Saturday, January 7, 2012

What comes first the Chicken or the Deviled Egg?

I think that there are some foods that with one bite contain every memory of the first time you may have eaten it. it's the taste of your second grade lunch line, the best date you ever had, your high school prom, every party you remember at your Aunt's house, or summers picnics with friends, or the kitchen of your parent's house on lazy Sunday afternoons.

These are foods that we identify people and time and even geography with. Foods that we crave when we are sick. Foods we want when we are celebrating. Foods which help us to connect to our loved ones even though they may be no longer here.

I know you know what I am talking about. For instance, I can't imagine going to a Christmas party at my friend's Mike and John's without clam dip. Just like I can't imagine a January I won't make tomato soup. I can't imagine a vacation at my Mother's without her making Grilled cheese sandwiches the way I remember my Grandmother making them. These are the things I am talking about. I eat that grilled cheese and I am 7 years old again sitting in our kitchen in Virginia and my Grandma is making dinner on  friday night for my brother and I while our parents are out enjoying a little time together. And there are foods I associate with places or year times. Like Mozzarella and Tomato salad reminds me of my first time in NYC. Or squash casserole always reminds me of Christmas eves spent with Family and Friends at their house.

But sometimes a particular food just has a flair that conjures up a mood you want to set. So when you are having people over you might make a particular thing that you know people will like. These are our "specialties" our "personal signatures" on the culinary memories of our friends and families. People are always asking me "what is your Signature dish??" I could tell you what I think, but I prefer to answer by saying "well... So and So here has been to dinner at my house a number of times, ask them what they think is my signature dish??" I think that way because I have the things I like to cook, and the things that I like to maybe show off with. But do I know if  they are the dishes that evoke a memory or a desire to revisit that "last time you made that thing" in the minds of my friends?

I know, for example, that if I make Beef Bourguignon my friend Fred Tessler will always talk about it like it was the best thing he has ever had at my house. And he remembers that first dinner party when I made it with all the fondness of a great movie screening, or a concert. Because a great meal with wine and atmoshere and great conversations will always resonant as an evening to be remembered. A great meal  absolutely can have all the depth and richness and intimacy of our best remembered times spent with others whether with friends or family. When I make Beef Bourguignon I am actually reliving an amazing moment in my past when I first had it in Switzerland with a family I was visiting there. I can still hear the laughter of that night and see the faces lined in shadows from the candle light. I was maybe 19. But that meal and those moments changed me forever.

So where is all this taking us and how do we get to deviled eggs you may ask. Well the answer is simple. I think the deviled egg is the one of the best examples of how a food can resonate with a sense of people places or things. Sure there are others, and truth be told everyone probably has their own, but think about it ( unless you hate deviled eggs, in which case I am sorry for you) don't you have some strong food memory associated with the deviled egg? Maybe it's your family, mother, grandma, your girl friend's Mom. Maybe it's church covered dish dinners, or maybe picnics, summer time or holidays? But I bet somewhere you associate the deviled egg with someone or something as the first time you remember tasting them and how you enjoyed them and the time you were having. Or not, but either way that's my theory. Most Americans enjoy their deviled eggs and there is a reason beyond the taste. They tell a story, and that's the reason even if they aren't exactly the way YOU would have made them, they are good and tasty!

So now i give you MY deviled egg recipe, which many have said they think is one of the best they have ever had. I think so too! Enjoy!

Forrest's Deviled Eggs with Curry and Relish

Boil 8 eggs
Make sure the eggs are on the older side and the peelings with come off easier
put the eggs in a single layer in a pot and bring to boil.

When it boils turn off the heat and let sit with lid on pot for EXACTLY 13 mins
( I learned this from Ina Garten and it really works the eggs come out perfect)

Then put the eggs in a sink and run cold water over them, then let sit in water till cool

Peel and slice in half in the middle of the short side, not the way it's normally done on the long side of the eggs!!!

Carefully scoop out the yolks.

Then with a sharp knife carefully cut the bottom off of each egg half, just the tip and enough for it to stand upright. Salt the whites lightly, hold cold in the fridge.

To the reserved yolks add the following:

1/3 cup mayo.
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons good Hamburger Dill relish
11/2 tablespoons Madras Curry powder (it's hot, if you don't have it use regular Curry powder and 1/8 of a teaspoon tabasco sauce).
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
French Fried Onions ( hold in reserve)
2 tablespoons Chopped Chives ( hold 1 tablespoon in reserve)

Mash yolks and add all the ingredients, whip until smooth and fluffy. If not wet enough add more mayo.

Place the egg mixture in a pastry bag and pipe into the egg whites
Crown the eggs with the fried onions and sprinkle with chives.

Chill a few hours wrapped in the fridge before serving.

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