Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seat of Your Pants Deviled Eggs

I'm not sure if they teach cooking in the public schools anymore. Back in the dark ages when I went to high school there were home ec classes in both sewing and cooking. I know the local community college is pumping out chefs as fast as they possibly can, but what about plain old home cooking? Who's teaching those skills to our young people? Are moms passing along basic skills like how to make a simple roux or what herbs go with what dishes?

I can attest that my mom didn't teach us anything about cooking which meant that I found myself as a very hungry newlywed. At first there were lots of meals out of a can and believe me there weren't alot of prepared meals available beyond horrible little pot pies.

I learned to cook out of raw necessity, and burning hunger. It was a slow process and I learned a most important skill which is called "seat of the pants", the ability to put things together. There are certain dishes that do not require a recipe but rely on a sense of proportions, taste and textures.

Deviled eggs do not require a formal recipe. I brought a large tray of deviled eggs to the Easter celebration at my brother's house. My niece and her children loved them and she begged for the recipe. NO recipe!! I promised I'd posted the directions here "At Home...." so that she could make good use of the all the eggs they'd dyed.

So let's get started flying by the seat of our pants!!

First decide how many deviled you want. I boiled 20 eggs which will result in 40 deviled eggs.

HEY - I remember telling my math teacher that I'd never, ever use math in my real life!

PIace the eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle some salt into the water. Turn over the salt shaker, shake and count to five. That's enough.

Turn the heat on medium high and wait until the water starts to simmer. Don't boil, just simmer. Set the timer for 20 minutes.

At this point I'm going to admit that I tried a new method yesterday which involved bringing the eggs to a boil, removing from the heat, covering and allowing to sit for 20 minutes. It DID NOT WORK. What a mess. The eggs wouldn't peel and when I finally did get one peeled it was mushy.

This is a good lesson about learning to think your feet in the kitchen. If the cake flops, make it into a trifle. If the eggs are mushy, put them back on the heat and continue to cook them, which is exactly what I did. I also learned a lesson about staying with the tried and true method.

After the second cooking the eggs peeled like magic.

Now I gather together my other ingredients; salt and pepper, mayonnaise, stone ground brown mustard and my secret ingredient, horseradish sauce. This is a Polish variety but you can find others at the grocery store.

Cut the eggs in half. Put the whites aside and the yolks in a mixing bowl.

Mash the eggs yolks using a potato masher. Add some salt and fresh ground pepper. Start with a small amount, you can adjust later.

Next I add the mayonnaise, starting with a couple large spoonfuls. Remember, I have 20 egg yolks which means it will require more mayonnaise. Mix it up until you have a creamy smooth mixture. Add more mayonnaise if needed.

Now I'm going to add a small amount of brown mustard and the horseradish cream. Again, small amounts to start. After you do this for awhile, you'll get a feel for how much to add.

Mix it in well and taste. TASTE! You must taste your cooking as you go along. How else are you going to know if there's enough mustard? That's the beauty of cooking by the seat of your pants, you can taste! In this case I added more horseradish cream for a little more bite.

Find you pastry bag and tips. You have some, don't you? If you want some seriously beautiful deviled eggs, you're going to need a pastry bag and a large star tip. This is easy stuff.

Do you like my hot pink pastry bag? So festive for Easter. It's a result of many, many tubes of red frosting for gingerbread houses.

Fill the pastry bag. It's a messy job but someone's got to do it.

Squirt the egg mixture into the waiting egg white half and place on a decorative platter. This goes real fast and you can have the kids help you with this.

In no time at all you've got a platter of beautiful eggs.

But they're naked!!!! We need to dress them. The Farmer brought home some lovely Italian parsley which I tucked around the edges and in between the eggs.

That's better. But wait! What's a lovely frock without accessories? We've forgotten something. Paprika!

I know, the bottle say "Thyme", but trust me, it's paprika.

Shake, shake, shake. Give those eggs some color.

OK, that's better.

Now that wasn't hard, was it? This allows you to make deviled eggs for a group or a crowd. Just decide how many eggs you need, plop, mix, taste, adjust and you're done.

Here they are, up close and personal.

Thanks for cooking with me today. I enjoyed your company in the kitchen. Everyone one of these eggs were gone at the end of the dinner. There was much raving and many requests for the recipe and the secret ingredient that makes them so yummy. And you have it......horseradish cream!!


Susan said...

Thank you for shaking me up out of the ordinary! Deviled eggs are always a great take-along to a party, snack, or just anytime. I think my middle name is horseradish, but I have never thought of putting it in my deviled eggs. Thanks so much!!

Ali said...

I also have never heard of putting horseradish in deviled eggs. I grew up making it with yellow mustard, dill pickle relish, a dash of white vinegar, paprika and mayo (not salad dressing, my mother stressing "no salad dressing!")

Molly said...


did you say there's a key to what herbs go with what foods? I definitely didn't learn that in Home Ec.

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Linked over here from Shannon @ Rocks in my Dryer, on the heels of your thumbs up for Fuji Finepix (my little friend too)... I just wanted to say I really appreciated your informed comment on cameras -- you take some gorgeous pictures over here, and as a farmer's wife, it's an absolute pleasure to meet you!

Have a beautiful day....

All's grace,

Jenni said...

Everyone always raves about my deviled eggs, and it makes me wonder what is so difficult or unusual about them. I don't use a recipe either. I just make them the way my mom showed me. I've had store bought deviled eggs and some made by different members of dh's family and they aren't the same, though. I think people are too wimpy with the mustard, salt, and pepper. Then there are the people who put pickle relish in them and try to give them more of a sweet taste--like a very sweet and bland egg salad. Yuck.

I have tried the boiling method you tried the other day and it worked for me, but I usually forget to do it that way. In fact, I often forget to set the timer or that I have eggs boiling, so I have no idea how long I boil them. I just seem to know when they're done.

Last year I tried adding horseradish to the deviled eggs, and I really did love the way it punched up the flavor. It was a little much for some of the family that apparently prefers things super bland.

I also use a star tip to pipe the filling into the egg halves. If you get a large pastry bag and the largest star tip available, it is much easier. The star tips usually used for cakes get clogged too often and it doesn't look quite as good using those. This also works very nicely for twice baked potatoes. I pulled the prongs of the tip open a little more to make a larger center hole and that has helped the cheese and bacon bits in the potato mixture to pass through easily.

cityfarmer said...


Lisa said...

The eggs look so pretty! I have never heard of using horseradish cream in them though...I might have to try it next time. My grandma always made them with mayo, mustard, sweet pickle relish & a shake of paprika over them.

If you ever find that you don't have a pastry bag, fill a sandwich bag & cut one of the corners off. This is my cheap method :)

chocolatechic said...

I started teaching my kiddos when they were old enough to stand at my side in the kitchen.

Now, our local college is pumping chefs out, and the boy is one of them.

Thirkellgirl said...

I think that the Food Channel is the modern substitute for mom-based (or school-based) cooking lessons these days. I've taught MY girls to cook, but I don't get the impression from their friends that most of them have been taught to cook beyond microwaving. I really taught myself to cook (because I like to eat, lol)and the old Marcia Adams "cooking from quilt country" programs got me started.
I don't put horseradish in my deviled eggs, although I do use a couple shakes of cayenne pepper. Also paprika, minced onion, and salt and pepper. I despise the very idea of a squishy egg, but people seem to think mine are fantastic. And only Hellmann's mayo!

I'll be in your general neck of the woods next week - driving to northern Wisconsin to pick up college girl. I'll wave from the highway!

martina said...

yummy recipe. I learned a neat recipe for boiling eggs where they are easy to shell and the yolk doesn't get that green tint. pierce wide end of raw egg once with a push pin, get water to boil, put eggs in water and return to boil, 12 minutes. Immediately drain pot, pour cold water over eggs and then put eggs in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.


I love this! I had home ec in junior high. We made aprons and egg salad sandwichs and it was magical. I think all kids should learn the basics still. Love paprika too! yummy

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I was with ya until the horseradish!!! I use apple cider vinegar instead. Glad your group loved them.

bv said...

my friends know i will show up with deviled eggs, as i have 12 chicks but they don't seem to mind. made about 30 for easter and they got polished off fast. now i want more-with horseradish! our family are foodies and all ended up in the kitchen evening. both kids are great and creative cooks. i do think it makes for a close family. as always, great post.
ps how lucky can one girl get-a husband that works with herbs-i luv herbs!

belladella said...

Yummy! I just ate two boiled eggs with my lunch- boring compared to yours! ;) I took home ec class- they need more of that sort of thing.

libba said...

I love deviled eggs.. my secret ingredient is Durkee Famous Sauce.. I guess it's a Southern thing.

Chris said...

I love deviled eggs, but I've never added horseradish either! I also love horseradish. Sounds like a match made in heaven!

Am I the only one who eats deviled eggs topped with hot sauce? (Cholula, preferred!)

I think "seat of the pants" cooks are mah-velous, dah-ling!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I just love looking at your photos! You should be shooting for a magazine, Suzanne! Seriously.

Louise said...

They're so pretty, I just want one now!

My mother hated cooking and therefore I thought canned ravioli was a gourmet treat. She hated it so bad that she didn't want to bother torturing me with it, so I left home not even knowing how to make canned ravioli. (How was I supposed to know it just needed to be heated up?) So I learned to cook one my own--with recipes. The good thing was that since I didn't know a THING, I wasn't afraid of anything. But I've been out of the house for about 17 years, and I'm just now getting SOMEWHAT proficient at cooking by the seat of my pants. I'm still way better with recipes, but I think I could handle the deviled eggs. They are SOOOO pretty!

lifeinredshoes said...

Yum! I use dry mustard, Miracle Whip and top them with a shake of Salad Supreme. I always think it's funny that kids love too.
Now, about that laundry soap....

lifeinredshoes said...

And on another note, aren't you always surprised when a woman says she doesn't like to cook, so she doesn't?
Hells Bells, I didn't know it was optional! I also learned by the Seat of My Pants...damn fine school.

Karen said...

Oh ..yummm ..devilled eggs..

I love them..

Unfortunately they do not love me as much as I love them...

They kinds ...repeat on me ..if you know what I mean... :-(

Jill said...

Those look gorgeous! I've never made them before - they always looked so darn difficult.

But your step by step instructions make it look so easy - and fun!

My husband is a huge fan... maybe I'll actually try these one day. :)

Oz Girl said...

Sounds like a deelish recipe, I'll give it a try when hubby returns from Seattle next Friday.... it'll be a treat for him! :)

Mary Rex said...

MMM. I luv deviled eggs, and yours do look so lovely. I make them all different ways, but one of my favorites is to add some green pimento-stuffed olives, and crumbled bacon. If I make these for a pot-luck they usually disappear before I have a chance to get one!