prefer my salmon slightly underdone in the center.) At this oven temperature, for the thinner fillets this could be 6-8 minutes. For the thicker fillets, 10-12 minutes. When the salmon flakes under the pressure of your thumb, it is done and could be overdone, depending on your palate. Remember that the fish will continue cooking when removed from oven. (See additional notes below.
  5. Remove fillets from oven and spoon cilantro chimichurri over top. Serve with lemon and sautéed greens, if desired.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Roasting Time: Depends on thickness of salmon fillet and temperature of oven (see * below notes)

*NOTES: Much debate is given to the cooking time of fish. Some prefer baking at lower temperatures for a longer time (300 degrees for 15-18 minutes for this recipe); some recommend cooking right out of refrigeration while others recommend cooking from room temperature. And, of course, all of this is compounded by the thickness of the fillets. Experiment to see which method works best for you. Absolutely remove your thin fillets from the oven a couple of minutes before the thicker ones.

Number of servings (yield):  4 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Chúc mừng năm mới from Hanoi!

Happy Lunar New Year!

This marks Richard’s and my fourth week of traveling through SE Asia and every 12 hours of experience is the equivalent of 12 months of my North American day-to day. Which works up quite an appetite. Motto for this adventure: “One should go into the unknown on an empty stomach.” (Abraham Garcia)

After eating our way through Bangkok, we had a brief jaunt through Cambodia and then wormed our way up through Vietnam. Now we’re at the finish where I’m currently holed up in a hotel room in Hanoi trying to unravel thoughts about this trip. It’s tough–esp. without my kitchen, my haven where I unwind and reflect. All I’ve got is a tea kettle to smoke out the muse, who insists it’s best to begin where we’re ending.

βℜç

Equating the mindset of the Vietnamese to that of Northern Americans is tricky business.

One analogy could be in comparing traffic patterns. In the United States vehicles flow in tidy linear patterns. In Vietnam—at least to this Western mind—it’s quotidian madness. The streets are thick with every imaginable vehicle, with every imaginable object (inc. infant and fowl) strapped onto said vehicle, going in every imaginable direction possible––including the sidewalks.

If ever a trip had an understatement this would be it: Navigating Vietnam is a dodgy business.

To survive, one must develop a third eye, which comes by walking head-on into the traffic; by noting you’d just paid three times as much for a fried duck then the woman at your side who haggled the vendor down for a bird twice the size; by understanding that the word no is simply an invitation for negotiations. In Vietnam there’s always an in, a way to wiggle through the cracks.

Upon arriving in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we entered a riotous asylum of screeching scooters and bicyclists hawking their wares from perilously balanced stands on their seats.

Crumbling sidewalks are packed elbow to elbow with vendors selling produce, butchered meats, fish and folks slurping soups—savory Phos—recently ladled from bubbling cauldrons. Merely crossing the street was akin to my panic prior to bungee jumping off a cliff in New Zealand.

Two options: Either plant my flag in a mound of sticky rice, curl up into a fetal position and die, or cowgirl up, grab my camera and plunge into the madness.
Choosing the later, I began deciphering the order in the chaos and discovered the first secret is to walk very slowly, continuously glancing from right to left. They’ll stop—or just bump you a bit. The streets are so jammed that it’s impossible to pick up much speed to do much damage.

Next goal, begin sampling the street foods.  And the street food. Oh, the street food. One evening we took a Seafood Street Food Tour (see above photo; more to follow on that adventure,) and that’s when I fell madly in love with Hanoi, her people and her food. Since we’re entering their Lunar New Year this week, the foods are at their most spectacular and savory right now.

Imagine the traditional foods of Thanksgiving, the spirituality of Chanukah and Christmas and the partying of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day rolled into one big box and you have Tet—the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
Before the fifteenth of December in the Lunar Calendar, Vietnamese spruce up worship areas in their homes to prepare for the procession of the Kitchen God’s return to heaven by biding farewell to the old year to greet the new.

The Kitchen God, as in neighboring China, is the most important of the domestic gods protecting the hearth and family.

Peach, apricot blossom and kumquat trees are strapped onto scooters and zipped off to decorate homes and alters, paying homage to ancestral Gods. And everyone’s gussied up for the occasion.
Buddhism plays a major role to the Vietnamese so temples and pagodas are more crowded than ever. This week has been a great time for cultural immersion, even though I stand out like a lumbering white beast!
And this lumbering beast is travel weary, looking forward to recreating some of these marvelous foods at home.And when I cook, forever planted in my mind will be the faces of the beautiful people we’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned from this fascinating place, a culture that has much to teach.

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