Editor's Note: Zola is still floating around the Mediterranean on an Italian cruise ship. We are sure she is going to return with lots of fun stories, but in the meantime we are running this oldie but goodie from the archives. Also, before she left, Zola’s computer crashed and the email wizards have not yet been able to restore her Zola Mail, so she sends her regrets. She has not been able to answer Zola mail for over three weeks now and will not be able to get it until she returns but she promises to answer all of it as soon as possible.
"Mastering the Simple"
Amy calls herself the AD. I like it. Her title is Administrative Director. I never thought to call her my AD.
So my AD comes up to me a week or two ago and says, "Can I ask you a Zola Question?" She wasn't the first to do this. It's become sort of a catch phrase for any kind of cooking question.
Her question was "What's the recipe for a perfect hard boiled egg?" At first I was taken aback. No one had ever asked me that before. On the surface it seemed like such a simple question. Why would someone ask me that? When I started to answer, I realized that for many, it might not be such a simple question after all. There really was a method to my madness in making hard boiled eggs and I had made so many, I never really thought about it. I learned to make hard boiled eggs when I was 12 from watching my mom, so at this point in my life, it was just a routine; an exercise that was ingrained in me. Sort of like riding a bike. (Oh, I suppose I should not bring that subject up again so soon!). Lest I digress, let's get back to the eggs.
My recipe for making the perfect hard boiled egg is really quite simple. Follow these steps and your eggs will turn out perfectly every time. You won't have runny eggs. The yokes will be fully cooked. You won't have eggs that refuse to peel from the shell. And, probably most importantly, you won't have rubbery blobs that are standing in for hard boiled eggs. You'll have moist, firm, smooth, hard boiled eggs.
Buy fresh eggs. Whether organic or not is not important. I prefer organic. Whether white or brown is no matter. So let's make a half dozen.
Gently place your eggs in a saucepan. Pour in enough medium temperature water to cover them by an inch. No shells sticking out the top of the water.
Place the pan with the eggs on a strong burner. Turn on to high. You want to get the water boiling quickly. (This is mostly because I have no patience). Stick around, because as soon as the water starts to boil you are going to start a timer. When the water starts to boil, set the timer for 6 - 8 minutes. (I can't be exact here because it depends on the eggs you bought). After you set the timer, turn the heat down to a medium boil. You just want the eggs bubbling away.
When the timer rings, immediately put the pan, water and all, in your sink. Start to run cold water over the eggs in the water. Run this cold water until the hot water in the pan is completely replaced by fresh, cold water. I run it for at least a full minute. Then let your eggs sit in the pan. They should sit there until completely cool. After that, I store them in a bowl, uncovered, in my refrigerator until I'm ready to eat them or make something else out of them. Easy enough? Sure.
Cracking the eggs seems to be a challenge for some. I just lightly tap the egg on the counter over much of the surface to crack it fairly evenly. One crack per inch as I roll it in my hand in a clockwise direction. My goal is to peel an egg in big chunks of shell, not bits. (Again, I have no patience). I love it when the shell almost unwinds off of the egg.
A couple of points. If your shell sticks miserably to the egg, your eggs were probably old or you really over-cooked them and you have those rubbery blobs we talked about earlier. If the shell is just sticking a bit, the membrane might be stubborn. I just find a bit of membrane and pick at it with my finger nail to get it started and fold the membrane back a bit so you can get hold of the shell better. If necessary you can do this under running cold water and that should do the trick.
I love a plain hard boiled egg or two with salt and pepper for breakfast or lunch. The protein really fills me up. They are great when I'm in a hurry too. They are even transportable!
I was perusing an antique cookbook and you would not believe what I read. I just had to throw this in as an extra tidbit in this column.
"The man you marry will know the way he likes his eggs. And chances are he'll be fussy about them. So it behooves a good wife to know how to make an egg behave.."
I about gagged on that one. I'll save the comments about sexism and just leave it to your imagination. If you are part of a coffee club, or a social club take that passage along and start a conversation. I bet it will be a lively one!
Onto the recipe. Deviled eggs are great for summer parties. It's sort of a retro-thing that I'm on a mission to bring back into style. My mother's deviled eggs were quite simple. Even simpler were the ones my mom would make for my dad. His had no raw onions in them. He knew how he liked his eggs.
Here's my mom's recipe for deviled eggs, and some suggested variations to bring them up to 2007.
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp sea salt grated
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
3 to 4 Tbl mayonnaise
Remove the yokes from all egg halves and put the yokes in a bowl. Set aside the white "boats". Mash the yokes gently with a fork. Add the other ingredients. Stir. Fill the egg white "boats" using a teaspoon, Be gentle. Mound the mixture. Sprinkle on the toppings. You are ready to serve.
I checked out several sources and found all kinds of ways to jazz up your deviled eggs. You can add any, or an assortment, of these extra ingredients and make your deviled eggs more modern. Experiment. Maybe even divide the filling and make two different flavors. Makes 12 deviled eggs.
2 tsp diced chipotle peppers
2 oz salmon roe
1/4 cup bacon bits
1 Tbl horseradish (fresh or sauce)
3 tsp capers, chopped
3 Tbl diced olives
Or even add in herbs and spices like: Tarragon, Garam Masala, Curry powder, Cayenne or Italian spice mix
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar, smoked Swiss or Blue cheese